Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • The Third Circuit heard oral arguments in Reilly v. City of Harrisburg, a case involving anti-abortion sidewalk counselors challenging a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania ordinance creating a 20-foot buffer zone around healthcare facilities including abortion clinics. The lower court had previously dismissed the suit for insufficient evidence of free speech and assembly rights violations.
  • In Erie v. Hunter, a Louisiana federal district court did not dismiss a case by a mental health detainee, Erie, who was allegedly forced to attend a Christian service. The court rejected the argument that defendant faced a “binary choice,” arguing there were “other options [Ms. Hunter] could have use [sic] to locate other staff” to supervise those not attending the service.
  • In Olympus Spa v. Armstrong, a Washington court dismissed a suit by a women’s spa challenging a law against gender identity discrimination. The spa argued that the law infringed on its religious and free expression rights, but the court held that the law was neutral and generally applicable, and dismissed the spa’s freedom of association claims.
  • In Anonymous Plaintiff 1 v. Individual Members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana, an Indiana state trial court has certified as a class action a suit contesting Indiana’s abortion restrictions. The plaintiffs, who have already been granted a preliminary injunction, argue that their religious beliefs permit or even mandate abortions in cases disallowed by Indiana law. The class has been defined as individuals in Indiana whose religious beliefs direct them to obtain abortions prohibited by Senate Enrolled Act No. 1(ss) but are unable to do so due to the Act.
  • The St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School has been approved to become the first publicly-funded religious charter school in the U.S., by a 3-2 vote from the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, a decision that “caps months of debate over government support for sectarian education.” Americans United announced they are preparing a lawsuit to challenge the approval.
  • A dispute between Miami Beach and the Orthodox Jewish Congregation Bais Yeshaya D’Kerestir scheduled for trial in federal court has been settled, with Miami Beach agreeing to pay the congregation $1.3 million. The congregation argued that their property was being used for “private prayer,” not as a synagogue, and drew parallels to homeowners hosting parties. The city, however, presented evidence that the house was indeed functioning as a synagogue, including an industrial-size coffee urn and benches for up to 30 people.

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