Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- In We the Patriots USA, Inc. v. Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Development, the 2d Circuit upheld the constitutionality of Connecticut’s decision to repeal religious exemptions from its mandatory vaccination laws, while still permitting medical exemptions. The court found that the act was neutral under Smith and thus dismissed plaintiffs’ challenges.
- In Sims v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, the 11th Circuit found that in a suit where a Muslim inmate argued that he was denied an exemption from a Florida prison’s grooming rules requiring beards be no longer than half an inch, the Prison Litigation Reform Act’s requirement that inmates exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit only required him to exhaust the prison system’s grievance process. The Department of Corrections argued that the PLRA required inmates to file a rule change petition before filing suit.
- In Huntsman v. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the 9th Circuit reversed dismissal of a suit brought by a former member of the LDS Church who alleged fraud on part of the church after he contributed $2.6 million in tithes to the church. The court rejected the Church’s argument that the suit was precluded by the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine.
- In Carter v. Transport Workers of America, Local 556, the Northern District of Texas ordered sanctions against Southwest Airlines for failing to comply with a prior order that found Southwest violated Title VII by terminating a flight attendant for posting her religiously-motivated views of abortion on her social media. The court also ordered Southwest’s attorneys to attend at least 8 hours of religious liberty training.
- In Burke v. Walsh, a Catholic couple filed suit against a foster care agency in the District of Massachusetts. The couple brought free speech and free exercise challenges because the agency denied them a foster care license because they “would not be affirming to a child who identified as LGBTQIA.”
- In Doe No. 1 v. Bethel Local School District Board of Education, the Southern District of Ohio dismissed a suit brought by Muslim and Christian plaintiffs alleging free exercise, due process, and equal protection challenges to a school board’s policy allowing students to use the bathroom of their gender identity.