Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- In Hindu American Foundation, Inc. v. Kish, a California federal district court ruled that the Hindu American Foundation lacks standing to challenge the California Civil Rights Department’s stance on caste discrimination being a part of Hindu teachings. The court found the organization’s complaint vague and insufficient in demonstrating whom it represented. The complaint broadly claimed to defend the rights of “all Hindu Americans” and “all Americans of faith.”
- A Texas federal court imposed sanctions on Southwest Airlines for not adhering to a previous order which found the Airline guilty of violating Title VII by firing an employee who shared her religious views on social media. The court required three of the airline’s lawyers to attend religious liberty training by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian legal non-profit. In response to Southwest’s objection to training with an “ideological organization,” the court emphasized ADF’s track record in winning Supreme Court cases on religious liberties.
- In Union Gospel Mission of Yakima, Wash. v. Ferguson, a Washington federal district court dismissed, on federalism grounds, the plaintiff’s challenge to the the Washington Supreme Court’s interpretation of the state’s ministerial exception doctrine. The federal court saw the plaintiff’s challenge as an indirect attempt to overturn a prior state court decision in violation of the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine.
- In Tilsen v. Benson, the Connecticut Supreme Court declined to a ketubah, or Jewish marriage contract, in an alimony decision. The court determined that the contract was vague and that enforcing it could breach the establishment clause. The court noted that parties could craft clear agreements that respect religious beliefs without causing legal conflicts.
- In David v. South Congregational Church, a Massachusetts court dismissed a member’s defamation lawsuit against a church and its leaders. The member was removed from church committees over alleged unethical financial conduct. The court declined to intervene in church disciplinary decisions.
- Three musicians have filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina Symphony alleging religious discrimination following their termination for refusing the Symphony’s 2021 COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The plaintiffs claim the Symphony violated the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by mandating the vaccine despite their religious objections. The Symphony, which reversed its vaccine mandate in August but did not reinstate the musicians, denies any wrongdoing and insists its actions were in line with health guidelines and the policies of other symphonies.