Around the Web

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

  • In Doe v. San Diego Unified School District, a California federal district court denied a temporary restraining order in a suit brought by a high school student and her parents objecting to the school district’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate which did not provide religious exemptions.
  • In Payne-Elliott v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, an Indiana state appellate court reversed the dismissal of a suit by a former Catholic high school teacher. The teacher claimed that the Archdiocese intentionally interfered with his employment after he entered into a same-sex marriage.
  • In Seal I v. Biden, a Florida federal district court deferred ruling on a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by military service members seeking religious exemptions from the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
  • The U.S. State Department published the 2021 designation of countries and non-state actors that are major violators of religious freedom.
  • The city of Philadelphia agreed to pay Catholic Social Services a $2 million settlement and reinstate their foster care contract after the Supreme Court, in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, unanimously found that the city had discriminated against the group due to their religious beliefs.
  • The EEOC announced that Greyhound lines has agreed to pay a $45,000 settlement after a Muslim woman brought a religious discrimination suit. The woman was accepted into the driver training program but was later told that she could not wear her religious garments.

Around the Web

  • The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in Slockish v. U.S. Department of Transportation. The plaintiffs are members of a federally-recognized tribe and allege that the government knowingly destroyed a sacred religious site during a highway construction project.
  • The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in Orr v. Christian Brothers High School. The issue on appeal is whether a California Catholic school can use the ministerial exception in response to claim of racial discrimination.
  • In M.P. v. New Hampshire School Administrative Unit 16, a Catholic teenager brought suit against his New Hampshire public school district after being suspended for refusing to conform to the school’s “preferred gender pronoun policy.” The student claims that the policy penalizes students who, out of religious conviction, decline to follow the policy.
  • In Johnson v. Cody-Kilgore Unified School District, a Nebraska federal district court allowed a group of Native American parents to move forward with their lawsuit against a school for cutting their children’s hair in violation of their religious traditions.
  • A Virginia teacher, who was placed on leave for objecting to a school district’s “preferred pronoun policy” on religious grounds, has agreed to a settlement. The school will reinstate the teacher, remove any reference to his suspension from his file, and pay attorney’s fees.
  • Six U.S. Congress members wrote to the Commission for International Religious Freedom expressing concern after prosecutors in Finland pressed charges against a Protestant bishop for publicly expressing traditional teachings on marriage and sexuality.
  • A German pastor was found guilty of “aiding and abetting an unauthorized resident” and sentenced to two years probation after housing an Iranian refugee in one of his churches. The pastor plans to appeal this decision claiming that his faith required him to help the refugee.

Around the Web

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

  • The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Ramirez v. Collier. A Texas death-row inmate sought a stay of execution, arguing that his pastor should be allowed to lay hands on him as he receives a lethal injection. The Fifth Circuit affirmed a refusal to grant the stay of execution.
  • In Resurrection School v. Hertel, the Sixth Circuit granted en banc review to reconsider a challenge by a group of Catholic parents’ to a COVID-19 mask mandate for schools. A panel previously held that the mandate did not violate the children’s free exercise rights.
  • In Byrd v. Haas, the Sixth Circuit reversed the dismissal of RLUIPA and free exercise claims brought by an inmate who sought to worship with other inmates and obtain items to be used in worship.
  • In Sambrano v. United Airlines, a Texas federal district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction against United Airlines’s practice of placing on unpaid leave employees who receive a religious exemption from the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
  • In Thoms v. Maricopa County Community College District, an Arizona federal district court granted a preliminary injunction to two nursing students who sought religious exemptions from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
  • The Department of Labor released a proposal to rescind a Trump Administration rule that broadly defines religious exemptions under the agency’s anti-discrimination requirements for government contractors and subcontractors.

Around the Web

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

  • The Supreme Court declined to grant review in a lawsuit brought by a transgender man against a Catholic hospital after the hospital declined to perform a hysterectomy on the plaintiff. The Catholic hospital claimed that performing this procedure would have required it to violate its religious beliefs.
  • In Redeemed Christian Church of God (Victory Temple) Bowie, Md. v. Prince George’s County, the Fourth Circuit held that RLUIPA applied to a county council’s decision denying a water and sewer upgrade for property purchased by the plaintiff church. 
  • In We the Patriots USA, Inc. v. Hochul  and Dr. A v. Hochul, the Second Circuit vacated a temporary injunction issued against a statewide order mandating that medical professionals receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • In Texas v. Department of Labor, the Fifth Circuit issued a stay freezing the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate that would require workers at U.S. companies with at least 100 employees be vaccinated or be tested weekly.
  • In Abraham House of God and Cemetery, Inc. v. City of Horn Lake, two local religious leaders brought suit in Mississippi federal district court alleging that the defendant denied approval of a mosque site plan because of religious discrimination.
  • In Ratio Christi at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln v. Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, a Christian student group filed a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln alleging viewpoint discrimination after the school denied funding for a guest speaker.
  • In Rojas v. Martell, an Illinois state trial court ruled that a county health department violated the conscience rights of a Catholic nurse who lost her job after refusing to provide patients with contraceptives or abortion referrals.
  • Texas voters approved a state constitutional amendment which provides that the state “may not enact, adopt, or issue a statute, order, proclamation, decision, or rule that prohibits or limits religious services.” This amendment was created in response to the numerous restrictions placed on religious gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The Illinois legislature passed SB 1169, which amends the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act to state that it is not a violation to impose any requirement intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Legal Spirits Episode 038: Law & Religion in “The Merchant of Venice”

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, one of his “problem plays,” has long fascinated lawyers. Yet the legal arguments in the case are preposterous. In this episode, we discuss how Shakespeare uses an absurd legal dispute to illustrate deeper religious and political conflicts and speculate about the implications of the play for America today. Perhaps the reason Merchant so fascinates lawyers is that it demonstrates uncomfortable truths about the limits of law. Listen in!

Around the Web

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

  • The Supreme Court declined to grant injunctive relief in Does v. Mills, the Maine vaccine case. The vaccine mandate for Maine health care workers will remain in effect while a petition for review of the First Circuit’s decision is pending.
  • In Crow v. Jones, the Supreme Court lifted a stay of execution that was granted to two Oklahoma death row inmates. The inmates objected, on religious grounds, to a trial judge ordering that they choose among proposed alternative methods of execution, arguing that doing so would amount to suicide.
  • In Ratio Christi v. Khattor, a Christian student organization sued in Texas federal district court challenging a university’s non-discrimination policy after the student group was denied recognition because the group requires its officers to share the organization’s religious beliefs.
  • In Doe v. San Diego Unified School District, a 16-year-old high school student sued a school district, claiming religious discrimination over vaccine mandates.
  • Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, signed House Bill 2563 which allows high schools to offer classes on “how the Bible has influenced Western culture.” 
  • The EEOC updated its COVID-19 Technical Assistance Document to include guidance on how employers should approach requests for religious exemptions.
  • Canada’s Federal Court upheld a provision that required organizations applying for funding to attest that they respected individual human rights, including reproductive rights. Challengers argued that this requirement infringed their freedom of expression and religion.

Around the Web

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

  • Justice Breyer denied an injunction in a case challenging the lack of religious exemptions in Maine’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers.
  • In Easter v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, suit was filed in the D.C. federal district court challenging the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s contracting with religiously sponsored agencies that prohibit the placement of unaccompanied minor refugees with individuals on the basis of the individuals’ sexual orientation.
  • In National Capital Presbytery v. Mayorkas, the D.C. federal district court held that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when it refused to renew a R-1 nonimmigrant religious worker visa.
  • In United States v. Stafford County, the Justice Department filed a Notice of Dismissal after an ordinance that prevented the “All Muslim Association of America” from developing a religious cemetery for Muslims was revoked.
  • Abundant Life Baptist Church, a Missouri megachurch, was awarded a settlement of $146,750 following a dispute with the local government over COVID-19 restrictions.
  • In Gateway Bible Baptist Church v. Province of Manitoba, a Canadian trial court upheld the public health restrictions imposed by the province on gatherings at places of worship and at private homes. 

Around the Web

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

  • In Pasadena Republican Club v. Western Justice Center, the Western Justice Center refused to rent space to a group to host a speech by the president of the National Organization of Marriage. The Republican Club brought a suit claiming both viewpoint discrimination and religious-belief discrimination, but the Ninth Circuit dismissed the suit and the Supreme Court denied review.
  • In Ackerman v. Washington, the Sixth Circuit held that the Michigan Department of Corrections’ universal religious meal plan was inadequate to meet the religious needs of Jewish prisoners.
  • In Zhang Jingrong v. Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, the Second Circuit held that under the Freedom to Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, tables set up on the sidewalk occupied by protesters did not satisfy the “place of religious worship” requirement.
  • In Dr. A v. Hochul, a New York federal district court held that New York must continue to allow health care works to seek exemptions as a lawsuit challenging the mandate proceeds. The court concluded that the lack of a religious exemption conflicts with the anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII and the Free Exercise Clause.
  • A Dallas Criminal District Court Judge recommended that Randy Halprin, a Jewish death row inmate, be granted a new trial because there is evidence that the Judge in his case, Vickers Cunningham, was prejudiced and may have discriminated against him because of his religion. The state’s highest criminal court will now have to decide whether a new trial should be granted.
  • In ASM v. State of Wyoming, the Wyoming Supreme Court rejected a nun’s claim that the state violated her free exercise rights when, after inflicting self-injuries, she was involuntarily hospitalized. The nun asserted she was engaging in the Catholic ritual of mortification.
  • In Hunter v. U.S. Department of Education, an Oregon federal district court issued an order allowing three Christian post-secondary schools to intervene against a lawsuit that seeks to strip all students at private religious colleges of federal financial aid unless their schools renounce their core religious beliefs.

Webinar: “Churches: An Existence of their Own or Creatures of the Sovereign?”

Tomorrow, the James Wilson Institute and First Liberty Institute’s Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy will host a webinar analyzing the practical applications of moral reasoning in our legal system.

The event will be moderated by Hadley Arkes, Founder and Director of the James Wilson Institute and Edward N. Ney Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Amherst College. The event will feature Adam MacLeod, Professor of Law at Faulkner University, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and Research Fellow at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy and Robert Miller, Professor of Law at the University of Iowa, Affiliated Scholar of the James Wilson Institute, and a Fellow and Program Affiliated Scholar at the Classical Liberal Institute at New York University Law School.

The webinar will take place on October 14, 2021, from 2:00-4:00 pm EST. To register visit this link.

Lecture for the Order of Malta: “Understanding the Right to Religious Freedom Under the U.S. Constitution”

I am delighted to give this presentation on the right to religious freedom for the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta (or, less formally, the Order of Malta) this Sunday, October 17, at 2:00 pm. Further details are above. Please do come by!