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

Around the Web

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

  • The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week in Shurtleff v. City of Boston. Below, the First Circuit affirmed the order of a Massachusetts federal district court granting summary judgment in favor of the City as to Plaintiffs’ complaint. Plaintiffs allege that the City violated their constitutional rights by refusing to fly a Christian flag from a flagpole at Boston City Hall.
  • The Supreme Court granted cert in the case of a former Bremerton, Washington football coach who was removed from his job because he refused to stop praying on the field.
    • The case, Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, was the subject of a prior Legal Spirits podcast episode.
  • In Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church v. Pritzker, the Seventh Circuit affirmed an Illinois federal district court’s denial of an injunction against a now-rescinded COVID order which limited the number of people who could attend religious services. The district court held that the case was moot because Plaintiffs have not been subject to attendance limits for more than nineteen months, and there is no indication that they will be subject to them again.
  • In We the Patriots USA, Inc. v. Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Development, a Connecticut federal district court upheld a Connecticut statute that eliminates the religious exemption from the state requirement for vaccinations for school children. The Court held that mandatory vaccination as a condition to school enrollment does not violate the Free Exercise Clause.
  • Suit was filed in a Georgia federal district court by an Air Force officer who was forced into retirement when she refused, for religious reasons, to take the COVID vaccine. The complaint alleges that the Air Force’s actions violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the First Amendment.
  • In Romano v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a Michigan federal district court denied a preliminary injunction to an employee who was fired because he refused to comply with his employer’s COVID vaccine mandate. Plaintiff’s refusal was based on religious objections; however, the district court concluded that Plaintiff did not meet the “irreparable injury” requirement necessary to support an injunction.
  • The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia has announced a new policy that will begin to keep track of employees who have refused on religious grounds to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The new record system will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”
  • “Atheist Ireland,” an association of atheists based in Ireland, has called upon the U.N. and the Irish government to raise the issue of religious discrimination in Irish schools. Specifically, Atheist Ireland has requested that Irish schools “must allow children to leave the classroom during religion class.”

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

  • In Mays v. Joseph, the Eleventh Circuit held that a prisoner may recover punitive damages for violation of his free exercise rights. The claim centered around a Georgia Department of Corrections’ grooming policy that barred inmates from growing their hair or goatees longer than three inches.
  • In U.S. Navy SEALs 1-26 v. Biden, a Texas federal district court issued a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. Navy from imposing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate on thirty-five Navy service members. The court concluded that applying the vaccine mandate to plaintiffs violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.
  • In Abraham House of God and Cemetery, Inc. v. City of Horn Lake, a consent decree was entered in a Mississippi federal district court. The suit alleged that the City of Horn Lake denied approval of the site plan for a proposed mosque because of religious animus.
  • Suit was filed in Ohio state trial court by five school districts and students’ parents challenging the Ohio legislature’s recent expansion of the EdChoice voucher program. The complaint alleges that the program violates Article VI, Sec. 2 of the Ohio Constitution, which calls for separation between church and state.
  • A British tribunal has ruled that a Christian nurse who was forced to resign from a hospital over her refusal to stop wearing a cross was wrongfully discriminated against.
  • The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a complaint against a Christian bakery in Northern Ireland that refused to make a cake supporting gay marriage on religious grounds.
    • The case, Lee v. Ashers Baking Co., was the subject of our first Legal Spirits podcast episode.

Around the Web

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

  • In Barakat v. Brown, a Muslim woman filed a religious discrimination suit in a Missouri federal district court alleging an indoor gun range refuses admission to women wearing hijabs.
  • In Iglesia Pentecostal Filadelfia, Inc. v. Rodriguez, a Texas state appellate court affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of an internal church dispute about church leadership roles on ecclesiastical abstention grounds.
  • In Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski,​​ a federal district court ruled that a lawsuit by a Georgia Gwinnett student alleging that college officials stopped him from sharing his Christian faith on campus should move forward on the merits.
  • In K.W. v. Canton City School District, a high school football player filed suit in an Ohio federal district court after he was forced to violate his religious beliefs as punishment for missing a mandatory class.
  • A North Carolina sheriff refused to remove a Bible verse from his office wall after the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation claimed that the “blatantly Christian message in a law enforcement division sends a message of exclusion.”
  • The Archdiocese of Baltimore has declared new COVID-19 protocols, including requiring clergy, liturgical ministers, and all attendees age five and older to wear a mask inside of churches in Baltimore County and Howard County.

Around the Web

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

  • In St. Augustine School v. Underly, the Seventh Circuit sent back to the district court a suit challenging Wisconsin’s refusal to provide bus transportation to students at St. Augustine School, a private religious school. The court concluded that the decision to provide transportation was not justified by neutral and secular considerations.
  • The Eighth Circuit heard oral arguments in Religious Sisters of Mercy v. Becerra. Below, a North Dakota federal district court granted various Catholic-affiliated health care entities with an injunction prohibiting the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws against them in connection with providing coverage for transgender procedures.
  • In Downtown Soup Kitchen v. Municipality of Anchorage, an Alaska federal district court refused to grant injunctive relief to the Hope Center, a faith-based women’s shelter, after a new public accommodation law would require them to provide housing to trans-identifying women. The court concluded that since the city does not consider the Hope Center a public accommodation the center could not demonstrate a credible threat of enforcement.
  • Suit was filed in Virginia state trial court by parents challenging the Albemarle County School Board’s Anti-Racism Policy and the associated curriculum alleging religious discrimination.
  • In Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe v. U.S. Department of the Interior, the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe brought suit alleging that the new Dixie Meadows geothermal energy project will negatively impact the Dixie Meadows hot springs and the surrounding landscape and thus, violate their members’ sincerely held religious beliefs.
  • China has barred the chair, vice-chair, and two commissioners of the U.S. Commission on the International Religious Freedom from entering China.

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.

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  • 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.

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.