Around the Web

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

  • A petition for certiorari was filed with the Supreme Court in Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. At issue is a finding by the state Bureau of Labor and Industries that Sweetcakes bakery violated the state’s public accommodation law when it refused on religious grounds to design and create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding. 
  • In Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance, the Supreme Court vacated the stay issued on September 9 by Justice Sotomayor of a New York state trial court’s injunction that required Yeshiva University to officially recognize as a student organization an LGBTQ group, YU Pride Alliance. In a 5-4 vote, the Court directed the University to first seek expedited review and interim relief from New York trial courts. 
  • In Doster v. Kendall, the Sixth Circuit refused to grant an emergency stay of a class-wide injunction issued by an Ohio federal district court in a suit by Air Force and Space Force members who object, on religious grounds, to receiving the COVID vaccine. The district court enjoined the military from taking enforcement measures, while litigation is pending, against service members who have submitted confirmed requests for a religious accommodation from the military’s vaccine mandate. 
  • In Bush v. Fantasia, a Massachusetts federal district court dismissed claims that a COVID mask mandate imposed by a town Board of Health and a public library violated plaintiffs’ free exercise rights. Plaintiffs claimed they “have sincerely held religious beliefs that proscribe [their] wearing face masks and/or submitting to coerced medical devices/products such as face masks.” 
  • The New York Board of Regents approved the Final Substantial Equivalency Regulation, which implements NY Education Law §3204(2), requiring instruction in nonpublic schools to be at least “substantially equivalent” to that in public schools in the same city or district. The Regulation provides multiple pathways for private and religious schools to demonstrate compliance. 
  • Faith leaders–including rabbis, Christian ministers, Buddhists, and Quakers–are challenging newly enacted abortion bans, arguing that the restrictions infringe on their religious beliefs. Plaintiffs contend that the bans are preventing them from exercising their own religious views about when abortions are permissible and have made clergy afraid to counsel their parishioners on abortion for fear of legal penalties.  

Around the Web

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

  • In Taylor v. Nelson, the Fifth Circuit held that Texas prison authorities who confiscated a female inmate’s hijab that exceeded the size permitted by prison policies could claim qualified immunity in a suit for damages against them. The court held that Plaintiff failed to identify a clearly established right that officials violated and that reasonable officials would not have understood that enforcing the policy on hijabs was unconstitutional. 
  • The Fifth Circuit recently heard oral arguments in Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra. In the case, a Texas federal district court permanently enjoined enforcing the anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act and implementing regulations against Christian health care providers and health plans in a manner that would require them to perform or provide insurance coverage for gender-transition procedures or abortions. 
  • A class action Settlement Agreement was recently filed in an Illinois federal district court in Doe 1 v. NorthShore University HealthSystem. The suit was brought on behalf of approximately 523 employees who requested, but were denied, a religious exemption or accommodation from the hospital system’s COVID vaccination mandate. The hospital system will pay $10,330,500 in damages if the court approves the settlement. 
  • In Archdiocese of Milwaukee v. Wisconsin Department of Corrections, a Wisconsin trial court issued a declaratory judgment and permanent injunction requiring the Wisconsin prison system to allow Catholic clergy the opportunity to conduct in-person religious services in state correctional institutions. While the clergy were initially restricted due to COVID-19 concerns, the court concluded that once the prison system allowed some external visitors to enter correctional institutions, it was required to honor the clergy’s statutory privilege to do so ­– and refusal to do so violated Plaintiff’s free exercise rights under the Wisconsin Constitution. 
  • Seven clergy members in Florida have filed lawsuits contending that Florida’s 15-week abortion ban violates their free exercise, free speech, and Establishment Clause rights. 
  • France’s Constitutional Council last month, in Union of Diocesan Associations of France and othersupheld the constitutionality of several provisions of law governing religious institutions in France. The Council upheld the requirement that a religious organization must register with a governmental official in order to enjoy benefits available specifically to a religious association. The Council found that this did not infringe freedom of association and did not hinder the free exercise of religion. 

On the Leak in Dobbs

In First Things today, I argue that the leak of the Dobbs draft opinion this week differs from past SCOTUS leaks and poses a real danger for the Court. Here’s an excerpt:

Past leaks from law clerks typically have come after the Court has issued a decision. They often seem explained by desires to set the record straight for history or, perhaps, to demonstrate the leaker’s own significance (which, as a former clerk, I can attest to be typically little). If they come before a decision, leaks are usually spare and vague, hints at a likely vote tally or outcome. Such leaks do little to change the day-to-day workings of the Court.

But the leak of an entire draft opinion in the middle of deliberations in a vitally important case suggests something very different, a desire either to bully or destroy the Court as an effective institution. After this episode, justices will feel less secure about the confidentiality of their deliberations and think twice about what they put in drafts. The work of the Court will inevitably suffer. That is what makes this leak so damaging, however one feels about the ultimate issue at stake.

You can read the full essay here.

Around the Web

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

  • The U.S. Supreme Court grants cert in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis. The grant of cert was limited to the question of “[w]hether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”
  • In Mahoney v. United States Capitol Police Board, a clergyman challenged traffic regulations that barred demonstrations by twenty or more people at locations near the U.S. Capitol. While the D.C. federal district court rejected Plaintiff’s Free Exercise and RFRA challenges, it allowed him to move forward with his selective enforcement and free-association claims.
  • In Christian Medical & Dental Associations v. Bonta, suit was filed by an organization of Christian healthcare professionals challenging the current version of California’s End of Life Options Act (EOLA). Plaintiffs allege that changes made to EOLA last year remove previous protections and now require doctors to participate in assisted suicide in violation of their religious beliefs.
  • In Chamberlain v. Montoya, a New Hampshire federal district court dismissed the complaint after the parties agreed to settle. The settlement allows the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center to keep a Bible as part of their “Missing Man Table;” however, the organization will now also allow for the sponsorship of a generic “Book of Faith.”
  • The Missouri Religious Freedom Protection Act has won first-round approval in the Missouri House of Representatives. If enacted, the bill would prevent public officials from shutting down meetings or services held by religious groups.
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey demands answers from the Alabama High School Athletic Association after the Oakwood Adventist Academy’s boys basketball team was forced to forfeit a semifinal game in the state tournament due to their observance of the sabbath.
  • Colombia’s highest court has voted to legalize abortion until the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy.
  • The Judicial Selection Committee of Israel has appointed the first Muslim to a permanent seat on Israel’s Supreme Court.

Around the Web

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

  • In Dahl v. Board of Trustees of Western Michigan University, the Sixth Circuit upheld an injunction barring Western Michigan University from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate against 16 Christian student-athletes who had applied for religious exemptions.
  • In Niblett v. Universal Protection Service, a California federal district court dismissed a damage action by a Muslim woman who was forced by a security guard to remove her hijab to enter a Public Social Services building.
  • In Dr. T. v. Alexander-Scott, a Rhode Island federal district court rejected a request to prevent enforcement of a Rhode Island Department of Health Emergency Regulation that requires all healthcare workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Plaintiffs challenge the regulation’s lack of religious exemptions.
  • In Schrenger v. Shields, a Kentucky police officer filed suit in federal district court seeking damages after the Department suspended him for praying outside an abortion clinic while in uniform, but prior to the start of his shift.
  • In United States v. State of Texas, a Texas federal district court preliminarily enjoined enforcement of Texas’ “heartbeat” abortion ban stating that a person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established.
  • A group of St. John’s University students is suing the University over its vaccine mandate, claiming that the requirement violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.
  • Office of Personnel Management issued guidance to federal agencies for how to handle federal employees who are seeking a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The guidance states that the employee “must first establish that [their] refusal to be vaccinated is based upon a sincere belief that is religious in nature.”

Around the Web

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

  • In New Hope Family Services v. James, a faith-based family services agency that declines to place children for adoption with unmarried or same-sex couples, filed suit in federal district court in New York, seeking to prevent enforcement of the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
  • In Crawford v. Trader Joe’s Company, a Christian employee of Trader Joe’s filed suit in federal district court in California because the company refused to provide him a religious exemption from the company’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
  • In Salesian Society v. Mayorkas, a federal district court in the District of Columbia dismissed a suit challenging requirements for special visas for religious workers.
  • In Universal Life Church Monastery v. Clark County, a Nevada federal district court allowed a church to move ahead with its equal protection challenge to the county’s refusal to allow online ministers to solemnize marriages.
  • Two non-Texas residents sued a Texas doctor for performing an abortion in violation of Texas’ “heartbeat law.”
  • The Ukrainian Parliament passed a law banning “antisemitism and its manifestations.” The law prohibits hate speech directed at Jewish people, their property, religious buildings, or communities, and allows victims to claim compensation for material and moral damage.

Around the Web

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

  • In Ramirez v. Collier, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order postponing the execution of a Texas inmate who argued that his pastor should be allowed to physically touch him and audibly pray in the execution chamber. The Court agreed to hear the case on its regular docket this Fall.
  • In Billard v. Charlotte Catholic High School, a North Carolina federal district court ruled that the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte violated workplace sex discrimination laws after firing a teacher because of his intention to enter a same-sex marriage. The Catholic Diocese is seeking an appeal alleging that religious organizations have the right to make employment decisions based on religious observance.
  • In College of the Ozarks v. Biden, a Missouri federal district court rejected a Christian university’s request for temporary protection from a new HUD directive on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.
  • South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, signed executive order 2021-12, which directs the state Department of Health to create rules banning telemedicine abortions in the state.
  • The governing body of the Church in Wales passed a bill that will allow clergy to hold services designed to bless same-sex civil partnerships or marriages.
  • Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to punish abortion, unanimously annulling several provisions of a law that made abortion a criminal act in Coahuila, a state on the Texas border.

Around the Web

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

  • In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block Texas’ “heartbeat” law while its constitutionality is being litigated. The “heartbeat” law bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat has been detected by a physician.
  • In Dahl v. Board of Trustees of Western Michigan University, a Michigan federal district court issued a temporary order requiring the University to grant religious exemptions from its COVID-19 vaccine requirement to four members of the women’s soccer team.
  • In Zinman v. Nova Southeastern University, a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a suit by a student against his law school challenging the COVID-19 mask mandates on religious grounds.
  • In Louden County School Board v. Cross, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the reinstatement of a teacher who had been suspended for speaking out against a school’s proposed requirement that staff use students’ chosen names and gender pronouns. The teacher had objected to the policy for religious reasons.
  • A proposed North Carolina bill would require hospitals to allow clergy to visit patients even during a declared emergency.
  • The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized a $400,000 payment to settle a legal battle with Grace Community Church over the county’s ban on indoor worship.

Around the Web

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

  • The Second Circuit granted en banc review of Pastor James Domen v. Vimeo, a case holding that Vimeo’s suspension of a pastor for posting videos of individuals who left the LGBT community to pursue their Christian faith was protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
  • The Ninth Circuit declined to grant en banc review of Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, in which a three-judge panel upheld a Washington state school board’s dismissal of a high school football coach who prayed at the 50-yard line immediately after football games.
    • For our Legal Spirits podcast episode on this case, see here.
  • The Tenth Circuit, in Williams v. Hansen, held that a suit by Native American inmates against prison officials for banning religious services should not have been dismissed on qualified immunity grounds.
  • An Arkansas federal district court, in Little Rock Family Planning Services v. Jegley, issued a preliminary injunction against enforcing Arkansas Act 309 against pre-viability abortions.
  • Suit was filed in Virginia state court challenging the Virginia Values Act. Plaintiffs argue that the act requires churches, religious schools, and Christian ministries to hire employees who do not share their stated beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender identity or face fines up to $100,000 for each violation.
  • New Hampshire’s 2021 budget includes the “Fetal Life Protection Act,” which limits abortions in the state to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, unless the life, health, or well-being of the mother is endangered.

Around the Web

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

  • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoed HB 453, which banned abortions unless the physician previously determined that the procedure was not being sought because of the race or sex of the fetus or because the fetus has Down Syndrome.
  • Members of the clergy and others engaged in religious-oriented work may now qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, after religious-oriented work was specifically excluded for over a decade.
  • Ohio Governor Mike DeWine approved vital conscience protections for doctors, nurses, and other medical providers, ensuring that medical professionals cannot be forced to participate in healthcare services that violate their consciences.
  • Kentucky Right to Life and Louisville nonprofit Sisters for Life filed for a temporary injunction against the city of Louisville Metro Council’s 10-foot “buffer zone” ordinance, which prevents sidewalk counseling within 10 feet of health care facilities.
  • Britain’s Methodist Church announced that it will now allow same-sex couples to get married on its premises. Ministers who oppose the change will not be forced to carry out same-sex marriages.
  • Hilton’s plan to build a new hotel upon the site of a demolished Uyghur mosque has sparked outrage and condemnation from various Muslim groups.