Around the Web

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

  • In Franciscan Alliance, Inc. v. Becerra, the Fifth Circuit, invoking RFRA, upheld a Texas federal district court’s issuance of a permanent injunction barring the government from interpreting or enforcing provisions of the Affordable Care Act to require religious organizations, in violation of their religious beliefs, to perform or provide insurance coverage for gender-reassignment surgeries or abortions. At issue is the interpretation of the ACA’s ban on discrimination on the basis of sex. 
  • In Fellowship of Christian Athletes v. San Jose Unified School District Board of Education, the Ninth Circuit ordered the reinstatement of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as an official student club at San Jose high schools. The majority said in part: “This case pits two competing values that we cherish as a nation: the principle of non-discrimination on the one hand, and the First Amendment’s protection of free exercise of religion and free speech on the other hand.” 
  • In Colonel Financial Management Officer v. Austin, a Florida federal district court certified as a class all Marines who have sincere religious objections to COVID vaccination and whose requests for a religious accommodation have been denied on appeal. The court found “a systematic failure by the Marine Corps to satisfy RFRA” and issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the vaccine mandate against class members. 
  • In Chelsey Nelson Photography, LLC v. Louisville/Jefferson County, a Kentucky federal district court held that Louisville’s public accommodation ordinance violates the free speech rights of a Christian wedding photographer who has moral and religious objections to same-sex marriages. The court also held that the ordinance violates the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 
  • An emergency Application for a Stay Pending Appellate Review was filed in Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance. In the case, a New York state trial court held that New York City’s public accommodation law requires Yeshiva University to officially recognize as a student organization an LGBTQ group, YU Pride Alliance. The petition contends that Yeshiva University will likely succeed in its contention that forcing it to recognize the group violates the University’s free exercise rights and the principles of church autonomy. The filing asks that, alternatively, it be treated as a petition for certiorari. 
  • Suit was filed in a Virginia state court by a Catholic nurse practitioner who was fired by a CVS Minute Clinic after she insisted that, for religious reasons, she would not provide or facilitate the use of hormonal contraceptives, Plan B and Ella, which she considers abortifacients. The clinic had accommodated her religious beliefs for three years, but then changed its policy and refused to do so. The complaint in Casey v. MinuteClinic Diagnostic of Virginia, LLC, challenges her firing as a violation of Va. Code § 18.2-75.

Around the Web

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

  • A petition for certiorari has been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in Groff v. DeJoy. In the case, the Third Circuit held that accommodating a Sunday sabbath observer by allowing him not to report for work on Sunday would cause an “undue hardship” to the U.S. Postal Service. Therefore, the court held that failure to grant the requested accommodation did not violate Title VII. 
  • In In the Interest of C.C., the Georgia Supreme Court gave guidance to a juvenile court on how to determine whether parents’ objections to vaccinating their children are based on a sincerely held religious belief. The court said in part: “Ultimately, the juvenile court must determine whether the Chandlers’ religious objection to the vaccination of their children is ‘truly held.’ The court should ‘sh[y] away from attempting to gauge how central a sincerely held belief is to the believer’s religion.’ And it must bear in mind that ‘a belief can be both secular and religious. The categories are not mutually exclusive.’ “
  • In Toor v. Berger, the D.C. federal district court refused to grant a preliminary injunction to three Sikh Marine recruits who wanted to prevent enforcement of the Marine’s uniform and grooming policies during recruit training while their case continues to be litigated. Plaintiffs argue that denying accommodation of their religious practices violates RFRA, the Free Exercise Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause. The court held that even if plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable injury, the balance of equities and the overall public interest favors the military at this preliminary stage of proceedings. 
  • In Bey v. Sirius-El, a New York federal district court dismissed a suit seeking damages, injunctive relief, and criminal prosecution of defendants for barring plaintiff from attending the Brooklyn Moorish Science Temple in person. Plaintiff was barred because of the potential for a conflict between her and a “competing love interest” who has also been attending services. The court dismissed plaintiff’s free exercise claims because she did not allege that any state action was involved. 
  • In Chabad of Prospect, Inc. v. Louisville Metro Board of Zoning Adjustment, a Kentucky federal district court dismissed a suit brought against zoning officials by a synagogue that was denied a conditional use permit to use a home it purchased for religious services. When the property was put up for sale, zoning rules allowed its use for religious purposes. However, before plaintiff purchased the property, the city removed that provision and required a conditional use permit. The court held that plaintiff’s § 1983 claim alleging First Amendment violations was barred by the statute of limitations. Additionally, the court held that plaintiff failed to state a claim under RLUIPA. 
  • In Miller v. Austin, a Wyoming federal district court dismissed on standing and ripeness grounds a suit by two Air Force sergeants who face discharge because of their refusal on religious grounds to receive the COVID vaccine. 

Around the Web

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

  • In Fox v. City of Austin, a Christian minister who has been a volunteer fire department chaplain filed suit in a Texas federal district court alleging that his free speech and free exercise rights were violated when the fire department terminated him as chaplain because of his social media posts. 
  • In Lowe v. Mills, a Maine federal district court rejected challenges by seven healthcare workers to Maine’s COVID vaccination requirement for healthcare workers. While medical exemptions to the requirement are available, no such exemption applies to religion. The court rejected the plaintiffs’ Title VII religious discrimination and free exercise claims. 
  • In People v. Calvary Chapel, San Jose, a California state appellate court annulled contempt orders imposed by a trial court and reversed the trial court’s imposition of monetary sanctions, which resulted from a church’s refusal to comply with state COVID public health orders. 
  • The Department of Agriculture issued a Guidance clarifying that a Title IX exemption is available for religious educational institutions if there is a conflict between Title IX and a school’s governing religious tenets. 
  • As part of a settlement with the national organization, American Atheists, Arkansas state Senator Jason Rapert will have to unblock his atheist constituents from his social media account. Senator Rapert is also required to pay more than $16,000 to American Atheists for costs related to the lawsuit. 
  • The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia sent to Parliament its Final Report on its Review of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984. The Report makes 163 recommendations for changes in Western Australia’s anti-discrimination laws. In connection with the Act’s ban on discrimination based on religious conviction, the Report’s Recommendation 51 provides updates on how “religious conviction” should be defined in the Act. 

Around the Web

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

  • The U.S. Supreme Court denied review in Community Baptist Church v. Polis, a free exercise challenge to COVID restrictions imposed by Colorado. The challenge was brought by two churches and one of their pastors.
  • In Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov, Inc. v. Village of Pomona, New York, the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal, on ripeness grounds, of a suit challenging two zoning laws that prevented plaintiff from building a rabbinical college on its property.
  • In Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse v. Nabors, the Sixth Circuit allowed a lawsuit to go forward challenging a Tennessee law that prohibits persons who receive online ordination from solemnizing marriages.
  • The Seventh Circuit heard oral arguments in Halczenko v. Ascension Health, Inc., in which a pediatric intensive care doctor is seeking a religious exemption from a hospital’s COVID vaccination requirement . 
  • The Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan Chapter (“CAIR-MI”) announced that a settlement has been reached in a suit charging the city of Ferndale’s police department with forcibly removing a Muslim woman’s hijab for a booking photo after her arrest.
  • Virginia Governor Glen Younkin, has signed House Bill 1063, which broadly defines “religion” in the state’s civil rights laws to include actions and expressions, not just personal beliefs.

Around the Web

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

  • In Austin v. U.S. Navy Seals 1-26, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 6-3, stayed a Texas district court’s order that barred the Navy from considering the COVID-19 vaccination status of service members who object to the vaccine on religious grounds in making decisions regarding deployment, assignment, and operations. 
  • The Supreme Court denied review in Brysk v. Herskovitz, in which the Sixth Circuit had dismissed a suit brought by synagogue members against anti-Israel picketers who have picketed services at the Beth Israel Synagogue since 2003.
  • In Keister v. Bell, the Eleventh Circuit rejected a challenge brought by a traveling evangelical preacher against the University of Alabama after the University prohibited the preacher from setting up a banner, passing out literature, and preaching on a campus sidewalk because he did not have a permit. The court found the sidewalk was a limited public forum and thus the University could impose reasonable, viewpoint-neutral restrictions.
  • In Wagner v. Saint Joseph’s/Candler Health Systems, Inc., a Georgia federal district court held that a hospital did not violate Title VII after it fired an Orthodox Jewish employee for taking seven days off to observe the Fall Jewish holidays.
  • In Denton v. City of El Paso, a Texas federal magistrate judge concluded that the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights were violated by a city policy that prohibited the plaintiff from proselytizing at the Downtown Art and Farmers Market.
  • A Christian doctor, who lost his job for refusing to use patients’ preferred pronouns, will appear before a tribunal in the United Kingdom this week to challenge a ruling that held that biblical beliefs on gender are “incompatible with human dignity.”
  • In Christian Religious Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the NKR v. Armenia, the European Court of Human Rights held that refusal by Nagorno Karabakh to register Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religious organization amounts to a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.