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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. 

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

  • In Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a school district violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses when the district disciplined a football coach for visibly praying at midfield following football games. Writing for the majority, Justice Gorsuch found that the coach sought to engage in private, sincerely motivated religious exercise and decided that the district could not bar this activity because of its own Establishment Clause concerns. In reaching this decision, the Court repudiated the Lemon test – which had been relied upon by the lower courts in deciding the case. 
  • In LaCroix v. Town of Fort Myers Beach, Florida, the Eleventh Circuit preliminarily enjoined a town’s ban on all portable signs. The ordinance was challenged by an individual who was cited for carrying a sign on a public sidewalk that conveyed his “religious, political and social message” that Christianity offers hope and salvation. 
  • In Apache Stronghold v. United States, the Ninth Circuit held that a proposed federal government land exchange in Arizona will not substantially burden Apache religious exercise in violation of RFRA. The court also held it will not violate the First Amendment because the Land Exchange Provision is a neutral and generally applicable law. 
  • In Halczenko v. Ascension Health, Inc., the Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction that had been sought by a pediatric critical care specialist. The specialist was fired from his hospital position after he refused, on religious grounds, to comply with the hospital’s COVID vaccine mandate. The court concluded that Plaintiff had shown neither irreparable injury nor inadequate remedies through a Title VII action. 
  • In Mishler v. Mishler, a Texas state appellate court held that there is neither a state nor a federal free exercise issue with a divorce decree, based on the parties’ prior agreement that the husband would deliver certain property to the wife only upon the wife’s acceptance of a “Gett” (a Jewish divorce document that the wife must accept for the divorce to be valid under Jewish religious law). 

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

  • The U.S. Supreme Court denied review in F.F. v. New York, in which the New York Court of Appeals rejected a constitutional challenge to the state’s repeal of a religious exemption from mandatory vaccination rules for school children. 
  • In America’s Frontline Doctors v. Wilcox, a California federal district court rejected a free exercise challenge to the University of California Riverside’s COVID vaccine mandate. 
  • In Snyder v. Arconic, Inc., a former employee of a metal engineering and manufacturing company brought suit against the company, claiming he was fired for expressing his Christian beliefs. 
  • In JLF v. Tennessee State Board of Education, a Tennessee federal district court rejected an Establishment Clause challenge to Tennessee’s requirement that all public schools post the national motto, “In God We Trust,” in a prominent location.
  • In T.C. v. Italy, the European Court of Human Rights, in a 5-2 Chamber Judgment, upheld an Italian court’s order in a custody case. An eight-year-old’s mother, who was a nominal Catholic and had enrolled daughter in catechism classes, objected to the girl’s father involving her in his Jehovah’s Witness religion. 
  • The U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 420-1, passed House Resolution 1125, condemning rising antisemitism. 

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

  • In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the City of Boston violated the First Amendment when it rejected an application to fly a Christian flag on one of the flagpoles in front of city hall.
  • In Navy SEAL 1 v. Austin, a D.C. federal district court refused to grant a preliminary injunction to bar discharge or other adverse action against a Navy SEAL who refuses, for religious reasons, to comply with the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
  • In Cobranchi v. City of Parkersburg, a West Virginia federal district court held that Parkersburg’s City Council violated the Establishment Clause by opening its meetings with The Lord’s Prayer.
  • In South Central Conference of Seventh Day Adventists v. Alabama High School Athletic Association, suit was filed in an Alabama federal district court by the Seventh Day Adventist Oakwood Academy after it was forced to forfeit a semifinal game in the state tournament due to observance of the sabbath.
  • In State of Louisiana v. Spell (Parish of East Baton Rouge), the Louisiana Supreme Court quashed bills of information that had been issued against a pastor, charging him with violating the government’s COVID-19 orders during the pandemic.
  • Times of Israel reported last week that the Israel Religious Action Center is suing an ultra-Orthodox Jewish news website because of its policy of digitally blurring the faces of females in news photos it posts. The news site claims it blurred the faces in order to observe religious doctrines regarding modesty.

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

  • In Toor v. Berger, four Sikh recruits filed suit against the Marine Corps seeking an accommodation that would allow them to wear religious beards and turbans while serving.
  • In Riley v. Hamilton County Government, a Tennessee federal district court refused to dismiss an Establishment Clause claim brought against a Deputy Sheriff who failed to intervene when another Deputy Sheriff coerced the plaintiff into participating in a Christian baptism during a traffic stop.
  • A Virginia school board prohibited a group of student-athletes at Blacksburg High School from wearing “Pray for Peace” shirts in support of Ukraine during pre-game warm-ups on the ground that the shirts are “political” and “religious.”
  • Shawnee State University has agreed to pay $400,000 in damages plus attorney’s fees after the Sixth Circuit held that the University violated the free exercise rights of a philosophy professor by mandating that the Professor use students’ preferred gender pronouns.
  • The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has denounced restrictions that would limit the annual Holy Fire ceremony to 1,000 people inside the church, with 500 allowed on the church’s grounds. The Patriarchate claims that the restrictions imposed by Israeli officials infringe on their religious liberty.
  • A 76-year-old woman is seeking to overturn a fine she received for taking a “solitary prayer walk” during a COVID-19 lockdown in England.

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

  • The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Mack. The arguments come after a Texas federal district court held that a program devised by a Justice of the Peace under which his court sessions are opened with a prayer from a volunteer chaplain violates the Establishment Clause.
  • In Mahoney v. United States Capitol Police Board, a D.C. federal district court refused to grant a preliminary injunction to a clergyman who was denied a permit to hold a large prayer vigil on part of the Capitol grounds.
  • In Weston v. Sears, an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended that Plaintiff, a Seventh Day Adventist, be permitted to proceed in forma pauperis with her Title VII claim for religious discrimination. Plaintiff was fired for failing, until after the end of her Sabbath, to return multiple phone calls from her manager.
  • Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has signed a bill prohibiting discrimination against faith-based adoption and foster care organizations, including a requirement that they place children in same-sex households when doing so would violate their religious beliefs.
  • In Affaire Assemblée chrétienne des Témoins de Jéhovah d’Anderlecht et autres c. Belgique, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of a Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Belgium that was denied a property tax exemption for property they used for religious worship.
  • Spain’s Senate voted Wednesday in favor of a bill that amends the country’s penal code to criminalize “harassment” of women entering abortion clinics.

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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.

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

  • The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc in Demkovich v. St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, held by a vote of 7-3 that the ministerial exception doctrine protects religious organizations from hostile work environment claims.
  • The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay pending appeal in Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Mack, allowing a Justice of the Peace to continue opening sessions in his courtroom with prayers from volunteer chaplains while the lawsuit proceeds.
  • The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against a priest who criticized a teenager’s suicide during his funeral service, holding that the priest was protected by the First Amendment.
  • An Indiana federal district court, in Kluge v. Brownsburg Community School Corporation, dismissed a suit by a former teacher who alleged that the school failed to accommodate his religious beliefs and therefore he was forced to resign or comply with a school policy that violated his religious beliefs.
  • Suit was filed in a California state trial court challenging the change of a public school name from San Diego’s Junipero Serra High School to Canyon Hills High School on Establishment Clause grounds.
  • Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the government must extend surrogacy rights to same-sex couples and single men.

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

  • A petition for certiorari was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in Shurtleff v. City of Boston, in which the First Circuit upheld Boston’s refusal to allow an organization to raise its “Christian flag” on one of the City Hall Plaza flag poles at an event that would feature short speeches by local clergy.
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 525, which prohibits the state from restricting activities of religious organizations during a state of emergency.
  • Suit was filed in a Mississippi federal district court by atheist and secular humanist plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the Mississippi state seal and standard license plate, which carry the motto, “In God We Trust.”
  • A complaint was filed with the EEOC on behalf of two employees at Stanford University’s Counseling & Psychological Services division charging that a hostile work environment has been created for Jewish employees.
  • President Emmanuel Macron submitted a bill to Parliament, called the Law Reinforcing Respect of the Principles of the Republic, that would empower the government to permanently close houses of worship and dissolve religious organizations, without a court order, if it finds that any of their members are provoking violence or inciting hatred.
  • A British High Court Family Division Judge refused the request by Muslim parents for an order to require their son’s guardians to have their 21-month old son circumcised.

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

  • A Maine church filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking an injunction to prevent Maine from enforcing its COVID-19 capacity restrictions on worship services while its petition for certiorari is pending.
  • The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Obataiye-Allah v. Steward, vacated an Oregon federal district court’s holding that prison officials were shielded from damages by qualified immunity in an inmate’s suit alleging that he was denied participation in Ramadan.
  • A Texas federal district court held, in Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Mack, that a Justice of the Peace who started his court sessions with an opening prayer from a volunteer chaplain violated the Establishment Clause because the attendees were impermissibly coerced into participating in religious activities.
  • The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed, in Koster v. Harvest Bible Chapel-Quad Cities, the dismissal of a suit against a church and three pastors by a congregant who alleged breach of fiduciary duty, concluding that the claim could not proceed because it would require consideration of the church’s doctrine and religious practices.
  • The University of Florida concluded that the University’s Student Senate violated the First Amendment when it removed Jack Denton, student president, because he privately shared his belief that the ACLU and other activist organizations advocate for causes that oppose Catholic teachings and his religious beliefs.
  • A Michigan high school initially directed a graduating senior, Elizabeth Turner, to alter her valedictory speech to remove all religious references, but after receiving a demand letter from the First Liberty Institute, officials at Hillsdale High School announced that religious students will be able to state their religious beliefs in graduation speeches.