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v. Pritzker, the Seventh Circuit affirmed an Illinois federal district court’s denial of an injunction against a now-rescinded COVID order which limited the number of people who could attend religious services.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.”

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.

Around the Web

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

  • The U.S. Supreme Court granted cert in Harold Shurtleff v. Boston and is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the upcoming October term. The First Circuit unanimously upheld the lower court’s ruling that the city of Boston did not violate the First Amendment by refusing to fly a Christian flag on one of the flag poles outside City Hall on Constitution day.
  • In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a petition for cert was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Tenth Circuit previously upheld the application of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act to a wedding website design company whose owner refused to create websites for same-sex marriages due to religious beliefs.
  • The Third Circuit heard oral arguments in Hilsenrath v. School District of the Chathams. A New Jersey federal district court previously held that the Chathams’ seventh-grade course that contained a presentation about Islam did not violate the Establishment Clause.
  • In Hamilton v. City of New York, a New York federal district court dismissed religious discrimination and failure to provide religious accommodation claims brought by a Jewish firefighter who wore a beard for religious reasons in violation of the FDNY no-beard policy.
  • In Leone v. Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, a New Jersey federal district court ruled against a prosecutor who sought a religious accommodation to work from home indefinitely because his religion requires him to pray aloud throughout each day.
  • In Geerlings v. Tredyffrin/Easttownn School District, a Pennsylvania federal district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction sought by the parents of four students who claimed that the students are entitled to religious exemptions from a school district’s COVID-19 mask requirement. The court found that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate a sincere religious belief.
  • England’s Court of Appeal held that a Christian foster care agency violated the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998 when it prohibited clients from placing children with individuals who were in same-sex relationships.

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:

  • The Fifth Circuit sitting en banc in Whole Woman’s Health v. Paxton upheld a Texas law enacted in 2017 that bans abortions performed through the dilation and evacuation procedure.
  • In Separation of Hinduism From Our Schools v. Chicago Public Schools, an Illinois federal district court held that plaintiff’s amended complaint sufficiently alleged constitutional violations in a suit challenging Chicago Public Schools’ “Quiet Time Program,” which was led by a Transcendental Meditation instructor.
  • In Solid Rock Baptist Church v. Murphy, a New Jersey federal district court dismissed as moot a challenge to a COVID-19 executive order limiting the number of people who could attend an indoor religious service.
  • In Magliulo v. Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, a Louisiana federal district court issued a temporary restraining order barring a medical college from conditioning students’ enrollment on their COVID-19 vaccination status. The students had previously requested an exemption for religious reasons.
  • Over 80 members of the U.S. Congress have signed a letter objecting to the Biden administration’s decision to drop a lawsuit filed on behalf of a pro-life nurse who was forced to participate in performing an abortion procedure in violation of federal conscience laws.
  • The Justice Department announced the seizure of seventeen funeral scrolls, manuscripts, and community records that were looted from Eastern European Jewish communities during the Holocaust.
  • The archdioceses of Philadelphia, Chicago, California, and New York have instructed their clerics not to assist parishioners seeking religious exemptions from receiving COVID-19 vaccines stating that “there is no basis in Catholic moral teaching for rejecting vaccine mandates on religious grounds.”
  • The U.S. Treasury Department is set to release a shipment of religious tiles that were intended for a northern Virginia mosque, but were temporarily confiscated at Dulles International Airport.

Around the Web

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

  • The Tenth Circuit, in Ashaheed v. Currington, reversed a Colorado federal district court’s dismissal of a Muslim inmate’s free exercise and equal protections claims concerning a Colorado corrections center’s requirement that inmates shave their bears at intake.
  • A Texas federal district court, in Franciscan Alliance, Inc. v. Becerra, permanently enjoined enforcement of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act and implementing regulations against Christian health care providers and health plans. Enforcement would have required the providers and plans to provide insurance coverage for abortions or gender-transition procedures.
  • An Indiana federal district court, in Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis v. Roncalli High School, ruled that a lawsuit filed by a former Catholic school guidance counselor against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis must be dismissed. The court found that the former counselor qualified as a minister of religion and thus the Archdiocese and the school were exempt from the counselor’s federal workplace discriminations claims.
  • New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed the New Hampshire Religious Liberty Act, which permits religious organizations to continue operating during an emergency to the same or greater extent as other “essential” businesses and organizations.
  • The Loudoun County (Virginia) School Board approved Policy 8040: Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students, which requires teachers to refer to students by the students’ preferred names and pronouns.
  • A northern Virginia mosque asked the Biden administration to release a set of religious tiles that were confiscated at Dulles International Airport.

Around the Web

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

  • The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Denton v. City of El Paso, ordered a Texas federal district court to grant a preliminary injunction barring El Paso from prohibiting religious proselytizing at the weekly outdoor El Paso Art and Farmers Market.
  • The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Umphress v. Hall, heard oral arguments in which a Texas federal district court dismissed a suit by a Texas judge who was seeking to prevent future action by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct against judges who refuse to officiate same-sex marriages.
  • A New York federal district court declined to dismiss a plaintiff’s Equal Protection and Establishment Clause claims which allege that she was denied admission to CUNY’s social work program because of her religious beliefs.
  • A federal lawsuit was filed by Downtown Hope Center, a faith-based women’s shelter in Alaska, to stop an ordinance from forcing the shelter to admit trans-identifying individuals, alleging that admitting them will hinder the shelter’s ability to communicate its religious beliefs.
  • Suit was filed in a Florida state court by parents of two Catholic school students who seek to have the court declare their financial contributions to the school null and void, alleging that the school breached its promise to provide a Catholic education.
  • The District of Columbia agreed to pay $220,000 as part of a legal settlement with a local Baptist church that sued the city over COVID-19 restrictions on in-person worship services.
  • Each week since May 2nd, Azerbaijani military forces have blocked Armenian Apostolic Church pilgrims’ access to Sunday worship services at Dadivank Monastery. Bishop Abrahamian stated that “[s]ometimes the Azerbaijanis cite the coronavirus, other times they said the road was still blocked because of a landslip.”

Around the Web

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

  • The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled, in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, that Philadelphia has violated the free exercise rights of Catholic Social Services by refusing to contract with Catholic Social Services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents.
  • A Colorado Federal District Court held, in Scardina v. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc., that a Colorado baker who refused to furnish cake that reflected a transgender woman’s transition because it violated his religious beliefs was a violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, and that the law does not infringe the defendant’s free exercise rights.
  • Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis signed bill HB 529, which requires public school students “to reflect and to be able to pray as they see fit” for one or two minutes each day.
  • A divided conference of the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops voted to draft a statement on Holy Communion that may admonish Catholic politicians who support policies that are antithetical to church doctrine.
  • Christians Engaged, a Christian charitable organization, is appealing the Internal Revenue Service’s decision to deny the group nonprofit exemption status, arguing that the organization’s endeavors are too political.
  • Tim Stephens, a Canadian pastor of Fairview Baptist Church, was arrested after holding an outdoor worship service at an undisclosed location, after the local government ordered the church building to be closed due to COVID-19 rules.