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

  • In We the Patriots USA, Inc. v. Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Development, the 2d Circuit upheld the constitutionality of Connecticut’s decision to repeal religious exemptions from its mandatory vaccination laws, while still permitting medical exemptions. The court found that the act was neutral under Smith and thus dismissed plaintiffs’ challenges.
  • In Sims v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, the 11th Circuit found that in a suit where a Muslim inmate argued that he was denied an exemption from a Florida prison’s grooming rules requiring beards be no longer than half an inch, the Prison Litigation Reform Act’s requirement that inmates exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit only required him to exhaust the prison system’s grievance process. The Department of Corrections argued that the PLRA required inmates to file a rule change petition before filing suit.
  • In Huntsman v. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the 9th Circuit reversed dismissal of a suit brought by a former member of the LDS Church who alleged fraud on part of the church after he contributed $2.6 million in tithes to the church. The court rejected the Church’s argument that the suit was precluded by the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine.
  • In Carter v. Transport Workers of America, Local 556, the Northern District of Texas ordered sanctions against Southwest Airlines for failing to comply with a prior order that found Southwest violated Title VII by terminating a flight attendant for posting her religiously-motivated views of abortion on her social media. The court also ordered Southwest’s attorneys to attend at least 8 hours of religious liberty training.
  • In Burke v. Walsh, a Catholic couple filed suit against a foster care agency in the District of Massachusetts. The couple brought free speech and free exercise challenges because the agency denied them a foster care license because they “would not be affirming to a child who identified as LGBTQIA.”
  •  In Doe No. 1 v. Bethel Local School District Board of Education, the Southern District of Ohio dismissed a suit brought by Muslim and Christian plaintiffs alleging free exercise, due process, and equal protection challenges to a school board’s policy allowing students to use the bathroom of their gender identity.

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

  • In Forter v. Young, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a former prisoner’s complaints about the procedure used to deny his religious meal accommodation request. In seeking access to kosher meals, the former prisoner cited a Bible verse, and a prison official cited an additional verse to express his disagreement. The court found that the official’s response did not constitute an establishment of religion in violation of the establishment clause.
  • In Doe I v. Cisco Systems, Inc.the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that Falun Gong members, who were victims of human rights abuses carried out by China, can move ahead with claims against Cisco Systems and its executives for their assistance that enabled China to carry out monitoring of Internet activity by Falun Gong members. Falun Gong is a religion that originated in China in the 1990’s.
  • In Fitzgerald v. Roncalli High School, Inc., the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a suit based on the ministerial exception doctrine where a Catholic high school guidance counselor’s contract was not renewed because her same-sex marriage was inconsistent with the Catholic school’s religious mission. The court found this to be an easy case because of a recent ministerial exception doctrine decision the court issued last year. 
  • In Must v. County of Fillmore, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found that the County of Fillmore did not meet its burden of showing it had a compelling interest in requiring the appellants to use septic tanks in violation of their religious beliefs. The appellants were three members of the Amish community who brought suit against the county under RLUIPA.
  • In Britain, the House of Commons held a 90-minute debate on a current law which gives 26 bishops of the Church of England the right to automatically have seats in the House of Lords.

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

  • The Supreme Court denied certiorari in Keister v. Bell. In that case, the 11th Circuit rejected an evangelical preacher’s challenge to an Alabama law which required a permit for any speaker who sought to participate in expressive conduct on university grounds. The preacher set up a banner, handed out religious literature, and preached through a megaphone without a permit on campus grounds.
  • In Mack v. Yost, the 3d Circuit held that qualified immunity can be asserted by prison officers in a suit brought against them under the RFRA, but the defendants had not shown facts that they were entitled to that defense. The plaintiff was an inmate of Muslim faith who would pray during his shift breaks. He alleged that officers would interfere with his prayers, so he eventually stopped praying.
  • In Dousa v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Southern District of California held that U.S. immigration officials violated a pastor’s free exercise rights by urging the Mexican government to deny him entry into Mexico. The pastor married immigrant couples with children who were coming to the United States so that they would not be separated upon entry into the country.
  • In Edgerton v. City of St. Augustine, the Middle District of Florida found that when the City relocated a Confederate Civil War monument, it did not violate the Establishment Clause or plaintiff’s free exercise rights. The plaintiff alleged that he would pray at the monument, and the relocation was hostile and offensive to those who used the monument to pray.
  • In DeJong v. Pembrook, the Southern District of Illinois denied an Illinois University’s motion to dismiss a former student’s Free Speech claim. The student posted her religious, political, and social views to her social media, which led to a “no-contact” order that prohibited her from having any contact with three students who complained about the posts.
  • The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom held a virtual hearing to discuss the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on religious freedom in Ukraine. The Commission discussed how Russia’s control of certain areas in Ukraine has led to the suppression of religious communities such as the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Muslim Crimean Tatars, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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

  • In Spell v. Edwards, the 5th Circuit affirmed dismissal of a suit brought by Pastor Spell and his church in which they claimed that their First Amendment rights were infringed upon when COVID orders barred their holding of church services.
  • In Riley v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., the Southern District of New York dismissed, without prejudice, a suit brought by a Christian nurse who was denied a religious exemption from the COVID vaccine mandate. She alleged that the denial violated her rights under Title VII and the Free Exercise Clause.
  • In Barr v. Tucker, the Southern District of Georgia denied a preliminary injunction sought by a Christian teacher who claimed she was retaliated against when she was terminated allegedly for complaining about books that had illustrations of same-sex couples with children.
  • Suit was filed in the case of The Catholic Store, Inc. v. City of Jacksonville in the Middle District of Florida. Queen of Angels Catholic Bookstore brought the suit to challenge, on Free Speech and Free Exercise grounds, Jacksonville’s public accommodations law, which requires businesses to address customers using their preferred pronouns and titles regardless of a customer’s biological sex.
  • In Din v. State of Alaska, the Alaska Supreme Court reversed dismissal of a suit brought by a Muslim inmate who sued because his requests to pray five times per day using scented oils and to eat halal meat were denied. The court found that the restrictions placed a substantial burden on his free exercise of religion.
  • In Bierig-Kiejdan v. Kiejdan, a New Jersey state appeals court held that a family court judge could not order parties involved in a divorce to return to arbitration to solve issues regarding which religious tribunal should oversee the issuance of a get (Jewish divorce document).
  • The Department of Education (“DOE”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to rescind the Trump administration’s 2020 rules, which protected student religious groups at universities. The rules required public universities that receive DOE grants to grant religious groups all of the rights, benefits, and privileges that other student groups enjoy.

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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:

  • 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:

Around the Web

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:

Around the Web

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