Around the Web This Week

Here are some interesting news stories involving law and religion from this past week:

Pierceson, “Same-Sex Marriage in the United States”

This month, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers published Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: The Road to the Supreme Court by Jason Pierceson (University of Illinois, Springfield). The publisher’s description follows.Same-Sex Marriage in the United States

Same-sex marriage has become one of the defining social issues in contemporary U.S. politics. State court decisions finding in favor of same-sex relationship equality claims have been central to the issue’s ascent from nowhere to near the top of the national political agenda. Same Sex Marriage in the United States tells the story of the legal and cultural shift, its backlash, and how it has evolved over the past 15 years.

There is a clear story of jurisprudential evolution with regards to same-sex marriage from Hawaii, through Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, and, remarkably, Iowa in 2009. This book aids in a classroom examination of the legal, political, and social developments surrounding the issue of same-sex marriage in the United States. While books about same-sex marriage have proliferated in recent years, few, if any, have provided a clear and comprehensive account of the litigation for same-sex marriage, and its successes and failures, as this book does.

Esbeck on Hosanna-Tabor and the First Amendment

Carl H. Esbeck (University of Missouri School of Law) has posted A Religious Organization’s Autonomy in Matters of Self-Governance: Hosanna-Tabor and the First Amendment.  As noted by Professor DeGirolami in an earlier post, Professor Esbeck co-authored an amicus brief in the case.  The abstract of the article follows.

In Hosanna-Tabor, a teacher suing her employer, a church-based school, alleged retaliation for having asserted rights under a discrimination statute. The School raised the “ministerial exception,” which prohibits ministers from suing their religious employer. The Court held the exception was constitutionally required.

Before giving the facts that convinced it that this teacher was a “minister,” the Court had to distinguish the leading case of Employ. Div. v. Smith. Plaintiffs in Smith held jobs as counselors at a drug rehabilitation center. They were fired for illegal drug use (peyote), and later denied unemployment compensation. The Native American Church ingests peyote during a sacrament. Smith held that the Free Exercise Clause was not implicated when Oregon enacted a neutral law of general applicability that happened to have an impact on a religious practice. The Court admitted that the nondiscrimination law in Hosanna-Tabor was a general law of neutral application that happened to have an impact on the School’s ability to fire a teacher. It distinguished Smith. Continue reading

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