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Archive for the category “Reblog: Religion Clause”

5th Circuit Upholds Stay of Execution For Buddhist Inmate

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Murphy v. Collier, (5th Cir., Nov. 12, 2019), the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, upheld a stay of execution granted last week by a Texas federal district court in the case of a Buddhist inmate who challenges the access he will have to his religious adviser prior to his execution. The district court granted a stay to allow it time to explore factual concerns about the balance between the inmate’s religious rights and the prison’s valid concerns for security. (See prior posting.) Christian and Muslim inmates have access to chaplains until the moment they enter the execution chamber.  Members of other religions have access to their outside clergy only until 5:00 p.m.on the day of execution. In his majority opinion for the 5th Circuit, Judge Dennis wrote in part:

We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Murphy’s stay. We agree with the district court’s implicit finding that Murphy has a strong likelihood of success on the merits of his claim that the TDCJ policy violates his rights by allowing inmates who share the same faith as TDCJ-employed clergy greater access to a spiritual advisor in the death house.

Judge Elrod dissented, saying in part:

Because I believe Murphy did not demonstrate that he is likely to succeed on his brand-new, untimely, and unexhausted claim regarding the TDCJ’s pre-execution holding-area protocol, I would hold that the district court abused its discretion in granting Murphy’s motion for stay of execution.

CNN reports on the decision.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Organization Lacks Standing To Claim Sexual Orientation Discrimination By Christian Business Owners

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission v. Hands On Originals(KY Sup. Ct., Oct. 31, 2019), The Kentucky Supreme Court dismissed on standing grounds a suit against a small business whose Christian owners refused on religious grounds to print T-shirts for a Pride Festival. The court held that because the discrimination complaint was filed only by a gay-rights organization, plaintiff lacks statutory standing:

[B]ecause an “individual” did not file the claim, but rather an organization did, we would have to determine whether the organization is a member of the protected class, which we find impossible to ascertain. No end user may have been denied the service who is a member of the protected class, or perhaps one was. If so, then the determination would have to follow whether the reason for denial of service constitutes discrimination under the ordinance, and then whether the local government was attempting to compel expression, had infringed on religious liberty, or had failed to carry its burden under KRS 446.350. But without an individual, as required by Section 2-32(2)(a), this analysis cannot be conducted.

Justice Buckingham filed a concurring opinion, arguing that the Human Rights Commission had unconstitutionally attempted to compel the business to express ideas with which it disagreed.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Cert. Denied In Challenge To High School Unit On Islam

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review in Wood v. Arnold, (Docket No. 18-1438, certiorari denied 10/15/2019). (Order List.)   In the case, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a high school student’s Establishment Clause and compelled speech challenges to a classroom unit on The Muslim World.  One challenge was to the teacher’s Power Point slide which included the statement that most Muslims’ faith is stronger than that of the average Christian.  The other challenge was to the requirement on a work sheet for the student to fill in two words of the shahada. (See prior posting.) The Free Thinker blog has more on the case.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Citizen Lacks Standing To Challenge City’s Annual Menorah Lighting

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Taylor v. City of Flagstaff, (D AZ, Oct. 9, 2019), an Arizona federal district court held that a citizen of Flagstaff, Arizona lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the city’s annual Grand Menorah Lighting at City Hall.  The court said in part:

Although Plaintiff is a resident of Flagstaff…, Plaintiff did not allege that he has had direct contact with the Grand Menorah Lighting at City Hall, or any other religious ceremony purportedly held in City Hall. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff’s contact with the Grand Menorah Lighting at City Hall has, at most, been via newspaper articles reporting the “Flagstaff Hanukkah tradition.”…. While Plaintiff alleges that he has been “quite concerned” and “very disturbed” by the Grand Menorah Lighting at City Hall, … —without more, the injury asserted by Plaintiff is too generalized and remote to confer standing….

The court concluded that the same test for standing applies to both plaintiff’s Establishment Clause claim and his claim under the no-aid provision of the state constitution.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Christian Student Group Can Retain Selective Leadership Requirements

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Intervarsity Christian Fellowship USA v. University of Iowa, (SD IA, Sept. 27, 2019), an Iowa federal district court held that the University of Iowa and three of its administrators violated the free speech and free exercise rights of a Christian student organization when it revoked its registered student organization status. The University’s action was taken because Intervarsity Christian Fellowship required its leaders to affirm the groups Christian statement of faith. The court said in part:

by granting the exceptions it has to the Human Rights Policy and refusing to make a similar exception for InterVarsity, the University has made a value judgment that its secular reasons for deviating from the Human Rights Policy are more important than InterVarsity’s religious reasons for the deviation it seeks. Because this reflects an impermissible “value judgment in favor of secular motivations,” … the University’s decision to deregister InterVarsity is subject to strict scrutiny.

Becket issued a press release announcing the decision.

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“Church Autonomy” Requires Dismissal of Fired Faculty Member’s Claims

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Garrick v. Moody Bible Institute, (ND IL, Sept. 25, 2019), an Illinois federal district court held that the “church autonomy” doctrine requires dismissal of claims by a former faculty member of a religious college that she was terminated because of her advocacy in favor of women serving as clergy members. The court said in part:

Garrick’s disagreement with Moody’s beliefs on the role of women in the ministry underlies the majority of Garrick’s allegations….. Under these circumstances, if the Court were to delve into the disputes posed by Garrick, it would impermissibly inject the auspices of government into religious doctrine and governance.

However the court said plaintiff could refile Title VII claims if they are untethered from her disagreements with Moody’s religious views.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Third Circuit: Ban On Religious Bus Ads Violates 1st Amendment

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Northeastern Pennsylvania Freethought Society v. County of Lackawanna Transit System, (3d Cir., Sept. 17, 2019), the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, held that the County of Lackawanna Transit System’s ban on bus advertising that promotes religious views violates the First Amendment.  Plaintiff’s proposed ad that featured the word “Atheists” along with the group’s name and website was rejected under this policy. The majority said in part:

The 2013 policy’s ban on speech related to religion discriminates on the basis of viewpoint. And it is not a permissible limitation on COLTS’s forum, however that forum is characterized.

Judge Cowen dissenting said in part:

I do not believe that the transit system’s policy rises to the level of viewpoint discrimination. As the D.C. Circuit has recently explained, there is a critical difference between the prohibition of religious (and atheistic) perspectives on otherwise permissible subject matters—which constitutes viewpoint discrimination—and the exclusion of religion itself as a subject matter—which does not.

WNEP News reports on the decision.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Texans Sue Under the “Save Chick-fil-A” Law

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

As previously reported, in June Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill which prohibits any governmental entity in Texas from taking adverse action against any person because of the person’s affiliation, contribution or support for a religious organization. The law was aimed at San Antonio’s exclusion of Chick-fil-A from operating at the San Antonio’s airport.  The restaurant chain has been criticized for its contributions to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage. Last week, five Texas residents filed suit in a state trial court under the new law seeking an injunction to prevent the city from continuing to exclude Chick-fil-A from the airport. The complaint (full text) in Von Dohlen v. City of San Antonio, (TX Dist. Ct., filed 9/5/2019), alleges in part:

The law of Texas prohibits governmental entities from taking “adverse action” against corporations based on their contributions to a religious organization. See Texas Gov’t Code § 2400.002. The City of San Antonio is violating this statutory command by excluding Chick-fil-A from the San Antonio airport on account of its donations to Christian organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

20. For years, liberal activists have been attacking Chick-fil-A because it gives money to Christian organizations that accept the Bible as the Word of God.

21. Because these Bible-believing Christian organizations derive their notions of morality from the Bible rather than modern-day cultural fads, they oppose homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage.

San Antonio Family Association issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Suit Challenges North Carolina County’s Refusal To Recognize Marriages Performed By Universal Life Clergy

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

Suit was filed this week in a North Carolina federal district court challenging the refusal by the Cleveland County, North Carolina marriage official to issue marriage licenses to couples whose weddings were performed by Universal Life Church (ULC) ministers. ULC ordains anyone “who feels the call” as a minister. Ordination takes place online for free and credentials are sent to applicants by mail. North Carolina Gen. Stat. §51-1 allows “an ordained minister of any religious denomination to officiate at weddings.  The complaint (full text) in Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse v. Harnage, (WD NC, filed 8/26/2019), alleges violation of the Establishment, Equal Protection and Free exercise clauses, as well as of Art. VI and of the North Carolina constitution, saying in part:

Defendant’s apparent policy of refusing to recognize the validity of marriages performed by ULC Monastery ministers officially prefers certain religions or religious denominations over ULC Monastery by allowing other religious leaders to solemnize marriages but declining to extend that same benefit to ULC Monastery ministers.

Charlotte Observer reports on the lawsuit.

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EEOC Wins Settlement of Suit Brought On Behalf of Seventh Day Adventists

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

EEOC last week announced the settlement of a lawsuit it had filed against an  Ooltewah, Tennessee, senior and assisted living community.  Garden Plaza at Greenbriar Cove required two Seventh Day Adventist employees to work on Saturdays, and asked them to resign when they refused to do so.  In the settlement, Garden Plaza will pay $92,586.50 in damages, and enter a 2-year consent decree requiring it to train employees on Title VII matters.

You can learn more about this issue here.

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