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Archive for the category “Reblog: Religion Clause”

5th Circuit Upholds Direct Supervision Requirement For Muslim Inmate Worship Services

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

In Brown v. Scott, (5th Cir., July 5, 2019), the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision (56 pages long) written by Judge Owen held that a 1977 consent decree allowing Muslim inmates to gather for worship without direct supervision should be vacated. While Muslim inmates had met with only indirect supervision from 1977 to 2012, that arrangement was terminated after a Jehovah’s Witness inmate successfully sued arguing that the more favorable treatment of Muslim inmates violates the Establishment Clause. The termination of the special treatment for Muslim inmates, however, violated the earlier consent decree. This led prison officials to ask that the earlier decree be vacated under provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act that allow lifting of the injunction if it is no longer needed to correct an ongoing violation of rights.

Muslim inmates argued that requiring direct supervision of their services would impose a substantial burden in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The majority held, however, that it is not prison authorities that have imposed a substantial burden, but instead it is caused by a lack of Muslim volunteers from outside who will supervise services. The majority also rejected Free Exercise and Establishment Clause arguments.

The district court had concluded that Texas prison regulations favor Catholic, Jewish, Native American and Protestant inmates over Muslim inmates.  Judge Owen concluded that this does not create an Establishment Clause violation because in the prison context the more lenient Turner v. Safley test should be applied to Establishment Clause claims.

Judge King joined all of Judge Owen’s opinion except for the Establishment Clause section. She held there was an Establishment Clause violation, but that the 1977 consent decree should be vacated nevertheless because it is broader than necessary to remedy the violation.

Judge Dennis in a separate opinion dissented as to the RLUIPA issue, and would not have reached the Establishment Clause or Free Exercise claims

You can learn more about this issue here.

Church Sues Over Cannabis Raid

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

Redheaded Blackbelt reported yesterday:

A church called Redwood Spiritual Healing Ministry filed a lawsuit Thursday, June 27 against the County of Humboldt and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) alleging violations of its 1st Amendment right to religious freedom as well as due process violations when a multiple agency task force destroyed cannabis as well as private property during the execution of a search warrant. The case further alleges that the County of Humboldt may have withheld relevant information from a judge by having CDFW file the Affidavit for the search warrant without informing the judge that the property in question may be a church under the law.

The full text of the complaint in Redwoods Spiritual Healing Ministry v. Humboldt County, California, (CA Super. Ct., filed 6/27/2019) embedded at the end of the news report on the lawsuit.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Court Rejects Free Exercise Defense To Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim

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

In Lawrence v. Treybig(TX App., June 20, 2019), a Texas state appeals court affirmed a trial court jury’s award of nominal damages and a permanent injunction against Arthur Lawrence who had been hired by a wealthy family as a basketball coach for their son, Cody Treybig, when he was nine years old. Lawrence remained in that position for six years during which time he convinced Cody of Lawrence’s paranoid religious views:

Lawrence … told Cody that Jimmy Treybig, Cody’s father, was a high-level member of an evil society called the Illuminati; that Cody’s school, his hometown of Austin, and colleges in general were full of evil Illuminati members; that the rapture was imminent; that Cody’s parents intended to have an RFID5 chip implanted into Cody’s body, which would damn him to hell; that the RFID chip would control Cody’s mind and would contain cyanide that could be used to kill him if he resisted; and that Cody’s parents and brother hated him and were evil.

In the suit against Lawrence for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the court rejected Lawrence’s free exercise defense:

Lawrence argues that the jury could not determine whether his conduct was extreme and outrageous without weighing the veracity of his religious beliefs and that the trial court therefore should have dismissed Cody’s claims. However, whether Lawrence’s views are sincerely held or whether he believed that he was helping to save Cody from damnation is irrelevant under the facts of this case, in which Lawrence’s conduct, no matter its motivation, was extreme and outrageous.

The court affirmed the award of damages of $4 and an injunction barring Lawrence from coming within 1,000 feet of Cody or contacting Cody or his family.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Texas Governor Signs “Save Chik-fil-A” Law

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

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law S.B. 1978 (full text) 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. According to KXAN News:

The bill was brought forward by Republicans after San Antonio City Council voted in March to exclude Chik-fil-A from having airport concessions in their city because of the fast-food chain’s owners’ record on LGBT issues, specifically over donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Salvation Army, and a George youth home; whose leaders advocate for marriage to be between one-man and one-woman.

The law has become known as the “Save Chik-fil-A bill.”

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Feds Settle Suit With Old Order Amish Woman Over Photo In Residency Application

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

According to the Indy Star, government agencies have settled a lawsuit brought by an Old Order Amish couple.  Under the settlement, the wife will be able to become a permanent U.S. resident without submitting photos of herself in the application for residency. She will also be able to cross the border without photographic identification.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Senior Community Management Sued Over Ban on Bible Study Groups and Public Prayer

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

A lawsuit was filed this week in a Virginia federal district court by a retired pastor and his wife against a senior living community where they lived.  The complaint (full text) in Hauge v. Community Realty Company, Inc., (ED VA, filed 5/21/2019), alleges that the community’s management discriminated against plaintiffs on the basis of religion by acceding to demands of other residents to bar plaintiffs’ followers from publicly saying grace before their meals, and prohibiting plaintiffs from hosting Bible Study anywhere in the living complex.  The suit contends that management’s actions violated federal and state fair housing laws.  First Liberty issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Court Rejects Christian Adoption Agency’s Challenge To Anti-Discrimination Regulation

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

In New Hope Family Services v. Poole, (ND NY, May 16, 2019), a New York federal district court rejected a constitutional challenge by a Christian adoption agency to New York’s anti-discrimination provisions. Regulations of New York’s Office of Children & Family Services prohibit adoption agencies from discriminating, among other things, on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. New Hope Family Services will not place children with same-sex couples or with unmarried couples. Inquiries from such couples are referred to other agencies. The court rejected New Hope’s contention that the regulation violates its free exercise rights because it was adopted to target faith-based agencies.  Instead, the court found that the regulation “is facially neutral and generally applicable, and that it has been neutrally and generally applied in this case….” The court also rejected New Hope’s free speech and equal protection challenges to New York’s regulation. In a press release, ADF said that the decision is likely to be appealed.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Court Properly Applied Neutral Principles In Dealing With Factional Dispute In Church

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

Nelson v. Brewer(IL App., May 10, 2019), involved a dispute between two factions of a congregational church over control of the church, identity of its pastor and control of its property. The appellate court upheld the trial court’s action under Sec. 112.55 of the Illinois Non-Profit Corporation Act appointing a custodian to secure the church’s property and bring the church’s corporate governance documents in to compliance with law. The court also, through a series of orders, provided for selection of a 5-person board for the church. The appellate court said in part:

We find the circuit court in this case properly applied the neutral principles of law as it found both parties have an equal right to PTC property and carefully applied section 112.55 of the Act to remediate the church’s corporate governance. The court specifically refused to issue an opinion as to who is the rightful pastor because that question is religious in nature. Instead the court limited its findings to corporate reorganization by examining PTC’s articles of incorporation, bylaws, other corporate governing documents, the land trust, and pertinent state statutes to resolve the matter.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Defamation Suit Dismissed Under Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine

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

In In re Alief Vietnamese Alliance Church and Phan Phung Hung, (TX App., April 30, 2019), a Texas state appellate court held that a defamation claim by a church’s former interim pastor, Paul Nguyen, against the Church and its senior pastor Phan Phung Hung should be dismissed under the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine.  At issue were statements by Hung that Nguyen had committed adultery with a female church member. In a 2-1 decision, the majority said in part:

We conclude that Hung’s allegedly defamatory statements are … “inextricably intertwined” with matters relating to an internal struggle between a current and former leader of the Church over Church governance, the standard of morals required of leaders of the Church, and the reason for Nguyen’s leaving or being expelled from the Church….

Even if there is a dispute over Hung’s motivation in making the statements—either as part of a disciplinary procedure due to the alleged adultery or merely out of vindictiveness towards Nguyen, who had criticized Hung’s pastoring decisions—these statements were made in the context of expelling a member and former leader of the Church, or, alternatively, the Church member’s voluntarily quitting his leadership positions and quitting the Church—and then refusing to meet with Church leadership to resolve the dispute—either version of which is inherently an ecclesiastical concern as a matter of law.

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Texas “No Boycott of Israel” Law Held Unconstitutional

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

A Texas federal district court last week held unconstitutional the Texas statute requiring all state contracts for goods or services to include a written verification from the contracting company that it is not, and during the contract will not, boycott Israel. In Amawi v. Pflugerville Independent School District(WD TX, April 25, 2019), a Texas federal district court granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the anti-BDS statute or enforcement of any clause in state contracts barring boycott of Israel.  The court, in a 56-page opinion, said in part:

Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claims that H.B. 89 is unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it (1) is an impermissible content- and viewpoint-based restriction on protected expression; (2) imposes unconstitutional conditions on public employment; (3) compels speech for an impermissible purpose; and (4) is void for vagueness.

The suit was brought by five individuals who wished to contract, or had contracted, to provide services such as speech therapy and early childhood evaluations for a school district; translation of an art essay for a state University museum; judging high school debate tournaments; and providing podcasts for a public radio station. The court concluded that all of these were contracts with sole proprietorships, and were thus covered by the statute. Washington Post reports on the decision.

You can learn more about this issue here.

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