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Archive for the tag “ordinance”

Suit Challenges Cross At Site of Historic Spanish Mission

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

The Freedom From Religion Foundation this week filed suit in a California federal district court challenging the constitutionality of a 14-foot tall granite Latin cross in Santa Clara’s Memorial Cross Park.  The complaint (full text) in Freedom From Religion Foundation v. City of Santa Clara, (ND CA, filed 4/20/2016), says that the cross was donated and placed on city-owned property in 1953 by the Lion’s Club to mark the site of the second Spanish Catholic mission established in the city in 1777. The site continues to be maintained by the city. Plaintiff claims that the city’s actions violate the Establishment Clause of the federal and state constitutions as well as the “no aid” clause of California’s constitution.  FFRF issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit and containing a photo of the disputed marker.

You can learn more about this issue here.

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Lay Minister Sues Georgia Health Department For Employment Discrimination

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

“As reported by The Blaze, a doctor and public health expert who was dismissed from his position with the Georgia Department of Public Health within two weeks of his hiring has filed a religious discrimination suit in federal district court in Georgia.  The complaint (full text) in Walsh v. Georgia Department of Public Health, (ND GA, filed 4/20/2016), contends that Eric Walsh’s position was terminated because of the content of sermons he had given as a Seventh Day Adventist lay minister. In the sermons, he criticized Catholicism, called homosexuality sinful and characterized evolution as a religion created by Satan. The suit seeks damages, reinstatement and injunctive relief for violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1st and 14th Amendments. A statement from a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health said that the withdrawal of a conditional offer to Walsh had nothing to do with his religious views, but instead was triggered by a finding that Walsh failed to disclose outside employment to his prior public health agency employer in California. ”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Suit Challenges School Voucher Program That Excludes Religious Schools

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

“In a suit filed yesterday in a Colorado federal district court, parents of school children challenged the School Choice Grant Program adopted last month by the Douglas County, Colorado, Board of Education because it excludes participation by religious private schools.  In a fragmented decision, the Colorado Supreme Court last year struck down an earlier school choice program adopted by the county which included religious schools. (See prior posting.) Yesterday’s complaint (full text) in Thomas v. Douglas County Board of Education, (D CO, filed 4/19/2016), contends that exclusion of religious schools violates the Free Exercise, Establishment, Equal Protection, Due Process, and Free Speech clauses of the U.S. Constitution.  Institute for Justice issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Tennessee Legislature Protects Therapists Whose “Principles” Conflict With Client’s Behaviors

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

The Tennessee General Assembly yesterday passed HB 1840/SB 1556 (full text) which provides in part:

No counselor or therapist providing counseling or therapy services shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with the sincerely held principles of the counselor or therapist; provided, that the counselor or therapist coordinates a referral of the client to another counselor or therapist who will provide the counseling or therapy.

The bill insulates counselors and therapists from civil liability and criminal prosecution. It also protects them from license suspension or revocation except when their refusal to treat involves an individual who is in imminent danger of harming himself or others. The bill now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature.  As reported by the Christian Science Monitor, it is unclear whether Haslam will sign the bill or veto it.  He has 10 days to decide.

An earlier narrower version of the bill protected therapists’ sincerely held religious beliefs, but the bill as passed protects any “sincerely held principles.” The American Counseling Association, which strongly opposes the bill, says:

HB 1840 is an unprecedented attack on the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics….  If HB 1840 is signed into law, its enactment could also jeopardize federal healthcare funding for Tennessee because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has clearly stated that no state has the authority to deny healthcare to anyone based on religion, race, sexual orientation, or other federally protected populations.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Abstention Required In Suit For Defamation In Excommunication Proceedings

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

In Pfeil v. St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, (MN Sup. Ct., April 6, 2016), the Minnesota Supreme Court in a 3-2 decision (2 justices not participating), held that under the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine, the 1st Amendment prohibits holding a church and its pastors liable in a defamation action for statements made during church disciplinary proceedings seeking to excommunicate plaintiffs. The majority concluded:

Ultimately, adjudicating [plaintiffs’] claims would excessively entangle the courts with religion and unduly interfere with respondents’ constitutional right to make autonomous decisions regarding the governance of their religious organization.

Justice Lillehaug’s dissenting opinion complained:

 Today the court creates what is, essentially, an absolute privilege to defame in “formal church discipline proceedings.” No matter how false and malicious the statement, and no matter how much the victim is damaged, there is no remedy whatsoever in Minnesota’s courts.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Court strikes down law limiting cities’ use of red-light cameras

I have been writing in opposition to traffic cameras for a few years now.  There has been some recent activity in Ohio (see here) but it seems Ohio has taken a step backward on this issue; to that end, a recent article on this subject is reproduced below and can be found here.

Articles:

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By DAN SEWELL, Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld cities’ use of traffic camera enforcement for a third time, striking down as unconstitutional legislative restrictions that included requiring a police officer to be present.

The ruling was 5-2 in support of the city of Dayton’s challenge of provisions in a state law that took effect in 2015. The city said it improperly limited local control and undercut camera enforcement that makes cities safer by reducing red-light running and speeding. Dayton and other cities including Toledo and Springfield said the law’s restrictions made traffic cameras cost-prohibitive.

The court Wednesday ruled illegal requirements in the law that an officer be present when cameras were being used, that there must be a lengthy safety study and public information campaign before cameras are used, and that drivers could be only ticketed if they exceeded the posted limit by certain amounts, such as by 6 mph in a school zone.

A majority opinion written by Justice Patrick Fischer found those three restrictions “unconstitutionally (limit) the municipality’s home-rule authority without serving an overriding state interest.”

The state’s highest court has twice previously ruled for cities on cameras.

Justice Patrick DeWine wrote a dissenting opinion, saying the legislation was “a compromise” meant to deal with concerns that cameras were being misused to generate revenue while allowing municipalities “some opportunity” to employ cameras.

“Today’s decision has the unfortunate impact of further muddling a body of law that is already hopelessly confused,” DeWine wrote. Justice William O’Neill also dissented.

The state had contended that the law was within the legislature’s powers as a “statewide and comprehensive” way to regulate enforcement of traffic. Supporters said officers were needed to detect camera malfunctions and situations that clearly call for an exemption from ticketing.

An Ohio state senator who helped write the law called the decision a “Pyrrhic victory” for home-rule cities and villages and pledged Wednesday that legislators will keep fighting “policing for profit.” Cincinnati Republican Sen. Bill Seitz said the Legislature has “other tools in the tool kit,” such as reducing amounts cities and villages receive through the state’s local government fund

Dayton police, whose use of traffic cameras goes back nearly 15 years, were already planning to soon resume using officer-manned fixed cameras at certain sites, saying traffic crashes had shot up after camera enforcement halted. Dayton is also among cities equipping some officers with new hand-held cameras to record violations.

City spokeswoman Toni Bankston said Dayton is pleased with the court’s decision.

“In light of this ruling, we will begin the process of reviewing and analyzing the best way to proceed with our enforcement program,” Bankston said in a statement.

Ohio has been a battleground for years in the debate across the United States over camera enforcement. Critics say cities use them to boost revenues while violating motorists’ rights. Supporters say they increase safety and free up police for other crime fighting.

Attorney General’s spokesman Dan Tierney said Wednesday the case couldn’t be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court because it involved a solely state law.

 

Associated Press reporter Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed.

Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

 

Hospital Offered Reasonable Accommodation To Employee Rejecting Flu Shot

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

In Robinson v. Children’s Hospital Boston, (D MA, April 5, 2016), a Massachusetts federal district court dismissed a Title VII and state discrimination claim by a hospital emergency room worker who refused on religious grounds to be immunized for influenza. Plaintiff, who was apparently a follower of Nation of Islam, initially refused the vaccine because it contained pork products, but the hospital offered her a non-gelatin vaccine.  She continued to refuse on religious grounds, was granted a temporary medical leave and was allowed to look for a non-patient area position in the hospital. When she was unable to find another position, she was terminated.  The court held that the hospital had offered plaintiff reasonable accommodation and that  allowing her to remain in the patient area unvaccinated would have posed an undue hardship. Boston Herald reports on the decision.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Court Says Cross on County Seal Is Unconstitutional

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

“In Davies v. Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, (CD CA, April 6, 2016), a California federal district court granted a permanent injunction requiring removal of a cross from the Los Angeles County Seal.  Under threat of a lawsuit in 2004, the County redesigned its Seal replacing a cross that was on it with a depiction of the San Gabriel Mission. Subsequently the San Gabriel Mission added a cross on its building and the County Board voted to add the cross to the Mission’s depiction on the Seal. The district court held that the addition of the cross violates both the Establishment Clause and the California Constitution’s No Aid clause. Los Angeles Times reports on the decision.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Suit Challenges Constitutionality of Tax Code Parsonage Allowance

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

“In a lawsuit filed this week, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is again challenging the constitutionality of the Internal Revenue Code’s parsonage allowance.  The complaint (full text) in Gaylor v. Lew, (WD WI, filed 4/6/ 2016), contends that Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code–which allows clergy to exclude from taxable income a housing allowance paid as part of their compensation– violates the Establishment Clause.  The suit was brought by two FFRF officers who also received housing allowances.  One of the plaintiffs is an ordained minister who in prior years when employed by a church was able to claim the allowance.  In 2014, the 7th Circuit dismissed a similar suit on standing grounds because plaintiffs had not sought to exclude their FFRF allowances on their federal income tax returns or claim a tax refund. (See prior posting.) This time plaintiffs did file amended returns seeking a refund of taxes paid on their housing allowances. FFRF issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

9th Circuit: Denial of Exemption For Use of Cannabis Does Not Impose Substantial Burden On Religious Exercise

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

In Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii v. Lynch, (9th Cir., April 6, 2016), the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a church and its founder were properly denied an exemption from federal laws that prohibit the possession and distribution of cannabis. Under RFRA, denial of an exemption does not impose a “substantial burden” on plaintiffs’ exercise of religion because the primary sacrament of the church is peyote.  Plaintiffs consume cannabis only as a substitute. They do not claim that peyote is unavailable or that cannabis serves a unique religious function.

You can learn more about this issue here.

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