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Archive for the tag “texas”

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. ”

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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.

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.

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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.

Business Owner Unsuccessful In Suing Churches That Opposed New Strip Club

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

“In Harrington v. Hall County Board of Supervisors, (D NE, March 31, 2016), a Nebraska federal district court dismissed a number of claims brought by the owner of an adult entertainment company against two churches that circulated a petition opposing attempts to open a strip club in Hall County, Nebraska. The court also dismissed claims against a director of one of the churches.  The adult entertainment company owner alleged that the churches engaged in a conspiracy to adopt and enforce an unconstitutional zoning resolution. Plaintiff also alleged violations of the antitrust laws, defamation, tortious interference with business relationships, infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.  The court additionally rejected the claim that individual members of the County Board of Supervisors violated the Establishment Clause when at a public hearing they thanked supporters of the petition for supporting Christian values.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

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