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Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Bryan Beauman: “Since this nation’s founding, public meetings have been opened with prayer. We commend the court’s decision to affirm this freedom as constitutional, as 6th Circuit did in this case in 2013 and as the U.S. Supreme Court so recently did in a similar case. A prayer offered according to the dictates of the giver’s conscience as part of a policy like Hamilton County’s is not an establishment of religion. Those who argue that it is are essentially arguing that America’s founders were violating the Constitution as they were writing it.”
BuzzFeed Politics: “In the March 31 decision, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that Peter TerVeer’s case against the Library of Congress can move forward. TerVeer sued the Library of Congress under Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination, claiming that he faced discrimination after his boss found out that he was gay.”
RLUIPA Defense: “In an important decision for municipal officials across the country, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, in American Islamic Center v. City of Des Plaines, No. 13-C-6594 (N.D. Ill. 2014), ruled that city council members alleged to have discriminated against an Islamic organization in its application to rezone certain property are entitled to absolute legislative immunity.”
Appeals court upholds Texas pro-life law Wendy Davis opposed that closed abortion clinics | LifeNews
LifeNews: “‘Women deserve real doctors, not transient abortionists who have no connection to their patients or their communities. The health and safety of women is more important than an abortionist’s bottom line–including the bottom line of Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s largest abortion seller,’ said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “Planned Parenthood’s opposition to these basic health requirements is simply additional evidence that they care more about profit than about what’s best for women.’”
In a 3–0 ruling Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld a Texas regulation that protects women against cut-and-run abortionists. The court also upheld a requirement that abortion-inducing drugs be administered according to the protocol authorized by the Food and Drug Administration in most situations.
Fox News: “A panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court judge who said the rules violate the U.S. Constitution and served no medical purpose. Despite the lower court’s ruling, the appeals court already had allowed some rules to go into effect while it considered the case. The latest decision means more regulations will begin later this year, as scheduled, and sets the case up for a likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.” | Opinion is here.
Religion Clause: “In Ivanov v. Notzkov, 2014 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 577 (IL App., March 25, 2014), an Illinois Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s reliance on the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine in dismissing a lawsuit between two factions of St. John of Rila Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church.”
Religion Clause: “In Hake v. Carroll County Maryland, (D MD, March 26, 2014), a Maryland federal district court granted a preliminary injunction barring Carroll County, Maryland commissioners opening their commission sessions with sectarian prayer.”
Detroit News: “In his 31-page written opinion released shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, Judge Bernard Friedman said the constitutional amendment known as the Michigan Marriage Act, passed by the voters in 2004, was unconstitutional because it denied gays and lesbians equal protection under the law.” | The opinion is here.
Religion Clause: “In Reese v. General Assembly of Faith Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, (TX App., March 14, 2014), a Texas appellate court dismissed on 1st Amendment grounds a lawsuit brought by a pastor who was fired less than two years into his 5-year employment contract with a Presbyterian congregation.”
Religion Clause: “In Phelps-Roper v. Koster, (WD MO, March 10, 2014), a Missouri federal district court rejected a vagueness challenge to a Missouri statute that bans: ‘picketing or other protest activities within three hundred feet of or about any location at which a funeral is held, within one hour prior to the commencement of any funeral, and until one hour following the cessation of any funeral.’”
Associated Press: “A federal judge Friday struck down Arkansas’ attempt to ban most abortions beginning 12 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, saying viability, not a heartbeat, remains the key factor in determining whether abortions should be allowed.” | How Appealing has a link to the ruling.
BuzzFeed: “U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn ordered Kentucky officials to recognize same-sex couples’ marriages performed out of state, an order that followed his Feb. 12 opinion in the case.”
Courthouse News Service: “A couple who had an abortion after doctors misinformed them about the results of certain prenatal tests cannot recover damages, a New York appeals court ruled.”
Religion Clause: In In re T.K., (OH Ct.. App., Feb. 19, 2014), an Ohio appeals court held that when legal custody of a child is given to the child’s grandparents, there are limits on the extent to which the child’s mother can dictate the boy’s religious upbringing.
Ariane de Vogue at ABC / The Note: “Ken Connelly, a lawyer for a group opposed to same sex marriage called Alliance Defending Freedom, thinks the courts that have used Windsor in part to strike down state marriage laws have ‘simply gotten it wrong, and ignored its holding.’ ‘We are confident that on appeal these district court decisions will be overruled,’ he says. . . . the Virginia ban was defended in court by lawyer Austin R. Nimocks of Alliance Defending Freedom.”
SCOTUSblog: “A federal judge in Louisville ruled Wednesday that same-sex couples living in Kentucky who were married elsewhere have a constitutional right to official acceptance of their marriages and to equal access to marital benefits. While the judge limited his ruling to that specific issue, he predicted that the analysis he used would eventually mean that same-sex couples will gain the right to marry across the nation.” The ruling is here.
Associated Press: “Four legally married gay couples filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Monday seeking a court order to force Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages on birth certificates despite a statewide ban, echoing arguments in a similar successful lawsuit concerning death certificates.” The complaint is here.
Idaho Statesman: “In a unanimous opinion that sets a precedent for gay and other non-traditional couples, the Idaho Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for Darcy Drake Simpson to adopt two boys who until now have had just one legal parent, Simpson’s same-sex partner Rene Simpson.” The opinion is here.
Washington Post: “One of the lawyers, Austin R. Nimocks, senior counsel for the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, told Wright Allen that Virginia had an interest in limiting marriage to a man and a woman because of the unique ‘procreative dynamic’ shared by heterosexual couples.”
The Times-Picayune: “It could be several days before Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church decides whether it will continue its effort to build a new sanctuary in Old Mandeville, which was dealt another blow Monday when the First Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed a lower court’s ruling that blocked the project.”
WORLD: “In the Norfolk and Harrisonburg lawsuits, the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is being defended by clerks in the local courts, with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom in Norfolk.”
Religion Clause: “In Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Koskinen, (WD WI, Feb. 3, 2014), a Wisconsin federal district court permitted Father Patrick Malone and the Holy Cross Anglican Church to intervene as defendants in a lawsuit in which the Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the Internal Revenue Service to challenge its alleged policy of not enforcing against churches and religious organizations the Section 501(c)(3) ban on political activity by non-profits.”
The Times-Picayune: “The First Circuit Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court ruling that essentially blocked construction of a Catholic Church in Old Mandeville. The ruling, issued Monday, affirms a decision by the 22nd Judicial District Court that the Mandeville Zoning Commission was within its rights when it denied Our Lady of the Lake Church’s application to build a new house of worship in the city’s historic district.” | Opinion is here.
Religion Clause: ”In State v. Armitage, (HI Sup. Ct., Jan. 28, 2014), the Hawaii Supreme Court held that the rights of Native Hawaiians are not infringed by a statute limiting entry into the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve only to those who obtain authorization to do so through a written application process.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch: “A federal court in Harrisonburg on Friday certified a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage as a class action, extending the scope of the plaintiffs represented to same-sex couples statewide who cannot legally marry or whose out-of-state marriages are not recognized in the commonwealth.” | The memorandum opinion in Harris v. Rainey is here (via How Appealing).
ABC (AP): “The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Tuesday that a majority of its 27 judges voted against scheduling a new hearing. That leaves intact California’s first-in-the nation law barring licensed counselors from offering treatment geared toward changing the sexual orientation of minors.” | Amended opinion and order in Pickup v. Brown is here (via How Appealing).
The Plain Dealer: “A teacher who cited religious freedoms in his unsuccessful fight to overturn his firing failed to get the Ohio Supreme Court to reconsider its verdict. But the Wednesday decision, made in a 4-3 vote, shows the justices remain divided on how the court ruled in the first place.”
Religion Clause: “In Foothill Communities Coalition v. County of Orange, (CA App., Jan. 13, 2014), a California appellate court held that creating a new zoning district for a large parcel of land owned by the Catholic Diocese of Orange to allow the diocese to build a senior housing project was not an Establishment Clause violation.”
Associated Press: “Competent, terminally ill patients have a fundamental right under the New Mexico Constitution to seek a physician’s help in getting prescription medications if they want to end their lives on their own terms, a state district judge ruled Monday.”
Hawaii Civil Beat: In a unanimous opinion issued yesterday, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that parents have the constitutional right to an attorney during child welfare proceedings, effectively undermining a long-standing policy that has often placed children in foster care regardless of whether their birth parents have the money and legal savvy to challenge the court’s decision.
Times-Standard: The city of Eureka can continue the practice of opening its council meetings with non-secular invocations, a Humboldt County Superior Court judge has ruled.
Religion Clause Blog: This week the Hawaii federal district court rejected Religious Freedom Restoration Act claims in two separate marijuana cases . . .
David L. Hudson at ABA Journal: By contrast, Brad Dacus, president and founder of the Pacific Justice Institute in Sacramento, disagrees. “The fallacy of the 9th Circuit decision is that the speech is the conduct,” says Dacus, whose organization represented the plaintiffs in one case that was consolidated into Pickup. “The legislation is so overreaching and the 9th Circuit’s decision sets a dangerous precedent.”
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog: Ruling that the government’s global telephone data-gathering system is needed to thwart potential terrorist attacks, and that it can only work if everyone’s calls are swept in, a federal judge in New York City ruled Friday that Congress legally set up the program and that it does not violate anyone’s constitutional rights. The fifty-four-page ruling by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III can be read here.
Religion Clause Blog: In Catholic Diocese of Nashville v. Sebelius, (MD TN, Dec. 26, 2013), a Tennessee federal district court refused to grant a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the Diocese of Nashville, its affiliated Catholic Charities, and several other affiliated organizations including Aquinas College challenging the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate. The court held that plaintiffs had not shown a likelihood of success on their RFRA, free exercise, free speech and Establishment Clause claims.
DC Circuit Denies Preliminary Injunction To Non-Liturgical Navy Chaplains Challenging Promotion Procedures
Religion Clause Blog: In the long-running challenge to Navy procedures for promoting members of the Chaplain Corps, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction. In In re: Navy Chaplaincy, (DC Cir., Dec. 27, 2013), the court ruled against a group of current and former Navy chaplains and two chaplain-endorsing agencies who claim that the makeup and voting procedures of the Navy’s selection boards create a preference for Catholics and liturgical Protestants over various non-liturgical denominations.
Colorado Federal Court: Contraceptive Mandate Accommodation Imposes No Substantial Burden On ERISA-Exempt Church Plans
Religion Clause Blog: In Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius, (D CO, Dec. 27, 2013), a Colorado federal district court denied a preliminary injunction to two non-profit homes controlled by Little Sisters of the Poor which sued to challenge the contraceptive coverage mandate accommodation under the Affordable Care Act. T
NY Times: Judge Robert J. Shelby of Federal District Court in Salt Lake City turned back a request to stay his decision, and a two-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in Denver,agreed, though it called for “expedited consideration” of the appeal. The question for the Supreme Court in the short term will be whether to block Judge Shelby’s ruling while appeals proceed.
Mark Movsesian at First Things: Last week, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom—since 2009, the highest court in the UK—handed down what looks to be a significant decision on the meaning of “religion” in English law. The decision suggests that, for legal purposes, religion does not require a belief in God.
The ruling in this case ignores that time-tested and rational understanding of marriage–affirmed by 66 percent of Utah voters–and replaces it with the recently conceived notion that marriage means special government recognition for close relationships.
Journal-Sentinel: A federal appeals court in Chicago left in place Friday a temporary block on a state law requiring doctors in abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Gerard V. Bradley at National Review: Here is that passage, as quoted by Judge Cogan after noting that the burden upon the New York Catholic institutions was not that the law allows their employees to receive and use free contraception: “It goes without saying that [plaintiffs] may neither inquire about nor interfere with the private choices of their employees on these subjects.” But this is surely mistaken.
Citizen Link: “The government’s purpose for recognizing marriage is to bring together one man and one woman as husband and wife to be a father and a mother to any children their union produces,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jim Campbell. “The New Mexico Supreme Court ignored that time-tested understanding of marriage and replaced it with the recently conceived notion that marriage means special government recognition for close relationships.”
After 2 Wins, Religious Non-Profits Lose Challenge To Contraceptive Mandate Accommodation In D.C. Federal Distrct Court
Religion Clause Blog: After Pennsylvania and New York federal district courts in recent weeks held that the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate accommodation for religious non-profits violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, yesterday the D.C. federal district court reached an opposite conclusion, rejecting both RFRA and 1st Amendment challenges to the final regulations. In Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, (D DC, Dec. 19, 2013)
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog: New Mexico, a state that did not have a flat ban on same-sex marriage but also did not seem to allow it, must now permit such formal unions under the state’s constitution, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday.
The New Mexico Supreme Court ignored that time-tested understanding of marriage and replaced it with the recently conceived notion that marriage means special government recognition for close relationships. This unfortunate result prevents New Mexicans from deciding the future of marriage–its very definition as well as its role in society–through an inclusive democratic process.
“We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.”
Ed Whelan at National Review: Now that I’ve vented about how poorly written the opinion in Brown v. Buhman is, I’ll offer some comments about its reasoning (pp. 52-62) that the cohabitation prong of Utah’s bigamy statute has been enforced in a discriminatory manner against “religious cohabitation.”
No Unemployment Benefits Because Employee Failed To Notify Employer of Scope of Needed Religious Accommodation
Religion Clause Blog: In Rhodes v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 2013 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 890 (PA Commonwealth Ct., Dec. 16, 2013), the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania agreed with the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review that a former veterans’ center food service worker had left his job voluntarily, and had not been forced to leave because of discrimination based on his religious beliefs
European Human Rights Court Says Refusal of Vegetarian Diet To Buddhist Prisoner Violated His Religious Rights
Religion Clause Blog: In Vartic v. Romania, (ECHR, Dec.17, 2013),the European Court of Human Rights, in a Chamber judgment, held that a Buddhist prison inmate’s rights of religion and conscience protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, were infringed when Romanian officials refused to provide him with a vegetarian diet . . .
Eugene Kontorovich at the Volokh Conspiracy: Brown v. Buhman and Bestiality
In a game-changer for the legal fight over same-sex marriage that gives credence to opponents’ “slippery slope” arguments, a federal judge has now ruled that the legal reasoning for same-sex marriage means that laws against polygamy are likewise unconstitutional.
Rick Garnett at Mirror of Justice: A federal-district-court ruling that grants an injunction against enforcing the mandate against a number of Catholic Church-affiliated institutional employers is available here. I am still reviewing it, but it looks to be a very good result for religious-but-not-exempt employers’ bringing RFRA challenges to the mandate.
“EU Directive Requires Companies To Give Same Benefits to Civil Partners Where Same-Sex Marriage Is Unavailable” | Religion Clause Blog
Religion Clause Blog: In Hay v. Crédit agricole mutuel de Charente-Maritime et des Deux-Sèvres, (Eur. Ct. Jus. 5th Chamber, Dec. 12, 2013), the 5th Chamber of the European Court of Justice . . . Art Leonard Observations has analysis of the decision. [Thanks to Alliance Alert for the lead.]
Religion Clause Blog: In Mba v. Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Merton, (EWCA, Dec. 5, 2013), Britain’s Court of Appeal held that under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, indirect religious discrimination (i.e. discrimination based on disparate impact of a work rule) can be shown even when the religious belief impacted is held only by some of the members of a religious group. However it concluded that the Employment Tribunal below, while proceeding in part on an erroneous view of the law, still reached the correct result in rejecting the employee’s discrimination claim . . . [Thanks to Alliance Alert for the lead.]
Idaho Supreme Court: Mormon Church Owed No Special Duty To Child Injured At Church Organized Camp Out
Religion Clause Blog: In Beers v. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, (ID Sup. Ct., Nov. 26, 2013), the Idaho Supreme Court held that neither the Mormon Church nor various individual Ward members are liable for broken ankle suffered by a 13-year old girl in jumping from a bridge during a camp out organized by Ward members of the Church.
Reuters: “Congress’s determination that all three kinds of advertising posed a significant threat to public programming is supported by substantial evidence,” Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the majority. | Opinion: Minority Television Project v. FCC
9th Circuit: Wild Order of Federal Marital Benefits for Unmarried Same-Sex Domestic Partners | Ed Whelan at NRO
Ed Whelan at National Review: In an adventuresome administrative ruling, the three-judge Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit Executive Committee has concluded that an unmarried court employee with a same-sex domestic partner was entitled to federal marital benefits. This, alas, is not the first time that Ninth Circuit chief judge Alex Kozinski has exercised his non-judicial administrative authority to carry out a sneak attack on marriage.
San Francisco Chronicle: Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June overturning a federal law that denied equal benefits to same-sex spouses, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered federal courts in Oregon to reimburse Margaret Fonberg $6,190 plus interest, the amount she spent on health coverage for her domestic partner since 2009. | In the Matter of Fonberg
Religion Clause Blog: In Farah v. A-1 Careers, (D KA, Nov. 20, 2013), a Kansas federal district court dismissed a claim by a Muslim former employee of a temporary staffing agency that the agency unreasonably failed to accommodate his need to pray at noontime. The court held . . .
My Christian Daily: U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled on Friday (Nov. 22) in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, saying the exemption violates the establishment clause because it “provides a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise.” | Opinion: Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Lew | Freedom from Religion press release
Cleveland Dispatch: The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Mount Vernon City Schools properly fired middle school science teacher John Freshwater because his refusal to eliminate religious symbols from the classroom — excluding his Bible — was insubordination. | Opinion: Freshwater v. Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education
AP: The judge in a federal court challenge to Pennsylvania’s 17-year-old law that bans recognition of same-sex marriages is rejecting three different attempts to dismiss the lawsuit.
LifeNews: In a 2-1 decision issued Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the court reversed the federal district court’s denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded the case for the district court to enter the preliminary injunction. The appeals court upheld the rights of both individuals and companies to challenge the ObamaCare HHS Mandate – the first decision of its kind in the ongoing HHS Mandate litigation.
Religion Clause Blog: In Winberry v. Louisiana College, (LA App., Nov. 6, 2013), four former faculty members of of a Baptist liberal arts college sued claiming defamation, violation of academic freedom and violation of a settlement of a prior lawsuit.
Religion Clause Blog: In Vallianatos and Others v. Greece, (ECHR, Nov. 7, 2013), the European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber) held, by a vote of 16-1, that a Greek civil union law which is limited to heterosexual couples violates The European Convention on Human Rights.
Religion Clause Blog: In Tores v. State of Florida, (FL App., Nov.6, 2013), a Florida state appellate court reversed a 30-year sentence imposed on defendant for sexual battery and remanded for sentencing by a different judge because of religious comments made in imposing the original sentence.
Religion Clause Blog: In State of Minnesota v. Wenthe, (MN Sup. Ct., Nov. 6, 2013), the Minnesota Supreme Court, in a 4-1 decision, upheld the state’s clergy-sexual-conduct statute against both facial and an as-applied Establishment Clause challenges.