Religious freedom cases at Supreme Court: judges to hear at least four
This article was first published in the State of the Faith Bulletin. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox every Monday evening.
When I first started following the Supreme Court’s religious freedom cases, it wasn’t a lot of work. Judges typically only heard one trial per quarter, which meant there was only one set of legal briefs, a day of oral argument, and a decision to track and cover.
My God, how things have changed.
Over the past year, I have reported on three fully informed and reasoned religious freedom cases and several other emergency orders related to COVID-19 collection rules.
During the term that begins this week, the court will hear at least four lawsuits involving claims of religious freedom, and possibly more.
In other words, I have a long list of Supreme Court related tasks, but I can’t wait to take on the challenge.
Here’s a look at the cases you can expect to hear a lot more from over the coming year:
- Ramirez vs. Collier: This case arose out of a death row inmate’s quest to have his pastor with him just before he was put to death by the state of Texas. Under current state policy, religious advisers do not have access to detainees in their final moments. Last month, the Supreme Court suspended the execution of John Ramirez in order to assess his concerns over religious freedom. Judges will hear oral arguments in this case on November 1.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fazaga: In the aftermath of 9/11, American Muslims have faced intrusive and often unwarranted surveillance, as I reported last month. However, those concerned have generally found it difficult to challenge government practices in court, in part because officials could claim “state secret privileges” and refuse to provide important evidence. In Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fazaga, the Supreme Court will examine the limits of these privileges and determine whether the government has had too much leeway. Pleadings will take place on November 8.
- Carson vs. Makin: This case focuses on a tuition assistance program in Maine that is currently not available to students at some private religious schools. Judges will examine whether it is illegal to use public money to fund faith-based education, as state officials believe. Pleadings are scheduled for December 8.
- Shurtleff v. City of Boston: Can religious flags fly on public poles? This is one of the key questions in this clash between Boston officials and a Christian group. The group alleged religious discrimination after the city rejected its request to use a town hall flag pole that had been shared with various other organizations. The Supreme Court will have to decide whether Boston officials were correct in fearing that hoisting the flag represents illegal religious expression. Oral pleadings have not yet been scheduled in this case.
Fresh from the press
End of the week: Hospitality of the clergy
During the weekend I stayed in a hotel which offers a unique benefit to Catholic priests. As part of its “clergy welcome program”, priests get a room free of charge if they agree to conduct mass in the chapel on site during their stay.
I was tickled by the program, so I did a little more research. It turns out that many hotels offer special discounts to religious leaders in recognition of their important work.
What I’m reading …
The University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus faces a lawsuit over its handling of requests for religious exemptions from its vaccine mandate. The two employees behind the lawsuit say school officials are dismissing exemption requests based on personal religious beliefs in violation of the Constitution. “This idea that you have to have centralized authority to get a religious exemption flies in the face of everything we know about the First Amendment,” said Peter Breen, vice president of the law firm representing the United States. employees, The Associated Press.
The Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination, is in the midst of a relying on sexual assault. Although most members of the SBC executive committee agree that such a calculation is necessary and deserved, they cannot agree on the degree of access to be given to the third organization investigating their treatment of complaints. allegations of abuse. Religion News Service recently published an overview of the complex situation.
The Pew Research Center has published its annual look social hostilities and government policies that harm faith groups around the world. The researchers found that, for the fifth year in a row, the number of countries seeing religion-related terrorist activity declined.
In other research news, the Public Religion Research Institute recently reported that the share of American adults who support the federal government LGBTQ rights legislation (82%) has increased by more than 10 percentage points since 2015. However, the researchers also found that the share of Americans who believe the country already has such anti-discrimination protections is also increasing.