Author Archive: Michael Peabody

"So help me God" and the jury – 11th Circuit rules juror who claimed "divine revelation" properly dismissed

"So help me God" and the jury – 11th Circuit rules juror who claimed "divine revelation" properly dismissed

When jurors are selected for trial in Federal court, they are asked to adopt the phrase "so help me God." What happens when they take that oath too seriously?

 
 

Supreme Court to decide whether church school teachers are barred from suing for discrimination

Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court announced today that it would hear arguments in two employment cases involving whether teachers in Catholic Schools can file lawsuits in pursuit of employment non-discrimination rights.  The Court has consolidated St. James School v. Biel and Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, both on appeal from the Ninth Circuit, which decided the teachers could sue.  

 
 

Solicitor General recommends that Supreme Court hear Sabbath accommodation case

Supreme Court of the United States

The Solicitor General of the United States, Noel Francisco, has recommended that the United States Supreme Court agree to consider a Sabbath accommodation case involving a Seventh-day Adventist. 

 
 

Supreme Court to hear challenge to Montana's no-aid-to-religion law

Supreme Court to hear challenge to Montana's no-aid-to-religion law

The United States (U.S.) Supreme Court agreed to hear a case, Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue, concerning a Montana state legislative program that allowed individuals to receive up to a $150.00 tax credit for money that they could donate to one of several K-12 scholarship funds.

 
 

BREAKING: Supreme Court says WWI Cross can stand due to age

By Ben Jacobson (Kranar Drogin) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

There's an old adage that bad facts make bad law, and in this case, given political exigencies, there was little to no chance that the Court would have found that the cross must be removed from public property. While we had previously anticipated that denying the case based on standing would have been the "easy answer," the Court issued a ruling today that addressed the cross on the merits. Now our attention turns to whether there is collateral damage to the substance of the Establishment Clause.

 
 

Why the Free Exercise Clause needs to be strengthened

Why the Free Exercise Clause needs to be strengthened

The Free Exercise Clause that guarantees religious freedom is much weaker than most people realize.  While freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and even the establishment clause are subject to highest "strict scrutiny" levels of protection, the free exercise of religion receives the lowest level of protection – the "rational basis test." 

 
 

Supreme Court rules that Title VII EEOC filing requirements are mandatory but not jurisdictional

Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court issued a ruling on June 3, 2019, in a case (Fort Bend County v. Davis)  involving whether a court may hear a discrimination case where the plaintiff fails to raise all charges in an initial EEOC complaint.  The Court found that the Title VII's rules are procedural, not jurisdictional, and as such procedural defenses need to be raised early in a case.

 
 

Another cake case gives Court opportunity to resolve free exercise confusion

Supreme Court of the United States

Too broad an exception from neutral, generally applicable law, and protections against discrimination vanish. Too narrow an exception and free exercise of religion protections vanish. What is clear is that these cases will continue to make their way through the lower courts with differing results until the Supreme Court makes a decision.  

 
 

New York Court Upholds Emergency Mandatory Vaccination

New York Court Upholds Emergency Mandatory Vaccination

Taking the significance of the public health emergency and religious beliefs into account when deciding what to do in these circumstances is difficult. It is too easy to dismiss religious claims as unscientific and foolish in the face of a measles outbreak, but in so doing it behooves the parties to seek a compromise

 
 

Supreme Court Requests Solicitor General's Opinion on Sabbath Accommodation Case

Supreme Court Requests Solicitor General's Opinion on Sabbath Accommodation Case

The value of the Patterson case does not merely hinge on its facts, which would likely have to be developed at the trial level, but more importantly, it provides a vehicle for the Circuit courts to obtain needed guidance from the Supreme Court in order to consistently interpret Title VII religious accommodation requirements.