Author Archive: Michael Peabody

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. 

 
 

Historic Churches, WWI Crosses, and Constitutional Confusion at Supreme Court

Historic Churches, WWI Crosses, and Constitutional Confusion at Supreme Court

Whether a religious symbol or edifice needs to masquerade as a secular structure in order to escape Establishment Clause scrutiny is at issue in two major cases at the United State Supreme Court.

 
 

Supreme Court: The 8th Amendment's Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated against the states via the 14th Amendment

Supreme Court: The 8th Amendment's Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated against the states via the 14th Amendment

This morning, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that the 14th Amendment applies the "Excessive Fines Clause" of the 8th Amendment to the states.

 
 

Parties objecting to regulatory decision must follow administrative process

Parties objecting to regulatory decision must follow administrative process

This week the Supreme Court denied certiorari in a case where nuns filed their Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) case opposing a pipeline across their property in the wrong venue and ignored the required dispute resolution process.

 
 

High Court decision on Muslim clergy at execution challenges rule of law

High Court decision on Muslim clergy at execution challenges rule of law

In ruling that an unwritten rule, quite possibly manufactured after the execution was already scheduled, should not be subject to a judicial Establishment Clause and potentially Free Exercise Clause analysis, the Court has created a troubling precedent that targets the principle of the rule of law.

 
 

Justices hint interest in revisiting Title VII religious accommodation while declining to hear football coach prayer case

Justices hint interest in revisiting Title VII religious accommodation while declining to hear football coach prayer case

It is debatable whether a claim by a public school football coach that he is compelled by religious belief to pray at the 50-yard line following each game is a good vehicle for addressing either free exercise or workplace religious accommodation. However, it does appear that the four justices who signed onto Alito's response have concerns about the chilling effect of Hardison and Smith on the ability to even raise Title VII religious accommodation and Free Exercise Clause claims. With Patterson v. Walgreen Co., the Supreme Court has the opportunity to revisit religious accommodation claims under Title VII.

 
 

9th Cir: Catholic School Teacher Fired for Requesting Time for Cancer Treatment May Pursue ADA Discrimination Claim

9th Cir: Catholic School Teacher Fired for Requesting Time for Cancer Treatment May Pursue ADA Discrimination Claim

On December 17, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the ministerial exception does not bar a teacher in a Catholic school who was fired because she needed time off work for surgery and chemotherapy from pursuing a claim under the Americans with Disability Act.

 
 

Grace v. Works: Alabama 10 Commandments referendum is theologically confusing

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments Monument at the Alabama Judiciary Building

Setting the Constitutional separation of church and state issue aside, Alabama's 10 Commandments referendum still creates theological confusion for Christians by promoting the law without the corresponding remedy of grace.