Free Exercise

Ryan Snow's new book explores how Congress passed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and why it matters

Ryan Snow's new book explores how Congress passed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and why it matters

Attorney Ryan Snow has released a new book that is designed to bring non-lawyers up to date on the most important religious liberty debate facing America. Religious Freedom: What's All the Freedom About recounts the history behind religious freedom laws, and includes an history of how Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, in 1993 – a feat hardly imaginable today.  

 
 

Federal Court: Trump's "Conscience Act" exceeds authority but does not violate the Establishment Clause

Federal Court: Trump's "Conscience Act" exceeds authority but does not violate the Establishment Clause

In a 147-page ruling issued today, New York Federal Judge Paul Engelmayer found that the Trump administration's "conscience act" exceeded the president's authority but did not violate the Establishment Clause. Given its procedural defects, the rule was invalidated in its entirety. 

 
 

Kentucky Court: Hands On Originals case dismissed – LGBTQ+ rights organization lacks standing

Kentucky Court: Hands On Originals case dismissed – LGBTQ+ rights organization lacks standing

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that an organization that sued Hands On Originals ("Hands On"), a t-shirt print company, for discrimination lacked standing as an "individual" to pursue the claim.

 
 

California Court: Transgender person can sue Catholic hospital for discrimination for initially denying transition surgery

California Court: Transgender person can sue Catholic hospital for discrimination for initially denying transition surgery

A California Court of Appeals has ruled that a religious hospital can be liable for discrimination if it refuses to provide medical services for religious reasons without immediately providing a referral to a hospital that will accommodate the patient.  

 
 

Opinion: Atheists' board invocations help religious freedom

Commissioners on the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners were no doubt stunned when, on July 8, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit unanimously declared (Williamson v. Brevard County) that the commissioners' practice of automatically denying atheists the opportunity to offer solemnizing invocations/reflections at the board's meetings was "discriminatory," "unconstitutional" and "must be rejected."

 
 

Legal and Legislative Update

An update on the status of Patterson v. Walgreen, New York expands statute of limitations on child sexual abuses case, ministerial exception in disability claims, and Sabbath accommodation

 
 

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.

 
 

California lawmaker withdraws bill that would criminalize religion-based "gay conversion therapy"

California lawmaker withdraws bill that would criminalize religion-based "gay conversion therapy"

Earlier today, California Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) withdrew a bill that would have outlaws the sale of any service, including certain forms of advertising, that were intended to change an individual's sexuality or gender identity. Assembly Bill 2943 had already passed the Assembly and Senate and was one vote away from the governor's desk.

 
 

Florist asks Supreme Court for remand in wake of cake decision

Florist asks Supreme Court for remand in wake of cake decision

Attorneys for a Washington florist who refused to make a flower arrangement a same-sex wedding filed a supplemental brief in the wake of Monday's Masterpiece Cakeshop decision which left the question of balance between free exercise of religion and non-discrimination statutes unanswered. 

 
 

Breaking: Court issues 7-2 decision in cake case finding bias in tribunal decision

Breaking: Court issues 7-2 decision in cake case finding bias in tribunal decision

The Supreme Court issued a 7-2 ruling this morning in favor of the baker in tbe same-sex wedding cake case. The Court's ruling is narrow but essentially says that the arguments of both sides needed to be treated with respect and neutrality and that the Colorado commission had failed treat Phillips' beliefs with respect. This decision affirms Obergefell but sends […]