Legal Issues

Analysis: Could churches lose their tax-exempt status if they refuse to recognize same-sex marriage?

Small old white church in the country

Earlier this month, presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke stated that he would support removing the tax-exempt status of organizations and institutions that oppose same-sex marriage. Specifically, O'Rourke said, "There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution or organization in America that denies the full human rights, and the full civil rights of everyone in America."

 
 

Primer on U.S. Abortion Law: Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge to Louisiana abortion restriction

Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear argument in a case involving a Louisiana regulation on abortion doctors. It is similar to a Texas case decided in 2016.

 
 

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."

 
 

Court to decide whether Title VII protects LGBT employees

Supreme Court of the United States

On October 8, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases involving whether the antidiscrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protect LGBT employees. While state laws may provide localized protection, the question of whether the protection extends nationwide has been raised by two employers who have claimed they have the right under existing Federal law to discriminate based on sexual orientation and transgender status.

 
 

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

 
 

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.

 
 

FFRF decides not to appeal 7th Circuit opinion upholding parsonage allowance

FFRF decides not to appeal 7th Circuit opinion upholding parsonage allowance

The Freedom from Religion Foundation has decided not to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 7th Circuit decision in Gaylor v. Mnuchin  (7th Cir., March 15, 2019) upholding a clergy-specific tax-free housing allowance provision in the IRS code. The secular organization has consistently argued that Internal Revenue Code Sec. 107(2) violates the Establishment Clause. 

 
 

High Court reverses Oregon finding against bakers and sends case back to lower court for further review

High Court reverses Oregon finding against bakers and sends case back to lower court for further review

The Supreme Court appears reluctant to squarely address the balance between the free exercise of religion and anti-discrimination statutes, or to discuss a claim for hybrid-rights combining "rational basis" free exercise rights with "strict scrutiny" free speech rights.