Religious Institutions

Supreme Court finds Puerto Rico court lacked jurisdiction to seize Catholic assets to pay school pension obligations

Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court ruled today per curiam that the Puerto Rico Supreme Court erred when it determined that the "Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church" was responsible for properly administering a pension plan for the employees of Catholic Schools Trust.

 
 

Supreme Court agrees to hear Philadelphia faith-based adoption agency case

Supreme Court of the United States

On February 24, 2020, the Supreme court agreed to hear an appeal brought against the city of Philadelphia by Catholic Social Services (CSS). The city has a standing policy of not referring foster children to CSS because CSS will not certify same-sex couples as foster parents.

 
 

Judge dismisses pension funding case against religious hospital chain

This decision is a good primer on the actual harm element requirement needed in order to have standing in Federal Court.

 
 

Methodist denomination files suit alleging SMU covertly severed relationship with church

The United Methodist Church, via a regional conference, has sued for injunctive relief, alleging that Southern Methodist University (SMU) "covertly" modified its bylaws to eliminate church control over the 12,000-student Texas institution.

 
 

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.  

 
 

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.

 
 

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. 

 
 

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.

 
 

Clergy Housing Tax Exemption Case Heard by Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Clergy Housing Tax Exemption Case Heard by Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments this week in Gaylor v. Peecher, a case that challenges the constitutionality of tax-exempt housing for clergy. Under 25 U.S.C. § 107(2), a pastor may receive a payment separate from taxable salary to pay for housing-related expenses including rent, mortgages and utility services.