October 15 : June 15 : April 26 : April 1 : March 9 :
February 25 : February 23 : February 18 : January 19
October 15, 2004
- SUPREME COURT TO HEAR TWO CASES INVOLVING TEN COMMANDMENTS DISPLAYS AND AN
On Tuesday, the Court granted certiorari in Van Orden v. Perry,
No. 03-1500, a case challenging a Ten Commandments monument on
the grounds of the Texas state capitol, and McCreary County
v. ACLU, No. 03-1693, a case challenging a Ten Commandments
display in a Kentucky courthouse. It also agreed to hear Cutter
v. Wilkinson, No. 03-9877, a case involving challenges from
Ohio prisoners under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act alleging that the state denied them the right to practice
Wicca and Satanism in prison.
June 15, 2004
- NINTH CIRCUIT ORDERS REMOVAL OF CROSS FROM MOJAVE DESERT
The Ninth Circuit ordered the removal of a five-to-eight-foot Latin cross
that has stood on federal land in the Mojave National Preserve in various
forms since 1934. The cross, officially designated as a war memorial, is
bolted to a large rock outcropping visible to vehicles on a nearby road.
The National Park Service declined a request to erect a Buddhist religious
symbol next to the cross. Although Congress passed legislation authorizing
the swap of five acres around the cross for five acres of private land
elsewhere in the preserve, the transfer had not yet been completed. Because
the court believed the transfer could take years to complete, and that the
land could revert to the government, it rendered its opinion based on the
cross standing on federal land. The court did not address the
constitutionality of the transfer itself. The ACLU has challenged the
transfer as unconstitutional in a separate case.
Buono v. Norton, No. 03-55032 (9th Cir. June 7, 2004),
can be accessed by clicking HERE.(PDF)
April 26, 2004
- APPEALS COURT RULES FLORIDA CITY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS
In the first case in which a house of worship has won under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), the Eleventh Circuit found that a city discriminated against two Orthodox Jewish congregations by barring them from meeting in rented commercial space. The Eleventh Circuit held that RLUIPA was within Congress's legislative authority and mandates equal treatment between religious and nonreligious assemblies.
Please click to read the decision in Midrash
Sephardi, Inc. v. Town of Surfside, No. 03-13858 (11th Cir. Apr.
21, 2004). (PDF)
April 1, 2004
- MARCH ISSUE OF CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION'S RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN FOCUS ONLINE
The United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division has released
the March issue of Religious Freedom in Focus, a monthly email update about
the Civil Rights Division's ongoing efforts to protect religious freedom.
In this month's issue:
- Civil Rights Division Submits Brief Defending the Boy Scouts' Right to Use
City Land in San Diego; Court Refuses to Accept it
- Civil Rights Division Brief Defends Constitutionality of Title VII
- Civil Rights Division Closes Pennsylvania Religious Zoning Discrimination
- Church Arson Act's Constitutionality Defended
- Supreme Court Reverses Ninth Circuit in Locke v. Davey
To view the issue, click HERE.
March 8, 2004
- CATHOLIC CHARITIES CASE EDITORIAL
Professor Richard W. Garnett at Notre Dame has published an op-ed
on the Catholic Charities case on National Review Online. Lauding
Justice Janice Brown's dissent, he argues that the California
Supreme Court wrongly held that Catholic Charities must include
contraceptives in their employees' health insurance plans. Click
to read his editorial.
- LOCKE v. DAVEY EDITORIAL
Susanna Dokupil's recent op-ed on National Review Online argues
that the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Washington State's
ability to exclude ministerial students from college scholarships
was wrongly decided. Click HERE
to read her editorial.
February 25, 2004
- SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS WASHINGTON STATE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
The Supreme Court issued its opinion in Locke v. Davey, which concerned the
constitutionality of a Washington State college scholarship program. The
Promise Scholarship program awarded grants based on a combination of need
and merit, but it excluded otherwise-qualified students who planned to study
theology from receiving scholarships. In a 7-2 opinion, with Chief Justice
Rehnquist writing for the majority, the Court held that the exclusion of
religious majors from the scholarship program did not violate the Free
Exercise clause. Justice Scalia, in a dissent joined by Justice Thomas,
argued that it was unconstitutional for the State to award benefits based on
neutral criteria, then single out religion for disfavor.
to access the decision in Locke
No. 02-1315 (Feb. 25, 2004)
February 23, 2004
- EIGHTH CIRCUIT DECLARES TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT UNCONSTITUTIONAL
The court found that a Ten Commandments monument in a local city park violated the Establishment Clause because the city did not have a secular purpose in erecting the monument, and the primary effect was to advance religion. The monument was donated by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles in 1965. Although other donated structures, such as benches, recreation equipment, and trees, were in the park, the Eighth Circuit found them
insufficient to mitigate the perception that the city endorsed religion.
to access ACLU
Nebraska Foundation v. City of Plattsmouth,
No. 02-2444 (8th Cir. Feb. 18, 2004). (PDF)
February 18, 2004
- RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN FOCUS
The inaugural issue of Religious Freedom in Focus is now online. This
monthly e-mail update highlights cases involving religious liberty and
religious discrimination issues that the Civil Rights Division of the
Department of Justice is handling. This issue discusses defending the
constitutionality of the religious accommodation provisions in Title VII in
the context of a Muslim woman's right to wear a headscarf to work, working
to have a ban on prayer lifted at a Texas senior center, and protecting the
right, under RLUIPA, of an Orthodox synagogue to meet in commercially rented
space. It also summarizes the Civil Rights Division's work enforcing
to access Religious Freedom in Focus.
January 19, 2004
- GEORGIA CONSIDERS STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO OVERRIDE STATE'S BLAINE
Georgia's Governor Sonny Perdue has proposed a Faith and Family Services
Amendment to the State's constitution that would allow the State of Georgia
to fund faith-based initiatives. It would change the provision reading: "No
money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly,
in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any
sectarian institution" to begin "except as permitted or required by the
United State Constitution, as amended." If the resolution receives a 2/3
vote in the Georgia House and Senate, it will appear on the November 2004
ballot and will require a majority vote for passage.
For more information, including the full text of the amendment