Religion clauses

  • March 12, 2014
    As the Supreme Court prepares to hear Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. on Mar. 25, the companies refusing to provide contraception insurance coverage to their employees prepare to “frame their objections narrowly.” Emily Bazelon at Slate reveals “what the religious right really thinks of birth control.”
     
    Jeffrey Thompson, a government contractor, pleaded guilty to funneling large amounts of campaign contributions to several political candidates, including Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. Zoe Tillman at Legal Times reports on the growing controversy surrounding Thompson’s trial and the implications for the 2014 mayoral election. 
     
    A group of Californians filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court in an effort to “block a city ordinance banning gun ammunition-holders (‘magazines’) that contain more than ten bullets.” Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog breaks down Fyock v. City of Sunnyvale.
     
    A same-sex couple filed for divorce in Alabama, causing a plethora of legal questions to arise in a state that refuses to recognize gay marriage. Brian Lawson of The Huntsville Times describes how the state’s marriage ban is “[leaving] the couple without an easy way to untie the knot.”
     
    At The New York Times, Paul Krugman explains why “taking action to reduce the extreme inequality of 21st-century America would probably increase, not reduce, economic growth.”
     
    Staci Zaretsky at Above the Law comments on the U.S News & World Report 2015 law school rankings.
  • March 6, 2014
    BookTalk
    Taking Liberties
    Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do
    By: 
    Rob Boston
    by Rob Boston, Director of Communications, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
     
    Religious freedom is crucial to the American experience. Indeed, a longing for the right to worship according to the dictates of conscience is one of the reasons our nation exists.
     
    Religious freedom encompasses many concepts. Fundamentally, it means the power to choose where and how you will worship—or if you’ll worship at all. It also means that the government has no right to compel anyone to take part in religious exercises or force its citizens to directly subsidize houses of worship. It means that decisions about faith are private and belong firmly anchored in what Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark once eloquently referred to as the “inviolable citadel of the heart.”
     
    That’s what religious freedom is. Here is what it is not: a tool to control others or to diminish their rights. Yet, increasingly, this is how some Americans are defining religious liberty. Because religious freedom is central to our democracy, it’s important that we get this right.
     
    I wrote Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do because I was concerned that a noble principle designed to protect individual freedom was being warped into an instrument of mass oppression. This must not happen.
     
  • March 5, 2014

    The Justice Department has been asked to investigate accusations of CIA surveillance of computers used by Senate staff to prepare a Senate Intelligence Committee report allegedly detailing “how the CIA misled the Bush administration and Congress about the use of interrogation techniques that many experts consider torture.” Jonathan S. Landay, Ali Watkins, and Maris Taylor at McClatchy DC have the story.

     
    State officials are appealing U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II’s ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed outside the state. Writing for The Courier-Journal, Tom Loftus and Chris Kenning report on why the Office of the Attorney General is sitting this one out.
     
    The Supreme Court agreed to hear oral argument in a case that challenges the Arkansas Department of Corrections’ no-beard policy for inmates. Ruthann Robson—Faculty Advisor for the CUNY School of Law ACS Student Chapter—reviews Holt v. Hobbs at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog and explores whether the ADC’s policy violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
     
    Yesterday, the Supreme Court expanded whistleblower protections. In Lawson v. FMR LLC, the justices agreed to extend such protections to businesses working for public companies. Writing for Reuters, Lawrence Hurley breaks down the high court’s decision.
     
    Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic examines United States v. Maloney, a case that features a wrongfully convicted man, an intrepid prosecutor and “a result … that is worthy of respect.”
     
    Alex Rich at Above the Law argues why a new meaning of legal work “may define the work of a generation of lawyers.”
  • March 4, 2014

    by ACS Staff

    The Supreme Court heard oral argument yesterday in a case that centers on Florida’s rigid policy of determining whether it can move forward on executing a mentally disabled death row inmate. Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reviews Florida’s standard for evaluating intellectual disability in the death penalty case, Hall v. Florida. For more on this case, please see analysis by Diann Rust-Tierney and Prof. John H. Blume at ACSblog as well as Jeremy Leaming’s piece on the controversial execution of Herbert Smulls.

    Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Kent Greenfield argues why for-profit companies should not be exempt from regulatory controls because of religious belief. In the article, Greenfield—a faculty advisor to the ACS Student Chapter at Boston College Law School—comments on the grave implications of providing the commercial businesses, such as Hobby lobby, an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s policy on coverage of contraception. For more on the corporate challenges to the ACA’s contraception policy see the ACS Issue Briefs, “Corporate Religious Liberty: Why Corporations are not Entitled to Religious Exemptions” by Caroline Mala Corbin, a law professor at the University of Miami, and “With Religious Liberty for All: A Defense of the Affordable Care Act’s Contraception Coverage Mandate” by Frederick Mark Gedicks, a law professor at Brigham Young University.

    Despite efforts by lawmakers in Georgia and Ohio to create more hurdles to voting, Jennifer L. Clark and DeNora Getachew at the Brennan Center for Justice report on some of the “good news on voting rights.”

    Frank Pasquale at Balkinization briefly reviews Raul Carrillo and Rohan Grey’s The Cost of Justice, arguing that “law students need macroeconomics … and macroeconomics needs us."

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund comments on President Obama’s landmark initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper.”

  • February 27, 2014
    Guest Post

    by James C. Nelson, Justice, Montana Supreme Court (Retired)

    Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer said she’d do the right thing, and she did. Good for her; she made the correct decision.

    The right decision for the right reason would have been for her to say outright that Senate Bill 1062 was simply religious bigotry against LGBT people and had no place in Arizona’s civil code. End of story; end of bill.

    Instead, Governor Brewer vetoed the proposed law because of the outcry of big business.  Corporate America – hailed by some in the popular media as a “beacon of progress” – has come to realize that conservative religious zealotry hurts the bottom line. Bigotry and business seemingly don’t make good bedfellows any more – as they may well have when the conservative Christian Right was in its heyday not too many years ago.

    I suggest what is happening here is not that Corporate America has suddenly developed a social and moral conscience. Rather, big business does what it always does where constitutional rights are concerned. If embracing those rights adds luster to the “brand” and dollar signs to the bottom line, then count the big guys in. If the opposite is true -- equal pay and freedom of choice for women -- for example, well that’s likely to be another story. In the end, greed usually trumps God, and that’s what happened here.

    But am I complaining that the LGBT Community won this round in the way it did? No I am not.  A win is a win; and if one’s frenemies are on your side in the battle, we all get to bask in the victory.

    But before America’s newest beacons of progress get complacent on this issue, be aware that other States are still in the process of putting “right to discriminate” laws in play – Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Tennessee and Utah.

    All of us who are committed to equality under the law won this battle; but the war is not over.  We’ll take the win; and we’ll take your help Corporate America. 

    Homophobic discrimination is wrong for the right reasons – and for the wrong reasons as well. Pick your weapon; it’s the result that matters.