CHRISTIAN LEGAL SOCIETY WELCOMES THE NOMINATION OF A TESTED FRIEND OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH
Christian Legal Society (CLS) welcomes the nomination of a tested friend of religious freedom, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to serve on the United States Supreme Court. As our Nation celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, it is particularly fitting that a Supreme Court nominee be someone who has demonstrated a keen appreciation for the importance of its role in protecting all Americans’ religious freedom.
Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated a real commitment to protecting citizens’ religious speech. CLS’ Center for Law and Religious Freedom’s primary focus for four decades has been to safeguard all Americans’ right to express their religious beliefs and values in the public square. Adding yet another strong voice for freedom of speech to the Supreme Court is a very positive development. Read more
SUPREME COURT AFFIRMS FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS IN MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP CASE
We celebrate with Jack Phillips for his win today in the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 4, 2018, in a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the First Amendment rights of religious individuals by protecting Jack Phillips in the Masterpiece case, while striking down the apparent hostility that had been voiced against people of faith. The Supreme Court "concluded that the State’s interest could have been weighed against Phillips’ sincere religious objections in a way consistent with the requisite religious neutrality that must be strictly observed."
The Court's decision discussed many issues, including the Free Exercise rights of Jack, the baker. The CLS brief was mentioned at oral argument and provided the legal analysis of the Free Exercise claims that the Court majority seemed to follow in ruling for Jack Phillips. We are pleased with the decision and that the CLS brief seemed to have such a good influence on the outcome.
CLS issued a press release applauding the Supreme Court's respect for religious freedom.
Center Director Kim Colby spoke on the Federalist Society Religious Liberties Practice Group Teleforum after the Masterpiece ruling was announced. You can hear the hour long discussion here.
Kim Colby also spent an afternoon with Mike Schutt on the CLS podcast Cross & Gavel discussing the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. Click here to listen to the podcast. A copy of the podcast transcript is available here.
CLS FILES COMMENT LETTER REGARDING ABA MODEL RULE 8.4(g) IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
On May 25, 2018, CLS filed a comment letter with the New Hampshire Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules, which is studying three versions of ABA Model Rule 8.4(g) for possible adoption there.
CLS FILES COMMENT LETTER REGARDING ABA MODEL RULE 8.4(g) IN ARIZONA
On May 3, 2018, CLS filed a comment letter with the Arizona Supreme Court, which is studying ABA Model Rule 8.4(g) for possible adoption there.
TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT REJECTS ABA MODEL RULE 8.4(g)
The Supreme Court of Tennessee issued an Order on April 23, 2018, denying the petition of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility and the Tennessee Bar Association to adopt new Rule 8, RPC 8.4(g).
CLS DEFENDS CONGREGATIONS AND CLERGY OF ALL FAITHS FROM HISTORIC ATTACK ON THEIR ABILITY TO SERVE
CLS filed a brief to help protect clergy of all faiths from a higher tax bill. A group hostile to religion seeks to take away the housing allowance for clergy, a tax provision that is deeply embedded in the fabric of our national life.
PROTECTING DOCTORS' AND NURSES' RELIGIOUS CONSCIENCES
CLS submitted a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in support of new actions by HHS to defend health workers’ right not to participate in abortions.
CLS SUBMITS LETTERS IN SUPPORT OF IOWA LEGISLATION TO PROTECT CAMPUS RELIGIOUS GROUPS
CLS submitted two letters to Iowa state legislators (Support for Iowa SF 2344 and Overview of Other States' Laws) that are considering passing legislation to protect the ability of religious groups to have access to university campuses.
CLS FILES PRO-LIFE BRIEF IN THE SUPREME COURT
CLS filed a friend-of-the-court brief in First Resort v. Herrera in which CLS urged the Court to review a Ninth Circuit ruling that would allow the government to regulate religious ministries’ speech, including pro-life pregnancy resource centers.
CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS ARE ELIGIBLE FOR DISASTER RELIEF
For too long, FEMA denied churches and religious schools disaster relief that was available to other charities. On February 8, 2018, Congress changed that to end FEMA’s discrimination against religious ministries. Back in November 2017, CLS had joined a coalition letter urging Congress to act.
CLS SUPPORTS PROTECTIONS FOR RELIGIOUS STUDENTS IN SOUTH DAKOTA
CLS submitted a written statement urging the South Dakota state legislature to adopt protections for religious student groups that want to meet on public university campuses.
CLS FILES LETTER WITH FEMA
In November, CLS joined a coalition letter to the administration requesting that religious groups get fair and equal treatment after a natural disaster, especially given their role in providing essential services. As a result, FEMA changed its rules and now allows religious groups to receive federal aid following a natural disaster.
NEVADA SUPREME COURT ORDERS PETITION TO AMEND PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT RULES WITHDRAWN
On September 25, 2017, the Nevada Supreme Court issued an Order granting a Petition from the Board of Governors requesting that its Petition to amend the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct to include the ABA's Model Rule 8.4(g) be withdrawn.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN FAVOR OF PROTECTING JUDGES
CLS filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a Christian judge in Neely v. Wyoming Commission of Judicial Conduct and Ethics. The judge is being disciplined for declining to perform any marriage ceremony after the Obergefell same-sex marriage case. Despite the facts that Wyoming law does not require judges to perform weddings and Judge Neely has never been asked to solemnize a same-sex wedding, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled she cannot perform any marriage ceremonies unless she’s willing to violate her faith by performing same-sex wedding ceremonies. In its brief, CLS urges the Court to take this case and rule against a religious test for judges. Click here to read the brief.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP V. COLORADO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION
CLS filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court this week in support of a Christian baker’s right to decline to participate in wedding ceremonies that he religiously objects to. The brief urged the Court to protect religious freedom for people of faith now that the Court has recognized same-sex marriage. Click here to read the brief.
CLS FILES LETTER REGARDING MODEL RULE 8.4 IN LOUISIANA
CLS filed a comment letter with the Louisiana State Bar Association, which is studying ABA Model Rule 8.4(g) for possible adoption in Louisiana. Click here to read the comment letter.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN TING XUE V. SESSIONS
Mr. Xue was arrested when Chinese officials raided the unregistered house church in China where he and other Christians were worshipping. He was released from jail only after paying a fine equal to half his yearly income. After the house church was raided again, and those arrested put in imprisoned for a year, Mr. Xue came to America in search of religious freedom, where a lower court denied his application for asylum, claiming arrest and heavy fines for worshipping with other Christians were not religious persecution. CLS joined a brief urging the Supreme Court to clarify the national standard for asylum for religious persecution. The brief explains Congress intended to give persons seeking asylum from religious persecution a refuge in America from regimes who punish those who only want to worship peacefully with others. The Supreme Court is expected to decide this summer whether to hear the case. Click here to read the brief.
CLS FILES LETTER REGARDING MODEL RULE 8.4 IN SOUTH CAROLINA
CLS filed a comment letter with the South Carolina Supreme Court, which has been asked to consider Model Rule 8.4(g). Click here to read CLS' South Carolina comment letter.
KIM COLBY TESTIFIES BEFORE THE U.S. HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
Kim Colby testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the State of Religious Liberty in America. To read her testimony and watch the video, visit here: https://judiciary.house.gov/hearing/state-religious-liberty-america/.
CLS FILES LETTER REGARDING MODEL RULE 8.4 IN PENNSYLVANIA
CLS filed a comment letter with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which is considering adopting Model Rule 8.4(g). Click here to read CLS' Pennsylvania comment letter.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN STERLING V. U.S.
The Center filed a brief on behalf of a Marine Corporal who was court-martialed for refusing to take down a Bible verse she had posted in her work station. In ruling against her, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces severely watered down RFRA’s protections for all military personnel. The CLS brief urged the Supreme Court to review the case and ensure that military personnel keep their religious freedom while they serve our country. The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, along with eight other national organizations, joined the CLS brief. Click here to read the brief.
PROTECTING THE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY OF MAGISTRATES IN NORTH CAROLINA: CLS FILES AMICI BRIEF IN ANSLEY V. WARREN
CLS, joined by National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), filed an amici brief in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Ansley v. Warren. At issue in the case is North Carolina Senate Bill 2, which permits magistrates to decline for faith-based reasons to perform any marriage while simultaneously ensuring that there is a ready alternate to perform the marriage ceremony for the couple. CLS argued that Senate Bill 2 is a constitutionally-permissible religious exemption and does not violate the Establishment, Equal Protection, and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Click here to read the brief.
DEFENDING CHURCH RIGHTS: ADVOCATE HEALTH CARE NETWORK, ET. AL V. STAPLETON
CLS, along with National Association of Evangelicals and the National Legal Foundation, filed an amici brief in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Advocate Health Care Network, et. al v. Stapleton. The Center urged the Court to uphold ERISA’s broad religious exemption for “church pension plans.” For decades, many religious organizations that are not technically churches have relied in good faith on the federal government’s ruling that their plans qualify as “church plans,” but now challengers are asking the Supreme Court to narrow the exemption to apply only to churches. The CLS brief, written by CLS members Rick Claybrook and Professor Carl Esbeck, urged the Court to keep the current broad exemption. Click here to read the brief.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF JUDGE VANCE DAY
Christian Legal Society and Professor Mark David Hall filed an amici in the Supreme Court for the State of Oregon in the Judge Vance Day case, urging the court to rule that a judge’s refusal to perform a marriage ceremony that violated his or her religious beliefs does not render him or her unfit to hold judicial office. The brief was written by Professor Robert Destro and CLS member Herb Grey. Click here to read the brief.
CLS FILES LETTER REGARDING MODEL RULE 8.4 IN ILLINOIS
CLS filed a comment letter with the Illinois Supreme Court, which is considering adopting Model Rule 8.4(g). Click here to read CLS’ Illinois comment letter.
CLS FILES LETTER REGARDING MODEL RULE 8.4 IN MONTANA
CLS filed a comment letter with the Montana Supreme Court, which is considering adopting Model Rule 8.4(g). Click here to read CLS' Montana comment letter.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN BARBER V. BRYANT
CLS filed an amici brief urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to reject the decision of a lower federal court regarding religious discrimination of an applicant by a public university. The applicant was denied admission to a program, and the evidence shows that his mentioning of religious faith was a factor in the denial. The brief argued that penalizing the applicant because he made a simple expression of faith is discrimination that violates both the Free Speech and Establishment Clauses, and the district court committed serious error in rejecting both as a matter of law. Click here to read the brief.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN BUXTON V. KURTINITIS
CLS filed an amici brief in support of plaintiff-appellant urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reject the decision of a lower federal court in a case regarding Mississippi’s religious accommodation law. The lower court had held that a statutory religious accommodation that exempts people from otherwise applicable regulatory duties equates to unlawful discrimination. The CLS brief argued that the statute in question provides necessary and constitutionally-permissible religious exemptions and does not violate the Establishment Clause. Click here to read the brief.
CLS FILES LETTER REGARDING CALIFORNIA ETHICS RULE CHANGE
The California State Bar sought comments about two major proposed changes to their rules of professional conduct that would limit attorneys’ First Amendment freedoms. CLS filed a letter that you can read here.
CLS SENDS LETTER REGARDING HHS MANDATE
CLS responded to HHS request for information about ways it could provide certain drugs and devices to religious organizations’ employees without violating religious freedom after the Supreme Court’s decision in Zubik. Click here to read the letter.
BLOG POST: WHOSE SHAME?
The Religious Freedom Institute published Kim Colby's blog post addressing California's attempt to punish religious colleges and their students for their religious beliefs regarding marriage. It is worth a read. Click here to read the blog post.
CLS COMMENT LETTER ON HUMAN-ANIMAL RESEARCH
The National Institutes of Health is lifting their moratorium on human-animal research. CLS filed a comment letter requesting that they continue with a moratorium on such research, citing legal, procedural, and ethical concerns.
CLS ASSISTS CHRISTIAN GROUPS
CLS has helped a Bible study group stay in their high school in Loudon County, Virginia, as well as advised a CLS chapter so as to overcome difficulties at American University and kept a Christian group on campus at a North Carolina university. Click here to learn more about the Loudon County group.
UPDATE ON ABA MODEL RULE 8.4(g)
The ABA passed Model Rule 8.4(g), but with modifications thanks to the emails and letters from many CLS members. For those that wonder about the evolution of 8.4 and how it progressed, Kim Colby wrote an article for our next magazine outlining how things evolved for this ethics rule. Click here to read an advanced copy of her article.
CONSCIENCE PROTECTION ACT PASSES HOUSE
On July 13, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Conscience Protection Act. 245-182, which expands protections for individuals and institutions that object to participating in abortion. CLS urged the House leadership to pass the legislation, which now returns to the Senate for its vote.
SUCCESS AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY
CLS worked closely with other campus ministries to persuade Indiana University (IU) not to adopt a policy that IU acknowledged would have prohibited religious groups from requiring their leaders to be religious. A few weeks ago, IU told the religious groups that it would not adopt the proposed policy change.
CLS JOINS BRIEF IN JUDGE RUTH NEELY V. WYOMING COMM. ON JUDICIAL CONDUCT AND ETHICS
CLS joined an amici brief in a case before the Wyoming Supreme Court in which the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics has recommended the removal of a sitting judge from both her Municipal Court Judge and Circuit Court Magistrate positions for responding to a reporter’s question about same-sex marriage. The judge stated, in response to a reporter’s question, that she would not officiate and participate in a same-sex marriage because of her religious convictions. Under Wyoming law, a judge may, but need not, officiate in any wedding. Unfortunately, the Wyoming Supreme Court denied the motion to file the brief, along with similar motions by many other organizations. Click here to read the brief.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH OF COLUMBIA V. SARA PARKER PAULEY
CLS filed an amici brief urging the nation's highest court to reject the decision of a lower federal court in a critical case regarding Missouri's discrimination against its religious citizens. Click here to read the brief.
FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS THAT RECEIVE FEDERAL FUNDING
On April 4, nine federal agencies announced their final regulations to implement Executive Order 13559. The regulations allow religious organizations to receive some federal funding to provide various social services without forfeiting their religious identities or religious hiring rights. The regulations are the culmination of work by Professor Carl Esbeck, Stanley Carlson-Thies, and CLS staff over nearly two decades.
GEORGIA LEGISLATION TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
The Georgia General Assembly passed its version of a First Amendment Defense Act and a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Center worked closely with Georgia legislators to draft the original bill and with local organizations to support passage and even sent a letter to Georgia's governor encouraging him to support religious liberty. Click here to read the letter.
KANSAS CAMPUS ACCESS BILL
The Kansas legislature passed a bill to protect campus access for religious student groups. CLS helped work on the language of SB 175, and CLS member Craig Shultz testified before the Kansas Senate committee in support of its passage. The Center provided a written statement early in the process and a letter in mid-March explaining the need for the bill. Click here to read the letter.
CLS STATEMENT ON JUDICIAL NOMINATION: CAUTION NEEDED IN SCOTUS NOMINATION PROCESS
CLS issued a statement regarding the nomination process to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the passing of Justice Scalia. Click here to read the statement.
CLS LETTER TO THE ABA REGARDING MODEL RULE 8.4
CLS sent a letter to the American Bar Association in opposition to proposed changes to Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4, which could restrict the pracrice of law by Christian lawyers. Click here to see the CLS letter. Additionally, CLS members also filed their comments with the ABA. We are hopeful the committee will heed our voices.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN STATE OF WASHINGTON V. ARLENE'S FLOWERS, INC.
CLS filed a brief in this case before Washington State's highest court. The CLS brief argued that there is no compelling state interest to force small businesses, who will serve same-sex couples in general, to provide gay wedding services when there is ready access from others. Click here to read the brief.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN CHABAD-LUBAVITCH OF MICHIGAN V. DR. DOV SCHUCHMAN
CLS filed an amiis brief in Chabad-Lubavitch of Michigan v. Dr. Dov Schuchman, et al. in favor of granting cert and challenging the refusal of the Michigan State Supreme Court to entertain an action to enforce a final decree of the religious dispute resolution process between feuding Chabad-Lubavitch state and local chapters because the Michigan State Supreme Court refused to toll the civil statute of limitations during the religious dispute resolution process. CLS was joined on the brief by Anglican Church in North America, National Association of Evangelicals, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference-Conel, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, Peacemakers Ministries, and Conflict Resolution and Conciliation Center. Click here to read the brief.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN WHOLE WOMEN'S HEALTH V. COLE
In this Texas abortion case before the United States Supreme Court, CLS joined an amici brief that did a careful analysis of the “undue burden” standard in abortion case law, arguing that regulations such as those in Texas that focus on the health of the mother and general medical safety are subject only to the rational basis test because they do not impose an undue burden on those seeking an abortion. Click here to read the brief.
CLS MOURNS THE PASSING OF JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA
Read CLS’ Statement on the passing of Justice Scalia.
CLS LETTER TO THE OHIO LEGISLATIVE TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION
The Center sent a letter to the Ohio House Education Committee in Support of HB 425, which would protect the religious expression of students in public schools. Click here to see the letter.
CLS FILES BRIEF IN STORMANS CASE
CLS filed an amicus brief in support of the petition for cert. in Stormans v. Wiesman, the case in which Washington pharmacists are being required to carry and dispense abortifacients. CLS argued that the Ninth Circuit disregarded evidence that Washington State’s regulations were unnecessary to ensure timely access to medications, while also emphasizing the important national tradition of protecting conscience and religious objectors in the context of the “taking of life” issues. Click here to read the brief.
CLS DEFENDS TEXANS IN BATTLE WITH STATE BAR OVER RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
CLS submitted a letter to the Texas State Bar in battle over religious liberty. Read the letter here.
HHS MANDATE POSES A GRAVE THREAT TO RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND PLURALISM IN AMERICA
CLS filed an amicus brief in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. Read the brief here.