free exercise of religion

In Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak the Supreme Court allowed the Nevada governor’s COVID-19 restrictions on the number of people who may attend religious services to stand.

The lower courts refused to grant the church an injunction in this case so they...

On Friday night, close to midnight, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision rejected a request from a number of California churches to strike down the portion of California governor’s stay-at-home order limiting attendance at places of worship to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote a brief, concurring opinion explaining his vote. First, he noted that the churches face a high bar in obtaining...

In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia the Supreme Court will decide whether local governments may refuse to contract with foster care agencies who will not work with gay couples…and possibly much, much more.

The City of Philadelphia long contracted with Catholic Social Services (CSS) to place foster care children. The City stopped doing so when it discovered CSS wouldn’t work with same-sex couples. Philadelphia requires...

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue raises an issue the Supreme Court has long wrestled with:  if a state-aid program violates a state constitutional prohibition against mixing church and state because religious institutions may participate, does discontinuing that program violate the federal constitution’s Free Exercise or Equal Protection Clauses.

Montana statutes allow taxpayers to receive tax credits for contribution to Student Scholarship Organizations (SSO) that give students scholarships to attend private schools, including religious schools. The Montana Department of Revenue adopted Rule 1 disallowing religious schools to participate in the program because it concluded their participation would violate Montana’s constitution. Parents of students attending religiously-affiliated private schools challenged Rule 1.

In a 7-2 decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission the Supreme Court reversed a ruling against the owner of a cake shop who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs. The Court concluded the cake maker was entitled to but did not experience a “neutral decisionmaker who [gave] full and fair consideration to his religious objection.” The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case supporting Colorado.

Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins filed a complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop claiming it violated Colorado's public accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, when it refused to create a wedding cake for them. The cake shop owner Jack Phillips explained:  “to create a wedding cake for an event that celebrates something that directly goes against the teachings of the Bible, would have been a personal endorsement and participation in the ceremony and relationship that they were entering into.”

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