Establishment Clause

News & Analysis as of

New Mexico Federal Court Rules Ten Commandments Display Outside City Hall Violates Establishment Clause

In Felix v. City of Bloomfield (D. NM Aug. 7, 2014), the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico found that the display of a five-foot, granite Ten Commandments monument outside City Hall violated the Establishment...more

Supreme Court Declines to Review Case on Public School Graduations in Churches

The Supreme Court decided this week not to hear a recent case from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which has jurisdiction over Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin) regarding public school graduation ceremonies in churches....more

Seven Simple Guidelines for Legislative Prayer

The U.S. Supreme Court on May 5, 2014, ruled in Town of Greece v. Galloway that local governments may start their regular meetings with a prayer in the nature of the invocations given before Congress. The various justices...more

Supreme Court Upholds Town’s Practice of Opening Board Meetings with Prayer

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a New York town’s practice of opening town board meetings with prayer did not violate the First Amendment. The decision provides guidance to school boards and other public bodies...more

Developments in Religious Freedom and Employment Law

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”...more

U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Local Governments May Open Meetings With Sectarian Prayer

The 5-4 decision found that Town of Greece’s prayer practice is consistent with practices long permitted in American legislative assemblies. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is constitutional for a town board...more

In Town Of Greece, U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Constitutionality Of Prayer At Town Meetings

HIGHLIGHTS - - Local governments in Illinois and around the country should become knowledgeable about the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling this week in Town of Greece v. Galloway. - In its 5-4 ruling, the Court declared...more

United States Supreme Court Upholds Prayers at Public Meetings

Many legislative bodies throughout the United States, including city councils, state legislatures, and Congress, begin sessions with ceremonial religious prayer that often includes references to sectarian Christian themes,...more

Town of Greece v. Galloway: U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Law on Legislative Prayer and the Establishment Clause

Today, the Court handed down its ruling in Town of Greece. In a sweeping ruling, the Court upheld the local government’s religious invocations in a 5-4 decision. The ruling pretty dramatically and explicitly broadens the...more

Religious Institutions - February 2014

Who owns the "church?" For most, this is an odd question. As children, many of us folded our hands and repeated a rhyme: "Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see the people." Nevertheless, for well...more

Tax Exemption For Ministers Unconstitutional?

The Western District of Wisconsin recently issued a decision that makes the parsonage exemption unconstitutional as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. This ruling is controversial and hotly...more

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like A Lawsuit: The Acceptable Role Of Religion In Public School Winter Musical Programs And Toy...

Thanksgiving is not yet here, but school districts across the country already are grappling with an important question regarding later, religious holidays like Christmas. The question: Can religious content be included in...more

Religious Institutions: June 2013

Do you know a "place of public accommodation" when you see it? Federal, state and sometimes local laws entitle persons to the full and equal employment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and...more

After Many Years, US Supreme Court Again Takes On Legislative Prayer

Cullen D. Seltzer, Esquire, litigator and colleague here at Sands Anderson PC, recently shared his report about a key legislative prayer case going to be decided by the United States Supreme Court. Given the number of...more

Elmbrook School District v. Doe: Will the U.S. Supreme Court Rule on the Constitutionality of Holding Public High School...

During its conference this Friday, April 12, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to consider Elmbrook School District’s petition for a writ of certiorari seeking reversal of a decision issued last summer by the United States...more

Religious Institutions Update: April 2013

Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is in full swing. The law requires non-exempt religious organizations with fewer than 50 full-time employees to determine whether they are a large...more

Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals Upholds City’s Invocation Policy For Council Meetings

In Rubin v. City of Lancaster, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s determination that the city council’s invocation policy and practice did not amount to an unconstitutional establishment of religion....more

Ninth Circuit Upholds Opening Prayers at City Council Meetings - Prayers May Be Sectarian But May Not Proselytize or Disparage...

Overview: The Ninth Circuit recently upheld as constitutional a city council’s practice of opening its sessions with prayer. The court upheld the city’s policy concerning such prayers, which extended the invitation to lead...more

Religious Institutions Update: March 2013

In this Issue: - Key Cases - Court Upholds Permitting, Licensing and Zoning Regulation of Spiritual Counselors - Non-Liturgical Navy Chaplains Denied Injunctive Relief for Statistical Imbalance in...more

Advertising Law -- Feb 21, 2013

In This Issue: Neutrogena Escapes Class Certification; It's Not "Hip" to Steal Contact Info; Leibowitz Leaves the FTC—Who Will Take His Place?; A Court Ruling Wouldn't Be Kosher; California Supreme Court: Some Online...more

Religious Institutions Update: February 2013

Last February, at the request of Senate Finance Committee member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations was formed to address tax-related policy questions of import...more

Public School Teachers, Free Speech, and Hostile Environment

In public school, the constitutional tension can be high on these issues: students' and teachers' free speech rights; teachers' Free Exercise rights; the school's concern for the Establishment clause; when bullying begins;...more

Religious Institutions Update: January 2013

In 2000, Congress enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000cc et seq. (RLUIPA), in recognition that "new, small, or unfamiliar churches in particular, are frequently discriminated...more

U.S. District Court Enjoins Contraceptive Coverage Mandate Applied to For-Profit Religious Publishing Company

On November 16, 2102, in Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. v. Sebelius, No. 12-1635 (D. D.C. Nov. 16, 2012), the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction to a closely held, for-profit...more

Religious Institutions: October 2012 Update

Most secular and religious corporations have adopted electronic communication policies which state that employees have no privacy interest in their emails and Internet usage. Typically, the policies indicate that the...more

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