Free Exercise

News & Analysis as of

Michigan Township Prevails on Federal Religious Discrimination Claims

A federal court in Michigan has ruled that Genoa Charter Township did not violate federal law in denying a church’s application for a special use permit to operate a religious school. Livingston Christian Schools (LSC)...more

Sewer Connection Must Be By The Least Restrictive Means

Barbara L. Yoder and Joseph I. Yoder (“Owners”) own a home in Sugar Grove Township, Pennsylvania (“Township”), which has a mandatory sewer connection ordinance (the “Ordinance”), requiring connection to the Sugar Grove Area...more

Claims to Accommodate Flying Spaghetti Monster-ism Hit the Wall in Nebraska Court

On April 12, 2016, a district court in Nebraska rejected the religious accommodation claims advanced by a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.1 In denying the religious accommodation claims, the court was...more

Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Not a Religion, Says Federal Court

We don’t often report on RLUIPA prisoner cases (recall, that RLUIPA applies in the land use and prison contexts). But a recent federal decision in Nebraska – Cavanaugh v. Bartelt (D. Nebraska 2016), is just too good to pass...more

Alabama Sex Offender Religious Land Use Case To Proceed

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama has ruled that Ricky Martin may proceed with his religious land use and other claims against the Chilton County District Attorney Randall Houston. The Middle...more

Recovery House’s RLUIPA Challenge Fails

The District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has rejected RLUIPA and other claims asserted by a religious group in Affordable Recovery Housing v. City of Blue Island (N.D. Ill. 2016). The case stems from...more

West Virginia Church Prevails Against Development Authority

Late last year, Summit Church of Elkins, West Virginia, sued the Randolph County Development Authority (“RCDA”) in the Northern District of West Virginia for preventing the Church from purchasing a local movie theater for...more

Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Soup Kitchen in Dispute with San Buenaventura, CA

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reversed a district court’s decision that Harbor Missionary Church’s (Church) religious exercise was not substantially burdened by the City of San Buenaventura’s denial of a...more

When is Mixed-Use Religious Exercise?

A Connecticut federal court has issued an important decision in a case involving the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) that could affect how municipalities and courts examine whether certain...more

Is a Parsonage a Primary Use? NJ District Court Ponders the Question

Christian Community Chapel Wesleyan Church, Inc. (the “Chapel”) was founded in 2000 and grew quickly to 125 members. Expecting continued growth, the Chapel purchased a 33,000 square foot building with seats for 600...more

Religious Institutions: September 2015

Respondeat superior (literally, "let the master answer" in Latin) is a doctrine that applies when an employer or principal has the ability and authority to direct and control the pertinent acts of the employee. Put otherwise,...more

Illinois Federal Court Dismisses Some, But Not All, RLUIPA Claims

A federal court in Illinois, in Church of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ v. City of Markham, Illinois (N.D. Ill. 2015), dismissed some of the Church’s religious land use claims while allowing others to proceed. The case is...more

“Opt Out” Accommodation Under Affordable Care Act Validated After Challenge from Religious Objectors

In what continues to be a controversial and developing area of employment law, a federal appellate court recently validated the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “opt out” provision, finding that requiring nonprofit employers to...more

Location, Location, Location: The Property Underneath the Feet of Speakers Matters When Determining Whether A Public Institution...

Benjamin Bloedorn is an itinerant preacher who travels from college campus to college campus, loudly proclaiming his evangelical message for hours on end to anyone within earshot. In March 2008 he arrived at Georgia Southern...more

Amicus Brief Filed at Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by Attorney Yale Yechiel N. Robinson

Attorney Yale Yechiel N. Robinson filed an amicus brief with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) on July 22, 2015. The case, Trapp v. Commissioner of Corrections (docket number SJC-11863), concerns prisoner...more

Thou Shalt Not Sue: The Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine in Tennessee

Like most commercial litigators, I do not often find myself dealing with questions of religion or divine providence during work hours. However, that is exactly where I found myself last Easter (ironically enough), working...more

Post-Hobby Lobby Questions Remain About the Scope of Corporate Religious Freedom

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a challenge to regulations mandating that employers provide contraceptive coverage for their employees. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the Court found the regulations promulgated by the...more

For-Profit Companies Find Religion – What’s a Transactional Lawyer to Do?

Last month, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that closely held for-profit corporations can have “free exercise rights” as “persons” under The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (“RFRA”),...more

Lake County, Illinois “Hat Trick”* Defeats Religious Meditation House in Federal Suit

In MAUM Meditation House of Truth v. Lake County, Illinois, No. 13-cv-3794 (N.D. Ill. 2014), the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled that Lake County, Illinois did not violate MAUM...more

Monthly Benefits Update - November 2013

Health & Welfare Plans - Health Care Reform: Supreme Court Grants Review to Two Cases Challenging ACA’s Contraception Coverage Mandate - The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases challenging...more

Sixth Circuit Rejects Challenge to ACA Based on Religious Beliefs

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires non-grandfathered health plans to cover certain preventative health services. In a case seeking an injunction to bar enforcement of ACA’s so-called “contraception mandate” on the ground...more

Sixth Circuit Agrees: No Preliminary Injunction In ACA “Contraceptive Mandate” Case

Corporations are not exempt from the so-called "Contraceptive Mandate" authorized pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2012 (the "ACA" / popularly known as "Obamacare") according to the opinion of the...more

Religious Institutions Update: August/September 2013

On August 2, 2013, the White House's Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum instructing federal agencies to take steps to carry out President Obama's executive order (E.O. 13559 (Nov. 17, 2010)) adopting several...more

Religious Institutions Update - July 2013

Have you ever wondered how the United States Constitution came to incorporate "free exercise of religion" in the First Amendment? James Madison wrote the initial draft of the Bill of Rights. He and other Federalists initially...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

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