Free Exercise First Amendment

News & Analysis as of

RLUIPA Case of the Year? Minnesota Municipality Uses RLUIPA’s Safe Harbor Provision to Avoid Liability

In an important decision for municipalities across the country, a federal court in Minnesota has recently ruled that actions taken under RLUIPA’s “safe harbor” provision absolved a local government of possible RLUIPA...more

NLRB Expands Jurisdiction in Church-Operated Schools, Distinguishing Between "Religious" and "Secular" Instruction in Faculty...

In two recent cases, the National Labor Relations Board distinguished between faculty members providing secular instruction and those providing religious instruction, in concluding that only those providing religious...more

Hundreds Erupt in Elation After Sterling Heights Mosque Denial

In the RLUIPA Round-Up post, we noted that the City of Sterling Heights, Michigan, is facing a federal lawsuit following its denial of the American Islamic Community Center’s (Center) zoning application to build a 20,500...more

Minister or Not? Gay Bias Case Turns on Employee’s Role

Seyfarth Synopsis: A federal judge has allowed a discrimination lawsuit to proceed against the Archdiocese of Chicago. The plaintiff alleges that his engagement to another man resulted in his termination. The church sought...more

Religious Institutions Update: August 2016

When was the last time your organization reviewed your insurance policies? Not all policies are equal. Many religious organizations are underinsured. Most should have general liability, property, professional liability,...more

Massachusetts Church Alleges Solar Panel Denial Violates Religious Freedom

A Massachusetts Superior Court is soon to consider the interplay of three important planning principles – historic preservation, sustainable development, and freedom of religion. A Unitarian Universalist church is suing the...more

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

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

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

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

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

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: 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

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

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