Establishment Clause

News & Analysis as of

Supplement — Curtin’s California Land Use

This Supplement is intended for use in conjunction with Curtin’s California Land Use & Planning Law, Thirty-Fourth Edition (2014), authored by Perkins Coie attorneys Cecily Talbert Barclay and Matthew S. Gray. In lieu of...more

Mother & Daughter’s Challenge to Ten Commandments Monument Dismissed for Lack of Standing

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania dismissed an Establishment Clause challenge to a Ten Commandments monument located on the lawn outside a local high school, in Freedom From Religion Foundation...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

Religious Institutions Update: May 2015

Religious institutions commonly keep ministry supporters and members abreast of developments through newsletters, correspondence and other communications. Sometimes, the developments reported are embarrassing to those...more

Ruling Guides Cities on How to Regulate Holiday Displays

A high-profile case that provides guidance on how local governments might approach holiday display regulations without violating constitutional rights was decided last week by a federal appellate court. The City of Santa...more

Satanic Temple at it Again: Brookville Feels the Heat After County Commissioners Deny Temple Display and Display Commemorating the...

Spring flowers and the final week of argument in the Supreme Court’s 2015 term have all of us at RLUIPA Defense thinking spring. However, at least one controversy from the 2014 holiday season is back in bloom (reported on...more

Seventh Circuit: Plaintiffs Lacked Standing to Challenge Tax Exemption for Ministerial Rental Allowances

In November 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin declared unconstitutional Section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, which excludes from gross income rental allowances paid to ministers as...more

Freedom From Religion Foundation: 7th Circuit Reminds That Standing Is Every Plaintiff's Cross to Bear

There is something to be said for not paying your taxes. At least, that is one lesson that the plaintiffs may have learned from the Seventh Circuit’s opinion last Thursday in Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Lew, No....more

Court Declines To Dissolve Prayer Injunction After Supreme Court's Town of Greece Decision

In March 2013, Judge Urbanski issued an injunction prohibiting Pittsylvania County from opening its board of supervisors meetings with sectarian prayers associated with any one religion as a violation of the Establishment...more

Man Smashes Car into Ten Commandments Monument After Oklahoma Court Ruling

The Associated Press reports that an Oklahoma state court, in Prescott v. Capitol Preservation Commission, (OK Cnty Dist. Ct., Sept. 19, 2014), has ruled that a six-foot tall Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the...more

Religious Institutions: October 2014

Timely Topics - Church splits and property disputes are not new, but they have certainly grown in number in recent years. In the seminal case on church property disputes, Watson v. Jones, 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 679, 20 L....more

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

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

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