Reports on U.S. Religious Freedom Court Cases, 2011-2012

7 May 2012. Allocation of playing fields did not violate Establishment Clause.  (Rogers v. Mulholland) [Howard Friedman, Religion Clause]

6 May 2012. Recent prisoner Free Exercise cases.  [Howard Friedman, Religion Clause]

4 May 2012.  Art of Living Foundation v. Does, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61582 (ND CA, May 1, 2012) [Case No.: 5:10-cv-05022-LHK], is a copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation case brought by foundation that teaches the wellness and spiritual lessons of Ravi Shankar, including courses on breathing, meditation, and yoga. One of the defendants posted copies of the Foundation’s teaching materials on his blog. The court held that it could decide the trade secret claims without being required to interpret Hindu beliefs or other religious teachings. [Howard Friedman, Religion Clause]

19 March 2012. Supreme Court rejects Chrisitan campus groups’ appeal of discrimination policy [Alpha Delta Chi-Delta Chapter v. Reed]. (Fox News)

19 March 2012. Fourth-circuit oral arguments in landmark religious liberty in education case, Moss v. Spartanburg County School District. (Emily Hardman, The Becket Fund)

16 March 2012. Government siding with Mt. Soledad memorial. (Charlie Butts, OneNewsNow) [Supreme Court Petition]

7 March 2012. Constitutionality of law challenged in Ohio beard-cutting case. (Jason Cato, Pittsburg Tribune-Review)

28 February 2012. Judge: Insulting Islam grounds for beating. (Chad Groening and Charlie Butts, OneNewsNow)

22 February 2012. Important victory for religious liberty in Washington State.  (Ed Whelan, National Review Online)

22 February 2012. Court strikes down law requiring pharmacies to dispense morning-after pill. (The Becket Fund) [Stormans v. Selecky opinion]

16 February 2012. Mt. Soledad cross again at crux of court debate. (Mariko Lamb, San Diego Community News)

16 February 2012. Challenge to excommunication dismissed under church autonomy Doctrine. (Howard Friedman, Religion Clause)

16 February 2012. Revised contraceptive coverage mandate challenged in lawsuit. (Howard Friedman, Religion Clause)

16 February 2012. Christian employee’s Title VII claim may proceed. (Howard Friedman, Religion Clause)

14 February 2012. “Under God” in Pledge questioned under Massachusetts state constitution. (Howard Friedman, Religion Clause) [memo of support]

9 February 2012. Judge slams critics of Texas school prayer ruling. (Paul J. Weber, AP via World Magazine)

7 February 2012. Prop. 8: Gay-marriage ban unconstitutional, court rules. [Perry v. Brown] (Los Angeles Times)

6 February 2012. The fallout from Christian Legal Society. (Robert Shibley, National Review Online)

1 Feburary 2012. Appellate court sends Ward v. Wilbanks [EMU counseling case] back to district court [for trial rather than summary judgment]. (Counseling Today)

1 February 2012. Ward case gets reinstated. (Kody Klein, The Eastern Echo)

1 February 2012. Ruling in favour of religious freedom in parallel US case. (Christian Concern [UK])

31 January 2012. Victory: Jesus statue remains because ACLJ members spoke out. (CeCe Heil,

January 2012. Religion Clause nominated as a top 2011 “niche” blog. (Howard Friedman)

17 January 2012. U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Forsyth County sectarian prayer case. (ACLU Blog)

8 January 2012. Recent prisoner free exercise cases. (Howard Friedman, Religion Clause)

6 January 2012. Race questions cloud lawsuit over Jewish cemetery. (Dave Collins, Associated Press)

17 November 2011. California Supreme Court clears way for same-sex marriage case. (Jerry Markon, The Washington Post)

31 October 2011. U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear UHP crosses case. (Aaron Falk, The Salt Lake Tribune)

21 October 2011. First Amendment will prevail at Houston VA National Cemetery. (VFW)

5 October 2011.  Washington wants a say over your minister.  (Michael W. McConnell, The Washington Post) (Michael W. McConnell, The Washington Post) [U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC.)

4 October 2011. EEOC sues Guam’s Aviation Concepts for religious discrimination. (Pacific News Center)

29 September 2011. “Candy cane” case comes to a close. (Bob Kellogg, OneNewsNow) [Liberty Institute Brief in Morgan et al. v. Swanson and Bomchill]

2 October 2011. Court rejects Christian housing ministry lawsuit. (Gina E. Ryder, The Christian Post)

2 October 2011. San Francisco court (9th Circuit) protects religious freedoms of Christian homeless shelter. (Gina E. Ryder, The Christian Post)

22 September 2011. VA agrees not to censor prayer at Houston cemetery. (Lindsay Wise, The Houston Chronicle) [Rainey v. VA, motion] [Religion Clause Blog]

29 August 2011.  ADF will ask U.S. Supreme Court to reverse ruling that upholds discrimination against religious student groups.  (Alliance Defense Fund Press Release)

17 August 2011.  Portland case forces Vatican to release priest abuse documents for the first time.  (Bryan Denson, The Oregonian)

16 August 2011.  Obama DOJ picks a fight against religious freedom.  (Ed Whelan, National Review Online)  

16 August 2011.  Something religions can agree on.  (Peter Smith,

2 August 2011.  Religious liberty again being tested in courts: City of San Leandro asks Supreme Court to clarify RLUIPA.  (Becky Yeh, OneNewsNow)

29 July 2011. Fourth Circuit ruling: North Carolina County cannot open public meetings with sectarian prayers (practice was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion).  (

26 July 2011.  American Atheists oppose U.S. Supreme Court review of Utah highway crosses case.  (Dennis Romboy, Deseret News)

18 July 2011.  First Circuit:  New Hampshire policy requiring inmate to be clean shaven does not violate religious liberty.  (David L. Hudson, Jr., First Amendment Center, via [Case, Kuperman v. Wrenn, et al. ]

12 July 2011.  Ninth circuit rules in favor of church in Yuma (RLUIPA case). (Center for Arizona Policy) [Centro Familar Cristano Buenas Nuevas v. City of Yuma]

22 June 2011.  Colorado school lottery goes ahead despite lawsuit. (Associated Press, Daily Journal)

21 June 2011. Colorado civil liberties groups sue over voucher plan, assertion violation of constitutional religious liberty provisions. (Northern Colorado 5)

17 June 2011.  Atheists drop federal suit against ministers.  (Pacific Justice Institute)

14 June 2011. Gay CA judge’s Prop 8 ruling upheld.  (

8 June 2011.  Oregon faith-healing couple convicted in felony case.  (Associated Press)

7 June 2011. Catholic Charities sues state over adoption and foster care practices. (Bob Okon, Chicago Sun Times)

6 June 2011. Civil suit forces VA to allow National Cemetery prayers ‘in name of Jesus.’ (Andrew Cochoran, The Madison/St. Clair Record)

5 June 2011. Church’s RLUIPA challenge to zoning denial is rejected. (Howard M. Friedman, Religion Clause)

3 June 2011.  Second Circuit:  Schools must allow religious “expression” but can ban “worship.” (Mark Hamblett, The New York Law Journal)  The Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York

18 May 2011. Decisions diminish religions liberty protections. (K. Hollyn Hollman, Baptist Joint Committee)

3 May 2011. Four Oklahoma school districts served with lawsuit over Henry scholarships (“Blaine Amendments” issue). (Kim Archer, Tulsa World News)

2 May 2011. Seventh Circuit rules atheists cannot sue over ‘hurt feelings.’ (Jack Minor, Greely Gazette)

2 May 2011. Public schools, not Sunday schools? ACLU files lawsuit in Tennessee. (Eryn Sun, The Christian Post)

25 April 2011. Lengthy dispute between Episcopal Church and congregations lands back in Va. courtroom. (Matthew Barakat, Associated Press)

21 April 2011. Supreme Court permits taxpayer challenge to funding of Baptist home. (Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press)

20 April 2011.  Supreme Court issues opinion in Texas prisoner religious freedom (RLUIPA) case. (ICLRS Report on Sossamon v. Texas et al.)

20 April 2011.  Utah files peition for writ of certiorari in Highway Patrol case.  (ICLRS Report)

18 April 2011. AJC brief defends religious liberty in Indiana state prison system. (American Jewish Council, PR Newswire)

16 April 2011. Oregon county settles religious-rights lawsuit. (Karen McCowan, The Register-Guard

15 April 2011. Rabbi’s lawsuit to extend D.C. special election is denied. (Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post)

14 April 2011. Federal appeals court dismisses suit over National Day of Prayer. (Scott Bauer, AP) [Case, Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Obama]

13 April 2011. Justice Department files lawsuit against the Berkely County, S.C., sheriff’s office for violating the First Amendment and inmate’s right to practice his religion. (The Cypress Times)

7 April 2011. Summary judgments: Our daily legal news aggregator for April 7. (Dan Slater, Westlaw News & Inights)

6 April 2011. Illinois court rules on Rx and religious liberty. (Nathan J. Diament, Institute for Public Affairs)

6 April 2011. U.S. District Court Judge: OK to release teens for religious education. (Lee G. Healy,

5 April 2011. School committee lawyers call ACLU suit an attempt to ‘erase history.’ (Mark Schieldrop, CranstonPatch)

5 April 2011. ACLU sues Rhode Island school over prayer banner. (All Headline News)

4 April 2011.  U.S. Supreme Court issues judgment in Arizona School Tax cases. (ICLRS reports)

4 April 2011.  Court ruling forces a homeschooled child into public school. (Georgene Rice, An interview with Joseph Infranco of the Alliance Defense Fund about the implications of a 16 March 2011 opinion of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, In the matter of Kurowski and Kurowski (Voydatch), a ruling that forced a home school student into a government-run school against her mother’s wishes. The court made clear it was not addressing larger religious liberty or home school issues, but rather focused on the narrow facts of the case.

3 April 2011. “A victory for free speech and free people [U.S. District Court judge rules that Detroit’s SMART bus system must run religious liberty ads]. (Pamela Geller, American Thinker blog)

31 March 2011. Shocking opinion protects shocking speech. (Kevin Theriot, Speak Up)

31 March 2011. Ex-CDC counselor in legal fight over gay woman. (Greg Bluestein, Associated Press)

31 March 2011. Church in Court: The legal status of religious organizations in civil lawsuits. (Pew Forum Legal Report)

29 March 2011. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals: Restriction of eagle feathers to American Indians not violation of religious freedom. (Associated Press)

28 March 2011.  U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Hosanna-Tabor ministerial exception case.  (ILCRS Report)

24 March 2011. Lawyer says right to religious liberty protects Amish sect’s refusal to use safety triangles on buggies. (Peter Smith,, Kentucky)

24 March 2011. ADF wins one for freedom of speech, religion (California case of 5th-grade student barred from singing Chrisitan song in school talent show). (Becky Yeh, OneNewsNow)

24 March 2011. 9th Circuit keeps gay marriage ban in place. (Kevin Fayle, FindLaw) [Opinion]

23 March 2011. Judge issues opinion explaining Islamic law ruling. (Wiliam R. Levesque, St. Petersburg Times

22 March 2011. Justice Department sues on behalf of Muslim teacher, triggering debate.  (Jerry Markon, The Washington Post).

22 March 2011.  Judge orders use of Islamic law in Tampa lawsuit over mosque leadership. (Wiliam R. Levesque, St. Petersburg Times)

21 March 2011. Idaho Supreme Court rules against claim that marijuana is a religious sacrament. (Brad Iverson-Long, Idaho

16 March 2011. Lawsuit challenges Arizona “Day of Prayer.” (Associated Press, Chicago Tribune)

16 March 2011.  New Hampshire court affirms ruling ordering 11-year-old girl to school in accordance with father’s wish, over strict Christian mother’s homeschooling desires. ( [Religious Freedom issue treated here.] [ADF response: New Jersey sidesteps critical religious freedom issue in homeschooler case.]

16 March 2011.  ADF to take up case of Pennsylvania school child banned from distributing Christmas party invitations.  (The Christian Institute, UK)

16 March 2011.  New York judge hears arguments for, against Ground Zero mosque. (The Republic, Columbus, Indiana) (Colin Moynihan, New York Times) (Chris Herring,Wall Street Journal) (Jordhana Horn, Jerusalem Post) (Eric Shawn, Fox News)

16 March 2011. California sued over requiring Sikh inmate to cut beard, inmate’s religious rights burdened. (CNN Wire Staff)

15 March 2011. Federal religious freedom statute applies to county courthouse holding facilities, rules 9th Circuit. (Ronald Owens, Westlaw News & Insight, California Litigation)

15 March 2011.  Ninth Circuit: California jailers erred in removal of Muslim’s scarf.  (Associated Press)

15 March 2011. Michigan attorney general supports student dismissed for refusing on the grounds of religious freedom to counsel a gay student. (The

12 March 2011.  Supreme Court refuses appeals in Badger Catholic v. Walsh and Newdow v. Lefevre. (Brad Hirschfield, The Washington Post National)

7 March 2011.  Catholic student group wins legal battle with University of Wisconsin. (Dave Bohon, New American)

3 March 2011.  Former Minnesota prison chaplain settles lawsuit with state. (Rose French, Star Tribune)

2 March 2011.  U.S. Supreme Court issues decision in controversial Snyder v. Phelps Free Speech case.  (ICLRS Report) [Slip Opinion]

25 February 2011.  ACLU defends Virginia athletes over Ten Commandments. (WSLS10, Roanoak, VA)

25 February 2011. Orthodox Jew in Maryland to get new trial after missing court for holiday. (Jessica Anderson and Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun)

24 February 2011. Ten Commandments lawsuit could cost thousands of dollars. (Virginia school board lists economic reasons for its latest decision to remove the Ten Commandments from schools.)  (Karen Kiley,

22 February 2011.  Federal judge dismisses religious challenge to Obama’s health care law. (National Journal)

22 February 2011.  Lawsuit alleges FBI violated Muslims’ freedom of religion. (Jerry Markon, The Washington Post)

21 February 2011.  Judge rules Seattle county doesn’t have to run Israel ‘war crimes’ ad. (

20 February 2011.  Anglican parish in Virginia settles property dispute with Episcopalians. (Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post)

16 February 2011.  Prop. 8 delay:  California Supreme Court will decide if gay-marriage foes can appeal. (Elizabeth Fuller, The Christian Science Monitor)  

16 February 2011.  Ninth Circuit rules Foursquare Gospel Church can sue city of San Leandro.  (Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle)

9 February 2011.  Judge dismisses Air Force Academy prayer lawsuit. (CBN News)

5 February 2011.  Freedom from Religion Foundation sues Wisconsin city over prayers at Common Council meetings.  (Wisconsin Radio Network)

3 February 2011.  Air Force Academy sued over prayer luncheon speaker. (The Huffington Post)