Woman excluded from Catholic Church’s Masses loses lawsuit challenging actions

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Lye v. City of Lacey, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91523 (WD WA, June 29, 2012), a Washington federal district court dismissed a suit that was brought against the Seattle Catholic archdiocese and its pastoral coordinator, as well as against the city of Lacey, Washington, by a woman who had been barred by the Church, through formal trespass warnings, from attending Mass at the largely Korean Sacred Heart parish. The Church’s move came after plaintiff continued to advocate for resumption of a Mass given in Korean.  The court held that as to the Church and its officials, no 1st Amendment claims are available because they are not state actors.  It also found that plaintiff had not alleged sufficient facts to support either a conspiracy or an outrage claim. It  dismissed plaintiff’s defamation claim because she failed to name as a party the priest who had allegedly made the statement. The court did partially grant plaintiff’s motion to amend her pleadings, but only to add a new party as defendant in the defamation claim.