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Education Law

Courthouse Steps: Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer - Decided - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
David A. Cortman June 28, 2017

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) denied a Learning Center run by Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. (Trinity) federal funding to refurbish children’s playgrounds on the grounds of religious affiliation. The DNR offers Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grants to organizations that qualify for resurfacing of playgrounds. Though the licensed pre- school Learning Center incorporates religious instruction into is curriculum, the school is open to all children. Trinity’s Learning Center was denied funding based on Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution; the section reads: “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, section or denomination of religion.”

Trinity claimed that the DNR infringed upon their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of religion and speech. The district court dismissed Trinity’s allegations, claiming that Trinity failed to file a specific claim. Trinity responded by amending its complaint to an allegation that other religious institutions had previously received the DNR funding; nevertheless, the district court denied the motions. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision, agreeing with both the dismissal and denial of motions.

In a 7-2 opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trinity Lutheran. David Cortman of the Alliance Defending Freedom discussed the decision and its significance.

Featuring: 

  • David A. Cortman, Lead counsel in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley, Senior Counsel and Vice President of U.S. Litigation, Alliance Defending Freedom 

Courthouse Steps: Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. - Podcast

Administrative Law & Regulation Practice Group Podcast
Kyle Duncan January 10, 2017

In late October the Supreme Court accepted a petition from the School Board of Gloucester County, Virginia seeking to overturn a lower court’s order that a 17-year-old transgender student, born female but identifying as male, be allowed to use the boys’ restroom during senior year of high school. The Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX and 34 C.F.R. § 106.33, reflects that public schools must “generally treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.” The Court will consider this interpretation and hear argument on whether courts should extend deference to unpublished “guidance” letters issued by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education. Kyle Duncan, attorney for the School Board of Gloucester County, recently filed the Board’s Supreme Court brief and joined us to discuss this important case.

Featuring:

  • Kyle Duncan, Partner, Schaerr Duncan LLP

 

Religious Freedom of Religious Colleges - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
Gregory S. Baylor August 25, 2016

Mr. Gregory S. Baylor of Alliance Defending Freedom discussed current and future challenges to the religious freedom of faith-based institutions of higher education, with a special focus on the ongoing debate over California Senate Bill 1146. Earlier versions of SB1146 would have significantly curtailed longstanding religious freedom protections in state anti-discrimination law, thereby exposing faith-based schools to liability for discrimination on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity in student and employee relations. The bill's prime sponsor recently removed its most controversial provisions, but he indicated that a similar bill may be proposed in the next legislative session.

Featuring:

  • Mr. Gregory S. Baylor, Senior Counsel & Director of the Center for Religious Schools, Alliance Defending Freedom

Title IX & Transgender Bathrooms in Public Schools

Short video featuring Roger Severino
Roger Severino August 05, 2016

Roger Severino oversees the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, where he focuses on religious liberty, marriage, and life issues. In this video, Severino comments on a joint guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education on how schools should apply Title IX to the bathroom choices of transgender students.

Fisher v. Univ. of Texas at Austin - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 7-12-16 featuring Roger Clegg
Roger B. Clegg July 12, 2016

On June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Fisher v. Univ. of Texas at Austin. This is the second time the case has come before the high court. Abigail Fisher, a white female, applied for admission to the University of Texas at Austin (the University) but was denied. Fisher sued the University and argued that the use of race as a consideration in the admissions process violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court held that the University’s admissions process was constitutional, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. The case went to the Supreme Court (Fisher I), which held that the appellate court erred in how it applied the strict scrutiny standard, improperly deferring to the University’s good faith in its use of racial classifications. On remand the Fifth Circuit again ruled in favor of the University, deeming its use of race in the admissions process narrowly tailored to a legitimate interest in achieving “the rich diversity that contributes to its academic mission.”

On its second trip to the Supreme Court, the question was whether the Fifth Circuit’s re-endorsement of the University’s use of racial preferences could be sustained under the Equal Protection Clause. By a vote of 4-3, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Fifth Circuit. Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the court, which held that the race-conscious admissions program in use at the time of Fisher’s application was narrowly tailored and lawful under the Equal Protection Clause. Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion. Justice Alito also filed a dissenting opinion, in which Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas joined. Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

To discuss the case, we have Roger B. Clegg, who is President and General Counsel, Center for Equal Opportunity.