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Religious Freedom

Immigration Moratorium Back in the Court - Podcast

International & National Security Law Practice Group Podcast
Josh Blackman, Ilya Somin July 25, 2017

Eighteen days after the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project and stay applications were granted in part, on July 14, 2017, Judge Watson of the District Court of Hawaii ruled that grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and other relatives of people could not be prevented from entering the country as they qualified as persons with a “bona fide relationship” under the Supreme Court ruling.

On July 19, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld parts of the District Court order. Ilya Somin and Josh Blackman joined us again to discuss developments in the litigation of Executive Order 13780.

Featuring: 

  • Prof. Josh Blackman, Associate Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law, Houston
  • Prof. Ilya Somin, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

 

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: Advocate Health Care v. Stapleton Decided - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group Teleforum
Eric Baxter June 07, 2017

Advocate Health Care v. Stapleton is a combination of three cases, Advocate Health Care v. Stapleton, St. Peter’s Healthcare v. Kaplan, and Dignity Health v. Rollins, that confront the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) as it applies to churches and non-church religious non-profits. ERISA sets minimum standards for pension plans in private industry, such as an appeals process for participants and the right to sue for benefits. Churches are exempted from ERISA, however, the circuit courts have split over whether non-profit hospitals and schools are also exempted. Eric Baxter of the Becket Fund joined us again to discuss the 8-0 decision issued by the Supreme Court on June 5.

Featuring:

  • Eric Baxter, Senior Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

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

Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
Ilya Shapiro, Hannah C. Smith April 21, 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.

The question at the heart of the case is whether or not the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause protect religious institutions from discrimination regarding the distribution of public funds. Ilya Shapiro of the CATO Institute and Hannah C. Smith of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty joined us after oral arguments to discuss the case and the potential weight of the precedent set by decision. 

Featuring:

  • Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute
  • Hannah C. Smith, Senior Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty