Yesterday, the Federal District Court in New Hampshire allowed the lawsuit against the VA Medical Center POW/MIA display to proceed, and it also permitted the Northwest POW/MIA Network, which erected the display, to intervene. (The POW/MIA Network is represented by First Liberty.) In one of the more interesting arguments, the presiding judge questioned whether the plaintiff had standing because he’s a Christian. Judge Paul Barbadoro [emphasis added]
acknowledged no shortage of case law and legal precedent regarding religious symbols on public property…
But Barrington resident James Chamberlain, the plaintiff in the challenge, is a Christian who attends a Congregational church, and therein lies the rub, according to the judge.
Barbadoro said he knows of no prior case stemming from a Christian challenging a symbol of Christianity.
“If he were an atheist, he would have standing and that would be clear,” the judge said.
There are certainly legal reasons to require “standing” in a judicial proceeding — but Read more
An Ohio magistrate has recommended that Dr. Nicholas Meriwether’s lawsuit against Shawnee State University (previously discussed) be dismissed. Meriwether had sued when it punished him after he refused to address a biologically male student with a female title — though he did agree to use only a last name.
“Speech by a government employee is protected under the First Amendment only if the speech was made ‘as a citizen’ while addressing ‘a matter of public concern,’” Litkovitz’s recommendation filing reads. “A government employee’s speech is made ‘as a citizen’ and is protected under the First Amendment only when the speech is not ‘pursuant to [the employee’s] duties.’”
That’s an awkward justification, because Meriwether was not punished for making what he claimed was protected speech. Instead, he was being required by the government to have certain content in his speech — content that conveyed a particular ideological view.
The ADF lawyers helping Meriwether said they’ll object on that basis: Read more
As previously noted and for those that missed it, the US Supreme Court vacated the ruling against the cross standing in Pensacola’s Bayview Park and sent it back to the lower courts “for further consideration in light of” the Bladensburg cross ruling (which allowed the cross to remain). In the original Bayview ruling, Read more
A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion. Militantly secular regimes have carried out such projects in the past…
– Justice Samuel Alito
Yesterday the US Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision that the Bladensburg Peace Cross could continue to stand and be maintained by the state — even though it was “undoubtedly a Christian symbol.” (Of note, the case was reversed and remanded “for further proceedings,” not simply dismissed.)
Some reports focused on the multiple opinions published by the justices, though these reports largely seemed to come from critics who believed that emphasizing the “splintered” nature of the ruling would Read more
The Supreme Court ruled (5-4) yesterday that injunctions preventing the Department of Defense from implementing a change to President Obama’s transgender policy were stayed while the case worked its way through the courts. This allows the DoD Policy proposed by then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis to take effect.
Previously, lower courts had ruled in both directions on the policy.
While the policy is about medical and mental conditions, critics of the ruling blamed it on religion — that is, Christianity.
Tris Mamone, a member of the awkwardly named LGBTQ Humanist Alliance, is quoted saying [emphasis added]
Today’s ruling is another example of bigotry and Christian nationalism overriding legal protections for all Americans.
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein similarly called it a product of the [emphasis added] Read more
Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University, has filed a lawsuit against his school because it requires faculty to address students by the students’ “preferred pronoun.” As announced by the ADF, which is representing Meriwether:
In January, during a political philosophy class he was teaching, Meriwether responded to a male student’s question by saying, “Yes, sir.” Meriwether responded in this fashion because he refers to all his students as “sir” or “ma’am” or by a title (Mr. or Miss, for example) followed by their last name to foster an atmosphere of seriousness and mutual respect.
The student’s sensibilities were so offended he shouted vulgarities at the professor and threatened to get him fired.
Ultimately, the school accused him of creating a “hostile” environment and placed a warning in his file — a warning that he must call the students by their chosen pronouns.
Meriwether cannot do so, because he said that would violate his religious beliefs: Read more
The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal regarding the Bladensburg Peace Cross, which was declared unconstitutional by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals despite widespread support.
Though Justice Kavanaugh has yet to make his mark on the bench, even critics of religious liberty seem pessimistic, thinking religious liberty will prevail of their offense.
The case could be historic, given the amount of hostility toward religious displays in public and how many anti-cross cases there have been: Read more
In 2010 the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit dismissed a lawsuit by Michael Newdow (the infamous atheist who has filed repeated lawsuits over So help me God/In God we Trust/etc.) seeking to prohibit “so help me God” and prayer from President Obama’s inauguration. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, as the administrator of the Presidential oath, was named as defendant.
The 3-judge panel of the Appeals Court dismissed the case, saying Newdow did not have standing. One of the judges disagreed, saying Newdow did have standing, but he said the case failed on its merits.
That was Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
As noted at the time, Judge Kavanaugh’s explanation Read more