A short update on some of our most important recent cases:
We recently filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of women's right to receive insurance coverage for contraception, notwithstanding the religious objections of their employers' owners. The brief, filed on behalf of nearly 30 religious organizations, argues that the Affordable Care Act's contraception regulations do not substantially burden the religious exericse of owners of for-profit corporations, and instead allow employees to make their own decisions about contraception consistent with their own consciences. Exempting for-profit corporations would, conversely, harm religious liberty by allow owners to impose their religious beliefs on their employees, and would raise significant concerns under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.
We are representing several Notre Dame students who have intervened in opposition to the university's challenge to the Affordable Care Act's contraception regulations. Although the Affordable Care Act requires most employers to include contraception coverage in the insurance plans they offer to their employees, nonprofits organizations with religious objections have received an accomodation -- the nonprofit organization certifies its objection to providing coverage, and a third-party insurance company steps in to provide the coverage at no cost to either the employer or the employee. Notre Dame objects even to this accomdoation. We recently presented oral argument in the Seventh Circuit in defense of our clients' right to receive contraception coverage; the Seventh Circuit rejected Notre Dame's request for preliminary relief.
We recently filed a lawsuit in federal court in New Jersey on behalf of Shannon Morgan, an atheist whose request for an "8THEIST" vanity license plate was denied as "objectionable" by the state's motor vehicle commission. Although Morgan's request was denied, the commission's website accepts religious vanity plates, such as a proposed plate that says "BAPTIST." We allege that the commission is discriminating against atheists, in violation of several constitutional provisions.
We recently filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Gregory Holt, a Muslim inmate who was denied the right to wear a short beard in accordance with his religious beliefs. We argue that an accomodation in this case is required by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, but that accomodations should not be permitted where they would harm third parties.
We are scheduled to go to trial in July in our lawsuit against King, North Carolina. Our case is brought on behalf of a decorated veteran of the war in Afghanistan, who objects to the City's exploitation of its veterans memorial to promote Christianity. A Christian flag flies at the veterans memorial all but a few weeks every year; the memorial also features a statue of a soldier kneeling before a Latin cross; and the City sponsors annual memorial ceremonies featuring Christian prayers and extensive religious content. We are arguing that the City's promotion of Christianity at its veterans memorial violates the Establishment Clause.
We recently argued before the New Hampshire Supreme Court in support of our challenge to the state's tuition tax-credit program, which provides tax credits for donations earmarked for private-school scholarships, including scholarships to religious schools. We filed suit in January 2013, and last year the trial court agreed that the program violates the New Hampshire Constitution.
We are litigating a major legal challenge to a school-voucher program, taking place in Douglas County, Colorado and funded by the state government, that directs millions of dollars to religious schools.
After a three-day trial over the summer, the Denver County Circuit Court ruled that the school-voucher program violated multiple provisions of the Colorado Constitution. The Colorado Court of Appeals reversed and ruled for the school district, but the Colorado Supreme Court granted our request to hear the case. We filed our opening brief in May 2014.