A short update on some of our most important recent cases:
We represent several same-sex couples in Alabama who continue to be denied marriage licenses even after a federal court ruled that Alabama's marriage ban is unconstitutional. After the trial court's ruling earlier this year, the Alabama Supreme Court issued an unusual order, in response to a mandamus petition from two religious right legal groups, forbidding most state officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. We recently asked the federal court to certify a class action, on behalf of all same-sex coupes in the state, against all county probate judges—in order to obtain a ruling making it even clearer that marriage equality applies throughout Alabama.
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. Last year the Seventh Circuit rejected Notre Dame's request for preliminary relief; the Supreme Court recently sent the case back to the Seventh Circuit for reconsideration in light of last year's Hobby Lobby decision.
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. The Colorado Supreme Court heard oral argument last year and we are awaiting a decision.
After the Commonwealth of Kentucky refused to provide tourism tax rebates to Ark Encounter, a proposed theme park that will a feature a giant replica of Noah's Ark, Ark Encounter sued the Commonwealth. Ark Encounter claims that it has a constitutional right to taxpayer support for its evangelical ministry. We have moved to intervene in the case on behalf of four Kentucky residents, who seek to enforce their right, under the Kentucky Constitution, to be free from the compelled support of religious ministries.
We are litigating a case 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 brought a lawsuit against the City of King, NC on behalf of a decorated veteran of the war in Afghanistan, who objected to the City's exploitation of its veterans memorial to promote Christianity. A Christian flag flew at the veterans memorial all but a few weeks every year; the memorial also featured a statue of a soldier kneeling before a Latin cross; and the City sponsored annual memorial ceremonies featuring Christian prayers and extensive religious content. The trial court resolved the prayer claims on summary judgment; we then reached a settlement agreement in which the City agreed to remove both the Christian flag and cross statue from the Veterans Memorial.