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Civil Rights Swap Meet: A Cynical Approach To Marriage Equality

Tuesday’s marriage arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court hinted at coming battles over the right of religious business owners or organizations to discriminate against gays and lesbians in contexts outside of marriage itself. Indeed, several briefs to the high court—and a few justices at oral argument—suggested that if same-sex people have a constitutional right to get married, it will be more difficult for individuals and businesses to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against same-sex people in other settings. Read more

Court Report: Justices Deliberate Marriage Equality

Seats inside the U.S. Supreme Court were at a premium today for the oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges, the marriage equality case.

I was fortunate to get a spot in the press gallery. I was in the back row, and my view was obstructed by two large columns, but I’m not complaining; I would have been willing to hang from the rafters for this historic argument, a marathon session that featured five attorneys and lasted two and a half hours. Read more

A New Low At The High Court: Justices Approve ‘Majority-Rules’ Government Prayer Scheme

By now you’ve probably heard that the U.S. Supreme Court this morning upheld the right of a city in New York to open its meetings with mostly Christian prayers.

Americans United litigated this case, Town of Greece v. Galloway, on behalf of two women who opposed the “majority-rules” prayer practice in Greece, N.Y. Obviously, we strongly oppose today’s ruling. Read more

Snapshots From The Supreme Court: Justices Ponder Limits Of Religious Expression In Birth Control Case

Do for-profit corporations exercise religion? What constitutes a religious enterprise? What did Congress intend when it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993?

These and many other questions were batted about this morning as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the pivotal combined case of Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties vs. Sebelius.   

I was fortunate to sit in the press gallery during the argument, and it seemed skepticism abounded on both sides. Read more

High Noon At The High Court: Justices Hear Arguments In Town Of Greece v. Galloway Case

I spent a frantic morning at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Americans United’s challenge to government-sponsored sectarian prayer, Town of Greece v. Galloway, was argued.

I wasn’t inside the court for the argument, but AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn, Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan and several other AU staff members were. They reported a spirited session, with both sides being peppered with questions from the justices. Read more

High Noon At The High Court: Supreme Court Takes Up Marriage Equality

I was fortunate enough to snag a seat in the press gallery for the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court this morning in the Proposition 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry.

Prop. 8 was narrowly approved by California voters in 2008. It added a ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution. Opponents are challenging it in court, asserting that it violates the rights of gays and lesbians who wish to marry. Read more

Tax Credit Tangle: Supreme Court Considers Legality Of Ariz. Religious School Aid

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning in an important case dealing with government aid to religion.

Two issues are at stake in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn. The high court will decide whether an Arizona program that gives taxpayers a 100 percent credit for money they donate to private organizations that provide private school vouchers is constitutional.

The justices will also determine whether taxpayers have the right to challenge the program – a legal doctrine known as “standing.” Read more

Elena And The End-Times: Will Kagan Usher In The Apocalypse? (The Religious Right Thinks So)

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan are in full swing, and as Americans United had hoped, we’re getting some questions about separation of church and state.

Yesterday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked Kagan about the relationship between the First Amendment’s “Establishment Clause,” which bars laws “respecting an establishment of religion” and the Free Exercise Clause,” which curbs laws “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. Together they provide for religious liberty and the separation of church and state. Read more