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Prisoners’ Plea Proscribed: High Court Limits Inmates’ Religious Liberty Lawsuits

The U.S. Supreme Court has let us down again this week.

The justices ruled 6-2 that prisoners cannot seek money damages from the state when their rights are violated under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The federal statute’s purpose, in part, is to protect prisoners’ rights to practice their religion. Read more

‘Faith-Based’ Fracas: Supreme Court Lets Taxpayer Challenge Go Forward In Kentucky

Americans United got some good news yesterday in a “faith-based” funding case that began back in 2000.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Alicia Pedreira and other Kentucky taxpayers against the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children. Using millions in public funds, the sectarian childcare agency has been indoctrinating children in religious beliefs and discriminating on religious grounds in employment, firing Pedreira for being a lesbian. Read more

Access Denied: Supreme Court Slams The Courthouse Door In The Face Of Church-State Litigants

Thanks to yesterday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, it will now be a lot easier for the government to fund religion.

The high court, in a 5-4 decision in Arizona Christian Tuition Organization v. Winn, ruled that taxpayers have no right to challenge tax credits, exemptions or deductions that support religious organizations. Read more

The Phelps Decision: Supreme Court Decision Undercuts Religious Right Lie

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the right of Westboro Baptist Church to picket near the funerals of soldiers who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In any writing about Westboro Baptist, it is important to immediately make it clear that the messages from Pastor Fred Phelps and his family are vile, obnoxious and disgusting. But, as the high court has made clear, even jerks have free-speech rights. Read more

Club Hubbub: Ohio State May Re-Impose Bias Ban For Student Groups

Back in 2003, when I was a first-year law student at The Ohio State University, I remember hearing rumblings about a group called the Christian Legal Society (CLS) that discriminated against gay students. Read more

Red Mass Mandate: Archbishop Advises High Court Justices About Religion And Government

Yesterday morning, I attended the Red Mass here in Washington along with five Supreme Court justices and Vice President Joe Biden. Okay, we weren’t in the same pew – they were in the front rows; I wasn’t.

But all of us heard Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, an American who now works at the Vatican, give a homily that instructed those in attendance on how they should feel about same-sex marriage, abortion and the dire threat of “humanism.” Read more

Cross Loss: High Court Narrowly Rules In Favor Of Park Religious Symbol

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in a religious symbol dispute that is almost certain to leave a Latin cross standing in a public park in California.

The court was split 5-4, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing the plurality opinion. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Antonin Scalia backed the decision, while Justices John Paul Stevens, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented. Read more

Hastings At The High Court: Justices Divided Over Christian Legal Society Bias Case

This morning, when I headed over to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, I didn’t see Newt Gingrich in attendance.

I was hoping the former House speaker would be there -- not because I’m a fan, but because I thought he could have learned something. Gingrich got the facts of the case all wrong when he popped off about it in Friday’s Washington Post. Read more

Remembering Vashti’s Victory: McCollum Decision Is Landmark Of Liberty

Sixty-two years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court held that “released time,” a program whereby public schools set aside class time for on-campus religious instruction, violated the constitutional separation between church and state.

The 1948 decision, McCollum v. Board of Education, was a landmark in application of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause to church-state violations occurring in the public schools. Read more

Religious Freedom For All: Another Dream Of Dr. Martin Luther King

Note: Today is the federal observance of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. This blog post is a re-publication on an item that originally appeared on Jan. 13, 2006.

Today marks the federal observance of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. Since his tragic assassination on April 4, 1968, King's memory has been pressed into service in highly unusual ways that King himself would not have supported.

As the nation pauses to remember civil rights leader this year, it's a good time to take a look at what this great American leader really thought about church-state issues. Read more

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