Posts Tagged ‘religious liberty’

Constitutional law roundup

February 27 roundup

  • In move to protect itself against patent trolls, Apple plans to close retail stores in the troll-favored Eastern District of Texas [Joe Rossignol, MacRumors; Sarah Perez, TechCrunch]
  • Don’t: “Civil Rights Lawyer Faked Cancer to Delay Cases, Illinois Bar Authorities Say” [Scott Flaherty, American Lawyer]
  • Don’t: “* lies about joint stipulation for extension * FABRICATES OPPOSITION BRIEF * constructs false chain of emails, forwards to partner. Dude, just doing the work would have been WAY less effort.” [Keith Lee thread on Twitter, with punch line being what the New York courts did by way of discipline; Jason Grant, New York Law Journal]
  • I’m quoted disagreeing (cordially) with Sen. Mike Lee on whether criticism of judicial nominees at hearings based on their religious views oversteps Constitution’s Religious Test Clause [Mark Tapscott, Epoch Times; my 2017 post at Secular Right]
  • Colorado may become 13th state to enact National Popular Vote interstate compact, an attempted workaround of the Electoral College. This critique of the idea is from 2008 [John Samples, Cato; Emily Tillett, CBS]
  • New York law imposes strict liability on simple possession of a gravity knife, leaves enforcement to official whim, and lacks a mens rea (guilty mind) requirement. The Constitution demands better [Ilya Shapiro on Cato Institute cert amicus brief in Copeland v. Vance, earlier and more on such laws]

January 2 roundup

  • Extended look at problems of the adult guardianship program in New York [John Leland, New York Times, earlier]
  • “‘Professional Speech’: a Distinction without a Difference” after the NIFLA case [Cato podcast with Caleb Brown and Robert McNamara of Institute for Justice]
  • New York enacts law imposing stiff new tax on opioid makers and wholesalers while forbidding them to recoup it by raising prices for buyers in other states. That won’t fly under the Dormant Commerce Clause, rules federal judge [Nate Raymond, Reuters/Insurance Journal]
  • Should courts uphold laws grounded in part on hostility to a religious group, though rationalized on some other basis? Both right and left have trouble staying consistent [Ilya Somin]
  • “Oxford University Gets Opposition To Its Attempt To Trademark ‘Oxford’ For All The Things” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
  • Australian corrections officials keep bringing the wrong Peter Brown to court as murder defendant [Lowering the Bar]

Anti-discrimination law and the future of adoption

I’ve posted before about our July Cato conference on adoption, pluralism, and children’s interests. Now Cato’s bimonthly Policy Report has published highlights of the panel on anti-discrimination law and religious agencies, with speakers including Stephanie Barclay of BYU, Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign, Robin Fretwell Wilson of the University of Illinois, and me.

One of my comments about pluralism and freedom in the system: “When I began reading about adoption, I realized for about the umpteenth time how glad I was to live in America.” Not that the system isn’t full of problems: on the grueling 26-year litigation in the New York City foster care case, Wilder v. Bernstein, see this 2011 piece of mine.

July 5 roundup

June 27 roundup

  • Judge orders Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to take CLE lessons as sanction for disclosure and discovery missteps [Lowering the Bar, Jonathan Adler]
  • In 7-2 decisions, Supreme Court of Canada finds it “proportionate and reasonable” limitation on religious liberty for Ontario and British Columbia to refuse rights of legal practice to grads of conservative Christian law school which requires students to agree to refrain from sex outside heterosexual marriage [Kathleen Harris, CBC, Caron/TaxProf, Trinity Western University v. Law Society of Upper Canada, Jonathan Kay/Quillette, earlier on Trinity Western]
  • “Gratiot County, Mich. officials foreclose on 35-acre parcel worth $100k over unpaid $2k tax debt. They sell the property for $42k and keep $2k to cover the tax bill—and keep the other $40k as well. District court: ‘In some legal precincts that sort of behavior is called theft.’ Motion to dismiss denied.” [John Kenneth Ross, “Short Circuit” on Freed v. Thomas, United States District Court, E.D. Michigan]
  • UK: “Obese people should be allowed to turn up for work an hour later, government adviser recommends” [Martin Bagot, Mirror]
  • “Law Schools Need a New Governance Model” [Mark Pulliam, and thanks for mention]
  • “Until 1950, U.S. Weathermen Were Forbidden From Talking About Tornados” [Cara Giaimo, Atlas Obscura]

Wedding cake cut five ways

I’ve got a piece up at the Weekly Standard on yesterday’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, on which a Supreme Court uniting 7-2 on result — but split five ways as to particulars — found the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to have operated unfairly, thus managing to dodge a substantive decision about the limits of forced expression. “Next time you run this process, skip the religious animus” is not the same as proclaiming a First Amendment right for the baker to turn down the wedding, though it may convey a significant message for the future in its own right.

More commentary: Ilya Shapiro (“the real action is foreshadowed by the concurring opinions”), Eugene Volokh (“will have little effect on other such same-sex wedding service provider cases, especially when government commissioners realize they shouldn’t say more about religion than is necessary”), John Corvino (opinion could put a brake on “rushing to dismiss our opponents as ‘despicable'”), David French (Kennedy’s emphasis on comparing the case with cake inquiries that offend other bakers bodes well for religious service providers), and Richard Epstein (“the worst kind of judicial minimalism”; what does the not-yet-legality of gay marriage at the time have to do with anything? and can Colorado reopen the case?), and earlier here. And you can listen to my guest appearance yesterday on the popular Clarence Mitchell IV (C4) show on Baltimore’s WBAL.

“The buffet had 35 full-time employees–all of whom, incidentally, have lost their jobs as a result of this lawsuit.”

A church outside Akron, Ohio, ran a cafeteria open to the public in which much of the labor was provided free by volunteer members of the congregation. The U.S. Department of Labor sued it on the grounds that it violates the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for an enterprise, church or otherwise, to use volunteer unpaid labor in a commercial setting. A trial court agreed, but now the Sixth Circuit has reversed and remanded, pointing out that “to be considered an employee within the meaning of the FLSA, a worker must first expect to receive compensation.”

Judge Raymond Kethledge, writing in concurrence, takes issue with the Department of Labor’s argument that the cafeteria volunteers count as employees because “their pastor spiritually ‘coerced’ them to work there. That argument’s premise — namely, that the Labor Act authorizes the Department to regulate the spiritual dialogue between pastor and congregation — assumes a power whose use would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.” Kethledge also points out that as “the record makes clear, the Buffet’s purpose was to allow the church’s members to proselytize among local residents who dined there,” and that along with its congregant volunteers the establishment “had 35 full-time paid employees — all of whom, incidentally, have lost their jobs as a result of this lawsuit.” [Acosta v. Cathedral Buffet et al. via Ted Frank on Twitter]

More: cross-posted, slightly expanded, at Cato.

Schools and childhood roundup

Cato survey: “The State of Free Speech and Tolerance in America”

I’m a bit late getting to this major survey from my colleague Emily Ekins and associates. Some highlights good and bad:

* By 71% to 28%, Americans lean toward the view that political correctness silences discussions society ought to have, rather than the view that it is a constructive way to reduce the giving of offense;

* Liberals are much more likely than conservatives to say that they feel comfortable saying things they believe without fear that others will take offense.

* By a 4-to-1 margin Americans consider hate speech morally unacceptable, while by (only) a 3-to-2 margin they do not want the government to ban it.

* “47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques,” notwithstanding the First Amendment’s protection of free exercise of religion.

* “51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people’s preferred gender pronouns,” also notwithstanding the First Amendment.

* Upwards of 80% of liberals deem it “hateful or offensive” to state that illegal immigrants should be deported or that women should not serve in military combat, with 36% and 47% of conservatives agreeing respectively. “39% of conservatives believe it’s hate speech to say the police are racist, only 17% of liberals agree.”

And much more: on college speaker invitations, microaggressions, whether executives should be fired over controversial views, media bias, forced cake-baking, and the ease of being friends across partisan lines, among many other topics.