6th Circuit sides with Kentucky church in first COVID-19 religious liberty case to reach federal appeals court
The decisions mark the first entrance by a federal appeals court into the growing debate surrounding whether and to what extent a governor’s emergency restrictions on public gatherings apply to worship services.
These new cases raise the question of how courts should go about answering the question of whether an employee is covered by the ministerial exception and, as a result, cannot litigate an employment discrimination claim.
In this new case, more than one justice – including Chief Justice John Roberts – sounded frustrated that their previous ruling in Zubik (encouraging the parties to find a compromise on the contraceptive mandate) had not worked.
In a letter to congressional leaders, 183 organizations – including BJC – urged that any future legislation providing resources to those impacted by COVID-19 should include explicit language barring discrimination, including religious discrimination.
It’s clear that courts are dealing with a variety of constitutional concerns, as well as public health orders that take radically different approaches. In some cases, local governments have reached agreements or clarified positions in a way that address earlier concerns.
I can’t remember a time when there were more cases before the Supreme Court that could impact religious liberty and church-state law. Here is an updated calendar and run-down of the cases on my radar.
Cases across the country are addressing the tension between public health emergency orders due to the coronavirus and religious liberty rights, including drive-in churches.
For Holy Week, I am focused on the countless houses of worship across the United States that are exercising their faith with incredible acts of compassion, determination and essential services for their community.
After reviewing the CARES Act, for example, BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman concludes that although funding religious entities through the Paycheck Protection Program is likely to be found constitutional, the loan forgiveness provisions raise some troubling concerns.
Florida pastor arrested for holding services, other congregations meeting in defiance of COVID-19-related orders
The arrest of a pastor intensifies the debate over whether religious gatherings should, or even must, be exempt from public health orders. While some states and local governments have made a point of explicitly allowing religious gatherings to occur, others have not.