S3, Ep. 10: Supreme Court Roundup

Shurtleff v. Boston,  Kennedy v. Bremerton, the impending retirement of Stephen Breyer, and more

Jan 27, 2022

The Supreme Court’s docket is deep with cases impacting religious freedom, and we learned this week that Justice Stephen Breyer plans to retire. What does it all mean? Amanda and Holly take a look at what’s facing the Court, including recent oral arguments in the Christian flag case that deserve our attention and a new case about a coach’s prayer practice on the football field. They talk about decisions we’re waiting for, cases the Court might still take, and cases the Court declined to hear. In segment three, Amanda and Holly discuss the recent hostage crisis at a Jewish synagogue in Texas that happened the day before Religious Freedom Day, highlighting the chasm between the promise and reality of religious freedom today. 


Segment one: Changes coming to the Court and a review of the
Shurtleff v. Boston argument (starting at 00:54)

NPR broke the news about Justice Breyer’s retirement in this piece from Nina Totenberg: Justice Stephen Breyer, an influential liberal on the Supreme Court, to retire

You can see pictures from the opening of our Center for Religious Liberty in 2012, featuring remarks from Justice Breyer, in this photo album

Amanda and Holly previewed the case of Ramirez v. Collier earlier this season in episode 2, and they talked about the oral arguments in episode 4

Amanda and Holly previewed Carson v. Makin in episode 5 and reviewed the oral arguments in episode 7.

Amanda and Holly previewed Shurtleff v. Boston in  episode 8, and the Court heard oral arguments on January 18.

We played a clip from the Shurtleff v. Boston oral argument featuring Justice Elena Kagan, which begins at 13:20 mark in the audio of the arguments, available on the Supreme Court’s website.  

Holly spoke to Salon’s Kathryn Joyce for this article “Christian flag” case reaches Supreme Court: Is the Proud Boys flag next? 


Segment two: Court’s docket review: a new case this term and more to come for next term?  (starting at 23:02)

Amanda and Holly mention this article from Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog that mentions the Court taking up the case of Kennedy v. Bremerton: Court will take up five new cases, including lawsuit from football coach who wanted to pray on the field

You can also read about Kennedy v. Bremerton in this post on our website: Supreme Court to hear case involving high school football coach’s post-game prayer on the field


Segment three: Respecting religious freedom for all, in the face of constant threats (starting at 33:22)

You can read the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, signed January 16, 1786, at this link.

Read President Joe Biden’s proclamation for Religious Freedom Day at this link.

On Religious Freedom Day 2022, Amanda Tweeted this:
Today as we observe Religious Freedom Day, we are mindful of the ongoing threats to houses of worship across this country. We should be free to worship in synagogues, mosques, temples, meeting houses and churches without fear of violence and attack.
I’m holding the people of Congregation Beth Israel in my heart as they heal from yesterday’s attack, with a grateful heart that the hostages are safe. In solidarity with Jewish communities who live with these ongoing threats. We won’t rest until there is faith freedom for all.

BJC Board Member Sofi Hersher Tweeted this after news broke about hostages taken at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on January 15, 2022:
Resist anyone and anything that seeks to position the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel as Jews vs. Muslims. 

That kind of reductionist thinking is lazy, untrue, and helps no one.

Here’s the NPR interview with Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, from the congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas: Texas Rabbi who was held hostage says we can’t live in fear

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