Religious Freedom

Federal court allows public accommodation to refuse to create custom videos of same-sex weddings

In a 2 to 1 vote, the Eight Circuit has held that the First Amendment prohibits a state from enforcing its public accommodations law if it requires videographers to create custom videotapes of same-sex weddings even though they provide this service to opposite-sex weddings. Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 25320 (8th Cir. 2019). Because the videos will be edited and posted on the videographer's website, the majority accepted the defendant's argument that they would convey a message of support for same-sex marriage contrary to the... Read more about Federal court allows public accommodation to refuse to create custom videos of same-sex weddings

Supreme Court to decide whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are forms of "sex" discrimination under federal laws

The Supreme Court accepted certiorari in three cases (Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC) and will determine whether federal employment discrimination laws that ban "sex" discrimination cover discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or...

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First Circuit resolves dispute over religious real and personal property by reference to formal agreements

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has resolved a longstanding and complicated dispute between two congregations over control of the real and personal property of the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. In an opinion by Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., the trial court had found that an implied or constructive trust existed by which a New York Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI) held title to the property for the benefit of the Newport Rhode Island Congregation Jeshuat Israel (CJI)....

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First Amendment protects right to federal registration of offensive trademarks that disparage a person or group

The Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits enforcement of a provision of the Lanham Act that purports to deny the benefits of trademark registration to names or marks that "disparage" a person or "bring [them] into contempt or disrepute." Matal v. Tam,2017 WL 2621315 (U.S. 2017); 15 U.S.C. §1502(a) (Lanham Act). The Court held that "this provision violates the Free Speech Clause of the First...

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Town cannot impose greater parking requirements for a mosque than for churches or synagogues

A town violated the Religious Land Use-Institutionazlied Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc to 2000cc-5, when its planning board required a mosque to provide off-street parking for every single member as a condition of receiving a building permit when it had not imposed similar requirements for churches and synagogues. Islamic Soc'y of Basking Ridge v....

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Supreme Court will decide whether a bakery must sell wedding cake to a same-sex couple as required by Colorado public accommodations law

On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court took certiorari in this case under the name, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm'n. (No. 16-111).

The Colorado Court of Appeals has affirmed the Civil Rights Division's that a bakery must sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples if they would ordinarily do so to male-female couples....

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Supreme Court finds fundamental liberty and equality interests in extending right to marry to same-sex couples

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges, — U.S. — (2015), that the Constitution’s due process clause protects liberty interests that include personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy and that those include the right to marry, including someone of the same sex. The Court also held that it violates equal protection of the laws to allow male-female couples to marry but to deny that right to same-sex couples. For the same reasons, states must recognize same-sex marriages validly...

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