Religious Freedom

City of Bloomfield v. Jane Felix & B.N. Conne

In this case, citizens of Bloomfield, New Mexico, sued their city, claiming that a display of a Ten Commandments monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Despite the facts that the display was located in an area in which the city had invited citizens to display other monuments and that a plague stated that the display was private speech, not government speech, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the monument was, in fact, government speech, and that it did violate the Establishment Clause. The city filed a petition asking the Supreme Court of the United States to review the case.

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Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church v. Unsworth

Montana’s commissioner of political practices ruled that Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church violated election law by participating in a Focus on the Family simulcast and allowing petitions in support of a pro-marriage ballot initiative to be circulated on church premises. 

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Palmer v. Waxahachie Independent School District

A school district repeatedly told one of its students that he could not wear numerous different shirts to school, despite acknowledging that none of the shirts were offensive nor would they cause a disruption to the school.  Both the district court and the court of appeals (where we also filed a brief) ruled in favor of the school district, and the student asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.

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Sherman v. Koch

The state of Illinois amended its Moment of Silence law, changing it from optional to mandatory for public schools to observe a moment of silence.  The parent of a student sued, alleging the new statute violated the Establishment Clause. The federal district agreed and ruled in the parent’s favor.  The defendants—a school district and the state Superintendent of Education appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

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Green v. Haskell County (En Banc)

A local citizen and the ACLU sued to have a Ten Commandments Monument declared unconstitutional.  The district court ruled in favor of the county, holding that the monument did not violate the constitution.  The citizen and the ACLU appealed, and a 3-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court and held that the monument did violate the Establishment Clause.  The county asked the full court to reconsider the decision of the panel (which is called “rehearing” the case).

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Salazar v. Buono

A retired U.S. Park Service employee sued, alleging a cross erected in the Mojave Desert, in honor of World War I veterans, violated the Establishment Clause. The lower courts ruled in favor of the employee. However, the Supreme Court held that those courts had not conducted the proper analysis, and reversed the decision of the court of appeals and sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings.

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Alpha Delta Chi v. Reed

A Christian sorority and a Christian fraternity at San Diego State University were denied official status because they required members to profess faith in Christ. The district court ruled against the sorority and fraternity. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed that the university’s general non-discrimination policy was generally constitutional, but that it may have been applied against these groups in an unconstitutional manner. The Ninth Circuit sent the case back to the district court.

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