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.
Masterpiece Cakeshop, LTD. and Jack C. Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission; Charlie Craig; And David Mullins
In this case, two homosexuals asked a cake shop owner, Jack Phillips, to make a wedding cake for them. Jack explained that his Christian convictions would not allow him to do so. The homosexual couple filed a complaint against Jack and the business with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, claiming they had violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws. The Commission ordered Jack to make the cake. He appealed that decision through the state court system and ultimately to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court has not yet rendered its decision. We were involved in two briefs in this case.
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.
After an inmate gave birth in jail, the baby suffered severe birth defects as the result of neglect and indifference by jail personnel. The inmate mother sued on behalf of her daughter. The defendant sought to avoid liability by arguing that the baby had not been a “person” during the delivery process.
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.
In this case—actually, two consolidated cases—taxpayers in New York challenged a local executive order and a state policy that recognized out-of-state same-sex marriages. At the time, same-sex marriages were not permitted under New York law. Although the taxpayer plaintiffs lost in the lower courts they appealed to the Court of Appeals.
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. The case was sent back to the district court for further proceedings.
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.
What is at issue is whether the letter and spirit of Monell permit certain kinds of relief to be granted against municipal defendants without a finding of Monell liability.