The following is excerpted from the Deseret News. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
The Supreme Court is now on summer break, but, before signing off, the justices gave the rest of us some homework to do.
On Friday, the court announced 10 new additions to its slate of cases for next term, including a battle between a religious family and the state of Maine over whether public tuition assistance funds can be used at private, “sectarian” schools.
I’m sure I won’t be the only person spending the next few months researching and reflecting on what kinds of decisions to expect next year. This term served as a reminder that the court is full of surprises, even when one group of justices — right now it’s the conservatives — has the numbers on their side.
Here’s an overview of key religion-related decisions handed down this year:
- Tanzin v. Tanvir: Justices ruled 8-0 in favor of Muslim men who were placed on the FBI’s no-fly list. As a result, people of faith will now be able to seek monetary damages from individual government employees who trample their religious rights.
- Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski: The court created new opportunities for victims of alleged free speech or religious freedom violations to seek justice in this case involving Christian college students fighting their school’s speech policy. The justices ruled 8-1 that lawsuits can continue even after the government has abandoned the policy or behavior that prompted the suit.
- Tandon v. Newsom: In a so-called shadow docket decision, the court granted relief to houses of worship challenging the state of California’s lockdown rules. As I noted in a recent newsletter, Tandon v. Newsom outlined a new approach to free exercise litigation.
- Fulton v. City of Philadelphia: Justices unanimously ruled in favor of Catholic Social Services, enabling the faith-based foster care agency to continue partnering with the city despite the agency’s refusal to complete assessments of same-sex couples. The court said the government cannot refuse to offer religious accommodations to laws when it’s willing to offer other types of exceptions.
Given the court’s conservative majority, it’s not surprising that the religious plaintiffs won in all four cases.
However, it is interesting to look at the margins of victory; Tandon was the only suit decided along ideological lines.
“In a divisive time with a lot of conflict, we saw the court over and over again come to super-majority and often unanimous decisions” in its religion-related cases, said Mark Rienzi, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, during a July 1 press call.
To read about the cases in the coming year, CLICK HERE.