After reaching a lawsuit settlement, the Port Authority of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, has agreed to pay $20,000 plus $40,000 in legal fees to an atheist group that wanted to advertise one of its affiliates on local buses, but was banned from doing so.
According to federal court documents made public on Wednesday, the Port Authority of Allegheny agreed to pay the $60,000 the Washington, D.C.-based United Coalition of Reason. The atheist group had filed a U.S. district court lawsuit against the Port Authority last November, alleging the mass transit agency had violated the group's constitutional rights to free speech when they refused to carry bus advertisements that read: "Don't believe in God? You are not alone." The advertisements were meant to promote the newly-founded Pittsburg Coalition of Reason.
In their lawsuit, the atheist group, with the help of the American Humanist Association's legal arm, argued that the Port Authority had violated their First Amendment rights to free speech by denying the bus advertisements. According to the Tribune Review, the Port Authority had cited its 1998 policy that prohibited noncommercial advertisements from being shown on its buses, but the plaintiffs argued that the bus had previously allowed advertisements for churches, public issue groups and hospitals soliciting volunteers. more >>
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by a group suing California for its recently passed state ban on sexual orientation change therapy for youth struggling with same-sex attraction.
America's highest court decided Monday to not review an appeal by a non-profit legal group, letting stand a lower court decision upholding the California law, known as Senate Bill 1172.
A petition demanding that personnel in the United States Armed Forces respect the religious freedom of their cadets garnered over 100,000 signatures and was sent to the Air Force Academy in Colorado earlier this week.
Organized by the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, the petition calls for restoring "military religious freedom" and asks supporters to "speak up for the Air Force cadets."
The petition, created in light of reports of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy, was delivered to the military installation on Wednesday and addressed to Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson. more >>
A magistrate judge has ruled that a New York public school's removal of Christian items from a science teacher's classroom was legal. The teacher, Joelle Silver, had multiple Bible verses on display, as well as a painting that included three crosses on a hill, and a prayer request box on her desk that was placed there by the school's Bible Study Club, which she served as a faculty monitor.
The decision given Tuesday by a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York dismissed part of the motion given by the Christian teacher.
Judge Leslie G. Foschio argued that Silver's lawsuit against Cheektowaga Central School District, its Superintendent Dennis Kane and its Board of Education President Brian J. Gould could not proceed on the basis of her rights being violated when they removed the Christian items. more >>
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a law in Massachusetts creating abortion clinic buffer zones for pro-life demonstrators was unconstitutional.
In a unanimous decision, the high court ruled Thursday morning that Massachusetts could not force pro-life demonstrators into "buffer zones" to prevent them from being located near an abortion clinic's entrance and exits.
According to SCOTUSBlog, the main focus of the decision stemmed from the buffer zone ordinance including public ways and sidewalks. more >>
The Supreme Court is about to issue its ruling in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. Regardless of where you stand on the issues, what's at stake in these two cases is American religious liberty itself. America was founded on the principle that every person has the right to live her faith freely without fear of punishment, guaranteed by the First Amendment. The exercise of one's conscience is an exercise in religious liberty, since our views of right and wrong are grounded in our understanding of Who God is and what He demands.
Longstanding legislation prohibits laws that substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion, except if the government shows that the burden furthers a compelling interest using the least restrictive means. In the case of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood it seems unlikely that the government has successfully shown a compelling interest for imposing a burden that limits the religious freedom of the American people.
As Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed out at the oral argument in late March to Solicitor General Donald Verilli, who represented the government, it was the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that wrote what was required to be covered under "preventive" care services, not Congress. At the time, Justice Kennedy asked: "What kind of constitutional structure do we have if the Congress can give an agency the power to grant or not grant a religious exemption based on what the agency determined? … When we have a First Amendment issue of this consequence, shouldn't we indicate that it's for the Congress, not the agency to determine that this corporation gets the exemption or that one?" more >>