DeBoer v. Snyder

Michigan law does not allow same-sex couples to adopt children. A same-sex couple with adopted children initially challenged this law in January 2012, and later expanded their lawsuit to challenge the Michigan Marriage Amendment.

Kountze Independent School District v. Matthews

In fall 2012, Kountze Independent School District in Texas received an anonymous complaint regarding religious banners at one of its high school’s football games. Cheerleaders had written religious messages on “run-through” banners, including messages referencing “victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” and being able to “do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” The school district asked the cheerleaders to stop displaying religious messages due to Establishment Clause concerns. 
 

Freshwater v. Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education

In 2008, the Mount Vernon City School District began an investigation into eighth-grade science teacher John Freshwater, after the parents of one of Freshwater’s students complained that Freshwater had used a Tesla coil to brand a cross on the student’s arm.  Over the course of the investigation, the school district found evidence that Freshwater kept a Bible on his desk and a copy of the Ten Commandments on the classroom bulletin board, proselytized to students, and taught creationism and intelligent design in place of the standard science curriculum.

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Management Program awards competitive grants to qualifying organizations to purchase recycled tire rubber, which is used to resurface playgrounds. In order to comply with the No-Aid Clause of the Missouri Constitution, the program does not award grants to organizations owned or operated by “a church, sect, or denomination of religions.”
 

Michigan Catholic Conference v. Burwell

As part of the Affordable Care Act’s implementing regulations, group health plans are required to include coverage for various forms of preventative care, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception. Houses of worship are exempt from these requirements, and the Department of Health and Human Services later created a broader accommodation for certain nonprofit organizations. In particular, religious non-profit organizations may opt out of providing contraceptive coverage by certifying their religious objection; upon receipt of this certification, the organization’s insurance company—or in the case of self-insured plans, its third-party administrator—steps in to provide the coverage. In August 2014, the government provided a second accommodation; religious nonprofit organizations now need only write a letter to the government in order to be relieved of any obligation to provide contraceptive coverage.

Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell

As part of the Affordable Care Act’s implementing regulations, group health plans are required to include coverage for various forms of preventative care, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception. Houses of worship are exempt from these requirements, and the Department of Health and Human Services later created a broader accommodation for certain nonprofit organizations.

Sanchez v. Austin

In October of 2011, protestors associated with Occupy Austin installed themselves in the plaza outside of Austin’s City Hall. In an effort to scuttle the protest, law enforcement officers began issuing criminal trespass notices—citations that bar the recipient from a public space for a period of time—for reasons such as skateboarding and “improper” language. The protestors later successfully sued the city for violating their First Amendment right to free speech.

Farina v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections

Anthony Farina was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1992 robbery of a fast-food restaurant that left one employee dead. During the sentencing phase of his trial, Farina called a minister to testify about his reformed character and embrace of Christianity in prison. On cross-examination, the prosecutor grilled the minister about Christian theology, including the Book of Romans, which addresses “submission to authority.” In his closing argument, the prosecutor added that those who “rebel against the authority…will bring judgment on themselves.”

Sevcik v. Sandoval / Jackson v. Abercrombie

In 1998, Hawaii amended its state constitution to allow the state legislature to ban same-sex marriage. Four years later, Nevada adopted a similar constitutional amendment, forbidding any government official in the state from recognizing same-sex marriage. Both amendments were challenged under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause by same-sex couples, in lawsuits filed in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The trial court in each case rejected the challenge, and the couples appealed. Their cases were consolidated before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Kitchen v. Herbert

In 2004, the state of Utah passed legislation and adopted a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The ballot materials for the latter included expressions of religious opposition to homosexuality, including references to “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” In 2013, same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging the marriage ban. The couples argued that the marriage ban unconstitutionally infringes their fundamental right to marriage and their right to equal protection under the law. The trial court ruled in favor of the couples and invalidated the marriage ban; the state appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

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