ABA-PROPOSED CHANGES TO MODEL RULE RULE 8.4
The fight has moved to each state to determine whether to adopt the changes proposed by the ABA. Twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia already have a black-letter rule that addresses "bias" in some way, although none have it as currently proposed by the ABA. Thirteen states have a comment rather than a black-letter rule. The remaining states have neither a comment nor a black-letter rule.
CLS has been busy reaching out to attorney members in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia asking them to serve as state monitors. We have also been busy developing resources and coordinating with other groups.
We have been responding to current efforts in five states in particular: Montana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, and Louisiana. Kim Colby prepared and filed a comment letter with the Montana Supreme Court, which is considering adopting Model Rule 8.4(g). The deadline for submitting comment letters, originally December 9, has been extended by the Montana Supreme Court until April 21, 2017. Click here to read CLS's Montana comment letter. Kim has also been coordinating a response in Illinois. Comments there are due January 13, 2017. In Pennsylvania, the Bar Committe recommended adopting, instead of Model Rule 8.4(g), a rule requiring adjudication by a tribunal that unlawful discrimination or harassment has occurred before a disciplinary charge can be filed. The Center for Law and Religious Freedom submitted, on September 27, a comment letter to the California State Bar its proposed changes to current Rule 2-400 and its proposed Rule 8.4.1. California's current "bias" rule requires that a tribunal other than the state bar find that an attorney has committed "unlawful discrimination" before a disciplinary charge may be brought. One proposed alternative would delete that requirement. Click here to read the comment letter CLS filed in Califonia.
November 2, 2016
CLS FILES AMICI BRIEF IN BARBER V. BRYANT
CLS filed an amici brief urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to reject the decision of a lower federal court regarding religious discrimination of an applicant by a public university. The applicant was denied admission to a program, and the evidence shows that his mentioning of religious faith was a factor in the denial. The brief argues that penalizing the applicant because he made a simple expression of faith is discrimination that violates both the Free Speech and Establishment Clauses, and the district court committed serious error in rejecting both as a matter of law. Click here to read the brief.
October 21, 2016
CLS FILES AMICI BRIEF IN BUXTON V. KURTINITIS
CLS filed an amici brief in support of plaintiff-appellant urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reject the decision of a lower federal court in a case regarding Mississippi’s religious accommodation law. The lower court had held that a statutory religious accommodation that exempts people from otherwise applicable regulatory duties equates to unlawful discrimination. The CLS brief argues that the statute in question provides necessary and constitutionally-permissible religious exemptions and does not violate the Establishment Clause. Click here to read the brief.
September 27, 2016
CLS FILES LETTER REGARDING CALIFORNIA ETHICS RULE CHANGE
The California State Bar sought comments about two major proposed changes to their rules of professional conduct that would limit attorneys’ First Amendment freedoms. CLS filed a letter that you can read here.
September 20, 2016
CLS SENDS LETTER REGARDING HHS MANDATE
CLS responded to HHS’s request for information about ways it could provide certain drugs and devices to religious organizations’ employees without violating religious freedom after the Supreme Court’s decision in Zubik. You can read the letter here.
September 20, 2016
The Religious Freedom Institute published Kim Colby's blog post addressing California's attempt to punish religious colleges and their students for their religious beliefs regarding marriage. It is worth a read. Click here to read it.
September 6, 2016
CLS COMMENT LETTER ON HUMAN-ANIMAL RESEARCH
The National Institutes of Health is lifting their moratorium on human-animal research. CLS filed a comment letter requesting that they continue with a moratorium on such research, citing legal, procedural, and ethical concerns.
CLS ASSISTS CHRISTIAN GROUPS
CLS has helped a Bible study group stay in their high school in Loudon County, Virginia, as well as advised a CLS chapter so as to overcome difficulties at American University and kept a Christian group on campus at a North Carolina university. Click here to learn more about the Loudon County group.
ABA RULE 8.4
The ABA passed Model Rule 8.4, but with modifications thanks to the emails and letters from many CLS members. For those that wonder about the evolution of 8.4 and how it progressed, Kim Colby wrote an article for our next magazine outlining how things evolved for this ethics rule. Click here to read an advanced copy of her article.
MEETING WITH DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
The Center organized a meeting with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to urge it to remove a website that the Department has launched seemingly to shame religious colleges that have orthodox religious beliefs about marriage and human sexuality.
July 13, 2016
CONSCIENCE PROTECTION ACT PASSES HOUSE
On July 13, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Conscience Protection Act. 245-182, which expands protections for individuals and institutions that object to participating in abortion. CLS urged the House leadership to pass the legislation, which now returns to the Senate for its vote.
SUCCESS AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY
CLS worked closely with other campus ministries to persuade IU not to adopt a policy that IU acknowledged would have prohibited religious groups from requiring their leaders to be religious. A few weeks ago, IU told the religious groups that it would not adopt the proposed policy change.
May 10, 2016
CLS JOINS AMICI BRIEF IN JUDGE RUTH NEELY V. WYOMING COMM. ON JUDICIAL CONDUCT AND ETHICS
CLS joined an amici brief in a case before the Wyoming Supreme Court in which the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics has recommended the removal of a sitting judge from both her Municipal Court Judge and Circuit Court Magistrate positions for responding to a reporter’s question about same-sex marriage. The judge stated that she would not officiate and participate in a same-sex marriage because of her religious convictions. Under Wyoming law, a judge may, but need not, officiate in any wedding. Unfortunately, the Wyoming Supreme Court denied the motion to file the brief, along with similar motions by many other organizations. Click here to read the brief.
April 22, 2016
CLS FILES AMICI BRIEF IN TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH OF COLUMBIA V. SARA PARKER PAULEY
CLS filed an amici brief urging the nation's highest court to reject the decision of a lower federal court in a critical case regarding Missouri's discrimination against its religious citizens. Click here to read the brief.
April 4, 2016
FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS THAT RECEIVE FEDERAL FUNDING
On April 4, nine federal agencies announced their final regulations to implement Executive Order 13559. The regulations allow religious organizations to receive some federal funding to provide various social services without forfeiting their religious identities or religious hiring rights. The regulations are the culmination of work by Professor Carl Esbeck, Stanley Carlson-Thies, and CLS staff over nearly two decades.
March 26, 2016
The Georgia General Assembly passed its Version of a First Amendment Defense Act and a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Center worked closely with Georgia legislators to draft the original bill and with local organizations to support passage. CLRF sent a letter to Georgia's governor encouraging him to support religious liberty. Click here to read the letter.
March 22, 2016
KANSAS CAMPUS ACCESS BILL
The Kansas legislature passed a bill to protect campus access for religious student groups. CLS helped work on the language of SB 175, and CLS member Craig Shultz testified before the Kansas Senate committee in support of its passage. CLRF provided a written statement early in the process and a letter in mid-March explaining the need for the bill. Click here to read the letter.
March 16, 2016
CLS STATEMENT ON JUDICIAL NOMINATION: CAUTION NEEDED IN SCOTUS NOMINATION PROCESS
CLS Statement on the SCOTUS Judicial Nomination.
March 10, 2016
CLS sent a letter to the American Bar Association in opposition to proposed changes to Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4, which could restrict the pracrice of law by Christian lawyers. Click here to see the CLS letter. Additionally, CLS members also filed their comments with the ABA. We are hopeful the committee will heed our voices.
March 7, 2016
CLS FILES AMICUS BRIEF IN STATE OF WASHINGTON V. ARLENE'S FLOWERS, INC.
CLS filed a brief in this case before Washington State's highest court. The CLS brief argued that there is no compelling state interest to force small businesses, who will serve same-sex couples in general, to provide gay wedding services when there is ready access from others. Click here to read the brief.
March 7, 2016
CLS FILES AMICUS BRIEF IN CHABAD-LUBAVITCH OF MICHIGAN V. DR. DOV SCHUCHMAN
CLS filed another amicus brief on March 7, this time in Chabad-Lubavitch of Michigan v. Dr. Dov Schuchman, et al., in favor of granting cert, challenging the refusal of the Michigan State Supreme Court to entertain an action to enforce a final decree of the religious dispute resolution process between feuding Chabad-Lubavitch state and local chapters because the Michigan State Supreme Court refused to toll the civil statute of limitations during the religious dispute resolution process. CLS was joined on the brief by Anglican Church in North America, National Association of Evangelicals, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference-Conel, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, Peacemakers Ministries, and Conflict Resolution and Conciliation Center. Click here to read the brief.
February 28, 2016
CLS FILES AMICUS BRIEF IN WHOLE WOMEN'S HEALTH V. COLE
In this Texas abortion case before the United States Supreme Court, CLS joined an amicus brief that did a careful analysis of the “undue burden” standard in abortion case law, arguing that regulations such as those in Texas that focus on the health of the mother and general medical safety are subject only to the rational basis test because they do not impose an undue burden on those seeking an abortion. Click here to read the CLS brief.
February 13, 2016
CLS MOURNS THE PASSING OF JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA
CLS Statement on the passing of Justice Scalia.
February 11, 2016
OHIO LEGISLATIVE LETTER
The Center sent a letter to the Ohio House Education Committee in Support of HB 425, which would protect the religious expression of students in public schools. Click here to see the letter.
February 4, 2016
CLS FILES AMICUS BRIEF IN STORMANS CASE
CLS filed an amicus brief in support of the petition for cert. in Stormans v. Wiesman, the case in which Washington pharmacists are being required to carry and dispense abortifacients. CLS argued that the Ninth Circuit disregarded evidence that Washington State’s regulations were unnecessary to ensure timely access to medications, while also emphasizing the important national tradition of protecting conscience and religious objectors in the context of the “taking of life” issues. Click here to read the brief.
January 12, 2016
CLS DEFENDS TEXANS IN BATTLE WITH STATE BAR OVER RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
CLS submits letter to the Texas State Bar in battle over religious liberty. Read the letter here.
January 11, 2016
HHS MANDATE POSES A GRAVE THREAT TO RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND PLURALISM IN AMERICA
CLS files Brief in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. Read the brief here.