Supreme Court Turns Down Cases on Religious Separation

One contentious topic missing from the Supreme Court’s docket as the new term opened on Monday was religion. The justices evidently plan to keep it that way, at least for now.

Among the hundreds of appeals the court turned down on Monday, in a list that printed out at 83 pages, were two cases on the relationship between church and state that might have brought even more visibility to the term.

One was a case from New York on whether church-affiliated employers who object to birth control on religious grounds must nonetheless provide contraceptive coverage to their female employees as part of their medical insurance coverage, as required by laws in New York and some two dozen other states.

The other case challenged the refusal of a public library in California to make a community meeting room available for worship services.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

7 comments on “Supreme Court Turns Down Cases on Religious Separation

  1. Franz says:

    Just a word of caution to anyone tempted to read much into this action. The S.Ct.’s refusal to accept certiorari is not a decision affirming the case. The action of the Circuit Court of Appeals stands, has binding authority in its Circuit, and [perhaps] persuasive authority in other circuits. However, there are many many reasons why the S.Ct. fails to take cert. (including lack of time to take up every case in which review is sought). So the fact that the Court declined to issue a writ of cert. is barely news.

  2. w.w. says:


    The supremes should have taken the time to dispatch the equal access case. It would have been a quick no-brainer. The high court has previously upheld equal access to public facilities, especially school property. The next time a California school district decides to bar a church from using a facility, while permitting non-religious groups to use it, and is challenged, the 9th circuit now seems free to discriminate on basis of viewpoint.

    If it’s inconvenient for a public library to allow a church group to use a meeting room, then let it be inconvenient for non-church groups to use it, too.


  3. Irenaeus says:

    “The [New York contraceptive-coverage] law includes an exemption for ‘religious employers,’ precisely defined as a nonprofit organization that seeks to inculcate ‘religious values’; that ‘primarily employs’ people of its religious faith; and that ‘serves primarily’ those who share that faith.” —NYT

    This narrow exception for religious employers discriminates against Christian charitable organizations. Most such organizations provide services and aid to non-Christians as well as Christians. They do not limit themselves to primarily serving members of their own branch of Christianity. Providing services and aid to all is consistent with the Law of Love and reflects ancient Christian practice. It enraged Emperor Julian the Apostate. It still enrages militant Hindu nationalists. For many Christians, it is part and parcel of what a Christian aid organization should do and be. If people of other faiths help only the coreligionists, that is their choice. But to force Roman Catholic charities to pay for contraception or curtail serving non-RCs deprives them of the free exercise of religion. Ditto for other Christians conscientiously opposed to contraception.

  4. libraryjim says:

    Obvious solution: religious charities close their doors rather than give in to state coercion. Just the threat of it worked in the past. It will mean State Agencies that provide the same type of service will be so overwhelmed they will either change the law or go under themselves.

  5. Franz says:

    Maybe they should have, and I agree that the decision by the Circuit Court was wrong. My point is only this, the press will misinterpret the denial of cert. as affirming the Circuit Court decision. That is incorrect. Other Circuits (and District Courts in other circuits) are not bound by the decision. So we keep pushing, develop a conflict among the Circuits, and then it will be more likely that the S.Ct. will decide (and let’s hope they don’t blow it).

    (BTW, I’m not sure there’s ever a “quick no brainer” once the S.Ct. takes a case. Just doesn’t appear to be the nature of the beast)

  6. Irenaeus says:

    “Obvious solution: religious charities close their doors rather than give in to state coercion”

    I’d rather keep the door open and challenge penalties in court and in the news media.

    As I recall, the RCC stopped facilitating adoptions rather than comply with gay-rights rules in Britain and Massachusetts.

  7. Irenaeus says:

    PS to #6: Perhaps noncompliance coupled with a very public hunger strike over any penalties.