people for the american way

Religious Right Using Lawsuit in Attempt to Undermine Church-State Separation

In 2006, the Rev. Hashmel Turner, a member of the Fredericksburg City Council, took the bizarre step of suing his own City Council. Councilor Turner’s complaint? As an elected government official, he wants the special right to begin City Council meetings by offering a City Council prayer in the name of Jesus — a sectarian, non-inclusive prayer that excludes many Fredericksburg citizens. The City Council, however, following the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent, wisely adopted an inclusive policy requiring that any prayers offered to begin its meetings be nondenominational.

PFAW

Marriage Back in Court — Another Chance for California to Make History

Sixty years ago, the California Supreme Court courageously became the first in the country to strike down a law that prohibited interracial marriage — a full twenty years before the United States Supreme Court effectively wiped such laws off the books nationwide. Tomorrow, the California Supreme Court will once again confront marriage discrimination as it hears oral arguments in the consolidated lawsuits challenging the state's refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry. Although the California legislature passed a bill that would have ended this discrimination , it was vetoed by the Governator, and it is now once again up to the state Supreme Court to ensure that, in California at least, equality under the law is a reality for all.

PFAW

DOJ Supports Restrictive Voter ID Law

This week, the Bush Department of Justice filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court in the Indiana voter ID case (Crawford v. Marion Cty. Election Board), supporting the state's imposition of the most restrictive voter ID barriers in the nation.

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Supreme Court Hears Employment Discrimination Case

On Monday, December 3, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Sprint v. Mendelsohn, an employment discrimination case brought by Ellen Mendelsohn, a former Sprint employee who believes that she was unlawfully selected for a company-wide reduction in force because of her age. At trial, the judge prohibited Mendelsohn from presenting the testimony of other terminated workers who would have testified to age-related bias within the company unless those workers had the same supervisor that Mendelsohn had had. Mendelsohn lost at trial, but the court of appeals reversed, holding that the testimony of the other employees should have been allowed.

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Today at the Supreme Court: Federal Express v. Holowecki

The Supreme Court heard oral argument today in Federal Express v. Holowecki, an employment discrimination case in which the employee's access to justice through the courts is at stake, as we have previously described. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, an employee who believes that she has been subjected to unlawful discrimination must file a "charge" with the EEOC before she can sue, and the EEOC must then notify the employer and attempt to resolve the matter.

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Another Courthouse Door Closed to Religious Liberty Plaintiffs

One of the Supreme Court's disturbing 5-4 decisions last term — Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation — is already coming home to roost in the lower courts. On October 30, 2007, relying on Justice Alito's purality decision in Hein, a sharply divided three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit ruled, 2-1, in Hinrichs v. Bosma that taxpayers in Indiana do not have standing to challenge the practice of the state House of Representatives of opening its sessions with a sectarian (typically Christian) prayer.

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Senate Confirms Nominee Unfit for Federal Bench

In response to today’s Senate vote to confirm Leslie Southwick to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, People For the American Way Legal Director Judith E. Schaeffer released the following statement:

“Following the 2006 election, President Bush pledged to move ahead in a cooperative and bipartisan manner. But mere days after the new Congress was sworn in, he submitted the controversial nomination of Leslie Southwick.”

“Southwick’s disturbing legal record and lack of commitment to equality before the law make him unfit for a powerful lifetime seat on the federal bench. We are deeply disappointed in the Senate Democrats who acquiesced to the President today on Southwick’s nomination.

PFAW

PFAW Foundation Files Amicus Brief in Federal Express v. Holowecki

On September 24, 2007, People For the American Way Foundation, along with AARP, the National Employment Lawyers Association, the National Women's Law Center, the National Partnershipship for Women and Families, and the Asian American Justice Center, filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the Supreme Court in support of the employees in Holowecki. We've previously written about this case, which is an important employment discrimination case that the Court has already agreed to hear this term.

PFAW

Coming Up at the Court: Preview of Key Supreme Court Cases in the New Term

The first day of October will be the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, and the justices have already chosen to hear several cases that may well be decided by narrow majorities, as Scalia and Thomas have been joined by Roberts and Alito to form a reliable, ultraconservative voting bloc, with Kennedy as the new swing vote on a Court transformed by Bush Administration nominees.

People For the American Way Foundation has published a preview of several of these cases — cases that could have a profound impact on the rights of Americans, the limits of presidential power, and the conduct of partisan politics. The issues at stake include:

PFAW

Coming Up at the Court: Preview of Key Supreme Court Cases in the New Term

The first day of October will be the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, and the justices have already chosen to hear several cases that may well be decided by narrow majorities, as Scalia and Thomas have been joined by Roberts and Alito to form a reliable, ultraconservative voting bloc, with Kennedy as the new swing vote on a Court transformed by Bush Administration nominees.

People For the American Way Foundation has published a preview of several of these cases — cases that could have a profound impact on the rights of Americans, the limits of presidential power, and the conduct of partisan politics. The issues at stake include:

PFAW

PFAWF Files Amicus Brief in Church-State Case

People For the American Way Foundation today joined a number of other religious liberty groups, including the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, as well as the American Federation of Teachers, in filing an amicus curiae brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Colorado Christian University v. Baker. The University, a private, religious school, has challenged Colorado tuition assistance programs that do not allow the participation of pervasively sectarian schools, consistent with the state Constitution's prohibition on public funding of religious education. The University claims that the Colorado programs violate the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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