FACTBOX-U.S. Supreme Court takes broad view of religious rights in key cases
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday issued another important ruling expanding religious rights, siding with two Christian families who challenged a Maine state tuition assistance program that excluded private schools that promote religion.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday issued another important ruling expanding religious rights, siding with two Christian families who challenged a Maine state tuition assistance program that excluded private schools that promote religion. The court, especially its conservative bloc, has taken a broad view of religious liberty in numerous cases in recent years. Here is a look at some of the cases involving religious rights argued during the current term, which began in October.
CARSON V. MAKIN In the case decided on Tuesday, the justices authorized expanded public funding of religiously based entities. The decision overturned a lower court ruling that had rejected claims by the two Christian families of religious discrimination in violation of the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion. Under the state program, Maine has provided public funds to pay for tuition at private high schools of a family's choice in some sparsely populated areas that lack public secondary schools. These schools under the program must be "nonsectarian" and were excluded if they promoted a particular religion and presented material "through the lens of that faith."
SHURTLEFF V. BOSTON The court ruled 9-0 on May 2 that Boston violated the free speech rights of a Christian group by refusing to fly a flag bearing the image of a cross at City Hall as part of a program that let private groups use the flagpole while holding events in the plaza below. The justices decided that the city violated free speech rights protected under the First Amendment of the Christian group Camp Constitution and its director Harold Shurtleff. Boston had argued that raising the cross flag as Camp Constitution requested under a flag-raising program aimed at promoting diversity and tolerance in the city could appear to violate another part of the First Amendment that bars governmental endorsement of a particular religion.
RAMIREZ V. COLLIER The court ruled 8-1 on March 24 that Texas must grant a convicted murderer on death row his request to have his Christian pastor lay hands on him and audibly pray during his execution, bolstering the religious rights of condemned inmates. The justices overturned a lower court's decision against John Henry Ramirez, who appealed the state's rejection of his request for pastoral touch and prayer while he dies from lethal injection. Ramirez was sentenced to death for a fatal 2004 stabbing outside a convenience store.
KENNEDY V. BREMERTON SCHOOL DISTRICT The court during April 25 oral arguments appeared receptive to making it easier for public school employees to more freely express their religious views, signaling it would side with a Christian former high school football coach in Washington state who refused to stop leading prayers with players on the field after games. The conservative justices seemed prepared to allow such expression of religious views despite concerns that in a public school setting this could be seen as coercive to students or a governmental endorsement of a particular religion in violation of the First Amendment. A ruling is due by the end of June.
(Compiled by Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham)
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)