This Week in the First Amendment

Have you been following the story of the La Lomita Chapel, in Mission, Texas? It was built in 1865 and today is at the center of a fight over land — more specifically, the Federal government trying to acquire this private land for the purposes of the border wall that some want built there.

The local Roman Catholic diocese doesn’t agree. Continue reading

Whose Religious Freedom?

The above headline comes from a recent online article at Slate, detailing how current court interpretation of the US’s 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) have resulted in a situation in which claims of religious freedom are increasingly enabling people to sidestep laws that yet others have long taken for granted.

Most recently it involves the following case (quoting from the article): Continue reading

Legitimacy of Classification at Standing Rock

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Anastasiya Titarenko is a junior majoring in Religious Studies. She has spent the fall semester interning for a non-profit in Wellington, New Zealand.

Classification matters. In North Dakota, it arguably permits the violation of one’s First Amendment rights.

The First Amendment states that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Seemingly explicit, the Amendment actually leaves room for interpretation.

To start, who gets to decide what “peaceably assemble” means? Continue reading

“Brotherhood, Peace, and Let Loose with their Money”

Nativity-SceneWith the Christian holiday season upon us, and the inevitable media coverage of the so-called “war on Christmas,” it’s worth remembering Lynch v. Donnelly (465 U.S. 668) — a US Supreme Court case from 1984 in which the city of Pawtucket, RI, was sued over the annual nativity scene that it erected, at (admittedly minimal) public expense each year in the downtown shopping area. Continue reading

Papa Don’t Preach

preachingIn an article today, entitled “No Right to Preach,” Inside Higher Ed reports:

While the First Amendment provides faculty members at public colleges and universities with considerable latitude about what they may say, a federal judge has ruled it does not restrict a state university from cautioning professors against making statements that favor one religion or another, and that may seem to insult the religious views of some students. Continue reading