2016 is a gold mine for writers who cover religious liberty. I’ve written on faith-related conflicts affecting college campuses, efforts to legislate religious protections at the state level and the fallout from last year’s same-sex marriage ruling.
News developments arrive in my inbox and Twitter feed each day, but I don’t have the resources to dig into every headline. And so I’ll put together a blog post like this every once in a while, updating readers on the latest religious freedom news and the related work my faith beat colleagues are producing.
Here are three key updates from this week:
- A federal judge struck down part of Mississippi’s HB1523
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled on Monday that government officials in Mississippi cannot for religious reasons excuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples.
“Mississippi’s elected officials may disagree with (the same-sex marriage ruling) of course and may express that disagreement as they see fit — by advocating for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, for example. But the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after each legislative session,” Reeves wrote in his 16-page ruling, according to Reuters.
Further clarification of HB1523 is expected in the coming weeks.
2. Supreme Court justices won’t hear a cases involving faithful pharmacists and emergency contraception
The Supreme Court raised some eyebrows on Tuesday when justices announced they would not hear the appeal of a group of pharmacists in Washington who are legally required to stock and provide Plan B in spite of their religious objections.
Five national pharmacists’ associations and the state pharmacists’ associations from 33 states had filed a brief urging SCOTUS to take the case, The Atlantic reported.
“If this is a sign of how religious-liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in his dissent to the court’s decision not to hear the case.
3. California religious colleges may soon have a tougher road to Title IX exemptions
If SB1146 is passed, some of the nightmares of the people I spoke to in my article about religious liberty on college campuses will be realized.
“Only schools that prepare students for pastoral ministry would be allowed the religious exemption” to Title IX, Religion News Service reported. “In other religious schools that receive Title IX money, students who believe they have faced discrimination on the basis of their sexual identity would have the right to sue the school.”