“The First Amendment right of free speech and right to practice any faith, or no faith, are foundational American values that must extend to everyone…” – Member of the Congressional Prayer Caucus
Federal Legislation: Let’s pray the filibuster stays intact as is and that the senate is a firewall against all bills and language – all efforts – to undermine our Constitutional Republic, Judeo-Christian Heritage, and First Amendment Rights.
The 2021-22 Supreme Court term will be hard to beat, with four pro-religious freedom rulings, including the very important Kennedy decision, and the blockbuster overruling of Roe and Casey. That doesn’t mean that things won’t be happening on these fronts this coming term, but, as of now, the docket is not as full as last term.
The one relevant case that the Supreme Court has taken, 303 Creative, is a religious freedom case masquerading as a free speech case, as the Court only accepted for review the free speech issue. Nonetheless, this compelled speech case, in which a web designer announced that she would not design web sites for same-sex marriages, has a free exercise underpinning because it is her religious beliefs that inform her stance. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission, not cowed by its rebuff in Masterpiece, is again asserting she unlawfully discriminates against sexual orientation. The Court will presumably set the case for argument this fall.
Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (No. 22-04) is a case similar to 303 Creative and has been up to the Court once already. It involves Oregon coming down hard on a designer of custom wedding cakes who also refused to celebrate same-sex weddings due to her religious beliefs. The first time the baker petitioned, the case was sent back for reconsideration in light of the decision in Masterpiece, and, on remand, she was partially successful in the Oregon courts, but not wholly by a long shot. She has filed a petition asserting the Oregon courts misapplied Masterpiece, that Oregon is violating her free speech and free exercise rights, and that Smith should be overruled. My money is on another “hold,” this time for the 303 Creative decision, and then a remand for reconsideration. Obviously, though, the Court could also decide to use this case as a vehicle to reexamine Smith, as several justices said they were ready to do two terms ago in Fulton v. Philadelphia.
Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance also deals with a clash of religious beliefs and same-sex discrimination, with Yeshiva refusing to grant school sponsorship to a gay pride club due to its belief that it would violate Jewish religious principles on which the school is founded. New York courts required the school to sponsor the club and, after working stay requests through the NY courts, the school requested a stay from the Supreme Court. The majority refused the stay on the ground that the school still had not exhausted its state remedies, while a four-justice minority would have granted the stay and said they would grant certiorari should the ruling on the merits stand. The school in response refused to sponsor any clubs. If a petition wends its way back to the Court this term, it likely will get a favorable reception.
The Ninth Circuit agreed that the ministerial exception shielded a Catholic high school from being sued for racial discrimination by its former principal. The principal has petitioned in Orr v. Christian Brothers High School (No. 21-1416), claiming he had no religious duties or training and so the exception should not apply. It seems unlikely that the Court will entertain the principal’s petition.
Several members of the Court in past terms have indicated a willingness to reconsider the “de minimis” religious accommodation standard of Title VII as formulated in TWA v. Hardison, and that issue is again presented to the Court this term in Groff v. DeJoy (No. 22-174).
Finally, it seems certain that multiple petitions will be filed, and perhaps requests for stay as well, based on activity in courts and legislatures spawned by Dobbs and its overruling of Roe and Casey. The first petition to hit is Doe v. McKee (No. 22-201), which challenges a pro-abortion law of Rhode Island. It seem unlikely, however, that the Court will be anxious to wade into the abortion waters again this term.
Recently, Biden announced a Resolution on the ERA and called on Congress to take action. On March 17, 2021, the House passed H. J. Res. 17 to remove the deadline for the ratification of the ERA. A companion resolution (S. J. Res. 1) awaits further action in the Senate Judiciary Committee. There’s many concerns about the future of conscience and religious freedom, should this Constitutional Amendment advance federally or at the state level. Pray for these efforts to fail at the state level as well.
Religious Liberty Legislation: Continue praying consistently and fervently for the successful passage of legislation that effectively protects our Judeo-Christian heritage and First Amendment Rights. Also, pray that bills and resolutions that undermine our Rights will be unsuccessful.
The CPCF legal team has researched best practices legislation and provided talking points on various religious freedom topics to assist legislators. View a model school invocation policy
The CPCF helps build and support a nationwide network of nearly 1,000 federal and state elected leaders who are standing for faith and impacting the culture. Please join us in praying daily for them, their families, and staff.
Each week Congress is in session, members of Congressional Prayer Caucus meet before votes to pray in Room 219 of the U.S. Capitol. Please pray for the CPC to continue to grow and be increasingly effective for generations to come.
Join the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation Prayer Team! Email me to join the CPCF Prayer Team! Commit to praying for the Members and families of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, The American Prayer Caucus Network, and the CPCFoundation.
Pray For Our President And All Those In Authority Include: Judicial Branch, Legislative Branch, Executive Branch, All Agencies, Military, First Responders, Faith Leaders, Etc.
Click Here To Learn About Prayer Opportunities And Upcoming Faith Events On CPCF’s Faith Report Website
Freedom From Religion Foundation
American Civil Liberties Union
American Humanists Association
Secular Coalition for America
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Southern Poverty Law Center
For more information about this prayer initiative, contact Summer Ingram, V.P. of Legislative Affairs and Prayer Outreach for the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation.