Washington, DC--“Today, in a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court issued a strong reminder to officials at every level of federal, state, and local governments that the first freedom set forth in the Bill of Rights—religious freedom—continues to be a bedrock of our constitutional order that cannot easily be swept aside by the sexual revolution. Much work remains to be done, and today’s decision does not guarantee that every conscientious objector will win his or her case regarding same-sex marriage or similar conflicts. It does, though, send a sharp rebuke to politicians and bureaucrats who have denigrated religious beliefs in the last few years when they get in the way of LGBT advancement. We expect today’s decision to have immediate implications for a number of clients we are currently representing and issues with which we are closely involved, from churches battling a local ordinance in Wisconsin, to a fired professor in Southern California, to an anti-counseling bill now pending in the California Legislature. Our attorneys will be carefully analyzing the majority, concurring and dissenting opinions to assess their full impacts.”
Sutherlin, OR--Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is taking a stand for student privacy rights in public schools by suing a small-town school district for letting a girl use the boys’ bathroom at the local high school.
On May 21, PJI sued the Sutherlin School District (SSD), its superintendent, Terry Prestianni, and Sutherlin High School principal Justin Huntley in the Oregon Circuit Court for Douglas County on behalf of T.B., a sophomore at Sutherlin High. (For his protection, T.B. is identified both here and in the lawsuit exclusively by his initials.) In January, a girl who self-identifies as a “transgender boy” entered a boys’ bathroom while T.B. was relieving himself at the urinal. The transgendered student entered the boys’ restroom even though Sutherlin High had made single-stalled restrooms available to her and the nearest girls’ restroom was completely empty. When Sutherlin High’s assistant principal asked her why she used the boys’ restroom, she responded simply, “Because I can.”
Bakersfield, CA--A court case that tested the application of civil rights protections to Bible studies and a worship service in a senior community has been favorably resolved through a settlement.
Pacific Justice Institute represented the leadership of four religious groups that had been suspended in late 2016 by their homeowners’ association (HOA). The suspension followed a complaint from one atheist in the retirement community, Solera at Kern Canyon. Other than the one complaint, the religious groups had become quite popular within the community, with approximately 100 weekly attendees of the four groups in a community of 558 homes. Like other interest groups, the Sunday morning worship service, men’s Bible study and two women’s Bible studies meet in the community center.
San Rafael, CA--Represented by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a San Rafael church has won round one of its battle with the City of San Rafael over the constitutionality of a local tax on non-residential structures.
In September 2017, Valley Baptist Church (VBC) filed a lawsuit in Marin County Superior Court asking that the City’s Paramedic Services Special Tax be declared invalid as applied to the church under the California Constitution. The City’s voters enacted the Tax, which taxes non-residential structures at a rate of up to 14 cents per square foot, via referendum by a two-thirds vote in 2010. Because the California Constitution exempts buildings used exclusively for religious purposes from property taxation, VBC sued to have the Tax declared unconstitutional as applied to the church, as well as to recover monies paid under protest pursuant to the Tax as a condition of filing suit.
Sacramento, CA--They came by the hundreds, perhaps thousands, easily exceeding the capacity of the legislative committee hearing room and making their presence felt throughout the State Capitol. And at the end of a very long day, homeschooling families scored a major victory—defeat of a bill with serious privacy and safety implications.
For more than three hours, families and freedom advocates streamed in front of microphones to state their opposition to California State Assembly Bill 2756. Pacific Justice Institute was also represented and voiced its opposition. Large numbers of opponents made the trek from Southern California, the Bay Area, and every other part of the state. The opponents included a number of professionals, state-credentialed teachers, and self-described progressives and liberal Democrats.
Denver, CO--Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief today that urges the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold parental rights in a case of state authorities strip searching a preschool child based on unfounded allegations of abuse.
A military family from Denver enrolled their child in the Head Start program, a federally funded preschool that meets on public school property. The child’s teacher perceived the father’s tough appearance of riding motorcycles and having several tattoos as an indication that he was a child abuser. Several allegations of abuse were recorded against the military working class family, which lead to a home search that concluded there were absolutely no signs of abuse.
Sacramento, CA--A bill in the California Legislature that has alarmed homeschooling families has been delayed by two weeks.
Last week, Pacific Justice Institute reported that Assembly Bill (AB) 2926 would be heard by the Assembly Education Committee on April 11. That hearing has now been rescheduled for April 25. The Bill would create an advisory committee to come up with “additional requirements” for homeschooling. The Bill specifically directs the advisory committee to consider regulations such as health and safety inspections of the homes of homeschooling families; state-mandated curriculum standards; and credentialing, or certification of parents in order to teach their children.
In the wake of school shootings, dismal test scores, and politically-charged protests in public schools, many families are fleeing. Now, lawmakers want to drag them back under state control.
Sacramento, CA--A bill making its way through the California Legislature is raising alarms in the homeschool community, and prompting concerns about misplaced legislative priorities.
Assembly Bill (AB) 2926 would create a new state-level advisory committee to consider imposing additional requirements on homeschools. The bill directs the new committee to consider mandating new health and safety inspections of homeschools, specific curriculum standards, and required credentialing or certification of parents. As sweeping as such mandates would be, the bill further states that proposals would not be limited to those categories.
Sacramento, CA--The battle over religious freedom has reached a fever pitch in California, where lawmakers are taking a new approach to punish traditional beliefs about sex and gender.
Assembly Bill (AB) 2943 declares acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) status and behavior to be a matter of science. From that opening premise, the bill proceeds to subject skeptics to the full weight of the State’s anti-fraud and consumer protection regime for “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE) when “goods and services” are involved.