FFRF filed this Supreme Court amicus brief in support of the United States Postal Service on March 30, 2023. This case involved a Christian postal worker, Gerald Groff, who observed the Sabbath and requested to not work on Sundays. After Sunday deliveries became commonplace due to USPS contracts with Amazon, USPS initially accommodated Groff’s request by scheduling co-workers to swap or cover Groff’s Sunday shifts. This eventually became difficult at a small station with few employees and USPS ultimately determined that continuing to accommodate Groff was causing undue hardship.
This amicus took the position that granting an employee the religious privilege of not working Sundays harmed co-workers, customers and other parties by creating an undue hardship. It also pushed back against the plaintiff's Title VII argument, explaining that courts have denied Title VII religious discrimination cases when the accommodation would harass or cause distress to customers, co-workers or subordinates.
FFRF joined the National Women's Law Center and 57 organizations in a 7th Circuit amicus brief which challenged an Indiana law that discriminated against transgender school athletes. This brief is in support of the plaintiff, a 10-year-old transgender girl who was kicked off her elementary school softball team after a sports ban targeting transgender girls and young women took effect in the summer of 2022.
The brief highlighted how inclusive school policies are consistent with Title IX and a key part of creating gender equity in education. It also pointed out that this law would force schools to discriminate on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause.
On October 14, 2022 FFRF filed an amicus brief in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the Florida High School Athletic Association.
Cambridge Christian School sought to force the Florida High School Athletic Association to broadcast prayers over the public-address system at state championship competitions hosted by the association. This brief argued that Cambridge Christian’s free speech claim fails because it has not established that a forum exists for private speech at these government-sponsored events.
This brief was filed in collaboration with The Central Florida Freethought Community, a chapter of FFRF. Both organizations have previously jointly filed amicus briefs in the 11th Circuit and District Court as well for this case.
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FFRF filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the Bremerton School District on April 1, 2022. The issue in this case was whether the school district violated the free exercise and free speech rights of a former high school football coach who wanted to pray on the 50-yard line right after games.
FFRF argued that the case became moot because Coach Kennedy was no longer living in Washington. FFRF also argued that nonreligious students and students who are religious minorities are harmed when coaches institute prayers for their teams.
FFRF was joined by the Center For Inquiry, the American Humanist Association and the Secular Coalition for America on this brief. The Foundation also previously filed a brief with the 9th Circuit.
FFRF filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of Colorado officials on August 18, 2022. This case involved a Colorado business owner who claimed she was planning to start designing wedding websites but wanted to do so without needing to provide service to same-sex couples. This denial of service would violate the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act because it prevents businesses from refusing service on the basis of sexual orientation. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Colorado officials and found that the free speech rights of the businesses are not violated by the law.
FFRF’s brief argued that the business owner lacked standing to challenge the law because she manufactured a case without actually designing wedding websites. It also argued that a ruling in favor of 303 Creative would lead to increased religious discrimination. FFRF was joined by the Center For Inquiry, the American Humanist Association, and the American Atheists on this brief.
FFRF filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the City of Boston on December 21, 2021. The issue in this case was whether or not it was unlawful for the City of Boston to refuse the organization Camp Constitution’s application for a Christian Flag to be flown at City Hall. The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that flags displayed on a government flagpole constitute government speech and therefore displaying the Christian flag or any religious flag on a city hall flagpole could constitute impermissible endorsement of religion. FFRF previously joined an amicus brief filed with the 1st Circuit.
FFRF’s brief argued that Boston’s flagpole is a nonpublic forum subject to reasonable restrictions and that Boston’s concern of not wanting to give the appearance of endorsement was a reasonable justification for not approving the display of religious flags on a government flagpole.
FFRF was joined by the Center For Inquiry on this brief.
FFRF filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Secular Student Alliance with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Brownsburg Community Schools on November 8, 2021. This case centered around a public school teacher who refused to use the preferred pronouns and names of transgender students even when it made the students uncomfortable.
The amicus argued that the court should consider unique aspects of the educational environment when analyzing undue hardship. The teacher’s request not to use students’ first names occurs within the context of a public education system, which has important responsibilities to students. Public school teachers have a position of power and responsibility that they need to exercise in the most proper manner. Additionally, the brief maintains, schools may limit a teacher’s religiously motivated behavior in the classroom due to both pedagogical concerns and potential to harm students.
FFRF filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the state of Maine on October 29, 2021. At issue in this case is Maine’s refusal to use taxpayer money to fund religious education. The state of Maine offered families a tuition assistance program to help fund sending kids located in rural areas to a private school if their town did not have a public one. Parents who wanted to send their kids to private religious institutions sued for access to that funding. FFRF previously filed an amicus brief when the case was before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.
FFRF’s brief argued against the use of public money that would subsidize sectarian education because the Founders adopted the First Amendment to ensure that taxpayers are not compelled to subsidize a religion that is not their own. It also argued that the “no aid” principle avoids government entanglement with religious education and the government oversight that must necessarily be coupled with state funding.
FFRF was joined by the Center For Inquiry on this brief.
This amicus brief was filed on September 27, 2021 in support of neither party in the capital punishment case of John Ramirez. This case centered around whether or not a death row inmate should be allowed to have his pastor physically touch him and audibly pray in the execution chamber while he is being put to death.
The primary argument of this brief was that the Supreme Court should hold that capital punishment is unconstitutional. However, the brief also argued that if executions are allowed to take place, end-of-life accommodations must be equally available.
FFRF was joined by American Atheists and the American Humanist Association in filing this brief.
This SCOTUS brief was filed on September 20, 2021 in support of an abortion clinic in Jackson, Mississippi.
This brief took the position that the type of restrictions to abortion care being put forth by the state in the case are imbued with religion because it would do away with viability framework and instead use religious beliefs about when personhood begins
FFRF was joined by The Center for Inquiry and American Atheists in filing this brief.
FFRF filed this 7th Circuit Court of Appeals brief in support of atheist plaintiff, Rebecca Woodring. This case centered around a Nativity display that was erected annually at the Jackson County, Indiana Courthouse.
FFRF’s brief argued that the principles of Establishment Clause jurisprudence govern Nativity scene displays and that the display was unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s Lynch and Allegheny cases. Additionally, this display created the message of exclusion and secondary status to anyone who was not Christian.
This coalition brief was filed with the Supreme Court in 2020 in opposition to a Catholic adoption agency that claimed it could discriminate as a government contractor against same-sex couples for foster care.
This brief argued that the Supreme Court should rule against Catholic Social Services because it is antithetical to the concept of religious liberty to allow a government contractor that serves the public to discriminate on the basis of religion.
FFRF was joined by the Center For Inquiry and American Humanist Association in filing this brief.
On July 31, 2020 FFRF joined a coalition of civic organizations in a 6th Circuit brief in opposition to then President Trump’s travel ban for Muslims.
This brief argued that the presidential executive order and its two prior iterations all contributed to violence and bigotry not only against Muslims but against immigrants more broadly. FFRF specifically opposed the ban due to its potential to be extended to non-believers as well.
Lynne Bernabei and Alan Kabat filed this on behalf of the following civil rights organizations: Advocates for Youth, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Mississippi Center for Justice, National Center for Lesbian Rights and Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
This amicus brief was filed in the 9th Circuit on June 30th, 2020 in response to stay at home orders limiting church capacities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
FFRF’s brief argued that churches should not have an exemption to the rule limiting worship service attendance to 25 percent capacity or 100 people. It also refuted s the argument that the rule is targeteding religious gatherings as it was applied equally to all types of gathering, religious or secular.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation signed onto this coalition brief that was filed with the Supreme Court. This case centered around the Affordable Care Act, which required employer-provided health plans to cover preventive care for women. Since 2013, there have been accommodations exempting houses of worship from this requirement once notice was given that they wanted one.
The Trump administration sought to dramatically increase exemptions to the contraceptive mandate and this brief argued that the administration breached the First Amendment by allowing certain religion-based exemptions from required birth-control coverage.
Richard Katzke of Americans United for Separation of Church and State was counsel of record on this amicus and filed it on behalf of FFRF and twenty-four other like minded organizations on this brief.
FFRF filed this 2020 brief with the Supreme Court in support of a woman who was fired by her employer, a religious school, while she underwent treatment for breast cancer. The school argued that they had the right to conduct hiring, firing and other employment decisions under the claim that their teachers are subject to the ministerial exemption.
This amicus brief focused on the concerns over allowing religious organizations to have a carte blanche to hire and fire without regard to the civil rights of their employees. The brief also examined how this could affect the millions of healthcare workers that are employed by religious hospitals.
FFRF partnered with the American Medical Women’s Association in filing this brief.
FFRF filed this brief with the Supreme Court on January 14, 2020 in support of neither party. This case was brought by three Muslim men who sued under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) after they were put on the no-fly list for refusing to be government spies in their religious communities.
The amicus discussed the issues that could arise if government employees could be held personally liable for monetary damages under RFRA. It would require public servants to evaluate whether the laws they’re enforcing require a religious exemption as part of their job.
The brief was written by Marci Hamilton and the American Humanist Association joined FFRF in filing this brief