FFRF filed an amicus brief in the Wisconsin Supreme Court in support of the state. This brief argued against five religiously-affiliated nonprofit organizations who claimed they should be exempted from the state unemployment system.
This brief argued that allowing the Catholic Charities Bureau and affiliated nonprofits to circumvent unemployment insurance programs would have a far-reaching impact for Wisconsin employees. It goes on to explain that an exemption would result in thousands of healthcare and educational workers losing the protections afforded by the unemployment program.
Special thank you to FFRF Law Student Intern Peyton Williams for his hard work and contributions to this brief.
FFRF joined a coalition of like-minded organizations in filing this amicus brief on behalf of the petitioners. This case centered around an Indiana law that required healthcare providers to bury or cremate fetal tissue remains from an abortion or miscarriage procedure regardless of the patients' preference.
This brief took the position that Indiana's law burdened patients’ religious beliefs and practices in violation of the Free Exercise Clause. It argued that there are a variety of religious beliefs regarding end-of-life rituals and that there isn't one correct and dignified means of fetal tissue disposal.
Mia Guizzetti Hayes was the counsel of record on this case and filed it on behalf of FFRF and twenty-eight other organizations whose members were burdened by this law.
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.