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Has the School Properly Tested Your Child? Monday, 13 May 2013 16:15
Getting a good evaluation for a child with disabilities can be a challenge. Mark C. Weber’s article, “All Areas of Suspected Disability,” published in 2013, provides valuable insight into the current state of the law on evaluating children with disabilities. If you have a child where an inadequate evaluation is an issue, this is worth reading. Courts have stepped into the area of tension between the requirements of IDEA and the low-level “reasonable benefit” standard we got from the Supreme Court, and usually held in favor of parents when children have not been evaluated properly.
How Far Does Clergy Confidentiality Go Under Common Law? Part 2 Tuesday, 07 May 2013 01:01
Previously, we discussed the magistrate judge’s decision in United States v. Dillard, which held that communications between a lay spiritual counselor and a prisoner were not privileged. Angel Dillard appealed that decision to the district court, which reversed (in Case No. 11-1098-JTM), holding that her communications with Scott Roeder were privileged under the clergy-penitent privilege.
Colorado Choice Scholarship Program Upheld for Now Monday, 29 April 2013 20:28
When Douglas County, Colorado, instituted the Choice Scholarship Program, a private scholarship system that allows parents to select a private school (from an approved list) and receive a tuition scholarship to attend, several groups and individual Plaintiffs (such as the ACLU) sued, saying the program violated certain statutory and constitutional provisions of Colorado law. While opponents to the program won in the district court, the Colorado Court of Appeals recently reversed, ordering a judgment for Douglas County.
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You Gave the Church Away? Monday, 22 April 2013 14:20
You hate to see a case with a caption like God’s Hope Builders, Inc. v. Mount Zion Baptist Church, since it seems unlikely the lawsuit is what God would have hoped for. The Georgia Court of Appeals, on March 28, 2013, remanded this case with orders to the trial court to figure out, if it legitimately could, who the church members actually were.
How Do I Know How Much This Case is Worth? Tuesday, 02 April 2013 23:05
Plaintiffs and defendants both need to have an idea how much a case is worth. If you are thinking about filing a case as a plaintiff, you need to know if it will be worth going through the hassle, emotional stress, and costs. You need to know whether you should settle, and for how much, or if you should take the case to trial. If you are a defendant, you need to know what kind of financial impact the case could have. You must know what you are up against, when a settlement offer is reasonable, and when it is too much to pay.
How Far Does Clergy Confidentiality Go Under Common Law? Tuesday, 26 March 2013 23:21
Confidential communication with clergy has been protected for centuries under the common law. This means that clergy do not have to disclose the content of those discussions. How far does that confidentiality extend? The answer varies depending on the state statute, but a federal magistrate judge in Kansas says that it is fairly limited under common law. United States v. Dillard, 11-1098-JTM-KGG (D. Kan. March 7, 2013) is not precedential, but the analysis is interesting and could show how other courts will approach the problem.
Reverse Veil Piercing and the Religious Rights of For-Profit Employers Tuesday, 19 March 2013 15:11
Reverse veil piercing is not an obscure form of body art but an obscure legal doctrine related to corporate law. Stephen Bainbridge of the UCLA School of Law wrote an article called “Using Reverse Veil Piercing to Vindicate the Free Exercise Rights of Incorporated Employers,” which can be downloaded at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2229414. Assuming that you are not a corporate law attorney, why should you care? Because this is potentially an important argument in the debate over whether the HHS mandate to provide contraceptive and abortifacient services should apply to employers who have religious objections.
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What is RLUIPA Substantial Burden on a Church, Anyway? Thursday, 28 February 2013 15:06
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) makes the government meet a very tough standard for a land use regulation that imposes a substantial burden on religious exercise, including for churches. Obviously an important initial question is whether the regulation does impose a substantial burden. A Fourth Circuit case issued January 31, 2013, Bethel World Outreach Ministries v. Montgomery County Council, develops the “substantial burden” standard in a way that may help other churches facing zoning issues.
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Forbidding or Allowing Student Religious Speech Monday, 25 February 2013 02:29
One challenge in figuring out what religious speech is permitted for students is that it depends on whether the school is trying to prevent the speech or allow it. A January 2013 Second Circuit case, A.M. v. Taconic Hills Central School District, gives some insight, though it is a summary order that is not precedential.
Defending the Essence of America: Did the Government Violate Constitutional Rights of Muslim Prisoners? Monday, 11 February 2013 20:40
A group of eight Muslim men detained in the aftermath of 9/11 filed claims against a number of government officials in a case called Turkmen v. Ashcroft, including then-Attorney General John Ashcroft from the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Director of the FBI, the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and personnel at the detention center where they were held. Ultimately, the Muslim men were charged with immigration violations, but not terrorism.
An order out of the Eastern District of New York, issued Jan. 15, 2013, evaluated the plaintiffs’ claims after all the defendants moved to dismiss. The order is long and complicated, about 60 pages, and dismisses some of the claims, but lets some claims move forward.