Facebook pixel Religious Liberty Clinic Concludes Productive Inaugural Semester - Surf Report | Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Religious Liberty Clinic Concludes Productive Inaugural Semester

The Hugh and Hazel Darling Religious Liberty Clinic, which launched on March 1, filed briefs in four important cases dealing with issues of religion and the law in its first semester alone. The cases are currently in state court, federal court, and the Supreme Court.

Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. United States Supreme Court. This case concerns a public high school football coach who was fired because he prayed on the 50-yard line after games concluded. Our brief, filed on behalf of the American Legion, argues that the history and traditions of the First Amendment mean that while truly coercive prayer practices (e.g. pray-to-play) would be impermissible, private prayer is firmly within constitutional bounds, even if undertaken in a public place and in a public way. The Supreme Court will decide the case by early July. Read the Kennedy v. Bremerton School District amicus brief

Foothill Church v. Bonta. Eastern District of California. This is a challenge by several Protestant churches to a California state abortion mandate that applies to employers. The churches have a religious objection to providing abortion within their employee healthcare plans. The case was brought by ADF. Our amicus brief, filed on behalf of the California Catholic Conference (which consists of the Catholic bishops of California) argues that California's abortion mandate cannot be reconciled with either the Supreme Court's 2021 decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia or the church autonomy doctrine. Read the Foothill Church v. Bonta amicus brief.

Morris v. Centura Health. Colorado Court of Appeals. This case involves a test-case lawsuit brought by a doctor who was fired for seeking to provide assisted suicide in contravention of her religious hospital employer's commitment to abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services. The doctor is seeking to force Catholic healthcare entities to allow their doctors to participate in assisted suicide/euthanasia. Our brief, filed on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Catholic Benefits Association, argues that the First Amendment doctrine of church autonomy would not allow Colorado to force Catholic healthcare providers to participate in assisted suicide in defiance of Church teaching. Read the Morris v. Centura Health amicus brief.

Palmer v. Liberty University. United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. This case involves an age discrimination claim by a professor at Liberty University, a Christian university in Virginia, whose teaching contract was not renewed. Our brief, which will be filed on behalf of a coalition of religious universities from a number of different faith traditions, including Pepperdine, argues that the professor's discrimination lawsuit cannot be allowed to proceed because it runs afoul of the First Amendment's ministerial exception and church autonomy doctrines. Read the Palmer v. Liberty University amicus brief.