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4th Circuit Upholds Decision Halting Revised Executive Order

Written by Don Byrd

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 10-3 ruling earlier today in favor of plaintiffs challenging the Trump Administration’s revised executive order, which among other things bars immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries. Finding the primary purpose of the order to be religious rather than secular, the decision leaves in place a lower court’s injunction halting the enforcement of that section of the order nationwide.

The court relied on President Trump’s controversial statements as a candidate calling for a ban on Muslim immigration, as well as statements made by his aides, to conclude that the true purpose of the order was to limit the ability of Muslims to enter the United States, rather than the national security rationale offered by the administration.

In the opening paragraph of the chief judge’s majority opinion, he describes Trump’s Executive Order as one which:

…in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination. Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet stands as an untiring sentinel for the protection of one of our most cherished founding principles—that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy, or favor or disfavor …read more

Kelly Percival Wall of Separation Today, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction that prevents President Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0 from going into effect. The court did not mince words in its condemnation of the ban as an affront to the First Amendment. The opinion calls Muslim Ban 2.0 an order […]

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Betsy DeVos Continues Her Push For Private School Vouchers

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Rokia Hassanein Wall of Separation Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testified before a congressional committee to defend the Donald J. Trump administration’s education budget. Betsy DeVos, Education Department, 2018 Budget, Donald J. Trump Administration, vouchers, public education

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Don’t pray at meetings, FFRF insists to Fla. county board

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation is insisting that a Florida county commissioners’ board cease starting its meetings with a prayer. A concerned local resident contacted FFRF to report that the Clay County Board of County Commissioners opens its meetings with commissioner-led prayers. These prayers are specifically Christian, including language such as “in the name of […]

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More Questions For Betsy DeVos About School Vouchers

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Elise Helgesen Aguilar Wall of Separation Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will testify at a congressional hearing on the Department of Education’s budget – and members of Congress will have questions for her.   vouchers, Betsy DeVos, Donald J. Trump, Budget, Department of Education, public schools, #Questions4Betsy

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Religious Liberty Updates from Texas, Indiana, Florida, West Virginia

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Written by Don Byrd

Across the country today there are lot of updates to religious liberty stories I have been following here on the blog. Here is a quick roundup:

Texas: The Texas legislature gave final approval this week to HB 3859, a bill that allows child placement agencies to refuse service that conflicts with their religious beliefs, even if they receive government funds to provide that service. As I explained in an earlier post, opponents argue this legislation opens the door to state-funded discrimination of all kinds. More and more of these religious refusal bills are appearing in the area of adoption services, a development worth watching.

Also in Texas, the Governor signed a bill into law protecting sermons from subpoena in litigation or administrative proceedings. You can read SB 24 here. The legislation seems designed to respond to a 2014 controversy in which the City of Houston subpoenaed sermons of certain area pastors. The Baptist Joint Committee joined several other religious liberty advocates in denouncing the action, which was later dropped.

Indiana: Unsurprisingly, the Indiana Supreme Court let stand an appeals court ruling …read more

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W.Va. schools’ bible class suspension welcome first step

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Plaintiff Elizabeth Deal A school district in West Virginia has decided to suspend its “Bible in the Schools” classes next school year in response to a Freedom From Religion Foundation lawsuit against its egregiously unconstitutional “Bible in the Schools” program. FFRF, along with two parents of young children, brought the case earlier this year. The […]

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FFRF protests huge cross in Missouri park

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation is requesting that a Missouri town remove a massive cross on public property.  There is a Christian cross at Big Spring Park in the city of Neosho. It is very large, up to 60 feet in length, on the side of a hill at the park. A concerned local resident […]

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The Attacks On Religious Freedom Keep Coming From The Texas Legislature: A Roundup

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Dena Sher Wall of Separation The Texas legislature only meets every other year. So, with the last day of session rapidly approaching, the past few days – yes, even including the weekend – have been wild. The result: A lot of harmful policies are closer to becoming law. Here’s a roundup of the legislature’s troubling […]

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Trump’s Budget Cuts Funding For Public Schools While Funneling Money To Vouchers For Private Schools

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Liz Hayes Wall of Separation Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was expected to finally reveal details of President Donald J. Trump’s long-promised federal school voucher plan last night. Instead, we heard a lot of platitudes, but little in the way of a policy proposal. vouchers, Betsy DeVos, Donald J. Trump, American Federation for Children, Budget, Education, […]

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