Friday, September 05, 2014

Protestant Navy Chaplains Denied Class Action Certification

Yesterday the D.C. federal district court issued yet another opinion in In re Navy Chaplaincy, (D DC, Sept. 4, 2014)-- a long running case that has already generated over twenty district court and Court of Appeals opinions. As summarized by the court:
Plaintiffs, 65 current and former nonliturgical Protestant chaplains in the United States Navy, their endorsing agencies, and a fellowship of non-denominational Christian evangelical churches... , bring this consolidated action against the Department of the Navy and several of its officials.... Plaintiffs allege that Defendants discriminated against non-liturgical Protestant chaplains on the basis of religion, maintained a culture of denominational favoritism in the Navy, and infringed on their free exercise and free speech rights.
In this most recent decision the court first held that it lacks jurisdiction over plaintiffs' challenge to an alleged denominational quota system for chaplains because the Navy many years ago eliminated the policy rendering the challenge to it moot. It then went on to deny class certification as to the remainder of the claims, concluding that plaintiffs "have not presented 'significant proof' of any specific unconstitutional policy or practice that applied to them across the board as a class and produced a common legal injury."