Monday, November 28, 2016

Supreme Court Denies Cert. In Ecclesiastical Abstention and RFRA Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied review in Pfeil v. St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church, (Docket No. 16-210, cert. denied 11/28/2016) (Order List).  In the case the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the 1st Amendment's ecclesiastical abstention doctrine prohibits holding a church and its pastors liable in a defamation action for statements made during church disciplinary proceedings seeking to excommunicate plaintiffs. (See prior posting.)

Today the Supreme Court also denied certiorari in Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii v. Lynch, (Docket No. 16-418, cert. denied 11/28/2016) (Order List). In the case the 9th Circuit, rejecting a RFRA defense, held that a church and its founder were properly denied an exemption from federal laws that prohibit the possession and distribution of cannabis. (See prior posting.)