Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Pastor's Suit Against VA Over Prayer Content Dismissed For Lack of Standing

In Youngblood v. United States Department of Veterans Affairs, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156522 (MD FL, Sept. 25, 2017), a Florida federal district court dismissed for lack of standing a suit by a Baptist pastor who feared that VA officials would not allow him to offer prayers on VA property consistent with his religious beliefs.  At a memorial ceremony, Pastor Gene Youngblood offered an invocation specifically criticizing former secretary of State Hilary Clinton.  This led to a complaint that Youngblood had violated VA regulations that bar demonstrations or services on VA property that support or oppose current U.S. government policy. In dismissing Youngblood's suit seeking an injunction to prevent his future exclusion from VA property, the court said in part:
In short, the Complaint claims injury because Defendants will consider Pastor Youngblood's past noncompliance in determining whether to allow future ceremonies on VA property. While Pastor Youngblood claims the "threat of future exclusion of Plaintiff from VA property is both great and immediate" he fails to plead specific facts as to how that is so. Instead, Pastor Youngblood sets forth general and vague allegations regarding injury...