Thursday, June 28, 2018

Supreme Court Remands Case Involving Officers Ordering Suspect To Cease Praying

In Sause v. Bauer, (US Sup. Ct., June 28, 2018), the U.S. Supreme Court in a 4 page per curiam opinion granted certiorari, reversed the 10th Circuit, and remanded for further proceedings a case in which petitioner claimed that her free exercise rights were infringed when police officers in her apartment in response to a noise complaint ordered her to stop praying. The Court said in part:
There can be no doubt that the First Amendment protects the right to pray. Prayer unquestionably constitutes the “exercise” of religion. At the same time, there are clearly circumstances in which a police officer may lawfully prevent a person from praying at a particular time and place. For example, if an officer places a suspect under arrest and orders the suspect to enter a police vehicle for transportation to jail, the suspect does not have a right to delay that trip by insisting on first engaging in conduct that, at another time, would be protected by the First Amendment. When an officer’s order to stop praying is alleged to have occurred during the course of investigative conduct that implicates Fourth Amendment rights, the First and Fourth Amendment issues may be inextricable.
That is the situation here. As the case comes before us, it is unclear whether the police officers were in petitioner’s apartment at the time in question based on her consent, whether they had some other ground consistent with the Fourth Amendment for entering and remaining there, or whether their entry or continued presence was unlawful.... Without knowing the answers to these questions, it is impossible to analyze petitioner’s free exercise claim.
(See prior related posting.)