Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Top Ten 2018 Religious Liberty / Church-State Developments

Each year in December, I attempt to pick the most important church-state and religious liberty developments of the past year-- including developments internationally in the mix.  My choices are based on the importance of the pick to law or policy, regardless of whether the development has garnered significant media attention..  The selection obviously involves a good deal of subjective judgment, and I welcome e-mail comment from those who disagree with my choices.  So here are my Top Ten picks as another rather chaotic year comes to an end:
  1. The U.S. Supreme Court issues a narrow decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, failing to resolve the basic question of how to balance religious liberty and free speech rights against demands for equality.
  2. Battles continue in the courts over whether existing protections against sex discrimination cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  3. The third version of President Trump's "travel ban" is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  4. Release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report on sexual abuse by Catholic priests in 6 dioceses refocuses attention on the clergy sex abuse scandal.
  5. Mass shooting in Pittsburgh synagogue raises new fears of anti-Semitism in the United States.
  6. U.S. Supreme Court protects the speech rights of pro-life pregnancy centers, finding California's FACT Act unconstitutional.
  7. Canada and Ireland repeal blasphemy laws, while blasphemy cases elsewhere (Pakistan, Spain, Austria, India) continue to attract attention.
  8. Federal district court holds federal Female Genital Mutilation statute unconstitutional.
  9. Free speech challenges to state laws designed to combat individual participation in boycott of Israel meet success.
  10. Congress takes action to fight genocide; passes Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act and.  Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act .
Don Byrd at Blog From the Capital has a different set of the Top Ten.