Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Alito's 3rd Circuit Religion Decisions

Here is an UPDATED list of 3rd Circuit opinions on religion issues written by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito (along with an overview of each holding from Lexis). (All links are to free non-subscription sources.):

Child Evangelism Fellowship of N.J., Inc. v. Stafford Twp. Sch. Dist., 386 F.3d 514 (October 15, 2004) OVERVIEW: Preliminary injunction properly ordered a school district to treat a child evangelism group like other community groups with regard to distribution of literature; group was likely to succeed on viewpoint discrimination claim under Free Speech Clause.

Blackhawk v. Pennsylvania, 381 F.3d 202 (August 20, 2004) OVERVIEW: Native American's free exercise rights were violated when he was denied a religious exemption from permit fees required because he owned two black bears. The fee regime's provisions were underinclusive and thus not generally applicable.

Fraise v. Terhune, 283 F.3d 506 (March 13, 2002) OVERVIEW: New Jersey prison policy that allowed correctional officials to designate "security threat groups" (STGs) did not violate equal protection in view of greater propensity for violence demonstrated by members of the STG.

Abramson v. William Paterson College, 260 F.3d 265, August 3, 2001, Concurrence by Alito, J. OVERVIEW: In religious discrimination suit, appellate court reversed summary judgment for the employer because the employee established a prima facie case for hostile work environment, religious discrimination, and retaliation.

ACLU-NJ v. Township of Wall, 246 F.3d 258 (April 3, 2001) OVERVIEW: Taxpayer plaintiffs failed to establish standing in their First Amendment holiday display claim where the record established that both the nativity display and the menorah at issue were donated to defendant Township.

Saxe v. State College Area Sch. Dist., 240 F.3d 200 (February 14, 2001) OVERVIEW: Public school district's student-on-student anti-harassment policy was unconstitutionally overbroad because it prohibited non-vulgar, non-sponsored student speech and did not satisfy the Tinker substantial disruption test.

C.H. v. Olivia, 226 F.3d 198 (August 28, 2000), cert. denied June 18, 2001. Dissent by Alito, J. OVERVIEW of majority opinion: Where it was not alleged that the removal of a student's poster occurred as a result of any school policy against the exhibition of religious material, judgment for school officials was remanded to allow plaintiff to amend her complaint.

FOP Newark Lodge No. 12 v. City of Newark, 170 F.3d 359 (March 3, 1999) cert. denied October 4, 1999. OVERVIEW: Police department's policy, which prohibited beards, was found to be in violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment because it refused to make exemptions for religious reasons, even though medical exemptions were made.

ACLU NJ v. Schundler, 168 F.3d 92 (February 16, 1999) OVERVIEW: A city's display of predominantly religious symbols in holiday display was unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause; however, addition of secular and cultural symbols diluted the display's message of endorsement of religion.

Edwards v. California Univ. of Pa., 156 F.3d 488 (August 10, 1998). cert. denied February 22, 1999. OVERVIEW: University professor did not have First Amendment right to choose classroom materials and subjects in contravention of university's dictates, and his suspension with pay did not violate procedural due process where he was not deprived of employment.