Friday, July 03, 2015

Suit Against Navy By Humanist Chaplain Applicant Can Proceed on Two Grounds

Heap v. Carter, (ED VA, July 1, 2015), is a suit brought by Dr. Jason Heap, a certified Humanist Celebrant, and The Humanist Society, his endorsing agency, challenging the U.S. Navy's denial of Heap's application to become a Navy Chaplain. Plaintiffs alleged that the Navy and Department of Defense have an unconstitutional policy of discrimination against Humanism.  In a 75-page opinion, a Virginia federal district court ultimately allowed Dr. Heap to move ahead with his Establishment Clause and Equal Protection/ Substantive Due Process challenges to the Navy and Department of Defense's actions.  However the court dismissed challenges brought under other parts of the 1st Amendment, the No Religious Test clause, and RFRA, dismissed The Humanist Society as a plaintiff for lack of standing and on ripeness grounds, and dismissed claims against the individual defendants.