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TRICK OR TREAT, SUPREME COURT?

A Message from Becket’s Executive Director

October 31, 2019
Dear Friends,
Some people love October because of Halloween or the coffee shops suddenly selling pumpkin-spiced-everything. But at Becket, we love it for an even better reason—the Supreme Court is back in session, and everyone paying attention can tell that this will be a blockbuster term, with religious liberty front and center.

Becket has asked the Supreme Court to take up six—yes, six—of our cases, with issues ranging from whether an employee can be fired for keeping the Sabbath, to whether governments can refuse to work with faith-based foster and adoption agencies, to whether an independent contractor in Idaho must violate his deeply held religious beliefs or forego work altogether, to whether religious schools have the right to choose their own religious teachers. (As for that last one—Becket’s 2012 Supreme Court case already decided that unanimously, so the answer should be a resounding “yes.”)

There’s more. The Supreme Court has already taken two cases where Becket filed friend-of-the-court briefs. In these cases, the Supreme Court will be weighing whether the government can prevent children in religious schools from accessing generally available state resources and whether the definition of “sex” includes “sexual orientation.”

We’re hoping the Supreme Court will say “treat” and take up our cases. As Becket President Mark Rienzi told reporters, the Court has the chance this term to issue clear rulings that could “stem the tide of religious liberty cases it’s been getting in recent years.” That would be a win for everyone.

What’s happening at Becket—Becketeers Publish

Free to Believe. Becket’s senior counsel and vice president, Luke Goodrich, who has litigated religious liberty cases for over a decade, combines frontline experience with faithful attention to Scripture and offers a groundbreaking book that shows that threats to religious freedom are real—but they might not be what you think.

When Islam Is Not A Religion. Asma Uddin, former Becket attorney, looks at how faith in America is being secularized and politicized, and the repercussions this has on debates about religious freedom and diversity.

Making good on America’s promise of freedom. Religious expression does not look the same for all of us, and that’s what makes America’s promise of religious freedom so profound. I wrote a piece for the Dallas Morning News on why a Texas school district should allow two high-school-aged brothers to keep a braid of their hair uncut, in obedience to a religious oath they took.

Becket in the News

Spooked by Religion? United States Attorney General William Barr gave a speech on religion in society at the University of Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture earlier this month. Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal takes secularists to task and comments on the reaction to AG Barr’s speech.

Déjà-vu…again. Though it seems like a cruel trick, the Little Sisters of the Poor are still fighting their case in court. The State of Pennsylvania continues to reject their exemption from the contraception mandate, so Becket has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in—again.

In Espinoza, the Supreme Court could erase a history of bigotry. The Atlantic writes up why the school funding case at the Supreme Court this term is of such great importance, including an explanation (plucked from Becket’s friend-of-the-court brief) of historically prejudiced Blaine Amendments.

What we’re reading

What’s worth dying for? What’s worth living for? Archbishop Chaput’s thoughtful essay (adapted from a speech) delves into the concept of sacrifice and how it, sadly, seldom features in our current society.

Maybe the Sabbath-keepers are onto something. Take a read through this Atlantic piece on how “flexible” schedules are killing our social lives. Maybe a day of rest isn’t such a bad idea.

Cardinal Dolan talks Yom Kippur. In a perfect example of the great positives that can come from a truly pluralistic society, Timothy Cardinal Dolan explains why he admires—and what others can learn from—the Jewish Day of Atonement.
Gratefully,

Montse Alvarado
Executive Director

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