In Cormier v. PF Fitness-Midland, LLC, (MI App., July 26, 2018), a Michigan appellate court in a case on remand from the Michigan Supreme Court held that the gym Planet Fitness violated provisions of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act when it failed to inform plaintiff that it had a policy of allowing members to use whichever locker room and rest room corresponds to the gender with which that person self-identifies. The court concluded that Planet Fitness violated MCL 445.903(1)(s), (bb), and (cc) which prohibit:(s) Failing to reveal a material fact, the omission of which tends to mislead or deceive the consumer, and which fact could not reasonably be known by the consumer.(bb) Making a representation of fact or statement of fact material to the transaction such that a person reasonably believes the represented or suggested state of affairs to be other than it actually is.(cc) Failing to reveal facts that are material to the transaction in light of representations of fact made in a positive manner.In concluding that the failure to inform plaintiff of the policy was material, the court said:After joining the gym, plaintiff saw an assigned male individual in the women’s locker room and then complained to an employee at the front desk and to defendants’ corporate office. Upon being informed of defendants’ unwritten policy on the matter, plaintiff verbally warned other women at the gym about it. Plaintiff’s actions indicate that she strongly preferred a locker room and a restroom in which individuals who are assigned biologically male are not present, and it is thus reasonable to infer that defendants’ failure to inform plaintiff of the unwritten policy affected her decision to join the gym.A person who successfully sues under Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act may recover actual damages or $250, whichever is greater, plus attorneys’ fees. Liberty Counsel issued a press release announcing the decision.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/08/gyms-failure-to-disclose-transgender.html

In Archdiocese of Washington v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, (DC Cir., July 31, 2018), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in 44-pages of opinions, rejected challenges to the WMATA’s guidelines which preclude the sale of advertising space on public buses for issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy ads.  The ban includes ads

T.D. 9836, published in the July 30 Federal Register, sets out revised IRS rules for reporting and substantiation of cash and non-cash charitable contributions.  They implement provisions of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 and the Pension Protection Act of 2006. [Thanks to Steven H. Sholk for the lead.]

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/07/new-irs-rules-on-substantiation-of.html

In Boyd v. Etchebehere, (9th Cir., July 25, 2018), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a challenge to a California prison’s Ramadan meal policy.In McCracken v. Godert, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121480 (ED MO, July 20, 2018), a Missouri federal magistrate judge dismissed, unless an appropriate amended complaint is filed, a Native American inmate’s complaint that he is not being allowed to use ceremonial pipes, tobacco, and other ritual items.In Thomas v. Delaney, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122106 (ND NY, July 23, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed some claims by a Rastafarian inmate of harassment and free exercise infringement, while allowing an amended complaint asserting 1st Amendment, harassment and RLUIPA claims to be filed.In Allen v. Kunkel, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122116 (D CT, July 22, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Moorish American inmate’s complaints about barring his obtaining a particular book and refusing to approve his ability to purchase a fez.In Miller v. Lucas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122640 (MD PA, July 20, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that on one occasion he was sent from the chapel back to his cell without being able to participate in religious services.In Cejas v. Brown, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122935 (SD CA, July 20, 2018), a California federal district court allowed a Buddhist inmate to move ahead with his claim that authorities denied weekly Buddhist services and the ability to practice meditation, chanting and prostration indoors. The court however denied joinder of other plaintiffs.In Finefeuiaki v. Maui Community Correctional Center Staff, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124678 (D HI, July 25, 2018), a Hawaii federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that authorities could not locate his Bible, daily bread, and religious handbook during a 5-day perioid.In Mears v. Kauffman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125038 (MD PA, July 26, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that after a chaplain accused him of homosexual activity, a correctional officer removed him from services and urged him not to attend services conducted by that chaplain, or not bring the other inmate with whom he allegedly has sexual contact.In Cox v. United States, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124412 (D MN, July 25, 2018), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s report (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125213, June 28, 2018), and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a counselor told him to stop praying.In Brown v. Ryles, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125256 (ED AR, July 26, 2018), an Arkansas federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied the right to shave in accordance with his religion.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/07/recent-prisoner-free-exercise-cases_29.html

Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a 30-minute address (full text) at the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.  The Vice President called out a long list of countries for their records of religious persecution and intolerance.  He went on to say:And it’s my privilege as Vice President to announce today that the United States of America will establish the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response Program, effective today….Under this new program, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development will closely partner with local faith and community leaders to rapidly deliver aid to persecuted communities, beginning with Iraq.  Crucially, this support will flow directly to individuals and households most in need of help.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/07/pence-announces-new-us-program-to-aid.html

In 2010, a Las Vegas, Nevada doctor, Harriston Lee Bass, was convicted of second degree murder for selling a controlled substance to a woman whose overdose led to her death. (Background).  Subsequently Bass filed a post-conviction petition for habeas corpus alleging ineffective assistance of counsel in his trial and appeal.  In Bass v. State of Nevada, (NV Sup. Ct., July 20, 2018), the Nevada Supreme Court found Bass’ objections do not warrant granting of any relief.  The Court said in part:Bass … argues that trial and appellate counsel should have challenged evidence introduced in violation of his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. A State investigator testified about a closet in Bass’s house set up like a shrine, with a photograph of Bass and a candle, that was searched when investigating the residence for evidence of Bass’s mobile medical practice. Bass testified that the area was his wife’s prayer room. Bass has failed to show that testimony implying that he and his wife had unspecified religious beliefs in any way infringed on his religious exercise, particularly where the record is silent as to the content of those beliefs…. Accordingly, Bass has failed to show that a First Amendment objection at trial or on appeal was not futile, and counsel were not ineffective in omitting them. The district court therefore did not err in denying this claim.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/07/nevada-supreme-court-says-counsel-not.html

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