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All Articles For VanEngen, Brian

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Mr. Brian VanEngen, member of the Hull PRC in Hull, Iowa, is a practicing attorney   In recent years, the courts have issued rulings allowing same-sex couples to marry and requiring accommodations for those of varying sexual identities. Many state and federal laws provide protection for those of differing sexual orientation and identities, much like the laws prohibiting discrimination based on race or national origin. The United States Supreme Court has also acknowledged rights of those with differing sexual orientations and identities, including the right of same-sex couples to marry, but at the same time has issued rulings guarding the...

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Mr. Brian VanEngen, member of the Protestant Reformed Church in Hull, Iowa, is a practicing attorney On Friday, June 24, 2022 the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.1 This decision, which overruled the longstanding abortion rights case, Roe v. Wade, created much controversy. Before the decision was even issued, a draft opinion of the court was leaked in an unprecedented breach of the confidentiality normally maintained by the Court for draft opinions or dissents.2 Protests were held outside the homes of conservative justices, despite federal laws prohibiting actions that...

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United States Supreme Court rulings in recent years have revealed a Court deeply divided along ideological lines. For many years the nine justices of the court were often divided 5-4 on cases with ideological implications, with four justices consistently on the conservative side of social issues, and four justices on the liberal side, with Justice Anthony Kennedy providing the deciding vote that would swing the decision one way or another. A series of retirements and deaths of justices on the court during the presidency of President Donald Trump resulted in what many considered a 6-3 conservative majority, including the replacement...

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State and local governments have imposed restrictions on gatherings, including church and religious gatherings, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regulations vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, from suggestions for COVID-19 safety protocols to restrictions limiting the number of individuals who can gather to worship. Many have been concerned that the government has used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for overreaching and violating the separation of Church and State, as well as infringing on the right to Free Exercise of Religion under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.   The facts of the case The State of...

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In the last installment of this series,1 we looked at the United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County,2 in which the Court ruled that, in addition to other forms of discrimination, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prevents discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This ruling may have effects on private businesses and religious organizations, as will be discussed below. However, on July 8, 2020, the Supreme Court handed down another ruling in the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru3 which exempts private religious schools from...

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On June 15, 2020 the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County.1 This case involved the question of whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be construed to prevent discrimination against homosexual and transgender people, and others with varying sexual orientation. The Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act does apply, in a landmark decision that has far-reaching implications for our churches, schools, and individual believers. The background for the case The decision actually involved three different cases, each with relatively simple facts. In each case, an employee was terminated...

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We often hear about court cases involving challenges to displays of religious symbols on public property, whether it be displays of the Ten Commandments or a cross or some other item of religious significance. The United States Supreme Court recently issued a decision in such a case involving a cross on public property as part of a war memorial, The American Legion v. American Humanist Association.1 This decision is significant, not for its subject matter, but for the legal analysis used by the Court in reaching its decision. Although the news media widely reported simply that the Court had allowed a...

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As was discussed in a recent issue of the Standard Bearer, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was incorrect in finding a baker violated the civil rights of a gay couple by refusing to bake them a cake celebrating their same-sex marriage.1 The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (UK) has now issued a ruling in a similar case, Lee v. Ashers Baking Company.2 Although the facts of the two cases are similar, the courts used very different approaches in reaching the same ultimate outcome. The reasoning used by the Court in the...

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Previous article in this series: April 1, 2018, p. 307. In the last installment under this rubric, we looked at the pending United States Supreme Court case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This case, which involved a homosexual couple’s claim of discrimination against a Colorado baker who refused to make them a wedding cake, raised issues of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The Supreme Court has now issued its opinion in the matter, and while some of the decision is as expected, there are some aspects of the ruling that are noteworthy.1 The bakery in...

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We have previously looked at the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges,1 in which the Court found that the rights embodied in the U.S. Constitution included a right for homosexuals to marry (“The Supreme Court Finds a Right to Homosexual Marriage [1-3],” Dec. 15, 2015; Feb. 1, 2016; May 15, 2016). As was noted at that time, when one such right is recognized, it raises the question of the limits of that right in relation to other recognized rights. The Supreme Court recently had an opportunity to look at the other side of the...

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