A second front has opened in the battle being waged by faith-based foster care and adoption agencies to continue helping at-risk children in Michigan. Grand Rapids–based Catholic Charities West Michigan (CCWM) sued the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and various state officials in late April in an attempt to stop the state from discriminating against the agency because of its religious beliefs about marriage.
The Catholic Charities lawsuit, filed in state court, comes on the heels of a similar lawsuit filed in federal court less than two weeks ago by Michigan’s St. Vincent Catholic Charities. Both cases challenge a settlement between Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who is openly homosexual, and the American Civil Liberties Union that would prevent the state from contracting with faith-based agencies that will not agree to place children with same-sex couples.
Jeremiah Galus, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, told me that Catholic Charities filed in state court rather than federal court to raise claims directly under state law and the state constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom. Galus said ADF is “considering all options to ensure that CCWM can operate its foster care and adoption ministry and continue serving Michigan’s children and families while this lawsuit is pending.” —S.W.
A new law signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, prohibits Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities from creating and limiting expression to “free-speech zones.” The state now requires state-funded public colleges and universities to adopt policies protecting freedom of expression on campus so long as the speech is lawful and does not disrupt the functioning of the college or university. The new law, similar to one recently adopted in Arkansas, makes virtually all outside areas on campuses open forums.
The Oklahoma law is based on model legislation proposed by the Goldwater Institute in a January 2017 report. At least 28 states have introduced campus free speech legislation, and 12 governors have signed bills into law, according to a summary by Campus Reform, a conservative college news site.
“This new law helps ensure that public universities continue to be places where intellectual diversity flourishes and both students and faculty are able to engage in the exchange of ideas rather than being censored on campus,” Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Zack Pruitt said in a statement. —S.W.
A Denver landlord who told her tenant to find an “American person … good like you and me” to sublet her property instead of a Muslim father and son has agreed to pay the men $675,000. In 2016, Craig Caldwell took out a five-year lease on the building for his fried chicken restaurant. When he closed the business in 2017, he sought to sublet it to Rashad Khan to avoid paying the remainder of the lease, but landlord Katina Gatchis refused to approve. Khan praised the outcome of the suit, saying that if he weren’t in America, “I wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms I have, and I wouldn’t have the justice system that allowed her to have the consequences for acting like she did.” —S.W.
A new law makes Washington the first state to require public universities and colleges to provide academic accommodation to students for religious observances. Professors must allow students to reschedule exams and other required activities to observe religious holidays. A student must notify faculty in writing within two weeks of the beginning classes of the specific days for which accommodation is sought. —S.W