Aug 5: DOJ task force announced at international summit, ACLU sues ICE, and more

Executive Branch

The Justice Department held an international summit (“Ministerial”) to promote religious freedom. The director of the OMB gave a speech suggesting that the US would stop pressuring countries to abandon laws criminalizing homosexuality.

Also at the Ministerial, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new religious liberty task force to be formed at the DOJ. He didn’t give specifics of what the task force would do, beyond implementing the executive order on religious freedom that Donald Trump signed in May.

The ACLU sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over conditions of migrants held in a federal prison in California. The suit alleges that, among other complaints, the prison confiscated all religious items and denied detainees halal and kosher meals.

The New York Times analyzed how the National Prayer Breakfast has turned into a major lobbying event, with power brokers selling tickets and access to the President.

Judicial Branch

An analysis of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s past rulings on cases involving religious freedom indicated that he would likely vote similarly to Anthony Kennedy, who he will replace if confirmed.

An appeals court ruled in favor of the DC Metro transit system, which was sued by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington for rejecting Christmas advertising that it considered religious, violating its advertising policies. Brett Kavanaugh was on the case and looked likely to dissent, but ended his participation after his nomination to the Supreme Court.

The 9th Circuit ruled that a school board’s practice of mid-meeting prayers violated the First Amendment by promoting Christianity and engaging in proselytizing.


PRI covered a conflict between parents in a California school district over how to handle anti-Muslim bullying. Muslim parents wanted sensitivity training specific to Islam, while others objected to collaboration with Islamic organizations.

Other reads

A new study found that Muslim and Protestant scientists at research universities are more likely to report religious discrimination than their peers.