SCOTUS First Amendment Duo: Of Crosses and Cable Access

Rounding out its current term, the U.S. Supreme Court recently issued two First Amendment rulings affecting the government’s intersection with private interests such as religion and freedom of expression. These rulings reflect the Court’s tensions on First Amendment issues, with a demonstrated willingness to abandon the long-questioned Lemon test for Establishment Clause religion cases as well as divergent views on when a private party becomes a “state actor” and therefore subject to First Amendment constraints. We address each decision in turn.

Clergy as Mandated Reporters, Without Exception?

Amid continuing revelations of child sexual abuse committed by clergy members, some states are rejecting such exception and requiring clergy to report information received through personal confessions – or possibly face criminal fines and jail. With pertaining bills passing in the Illinois House of Representatives and California Senate, this trend reflects sharp tensions between important interests: government deference to religious liberty freedoms and government interests in protecting vulnerable persons from harm.