Have a Delicious Weekend.

What are you up to this weekend? I’m going for a bike ride with my friend tonight, and I’m also looking forward to starting this book, which has been getting rave reviews.… Read more
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On Friendship

We feature an illustration by the wonderful Mari Andrew every Friday morning. Here’s today’s.
P.S. A personality quiz, and a funny thing about getting older.… Read more
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In Islamic Center of Nashville v. Sate of Tennessee, (6th Cir., Sept. 20, 2017), the U.S. 6th Circuit court of Appeals held that the federal Tax Injunction Act (TIA) bars suit in federal court challenging Tennessee’s application of its property tax exemption rules to property of an Islamic Center.  To finance construction of a new school, the Islamic Center entered a 5-year ijara agreement– an Islamic financing method that relies on a temporary sale and lease-back arrangement with a bank to avoid borrowing at interest.  The county removed the property’s tax exemption for the period that title was technically held in the bank’s name.  The court held that because state law provides a plain, speedy, and efficientalternative to federal court review of the county’s assessment of taxes on the Islamic Center, that is the route that plaintiff must take. There is no special exception to the TIA for First Amendment claims.

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Today two same-sex couples and a Michigan taxpayer filed suit in a Michigan federal district court challenging the state’s practice of contracting out foster-care and adoptive placement to social service agencies that apply religious criteria in placing children.  Statutes passed the state legislature in 2015 approve this practice.  The complaint (full text) in Dumont v. Lyon, (ED MI, filed 9/20/2017), alleges that religiously affiliated agencies’ practice of turning away qualified families on the basis of sexual orientation, violates the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.  ACLU issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.

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In June, Equality Michigan wrote the Michigan Civil Rights Commission asking it to issue an interpretative statement finding that the ban on sex discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act covers discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. (Full text of letter.)  As reported by MLive, on Monday the Commission held a lengthy hearing on the request, but took no final action after an Assistant Attorney General told the Commission that lacks legal authority to issue an interpretive statement. A frustrated Commission voted 5-2 to ask the Attorney General for a formal opinion on its authority.

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