Does the Supreme Court’s Recent Prayer Decision Affect Public Schools?

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from establishing religion, is fraught with controversy. Over the years, many different conclusions have been drawn from the text of the Establishment Clause and those differences have only grown more pronounced and divisive over time. And, of course, public schools are a well-established battlefield in the Establishment Clause wars. Accordingly, it is reasonable to assume school administrators will be fielding questions based on the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in Town of Greece, New York v Galloway, et al., Case No 12-696 (May 5, 2014), which held public prayers at town council meetings did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Galloway arose from the town counsel’s practice of inviting local clergy to open regular meetings with a prayer. The town’s population was overwhelming Christian and so was its clergy. Thus, all the prayers were offered by Christian clergy. Some were non-denominational while others were clearly Christian. Plaintiffs sued, claiming the town’s practice violated the Establishment Clause. Read more here.

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Supreme Court Holds WPA Does Not Apply To Nonrenewals

Michigan’s Supreme Court recently held that the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (WPA) does not apply to an employer’s decision not to renew an employee’s contract.  Wurtz v Beecher Metropolitan District, Case No. 146157 (April 25, 2014).

The facts of the Wurtz case were unusual.  The employer in that case (Beecher) was a governmental entity that managed water and sewage for part of Genesee County.  The employee (Wurtz) was a lawyer, who had represented Beecher for several years before Beecher hired him to serve as its administrator pursuant to a ten year contract drafted by Wurtz. Read more here.

Federal District Court Rejects Gist of Unions’ Right-to-Work Challenge

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan recently issued an opinion rejecting the gist of a challenge to Michigan’s Right-to-Work Law mounted by a consortium of Michigan unions (Michigan State AFL-CIO, et al. v Callaghan, et al.). The court’s decision, which came in response to a motion to dismiss, characterized the unions’ arguments as creative and sophisticated.  They were not, however, persuasive with respect to those provisions of Michigan’s Right-to-Work Law that forbid: conditioning employment on the payment of union dues or other fees; and, providing civil and criminal remedies for and against those who violate the Act. Read more here.