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Credit Ian Millhiser of Think Progress with the excellent headline that appears above as well as the following story that appeared on the group’s website yesterday:

ROn Tuesday, the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Holt v. Hobbs, establishing that a Muslim inmate may grow a half-inch beard “in accordance with his religious beliefs,” despite a prison policy prohibiting him from doing so. This result is not particularly surprising. During oral argument the justices appeared sympathetic to the inmate, who listed as “Gregory Houston Holt AKA Abdul Maalik Muhammad.” And Mr. Muhammad had strong legal arguments supporting his case.

In the Court’s majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito convincingly rebuts the prison’s justifications for requiring Muhammad to shave. Among other things, the prison claimed that an inmate might hide contraband, such as a razor or illegal drugs, in their beard if they were permitted to grow one. According to Alito, however, the prison’s claim that an inmate might smuggle items in a half-inch beard, is “hard to take seriously.” The prison, for example, does not require inmates to shave their heads, so “it is hard to see why an inmate would seek to hide contraband in a 1/2-inch beard rather than in the longer hair on his head.”

Though Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joins Alito’s opinion, she also penned a two sentence concurring opinion explaining why Tuesday’s decision is a proper application of an individual’s religious freedoms — and why she believes that the Court’s birth control decision in Hobby Lobby was erroneous. “Unlike the exemption this Court approved in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.,” Ginsburg explains, “accommodating petitioner’s religious belief in this case would not detrimentally affect others who do not share petitioner’s belief. On that understanding, I join the Court’s opinion.” Read More

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School-vouchersAs an excellent essay in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer by veteran education policy expert Greg Malhoit makes clear, North Carolina is on the verge of commencing a long, slow-motion disaster with its wrongheaded plunge into the world of school vouchers.

As Malhoit explains in some detail, two of the Wake County schools likely to receive significant public funds if the program goes ahead — Victory Christian Center and  the Al Iman School — make no pretense of offering a secular education. These are explicitly religious schools with specific missions of teaching and indoctrinating students into very specific religious belief systems. Moreover, as he notes: Read More

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As I noted in Wednesday in the Weekly Briefing, North Carolina has been the butt of more national media takedowns of late than Anthony Weiner. Today’s skewering is authored by Dean Obeidallah of the Washington Bureau of the Daily Beast and it’s entitled: “North Carolina, Your Anti-Sharia Law Takes the Cake.” It’s definitely worth your time. Here’s a highlight:

“Why would Republicans in North Carolina feel the need to prevent a threat they admit isn’t real?  Even the North Carolina Bar Association called the legislation unnecessary.

Maybe looking at the legislative history of this proposed bill will give you some insight. The Republican-controlled House’s version also included provisions to restrict a women’s right to an abortion. So in the very same breath these Republicans were trying to prevent Islamic law from being imposed, they were trying to impose Christian law.

No surprise, then, that they fear Muslims will be trying to impose their own religious-based laws—it’s exactly what these Republicans are trying to do.”

Read Obeidallah’s entire post by clicking here.

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Reproductive rights2FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2013            

ACLU: ‘Conscious Protection’ Bill Is Opposite of Religious Liberty
H.B. 730 Would Allow Public Hospital Employees to Refuse Abortion Care & Private Employers to Refuse Contraception Coverage for Women Because of Religious Beliefs

RALEIGH – A bill that would allow public hospital employees to refuse to participate in abortion care and private employers to deny contraception coverage to women because of their personal religious beliefs was approved by North Carolina House Judiciary Committee A today. House Bill 730 now heads to the full House for a vote.

In response, the ACLU of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) released the following statement: Read More