Filed Date: Dec. 22, 2022
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This is a case about whether Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which, in 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court interpreted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, unconstitutionally infringed on religious liberty. On December 22, 2022, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Sacred Heart, alongside its school, Sacred Heart Academy, and several individual Sacred Heart members (collectively “Sacred Heart”), sued the Michigan Attorney General, Department of Civil Rights, and Civil Rights Commission under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Sacred Heart claimed that application of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment, education, and public accommodation interfered with its ability to practice its Catholic beliefs. In particular, Sacred Heart alleged that it could not at once comply with the Act’s prohibitions on discrimination and limit enrollment, hiring, and/or use of space (including bathrooms) to form an “intentional Catholic community” in line with Catholic values. Therefore, Sacred Heart claimed that the Act violated its free speech and free religious exercise rights as well as associational and parental rights. Represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, Sacred Heart sought declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and costs and attorneys’ fees. Also on December 22, 2022, Sacred Heart filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the state from enforcing the expanded Act against them.
The case was first assigned to District Court Judge Robert J. Jonker and then reassigned to District Court Judge Jane M. Beckering and Magistrate Judge Phillip J. Green. As of January 2023, the case is ongoing and the preliminary injunction motion remains pending.
Elizabeth Lewis (1/23/2023)
Elizabeth Lewis (1/29/2023)
See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/66678379/sacred-heart-of-jesus-parish-grand-rapids-v-nessel/
Last updated Jan. 23, 2023, 4:19 p.m.
State / Territory: Michigan
Filing Date: Dec. 22, 2022
Case Ongoing: Yes
A religious organization, its school, and multiple private plaintiffs who are members of the religious organization.
Non-profit religious organization
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Michigan Attorney General, State
Michigan Department of Civil Rights, State
Causes of Action:
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Prevailing Party: None Yet / None
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Type of Facility: