When may a public facility exclude religion?
VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu
Mon Sep 15 20:06:06 PDT 2008
That the Institute receives government funds is not what makes
it a "public facility" for purposes of applying the First Amendment.
The question is whether the rule is made by the government, or by a
government-*run* institution, in which case the First Amendment would
apply and might well bar such exclusion of religion, or is made by a
privately run institution (even if it gets some government funding).
It's possible that state or federal antidiscrimination statutes
might bar such exclusions even by private entities, though I doubt it.
But the First Amendment wouldn't, so long as the entity is privately run
and makes it exclusionary decisions independently of the government.
See generally Rendell-Baker v. Kohn (1982).
> -----Original Message-----
> From: religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
> [mailto:religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Bryan McGraw
> Sent: Monday, September 15, 2008 7:23 PM
> To: 'Law & Religion issues for Law Academics'
> Subject: When may a public facility exclude religion?
> My sister is getting married next year in Chicago and has
> considered having the ceremony at the Art Institute of
> Chicago. In getting information from the Institute, she
> learned that it has a rule regarding wedding ceremonies that
> states "religious-specific ceremonies are not allowed." The
> Institute receives about 5% of its operating revenue from the
> Chicago Park District (about $6.79 million in 2007, according
> to its own reports available here:
> It's a bit unclear as to what the rule actually means in
> practice, but supposing that it would preclude a wedding
> ceremony presided over by a minister where religious
> ceremonies (prayer, hymns, etc.) would be conducted, does
> such a restriction pass constitutional muster? Should it?
> Bryan McGraw
> Assistant Professor of Political Science Wheaton College
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