Basketball tournaments on the Sabbath
aebrownstein at ucdavis.edu
Fri Mar 2 13:35:05 PST 2012
A somewhat similar lawsuit was litigated by students attending the Portland Adventist Academy (and their parents) against the Oregon State Activities Association which is a state actor. After 8 years of litigation, the students succeeded in their state anti-discrimination claims. See Nakashima v. Bd. Of Educ., 334 Or. 487 (2008)
From: religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [mailto:religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Douglas Laycock
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2012 11:48 AM
To: 'Law & Religion issues for Law Academics'
Subject: Basketball tournaments on the Sabbath
Some of you may have seen the story in the Times the other day about the Beren Hebrew Academy in Houston, whose basketball team has reached the state semi-finals of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools tournament. The semifinal game was scheduled for tonight; the Academy is Orthodox and observant, and could not play. The other school was willing to reschedule, but the TAPPS Board voted 8-0 not to allow that. Most TAPPS members are church affiliated, and as a matter of policy, it never schedules games on Sunday.
Beren parents and students filed a lawsuit this morning in the Northern District of Texas, alleging unconstitutional religious discrimination, Texas RFRA, and breach of contract (based on a provision in the TAPPS bylaws). The complaint's state action theory was that the game was scheduled to be played in a public school gym, which is surely not enough. The contract claim looked stronger, judging only by the complaint.
Richard Friedman at Michigan tells me that TAPPS caved as soon as the complaint was filed, and that the game will begin imminently and will be completed before sunset. If your position is utterly untenable as a matter of public relations, it may not matter that the other side's state action theory is very weak. But they had to file the lawsuit before common sense could prevail.
Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law
University of Virginia Law School
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
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