Legal Update – February 2022

Update by

Prof. William Wagner

WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at SAU

Updated February 1, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court Cases:

In addition to the cases below, we are following or are participating in a number of upcoming US Supreme Court cases.  These case involve a football coached punished for praying on a football field; a government forum that allows any flag to fly except a Christian one; a case involving religious freedom of business owners, and a case involving the inherent dignity of all human being under attack via special government preferences in university admissions.  More on these cases soon.  In the meantime, here is an update of our some of our current and most recent fights for faith and freedom:

Fighting for Unborn Children in SCOTUS

Dobbs v Jackson Womens Health – Prof. Wagner and our Justice Center represented the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Right to Life (MI), a National Bioethics Center and other pro-life physicians in the Supreme Court of the United States.

  1. Initial SCOTUS Brief

In our initial brief, we successfully helped to get the Court to certify an issue for review that did not, for the first time, pre-suppose the existence of a constitutional right to abort an unborn child.

  1. Merits SCOTUS Brief

In our later brief on the merits, we argue that State governments hold a profound governmental interest in protecting the inherent value of unborn children. This case holds the best chance ever to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Fighting for Religious Freedom in Foster Care

 Fulton v. Philidelphia, (No. 19-431) (2020) –The Justice Center filed a Supreme Court brief in support of a challenge to Philadelphia’s exclusion of a Christian organization from the foster care system. The city excluded this faith-based organization because of its religious tenets.

Praise report: The Supreme Court held that the government violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment — by refusing to contract with a Christian group for foster care services unless the Christian group agreed to certify same-sex couples as foster parents in violation of its religious beliefs.

Fighting for Religious Freedom of Pro-Lifers

Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, et al. (No. 19-431) (2020) (representing Christian Business Owners Supporting Religious Freedom). The question before the Court was whether the federal government could lawfully accommodate Christian organizations with a religious objection to abortion, from having to comply with the HHS Mandate requiring businesses to provide health plans that include contraceptive coverage? In this case we argued to the Court that the Executive Branch could do so, and that it would be unlawful not to do so.

Praise Report: The Supreme Court held that the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury had authority under the Affordable Care Act to promulgate rules exempting employers with religious or moral objections from providing contraceptive coverage to their employees.


Fighting to Overturn Roe v Wade

June Medical Services v. Gee (No. 18-1323 & 18-1460) (2019) (representing Right to Life) The question before the Court is whether Roe v Wade should be overruled. In this case we asked the Court to overrule Roe v Wade because the 14th Amendment does not include a liberty interest right to abort an unborn child. We ask the Court to overturn Roe – the diabolical decision judicially creating the “right” to kill a person’s son or daughter in utero. In the alternative we asked the Court to uphold a pro-life law requiring abortion providers to hold local hospital privileges.

Praise Report: While the majority opinion of the Court chose not address the viability of Roe here, we moved some of the Court with our arguments, setting the stage for the Dobbs case (see above).


Fighting for Religious Freedom of Business Owners

R.G. & GR Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC (No.18-107) The question before the Court was whether the Court of Appeals improperly usurped power reserved to the Congress and President when it judicially amended Title VII to add transgender classifications? In this case we presented arguments to the Supreme Court that the US Court of Appeals improperly usurped power reserved to the Congress and President. Unfortunately, the Court here (over significant dissent and factual proof) said that the word “sex” in Title VII did not mean biological (male and female), but instead included transgender.

Note: The same issue is being argued in our state case based upon Michigan’s Civil Rights Law:

Rouch World v. MI Dept. of Civil Rights. Oral arguments before the MI Supreme Court are currently set for March 2, 2022.

Michigan’s governor, attorney general, and the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) continue to defy the rule of law in the area of religious freedom. Michigan law properly prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, and religion. The Michigan legislature repeatedly voted not to add special classifications used by authorities to infringe on religious conscience and expression (e.g., sexual orientation; gender identity). The executive branch continues, with no legal authorization, to operate as if the legislature amended the law to allow for religious persecution. As in previous years the Justice Center participated in hearings and legislative oversight of the AG and MCRC in connection with their misuse of power. The Justice Center currently represents two different Christian family businesses being investigated by the MCRC for exercising their sincerely held religious beliefs by choosing not to participate in a same-sex wedding.

Other Court Cases / Legal Matters:

The Justice Center continues to serve as the first line of protection for unborn children, freedom of religion, expression, and other constitutional liberties. We are the leading organization fighting to preserve good governance under the rule of law. We engaged the culture through legal representation and other activities at local, state, and national forums. Here are some of the matters on which we are on the front lines.

Baby Karungi Case – The Justice Center represents the mother and unborn human embryo where the issue before the court is whether the unborn child is a human being worthy of legal protection.

Praise Report: A victory in the State Court of Appeals opened the door for the trial court to address the issue of whether the unborn human embryo is a human life worthy of legal protection. However, the trial judge declined to rule on the issue and said it was strictly a contract issue. So, now a third appeal has been filed with the Court of Appeals.

  • Note: Dan Marsh was the lead attorney for Ms. Karungi until he tragically passed away last year after a brief fight with cancer. After the Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the trial court in August of 2021, Great Lakes Justice Center agreed to step in and represent Ms. Karungi.

Pro Life Speech Case – The Justice Center represents pro-life Christian students at Hope College. The College seeks to punish the students for sharing, (in the public square off campus), their sincerely held personal Christian beliefs on the value of human life.

Government Vaccination Mandates Substantially Interfered with the Free Exercise of Religious Conscience.

Our Justice Center assisted thousands of individuals facing government mandates that forced them to choose between following their sincerely held religious beliefs and keeping their jobs or attending school. In many of these matters we assisted religious people as they drafted their request for religious accommodation from being forced to accept medical vaccination.

Praise Report: 100% of those government employees or students who we helped to seek a religious accommodation received one, enabling them to keep their jobs, scholarships, and student status without violating their religious beliefs.


Private Vaccination Mandates Substantially Interfered with the Free Exercise of Religious Conscience.

Our Justice Center assisted hundreds of individuals facing private business mandates forcing them to choose between following their sincerely held religious beliefs or keeping their jobs.

Praise Report: We assisted/represented hundreds of Christian nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals (all who served on the front lines during the worst of the COVID outbreak) when they were told by Henry Ford Hospitals and Ascension Hospitals they would be fired if they did not reject their sincerely held religious beliefs. Henry Ford and Ascension acquiesced, and all have kept their positions without being forced to violate their sincerely held religious conscience.


NCAA Division I Christian Athletes at Western Michigan University Benched for their Religious Beliefs

Our Justice Center represented Christian athletes at various universities facing government mandates that forced them to choose between following their sincerely held religious beliefs and refusing vaccination or participating in inter-collegiate athletics.

Praise Reports: We first won a Temporary Restraining Order ordering WMU to allow the Christian athletes to continue participating in intercollegiate athletics pending a hearing on a Preliminary Injunction. We then won a Preliminary Injunction ordering the university to allow the Christian athletes to continue participating in intercollegiate athletics during the pendency of the case.  When the university appealed, we won a decision in the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upholding the Christian students’ religious liberty. The ruling was the first in the country to stop a vaccine mandate. The Court of Appeals decisively held that the First Amendment limits the exercise of government power. The US Court of Appeal’s published its ruling which means it is mandatory precedent for all of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan. WMU then agreed to a Permanent Injunction where the Christian students may continue to fully participate in intercollegiate sports without violating their religious conscience. WMU also agreed to pay attorney fees.


Since this 6th Circuit ruling, many other universities have allowed athletes to participate without violating their religious conscience by being forced to accept vaccination.

Resurrection School Masking Children Case.

Great Lakes Justice Center filed lawsuit on behalf of a Christian school, parents and children in connection with abuse of power by Michigan’s governor, health director, attorney general and others. This case takes us into the classroom of a private, religious school and asks who is in the best position to make decisions pertaining to the religious education of the young children seated in its desks: the children’s parents who know and love them and the religious school selected by the family to shepherd and care for them, or a public official in an office in the State Capital who has never met the children or stepped foot in the school. We are currently in the US Court of Appeals awaiting en banc review. We obtained approval of the 6th Circuit to review the matter en banc, which means every appellate judge on the bench will hear and decide the case. This procedure is rarely granted, and we appreciate the court taking the case seriously. Oral argument will be held sometime this spring.

Praise Report: The States of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee have joined our case in support of our clients. Each state has filed amicus briefs in support of our legal arguments.


Good Governance/ Election Integrity Cases.

Our Justice Center filed a number of major cases fighting for the constitutional right to election integrity, sometimes fighting all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court. Our credible and truthful evidence of election irregularities was cited and used (and continues to be used) throughout the US in various courts and legislative proceedings.

  • Integrity Case #1. GLJC represented African-American voters disenfranchised by voter fraud.
  • Integrity Case #2. GLJC represented voters disenfranchised by voter fraud. The Chief Judge of the Wayne County Circuit Court affirmed the Constitutional Right to an election audit to be carried out by the Michigan Secretary of State.
  • Praise Report: The courts confirmed the Constitutional Right to an audit exists. (note: we are not associated with any of the cases where the conduct of the lawyers was found to be lacking).
  • Integrity Case #3. In another election integrity case our Justice Center represented a Christian woman employed by the government as an election official.  The government fired her because she wore at the polling place a t-shirt that said, “Jesus Saves.”
  • Praise Report: After we filed a federal lawsuit the court entered a judgment against the government for violating our client’s First Amendment rights. The government also agreed to pay attorney fees.


HHS Mandate case Requiring Business Owner’s Health Insurance Coverage to pay for Abortions.

Our Justice Center represented a Christian businessman facing millions of dollars in fines for his exercise of religious conscience. His unwillingness to participate in paying for the abortions of his employees collided with government mandates imposed by ObamaCare.

Praise Report: Our Justice Center won this case in 2020. The Government admitted to violating our client’s freedom of religion and agreed to pay attorney fees.


Pastors/Churches Case.

When the Governor issued decrees making it a crime for individuals to travel to or attend church worship because of the Covid-19 virus, we sued in Federal Court.

Praise Report: The Governor acquiesced the day after we filed suit and amended her Executive Orders making it legal for individuals to travel to and attend church. This left the decision to churches, synagogues, and mosques as to whether they would be open.


Williamston School Board Case.

 The School Board enacted politically charged sexuality policies. These policies substantially infringe on the free exercise of religious conscience and expression. The policies also authorize things like men using the girls’ bathroom and showers and allowing men to identify as girls in scholastic athletic events. In 2020, the Justice Center assisted parents and the community in responding to the abuse of governmental power, including in a federal lawsuit against the school board. The trial Court deferred to act until more specific harm could be shown.

America’s Barber Case.

Michigan barber Karl Manke cut hair in First Amendment protest against Governor Whitmer’s unconstitutional executive orders – resulting in criminal charges, summary business license revocation, etc.

Praise Report: Karl won dismissals of the criminal charges and efforts to shut down his business. The Justice Center continues to assist on the Free Speech aspects of this case, fighting all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court where a victory there allowed Karl to remain open.

Spangler’s Case.

In this case we worked with Hillsdale College to support and represent a local business facing government abuse of power; Our Justice Center represented the business before various government agencies.

Praise Report: We stopped the government from closing illegally closing the business, obtaining a positive result for Spanglers — which ultimately resulted in the government ending its prosecution of similarly situated businesses in the State.

In addition to all the above activity, Great Lakes Justice Center handled hundreds of contacts and phone calls from people needing help who we were able to assist without having to resort to litigation. We always try to resolve matters through persuasion, demand letters, and other means, before ever filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits are always a last resort, but we will litigate to protect constitutional rights when needed.


About the Author

Prof. William Wagner
WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at SAU
Professor Wagner holds the WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at Spring Arbor University. He has a special interest in building and preserving environments where Christians may share the Good News of Jesus, free from persecution and oppression.

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