Trinity Lutheran Pops Up in Latest Religion Case

In the veritable blizzard of this year’s end-of-term Supreme Court rulings - which is not over yet - is a significant First Amendment/religious liberty case:  Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, (full text).  Handed down on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, the decision was a 5-4 win from the right-wing of the Court.  Simply put, “religious schools should have the same access to scholarships and funds as other Read More

Recent Court Cases: Philanthropy-Related

The “eds and meds” is a popular shorthand phrase for two types of powerhouse community institutions: higher education and medical centers. They are generally the biggest employers in a particular locale and strongly influence the economic vitality of a region.  Most - though not all - are nonprofit organizations exempt from tax under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).  It’s been awhile since we’ve Read More

Gorillas, Guerrillas, and 501(c)(3)s

Several months ago, we posted Monkey Gets Day in Court, the years-long tale about “a crested macaque monkey called Naruto [who] lived peaceably, minding his own business, among others of his endangered species” in Indonesia, when he encountered a camera on a tripod set up by a British wildlife photographer. A selfie was taken. [We use the passive voice here in one of the few officially sanctioned ways: when the Read More

Court Rules Affiliated Nonprofits Protected from Creditors

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an important ruling that has “major implications for nonprofit organizations” including the many groups around the nation that are organized - to a more or less degree - on the parent/subsidiary model. In re The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Case No. 17-1079 (April 26, 2018) involved a scenario now, sadly, all too familiar: a deluge of sex-abuse Read More

Monkey Gets Day in Court

  "A monkey walked into a bar... " The joke should continue: "Showing the bartender a photo, the primate said: 'Hey, look at my selfie. I posted it online and it's already going viral!'" There was no bar, of course, and monkeys can't talk. But several years ago in Indonesia, a monkey did take a selfie. The selfie was posted online. It went viral. It made money and - because it made money - there was, of Read More

The End of the Berkshire Museum Saga: Everyone Loses

Last summer, the directors of the Berkshire Museum in lovely Pittsfield, Massachusetts, abruptly announced a momentous - previously secret - decision to sell off artwork worth over $50 million. These paintings include “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” (1950), “[a]n undisputed masterpiece by Norman Rockwell [which] was donated to the museum by the artist himself in 1958.” The sell-off, according to the board, was to fix what Read More

Religious Nonprofits in the Trinity Lutheran Era

On June 26, 2017, the United States Supreme Court issued what has been described as "one of the most important rulings on religious rights in decades." In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, Chief Justice John Roberts explains that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment "...protects religious observers against unequal treatment.” The government “may not deny a church an otherwise available public Read More

Lawsuit Against GuideStar Gets Tossed

In GuideStar, ‘Hate Groups,’ Death Threats & A Lawsuit, we told you about that prominent organization’s long hot summer of 2017. GuideStar is a 501(c)(3) whose purpose is “to encourage philanthropy by providing information about nonprofits that members of the public can use to make educated and informed decisions about their relationships with and donations to these nonprofits.” Concerned about the Read More

Gender Discrimination Lawsuit at Salk Institute

Recognized around the world as a leading scientific research center, with Nobel laureates making “groundbreaking, fundamental discoveries,” the Salk Institute for Biological Studies was founded in the 1960s by the revered developer of the polio vaccine, Dr. Jonas Salk. These distinguished researchers do their important work in a “modern architectural treasure” on a hilltop in the scenic seaside town of La Jolla, Read More

Charities in the Courtroom, Pt 16: Charity Wins Subpoena Challenge

Around the nation, attorneys general are the chief law enforcement officers of their states. They have wide-ranging areas of responsibility; that has become clear in national news reports recently of coalitions of these top cops banding together, for instance, to oppose new federal executive orders and regulations or to fight interstate drug and human trafficking. There have also been successful, multi-state Read More