INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys for a homeschooling group and the family of
a girl with a food allergy argued before the Indiana Supreme Court Monday
over whether the group's religious rights trump the rights of someone
At issue is
Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Society's decision to expel the
girl's family when the family complained about the group's refusal to
provide an alternative meal at a dinner-dance event that it organized for
homeschooled children. The group provides social activities for
homeschooled students from 11 families.
court documents, the girl has a condition that can cause a
"life-threatening allergic reaction if she eats certain foods." The girl's
mother asked the group to provide an alternative meal at the dinner-dance,
the documents said. Instead, the organization told the mother she could
bring food for the girl. After the family complained to the state, they
were expelled from the group.
found FACES had adequately accommodated the girl but had illegally
retaliated against the family because they complained.
Gillen called the state's action an "unprecedented intrusion" into the
group's private decision-making.
"We believe civil
rights law has been applied in a way that is inconsistent with religious
liberty," said Gillen, an attorney for the Thomas More Society, a
Chicago-based law firm whose website says it "exists to restore respect in
law for life, marriage, and religious liberty."
Nettles, representing the girl, told the justices the case was about
discrimination against people with disabilities, not freedom of religion.
doesn't relate to religion, it relates to disability," he said.
prodded both lawyers with questions and hypothetical scenarios, mostly
centered on when a group has the right to exclude people from membership
for whatever reason.