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States brief ~ ACLU sues North Carolina for barring oaths on non-Christian religious texts

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's states brief, the ACLU filed a lawsuit [ACLU news] today against North Carolina asking the court to rule that a "holy scripture" suitable for oath administration includes the religious texts of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and other non-Christian faiths as well as the Christian Bible. Last month, two state judges in Guilford County ruled that an oath on the Koran was not a legal oath under a state law which allows a witness to take their oaths either by laying a hand over a "holy scripture" or by saying "so help me God" without a religious book. The ACLU of North Carolina [website] alleges that denying the use of religious texts other than the Christian Bible violates the US Constitution by favoring Christianity. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...

  • A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Tuesday struck down [decision PDF text] a state law limiting liability in civil cases because the measure was unconstitutionally attached to legislation requiring sex-offenders to submit DNA. Senior Judge James R. Kelly wrote that under the state constitution [PDF text] both parts of the bill "need to relate to one single overarching subject." The law [text] stated that defendants found to be less than 60% liable would not have to pay the full award unless they acted intentionally. Until further legislative action, the decision reinstates the rule that if two or more parties are found negligent in a civil lawsuit, one party may have to pay the entire award. AP has more.

  • The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that a company can fire a pregnant woman for taking more medical leave than the company provides as long as the medical-leave policy is applied evenly to men and women. The court's opinion [PDF text] found the firing was not discriminatory because Hilton Casino's medical-leave policy is "gender neutral" and applied evenly to men and women. In dissent, Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz stated that the apparent neutral policy has a "disparate impact on women" and is discriminatory. The plaintiff, a former employee of the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort [website], was fired after using the maximum 26 weeks of medical-leave provided by the casino for a pregnancy that was accompanied by illness. New Jersey's Star Ledger has local coverage.

  • The North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled [text] that state law requires sex offenders to notify police when they change jobs, even if their residence does not change. Justice Carol Ronning Kapsner wrote for the majority that a reasonable interpretation of the statute [N.D.C.C. Section 12.1-32-15(7) PDF text], whose purpose is to inform law enforcement of the whereabouts of sex offenders, "is that either a change in residence address, or a change in employment address, triggers the statute's requirement (that) the offender must notify law enforcement of the change." The ruling reversed a lower-court decision that law enforcement notification was not necessary when only a job change occurred. AP has more.

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