Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bear Lodge v. Babbitt [Bear Lodge II] case brief summary

Bear Lodge v. Babbitt [Bear Lodge II] case brief summary

  • Site sacred to approximately 20 tribes, part of a national monument, a famous climbing site – climbing season is very short and conflicts with the early summer time at which the sight is most important to tribes
  • National Park Service comes up with a plan with environmental aspects (not being challenged) and with protections for tribal use during early summer (initially a mandatory ban, then a voluntary ban with signage)
  • 8 commercial climbing guides at the time, 7 agree to comply with voluntary ban; one climbing guide and an organization challenge the ban
  • Elements of an Establishment Law Claim:
    • Purpose of fostering/favoring?
    • Effect of fostering/favoring?
    • Excessive entanglement?
    • If yes to any = unconstitutional
  • Government may accommodate religion, but can’t establish/promote religion; very thin line
  • Permanent Ban: purpose of promoting a religion, effect of promoting a religion (would coerce climbing guides – legal consequences) – would be unconstitutional
  • Voluntary Ban: Plaintiffs haven’t established standing (for signage); Voluntary closure during June: (1) purpose to promote religion? No – purpose is to remove barriers to the exercise of religion = accommodation, (2) effect to promote religion? No – no coercion is occurring = accommodation, (3) excessive entanglement? No – largely based on the intersection of religion and culture for tribes

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