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