In the Marine Corps case of United States v. Sterling, No. 15-0510/MC (previously discussed here and here and here), CAAF will consider whether (and, if so, how) the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) applies to an order given to the appellant – a Marine Lance Corporal who posted small, sort-of religious signs in her workspace – to remove the signs. In an unpublished opinion (available here) the NMCCA found the order to remove the sign to be lawful and that it didn’t trigger RFRA. CAAF then specified two issues for review:
I. Did appellant establish that her conduct in displaying signs referencing biblical passages in her shared workplace constituted an exercise of religion within the meaning of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-1 (2012), as amended? If so, did the actions of her superior noncommissioned officer in ordering her to take the signs down, and in removing them when she did not, constitute a substantial burden on appellant’s exercise of religion within the meaning of the Act? If so, were these actions in furtherance of a compelling government interest and the least restrictive means of furthering that interest?
II. Did appellant’s superior noncommissioned officer have a valid military purpose in ordering appellant to remove signs referencing biblical passages from her shared workplace?
The Judge Advocate General of the Navy has now certified two additional – but in many ways similar – issues:
I. Did Appellant’s failure to follow an instruction on the accommodation of religious practices impact her claim for relief under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?
II. Did Appellant waive or forfeit her Religious Freedom Restoration Act claim of error by failing to raise it at trial?
Additionally, the appellant has filed her brief on the specified issues. It is available here.