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AA and The U.S. Constitution

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Taxpayer Funded AA/12 Step Treatment Centers Violates First Amendment

Posted by Live_free_or_die on October 14, 2012 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (263)

DeStefano v. Emergency Housing Group, Inc. 247 F. 3d 397 - Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, 2001 Held that New York taxpayer funds used to fund, in part, AA/12 Step program was a violation of the First Amendment.



Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. McCallum 179 F. Supp. 2d 950 - Dist. Court, WD Wisconsin, 2002



AA Held Not to be Religious

Posted by Live_free_or_die on October 14, 2012 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (6)

James STAFFORD, Plaintiff, v. Delane HARRISON, et al., Defendants.No. 88-3027-S 766 F.Supp. 1014 (1991). Held that AA was not a religion and no violation of first amendment.


Glenside Center, Inc. v. Abington Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd., 973 A.2d 10, 15 n.11 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2009) Held that AA was not a religioun with respect to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act:


AA/NA 5th Step Confession Held Not Priviliged

Posted by Live_free_or_die on October 13, 2012 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Cox v. Miller, 296 F.3d 89, 89 (2d Cir. 2002) Holding that a confession to murder in an AA meeting was not protected by cleric-congregant privilege, despite 5th step requiring participant to admit to God, other human beings, and themselves the exact nature of their wrongs.




U.S. v. Schwensow, 151 F.3d 650 (7th Cir. 1998) AA volunteer phone operators, were not counselors or therapists.




State v. Boobar, 637 A.2d 1162 (Me. 1994) Under Maine evidentiary privilege statute, therapist-patient privilege not apply to AA peer group sessions.


AA/NA Attendence Held to Not Violate First Amendment

Posted by Live_free_or_die on October 13, 2012 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (4)

Norton v. Kootenai County, CV09-58-N-EJL (D. Idaho 9-11-2009) Where claimant originally asked to go to facility that used AA, and never notified his probation officer of his religious objection to going to AA meetings, no First Amendment violation.



In re Garcia, 24 P.3d 1091, 1091 (Wash. Ct. App. 2001) Given the non-religious classes available to Garcia, we conclude that DOC did not coerce him into participating in a religious program.




Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. McCallum, No. 00-C-617-C (W. D. Wis. 2002) No First Amendment violation, when secular alternative available.



O’Connor v. California, 855 F. Supp. 303, 308 (C.D. Cal. 1994) Finding that the Establishment Clause was not violated because the DUI probationer had several choices of programs, including self-help programs that are not premised on monotheistic deity.


AA/NA Violates First Amendment

Posted by Live_free_or_die on October 13, 2012 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (1)

Hazle v. Crofoot, 2:08-cv-02295-GEB-KJM (E. D. Calif. 4-6-2010) Granting summary judgment for plaintiff on his claim that forcing him into a 12 step religious based treatment program, when he was an atheist, was a violation of the First Amendment.



Hanas v. Inner City Christian Outreach, 542 F. Supp. 2d 683, 683 (E.D. Mich. 2008) Holding that the drug court program manager and the drug court consultant were liable for actions related to referral to faith based program, when they knew of participant’s objections while in the program, and when the program denied the participant the opportunity to practice his chosen faith – Catholicism.



Americans United v. Prison Fellowship, 509 F.3d 406, 406 (8th Cir. 2007) Holding that a state supported non-coercive, non-rewarding faith based program violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution because an alternative was not available.

http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1650492194115222295&q=509+F.3d+406&hl=en&as_sdt=2,6 ;


Inouye v. Kemna, 504 F.3d 705, 705 (9th Cir. 2007) Concluding that parole officer had lost qualified immunity because he forced AA on Buddhist.



Turner v. Hickman, 342 F. Supp.2d 887 (E. D. Calif. 9-30-2004) Granting injunction in prisoners favor, which removed any non-compliance with NA from his record and required secular option, even though secular alternative now available because without injunction “it would leave defendants free to return to their old ways.”



Bausch v. Sumiec, 139 F. Supp. 2d 1029, 1029 (E.D. Wis. 2001) An offender cannot be said to have freely chosen a religiously-oriented treatment program as an alternative to revocation unless a meaningful secular alternative is also offered.



Alexander v. Schenk, 118 F. Supp. 2d 298, 300 n.1 (N.D. NY 2000) The sincerity of Plaintiff's professed religious beliefs has no bearing on the Constitutional issue of whether Defendants coerced him into participating in religion or its exercise.



Yates v. Cunningham, 70 F. Supp. 2d 47, 49 (D.N.H. 1999) Injunctive relief was moot remedy and damages barred by immunity, when defendant sought order barring defendants from conditioning early release or parole on a prisoner's attendance at AA-based programs, and forcing defendants to recognize Rational Recovery as a viable alternative to AA-based programs.



Arnold v. Tenn. Bd. of Trs., 956 S.W. 2d 478, 484 (Tenn. 1997) Mandating a religious based 12 step program without a secular alternative violates the Establishment Clause.



Warner v. Orange County Dep’t of Prob., 115 F.3d 1068, 1068 (2d Cir. 1997), aff’d, 173 F.3d 120 (2d Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1003 (1999) Holding that the county governmental agency violated the Establishment Clause by requiring DUI probationer to participate in A.A.



Warburton v. Underwood, 2 F. Supp. 2d 306, 316-318 (W.D.N.Y 1998) The emphasis placed on God, spirituality and faith in a "higher power" by twelve-step programs such as A.A. or N.A. clearly supports a determination that the underlying basis of these programs is religious and that participation in such programs constitutes a religious exercise. It is an inescapable conclusion that coerced attendance at such programs therefore violates the Establishment Clause.



Griffin v. Coughlin, 673 N.E.2d 98, 98 (N.Y. 1996), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 1054 (1997) Holding that conditioning desirable privilege – family visitation – on prisoner’s participation in program that incorporated Alcoholics Anonymous doctrine was unconstitutional because it violated the Establishment Clause.



Kerr v. Farrey, 95 F.3d 472, 479-80 (7th Cir. 1996) Holding that the prison violated the Establishment Clause by requiring attendance at Narcotics Anonymous meetings which used “God” in its treatment approach.



Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and the U.S. Constitutiuon

Posted by Live_free_or_die on October 13, 2012 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (3)

There is a concept here in the United States that states that there is to be a separation of church and state in all things government. This means, generally, that the state cannot force an individual to practice a given religion, or the state cannot preclude the practice of a given religion. For purposes of discussion here “state” is defined as the U.S. Government or one of the fifty states and includes the various U.S. possessions or territories. This concept is embodied in the First Amendment, a part of the Bill of Rights.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution contains two provisions that address the religion issue. The two provisions are known as the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Basically, taken together, these two Clauses say that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The U.S. Supreme Court’s first look at the Free Exercise Clause was in 1878 (Reynolds v. United States).


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is program that was introduced by William Griffith Wilson (Bill W.) in 1935. AA is purported to help the alcohol abuser. The AA program is based on a concept that Bill W. incorporated into AA – The Higher Power. This Higher Power is based on a supposed power greater than ourselves. This power is also called God in most circles. AA has, since 1935, claimed that the program is spiritual, not religious. AA is based on a program that Bill W. wrote in the late 1930’s that described a successive 12 Step program of spiritual enlightening that ultimately should result in a “spiritual experience”.

The 12 Steps of AA contain the word God in four of the Steps, one reference to God as “Him”, and infers God in one step by referring to a Higher Power. God is mentioned, referenced or is inferred to in six of the 12 Steps. Is AA religious, and not spiritual?


The first question of the true nature of AA was first heard in 1988. In Youle v. Edgar, 526 NE 2d 894 - Ill: Appellate Court, 4th Dist. 1988. The Youle case touched briefly on the subject of AA being religious in nature and therefore a violation of the First Amendment. However, in this case, AA was ruled not religious in nature. In addition, AA was not forced on the plaintiff.


However, there have been a number of cases that have found AA is religious in nature and the coercion of the individuals to AA were found to be a violation of the First Amendment. Some of these cases have been decided at the state level and others have been in the federal courts. The cases of special interest are the cases that have been decided at the United States Courts of Appeals.


These United States Courts of Appeals cases are of special interest because these courts are the last court before a case can go before the U. S. Supreme Court. Furthermore, the Courts of Appeals divide the United States into 11 Circuits of Courts of Appeals. A decision in a Circuit court will not necessarily be followed in other Districts.

The State of the Law: 2008

A Cumulative Report on Legal Developments Affecting Government Partnerships With Faith-Based Organizations