The Catholic Store, Inc. is currently in the midst of a legal battle with the City of Jacksonville, which has recently passed a public-accommodation law that infringes on the store’s religious freedom. The law requires businesses, including religious businesses, to address customers using their preferred pronouns and titles, regardless of their biological sex. While the Catholic bookstore says that it serves and sells to everyone, it cannot use pronouns or titles contrary to customers’ biological sex due to its adherence to Catholic teachings.
The Catholic Store, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleging that the public-accommodation law violates their First Amendment rights. The store wants to put its policy in writing, publish it, and explain its Catholic views on gender identity to customers. However, due to the City of Jacksonville’s law, The Catholic Store, Inc. is prevented from fully expressing its religious beliefs and must contradict the message espoused in the very books it sells.
If the store refuses to comply with the law, it faces severe legal repercussions, including cease-and-desist orders, expensive investigations, hearings, uncapped fines, attorney-fee awards, and unlimited damages. The Catholic Store, Inc. argues that this law violates its religious freedom, and it should not be forced to choose between adhering to its Catholic beliefs and facing legal consequences.
As noted in the lawsuit:
The plaintiff alleges that this civil-rights action raises federal questions under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s federal claims and supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s state claim. The Court has the authority to award the requested declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and costs and attorneys’ fees.
The bookstore is requesting relief from the court in the form of a preliminary and permanent injunction to stop the defendant and any person acting in concert with them from enforcing the Privilege, Denial, and Unwelcome Clauses as applied to Queen of Angels’ constitutionally protected rights, a declaration that these clauses have violated and continue to violate Queen of Angels’ constitutional and statutory rights.
While this should not be seen as an endorsement of Catholic teachings or the Catholic Church, the lawsuit is still relevant to all of us. The Catholic Store, Inc.’s lawsuit is an important case that highlights the crucial role of religious freedom in the United States. This case will be heard in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, and it remains to be seen how the court will rule on this issue.