The organization is fighting potential lawsuits from Masterson’s rape accusers, who say Scientologists stalked and harassed them.
As “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson waits for his serial rape trial to begin this fall, a separate series of lawsuits regarding his sexual assault allegations are making their way through the California court system (via Variety).
Several of Masterson’s accusers said the Church of Scientology, of which Masterson is a member, mounted a campaign of harassment and harassment against them. The women are former Scientologists, and the church says anyone who joins the organization is required to settle all disputes with Scientology through a religious arbitration process that exists outside of the legal system. Because the women have all left the church, they have no interest in participating in such a process. But the church argues they are still bound by their original agreement.
The California Court of Appeals has previously ruled against the Church of Scientology, saying its attempts to bind its members to unbreakable, lifetime contracts are illegal.
“We find that once the petitioners terminated their membership in the Church, they were not bound by its dispute resolution procedures to resolve the claims at issue here, which are based on alleged tortious conduct. occurred after their separation from the Church and do not involve resolution. of ecclesiastical matters,” the court wrote. “Indeed, Scientology suggests that one of the costs of adhering to one’s religion (or obtaining a single religious service) is eternal submission to a religious forum – a sub silentio waiver of the petitioners’ constitutional right to extricate themselves of faith. The Constitution forbids such a high price.
Now, the Church of Scientology is challenging that decision, saying its First Amendment rights as a religious organization have been violated. The church has filed a new writ of certiorari in hopes the California Supreme Court will intervene.
“The notice arms the First Amendment against religious liberty, asserting that the First Amendment requires limitations applicable only to religious arbitration agreements — not secular ones,” the church wrote. He argued that he had the right to enforce these highly unusual contracts for reasons related to the separation of church and state.
“The idea that the First Amendment empowers the state to regulate the covenant between a church and its congregation could not be more wrong or dangerous,” the church argued. “Religious organizations need this Court to remove any doubt that their contracts – including their agreements to arbitrate disputes before a religious forum – cannot be voided by a party’s declared change of mind. .”
Opponents of the church say it doesn’t have much of a case because it is appealing an unpublished ruling that doesn’t set a precedent for future court cases. It is therefore unlikely that the California Supreme Court will reconsider the decision.