Tulsa Police Captain Paul Fields sued his department for the discipline he received following his refusal to attend a “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” that was sponsored by the Islamic Society of Tulsa. After losing the case after a ruling issued by a federal court, Fields now hopes his case will make it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In his initial lawsuit, Fields claimed that he objected on religious grounds to orders requiring him to attend or send officers from his division to attending the event. He claims that the department’s punishment, which relieved him of his command and suspended him for 10 days without pay, was a violation of his constitutional religious rights.
Earlier this year, judges ruled that the district acted appropriately in ordering its officers to attend the event at the Islamic mosque. The opinion in that ruling was written by Judge Harris Hartz.
On behalf of Fields, the American Freedom Law Center has since filed a petition for writ of certiorari, requesting the Supreme Court review the ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
“We have argued throughout this case that Capt. Fields was summarily punished for simply raising and asserting a religious objection to the order mandating attendance at the Islamic event, and that such discriminatory treatment violates the First and 14th Amendments,” said the American Freedom Law Center’s Robert Muise, “The court is wrong, and we intend to seek full court review of this patently erroneous decision.”
Fields’s religious objections are atypical, and it will be interesting to see whether or not the Supreme Court responds to the AFLC’s request. According to Rule 10 of the Rules of the U.S. Supreme Court, however, “a petition for writ of ceriorari will be granted only for compelling reasons.”