The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit filed by the Islamic group American Freedom Defense Initiative against Texas over its anti-sharia legislation, which would prohibit citizens from wearing or praying in public places or from practicing their faith.
A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the state’s anti-discrimination law does not violate the First Amendment, which protects free speech and religious freedom.
However, that ruling may be reversed if a federal appeals court upholds the lower court.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of five Americans, challenges a Texas law that prohibits “face coverings, burqas, face covering clothing, face coverings hats, and any other face covering covering apparel or accessories.”
The law would also outlaw wearing “face covering clothing that covers or conceals the nose, mouth, mouth part of the face, or chin area,” and would make it a felony to wear a mask or face covering to cover one’s face or face area.
Under Texas law, it’s illegal to display any religious symbols, such as a crucifix, a cross, or an Islamic banner or religious emblem, in public, including on a government building or on government property, or to make a public display of a religious symbol.
The law also includes a provision that would make public display a misdemeanor if it “could reasonably be expected to cause actual or imminent fear of imminent physical harm.”
In a statement, the ACLU said it “will defend the constitutionality of Texas’ anti-harassment law and any attempt to extend that law beyond its original intent.
Our government cannot stand by as others are subjected to unlawful harassment and violence.”
In its ruling, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Austin upheld a lower court decision that ruled the Texas law to be constitutional.
However the Supreme Court has been split on whether or not to review the ruling.
The Supreme House of Representatives will vote on whether to take up the matter on Thursday.
The state of Texas is home to nearly half of the nation’s Muslims, according to the Pew Research Center.
They make up 13 percent of the population and the vast majority are African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American.
The Texas law has drawn attention from other legal experts and advocates for the First American Civil Liberties Union.
The organization is currently representing a group of Muslims who sued the state of California in 2013 after they were denied access to a courthouse.