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Scientology begs radical US Supreme Court to intervene and protect its ‘religious freedom’

[Justice Stephen Breyer, to the right of Chief Justice Roberts, has retired and been replaced by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson]

As promised, Scientology filed its petition to the US Supreme Court yesterday, asking it to overturn a stunning January ruling by a California appeals court that dealt a serious blow to the church’s use of arbitration clauses in membership contracts as a way to derail lawsuits by former members.

The January ruling restored a lawsuit filed by Danny Masterson’s rape accusers, who are suing Scientology for what they say has been years of harassment since they came forward to the LAPD in 2016 with their allegations against the That 70’s Show actor and Scientology celebrity.

First filed in August 2019, the lawsuit was derailed when a lower court judge agreed with Scientology that contracts the plaintiffs had signed while they were Scientology members obliged them not to sue the church and to take their dispute to the church’s own internal “religious arbitration.”

But the appeals court ruled that because the harm the Masterson accusers were alleging — the stalking and harassment and hacking of their phones — occurred after they had left the church, the contracts no longer applied.

Now, Scientology is asking the highest court in the land to intervene in the case and reverse that appellate decision. But the US Supreme Court is under no obligation to get involved, and in fact it accepts very few of the hundreds of petitions that are submitted to it each year.


So, in order to get the court’s attention and convince it to take up the matter of Scientology’s “arbitration,” its attorneys are trying to speak this strongly conservative court’s language. The appeals court ruling “weaponizes the First Amendment against religious freedom,” Scientology’s petition says, after first explaining that Scientology is just like other religions that have their own internal justice procedures.

The 36-page document is soaked in religious language, which is a favorite Scientology tactic in litigation. Not once in the lengthy document, however, is the distinction made that the California appeals court considered so important: Not only that these former Scientologists had left the organization, but that the harm they claimed they were suffering was inflicted on them by Scientology after they had departed.

Scientology in its petition instead portrays the California appeals court as a rogue actor creating a frightening threat to all religions:

At some point, Respondents changed their minds, and their faith. They argued that their change of faith should free them from their contractual obligations to submit their disputes with Petitioners to the chosen religious forum. The California Court of Appeal agreed. It became the first court in the nation to overturn a freely executed religious arbitration agreement based on the objection by a party that the selected forum was exactly what the party agreed to – religious….The notion that the First Amendment empowers the state to regulate the covenant between a church and its congregation could not be more wrong or dangerous. Rather, the First Amendment forbids the state to weigh the reasonableness of the “price” of joining a religion, whether that price be a baptism, bris, holy communion, or an agreement to be bound by ecclesiastical law in all dealings with the religion. This unprecedented decision from the most populous state in the Union violates the fundamental constitutional right that the law should not discriminate against persons on the basis of religion. It relies on a novel theory of state action that could be deployed to bar enforcement of any contract with a religious organization where one of the contracting parties professes to have a change of faith.

Wow. This description sounds nothing like the January ruling that we read, in which the California appeals court was careful to explain that it wasn’t denying a church its ability to enforce its contracts, or that merely leaving a church would cancel those contracts, but again that Scientology is accused of hacking, surveilling, harassing, and even poisoning the pets of these former Scientologists after they had left the church.

We remember well the hearing the appeals court held, with a justice asking a Scientology lawyer, if someone were only a member for a couple of weeks and then twenty years later was run over by a Scientology van, would they still have to take that matter to Scientology’s internal arbitration? That is Scientology’s position, the lawyer responded.

It was a ridiculous answer, and it helped the appeals court arrive at a common sense ruling, that a church shouldn’t be able to harm you years after you left and still haul you into their internal religious court (which, in Scientology’s case, is a proceeding completely stacked against former members).

In the petition, Scientology’s attorneys have taken that common sense notion and made it sound like every religion in the country is under assault by a California court.

Well, the odds are stacked against them, since the Supreme Court grants so few petitions. And here’s a fun aside: We know that many of you were very concerned that the California State Supreme Court decided not to publish the Bixler decision. But we’re told that the ruling being unpublished makes it less likely that the Supreme Court would take it up as an issue, and so Scientology, which didn’t want the ruling published, spends some time in the petition trying to deal with this. Whoops.

Here’s the document. There’s a lot here, and we look forward to your thoughts on it.

Scientology’s SCOTUS petition in ‘Bixler’

We know these cases are very complex, and so we also want to provide some basics to help you keep track of which cases we’re talking about. In August 2019, Chrissie Carnell-Bixler, her husband Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Bobette Riales, and two women going by Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 filed the lawsuit against Danny Masterson and the Church of Scientology. The four women had, in 2016 and 2017, gone to the LAPD with allegations that Masterson had raped them many years earlier, and that they had not come forward sooner in part because they feared retaliation from Scientology.

In June 2020, the LA District Attorney’s office filed criminal charges against Masterson for forcibly raping Chrissie Carnell-Bixler and the two Jane Does. That case is scheduled for trial on October 11, and if Masterson is convicted of all three counts he’s facing 45 years to life in prison. That case is known as People v. Masterson.


The Bixler v. Scientology civil lawsuit, however, is not specifically about the rape allegations. It’s a harassment lawsuit that alleges that since the women came forward to the LAPD in 2016, they’ve been subjected to a campaign of stalking and interference in their lives which they believe has been perpetrated by Masterson and the church. (Masterson and Scientology both deny it.)

Scientology filed a motion with the court saying that because Chrissie, Cedric, and the two Jane Does had signed service contracts in Scientology, and that those contracts contained arbitration clauses, they had essentially promised never to sue the church and should instead take their grievances to Scientology’s own version of arbitration. (Not independent arbitration, but a proceeding controlled by Scientology and presided over by three arbitrators who must be members of the church in good standing.) Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield granted this motion on December 30, 2020, derailing the lawsuit. (Bobette Riales was never a Scientologist, so she was unaffected by the ruling.)

The Bixler plaintiffs then petitioned California’s 2nd Appellate Division, asking it to intervene, but that petition was denied. They then petitioned the California State Supreme Court for it to step in. This was also a longshot. However, at about that same time, in the criminal case, the three women had a chance to testify live in court for the first time at Masterson’s preliminary hearing, held in Los Angeles in May 2021. Press coverage of their testimony was shocking, and suggested a pattern of drugging and violent rapes.

Just weeks later, the California Supreme Court made the surprising decision to intervene in the Bixler lawsuit and grant review of the arbitration ruling. It asked the 2nd Appellate Division to conduct an appeal, which resulted in the hearing we mentioned earlier, the one where Scientology said that if you were run over by a Scientology van 20 years after leaving the church, you still couldn’t sue.

On January 19, the appeals court issued its stunning ruling, overturning Judge Kleifield’s order. Scientology then asked the state supreme court to review the ruling, which was denied. So now the church is throwing its Hail Mary to the US Supreme Court. And that catches you up.


Technology Cocktail

“Pc is stuck in the valence of a Temple Priestess. Auditor is a bit fuddy on being a school principal. Auditor keeps looking for sexual misconduct with small boys. It isn’t on pc’s case. Result, no TA action. Finally almost by accident, knowing nothing about the pc’s GPM yet, the auditor disgustedly asks, ‘Have you ever failed to seduce anybody?’ and bang! That’s a Zero A to end all Zero A’s and the pc gives up ‘overt’ after ‘overt,’ failed to seduce her husband’s friend, her sister’s boyfriend, her kindergarten teacher, etc, etc, etc, with two divisions of TA motion.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1962


Now available: Bonus for our supporters

Episode 4 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers, and it’s a conversation with Bruce Hines about the mind-warping life in the Sea Org and a new story about Shelly Miscavige we hadn’t heard before. Meanwhile, we’ve made episodes 1 through 3 available to everyone, with Jeffrey Augustine on recent Scientology court cases, Claire Headley exposing Tom Cruise, and Marc Headley on what it must be like for David Miscavige living in Clearwater, Florida. Go here to get the episodes!



Source Code

“I got in a silly cycle. I don’t know, a trillion, trillennia, trillennia, trillennia ago. And every time they had a war, why, I went out. I would either be a pilot in, or commander of, or somebody connected with an interceptor squadron on the outside of the capital. Societies used to last longer than they do now. And it wasn’t anything for a society to go a billion years without much change. But, every time the society would get into trouble, usually with the same adversaries, why, that was the drop of the hat. That was the signal. The whistle had gone and you would go down and snappily report to the Seventeenth Interceptor Squadron, which had in charge of it the protection of the capital, don’t you see? And the enemy would come over and you would take off in an interceptor and you would go up to the center of the airport and you would either shoot down the attacking plane or be shot down and always at the center of the same airport — for a billion years. ” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 20, 1961


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The ‘alarming increasing debt’ stat of the US is a negative stat. Actually it parallels almost exactly the decrease of the value of the dollar AND SO HASN’T RISEN IN 53 YEARS! Yet the ‘financial wizards’ in the world bank use it to reduce credit in the US which will bring on a depression which lets them grab the securities and properties cheaply. The eggheads in charge continually indulge in false stats or think negative stats are useful. And ignore the psychiatric negative stat of increasing insanity and crime which parallels cash received by governments and psychiatrists. But you can only prove how bad something is by negative stats. You can’t really determine production. Imagine having how many Ethics orders put on one as his stat! Negative ideal scene — One who flunks is penalized without regard to value or production. US Citizens have that stat! And any other country!” — The Commodore, July 20, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“We have auditors who see the Tech as a business, as money making machine and disagree on who is who and what is what. Which Ls are the original, which are the OT levels, etc. We have auditors who invent processes, who acknowledge usurpers, auditors who practice the Code of Silence and cover for each other, who lie. And we also see PCs sometimes who are not qualified or are illegal and are nevertheless audited for the sake of money and later we see the results. Or PCs who just wanted a status but not work hard on the level. Is that the way the independent field is supposed to operate? If so, then those who think so, deserve what they get.”


Past is Prologue


1996: Robert Wright, author of the Cybersmear article in Time magazine responded to criticism of his article. He apparently does not believe that Scientology is engaged in illegal harassment. “I write, ‘With EarthLink preparing for its first public stock offering, this is not good publicity. On the Net, the Church of Scientology is the antichrist. It slaps lawsuits on church critics who post quotes from copyrighted church documents, sometimes getting federal marshals to search homes and seize computer disks. There’s no evidence that the church currently uses extralegal weapons against online critics — pries into their e-mail, say. Still, among the desirable qualities of an Internet access provider — the company whose computers all your e-mail and cyberwanderings pass through — ‘Church of Scientology affiliated’ does not rank high.’ First of all, by ‘extra-legal’ I meant ‘outside of the law’ in the sense of ‘not lawful.’ In retrospect, I should have just used the word ‘illegal.’ Several complaints about my piece have asserted that, even if you read ‘extralegal’ as ‘illegal,’ the sentence is incorrect. But the examples cited fail to convince me that the church of Scientology is currently engaged in illegal activities. Some of the examples are from years ago. Most are undated, making it hard for me to determine whether they indeed reflect the church’s current behavior. Some sound as if they’re in the twilight zone between legal and illegal. (Was the ‘theft by deception’ of a photograph technically a theft, or just a technically legal con job?) And in virtually no cases is the source of the information provided.”


Random Howdy

“Seeing as how Louanne and vaLLarrr are dead in the head, that makes you the last Internet canary clam in the coal mine, Marco. How’s the 2-pack-a-day anti-cancer therapy working out?”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Trial scheduled for October 11, pretrial conference August 17.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Last hearing was on January 18, referred to grand jury. Additional charges also referred to grand jury after January 5 assault while in jail.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Readiness hearing scheduled for August 22 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for September 19.

Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court, Scientology moving to compel arbitration.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: February 2, 2023.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place, next status hearing October 25.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for December 6.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] BRIAN STATLER WAS UNARMED: Police say he grabbed their gun in Scientology org shooting
[TWO years ago] Why Scientology can worry if John Travolta and Lisa Marie Presley seek solace in each other
[THREE years ago] Scientology failed to destroy Sylvia DeWall, but its latest letter to her is simply bizarre
[FIVE years ago] Tommy Davis’s Hollywood experiment is apparently over as he moves to Splitsville
[SIX years ago] BILLBOARD UP IN FLORIDA: Scientology ‘disconnection’ on view near Clearwater ‘mecca’
[SEVEN years ago] Stacy Murphy is still dead, but Oklahoma gives the Scientology rehab that killed her new life
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology has only its ‘humanitarians’ to help it refurbish eyesores
[NINE years ago] Leah Remini’s Friend, TV’s Michelle Visage, Says Scientologists Are ‘Scattering Like Roaches’
[TEN years ago] Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20: Another Death at Scientology’s Flagship Narconon Drug Treatment Center in Oklahoma
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Loves Making Fun of Itself, Apparently


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,731 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,236 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,786 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,776 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,667 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,972 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,842 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,616 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,947 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,420 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,736 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,302 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,221 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,389 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,969 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,231 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,267 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,982 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,507 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 862 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,037 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,588 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,737 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,057 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,912 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,031 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,387 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,690 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,796 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,194 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,070 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,653 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,148 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,402 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,511 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 20, 2022 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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