Friday, May 1, 2009

Ruling for Christian School Stands

The California Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling rejecting a "sexual orientation" discrimination claim against a Christian high school.

Consistent with its code of conduct, California Lutheran High School expelled two students it believed were in a lesbian relationship. The students' parents sued, claiming that the school committed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, something that the state Unruh Act forbids in "business establishments." The trial court and intermediate appellate court held that the school was not a business establishment and thus not subject to the act.

The plaintiffs asked the California Supreme Court to review that judgment. They also asked the state high court to depublish the Court of Appeal's opinion. On April 29, the court rejected both requests.

The CLS Center represented the Association of Faith-Based Organizations in the case. AFBO sought to intervene. Throughout the case, the Center argued on behalf of AFBO that application of the Unruh Act to Cal Lutheran in this case would violate the school's religious liberty.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Law Professors Urge Connecticut Legislature to Respect Religious Freedom

Legal scholars Tom Berg, Carl Esbeck, Rick Garnett, and Robin Fretwell Wilson recently urged the Connecticut legislature to protect religious freedom in the course of codifying the state supreme court's same-sex marriage decision. See their letter here.

Dale Carpenter reacted to their letter, and their response is here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Gay Rights" v. Religious Liberty

Commentary by Nathan Diament, Keith Pavlischek, and the Washington Post.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

National Press Club Event on Conscience Regulations TODAY

Today at 10:00 AM at the National Press Club, medical professionals who have experienced discrimination as a result of their exercise of their conscience will talk about their stories and urge the Administration to protect their rights and not rescind the HHS regulations protecting rights of conscience.

Freedom2Care, a coalition of organizations (including CLS) that support conscience rights in the medical profession, will also announce the results of 2 national polls gauging popular support for conscience rights and the existing HHS conscience protection regulations that the Obama Administration has proposed to rescind.

I will be in attendance and available to answer any questions about the lawsuits filed in Connecticut challenging the HHS regulations.

If you have not yet commented to HHS in support of the existing HHS regulations and in opposition to the proposed rescission of these protections you can do so through the Freedom2Care website. The deadline is midnight TOMORROW, April 9.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Illinois Court Enjoins Blagojevich Anti-Conscience Rule

A judge in Illinois has temporarily enjoined state officials from punishing pharmacists who conscientiously object to filling prescriptions for "Plan B," which sometimes acts as an abortifacient.

Despite the existence of the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich promulgated a rule in 2005 forcing pharmacists to violate their consciences by filling Plan B prescriptions.

Pro-life pharmacists challenged the rule in court, and the trial court initially held that the matter was not ripe for adjudication. The Illinois Supreme Court ended up reviewing that ruling, and CLS's Center for Law & Religious Freedom filed a friend of the court brief urging the court to reverse (which it did).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Casey Mattox discusses religious student groups and nondiscrimination rules on Freedom's Ring Radio

The Center's Casey Mattox discusses religious student groups and nondiscrimination rules at public universities with attorney Alan J. Reinach on Freedom's Ring Radio. Download the fourteen minute interview podcast here. Note: this show was recorded prior to the Ninth Circuit's ruling in CLS v. Kane (UC Hastings).

David French comments on CLS v. Kane at Phi Beta Cons

David French, ADF Senior Legal Counsel and Director of ADF’s Center For Academic Freedom, comments on Christian Legal Society v. Kane at Phi Beta Cons on National Review Online:

From a common-sense standpoint, this is absurd. Imagine telling a Baptist church that its search for a new pastor had to include equal consideration of Buddhist or Hindu candidates. Imagine telling a synagogue that they were engaged in unlawful "discrimination" if they categorically refused to permit imams from
functioning as rabbis. How can student guarantee that they can maintain their distinctive voice if each group essentially has to be open to all students, regardless of those students' beliefs or intentions?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Center attorney on CBN discussing CLS v. Kane (video)

Center attorney Timothy J. Tracey appeared on CBN News today to discuss the Ninth Circuit panel's decision in Christian Legal Society v. Kane. Read the story and watch the video here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tell the Obama Administration to Enforce Laws Protecting Conscience Rights

As previously noted, the Department of Health and Human Services has now moved to rescind the federal regulations prohibiting federal grantees from discriminating against medical professionals and institutions that decline to perform or refer for abortions or against medical students that do not wish to train in the performance of abortions. The proposed rescission has now been published in the federal register, triggering a 30 day period for public comment on rescinding this rule. Despite earlier media statements from unnamed HHS officials, the Administration has not proposed simply to "clarify" the rule, but have proposed completely throwing out the conscience protection rule altogether.

The conscience protection rule imposes no new obligations on federal grantees, but requires HHS grantees to certify that they will comply with three federal laws, the Church Amendments, Coats-Snowe Amendment, and Weldon Amendment. It also provides for a process by which a medical professional or institution may report their discriminatory treatment to HHS so that the agency may take action.

HHS previously explained that the rule was necessary, in part, because grantees and the public are unaware of these statutory protections - a fact confirmed in the lawsuits CLRF has been involved in defending medical conscience rights. HHS also explained that discriminatory treatment of medical professionals and institutions also threatened access to health care by driving pro-life medical professionals from the profession and causing faith-centered medical institutions (like Catholic hospitals) to close their doors rather than perform abortions.

The public, whether medical professionals, patients, or others interested, are invited to file public comments on the proposed rescission of the HHS rule. While stories of discrimination you or others have faced is helpful, ANY comment, even a few sentences, is helpful.

A website [] has been created to help facilitate complaints of discrimination and submission of comments to HHS in support of the existing regulations and in opposition to their rescission. You can also share the link with your facebook and twitter friends.

Comments are due by April 8, but do it today!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Listen to the Christian Legal Society v. Kane oral argument

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has posted the audio recording of the CLS v. Kane (Newton/UC Hastings) (# 06-15956) oral argument before Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, Judge Proctor Hug, Jr., and Judge Carlos T. Bea.

Timothy J. Tracey of the Center for Law & Religious Freedom presented the argument for CLS and Ethan P. Schulman of Folger Levin & Kahn, LLP presented the argument for UC Hastings.

The audio file can be streamed or downloaded (Windows Media Player required).