Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Constitutional Law Profs Oppose Religious Exemption In Obama's Planned LGBT Non-Discrimination Executive Order

Yesterday 54 faculty members from top law schools around the country sent a letter (full text) to President Obama opposing the call earlier this month by faith leaders for a broad religious exemption in the President's planned executive order on LGBT discrimination by federal contractors. (See prior posting.) The law professors' joint letter reads in part:
As scholars of religious liberty and constitutional rights, we write to urge you to refrain from including religious exemption language in any executive order providing nondiscrimination guarantees for LGBT employees of federal contractors. Contrary to the counsel you have received from others, such an exemption is not required by the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), or accommodations of religious liberty in other federal non-discrimination laws, including Title VII. Indeed, the proposed exemption would be unprecedented. Including such a provision in newly expanded rights for LGBT employees of federal contractors would at once undermine workplace equity for LGBT employees, relegate LGBT protections to a lesser status than existing prohibitions against discrimination, and allow religious employers to create or maintain discriminatory workplaces with substantial public funding.
According to a press release, the scholars' letter was spearheaded by Columbia Law School's new Public Rights/ Private Conscience Project.