Friday, February 09, 2018

DOJ Imposes More Oversight On US Attorneys In Religious Liberty Cases

In a press release last week, the Department of Justice announced an update to the United States Attorneys' Manual (full text) which adds a section titled "Associate Attorney General’s Approval and Notice Requirements for Issues Implicating Religious Liberty." In order to insure compliance with a memo on protection of religious liberty issued last October (see prior posting), DOJ's new procedures instruct U.S. Attorneys to appoint a contact person to carry out the following instructions:
Immediately inform the Office of the Associate Attorney General upon receiving service of a suit filed against the United States raising any significant question concerning religious liberty;
Coordinate decisions about merits arguments and significant litigation strategy questions in religious liberty cases with the Office of the Associate Attorney General; and
Obtain the approval of the Office of the Associate Attorney General with respect to any affirmative civil suit that impinges on rights under the Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, or Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yesterday the Center for Inquiry issued a press release criticizing the new oversight policy.