Wednesday, May 28, 2008

California High Court Hears Case On Religious Exception To Civil Rights Law

The California Supreme Court this morning heard oral arguments in Northcoast Women's Care Medical Group v. Superior Court. In the case, a California appellate court held that two doctors being sued by a lesbian woman for refusing to perform intrauterine insemination on her could assert their constitutional right to free exercise of religion in defending against her discrimination charges. (See prior posting.) Reporting on today's arguments, the San Diego Union-Tribune said that the Court's seven justices questioned both sides about the circumstances under which there should be a free exercise exemption from state civil rights laws. The defendants in the case also argue that the main reason they did not treat plaintiff Guadalupe Benitez was that they refuse to perform the procedure for any unmarried couple.

UPDATE: An article in Thursday's issue of The Recorder says that "the court gave every indication during oral arguments ... that it would rule that doctors can't invoke their religious beliefs to deny gays and lesbians medical services."