Thursday, June 10, 2021

DOJ's Memo In Title IX Litigation Raises Controversy

As previously reported, in a class action filed in April, LGBTQ+ students enrolled at religious colleges that receive federal financial assistance sued the Department of Education challenging the constitutionality of the exemption for religious organizations from anti-discrimination requirements of Title IX.  Subsequently, three Christian universities filed a motion to intervene as defendants, contending that the Department of Education would not adequately defend the exemption. The government's memo in opposition to the motion to intervene (full text) in Hunter v. U.S. Department of Education, (D OR, filed 6/8/2021) has created controversy.  As reported by the Washington Post:

Some LGBTQ advocates were disturbed by the filing...,  saying its wording went further than necessary, further than just an obligation to defend an existing law. They want the administration to agree with them that it’s unconstitutional for federally-funded schools to discriminate against LGBTQ people....

To others, including Biden supporters, the administration had no other option, since ... Title 9 ...exempts religion..... 

However, in a possible sign of the pressure on the administration, the Justice Department amended the document Wednesday, taking out the word “vigorously” to describe its defense of the religious exemption and retaining multiple uses of the word “adequate.” It removed wording that said the Department of Education and the Christian schools “share the same ‘ultimate objective’ … namely, to uphold the Religious Exemption as it is currently applied.”

... Slate legal writer Mark Joseph Stern said the Justice Department was “trying to prevent a Christian organization from . . . mounting extreme arguments." Stern said the religious exemption to Title 9 isn’t “blatantly, invidiously unconstitutional” and thus the administration has no choice but to defend it.