The Supreme Court continues to accept cases that involve issues of religious freedom. In January the Court agreed to hear Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, in which it will decide whether the First Amendment protects a high school football coach who, joined by students, prayed after football games. The school district says he was acting as a school employee at the time and was therefore speaking/praying as a public employee, not a private citizen. The Secular Coalition will sign an amicus brief favoring the school district.
Late last month the Court agreed to hear a case in which a Colorado web designer wants to produce websites for weddings, but wants to post on her business website that her religious beliefs preclude her from designing a website for a same-sex wedding. Posting that disclaimer would run afoul of Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws.
With the majority on the Supreme Court showing continued interest in First Amendment and religious freedom cases, it is more important than ever that Congress pass the Do No Harm Act. In recent years the courts have misapplied the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in cases like Hobby Lobby and Bostock v. Clayton County to allow people to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. The Do No Harm Act restores the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s original purpose to provide protections for religious exercise while ensuring that RFRA is not used to erode civil rights under the guise of religious freedom.
The Do No Harm Act makes clear that RFRA would not apply in certain circumstances where a religious exemption could cause harm to others. Specifically, the bill limits the application of RFRA from being used against: • Nondiscrimination laws; • Employment laws governing wages and collective bargaining; • Child labor and protection laws; • Access to health care; • Services provided through a government contract or grant; and • Services by government officials.
If you have already gone to our Do No Harm Action Alert and asked your representatives to support Do No Harm, this is a chance to thank them for doing so. If you have not asked them for their support, this is a chance to ask them. Everyone go to the Action Alert and fill in your address. The Action Alert will identify your representatives and either send them a Thank You message if they are currently a cosponsor of the bill, or if they are not, send them a message asking them to please become a cosponsor! We have every member of Congress covered with the appropriate message.
Historically, control of the House of Representatives is likely to switch two years into a new presidency. That means this year is likely to be the best chance to pass Do No Harm before the courts can do more damage.