• Aditya Das

Advocates fear Barrett will strip away gay rights

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Mridanee Shetty

October 28, 2020

Justice Amy Coney Barrett

(Source : Politico)

Ever since President Donald Trump first nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the federal bench in 2017, she has been fueling the fears of LGBTQ advocacy. Advocates worry that she and the court's five other conservatives could start stripping away gay rights imminently since Barrett has officially been confirmed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court.

Barrett's presence on the court for the next week's arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia is the most immediate concern for the national LGBTQ and civil rights groups. It is a case that looks at whether faith based child welfare agencies can refuse to work with the same-sex couples and other people whom they consider to be in violation of their religious beliefs.

A lawyer with Lambda Legal, Currey Cook, said that Barrett's 'history and prior statements' about religious exemptions are 'alarming' and have led him to conclude that Barrett would be "inclined to grant certain groups special permission because of their faith".

The CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Rachel Laser, said, "she has shown that she would allow claims of religious freedom to be misused to harm women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and the non-religious among many others", according to nbcnews. She also called Barrett's record on church-state separation "deeply problematic".

A lot of other LGBTQ and civil rights groups have also expressed their views and concerns regarding Barrett's ties to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that has been at the forefront of the litigation, which argues for an expansive view of religious freedom.

Over the years, Barrett has delivered a series of lectures which was funded by the group, which submitted legal briefs against same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges and successfully argues a case of Supreme Court on behalf of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips. He was a baker from Colorado who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding because it would violate his religious beliefs, wrote nbcnews.

Barrett's confirmation "threatens LGBTQ equality," said The Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBTQ rights group, and they also said that her previous claim that she was "not aware" of the discriminatory history of the Alliance Defending Freedom was "rather incredible".

Barrett described her experience as "a wonderful one" when she was questioned about her association with the group by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., during her confirmation hearing.

A professor of labor and employment laws at New York Law School, Arthur Leonard, said that Barrett's presence on the Supreme Court could have a profound impact on LGBTQ rights, according to nbcnews. He said, "that case is sitting there like a bomb waiting to go off and I'm concerned how the court will deal with it with the addition of Amy Coney Barrett".

Leonard said that he expects Barrett to favour an 'expansive view' of the free exercise of religion and to favour the overturning of lower court rulings that sided with the city of Philadelphia which terminated its contract with the Christian Social Services for foster care services after it refused to work with the same-sex prospective parents.

Leonard also said that the ruling in Fulton could have implications for the right to marry, although they currently seem unrelated.

(Sources: NBC news, politico, The New York Times)

Edited by : Shreya Gupta and Aditya Das

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