On June 15th of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, ruling that the prohibition of sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act extends to sexual orientation and gender identity as well. LGBT rights groups hailed the decision as a major victory, but churches and other faith-based organizations worried that it would impinge on their religious freedom.
In three cases since Bostock, however, the Supreme Court has vindicated religious freedom. Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue struck down that state’s (and by extension every other state’s) “Blaine Amendment.” Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania upheld an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate based on religious or moral reasons. And Our Lady of Guadalupe v. Morrisey-Berru (in which the Assemblies of God was joined a friend-of-the-court brief) expanded the scope of the “ministerial exception.”
Given the divergent outcomes of these four cases—Bostock pulling one way, the three other cases pulling the other—many people are asking: Where is the Supreme Court heading with religious freedom?
That’s the question Eric Kniffin and I will discuss in this episode of the Influence Podcast. I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host.
Eric Kniffin is a partner in the law firm of Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, where he works in the Religious Institutions Practice Group. Before joining the firm, he worked as a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice, practicing in the Civil Rights Division. He also served as legal counsel for Becket Law, a leading religious freedom litigator.