The Department of Justice quickly amended a court filing Wednesday that initially said it would “vigorously” defend religious liberty after blowback from LGBT activists.
The word “vigorously” was scrubbed from the filing, and instead the Biden DOJ described their supposed forthcoming defense of religious liberty as “adequate.”
The court filing, in relation to Hunter v. the U.S. Department of Education, said the DOJ can “vigorously” defend religious schools’ right to practice their beliefs without risk of losing funding. After pushback from activists, though, the department changed its wording in the filing, The Washington Post reported:
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.”
The department also “removed wording that said the Education Department and the Christian schools “share the same ‘ultimate objective’ … namely, to uphold the Religious Exemption as it is currently applied,'” the Post added.
The Post noted that some LGBT activists were “disturbed” by the filing, likely prompting the DOJ to amend their wording.
“What this means is that the government is now aligning itself with anti-LGBTQ hate in order to vigorously defend an exemption that everyone knows causes severe harm to LGBTQ students using taxpayer money,” complained Paul Carlos Southwick, director of the Religious Exemption Accountability Project. “It will make our case harder if the federal government plans to vigorously defend it like they have indicated.”
However, other activists seemed to acknowledge that the Biden administration was merely paying lip service, using the terminology as an effort to “block conservative religious groups from becoming parties to the lawsuit,” per the Post:
To others, including supporters of President Biden, the administration had no other option, since federal civil rights law regarding education — called Title IX — exempts religion. They noted the purpose of the department’s filing, which was to block conservative religious groups from becoming parties to the lawsuit, arguing the agency can defend the exemption on its own.
Nonprofit legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says Hunter v. the U.S. Department of Education is an attempt to “prevent any students from using tuition grants, student loans, and any other federal financial assistance at schools that operate according to Christian beliefs on sexuality.”
“This lawsuit wants the federal government to tell Christian schools, ‘To continue accepting students who have federal financial aid, all you have to do is to start acting contrary to your own beliefs.’ That’s neither reasonable nor constitutional,” explained ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of U.S. Litigation David Cortman. “No court should grant a radical request to rewrite federal law and strong-arm religious colleges by stripping their students of much-needed financial aid. For that reason, we are asking the court to let our clients intervene in this lawsuit so that they and their students can defend their freedoms under federal law and the Constitution.”
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