Source: The Washington Post
Katherine Franke is the Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University, where she also directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law and is the faculty director of the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project .
The Catholic sisters in the order of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ announced this month that they plan to petition the Supreme Court to consider whether their religious-freedom rights are being violated by the construction and pending use of a natural-gas pipeline on their land in Pennsylvania. They argue their faith commits them to “believe that God calls humans to treasure land as a gift of beauty and sustenance that should not be used in an excessive or harmful way.” Lawyers representing the federal government have vigorously opposed the nuns’ right to assert a religious-liberty claim in federal court.
The government’s position in the Adorers case is surprising, given that Vice President Pence announced in July that “religious freedom is a top priority of this administration.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions echoed those remarks a few days later: Under “this administration, the federal government is not just reacting — we are actively seeking, carefully, thoughtfully and lawfully, to accommodate people of faith. Religious Americans are no longer an afterthought.”
You can count on the government’s support if you’re a cake baker who considers same-sex marriage to be an abomination, or a nun who believes that contraception is murder, or a school administrator whose faith tells him that a person’s sex is fixed by God at birth. In these cases, Justice Department lawyers will show up like the cavalry, ready to go down fighting.