Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett faces calls to recuse herself from LGBTQ case over Christian faith
Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett is facing calls to recuse herself because of her Christian faith from an upcoming case involving a web designer’s management of wedding websites for to LGBTQ clients.
Former members of People of Praise, a network of lay Christian communities founded in 1971 in South Bend, Indiana, spoke to The Guardian arguing that Barrett should recuse himself from the 303 Creative LLC case against Aubrey Elenis. The Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments on December 5.
Barrett, a devout Catholic, has not spoken publicly about her affiliation with the secretive faith group People of Praise, of which she is considered a member. Conservatives argued that Barrett’s faith was unfairly weaponized during his 2020 confirmation hearings, when the Trump appointee told senators that his personal religious beliefs would not interfere with his abilities to be an impartial judge.
However, the affiliation of justice to the group is being considered again.
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“I don’t think anyone in his position, who is a member of this group, can put those prejudices aside, especially in a decision like the one that’s coming,” Maura Sullivan, a 46-year-old, told People. of the Praise community, he told The Guardian. Sullivan, who identified as bisexual, said she came out at 19 and was cut off by her parents and prevented from spending time alone with a younger sister. They have since rekindled their relationship after the parents left the People of Praise community.
The case of 303 Creative LLC v. Aubrey Elenis involves Lorie Smith, the owner and founder of a graphic design company, who wants to release a statement saying that she will no longer accept clients requesting same-sex wedding website designs. that gay marriage conflicts with their religious beliefs.
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The court will decide whether Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits businesses open to the public from discriminating on the basis of numerous characteristics, including sexual orientation, violates the First Amendment’s free speech clause. Smith maintains that he has worked with LGBTQ clients on other projects that do not conflict with his religious beliefs.
“A win for Lori would not only be a win for her, it would also be a win for LGBT graphic designers who do not want to be forced to create art and promote messages they disagree with,” lead attorney by Smith, Kristen. K. Waggoner, told The Washington Examiner.
But so-called “survivors” who left the group pointed to Barrett’s former position on the board of Trinity Schools Inc., which is affiliated with People of Praise. Barrett joined the board in 2015.
A teacher’s guide from that same year said that “blatant sexual immorality” – including “homosexual acts” – had “no place in the culture of Trinity Schools”. The policy was in place before and after Barrett joined. As The Guardian reports, it prevented children with same-sex parents from enrolling in the school network.
“The People of Praise has deep-seated anti-gay values that negatively affect the lives of real people, including vulnerable young people. These values show up in the everyday policies of the People of Praise and its schools. They are policies that are far beyond .mainstream, and most Americans would be bothered by them,” Kevin Connolly, a former member of People of Praise, told The Guardian. Connolly, whose brother is the group’s main spokesman, has spoken publicly in the past about the physical abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of his father.
Legal experts say Barrett is unlikely to withdraw from the case.
“Supreme Court justices have opinions and are connected to a lot of organizations, a lot of groups in general, and that’s not enough,” Jonathan Entin, a constitutional law professor at Case Western University, told the Examiner.
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Paul Collins, a professor of legal studies and political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Newsweek, “There is no possibility that Judge Barrett will recuse himself from the case based on calls from former members of the People of Praise for doing it.”
“The reason is that allegations of a conflict are too broad to be meaningful and could apply to membership in a wide range of religious organizations that would effectively prevent many judges from hearing cases on any issue remotely involving religion Collins added.