Religious Liberty Update on U.S. Congress and Executive Branch Actions
|Topics:||Administrative Law & Regulation • Religious Liberty|
|Sponsors:||Religious Liberties Practice Group|
1. On November 30, 2022, the Senate passed H.R. 8404, “Respect for Marriage Act,” with a 61-36 vote. The bill heads back to the House next week, where it is expected to pass. The Senate voted to add an amendment introduced by Senator Collins, which seeks to ensure that nonprofit religious organizations are not required to perform same-sex marriages. Other amendments that would have inserted stronger religious liberty protections introduced by Senators Lee (R-UT), Lankford (R-OK), Rubio (R-FL), and others, failed to garner the necessary votes.
The bill provides statutory authority for same-sex and interracial marriages. The bill repeals and replaces provisions that define, for purposes of federal law, “marriage” as between a man and a woman and “spouse” as a person of the opposite sex with provisions that recognize any marriage that is valid under state law.
The bill also repeals and replaces provisions that do not require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states with provisions that prohibit the denial of full faith and credit or any right or claim relating to out-of-state marriages on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. The bill allows the Department of Justice to bring a civil action and establishes a private right of action for violations.
Legal scholars have written much about the Respect for Marriage Act, including Roger Severino from the Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (“USCCB”), who voiced urgent concern about the bill’s impact on religious Americans. Others, such as David French, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the National Association of Evangelicals (“NAE”), support the bill.
2. On November 17, 2022, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced, with 10 cosponsors, S.Con.Res.49, “A concurrent resolution expressing support for the Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family and urging that the United States by added as a signatory.”
The concurrent resolution would affirm that there is no international right to abortion and would conduct oversight of the U.S. executive branch to ensure that the U.S. does not conduct or fund abortions, abortion lobbying, or coercive family planning in foreign countries. The resolution notes that President Biden removed the United States as a signatory. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. An identical resolution was introduced in the House on the same day.
3. On November 17, 2022, the Senate passed by voice vote S.Res.848, “A resolution designating the week beginning October 16, 2022, as ‘National Character Counts Week,’” which was introduced that same day by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
4. On November 17, 2022, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced with 13 cosponsors S.Res.838, “A resolution expressing concern about the spreading problem of book banning and the proliferation of threats to freedom of expression in the United States.” The resolution expresses concern about some school libraries declining to offer books with LGBTQ+ themes and characters. The resolution was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
5. On November 14, 2022, Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), with 5 cosponsors, introduced S.5084, “Arrest Murderers not Ministers Act.” The bill would reprioritize Federal law enforcement funds from prosecuting nonviolent pro-life demonstrators to prosecuting violent offenders and drug traffickers. The bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
6. On November 14, 2022, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced S.5082, “Sanction Xi Jinping for Xinjiang Atrocities Act.” The bill would impose sanctions on General Secretary Xi Jinping and other senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party complicit in the perpetration of genocide and other crimes against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
1. On November 25, 2022, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8) introduced H.Res. 1493, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives in support of the peaceful democratic and economic aspirations of the people of Sri Lanka.” The resolution urges, among other things, the Sri Lankan President to reach a consensus on major issues with opposition parties, including Tamils, Indian-origin Tamils, Muslims, and other religious and ethnic groups. The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
2. On November 17, 2022, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN-3), with 28 cosponsors, introduced H.Con.Res.115, “Expressing support for the Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family and urging that the United States be added as a signatory.”
The concurrent resolution would affirm that there is no international right to abortion and would conduct oversight of the U.S. executive branch to ensure that the U.S. does not conduct or fund abortions, abortion lobbying, or coercive family planning in foreign countries. The resolution notes that President Biden removed the United States as a signatory. It was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. An identical resolution was introduced in the Senate on the same day.
3. On November 17, 2022, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL-1) introduced H.Res. 1490, “Expressing support for the Parliament of the World’s Religions.” The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
4. On November 16, 2022, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ-4) introduced H.R.9320, “Education, Achievement, and Opportunity Act.” The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a refundable credit against income tax for tuition expenses incurred by the taxpayer for each qualifying child that attends a public or private elementary or secondary school. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
5. On November 16, 2022, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA-9) introduced H.Res.1479, “Of inquiry requesting the President transmit certain documents in his possession to the House of Representatives relating to the surveillance or monitoring of pro-gun, pro-life, or conservative groups under the Internet Covert Operations Program operated by the United States Postal Inspection Service.” The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
The Executive Branch
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1. ED will soon propose “Religious Liberty and Free Inquiry Rule” (RIN 1840-AD72). Current regulations reinforce First Amendment free speech and free exercise protections for students and student groups. They also clarify how educational institutions can show they qualify for a religious exemption under Title IX.
2. ED will soon propose “Discrimination Based on Shared Ancestry or Ethnicity in Response to EO 13899 on Combating Anti-Semitism and EO 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities” (RIN 1870-AA15). In its abstract for the proposed rule, ED states that ED OCR has received complaints of harassment and assault directed at Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and other students based on shared ancestry or ethnicity.
1. On November 4, 2022, OIRA completed review of the eight federal agency proposed rulemaking, “Partnerships with Faith-Based and Neighborhood Organizations,” (RIN 1840-AD67). Current regulations for those eight agencies clarify the rights and obligations of faith-based orgs providing federally funded social services, including removing notice-and-referral requirements required of religious orgs that were not required of other orgs. None of the eight agencies have yet published the proposed rule.
2. On November 17, 2022, the White House held an engagement session to hear directly from the public how it could improve participation in the regulatory process.
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