A faith-based pregnancy center, a church, and a national pro-life organization filed an appeal Thursday in a lawsuit that seeks to protect their freedom to hire employees who agree with their fundamental beliefs and missions. At issue is a New York state law that violates the groups’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to employ people who refuse to abide by the organizations’ statements of faith.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Rochester pregnancy care center CompassCare, First Bible Baptist Church, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, an association of pro-life pregnancy centers, in the lawsuit, CompassCare v. Cuomo.
“It is imperative religious employers be able to continue to hire like-minded individuals who share their core beliefs, and no government can force faith-based organizations to contradict those convictions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life. “We are asking the 2nd Circuit to uphold the constitutionally protected freedoms of our clients as they fulfill their critical service to the community.”
ADF attorneys asked a federal district court to rule that New York’s SB 660 violates the groups’ freedom of speech, religion, and association. The court declined to do so in full but did rule that a requirement that the law be communicated to employees in employee handbooks was unconstitutional. SB 660 requires all employers—including churches, religious schools, faith-based pregnancy care centers, and religious nonprofits—to turn a blind eye to their own beliefs about abortion, contraception, and sexual morality by forcing them to employ those who refuse to abide by the organizations’ statements of faith.
James P. Trainor, one of more than 4,400 attorneys in the ADF network, is serving as local counsel in the case, which now heads to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.