These are very busy days for anyone engaged in the work of protecting the Constitution and the rights it guarantees. A veritable avalanche of proposed legislation, executive orders, and new laws that threaten our rights is bearing down on all of us. It’s hard to keep up with the growing number of assaults on the Establishment Clause, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights. If the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision opened the Floodgates, in Washington and around the country emboldened conservatives are in the process of blowing up the Hoover Dam. Here is a partial list that represents only a small fraction of what I see every day.
- On January 23rd, Trump reinstated the so-called gag rule that prohibits non-profits and NGOs delivering healthcare- from providing counseling or information about abortion or advocating for reproductive choice. Violators lose all federal foreign aid dollars.
- A bus driver in Pennsylvania has challenged a state law requiring all school personnel who work directly with children and students to be fingerprinted. She argues that this is a violation of her religious freedom and that she was discriminated against when she was fired for refusing to comply with the recently adopted law. The measure was passed after the Penn State sex abuse scandal. She claims that her religion forbids her from wearing the “mark of the beast.”
- Last week an anti-LGBTQ bill was introduced in Wyoming. The Government Non-Discrimination Act would prohibit the government from acting against any public or private employer that discriminates against any person as long as the claimed basis for the discrimination is religious in nature. Hospitals and medical care providers would also be allowed to deny service to any person if the provider claims it would violate their religious beliefs to treat or assist that person.
- The President’s choice to head the EPA has a long record of affiliation with fundamentalist Christian organizations. He is strongly supported by one group that claims there is no climate change because God wouldn’t allow it. Although he has not expressly stated that he agrees with that premise, he is an outspoken climate change denier and science skeptic.
- On January 24 the South Dakota Senate approved a bill that would bar the state from prohibiting the teaching of “Intelligent Design”- aka creationism- in public schools. Similar bills have been introduced within the last week in Indiana and Oklahoma. It’s early in the year. There will be more.
Thanks for reading.