The U.S. Justice Division stated it’s planning to ramp up efforts to carry extra civil rights lawsuits in opposition to municipalities that attempt to discriminate in opposition to homes of worship.
The brand new initiative will probably be mentioned by Legal professional Basic Jeff Periods on Wednesday afternoon and marks the newest motion by the Trump administration in its efforts to prioritize defending non secular freedoms.
It was introduced earlier along side a brand new case filed in opposition to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, over allegations it illegally denied zoning approval to an Orthodox Jewish congregation searching for to construct a synagogue.
Periods has come beneath scrutiny by civil rights teams who say his concentrate on non secular liberty might give people and personal companies leeway to discriminate in opposition to different teams, similar to homosexual, lesbian and transgender individuals.
The Justice Division beneath Periods has taken a number of actions to champion the trigger, together with backing anti-abortion facilities in a case over a California regulation requiring notices be supplied on the place ladies can obtain state-funded abortions.
Final fall, Periods issued interpretive authorized steerage to all U.S. authorities places of work declaring that the “free train of faith contains the proper to behave or abstain from motion.”
The memo was used because the authorized foundation for the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies to try to block necessities beneath the Obamacare regulation for employers to cowl ladies’s contraception.
The brand new “Place to Worship Initiative” goals to assist the Justice Division’s Civil Rights Division carry extra instances in opposition to cities and others who use zoning legal guidelines to dam church buildings, mosques or synagogues from constructing, renting or increasing homes of worship.
“Below the legal guidelines of this nation, authorities can’t discriminate in opposition to individuals primarily based on their faith — not in regulation enforcement, not in grant-making, not in hiring, and never in native zoning legal guidelines,” Periods stated in a press release.
Periods will probably be discussing the non secular liberty initiative on the Washington places of work of the regulation agency Jones Day.
Attorneys at Jones Day signify President Donald Trump’s marketing campaign and are presently defending it in opposition to a lawsuit filed by the Democratic get together over allegations it colluded with Russia to meddle within the 2016 marketing campaign.
Most of the regulation agency’s alumni additionally now work for Periods and have performed key roles in reversing Obama-era authorized positions on civil rights, together with the division’s present performing head of the Civil Rights Division, John Gore, and performing head of the Civil Division Chad Readler.