Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett faces calls to recuse herself from LGBTQ case over Christian faith
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Assistant Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is facing calls to withdraw from an upcoming case involving a web designer's handling of wedding websites for LGBTQ clients because of her Christian faith.
Former members of People of Praise, a network of lay Christian communities founded in South Bend, Indiana, in 1971, spoke to The Guardian and argued that Barrett should withdraw from the 303 Creative LLC case against Aubrey Elenis. The Supreme Court begins hearings on December 5.
Barrett, a devout Catholic, has not spoken publicly about her affiliation with the secretive faith group People of Praise, which she considers a member. Conservatives argued that Barrett's faith was unfairly armed during her confirmation hearings in 2020, when the Trump-appointed senator said her personal religious beliefs would not interfere with her abilities to be an impartial judge.
Nevertheless, the affiliation of the judiciary to the group is again discussed.
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Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett during the formal group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, U.S. on Friday, October 7, 2022.
"I don't think anyone in their position who is a member of this group could put aside those prejudices, especially with a decision like the one that's coming up," said Maura Sullivan, a 46-year-old girl who grew up in a nation of Praise community, said The Guardian. Sullivan, who identified as bisexual, said she came out when she was 19 and that her parents discouraged her and prevented her from spending time alone with a younger sister. They have since rekindled their relationship after the parents left the People of Praise community.
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The case of 303 Creative LLC v. Aubrey Elenis involves Lorie Smith, owner and founder of a graphic design firm, who wishes to release a statement that she will not accept clients requesting wedding website designs for same-sex couples due to marital conflicts between homosexuals with theirs religious beliefs.
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The court will consider whether the Colorado AntiDiscrimination Act, which prohibits publicly accessible businesses from discriminating on the basis of numerous characteristics, including sexual orientation, violates the First Amendment freedom of speech clause. Smith claims she has worked with LGBTQ clients on other projects that are not at odds with her religious beliefs.
Members of the Supreme Court sit in the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Friday, October 07, 2022 for a group photo after the recent addition of Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
"A win for Lori would not only be a win for her, it would also be a win for the LGBT graphic designer who doesn't want to be forced to create art and spread messages that he doesn't agree with," said Smith's lead attorney Kristen K. Waggoner, opposite the Washington Examiner.
But the so-called "survivors" who left the group pointed to Barrett's previous position on the board of Trinity Schools Inc., which is affiliated with People of Praise. Barrett joined the board in 2015.
A faculty leader from the same year said "blatant sexual immorality" - including "homosexual acts" - had "no place in the culture of Trinity Schools". The policy applied before and after Barrett joined. According to The Guardian, it is said to have prevented children with same-sex parents from logging on to the school network.
“The People of Praise has ingrained anti-gay values that negatively impact the lives of real people, including vulnerable youth. These values are reflected in the daily politics of the People of Praise and their schools. These are policies that are way outside of the mainstream and most Americans would be bothered by them,” Kevin Connolly, a former People of Praise member, told The Guardian. Connolly, whose brother is the group's main spokesman, has previously spoken out publicly about the physical abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of his father.
Demonstrators with signs of US Supreme Court Justices during a pro-abortion protest in New York City on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.
Legal experts claim that Barrett is unlikely to pull out of the case.
"Supreme Court justices have views and are connected to many organizations, many groups in general, and that's not enough," Jonathan Entin, professor of constitutional law at Case Western University, told the Examiner.
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Paul Collins, a law and political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Newsweek, "There is essentially no chance that Judge Barrett will back down from the case based on calls from former People of Praise members to do so .”
"The reason for this is that the allegations of conflict are too broad to be meaningful and could apply to membership in a variety of religious organizations, which would effectively prevent many judges from ever hearing cases on issues that even remotely related to religion,” added Collins.
Amy Coney Barrett
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United St...
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