July 20, 2017

NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against four federal agencies demanding documents from the Trump administration that provide clarity on how the administration plans to implement its ‘religious freedom’ executive order.

The ACLU initially filed records requests with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Justice, and Treasury in March following the leaking of a draft executive order that would have created broad religious exemptions that would enable discrimination against women and LGBT people.

No federal agencies complied with the request and, in May, President Trump signed an executive order that directed the Department of Justice to issue ‘religious liberty’ guidance. Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated in a speech last week that the department is “finalizing the guidance” and will soon be issued. 

“The executive order that President Trump signed was vague and open-ended, but we know that this administration is exploring different ways to license discrimination against women and the LGBT community, among others, in the name of religion,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU. “Now that the administration has taken its first steps to use religious exemptions to pave the way for discrimination, the American people deserve clarity and transparency on what is coming next.”

The lawsuit today demands any communications regarding, among other items, plans for how the Department of Justice’s ‘religious liberty’ guidance requested in the executive order might be implemented.

Among other possibilities, earlier drafts of the executive order provided broad exemptions to permit any employer to refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception as otherwise required by law, to authorize federally funded child welfare organizations to make decisions based on religious directives regardless of the best interests of the child, and allow federal employees, contractors, and grantees to discriminate against same-sex couples, transgender people, women seeking reproductive health care, and even those who had had premarital sex.

To read the filing, click here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/aclu-v-department-health-and-human-services-et-al-complaint

 

 

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