“Unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats are weaponizing federal laws to violate Americans’ most fundamental rights,” ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake said in a statement.
“Federal agency officials frequently disrespect Americans’ most cherished principles — including religious freedom and the sanctity of life — by imposing personal political agendas that Congress has not authorized,” Blake added. “We urge the Supreme Court to rein in unaccountable bureaucrats … and affirm that courts should not defer to federal agencies when they overstep their executive authority and violate the freedoms the First Amendment protects for all Americans.”
The Supreme Court will take up this case during the current term, which began this October and will continue until October 2024. Decisions are usually released in June. Oral arguments in this case have not yet been scheduled.
Religious freedom and abortion cases
At this point, the Supreme Court has not yet agreed to take up any cases directly related to religious freedom, but some cases are still pending and could be added to the docket while the term is ongoing.
One case in defense of religious freedom and free speech, led by Becket, challenges a law in Westchester County, New York, that established buffer zones around abortion clinics that prevent pro-life sidewalk counselors and activists from engaging in conversations and protests near the facilities.
Within this 100-foot buffer zone, no person can get within eight feet of another person to provide information about alternatives to abortion unless given express consent. Violations of the law are a misdemeanor offense.
“I am called to be a compassionate voice to abortion-vulnerable women, letting them know that that they are loved, supported, and can choose life for their babies,” Debra Vitagliano, a Catholic pro-life sidewalk counselor, who brought the lawsuit, said in a statement.
“I pray that the justices will take this case and allow me to help women in need,” Vitagliano added.
Another case in defense of religious freedom, filed by ADF, asks the Supreme Court to rule a Washington state law unconstitutional. The law prohibits “conversion therapy” for minors. As defined in the law, conversion therapy refers to therapy “that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The lawsuit was brought by Brian Tingley, a licensed marriage and family counselor, who argues that the law unconstitutionally censors his speech and infringes on his religious liberty. Any violation of the law can result in thousands of dollars in fines and a revocation of one’s counselor’s license.
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“The government should never control a counselor’s speech with his clients,” ADF Senior Counsel John Bursch said in a statement.
“Washington’s Counseling Censorship Law violates freedom of speech and harms counselors as well as clients,” Bursch added. “Brian has counseled all types of people for more than 20 years, and those conversations are private — certainly not open for the government to censor. The government has no business dictating what personal goals a client can pursue in counseling.”
The Supreme Court has also not taken up any cases related to abortion. However, a lawsuit related to the abortion pill mifepristone could also end up on the docket.
An appellate court ruled in August that the Food and Drug Administration failed to follow legally required safety protocol when it deregulated the drug and ordered that certain safeguards be reinstated. The Department of Justice has petitioned the Supreme Court to take up the case and overturn that ruling.
The deregulation in question allowed doctors to prescribe the abortion-inducing drug remotely through televisits and receive the drug through the mail.