Monthly Archives: March 2019

Professor Katherine Franke signs on Amicus Brief in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and New Jersey v. Trump

On Monday, March 25th, Professor Katherine Franke, Faculty Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School, signed onto an amicus brief in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and New Jersey  v. Trump,* a challenge to two rules that exempt employers with religious or moral objections from compliance with the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Affordable Care Act. The brief explains that these rules actually conflict with Constitutional religious liberty law by requiring employees to bear the cost of their employer’s beliefs, regardless of their own religious or moral convictions. As explained in the brief:

“Those employees and their dependents will bear these costs as the price of accommodating their employers’ religious convictions. The Framers opposed forcing non-adherents to pay a small tax in order to support others’ beliefs. Yet the Religious Exemption Rule goes much further, forcing a nationwide subset of Americans to surrender their rights to preventive health care in order to benefit another subset of Americans opposed to contraception. The Establishment Clause forbids this.”

Two district courts have already blocked the rules from going into effect. The brief is available here:

* Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and New Jersey v. Trump is case No. 17-3752 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Event, April 15th: Contemporary Religious Liberty Claims: Free Exercise or License to Discriminate?

On Monday, April 15th, Professor Katherine Franke, Faculty Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project, will participate in a panel discussion and CLE Program hosted by the New York City Bar Association, entitled, “Contemporary Religious Liberty Claims: Free Exercise or License to Discriminate?”

This program is open to the public, and we are pleased to share it with our friends, colleagues, and followers of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project.

Details about the program follow below; Please register for the program via the NYC Bar Association website, at the link following:


Contemporary Religious Liberty Claims: Free Exercise or License to Discriminate?

Monday, April 15, 2019 | 6:00p.m.-8:00p.m.
New York City Bar Association, 42 West 44th Street

CLE Program Fee: Free to NYC Bar members and non-lawyers, $15 non-members (seeking CLE Credit)

Non-Lawyers please call Customer Relations to Register at (212) 382-6663
Experts will discuss legal and policy issues relating to the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and exemptions or accommodations to non-discrimination laws on the basis of freedom of speech and/or free exercise of religion. Topics will include the scope of free exercise in the public sphere; under what circumstances otherwise neutral laws conflict with free speech and/or free exercise; when is a judicial exemption or legislative accommodation appropriate and what factors militate in favor or against such requests; and what limits are imposed by the Establishment Clause on the granting of exemptions or accommodations. The program will cover the current state of the law and recent developments, including the Trump administration’s recent establishment of a Religious Liberty Task Force and the issuance of guidance on the treatment of religious liberty claims across the federal government.
Opening Remarks:  
  • Sheila S. Boston, Partner, Arnold & Porter
  • Ezra Cukor, Supervising Attorney, NYC Commission on Human Rights
  • James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project
  • Katherine Franke, Professor and Faculty Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project, Columbia Law School
  • Nelson Tebbe, Professor, Cornell Law School
  • Elizabeth Sepper, Professor, Princeton/Washington University in St. Louis School of Law
Sponsoring Association Committee:
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Rights Committee, Noah Lewis, Chair
Co-Sponsoring Association Committees:
  • Children and Law Committee, Sara L. Hiltzik, Chair
  • Education and the Law Committee, Laura D. Barbieri, Chair
  • Family Court & Family Law Committee, Glenn Metsch-Ampel, Chair
  • Immigration & Nationality Law Committee, Victoria F. Neilson, Chair
  • International Human Rights Committee, Lauren Melkus, Chair
  • Sex & Law Committee, Mirah E. Curzer & Melissa S. Lee Co-Chairs
Co-Sponsoring Organization:
  • City Bar Office for Diversity & Inclusion, Deborah Martin Owens, Executive Director