Chris Slattery, a person who advocates for the sanctity of human life, had his lawsuit dismissed by a lower court, but that decision has been overturned by a federal court. Slattery, the founder of Expectant Mother Care (EMC), which is a network of pregnancy clinics centered in New York City and offers only pro-life alternatives to abortion, defended his organization’s purpose to help moms and families who are going through crisis pregnancies. EMC offers only pro-life alternatives to abortion.
In 2019, the state of New York approved a statute known as the “Boss Bill,” which included pro-abortion advocates within the scope of employment nondiscrimination protections. Employers are prohibited by law from basing employment and promotion choices on the “reproductive health” decisions of their workers or candidates. This includes the decision to have or encourage abortions.
The Thomas More Society (TMS), on behalf of Slattery’s Evergreen Association, Inc., which runs EMC and its “EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers,” filed a case in federal district court in January 2020 challenging this statute. The action was filed on behalf of Slattery’s Evergreen Association, Inc. The ruling that was handed down on Tuesday by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the lower court had erred when it rejected Evergreen’s allegation that the “Boss Bill” infringed its right to expressive association under the First Amendment.
We are aware of the difficulties that pro-life groups in New York confront as a result of laws such as the “Boss Bill,” which makes it illegal to discriminate against workers on the basis of their pro-abortion opinions or involvement in pro-abortion activities.
We acknowledge that pro-life groups have a constitutional right to the freedom of expressive association, and we believe that these organizations should not be compelled to recruit individuals who do not share their fundamental values. The recent decision by the Second Circuit to uphold Evergreen’s argument that the “Boss Bill” violated its right to expressive association under the First Amendment is a significant win for the pro-life movement, as well as for Catholic and Christian institutions and organizations.
No company, in our opinion, should be compelled to recruit staff members who are fundamentally opposed to the values that the company upholds. It would be a contradiction, and the organization would be vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy as a result. For instance, an atheist should not be required to work as a teacher at a religious school, and an adoption facilitator who despises dogs should not be required to work at an animal shelter.
According to Timothy Belz, the special counsel for the Thomas More Society, “Evergreen’s constitutional right to expressive association allows it to determine that its pro-life views can be conveyed only by those who completely support and affirm the organization’s mission, in both word and deed.” Evergreen has determined that its pro-life views can only be conveyed by those who fully support and affirm the organization’s mission.
The ruling of the Second Circuit will have substantial repercussions for the whole country. The states have to come to terms with the fact that measures such as the “Boss Bill” will not survive constitutional scrutiny. We have faith that this decision will persuade state legislatures not to pass laws that would violate the First Amendment rights of organizations, including the freedom to collaborate with people who share their ideals.
In conclusion, we believe that the recent judgment made by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Evergreen’s allegation that the “Boss Bill” infringed its right to expressive association under the First Amendment should be supported. Our viewpoint is that no company or organization should be forced to recruit workers whose values and beliefs are diametrically opposed to their own.
We have high hopes that this decision will serve to dissuade state legislatures from passing laws that would infringe upon the First Amendment rights of organizations, especially the freedom to collaborate with individuals who have similar beliefs to their own.
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