Court Battles

Biden Justice Dept. updates court filing after blasted by LGBT groups

Greg Nash

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has submitted an updated court filing in a case over religious schools’ exemption to anti-discrimination laws after LGBT groups blasted the Biden administration over a previous filing.

In the updated motion from Wednesday shared with The Hill, the DOJ stressed that it will defend the law in court while the policy surrounding the federal law is reviewed by the Education Department.

The DOJ has opposed intervention in the case by several religious schools, arguing that the administration can “adequately” defend the exemption for religious schools.

“To be sure, the Department of Education is conducting a comprehensive review of its regulations implementing Title IX pursuant to” an executive order from March that “sets forth the current administration’s policy on guaranteeing an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex,” the DOJ said in the filing.

“But until that process is complete, it would be premature to conclude that the government is an inadequate representative.”

This comes after the DOJ said in Tuesday’s filing that they would “vigorously” defend an exemption to anti-LGBT discrimination laws for religious schools amid a lawsuit over funding for such institutions.

That line and other language explaining how the administration would approach the case was removed in the new filing. The Hill has reached out to the DOJ for comment.

“The condemnation of the DOJ’s position was swift. I think the DOJ’s amended filing shows the power of our movement and that the American people do not want to be supporting LGBTQ+ discrimination with taxpayer money,” Paul Southwick, director of the pro-LGBT Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP), said Thursday.

In the case, Hunter v. Department of Education, dozens of LGBT students who attend conservative religious schools are suing the federal government for providing funding to colleges and universities that they say have discriminatory policies.

While the DOJ is expected to defend federal statutes in court, various pro-LGBT groups blasted the agency’s decision to defend the law’s religious exemption.

Plaintiffs in the case suing the government had also said they felt “betrayed” by the Biden administration. 

“The administration did not need to defend this unconstitutional religious exemption. My clients feel betrayed by an administration that promised to protect them,” Southwick had said Wednesday.

–Updated at 2:08 p.m.

Tags LGBTQ rights U.S. Department of Justice
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