The AACS Legislative Office monitors issues that affect the educational freedom and religious liberty of Christian schools.
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The Washington Flyer
November 4, 2016

“Sir, when is the Time for brave Men to exert themselves in the Cause of Liberty and their Country, if this is not? Should any Difficulties that they may have to encounter at this important Crisis deter them? God knows there is not a Difficulty that you both (very justly) complain of that I have not in an eminent Degree experienced; that I am not every Day experiencing, but we must bear up against them, and make the best of Mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish.”
Gen. George Washington
(in a letter to General Schuyler on his complaints during the early dark days of the War for Independence)
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Ronald Reagan
Supreme Court to Hear Transgender Case
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., which will address the Obama transgender mandate. Last spring, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) issued a guidance letter which reinterpreted federal law and instructed all public schools to implement a policy that allows students to use the bathroom or locker room or overnight accommodations of their chosen gender identity, regardless of any concerns from parents or other students, and strongly implied that federal funding could be tied to schools’ compliance with the new policy. The administration used Title IX, the education law that prohibits sex discrimination, as the basis for the new nondiscrimination policy, claiming the term sex included gender identity. The guidance letter sparked a fury of controversy, with parents expressing concern over their children’s safety and state leaders charging the administration overstepped its authority. Several lawsuits have been filed, challenging various aspects of the mandate. In August, a federal judge in Texas blocked the mandate from moving forward nationwide with a ruling that the administration had overstepped its authority when making such a substantive rule without going through the proper Congressional channels. The administration has filed an appeal to that decision in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Gloucester County case now before the Supreme Court involves a transgender student, Gavin Grimm, who sued her county school board for prohibiting her from using the boys’ bathrooms and other sex-segregated school facilities. The lawsuit charges that Gloucester County school board in Virginia is violating Title IX; however, the school board contends that the federal statute was not written to include gender identity in its definition of sex. A district court ruled in favor of the school; then the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, ruling in favor of Grimm. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court granted a stay in the case, allowing the school board temporarily to prohibit Grimm from using the boys’ facilities while the case is ongoing. In taking up the case, the Supreme Court will decide on two issues: whether or not the DOE’s new interpretation of “sex discrimination” will stand and whether or not the guidance letter, which established the mandate but does not carry the force of law, falls under “Auer deference” (a legal doctrine which requires courts to follow a department’s interpretation of a rule or regulation). A date for oral arguments has not been scheduled. Court pundits have noted that the vacancy of Justice Scalia’s seat has made the Court somewhat reluctant to take on many contentious cases, so it is possible they will wait until Scalia’s seat has been filled before scheduling oral arguments.

Religious Liberty

Obama Threatens Veto of Defense Bill Over Religious Freedom Language
President Obama is
threatening to veto a major defense spending bill in order to block a religious freedom amendment from being included in the bill. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a bill debated and passed each year to set the funding levels for our military. Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) offered an amendment to this year’s bill that would prevent the government from discriminating against religious social service providers by disqualifying them from receiving federal grants and contracts simply because of faith-based staffing policies. This amendment stems from the many recent attacks on religious institutions regarding staffing in accordance with their religious beliefs on marriage and gender. The amendment would expand the same exemptions granted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to federal grants and contracts. The bill has already passed both Houses of Congress and is currently being discussed in a joint conference to work out the differences between the House and Senate version before sending the final version the President.

Religious Liberty

Administration Releases New Rule Requiring LGBT Equality in Religious Aid Organizations
Last week, the Obama Administration
issued a final rule regarding requirements for religious organizations that contract with the federal government to provide humanitarian aid. According to the rule, groups that partner with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are barred from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity when offering services. While National Security Adviser Susan Rice praised the rule for prohibiting discrimination against those who are served, conservatives contend that this rule actually will create situations of conflict for religious organizations that adhere to biblical views of marriage and sexuality. Roger Severino of the Heritage Foundation offered this example: “Disaster relief agencies may now be required to open their women’s shower and sleeping facilities to biological males who self-identify as women or be stripped of all funding for alleged ‘gender identity discrimination.’” Approximately $16 billion in USAID funding goes to nonprofits and private organizations, many of which are religious in nature, that provide services to help those in need.



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