In 2019, New York passed a law prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on the reproductive-health decisions of employees or their dependents. In January 2020, a crisis pregnancy center and its owner filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the new law, arguing, among other things, that it violated their free-speech and religious-exercise rights due to their religious opposition to abortion and contraception.
The plaintiffs filed a motion for an injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing the law against them, and the state filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In March 2021, the district court ruled in favor of the state, denying the plaintiffs’ injunction motion and dismissing the case.
The plaintiffs appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In August 2021, Americans United filed an amicus brief defending the constitutionality of the antidiscrimination law. The brief argued that the antidiscrimination law does not violate the plaintiffs’ religious-exercise rights. We explained that the law applies equally to religious and nonreligious organizations and to religious and nonreligious conduct, and that the right to freely exercise religion does not grant religious organizations an unfettered privilege to ignore antidiscrimination laws.
The Second Circuit heard oral argument in November 2021.