According to a report from The Daily Signal, Sen. Ted Cruz, along with Sen. James Lankford, made moves earlier today towards overturning two D.C. Council resolutions from earlier in the year:
In January, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed two euphemistically titled bills: the “Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act” and the “Human Rights Amendment Act.” The former could force employers in the nation’s capital to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans and require pro-life organizations to hire individuals who advocate for abortion. The latter could force Christian schools to violate their beliefs about human sexuality and recognize an LGBT student group or host a “gay pride” day on campus.
With only 23 days to act before the resolutions become law, Cruz’s move comes at an important time, and Congress is well within its power to overturn them. While being considered by the D.C. Council, the resolutions met staunch opposition from pro-life and religious groups. Even former Mayor Vincent Gray, a noted liberal, voiced his opposition and cited a review of the bills from the Office of the Attorney General. He wrote:
According to the OAG, the bill raises serious concerns under the Constitution and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). Religious organizations, religiously-affiliated organizations, religiously-driven for-profit entities, and political organizations may have strong First Amendment and RFRA grounds for challenging the law’s applicability to them.
Cruz’s legislation is the first step in protecting the rights of religiously affiliated organizations in D.C., and thus the first step to ensure the protection of the rights of religiously affiliated organizations nationwide, as prescribed by the Constitution.
But this issue has special resonance because the District of Columbia is supposed to be politically ‘neutral’ as the seat of the national government (one reason our Capitol isn’t in a state). Instead local law is creating asymmetric legal risks for conservative organizations and constituents. This is a bad move Congress needs to correct.
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Joshua Pinho works for American Principles in Action.