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Sean D. Reyes
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Attorney General Reyes Joins 15 Attorneys General to Defend Student Groups’ Freedom to Choose Leaders Who Share Their Beliefs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2020

Religious Beliefs and Freedom:  AG Reyes Joins 15 Attorneys General to Defend Student Groups’ Freedom to Choose Leaders Who Share Their Beliefs

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and Attorneys General from 15 states filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The brief supports a district court decision ruling that University of Iowa officials violated the First Amendment rights of student groups on campus.

Those university officials engaged in unlawful discrimination when they allowed some but not all student groups to require their leaders to share the group’s views. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was one of the organizations that school officials treated differently. They forbid InterVarsity from insisting on choosing leaders who affirm the group’s religious beliefs.

“Allowing a student group to require its leaders to agree with the group’s beliefs should not be controversial,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Without that right, student groups will be forced to accept leaders who reject their beliefs: For example, Democrat organi­zations must accept Republicans as leaders; and Buddhist groups must hand over control to Muslims.”

Iowa school officials did not apply their policies evenhandedly. Rather, they selectively targeted groups like InterVarsity for unfavorable treatment while allowing at least one other religious group—and countless nonreligious groups—to choose their leaders based on factors like religion, sex, creed, and political views.

The brief explains the university’s unfair application of its policies: “As to religion, the University defendants consider Love Works—[a] religious group whose views differ from InterVarsity—in compliance with its nondiscrimi­nation policies even though its leaders must ‘agree with the group’s core beliefs.’ . . . As to sex, registered sports clubs ‘restrict member­ship, participation, and leadership based on sex,’ and the University defendants allow all-female and all-male ‘Acapella group[s].’ . . . And as to creed, not only does ‘[t]he Iowa National Lawyers Guild exclude[ ] individuals be­cause of their political views,’ but also the University defendants con­firmed that ‘lots’ of other groups ‘exclude leaders who don’t share their creed.’”

The university’s actions threaten the rights of religious and secular student groups alike. If officials can target reli­gious groups like InterVarsity for disfavored treatment, nothing prevents other universities from similarly singling out an LGBT organization, environmental group, gun-rights association, or countless others. As the brief says, “[t]he rights of all groups on campus—no matter their views or beliefs—rise and fall together.”

Attorney General Reyes joins the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.

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Guarding the First Amendment

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the First Amendment prohibits states from turning pro-life pregnancy clinics into government mouthpieces required to convey a state’s preferred message about abortion.  Utah supports this decision, along with 20 other states who filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to protect the clinics’ First Amendment rights. 

It is a significant win. 

It all started in 2015 when California passed the Reproductive FACT Act. The legislation, an acronym for Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency, required two types of crisis pregnancy clinics – unlicensed and licensed – to post certain kinds of notices. Unlicensed crisis pregnancy centers had to disclose to their clients that they are not a licensed medical facility and have no licensed medical provider on staff. Licensed clinics that do not provide a full range of reproductive services had to post a sign informing clients that the State provides free or low-cost access to prenatal care, birth control, and other reproductive services, including abortion.

Most crisis-pregnancy centers are faith-based and pro-life. As a result, the FACT Act would require them to disseminate a message about practices they oppose. The states’ amicus brief opposed this requirement.  No other medical facility is required to inform its clients about services provided by other facilities.

The Supreme Court ruled that the FACT Act likely violates the First Amendment because the Act requires the clinics to speak a particular message that is not their own and therefore alters the content of their speech. This becomes an act of forced speech, since promoting alternative services, including abortion, would be a violation of their beliefs.

Bottom line:

Not only is the government not allowed to ban speech, it isn’t allowed to tell you what to say either.

For more documents, and information, check out SCOTUSblog

 

Utah Attorney General's Office

U.S. District Court Issues Permanent Injunction Against Department of Labor “Persuader Rule”

Proposed rule violates attorney-client privilege and would have chilling effect on First Amendment

SALT LAKE CITY November 18, 2016 – In an order issued this week, a district court has issued a permanent national injunction against a proposed Department of Labor (DOL) administrative rule. Utah was one of ten states nationwide, in cooperation with legal and business groups, to challenge the rule as an improper infringement on attorney-client communications. Attorney General Sean Reyes applauded the ruling.

“We are pleased that the court has permanently enjoined the Department of Labor’s so-called ‘persuader rule,’ which improperly infringes on attorney-client communications—an area of law historically the province of the states,” said Tyler Green, Utah Solicitor General. “The permanent injunction recognizes a key tenet of our federal system:  There are limits to what federal agencies can do.  Here, the Department of Labor exceeded those limits toward particularly harmful ends—invading and chilling confidential communications between attorneys and their clients.”

Instituted on March 24, the rule—known informally as the “persuader rule”—purported to reinterpret a section of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) that has long exempted from federal oversight communications between lawyers and clients during union-organizing campaigns. The persuader rule would have narrowed that exemption to exclude from it “indirect communications” by management-side consultants and lawyers during union-organizing campaigns—including speeches or scripts provided to supervisors to share with employees