Amy Coney Barrett warned to recuse from gay rights case — by ex-members of her own Christian group: report
Amy Coney Barrett (Photo by Susan Walsh for AFP)

On Monday, The Guardian reported that former members of Justice Amy Coney Barrett's controversial Christian organization, "People of Praise," are demanding that she recuse herself from an upcoming case which could create further exemptions for businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people on religious grounds.

"The former members are part of a network of 'survivors' of the controversial charismatic group who say Barrett’s 'lifelong and continued' membership in the People of Praise make her too biased to fairly adjudicate an upcoming case that will decide whether private business owners have a right to decline services to potential clients based on their sexual orientation," reported Stephanie Kirchgaessner. "They point to Barrett’s former role on the board of Trinity Schools Inc, a private group of Christian schools that is affiliated with the People of Praise and, in effect, barred admission to children of same-sex parents from attending the school."

The upcoming case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, will be argued on December 5: "It centers on a Christian website developer, Lori Smith, who has claimed an anti-discrimination law in Colorado has violated her right to free speech over same-sex marriage, which she says goes against her religious faith," said the report. "Smith has said the Colorado law has forced her to 'create messages that go against my deeply held beliefs' since she cannot legally turn away gay couples seeking her website services. Barrett said in her confirmation hearing that her personal religious beliefs would not interfere with her abilities to be an unbiased judge."

The case is similar in some ways to the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado case of 2018, which involved a baker, Jack Phillips, who defied Colorado anti-discrimination law by refusing to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, claiming his cakes are themselves artistic expression and therefore selling them a wedding cake, even a prefabricated wedding cake that he would sell to an opposite-sex couple, was a violation of his faith. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in Phillips' favor; Barrett was not on the Court at that time.

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People of Praise was a focus of heightened scrutiny when Barrett was nominated to the Court. The group traditionally exerted "total control" over the lives of women and girls, even literally giving Barrett and others the title of "handmaid," and former members have alleged cases of abuse. People of Praise denies these accusations and claim to have updated their practices around women.

This comes amid other crises of legitimacy at the Republican-dominated Supreme Court, including a New York Times report suggesting Justice Samuel Alito leaked his own opinion to right-wing activists ahead of a ruling on employer-provided contraception coverage in 2014.

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