Biden's DOJ walks back intent to 'vigorously' defend religious school exemptions in anti-LGBTQ discrimination laws

An amended DOJ court filing on anti-LGBTQ discrimination laws removed 'vigorously' from a previous submitted version.

The DOJ now characterizes its effort to stand up for religious schools as 'adequate.'

Amid pressure from LGBTQ activists, the U.S. Department of Justice amended a court filing stating they would “vigorously” defend religious school’s exemption from laws which allow religious schools that are, in part, funded by the government to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals.

The new filing, as the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, the DOJ removed “vigorously” as a term to describe their approach to defending the exemption, but kept the usage of the word “adequate” to describe their approach.

 ”The Department of Justice, which is responsible for defending federal statutes in court, will adequately defend against the legal challenges the Religious Exemption and its application,” the updated filing states.

According to The Post, the move shows that the Joe Biden administration possibly exerted their force on the Department of Justice to remove the language.

Hunter v. the U.S. Department of Education, as Campus Reform reported in March, includes 40 students who are suing the U.S. Department of Education with the goal of putting an “end to the U.S. Department of Education’s complicity in the abuses and unsafe conditions thousands of LGBTQ+ students endure at hundreds of taxpayer-funded, religious colleges and universities.”

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, religious education institutions are exempt from anti-discrimination laws; therefore the DOJ has to step in to defend them. However, this prevents religious institutions from entering the lawsuit themselves. 

The Council of Christian Colleges and Universities previously said in a May motion that they could not trust the Biden administration to defend the schools’ beliefs and “may be openly hostile to them.” 

According to the article, Shirley Hoogstra, president of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, said that she was relieved at the DOJ’s filing, as it signals that the government will defend religious exemptions. However, she said that Christian schools that could be impacted by the lawsuit should have their own representative present during hearings.