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Justin Butterfield

Conscience and Religious Freedom Senior Advisor, Office for Civil Rights

Justin Butterfield is a lawyer who has spent his career focused on religious freedom and conscience rights. Before joining HHS, he was senior counsel and director of research and education at First Liberty Institute, a legal organization dedicated to anti-abortion litigation. During his time at First Liberty, Butterfield aggressively criticized and litigated against Obamacare’s birth control mandate. (In 2017, First Liberty lawyers advised Trump administration officials on plans to weaken Obamacare’s birth control mandate.) He is a member of the Federalist Society and was a Blackstone Fellow at the anti-abortion extremist group Alliance Defending Freedom.


Butterfield has a significant track record of attacking birth control and abortion access on religious liberty grounds. As a senior advisor in the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, he is in a position to use his interpretations of religious freedom and conscience laws to impede reproductive health care access by prioritizing the beliefs of medical providers who oppose birth control and abortion over the needs of women seeking those services.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws, health privacy laws and conscience laws. The Washington Post reported that the Office for Civil Rights during Trump's tenure “has been greatly strengthening and expanding protections for health care providers who have religious- or conscience-based objections to procedures such as abortion.” It went on to say that “the makeover appears radical, one that critics worry will jeopardize the care of pregnant women and transgender individuals, as well as others who could be denied certain procedures.”


Senior Counsel and Director of Research and Education at First Liberty Institute, 2010 – 2017

Staffer for Rick Green for Texas Supreme Court campaign, 2009 – 2010


Kelly Shackelford:

Shackelford is the founder of First Liberty Institute, which works “to erode the firewall between church and state” and defends anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion positions in the courts. Shackelford once penned a piece entitled “Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Starts New Religious Freedom War.”

Alliance Defending Freedom:

Butterfield was a Blackstone Fellow at the anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ Christian extremist organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has provided legal representation to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers and a baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated ADF as a hate group.


Justin Butterfield Said That The Conscience And Religious Freedom Division Is Working To “Change The Culture” At HHS To Make It Easier For Entities To Opt Out Of Providing Reproductive Health Care For Women

At A Federalist Society Panel, Butterfield Said HHS Under Trump Was Making It Easier For Entities To Deny Women Reproductive Health Care Such As Birth Control

Butterfield Said That Before The Trump Administration, The Federal Government And HHS Often “Were The Problem” For Making It Harder To Deny Women Birth Control Coverage Under The ACA. “Unfortunately, now that respect for conscience that has existed throughout the history of this country is coming under attack, and a lot of it because so many Americans have a different worldview now…[Lists lawsuits concerning Obamacare’s birth control mandate] And those who don’t understand the core place that religious beliefs take in religious believers’ lives don’t understand — why can’t you just do it? What can’t you just provide the coverage? You can tell us you don’t agree with it. You don’t have to put your name on it, but why not just provide it? Because they don’t understand how core, how fundamental to people’s lives that is In some of these situations, the federal government and, unfortunately, HHS in particular were the problem, either directly, such as with the Affordable Care Act contraceptive mandate, or indirectly through a lack of energy in enforcement of the conscience protection statutes that Congress has already given us. But this administration is committed to restoring the protections for conscience and religious freedom. You can’t have laws that -- even though they look like they’re neutral on their face, they look like they apply to everybody -- but the underlying facts of the situation that led to those laws is governmental targeting of religion.” [The Federalist Society, 9/14/2018]

Butterfield Said That One Of The Conscience And Religious Freedom Division’s Purposes Is To “Change The Culture” At HHS To Make It Easier To Opt Out Of Regulations That Protect Women’s Reproductive Rights Like The ACA's Birth Control Mandate. “So the Department of Health and Human Services has taken its approach to defending the rights of conscience and religious freedom. Last year, we issued interim final rules protecting religious beliefs and moral convictions with respect to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. And then in January of this year, the Office for Civil Rights announced the establishment of the Conscience and Religious Freedom division to restore enforcement of our nation’s existing laws that protect our first freedom, and to encourage a culture within the Department of Health and Human Services that respects the rights of conscience and religious freedom…We created a new division so that it would create parity within the Office for Civil Rights with our two divisions: one is the Civil Rights division that handles other civil rights statutes, and the other is HIPAA...Now with HIPAA and Civil Rights, we have the Conscience and Religious Freedom division…We also did something interesting: to attempt to change the culture within the Department of Health and Human services to be respectful of the rights of conscience and religious freedom, we got a delegation to enforce RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] within HHS, to the Conscience and Religious Freedom division. And with that delegation, whenever HHS does something that might be violative of a person’s religious freedom, we as an internal office can look at the statute, and look at what HHS is trying to do, and we can say, ‘Okay, is there going to be a religious liberty problem here? Is what HHS is doing, does it comport with federal law and federalized requirements?’ So we’re hoping that by doing that, we will ensure that the department as a whole is protective and respectful of religious liberty. [The Federalist Society, 9/14/2018]

Butterfield Claimed That Before The Trump Administration, The ACA Made It Too Difficult For Entities To Opt Out Of Providing Reproductive Health Care To Women. “So the Office for Civil Rights within the Department of Health and Human Services has long had enforcement authority for certain federal conscience protections, such as the Weldon Amendment, the Coates-Snow Amendment, the Church amendments, and that enforcement has been very weak historically. And when we have received complaints about it, we have found what I would call creative ways to get out of it. So for example, the Weldon Amendment states: ‘None of the funds made available in this act may be made available to a federal agency or program, or to a state or local government if such agency, program, or government subjects any institutional or individual healthcare entity to discrimination on the basis that the healthcare entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.’ Now when we received a complaint under the Weldon Amendment that a state government had discriminated against an entity for refusing to provide coverage of abortions, previously the HHS Office for Civil Rights said, ‘Well, you don’t really have a Weldon complaint here because you didn’t meet the religious or moral convictions test under Weldon, you didn’t state what your moral and religious conviction test was.’ Now how many of you caught the religious and moral conviction test that you have to state under the Weldon Amendment? So again, it says, ‘None of the funds made available under this act can go to a federal agency or program, or state or local government if they discriminate against any institutional or individual healthcare entity.’ Well you can’t see it, because it’s in the invisible writing that you need the special bureaucratic goggles to read, and so only those of us who have been gifted these goggles can see that there’s actually some other text there. [laughing] The interesting thing about this is I’ve always thought of textualism as an area where the judiciary needs training, but since being at HHS I’ve seen that bureaucrats need training in textualism too. Nowhere within the Weldon Amendment does it state that you have to state what your beliefs are before you can be protected for that. So we in the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division at the Department of Health and Human Services are working to make sure these laws are enforced as Congress wrote them, and we’re making sure there’s a vigorous enforcement, that these laws are not mere words on the paper but that they actually have substance.” [The Federalist Society, 9/14/2018]

Butterfield Said That Under The Trump Administration, Conscience Complaints To Deny Women Reproductive Health Care Have Increased Exponentially; He Then Encouraged People To File Complaints. “As you can imagine, when we keep issuing letter opinions that get rid of these complaints for things like the invisible clauses that aren’t there, it discourages people from filing complaints with the Office for Civil Rights. In the eight years before the 2016 election, the Office for Civil Rights received ten total conscience complaints...Since we’ve created the Conscience and Religious Freedom division, as of yesterday, we’ve had about 165 unique complaints -- from the election to yesterday. So apparently there’s quite a bit more than one person per year, just over one person per year, who feels that their rights of conscience are violated, and we’re working to make sure that where there is violations of federal conscience protection statutes, that those violations are dealt with. We are going to enforce the law… And we are open for business, so you can help us. If you become aware of a situation where a person’s conscience and religious freedom are being violated, go to our website and you can send us a complaint. [The Federalist Society, 9/14/2018]

Butterfield Represented Organizations Challenging Obamacare’s Birth Control Mandate In Court

Butterfield Represented Organizations Challenging Obamacare’s Birth Control Mandate And The Law’s Religious Accommodation Allowing Organizations To Outsource Birth Control Coverage To Third Party Administrators In Court

Butterfield Represented Insight For Living Ministries (IFLM) In A Lawsuit “Defending Its Religious Liberty Rights And Conscience Rights” From What He Referred To As The “Abortion Pill Mandate.” “Liberty Institute will defend the religious liberty rights and conscience rights of Insight for Living Ministries' (IFLM)-one of the nation's most respected international Bible-teaching ministries founded by Pastor Charles R. Swindoll, former President and current Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary-in a preliminary injunction hearing in the United States District Court, challenging the federal government's abortion pill mandate, which requires even Christian ministries to facilitate the provision of abortion-inducing drugs and devices. A press availability will follow the hearing at the courthouse. Who:  Matthew Kacsmaryk, Liberty Institute Deputy General Counsel, and Justin Butterfield, Liberty Institute Senior Counsel, will attend the hearing on behalf of IFLM, and the attorneys will hold a press availability for working press at the court house following the hearing.” [PR Newswire, 11/12/2014]

  • In Addition To Arguing That IFLM Should Not Be Required To Provide Its Employees With Health Insurance That Covers Contraception, The Lawsuit Claimed That Using Obamacare’s Religious Accommodation Would Also Violate The Ministry’s Religious Beliefs Because It “Facilitated” Birth Control Coverage. “27. The 2013 Mandate creates a separate ‘accommodation’ for certain non-exempt  religious organizations. This ‘accommodation’ was modified on August  27, 2014, by an interim final rule (the 2013 Mandate, incorporating the August 27, 2014,  modification, is the ‘Final Mandate’). 28. An organization is eligible for the accommodation if it (1) ‘[o]pposes providing  coverage for some or all of the contraceptive services required’; (2) ‘is organized and operates  as a nonprofit entity’; (3) ‘holds itself out as a religious organization’; and (4) ‘self-certifies that  it satisfies the first three criteria.’ 29. The self-certification must be executed ‘prior to the beginning of the first plan  year to which an accommodation is to apply.’…32. Thus, an eligible organization would need to execute a self-certification prior to  its first plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2014, and either (1) deliver EBSA Form 700  to the organization’s insurer or, if the organization has a self-insured plan, to the plan’s third  party administrator or (2) deliver written notice to HHS, which results in the Department of Labor’s notifying the organization’s insurer or, if the organization has a self-insured plan, the  plan’s third-party administrator, that the eligible organization opposes providing coverage for certain contraceptive drugs…34. The effect of delivering either EBSA Form 700 to its third-party administrator or written notice to the HHS is to trigger, directly or indirectly, the third-party administrator’s obligations to ‘provide payments for contraceptive services,’ including contraceptives that may harm or kill a fertilized human embryo like copper intrauterine devices (‘IUDs’) (ParaGard, ParaGard T380A), etonogestrel (Implanon, Nexplanon), levonorgestral (Escapelle, Jadelle, Levonelle, My Way, Next Choice, Nogestat, Nordette, NorLevo, Norplant, Plan B, Plan B One-Step, Postinor, Seasonale, Seasonique), levonorgestrel IUDs (Jaydess, Mirena, Skyla), and ulipristal acetate (Ella, EllaOne). 35. Because IFLM has sincerely-held religious objections to facilitating, including  indirectly, the provision of abortion-inducing drugs or procedures or education in the use thereof, accepting the ‘accommodation’ and signing either EBSA Form 700 or the notice to HHS would violate IFLM’s sincerely-held religious beliefs by causing IFLM to facilitate such provision through its third-party administrator.” [ACLU, 10/22/2014]

Butterfield Represented The Christian And Missionary Alliance Foundation — A Group Of Retirement Homes And Colleges Associated With The Christian Missionary Alliance — In A Lawsuit Arguing That The Birth Control Mandate Violated The Organization’s Religious Freedom. “On October 3, 2014, plaintiffs Christian and Missionary Alliance Foundation, Inc. (doing business as Shell Point Retirement Community)(Shell Point), The Alliance Community for Retirement Living, Inc. (Alliance Community), The Alliance Home of Carlisle, Pennsylvania (doing business as Chapel Pointe at Carlisle)(Chapel Pointe), Town and Country Manor of The Christian and Missionary Alliance (Town & Country Manor), Simpson University, and Crown College (collectively plaintiffs) filed a Complaint and Request for Injunctive Relief (Doc. #1) challenging certain regulations issued under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the Affordable Care Act, ACA, or PPACA) that require them to directly or indirectly provide insurance coverage to their employees which include abortifacient drugs, devices, or services. Plaintiffs are either religious nonprofit retirement communities affiliated with The Christian and Missionary Alliance religious denomination (CMA) or religious nonprofit colleges and universities affiliated with CMA. None of the plaintiffs are exempt from the ACA or its regulations. Defendants are the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Secretary of the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the Secretary of the United States Department of Treasury (Treasury), and the Treasury (collectively defendants or the United States). In their six-count Complaint, plaintiffs assert that forced compliance with the regulations is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1 (Count One), and a violation of their rights under both the First and/or Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution (Counts Two-Six). (Doc. #1.) Plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction is premised only on the RFRA claim. (Doc. #20, p. 27.)…Attorney(s) appearing for the Case: Christian and Missionary Alliance Foundation, Inc., doing business as Shell Point Retirement Community, Plaintiff, represented by Christopher Adam Roach, Adams & Reese, LLP, Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, Liberty Institute,  Stephanie Marie Martin, Adams & Reese, LLP, Jeffery C. Mateer, Liberty Institute, Jeremiah G. Dys, Liberty Institute & Justin E. Butterfield, Liberty Institute.” [Leagle, 2/3/2015]

  • As In The IFLM Case, Butterfield Claimed That Obamacare’s Religious Accommodation Would Still Violate The Christian And Missionary Alliance Foundation’s Religious Freedom Rights Because It Was “Morally Tantamount To Providing The Objected-To-Contraceptives Themselves.” “…When implementing the ‘preventive care’ provision of the ACA, the Department of Health and Human Services (‘HHS’) decided that only some religious believers were entitled to the full protections that the [Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993] provides. Knowing that several religious entities—both churches and other religious organizations—objected to having any involvement in providing contraceptives, HHS nonetheless decided to provide a complete exemption from the contraceptive mandate only for churches, and not for other religious organizations. In HHS’s view, non-church religious organizations that shared identical religious beliefs with exempt churches did not deserve the same protection. Instead, they merited only an ‘accommodation,’ which required them to authorize another entity to take over a portion of their healthcare plans and use the plans to provide contraceptive coverage in their stead—an action that the religious objectors consider morally tantamount to providing the objected-to contraceptives themselves. HHS exceeded its delegated authority and violated the text of RFRA, as well as its history and express purpose, when it refused to protect all religious objectors on equal terms, and created a bifurcated scheme separating those it believed were sufficiently “religious” from those it deemed insufficiently ‘religious.’ HHS’s repeated disregard for the RFRA rights of religious objectors should not be allowed to stand.” [SCOTUSBlog]

Butterfield Wrote An Article Attacking The Obamacare Rule Prohibiting Discrimination Against Abortion Seekers And Transgender People

Butterfield Wrote An Article Attacking The Section Of The Affordable Care Act That Prohibits Discrimination Against Those Seeking Abortions And Transgender People; Butterfield Derisively Referred To The Rule As The “Transgender Mandate”

In An Article Published Shortly After The Election Of Donald Trump, Butterfield Wrote That HHS Should “Repudiate The False Premise That Faith-Based Providers Must Forfeit Their Deepest Religious Convictions To Participate In Federally Funded Programs.” “Incoming HHS Secretary Tom Price should reinstate conscience rights. Against the grain of American history and American health care policy, the decision makers who promulgated the HHS Transgender Mandate refused to include particular conscience protections for religious practitioners whose view of the human body is different from the definition codified in the Section 1557 regulation...Threats of litigation against medical professionals who seek to abide by their consciences could continue unless incoming HHS Secretary Tom Price repudiates the false premise that faith-based providers, physicians, and practitioners must forfeit their deepest religious convictions to participate in federally funded programs. Similarly, if Congress chooses to retain or revise the ACA, it should add to the Transgender Mandate what HHS conspicuously omitted: particularized conscience protections for medical professionals who cannot use a scalpel or syringe in a manner that violates their faith.”  [The Jurisprudence of the Body, Texas Review of Law and Politics, 2016-17]

Butterfield Argued That The So-Called “Transgender Mandate” Was “On A Collision Course With Millennia-Old Theologies Of The Body.” “The HHS Transgender Mandate was promulgated pursuant to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and administratively redefines the longstanding protected class ‘sex’ to include three new categories not listed in the original federal nondiscrimination statutes: (1) ‘gender identity,’ (2) ‘sex stereotyping,’ and (3) ‘termination of pregnancy. These three categories are broadly defined, thereby maximizing the potential for liability or litigation...Consequently, medical providers and practitioners may be required to cover, perform, or facilitate sex-reassignment procedures and whatever abortion services may fall within the HHS’s administrative reading of the words ‘termination of pregnancy’ in direct contravention of their longstanding religious beliefs. These requirements are on a collision course with millennia-old theologies of the body—for example, the Abrahamic religions that share the Book of Genesis and adhere to the imago dei view of the human body: ‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ Despite numerous public comments seeking an exemption for religious providers and religious practitioners, HHS did not provide a safe harbor for Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, Orthodox Jewish, Sunni Muslim, or other religious physicians who cannot use their scalpels to make female what God created male, cannot use their syringes to feminize biological males or masculinize biological females, and cannot use their pens to prescribe or dispense abortifacient drugs designed to kill unborn children. Instead, the HHS Transgender Mandate advises religious dissenters that they can always sue the federal government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).” [The Jurisprudence of the Body, Texas Review of Law and Politics, 2016-17]

Butterfield Supported Laws That Protect Discrimination Against LGBTQ People

Butterfield Has Spoken Approvingly Of Laws That Protect Discrimination Against LGBTQ People

Butterfield Threatened To Sue Over A San Antonio City Ordinance That Prohibits Discrimination Against LGBTQ People. “Opponents have focused on the Prior Discriminatory Acts section, which said, ‘no person shall be appointed to a position if the City Council finds that such person’ has engaged in discriminatory behavior. That section, which already exists in city code - sans references to sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status - was removed from the draft ordinance. Still, opponents have used it to excoriate the entire council.…Justin Butterfield, a lawyer with the Liberty Institute, the firm that's threatened a lawsuit, said even with the removal of the section about prior discriminatory activity, the subsequent section could be interpreted to infringe on a person's religious beliefs. He called the clause ‘clearly unconstitutional.’ City officials, however, say the intent of the ‘Discrimination by Appointed Officials’ section is to prevent city officials from taking official action that discriminates based on protected classes, including sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, the clause would prevent a Zoning Commission member from voting against a zoning request from a same-sex couple because of their orientation. Butterfield declined to say whether the Liberty Institute supports or opposes adding protection for the LGBT community. ‘Our only goal is to protect religious liberty. We would want there to be an expressed exemption for people who have a religious opposition to it,’ he said. ‘Beyond that, I don't want to comment on a hypothetical ordinance that we haven't seen how it (would be) applied.’” [San Antonio Express News, 8/5/2013]

Butterfield Claimed That Mississippi Legislation Aimed At Allowing People And Businesses To Refuse Service to LGBTQ People Was “Just Getting Mississippi’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act Up To Par.” “In recent months, the concept of religious freedom has become central to an often embittered national discussion, as bills in Arizona, Kansas, Idaho,  Mississippi, and elsewhere move to allow business owners to turn away not only homosexual customers, but anyone they feel serving would violate their faith…Mississippi’s own bill, SB 2681, was stripped in February of its provision allowing a defendant in a discrimination lawsuit to claim a burden being placed on his or her religious beliefs....Finkelman said he was skeptical toward bills like the original SB 2681, because they allow business owners to impose their private religion on others in the public marketplace. For instance, a florist could deny providing service for a homosexual marriage. ‘These aren’t practices carried out in the privacy of their own home,’ Finkelman said. ‘These laws allow people to violate the law if they don’t like it in normal day-to-day commerce.’ But Justin Butterfield, senior counsel to the Texas-based Liberty Institute, said religious liberty wouldn’t need protecting if it was always private....‘That’s the whole point, when personal beliefs come in contact with the public sphere,’ Butterfield said. ‘If you’re protected until the minute you step outside, isn’t that protection kind of hollow?’ He added that the language of SB 2681 has been misunderstood and overblown. ‘Nothing in this bill addresses homosexual conduct,’ he said. ‘It’s just getting Mississippi’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act up to par.’” [The Daily Journal, 3/15/2014]

Butterfield Spoke Approvingly About Proposed Texas Laws Intended To “Exempt Religious Groups From Nondiscrimination Laws On Hiring And Housing” LGBTQ People; The Proposed Laws Also Sought To “Protect Small Businesses From Having To Provide Goods Or Services For Same Sex Couples, Not Require Judges To Perform Same-Sex Weddings, And Not Force Government Employees To Comply With The US Supreme Court Ruling That Allowed For Gay Marriage.” “With gay marriage a reality and 10 Texas cities adding legal protection based on sexual orientation, some religious Texans — particularly conservative Christians — are pressing for state laws that would allow them to avoid situations that could violate their beliefs. It’s an issue that Texas Republicans have embraced, and on Wednesday, state senators began working on where to draw the line that separates being true to a religion from discriminating against other Texans….To avoid lengthy, expensive trials to determine if a government has a compelling interest to limit certain religious practices, Starr recommended that the Legislature pass a series of laws clarifying specific religious-liberty and freedom-of-conscience rights. Starr pointed to 10 recommendations his boss, Attorney General Ken Paxton, made to legislators last October, such as exempting religious groups from nondiscrimination laws on hiring and housing. Paxton also recommended protecting small businesses from having to provide goods or services for same-sex couples, not requiring judges to perform same-sex weddings, and not forcing government employees to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed gay marriage. Justin Butterfield, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, agreed, saying targeted laws like those advocated by Paxton would draw a bright line letting governments and citizens ‘know what is and is not protected religious conduct.’ Robertson said the problem with targeted laws is that they ‘are often worded in a way to give people the ability to use their personal religious beliefs to harm someone else or discriminate against someone else.’” [Austin American-Statesman, 9/23/2016]

Butterfield Filed A Legal Brief Arguing That Schools Should Not Be Made To Allow Transgender Students To Use The Bathrooms That Correspond With Their Gender Identities. “The suit was brought against the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia by a transgender student wanting to use the boys' bathroom. That lawsuit comes after the Obama administration issued a policy in 2015 stating public schools must allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their so-called gender identity. First Liberty Institute attorney Justin Butterfield says they filed the brief on behalf of 22 religious educational institutions and educators, something no one else has done. ‘Federal government shouldn't be able to change national policy,’ he argues, ‘just on the basis of a letter from a low-level official without any sort of input from affected schools, colleges, organizations and professors.’” [One News Now, 1/26/2017]

Butterfield Testified In Favor Of A Law That Allows Foster Agencies And Parents To Cite Religious Objections To Impede Birth Control And Abortion Access For Kids In Their Care. “The ‘Freedom to Serve Children Act’ (HB 3859) passed 93-49 in of the Texas House of Representatives this week…The legislation applies to both taxpayer-funded and privately run child welfare services. Among other provisions under consideration, the bill ensures that a child welfare service provider who ‘has declined or will decline to provide, facilitate, or refer a person for abortions, contraceptives, or drugs, devices, or services that are potentially abortion-inducing’ won’t face adverse action. ‘For example, if a foster parent has a religious objection to providing an abortion for a foster child, then this bill would permit the foster parent to refer the child to the state agency or to another provider to get the abortion,’ Justin Butterfield, senior counsel at religious-freedom law firm First Liberty Institute, told LifeZette in a phone conversation. ‘So the foster parent can remain a foster parent without violating his or her religious convictions.’ Essentially this ‘increases the number of paths available to children to be connected with adoptive families,’ Butterfield said.” [Lifezette, 5/12/2017]

  • The Law Also Allows Faith-Based Child Welfare Organizations To Discriminate Against LGBTQ People Seeking To Foster Or Adopt. “Can a Christian adoption agency require households that adopt children to consist of both a mom and a dad? Can a foster parent prevent a pregnant foster child from getting an abortion? These questions should have a clear answer — yet they’ve stirred up great controversy in Texas. ‘Christian Homes & Family Services based in Abilene, for example, considers only prospective adoptive parents who attend church weekly and have been married for two years,’ The Dallas Morning News reported. ‘Buckner International, based in Dallas, will consider single people on a case-by-case basis, but lets only couples married for four years or more become foster parents.’ Lawmakers in Texas have taken steps to ensure the government does not punish faith-based adoption and foster care service providers for acting in accordance with ‘sincerely held religious beliefs.’ Meanwhile, the LGBT community has fired back…The ‘Freedom to Serve Children Act’ (HB 3859) passed 93-49 in of the Texas House of Representatives this week…First Liberty attorney Butterfield testified in relevant legislative committees on this topic. ‘A more accurate narrative would be the Freedom to Serve Children Act promotes inclusivity and diversity among adoption and foster care agency by ensuring that the government doesn’t discriminate against any of them,’ Butterfield told LifeZette. ‘It protects religious liberty rights for people of all faiths and ensures that they don’t have to choose between following their faith and serving children.’ The legislation ‘avoids unnecessary litigation’ and ‘ensures we maximize the number of families who can provide child welfare [and placement] services,’ Butterfield also noted.” [Lifezette, 5/12/2017]

Butterfield Was Editor-In-Chief Of A Report That Characterized Efforts To Enforce Healthcare And Anti-Discrimination Laws As Attacks On Religious Liberty

Butterfield Was Editor-In-Chief Of First Liberty Institute’s “Undeniable: The Survey Of Hostility To Religion In America,” Which Characterized Dozens Of Instances Of Discrimination And Refusal To Provide Healthcare Services As Exercises Of Religious Liberty.

The Survey’s List Of Supposed Attacks On Religious Freedom And Conscience Rights Included: [Undeniable: The Survey Of Hostility To Religion In America, 2017]

  • Pharmacy Appeals to Supreme Court to Protect Conscience Rights. Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, 586 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2009). The Stormans family, who run Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia, Washington, have religious beliefs against dispensing abortion-causing drugs. The Ninth Circuit, however, has ordered the pharmacy to dispense these drugs. The Stormans appealed to the Supreme Court to protect their right to follow their conscience rather than be forced to be complicit in ending a human life, but the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
  • Pharmacist Fired After Refusing to Sell Abortifacient Contraceptives. Hall v. Walgreen Company, No. 2:14-cv-00015 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 19 2015). For six years, Walgreens accommodated Pharmacist Dr. Philip Hall’s deeply held religious beliefs, including his strong objection to the dispensation of abortion-inducing drugs. When customers asked for these drugs, he either referred them to another pharmacist there or another nearby pharmacy. However, in August 2013, Walgreens attempted to coerce Hall to violate his religious beliefs. After he was fired, Hall filed a lawsuit in federal court to protect his religious freedom. The case settled.
  • Chevrolet Dealership Challenges Obamacare’s Abortifacient Coverage Mandate. Holland v. U.S. Dep’t. of Health and Human Svcs., No. 2:13-15487 (S.D.W.V. filed Jun. 24, 2013). Joe Holland Chevrolet is a family-owned Chevrolet dealership whose stated purpose is “to glorify and honor God by being faithful stewards for all that is entrusted to us.” Because of the Holland family’s strong religious beliefs regarding abortion, Joe Holland Chevrolet does not want to fund abortifacient drugs like Plan B (the “day-after pill”) and Ella (the “week-after pill”) as required by Obamacare’s HHS Mandate. Liberty Institute worked with Joe Holland Chevrolet to fight the government’s requirements that the Holland family’s company fund these abortion-inducing drugs.
  • Christian Photographer Fined for Refusing to Photograph Same-Sex Wedding. Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock, No. 33,687 (N.M. 2013). A Christian photography company was sued after declining for religious reasons to take a job photographing a homosexual couple’s commitment ceremony. The New Mexico Human Rights Commission ordered the photographer to pay over $6,600 in attorney’s fees. The New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed, with one justice stating that the photographers “now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
  • Bed and Breakfast Ordered to Rent Rooms to Homosexual Couples. Cervelli v. Aloha Bed & Breakfast, No. 11-1-3103-12 (Haw. 1st Ckt. 2013). Lambda Legal filed suit against Hawaii’s Aloha Bed & Breakfast for refusing to rent a room to a lesbian couple because of religious beliefs of the bed and breakfast’s owners. The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission also intervened in the case against the bed and breakfast. The court held that the bed and breakfast violated Hawaii’s public accommodation laws and must rent rooms to homosexual couples.
  • Students Forced to Sue for Right to Wear Shirts Opposing Day of Silence. Zamecnik v. Indian Prairie School District #204, 636 F.3d 874 (7th Cir. 2011). A school prohibited two students in Naperville, Illinois, from wearing Tshirts that stated, “Be Happy, Not Gay,” to protest the Day of Silence, a day intended to draw attention to discrimination faced by homosexual students. The two students wished to wear the shirts to show their religious beliefs. The Seventh Circuit held that the school could not prohibit the students from wearing the T-shirt because of the potential for “hurt feelings.”
  • Former Employee Sues Ministry for Holding to Religious Beliefs. Pedreira v. Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children, Inc., 579 F.3d 722 (6th Cir. 2009). Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children (KBHC) is a Christian organization that provides assistance to abused children. Due to its religious beliefs, KBHC has a policy against supporting homosexual conduct. Accordingly, KBHC terminated one of its employees, Alicia Pedreira, after discovering her active lesbian conduct. Pedreira sued KBHC for holding to its religious beliefs, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found in favor of KBHC. Pedreira then tried to cut KHBC’s government funding, stating that it violated the Establishment Clause. A settlement ensued that allowed KHBC to keep its funding but subjected them to intense scrutiny regarding any religious activity.
  • Illinois Severs Ties with Catholic Charities over Adoption to Homosexuals. The state of Illinois ended its historic relationship with Catholic Charities, which was the first organization to inspire child welfare services in that state, because the organization would not adopt children to homosexual couples. Adopting to homosexual couples would violate well-established Roman Catholic Church doctrine. Although Catholic Charities was willing to refer homosexual couples to other adoption agencies, the state refused to accommodate them. Ironically, this religious-based discrimination is in response to the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act. The Act, when combined with state antidiscrimination laws, requires homosexual civil unions to be treated like marriages, but only provides protection to religious clergy who decline to officiate a civil union. Two-thousand children will now have to transition to new agencies.
  • Pharmacist Fined for Following Religious Beliefs. Noesen v. Dep’t. of Regulation and Licensing, 311 Wis. 2d 237 (Wis. Ct. App. 2008). A pharmacist was fined over $20,000 and had restrictions placed on his license after he refused to give a patient oral contraceptives because their use is against his religious beliefs as a Roman Catholic.
  • Pharmacist Fired After Refusing to Sell Abortifacient Contraceptives. Hall v. Walgreen Company, No. 2:14-cv-00015 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 19 2015). For six years, Walgreens accommodated Pharmacist Dr. Philip Hall’s deeply held religious beliefs, including his strong objection to the dispensation of abortion-inducing drugs. When customers asked for these drugs, he either referred them to another pharmacist there or another nearby pharmacy. However, in August 2013, Walgreens attempted to coerce Hall to violate his religious beliefs. After he was fired, Hall filed a lawsuit in federal court to protect his religious freedom. The case settled.