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The New Congress Convenes Today. Here Are Some Of The Challenges We Face.

The 115th Congress convenes today with the swearing in of both new and returning members. The Democrats picked up a few seats in both the House and Senate, but the Republicans will maintain their majorities in both chambers.

Come Jan. 20, the Republicans will also have control of the White House. Congressional leaders, however, aren’t waiting for Inauguration Day to start pushing through the agenda of President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Congress is going to move full speed ahead starting on day one. And Americans United will push back.  

Is Discrimination The Price We’ll Pay For Trump’s HHS Secretary?

Today, President-elect Donald Trump named yet another troubling pick for his cabinet: he’s tapped U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).  

HHS is responsible for implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as many vital social service programs including those for early-childhood education and adoption and foster care. While Price’s nomination will be controversial because of his clear desire to fully dismantle the ACA, those who support religious freedom should also have concerns.

Real (Bad) Alternatives: ‘Secular’ Anti-Abortion Group Seeks Church Exemption To Contraceptive Mandate

On Monday, Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Real Alternatives v. Burwell – yet another challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers who provide health insurance to employees must include contraception coverage.

A False Narrative: Phony Claims Of ‘Religious Persecution’ Are Offensive

In parts of China, government officials are going around to Christian churches and pulling down the crosses. That’s religious persecution.

But being expected to mind your own business while people do things that your religion doesn’t approve of is not religious persecution.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who heads up the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, seems confused on this point. Lori recently complained about “bloodless persecution” of religion in America.

Supreme Court Non-Decision Could Leave Many Women Without Secure Access To Birth Control, Says Americans United

Justices Delay Dealing With Crucial Issue

The U.S. Supreme Court today took a pass on dealing with the important question of access to birth control, an action that could leave tens of thousands of women in limbo, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In a brief order issued this morning, the high court vacated several cases before it dealing with employee access to birth control and sent them back to lower courts for more proceedings.

New Birth Control Case Argued Before U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court in March heard oral arguments in a case that will determine whether religiously affiliated non-profits have the right to deny women employees access to birth control on the basis of the groups’ theological beliefs.

The March 23 argument lasted 90 minutes and was marked by spirited exchanges and sharp questioning from the justices. A clear division emerged from the court’s liberal and conservative wings, leading some analysts to speculate that the high court may split 4-4.

Finding Their Voices

In the ongoing dispute over access to birth control, one thing has often been missing: the voices of women who stand to lose the most if contraceptives become harder to get.

Americans United is working to change that.

U.S. Supreme Court Should Protect Student and Staff Access To Contraceptives, Says Americans United

Church-State Watchdog Group Says Religiously Affiliated Institutions Are Not Harmed By Birth-Control Mandate

Religiously affiliated institutions may not prevent third parties from providing contraceptive coverage for students and staff who want it, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.
 
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today on behalf of almost 250 college and university students and staff who could lose access to vital medical care, Americans United told the U.S.

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