Media Mentions

Law, Rights and Religion Project staff are often called upon to share expertise and policy analysis. See a list of quotes below highlighting our work. 

The Law, Rights, and Religion Project maintains an up-to-date list of our media mentions, wherein the work of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project and our scholars and team members are highlighted in academic and popular media.

For Articles, Op-Eds and Papers written by our team members, please access our Articles page.

If you are a member of the press and seek to contact one of our team members for insight on an article or project you are working on, you may contact the Law, Rights, and Religion Project administrator at (212) 854-0167 or by e-mail to LawRightsReligion@law.columbia.edu.

For the most up-to-date information about the Law, Rights, and Religion Project, The Racial Justice Program, and related programs and events, sign up for our Mailing List.


Media Mentions, 2020

No 'dogma': Democrats walk tightrope on Barrett's faith

Mary Clare Jalonick and Elana Schor, Associated Press

10/10/2020

“Columbia University law professor Katherine Franke said that asking Barrett how she would handle ‘an irreconcilable conflict between the commitment she’s made to religious law and the commitment she’s made to secular law” would be acceptable. But specifics about Barrett’s faith, such as broaching People of Praise, would have “a bad odor,’ Franke said.”


Trump's Christian Judges March On

Sarah Posner, Rolling Stone

10/9/2020

"Even with a 6-3 majority, Columbia’s [Professor] Franke does not believe there is a risk the Supreme Court would directly overrule Obergefell: “It is more likely that a new conservative majority of the court will solidify marriage-equality rights, like abortion rights, as a second-class constitutional right that religious objectors are entitled to ignore if they have a faith-based reason for doing so,” she says. “In this sense, I expect the court to further entrench a kind of tiering of constitutional rights,” with religious rights elevated, “while others such as privacy, sexual liberty, and equality being no match for the weight of the court’s preferred rights.”


The Religious Hijacking of the Supreme Court Doesn’t Require Amy Barrett

Stephanie Russell-Kraft, The New Republic

10/6/2020

“Columbia Law professor Katherine Franke describes the underlying ideas of the majority as “free exercise supremacy.” According to Franke, the court has created a tiered set of rights, where religious freedom is a first-class right, but sexual equality, LGBTQ rights, and reproductive rights are second-class. Franke believes the court’s language is particularly telling. “As you read the opinions, what you have is a kind of sterile, mechanical reasoning in equality cases and a deep moral reasoning in religion cases,” she said. “You get the sense that religious liberty is fundamental to American democracy, but equality is just reading a sentence in the statute.”” 


With Amy Coney Barrett, a once-fringe legal philosophy goes mainstream

Henry Gass, Christian Science Monitor

10/6/2020

““They have a longing for what religious liberty protections were before 1990,” says Katherine Franke, a professor at Columbia Law School and founder-director of the school’s Law, Rights and Religion Project. [...] “They’re trying to have the courts reread the Constitution in a way that elevates religious liberty rights over all other individual rights, as well as the public interest.” [...]  “Some religious exemptions are appropriate and necessary,” says Professor Franke, the Columbia Law School scholar. But “they need to be given sparingly, or else we really undermine democracy itself.”” 


A Closer Look at Religious Exemptions (podcast)

NPR/Interfath Voices

10/4/2020


Does the Supreme Court Look or Think Like America?

Chris Dolmetsch, Dave Merrill, Christopher Cannon and Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg

9/26/2020

““Given the nationwide consequences of the court’s decisions, and the role that the courts play in our system of democratic governance, if the makeup of the Supreme Court fails to reflect any meaningful diversity, the court risks losing legitimacy in the eyes of the wider American citizenry,” said Katherine Franke, a professor at Columbia Law School.” 


Supreme Court to face major cases on Obamacare and religion in coming term

Ticker Higgins, CNBC

9/25/2020

“According to Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia University, in the years since the passage of that law the Supreme Court has interpreted it in a way that has “expanded religious liberty rights well beyond where they were in 1990.” [...] Franke said it was quite possible the court would revisit Employment Division v. Smith and “read those RFRA rights back into the Constitution.””


Roberts court tempers conservative expectations

John Kruzel, The Hill

7/11/2020

“The majority of justices on the Supreme Court have increasingly treated religious liberty rights as of greater importance and weight than other fundamental constitutional and civil rights,” said Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia University. “When they are asked to adjudicate conflicts between religious liberty and other fundamental rights, they have consistently ruled that religious liberty supersedes other rights.” 

“They do this by deploying soaring rhetoric about the almost sacred nature of religion in American culture, while using technical, almost antiseptic, reasoning when it comes to rights to equality or reproductive liberty,” added Franke, who serves as faculty director of Columbia University’s Law, Rights, and Religion Project.


The Supreme Court just wrapped up a term that surprised everyone and satisfied no one

Tucker Higgins, CNBC

7/10/2020

[With regards to employers who may have a religious objection to a gay or transgender workers] Katherine Franke, the faculty director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia University, pointed to the case over religious objections to contraceptive coverage, which was decided on Wednesday, as an illustration of how LGBT worker rights could be narrowed in the future. She said it showed how the court uses religious liberty to carve out “huge exceptions to general rules around workplace equality.” “They give with the one hand and they take with the other,” Franke said.


Supreme Court hands win to religious schools

John Kruzel, The Hill

6/30/2020

[In regards to a ruling that a Montana program that excluded religious schools from a student aid initiative violates religious freedoms protected under the U.S. Constitution] Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia University, said the decision reflected an interpretative approach that has been advanced by religious conservatives over the past two decades. “This position seeks to frame a state's efforts to maintain a wall of separation between public and religious entities as a form of discrimination against religious entities,” said Franke, who serves as faculty director of Columbia University’s Law, Rights, and Religion Project.


Undivine Intervention: Do We Need Religious Faith to Defend Humanitarian Aid?

Barbara Sostaita, Bitch Magazine

6/3/2020

RFRA has been largely unsuccessful at defending migrants, though Katherine Franke, faculty director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School, told me that a family in Texas cited Christianity’s respect for the family in an attempt to halt their father’s deportation. In 2018, Franke filed an amicus brief in support of Warren and later praised Márquez’s decision as a “significant defeat for the Department of Justice in its effort to protect religious liberty rights only when they advance the White House’s political agenda.”

Franke’s Law, Rights, and Religion Project’s November 2019 report “Whose Faith Matters? The Fight for Religious Liberty Beyond the Christian Right” debunks the idea that religious liberty primarily advances the interests of right-wing conservative Christians, and shows how members of various religious groups have taken to the courts to provide food and shelter to immigrants, perform marriages for same-sex partners, access abortion services, protest war and the death penalty, and protect the environment. During our conversation, Franke explained that the passage of RFRA was, ironically, delayed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who feared that abortion-rights activists would make a faith-based claim based on respect for the family or bodily integrity. The left has long mobilized this law. After Franke pointed out that Native Americans in federal prisons have successfully argued for sweat lodges and baths for purification ceremonies, we discussed the construction of religion as a colonial category. I asked Franke, when we invoke religion in a legal sense, is it inevitably tied to Protestant Christian ideas of “sincerely held,” individual and interior belief?


Religious Freedom Law Helps Immigrant-Rights Activists Triumph Over Trump

Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times

2/17/2020

“‘Judge Márquez’s opinion marks a significant defeat for the Department of Justice in its effort to protect religious liberty rights only when they advance the White House’s political agenda,’ said Katherine Franke, director of the Law, Rights and Religion Project at Columbia Law School.”

Trump Administration Violated Religious Liberty of Border Volunteers, Judge Finds

Miriam Jackson, The Union Journal

2/6/2020

“Under Trump, the Department of Justice has actually prompted a slim analysis of RFRA insurance claims made by individuals of belief that do not share the administration’s plan objectives, according to Katherine Franke. “The Trump Department of Justice has taken a biased approach to defending and enforcing religious liberty rights under RFRA, robustly protecting the rights of conservative Evangelical Christians while prosecuting people whose faith moves them to oppose the government’s policies.””


A Judge Overturned the Convictions of Four Volunteers Who Left Food and Water for Migrants in the Desert

Harmeet Kaur, CNN

2/6/2020

“Though the Trump administration has emphasized protecting the religious liberty "to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law," Justice Department lawyers rejected the assertion that the volunteers' actions were motivated by their faith, according to the Law, Rights & Religion Project at Columbia Law School.

"Judge Márquez's opinion marks a significant defeat for the Department of Justice in its effort to protect religious liberty rights only when they advance the White House's political agenda," Katherine Franke, faculty director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project, said in a statement.”


Federal Judge Accepts Religious Liberty Defense of Immigrant Rights Activists

Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service

2/4/2020

“Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia University who joined other legal scholars in submitting an amicus brief in the case, called the ruling a “stinging rebuke” of both the lower court decision and the U.S. Department of Justice, which she accused of trivializing the religious freedom claims of the activists.

“For an administration that has made the protection of religious liberty its stated top priority, it is shocking to see how they have mocked the No More Deaths defendants in this case,” she said.

Franke, who also heads up Columbia’s Law, Rights and Religion Project, insisted unlike other rulings, Márquez was simply applying the law neutrally and “not just for religious actors that agree with the White House’s political stances.”

Franke noted the Arizona case is one of at least two high-profile religious liberty cases making their way through the courts that feature progressive, faith-based immigrant rights activists. The other centers on the Rev. Kaji Douša, senior pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church in New York, who is suing the federal government, contending it surveilled and investigated her for doing religious work with immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.”


Rejecting 'Profoundly Disturbing' Logic That Criminalizes Empathy, Judge Reverses Convictions of Border Humanitarians

Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams

2/4/2020

“The ruling also was welcomed Monday by professor Katherine Franke, faculty director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School. Franke, who had filed a friend of the court brief in the case on behalf of seven religious liberty law scholars, said in a statement that "we are quite pleased to see that Judge Márquez applied an analysis of the RFRA claim that mirrored the structure we provided in our brief."

[Franke] noted "This is now the second time in several months that a federal judge has granted a faith-based defense raised by immigrants' rights activists who are being criminally prosecuted by the federal government for coming to the aid of people crossing the deadly Arizona desert."”


Federal Judge Reverses Conviction of Border Volunteers, Challenging Government’s “Gruesome Logic”

Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept

2/4/2020

“Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia, where she is faculty director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project, called the reversal “fantastic.” Last year, Franke and her colleagues published a report illustrating how the federal government has routinely sided with right-wing or conservative causes in religious freedom cases. The law professor has followed the No More Deaths cases closely, filing motions in support of RFRA defenses. “The lower court’s opinion was so horrible just as a matter of legal reasoning, that it was really nice to see the judge apply a thorough and careful analysis of the religious liberty claim,” Franke told The Intercept. While she anticipates a government appeal, Franke said Monday’s reversal provides a solid foundation for applying RFRA in similar legal contexts.

“The government isn’t going to roll over just because they lose a case or two,” she explained. “But what we’ve got now is a developing record of careful analysis from federal courts on how RFRA ought to apply in contexts like this.””


Judge Reverses Convictions of 4 No More Deaths Volunteers

Paul Ingram, The Tucson Sentinel

2/3/2020

“Katherine Franke, the director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School, praised Marquez's decision, writing that overturning the convictions "marks a significant defeat for the Department of Justice in its effort to protect religious liberty rights only when they advance the White House's political agenda."

Franke filed a friend of the court brief, along with seven other scholars, about the RFRA's application in the case in April 2019.”


Use of Taxpayer Money for Religious Schools Is Tested (Podcast)

Bloomberg

1/30/2020

“Katherine Franke, a professor at Columbia Law School, discusses a religious-school aid case that divided the Supreme Court justices during oral arguments. She speaks to host June Grasso.

“I think what we’re seeing happening, with the kinds of claims made by faith-based individuals and organizations across a range of contexts, is the use of religious liberty as a way to undo our forms of secular lawmaking, whether it’s around gay rights, whether it’s around contraception or abortion and reproductive liberty more generally, these hot-button issues where we have a state or the federal government (perhaps in the form of the Affordable Care Act and other laws) passing laws that some religious conservatives don’t agree with. Rather than going through the normal legislative process, where you say, ‘Well, let’s elect different people who are more in keeping with my views,’ instead we say ‘Well, those laws don’t apply to me’. It’s a very anti-democratic way to approach what is an effort at democratic lawmaking in a pluralistic society. Normally your response when a law is passed that you don’t agree with is not to say that ‘this law doesn’t apply to me’, but that ‘we need a different law’”.”


Trump’s School Prayer Rules Show ‘Radical Approach’ to Rights, Law Expert Says

Maya Earls, McClatchy DC

1/17/2020

“Columbia University professor Katherine Franke criticized President Donald Trump’s new guidance on prayer in schools, saying it reinforces the administration’s “extremely radical approach to fundamental rights.” [...] The Trump administration is treating religious liberty differently than any other of the fundamental rights outlined in the Constitution, Franke told McClatchy News.

“What these instructions do is tell school administrators you need not balance anymore,” she said. “Religious liberty rights take precedence over every other right.” Franke continued, saying that erasing rules that require faith-based groups to provide alternate options puts vulnerable communities at risk of being discriminated against or provided inadequate services. For example, she said some Catholic hospitals refuse to provide certain reproductive health care procedures. Without notice patients might not be aware. “If you don’t know what the choice is between one kind of service and the other kind of service, that’s not an informed choice,” she said.”


Media Mentions, 2018 - 2019

Border humanitarian aid work on trial

Ariana Brocious, Arizona Public Media

December 12, 2019

"The Christian right, the Evangelical Christian right, has done a very effective job of capturing the very idea of religious liberty. ... But if you look historically at the way in which we have protected religious liberty in this country going back to even before the founding of the country, religious liberty rights were really put in place in order to protect religious minorities," [Katherine] Franke said.

She said people can't just use the religious freedom argument to try to get away with something. "The requirements for getting a religious exemption are actually quite stringent," she said.


Religious Freedom Restoration Act: AP story shows why this is a law liberals could love

Julia Duin, GetReligion

November 27, 2019

“The federal judiciary has been treating religious liberty claims, RFRA claims of progressive social activists, very differently than when those faith-based claims are being made by conservative evangelicals,” [Katherine] Franke said.

...

“Not only is the verdict a kind of indictment of the federal government’s immigration policy, but it’s also an indictment of the way they’re protecting religious liberty,” she added. “I have to say, I am delighted because the other RFRA claims that have been raised in the last several years by progressive social activists have been rejected completely by federal judges. So, this is the first one we’ve seen where the judge has positively analyzed a RFRA claim in favor of the defendant, and it’s quite remarkable.”


Humanitarian Scott Warren Found Not Guilty After Retrial for Helping Migrants at Mexican Border

Jasmine Aguilera, TIME
November 21, 2019

"But prosecutors argued Warren knowingly assisted the migrants in hiding from Border Patrol. In sworn testimony during both trials, the two agents who arrested Warren said they saw him talking to the migrants and gesturing toward areas of the desert where they are less likely to be arrested by Border Patrol. Warren denied that claim, saying he was helping to orient the men to ensure they didn’t wander into more dangerous and deadly terrain.

The case has ramifications that go beyond Warren’s verdict.

“The government certainly wants to send a strong message to people who are providing aid to migrants,” Katherine Franke, professor of law at Columbia University and faculty director of the school’s Law, Rights and Religion Project, tells TIME."


Abortion, same-sex marriage are religious freedoms, Columbia Law report says

Leonardo Blair, The Christian Post
November 18, 2019

"Liberal people of faith are fighting to freely practice their beliefs and practices, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, a new report from Columbia Law School’s Law, Rights, and Religion Project says.

The report, Whose Faith Matters? The Fight for Religious Liberty Beyond the Christian Right, argues that despite the widely accepted narrative, Christian conservatives are not dedicated to protecting religious liberty but their work in this area has “resulted in the rapid erosion rather than protection of this right, as policymakers have enshrined particular theological beliefs into U.S. law and policy while erasing or even denigrating other religious traditions.”"


The People Reclaiming Religious Freedom from the Christian Right

Amy Littlefield, VICE
November 12, 2019

""I think the biggest overall takeaway is just to stop seeing religious liberty as a conservative value, as something that really only matters to conservatives and is really only relevant to this narrow band of claims related to LGBTQ rights and abortion,” said Elizabeth Reiner Platt, director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School and lead author of the report."


Prosecutors seek to ban border-aid volunteer from mentioning Trump in court

Alex Devoid, Arizona Daily Star
November 2, 2019

"Prosecutors are acknowledging that the mention of Trump or his policies would likely reflect badly on their cases against immigrant-rights advocates, said Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia University.

She is also the director of a law project at Columbia that filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Warren’s case due to his religious liberty claim. The project commonly advises the courts on how to approach these types of claims.

Warren’s case is part of a larger trend of prosecuting immigrants’ rights activists under the Trump administration, Franke said."


Crimes of compassion: US follows Europe's lead in prosecuting those who help migrants

Tania Karas, PRI
June 6, 2019

"Arizona’s aid groups — the smaller ones in particular — fear that if Warren is found guilty, they’ll have to stop serving migrants soup or providing them temporary shelter, said Katherine Franke, director of Columbia Law School’s Law, Rights and Religion Project. She filed an amicus brief in Warren’s case.

'The risks could radiate outward from these particular cases to anybody who may advertently or inadvertently provide aid to a person who doesn't have legal papers,' Franke said. 'They're all worried that the federal government is going to come after them as well for providing aid to undocumented people or to people who are on their way of making an asylum claim.'"


Caring for Migrants Is Not Just Humanitarian Work—It’s Religious Work

Melissa Borja, Patheos
May 30, 2019

"Katherine Franke, director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School, criticized the Department of Justice for its 'contradiction in how they support religious liberty.' Franke, who filed an amicus brief supporting Warren’s religious claims, argued that Warren’s prosecution offers a 'troubling message' to people of faith who, like Warren, 'are interested in the sanctity of life' and demonstrate that concern for life through humanitarian aid to vulnerable people, including migrants."


As Trump's DOJ Prosecutes Aid Worker, Humanitarian Groups Promise Continued Support for Migrants

Asher Stockler, Newsweek
May 29, 2019

“'All of the prosecutions of the No More Deaths activists implicate the kind of basic humanitarian aid that many organizations are giving throughout the country,' Katherine Franke, director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School, told Newsweek. 'By the terms of these charges, if someone puts out food or water or any other aid, they risk federal prosecution.'

Franke, who filed an amicus brief in support of Warren’s religious claim to [humanitarian] aid work, said that the prosecution sends a 'troubling message' to religious workers like Warren 'who are interested in the sanctity of life.'"
 


HHS Rule Allows Religious Discrimination in Health Care

Dana Rudolph, PrideSource, Between the Lines
May 8, 2019

"The Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School has a different take, however. They remind us that, 'Communities and people of faith hold a wide spectrum of views regarding abortion, sterilization and other health services implicated by the rule. In fact, several religious denominations hold that the right to reproductive health care is an essential aspect of religious freedom.' Furthermore, 'The rule violates the religious liberty of all Americans by establishing a formal legal preference for particular religious beliefs, including opposition to abortion and sterilization.'"


The Religious-Liberty War at HHS

Emma Green, The Atlantic
May 7, 2019

Religion does not always compel people to oppose LGBT rights or abortion. “People of faith have a wide variety of views when it comes to issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights,” says Elizabeth Platt, the director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia University. In her view, this new rule unfairly favors a conservative interpretation of religion—and of existing federal statutes. “I don’t think that people’s access to health care and health-care information should necessarily be dependent on their providers’ religious beliefs,” she says.


LGBTQ advocates alarmed at Trump's religious exemption for health care workers

John Reilly, MetroWeekly
May 2, 2019

"...[T]he Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School said that the new rule actually 'violates the religious liberty of all Americans by establishing a formal legal preference for particular religious beliefs, including opposition to abortion and sterilization.'

Noting that different religions, and even denominations within the same religious family, hold differing views on issues like abortion, end-of-life decisions, and the role of governmental interference into private health decisions, the Law, Rights, and Religion Project says the HHS rule openly disregards any health care provider whose beliefs differ from those prescribed by conservative activists.”


Religious Liberty at Stake in Native American Lawsuit

Tanzina Vega, The Takeaway, NPR and WNYC
April 24, 2019

Professor Katherine Franke, Faculty Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project, spoke with Tanzina Vega on a case brought by the Ramapough Lenape Nation against the town of Mahwah, NJ, regarding ancestral land and religious liberty.


Texas Republicans' Push for a Religious "License to Discriminate" is Depressingly Familiar

David Brockman, Texas Observer
April 17, 2019

“Religious liberty rights cannot be absolute,” Elizabeth Reiner Platt, director of Columbia University’s Law, Rights, and Religion Project, told the Observer. “The classic law school example of this is someone who believes in human sacrifice. Not even the most extreme advocates for broad religious liberty rights would argue that the state can or should protect killing as a religious practice.”


Al Otro Lado and the Border Crisis

Law and Disorder Radio
April 15, 2019

Professor Katherine Franke spoke with Law and Disorder Radio on her work with Al Otro Lado at the U.S. Border, addressing the humanitarian crisis at hand. Professor Franke's remarks as part of this week's program of Law and Disorder Radio begin at 33:11.


Activists Are Invoking Religious Freedom to Save Migrants’ Lives

Stephanie Russell-Kraft, The Nation
April 15, 2019

"A system of laws that allows for too many carve-outs and exemptions is a 'serious antidemocratic problem,' said [Professor Katherine] Franke, a leading expert on RFRA.

Religious-liberty protections are also limited to religious actors. Progressives acting for secular moral reasons aren’t eligible for exemptions. 'When we all stand together to defend the rights of migrants or asylum seekers, some people do that because of their faith and many are doing that for not-faith-based reasons,' said Franke. 'Why should the people who have a plausible faith-based reason for their actions be treated differently than those of us who don’t?'

Nevertheless, 'it would be a terrible political move on the part of the left to surrender RFRA as it’s been interpreted through Hobby Lobby to the right wing,' Franke said. 'That doesn’t mean we won’t be careful.'"


Unvaccinated teen's suit claims classroom ban violates his religious rights

Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal
March 21, 2019

In this piece, Debra Cassens Weiss recalls the details that Elizabeth Reiner Platt, Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project, provided to the Washington Post in reviewing the case of the Kunkel family in Kentucky, in their lawsuit claiming that a public health edict that restricted their unvaccinated child from participating in school activities violated their religious liberty.


God, Country, and Chickenpox: How an Outbreak Entangled One School in a Vaccine Showdown

Katie Mettler, The Washington Post
March 20, 2019 

"Elizabeth Reiner Platt, director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School, reviewed the lawsuit at The Post’s request and wrote in an email that she believed the lawsuit could succeed only if 'the family can demonstrate that the state was acting not to protect the health and safety of schoolchildren, but out of animus against the family’s religious beliefs.

This will be a very challenging claim to make, and the family’s argument that an e-mail from the health department stating that its 'primary concern is preventing the spread of this illness to the public’ constitutes ‘remarkable’ evidence of discriminatory animus is unpersuasive,' Platt said."


What's next for No More Deaths after latest convictions of volunteers?

Nicole Ludden, KTAR News
January 24, 2019

"Katherine Franke... said the criminalization of No More Deaths’ humanitarian work can spill over to the work of other aid organizations.

'I think any of the people who are providing social services to a range of communities in southern Arizona, some of whom might include undocumented people, are vulnerable to being prosecuted as well,' Franke said. 'I’ve spoken to some of those people in southern Arizona, and they’re very worried and are watching how these cases go.'"


Leaving water for people dying of thirst could get you prosecuted: Today's Talker

EJ Montini, Courier Express
January 21, 2019

"Katherine Franke, amicus brief: 'It is not the defendants' position that they were barred from applying for a permit to enter the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, rather, they argue, the conditions contained in the permits required them to agree not to engage in religiously motivated conduct. In this sense, the terms of the permit forced them a 'to choose between the tenets of their religion and a government benefit.' "


'Literally What Jesus Told People to Do': In Arizona, Possible Prison Time for Leaving Food and Water for Migrants

Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams
January 21, 2019

"Professor Katherine Franke, faculty director of the [Law, Rights, and Religion Project], challenged the outcome on legal grounds.

'Velasco's guilty verdict in the case mirrored the government lawyers' trivialization of the defendants' religious liberty claims, describing them as 'a modified Antigone defense,' she said in a statement. 'He failed to undertake even a minimal legal analysis of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as the law required.'"


Edith Espinal Has Spent 18 Months Hiding From ICE in a Church. How Much Longer Will The Authorities Let Her Stay?

Stephanie Russell-Kraft, The New Republic
January 17, 2019

"Oliver-Bruno’s deportation came as a shot across the bow. 'I would bet in the next six months, we’ll see them start to move into those sensitive locations,' Columbia University law professor Katherine Franke told me. 'They’ve done it in courts, they’ve done it in schools, and they said they wouldn’t do it there either. I think they’ll start taking the undocumented people and start arresting the hosts.'"


On National Religious Freedom Day, consider the double standard on religious freedom - and why it's a problem

Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News
January 16, 2019

"It will likely take more than a few studies to change how Americans approach religious freedom, Franke said. There's still a lot of confusion about what this right guarantees, and cultural and political factors complicate efforts to address it.

'I think average Americans don't really know what the free exercise of religion means,' she said. 'There are several well-funded advocacy organizations pushing a radical interpretation' that only benefits them."


Ringing in a Christian Nationalist 2019 With an Even Larger Legislative Playbook

Frederick Clarkson, Rewire.News
December 18, 2018

"[Elizabeth Reiner Platt, Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project] stressed that 'it’s really important to … remind ourselves what religious liberty really is, which is the freedom of individuals and communities to practice their religious beliefs, or to practice no religion, in a pluralistic society, free from government persecution, discrimination, or coercion. So this is a foundational constitutional value, and it’s a progressive value.'"


'Project Blitz': Here's the New Plan Christian Nationalists have to seize even more power

Paul Rosenberg, AlterNet
December 16, 2018

In a reprint of Rosenberg's article from Salon.com, author Paul Rosenberg quotes Elizabeth Reiner Platt, Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project, from remarks given as part of a webinar on how the Religious Right invokes "Religious Freedom" selectively to promote a White Christian Nationalist agenda.


Christian nationalists have a new plan to seize more power - Meet 'Project Blitz'

Paul Rosenberg, RawStory.com
December 16, 2018

“'The Christian right has been extremely effective over the past five or so years in branding progressives as anti-religious freedom, even while we know at the same time the far right and the Trump administration, is quite overtly attacking religious freedom through the promulgation of Islamophobic policies like the Muslim ban,' [Elizabeth Reiner Platt, Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project] noted."


Christian nationalists are trying to seize power - but progressives have a plan to fight back

Paul Rosenberg, Salon.com
December 16, 2018

"[Elizabeth Reiner Platt] began with a point that belongs front and center, since everything in Project Blitz rests on its denial...'I wanted to step back and start out by reminding everyone that religious liberty is a progressive value....It's really important to ... remind ourselves what religious liberty really is, which is the freedom of individuals and communities to practice their religious beliefs, or to practice no religion, in a pluralistic society, free from government persecution, discrimination or coercion. So this is a foundational constitutional value, and it's a progressive value.'”


Report: Catholic Healthcare Limits Reproductive Care for Women of Color in Wisconsin

Sean Kirkby, Wisconsin Health News
November 28, 2018

"A wave of healthcare consolidation that has increased the reach of Catholic healthcare facilities could lead to more women of color receiving limited sexual and reproductive healthcare, according to the co-author of a report studying the trend.

Kira Shepherd, Director of the Racial Justice Program at the [Law, Rights, and Religion Project]... spoke at a panel in Milwaukee last month."


The Limits of Catholic Healthcare in Wisconsin

Taryn McGinn Valley, Wisconsin Health News
November 27, 2018

"These religiously imposed standards of care could mean tragedy or trauma for any patient. However, as is the case in many aspects of health and wellbeing, it is communities of color who are disproportionately affected....These trends were recently confirmed by a report from the Columbia Law School [Law, Rights, and Religion Project] in partnership with Public Health Solutions, 'Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color.' The study compared racial disparities in birth rates at hospitals that place religious restrictions on health care, demonstrating a disproportionate impact of ERDs on pregnant women of color."


Church Discipline and Miscarriage Mismanagement at Catholic Hospitals

Lara Freidenfelds, Nursing Clio
November 1, 2018

"The impact of the [Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ethical and Religious] Directives has also been racially discriminatory: earlier this year the Columbia Law School’s [Law, Rights, and Religion Project] documented the lopsided impact of religious restrictions on women of color, who are disproportionately likely to give birth at Catholic hospitals."


Lake Effect Weekend: Ethical Religious Directives Impact

Lake Effect, Milwaukee Public Radio
October 27, 2018

This episode from Milwaukee Public Radio highlights a program Kira Shepherd, Director of the Racial Justice Program, hosted in Milwaukee in October of 2018, discussing the impacts of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project's report, "Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Healthcare for Women of Color."


Masterpiece Cakeshop Case drew $500K in Grants from Religious Freedom foes

Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency
October 25, 2018

The Catholic News Agency mentions the Law, Rights, and Religion Project in this piece, regarding grant funding for organizations that critically review the use of Religious Exemptions and Religious Liberty bills.


Does freedom of religion protect Americans who have a religious duty to shelter migrants?

Ephrat Livni, Quartz
October 19, 2018

“'There’s a public face of this government, which is very protective of religious liberty, and then the real work they’re doing is only protecting the religious liberty rights of those who are religious conservatives, not of religious progressives,' [said] Katherine Franke, [D]irector of the [Law, Rights, and Religion Project] at Columbia Law School"


Study Says Women of Color Are Not Adequately Served By Catholic Hospitals

Latoya Dennis, Milwaukee Public Radio
October 17, 2018

"According to a recent report called 'Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care For Women of Color,' 52 percent of black women in Wisconsin give birth at a Catholic hospital.

Kira Shepherd, director of Columbia Law Schools Racial Justice Program, is behind the study."


Wednesday on Lake Effect: Informed Voter, Black Maternal Health At Catholic Hospitals, 'Time Trial'

Lake Effect, Milwaukee Public Radio
October 17, 2018

This feature on Milwaukee Public Radio discusses the impact of the Racial Justice Program's seminal report, "Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Healthcare for Women of Color" with a specific eye cast to communities in Wisconsin.


Are Religious Freedom Claims Subject to Religious Bias and Political Agenda?

Don Byrd, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
September 29, 2018

"I emphasized in my post that laws like RFRA are not 'get out of jail free' cards, but that they provide an important legal framework for adjudicating claims for religious accommodation on a case-by-case basis. Also important, however, is that those enforcing the laws treat religious freedom claims without bias, free of political agenda, and without religious favoritism. Those are the themes of an op-ed in the Washington Post today entitled “Religious freedom for me, but not for thee” by Columbia University professor Katherine Franke."


Fighting for Reproductive Justice Within My Faith: Make Christians Act like Jesus Again

Cheyenne Varner, CheyenneVarner.com
September 25, 2018

"When speaker Kira Shepherd from the Racial Justice Program (and more) at Columbia Law began to speak about 'White Christian Supremacy' at [the] Decolonize Birth Conference this weekend, I had a visceral reaction. A skin crawl. A sinking in my gut, in part because I already knew… 

...I knew that during slavery, people who called themselves Christian declared themselves superior over others to justify enslaving them, humiliating them, beating them, scarring them, separating them from their children and families, and killing them."


Religious Exemption Laws Put LGBT Elders at Risk

Serena Worthington, Windy City Times
August 22, 2018

"The report, Dignity Denied: Religious Exemption and LGBT Elder Services is by The Movement Advancement Project, SAGE and the [Law, Rights, and Religion Project] at Columbia Law School. The research finds that while many... religiously affiliated facilities provide great care, there is a coordinated and on-going effort to pass religious exemption laws, issue executive orders and agency guidance, and to litigate court cases to allow individuals, businesses, and even government contractors and grantees to use religion to discriminate."


Jeff Sessions' Arkansas trip includes a Little Rock Stop

Max Brantley, Arkansas Times Blog
July 30, 2018

This article from the Arkansas Times highlighting Attorney General Jeff Sessions' work with the Department of Justice regarding "Religious Liberty", and how the vision of "Religious Liberty" advanced by Attorney General Sessions poses harms to multiple marginalized groups. The article cites the report, "Dignity Denied: Religious Exemptions and LGBT Elder Services" produced by scholars from the [Law, Rights, and Religion Project], among other groups.


Trump Administration's Promotion of Religious Liberty Criticized at Home

Masood Farivar, VOA News
July 26, 2018

This report from VOA News highlights the work of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project with partners CAIR-NY and the Center for American Progress regarding President Trump's Executive Order on Religious Liberty and the DOJ's "guidance" on Religious Liberty 


SCOTUS Blog: Thursday Roundup

Edith Roberts, SCOTUS Blog
June 28, 2018

"At Rewire.News, Elizabeth Reiner Platt maintains that '[i]n four decisions issued near the end of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 term, the Court offered wildly different accounts of the significance of, and its duty to redress, ‘discrimination’ in U.S. law.'"


Crisis pregnancy centers aren't the only ones putting limitations on women's reproductive care

Stephanie Russell-Kraft, The Lily
June 26, 2018

In an analysis of the Supreme Court's decision regarding Crisis Pregnancy Centers in California, Stephanie Russell-Kraft highlights the relevance of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project's research report, "Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color," on the directives and policies that restrict womens' access to full spectrum health care. 


SCOTUS Blog: Wednesday Roundup

Edith Roberts, SCOTUS Blog
June 6, 2018

Elizabeth Reiner Platt's Op-Ed, "Will SCOTUS's New Zeal for Neutrality Affect its Decision on the Muslim Ban?" is highlighted among commentary regarding the case in this week's Wednesday round-up from Edith Roberts, an editor at SCOTUSblog.


"Project Blitz" Promotes Christian Nationalist Agenda in State Legislatures

Scott Harris, Between the Lines
June 6, 2018

Frederick Clarkson, Senior Research Associate with Political Research Associates, spoke on the impact of "Project Blitz" - a series of guidelines for the Christian Right to introduce legislation at the Local and State Level.  Clarkson discussed a recent webinar that Political Research Associates co-hosted with the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project to convene advocates and thought-leaders in addressing concerns about the content and rhetoric of Project Blitz through the development of discourse. Elizabeth Reiner Platt, Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project, was one of the presenters in the webinar, hosted on Thursday, May 24th.


Supreme Court, in narrow decision, rules for anti-gay baker in Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

Editors, The Wisconsin Gazette
June 4, 2018

The Wisconsin gazette highlights an amicus brief filed in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission by the National LGBT Bar Association in conjunction and the Law, Rights, and Religion Project, with other signatory parties, in this article following the Supreme Court's ruling in the case.


No Health Care for You!

Abby Scher, The Progressive
June 1, 2018

"That means some of the worst burden of religious refusal has fallen on poor communities and particularly poor communities of color, which rely more on Roman Catholic hospitals. More than 75 percent of the mothers giving birth in New Jersey and Maryland Catholic hospitals are women of color, according to “Bearing Faith,” a [2018] study from Columbia University Law School’s [Law, Rights, and Religion Project]."


Panel Discusses Reproductive Health Care of Women of Color

Elizabeth Moore, Rutgers Law School
May 31, 2018

"'Women of color disproportionately give birth at Catholic hospitals in many states, including New Jersey,' said [Kira] Shepherd, the director of the Racial Justice Project of the [Law, Rights, and Religion Project] at Columbia Law School. However, many Catholic hospitals prohibit certain kinds of contraceptive services, which may include sterilization, abortion, contraception or termination after an ectopic pregnancy. "

...

"Elizabeth Reiner Platt, Director of the [Law, Rights, and Religion Project], said current law protects hospitals who choose not to offer certain services and it is difficult to litigate against them for these practices. She said state and federal laws permit religious exemptions to health care, 'We don’t have a clear legal line where a patient’s health has to take priority.'”


Senate Democrats Strike Back Against GOP's Religious Imposition Agenda

Ally Boguhn, Rewire News
May 24, 2018

"The misappropriation of RFRA started long before Trump became president. As Kira Shepherd, the [Director of the Racial Justice Program, with the Law, Rights, and Religion Project] at Columbia Law School, explained in 2016, 'the U.S. Supreme Court’s overly broad interpretation of RFRA in Hobby Lobby found that certain for-profit entities could avoid compliance with [the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit] by claiming a religious objection to doing so. After Hobby Lobby, many feared an increase in the number of people and institutions that would use RFRA and other religious exemption laws to limit the rights of third parties.'"


Trump administration's religious liberty guidance a "license to discriminate"

Julie Moreau, NBC News
April 10, 2018

The report, "Religious Liberty for a Select Few" co-authored by the Law, Rights, and Religion Project and the Center for American Progress is highlighted in this report from NBC News. The report critiques the Trump Administration's proposed guidance on "religious liberty," along with other policies focused on religion brought forth by the Administration.


Comments in Response to Proposed HHS Religious Refusal Rule

The Leadership Conference
March 27, 2018

Kira Shepherd, Director of the Racial Justice Program, and the Law, Rights, and Religion Project's report, "Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color," are cited in this memo in response to the proposed HHS Rule submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 15 other organizations.


Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color

Law and Disorder Radio
February 19, 2018

Interview with Elizabeth Reiner Platt and Kira Shepherd, the Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project and the Racial Justice Program at LRRP, respectively, spoke with Law and Disorder Radio on the Law, Rights, and Religion Project's report, "Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color." The report shows that in many states women of color are far more likely than white women to give birth at Catholic hospitals. These women are at greater risk of having their health needs undermined because these health needs have been determined by the religious beliefs of male bishops rather than the medical judgment of their doctors.

This religious overreach undermines fundamental rights to equality and liberty and violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment which seeks to separate church from state.


Dignity Denied: Study Finds LGBTQ Seniors are Especially Vulnerable to Religious Exemptions

Eve Kucharski, PrideSource
January 31, 2018

"The study [Dignity Denied, co-authored by the Law, Rights, and Religion Project] found that the majority of healthcare services for the aging are offered by religiously-affiliated organizations — about 85 percent. This affiliation could be part of the reason that LGBTQ older adults have reported discrimination when accessing a variety of services like 'at work, at the doctor’s office, within residential communities and when seeking housing and when accessing social supports like community centers.'"


Making Catholic Hospitals Illegal

Editors, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
January 29, 2018

"A recently published report, 'Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color,' is the most anti-Catholic document assessing Catholic healthcare ever published. The authors want to effectively shut down Catholic hospitals, unless, of course, they stop being Catholic. The report is the work of the [Law, Rights, and Religion Project], a unit of Columbia Law School."


Refusal (Conscience) Clauses and HHS: A Physician's Perspective

Judy Stone, Forbes.com
January 22, 2018

"There have been several disturbing reports recently of the disproportionately high death rate of pregnant black women compared to whites, with black mothers dying at three to four times the rate of white mothers....

A new report from Columbia Law School, 'Bearing Faith,' adds to that study of disparities, finding that 'women of color are more likely than white women to give birth at hospitals operating under the ERDs' The findings were particularly striking in New Jersey, where women of color make up 80% of births at Catholic hospitals, although are only half of all women of reproductive age. Other states with notable racial disparities were Maryland, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Connecticut."


Report Says Women of Color Disproportionately Give Birth in Catholic Hospitals in 19 States

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
January 20, 2018

"The Columbia Law School Public Rights/ Private Conscience Project yesterday released a new report Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color. The study focuses on racial disparities of women giving birth in Catholic hospitals governed by Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.  According to the report: 'The ERDs forbid hospitals owned by or affiliated with the Catholic Church ... from providing many forms of reproductive health care, including contraception, sterilization, many infertility treatments, and abortion, even when a patient's life or health is jeopardized by a pregnancy'..."


New Report Reveals Pregnant Women of Color More Likely to Receive Religiously Restricted Reproductive Health Care in Many US States

Editors, Public Health Solutions
January 19, 2018

This press release, issued by Public Health Solutions, announces the publication of the report, "Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color," co-authored by the Law, Rights, and Religion Project with Public Health Solutions. The report finds that in many states, women of color are far more likely than white women to give birth at Catholic hospitals, putting them at greater risk of having their health needs determined by the religious beliefs of bishops rather than the medical judgment of doctors.


How Women of Color are Affected by Religious Policies at Catholic Hospitals

Frances Solá-Santiago, People Chica
January 19, 2018

People Chica highlights the Law, Rights, and Religion Project's report, "Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color" and the disproportionate harms the Conference of Catholic Bishops' ERDs (Ethical and Religious Directives) pose to the health and safety of women of color.

"[Elizabeth Reiner Platt] says medicine should take precedence over religious beliefs. 'The long-term effects of the ERDs on these communities could be fatal,' she says. 'Especially for women of color.' [The Law, Rights, and Religion Project] is focused on highlighting racial disparities in Catholic institutions across the country. Furthermore, Platt says the proliferation of Catholic institutions and the ERDs adversely affects queer and transgender individuals as well."


Trump Rule a #LicensetoDiscriminate

RWV Editor, Raising Women's Voices
January 19, 2018

"Today, the Trump administration proposed a sweeping new rule designed to ensure that health care providers – hospitals, insurance plans, doctors, nurses, technicians and even volunteers at hospitals – can refuse to provide medical care to which they have religious or moral objections....
....

The rule was issued on the same day that a new study [The Law, Rights, and Religion Project's, Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color] reported that women of color in 19 states are disproportionately affected by Catholic hospital restrictions on reproductive health care."


How Religious Health Care Hurts Women of Color

Stephanie Russell-Kraft, The New Republic
January 19, 2018

“The findings outlined in [Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color] indicate that women of color are at greater risk of being denied care due to religious restrictions when they need it most—during childbirth,” said Elizabeth Reiner Platt, director of the [Law, Rights, and Religion Project] and co-author of the report.

The extent to which Catholic hospitals are able to act on their ethics directives varies from state to state, where religious refusal laws provide more or less leeway for providers to deny coverage on religious grounds. The laws differ in terms of what procedures they cover, which medical providers are exempted (individual doctors versus the entire hospital), and what the exemptions entail (protection from civil vs. criminal liability)."


Women of Color More Likely to Give Birth in Hospitals Where Catholic Beliefs Hinder Care

Amy Littlefield, Rewire News
January 19, 2018

"Catholic hospitals restrict access to abortion, sterilization, contraception, gender-affirming procedures, and other care under religious directives, which govern one in six acute-care beds nationwide.

A groundbreaking report reveals how women of color... bear the brunt of these restrictions. Researchers with Columbia Law School’s [Law, Rights, and Religion Project] analyzed data from 33 states and Puerto Rico. In 19 of those states, women of color were more likely than white women to give birth at a Catholic hospital. Nationally, 53 percent of births at Catholic hospitals are to women of color, versus 49 percent of births at non-Catholic hospitals.

'Pregnant women of color are more likely than their white counterparts to receive reproductive health care dictated by bishops rather than medical doctors,' the authors wrote in the report, 'Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color.'"