In a ringing 13-minute denunciation of the Supreme Court’s Bostock sex discrimination decision, the youngest man in the U.S. Senate urged America’s religious conservatives to demand a new “bargain” from Republican leaders as a condition for their future support.
“If this case makes anything clear, it is that the bargain that has been offered to religious conservatives for years now is a bad one, it’s time to reject it,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) declared on the Senate floor June 16.
“The bargain has never been explicitly articulated, but religious conservatives know what it is,” Hawley said. “The bargain is you go along with the party establishment, you support their policies and priorities, or just keep your mouth shut about it, and in return, the establishment will put some judges on the bench who supposedly will protect your constitutional rights to freedom of worship, to freedom of exercise.
“That’s what we’ve been told for years now, and we were told that we’re supposed to shut up while the party establishment focuses more on cutting taxes and handing out favors for corporations, multinational corporations who don’t share our values, who will not stand up for American principles, who are only too happy to ship American jobs overseas.
“But we’re supposed to say nothing about that, we’re supposed to keep our mouths shut, because maybe we’ll get a judge out of the deal.”
Hawley’s ire was sparked by the high court’s June 15 decision in the Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia case in which by a 6–3 vote, the justices said the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s bar against sex discrimination in hiring isn’t limited to biologically determined sex but also covers sexual orientation and gender identity (including gender change).
Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts were joined by the court’s four liberal justices on the opinion. Opposing it were conservative justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh.
Gorsuch, who was nominated by President Donald Trump, and Roberts, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, pledged during their confirmation hearings to interpret the law’s original intent, not rewrite it in the manner of activist liberal judges.
Hawley echoed Alito’s criticism of the decision as “legislating” from the bench by redefining Title VII of the 1964 law’s definition of sex discrimination to include terms that weren’t intended by Congress or President Lyndon Johnson when the law was adopted.
“This piece of legislation changes the scope of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it changes the meaning of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it changes the text of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” Hawley said.
“And make no mistake, this legislation will have effects that range from employment law, to sports, to churches,” Hawley continued. “There is only one problem with this piece of legislation, it was issued by a court, not by a legislature, it was written by judges, not by the elected representatives of the people.”
Hawley quoted the majority opinion in predicting the decision will result in a turbulent future of litigation that will extensively redefine the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom of worship and assembly.
“But as to those religious conservatives, how do they fare in yesterday’s decision, what will this decision mean, this rewrite of Title VII, what will it mean for churches, what will it mean for religious schools, what will it mean for religious charities?” Hawley asked.
“Well, in the many pages of the majority opinion, 33 pages to be exact, the majority does finally get around to saying something about religious liberty on one page,” he said. “What does it say? Here’s the substance of the Court’s analysis: ‘How the doctrines protecting religious liberty inter-act with Title VII … are questions for future cases.”
Calling the high court “our super-legislators,” Hawley asked “what will become of church hiring liberty, what will become of the policies of religious schools, what will be the fate of religious charities? Who knows, who is to say those are questions for future cases?”
The Missouri Republican also devoted a significant portion of his remarks to upbraiding congressional colleagues for failing to act on issues such as those in Bostock, saying the failure is “because this body doesn’t want to make laws. Why not? Because in order to make a law, you have to take a vote and in order to vote you have to be on the record, and to be on the record is to be held accountable, and that is what this body fears above all else.”
Religious conservative leaders interviewed by The Epoch Times shared Hawley’s dismay.
“This is the problem of the deep state or the bureaucratic state, that they … usurp constitutionally given rights such as religious freedom,” Focus on the Family President Jim Daly said.
Similarly, Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Matt Sharp said, “There is a new urgency for people of faith to realize we can’t always rely on the courts or on legislators.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc