“Clearly they are trying to write new law, not new regulations and certainly not new guidance.”
- Senator James Lankford (R-OK) on the U.S. Department of Education acting without
authority to change Title IX regulations prohibiting discrimination against girls and women in schools.
Starting in 2010, the United States Department of Education has been sending guidance letters to school districts nationwide changing the scope of Title IX. The letters have resulted in lawsuits from parents, students, school districts and 23 states, each suing the federal government for overreach.
Senator Lankford called the DOE before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management to answer for its use of "Dear Colleague" letters. We had an opportunity to interview the senator just after the most recent hearing in September.
This week, we also discuss the Johnson Amendment. Passed in 1954, the amendment effectively resulted in a silencing of churches and nonprofits and ended a rich American tradition of pastors and church leaders addressing some of the most important political and cultural issues in our country’s history. Even without direct action by the IRS, the law created a chilling effect on speech, especially for religious institutions.
ADF has been actively seeking to end the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment against churches through its Pulpit Freedom Sunday effort since 2008. Last week Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and Rep. Jody Hice, R- Ga., introduced the Free Speech Fairness Act which would restrict enforcement of the Johnson Amendment against churches and other non-profit groups.
Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for ADF, participated in the press conference announcing the legislation, and she joined Freedom Matters to discuss the bill.
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