BLOGADF Defends Harris Funeral Homes at the U.S. Supreme Court

By Sarah Kramer Posted on: | October 08, 2019

We live in a nation of laws. When our laws change, it often brings about significant intended and unintended consequences. Those consequences sometimes affect lots of people—sometimes in important ways.

Legislatures are well equipped to consider those consequences and plan for them. Courts cannot. That’s why it’s particularly dangerous for courts to take matters into their own hands and change the laws that Congress passes.

It’s also why the Supreme Court should be wary of the ACLU’s attempt to rewrite federal law in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Today, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is arguing at the Supreme Court on behalf of Harris Funeral Homes, asking the High Court to refrain from redefining “sex” in federal law to mean “gender identity.”

Harris Funeral Homes is a fifth-generation family business that has been serving grieving Michigan families for over 100 years. Tom Rost, the owner of Harris Funeral Homes, works to provide an environment where families and friends can mourn their loved ones and focus on the healing process. That’s why Tom asks every employee to agree to follow the employee codes of conduct and dress. Sex-specific dress codes like the one that Harris Funeral Homes has implemented are industry standard and in accord with federal law.

But that dress code has taken Tom and Harris Funeral Homes all the way to the Supreme Court.

It all started when a male funeral director approached Tom in 2013 and explained that the funeral director would begin dressing and presenting as a woman while interacting with grieving families at work.

This funeral director had worked at Harris Funeral Homes for nearly six years and had agreed to follow the dress code since the time of hire. Tom took time to pray and consider the interests of the funeral director, his other employees, and the families that Harris Funeral Homes serves. Ultimately, Tom decided he could not agree to the funeral director’s plan.

The funeral director then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which launched a lawsuit against Tom and Harris Funeral Homes for sex discrimination – claiming that “sex” includes “gender identity” in federal law.

While the federal government has reversed its position and now agrees with Tom, the ACLU has continued to move this case forward.

Redefining “sex” to include “gender identity” in federal law should not be taken lightly. A change like this has widespread consequences for us all.

It threatens safety, privacy, dignity, and equal opportunities for women and girls. It impacts employers like Tom – who can no longer rely on what the law actually says, causing chaos. It also sacrifices free speech for those who believe that there are two distinct sexes, male and female, because they could be forced to use preferred pronouns.

Additionally, redefining “sex” violates the separation of powers put in place by our Founding Fathers. Under the Constitution, unelected government officials cannot rewrite federal law – only Congress has that power.

That’s why today, ADF attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to stop unelected officials from redefining the meaning of “sex” in federal law.

Advocates on the other side of this case may tell you that redefining “sex” won’t negatively impact anyone else. But that’s not true. There’s a lot at stake in this case. That’s why we’re hoping the Supreme Court upholds the meaning of “sex” in federal law.

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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