Schumer: Stop Comparing Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law To Mine

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Democratic leaders meet with reporters after Republicans gave up on their quest to stop funding for the Homeland Security Department unless it contained roll backs to counter President... Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Democratic leaders meet with reporters after Republicans gave up on their quest to stop funding for the Homeland Security Department unless it contained roll backs to counter President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) moved to rebuke comparisons of the controversial religious freedom law Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed into law to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) crafted and then-Rep. Schumer introduced in 1993.

Schumer’s argument, published on Facebook, is in response to cries of hypocrisy among defenders of Pence’s move to sign the law. The argument, made by Pence himself, is that Democrats are bashing the law but key members, including President Barack Obama supported similar legislation in the past.

According to Schumer, the federal RFRA is much narrower.

“First, the federal RFRA was written narrowly to protect individuals’ religious freedom from government interference unless the government or state had a compelling interest,” Schumer wrote. “If ever there was a compelling state interest, it is to prevent discrimination. The federal law was not contemplated to, has never been, and could never be used to justify discrimination against gays and lesbians, in the name of religious freedom or anything else.”

Pence’s law, Schumer also said, aims to protect companies and businesses, unlike the federal law.

Second, the federal RFRA was written to protect individuals’ interests from government interference, but the Indiana RFRA protects private companies and corporations. When a person or company enters the marketplace, they are doing so voluntarily, and the federal RFRA was never intended to apply to them as it would to private individuals.

Schumer’s full Facebook post is below:

In the uproar over the recently passed Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), defenders of the bill like Indiana Gov. Pence are trying to hide behind the argument that the law “simply mirrors” the federal RFRA Sen. Ted Kennedy wrote and I introduced as a Congressman in 1993. That may be true only if you’re using a Funhouse mirror. In reality, it is completely false, and a disingenuous argument to boot; they should cease and desist immediately comparing the federal RFRA of 1993 to their present, misguided law.

There are two simple reasons the comparison does not hold water.

First, the federal RFRA was written narrowly to protect individuals’ religious freedom from government interference unless the government or state had a compelling interest. If ever there was a compelling state interest, it is to prevent discrimination. The federal law was not contemplated to, has never been, and could never be used to justify discrimination against gays and lesbians, in the name of religious freedom or anything else.

Second, the federal RFRA was written to protect individuals’ interests from government interference, but the Indiana RFRA protects private companies and corporations. When a person or company enters the marketplace, they are doing so voluntarily, and the federal RFRA was never intended to apply to them as it would to private individuals.

Because of these significant, legal differences, the Indiana RFRA in no way resembles the intent or application of the federal RFRA. As the signer of the bill, Governor Pence should put a stop to it immediately.

Latest Livewire

Notable Replies

  1. Thank you, Senator Schumer. I suggest you give Joe, Mika, and the entire Morning Joe crew a call, because they were deep into the “it’s the same law Bill Clinton signed” mantra this morning. Do they not have a research staff - or are they like a disturbing number of wealthy New Yorkers who get their news from the NY Post?

  2. “The federal RFRA was written to protect individuals’ interests from government interference, but the Indiana RFRA protects private companies and corporations.”

    The federal law was written to protect individuals, the state law protects companies like Chik-Fil-Hate.

  3. Meanwhile, the Teabaggers are going “Just wait 'em out, they’ll give up.” and go back to telling the kids to get off the lawn and complaining about hippies.

  4. Avatar for ajm ajm says:

    And meanwhile businesses are streaming out of Indiana and conventions are booking elsewhere.

    Pretty good chance that tax revenue from Indianapolis has been funding services for the rural folk. They’re in for a shock if this stays in place.

  5. This is the presumptive Senate minority leader talking. Good. He’s showing what the tribe would call chutzpah.

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

24 more replies

Participants

Avatar for system Avatar for hypatia501 Avatar for ajm Avatar for fess Avatar for robertbrk Avatar for slbinva Avatar for blue_bear Avatar for littlegirlblue Avatar for ottis Avatar for blue_grit Avatar for leftflank Avatar for fargo116 Avatar for arrrrrj Avatar for tomdibble Avatar for frankly_my_dear Avatar for otterqueen Avatar for jaybeeraybee Avatar for azjude Avatar for upstateny13027 Avatar for whateverdude Avatar for rickjones

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: