March 1, 2023

Appeals Court Unanimously Rules New York Can't Force Pro-Life Orgs to Hire Pro-Abortion Employees

A three-judge panel from the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled Monday that New York state law can't force pro-life groups to hire or retain pro-abortion employees.

The pro-life Evergreen Association, represented by the Thomas More Society, filed a lawsuit against the State of New York over the state's "Boss Bill of 2019." The case was initially dismissed by a district court, but Evergreen Association appealed.

Judge Steven Menashi wrote in the unanimous opinion, “[I]f the state could require an association that expressly opposes abortion to accept members who engage in the conduct the organization opposes, it would severely burden the organization’s right of expressive association.”

After describing Evergreen Association's argument that the law violates the group's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, Menashi wrote, “We hold that Evergreen stated a plausible claim that the labor law unconstitutionally burdens its right to expressive association…. Here, Evergreen has a right to limit its employees to people who share its views and will effectively convey its message. Thus, the district court erred in dismissing Evergreen’s expressive association claim.”

Evergreen Association President Christopher Slattery praised the decision and expressed optimism that the ruling would pave the way for a similar decision in a separate lawsuit filed against a New York City law.

Slattery said, "The case has been sent back to the Northern District of New York for further review, and is now clear that the Court of Appeals will not tolerate this bad law as partly unconstitutional, which is a major victory for the pro-life world, and Catholic and Christian schools and organizations, thanks in large part to the Thomas More Society and their great crack attorneys."