WASHINGTON, D.C., July 16, 2018—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops on July 13, in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. The court’s decision was an undeniable affirmation of religious liberty and the sanctity of human life.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, commented on the ruling:
“I join all advocates of religious freedom in celebrating the 5th Circuit’s decision in favor of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. The court’s ruling, which affirms religious liberty, as well as the sanctity of human life, is a victory for all Americans. Churches and religious organizations shouldn’t be forced to disclose private information that could sabotage their ability to protect human dignity and engage in the public square. I am thankful the court acknowledged this in their decision. I pray that religious organizations, like the Bishops, will continue to stand firm in their convictions as we work to ensure the state respects their constitutional rights.”
The court’s ruling halted an attempt by abortion providers to obtain the Bishops’ internal documents, which often concerned internal discussion of church doctrine and outlined the church’s pro-life position. In doing so, the court firmly upheld the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom for all Americans and prevented the attempt by Whole Women’s Health to, in the words of Judge James Ho in his concurring opinion, “retaliate against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of human life—but also for wanting to do something about it.”
The ERLC joined other religious organizations in filing an amicus brief in support of the Bishops. In the majority opinion, the 5th Circuit cited the ERLC’s brief in reaching its decision.