Paxton, Religious Lawyers Say No To LGBT Rule Against Christians
Today, the following statement was released regarding the proposed new rule applied to all Texas Lawyers:
“Allowing a government agency to punish lawyers for representing clients in religious freedom cases; and having important discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) is basically a ban on Christians being allowed to practice law. This proposed rule is a political effort by LGBT advocates to shut down debate and effectively “cancel” lawyers who have opposing views,” said Jonathan Saenz, attorney and President of Texas Values.
Texas Values’ President is a licensed attorney and he and others members of the Texas Values team and many other Christian lawyers will be presenting testimony at the State Bar of Texas hearing tomorrow.
Texas State Representative Matt Krause said the following:
“In 2017, the legislature added religious liberty protection language to the State Bar of Texas sunset bill through amendment. This was done because we saw the dangerous language that the ABA proposed as a model rule. At the time, our efforts were looked down upon because Texas would never entertain such an idea. Well, unfortunately, that time has come. Thankfully we did add that language and the State Bar of Texas would do well to reject this model rule which would infringe on attorneys First Amendment rights.”
In regards to this issue, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said this below:
“Model Rule 8.4(g) could also be applied to restrict an attorney’s religious liberty and prohibit an attorney from zealously representing faith-based groups. For example, in the same-sex marriage context, the U.S. Supreme Court has emphasized that “religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 25 84, 2607 (2015). The Court has further encouraged “an open and searching debate” on the issue. Id. However, operation of Model Rule 8.4(g) would stifle such a debate within the legal community for fear of disciplinary reprimand and would likely result in some attorneys declining to represent clients involved in this issue for fear of disciplinary action. If an individual takes an action based on a sincerely-held religious belief and is sued for doing so, an attorney may be unwilling to represent that client in court for fear of being accused of discrimination under the rule. “[D]isciplinary rules governing the legal profession cannot punish activity protected by the First Amendment.” Gentile, 501 U.S. at 1054. Given that Model Rule 8.4(g) attempts to do so, a court would likely conclude that it is unconstitutional.
About Texas Values
Texas Values is the largest statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvalues.org.