Citizens Lobby  

May 3, 2016


The ADA is unique among U.S. civil rights statutes. Whereas laws like Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) ban discrimination based on protected characteristics, the ADA goes further: it bans employers from even asking employees about their disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(A). There are only two narrow exceptions to this rule. Employers may conduct medical exams and inquiries that are: (1) “job-related and consistent with business necessity;” or (2) part of an employee wellness program – but only if the inquiries and exams are “voluntary.” § 12112(d)(4)(A), (B). With this statutory framework, the ADA’s

1 Amici certify that no party or party’s counsel authored this brief in whole or in part, or contributed money that was intended to fund the brief’s preparation or submission, and further certifies that no person, other than amici, contributed money intended to prepare or submit this brief. Fed. R. App. P. 29(c)(5). Both parties have consented to the filing of this amicus brief.

Architects sought to protect individuals with disabilities from the negative impacts of being forced to disclose confidential health information: both intentional discrimination and the potential social stigma of being identified as disabled. Unrelatedly, the ADA’s authors enacted a provision known as the “safe harbor” to preserve the insurance practice of underwriting: establishing the scope of coverage and setting rates based on claims data and sound actuarial principles. 42 U.S.C. § 12201(c). Congress sought to ensure that legitimate, differential ratesetting was not considered intentional disability-based discrimination under the ADA.

(Read The Full Amicus Brief)


February 17, 2016



Contraception is an important part of preventive health care for women. Contraception allows women to plan, delay, space, and limit pregnancies, helping to avoid negative health impacts on women and children; it is critical for women with underlying medical conditions that would be further complicated by pregnancy, and it has other health benefits unrelated to preventing pregnancy. Contraception also allows women to further their educational and career goals, thereby advancing their economic and social equality.

But women have not always been able to access contraception or the particular method they need due to cost or other barriers. To protect women’s health, ensure that women do not pay more for insurance coverage than men, and advance women’s equality and well-being, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and implementing regulations require all new insurance plans to cover “[a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity” without cost-sharing requirements (the “contraception regulations”). See 42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a)(4); 45 C.F.R. § 147.130 (2013)(a)(1)(iv); Health Res. & Servs. Admin., U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines, http://www. (“HRSA Guidelines”) (last visited Feb. 14, 2016).

(Read The Full Amicus Brief)


January 5, 2016

ISHV joins NWLC Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court in Support of Whole Woman’s Health

The National Women’s Law Center submitted an amicus brief on behalf of 48 organizations committed to obtaining full legal, economic, and social equality for women and economic security for women and families. This brief highlights the negative impacts that the restrictions at issue in this case have on women’s economic security and equal participation in social and economic life. These include significant, and in some cases, insurmountable, costs that threaten women’s financial well-being, job security, workforce participation, and educational attainment. Such costs have a particularly harmful impact on low-income women, women of color, women in low-wage jobs, and women who already have children. These effects deprive women of equal dignity promised by the Constitution, unduly burdening women’s reproductive decision-making.

(Read The Full Amicus Brief)


The Women's Movement

Where It's Been, Where It's At and the Problems that Remain

by Sonia Pressman Fuentes

At two meetings in June and October of 1966, a total of forty-nine women and men, of whom I was privileged to be one, founded an organization that, along with legislation, revolutionized this country and is well on its way to revolutionizing the rest of the world. The organization was called the National Organization for Women (NOW), and eight of the co-founders remain alive today.

But before telling you more about NOW, I need to review what led up to its founding.


I date the beginning of the legal revolution in women’s rights in this country to 1961 when President Kennedy established the President's Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), with Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman, to review, and make recommendations for, improving the status of women. In October 1963, the commission issued its report called American Women.

On November 1, 1963, three weeks before his assassination, President Kennedy signed an executive order establishing a committee and council to facilitate carrying out the recommendations of the President's Commission.

Nineteen sixty-three was also the year when Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, which became effective in 1964. That law required equal pay for equal or substantially equal work without regard to sex.

( Read More )


In The

Supreme Court of the United States









On Writ Of Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Fifth Circuit



Fair housing is a bedrock civil rights protection, crucial to our nation’s core value of equal opportunity for all and to our nation’s success. In the face of deeply entrenched patterns of residential segregation and exclusion, Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act (“FHA” or “Act”), Pub. L. 90-284, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, 82 Stat. 81 (1968), to effectuate “the policy of the United States to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States.” 42 U.S.C. § 3601; see Trafficante v. Metro. Life. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 211 (1972) (noting the purpose of the Act to foster “truly integrated and balanced living patterns”) (citation omitted). The Act has helped to free many communities from discrimination and connect millions of Americans to opportunity. But, “due to a variety of factors – some influenced by government, some not – neighborhoods in our communities do not reflect the diversity of our nation as a whole.” Parents Involved in Cmty. Sch. Dist. 1, 551 U.S. 701, 797, 798 (2007)

Read the brief here




The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (“The Leadership Conference”) is a coalition of more than 200 organizations committed to the protection of civil and human rights in the United States.1 It is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition. The Leadership Conference was founded in 1950 by three legendary leaders of the civil rights movement—A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters;

Roy Wilkins of the NAACP; and Arnold Aronson of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council. Its member organizations represent people of all races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. The Leadership Conference works to build an America that is inclusive and as good as its ideals, and it believes that every person in the United States deserves o be free from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund (“The Education Fund”) is the research, education, and

communications arm of The Leadership Conference. It focuses on documenting discrimination in American society, monitoring efforts to enforce civil rights legislation, and fostering better understanding of issues of prejudice.

Read the brief here


Copy of amicus brief filed in support of the Inclusive Communities Project

January 13, 2015



This brief is submitted by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, The Opportunity Agenda, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund as amici curiae.


The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law2 (“Lawyers’ Committee”) is a nonprofit civil rights organization founded in 1963 by the leaders of the American bar, at the request of President Kennedy,

to help defend the civil rights of racial minorities and the poor. For over fifty years, the Lawyers’


1 The parties have consented to the filing of this brief. No counsel for a party authored this brief in whole or in part, and no counsel or party made a monetary contribution intended to fund the preparation or submission of this brief. No person other than amici curiae, their members, or their counsel made a monetary contribution to its preparation or submission. Elizabeth Julian, President of Respondent Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., and Demetria McCain, Deputy Director for Respondent, are members of the 22-member Board of Directors of amicus Poverty & Race Research Action Council (“PRRAC”). The PRRAC Board played no role in authoring or funding this brief.


2 The Lawyers’ Committee includes the following independent affiliates: The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs; Lawyers’ Committee of Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association; The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc.; Colorado Lawyers’ Committee; Mississippi Center for Justice; Public Counsel, Los Angeles, California; Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia; and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.


Read the brief here


February 6, 2014


There are currently two contraceptive coverage cases being heard by the Supreme Court this term, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. Both cases challenge the health care law’s requirement that all new health insurance plans cover the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives and related education and counseling, without cost sharing.


Statement of Intent for the Institute for Science and Human Values


The Institute for Science and Human Values is committed to protecting and advancing women’s full equality and health, with a particular interest in ensuring that women receive all of the benefits of access to paid contraceptive coverage, as provided in the Affordable Care Act, without regard to the religious views of their private employer. ISHV, under the auspices of our pro bono attorney, Ms Marcia Cohen, has signed onto two amicus briefs listed below.



The National Women’s Law Center amicus brief will focus primarily on how the contraceptive coverage requirement advances two compelling state interests: improving women’s health and furthering women’s equality.




The Center for Inquiry amicus brief will focus on both the government and the corporations seeking exemption focus their arguments on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”). 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1. The government correctly maintains that there is no substantial burden on the free exercise of religion of the owners of the corporations, or indeed on the rights of the corporations themselves, if this Court were to find that such rights exist. It is the position of Amici herein that the granting of the requested exemption is not only not required under RFRA, but is also unconstitutional, because it would violate the Establishment Clause.


Read the brief here



The Institute for Science and Human Values has signed on to two amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs filed by the National Women’s Law Center in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Virginia vs. Sebelius and Florida vs. US Department of Health and Human Services. Both briefs address the Affordable Care Act as curing a “moral and social wrong”, namely the disadvantages and discrimination women have faced in obtaining health care and health insurance. The Act does this by eliminating insurance companies’ ability to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions such as pregnancy, a previous Caesarian section, or a history of having survived domestic abuse, and by requiring individuals to be insured, thus making health insurance available to all who seek it.




in his official capacity as Attorney General of Virginia,



KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, Secretary of the Department of Health and

Human Services, in her official capacity,







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Architects sought to protect individuals with disabilities from the negative impacts of being forced to disclose confidential health information

Brief of National Women’s Law Center and 68 other organizations as AMICI CURIAE
supporting Respondents and Affirmance

ISHV joins NWLC Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court in Support of Whole Woman’s Health

The Women's Movement: Where It's Been, Where It's At and the

Problems that Remain

by Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Texas Department of Housing

and Community Affairs, et alL.,



The Inclusive Communities Project, INC.,

Brief of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights et al. As Amici Curiae in Supoort of Petitioners

Copy of Amicus Brief filed in support of the Inclusive Communities Project

The National Women’s Law Center amicus brief will focus primarily on how the contraceptive coverage requirement advances two compelling state interests: improving women’s health and furthering women’s equality.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act









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