Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a motion for summary judgment today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, urging the court to declare that an Obama-era rule violates the Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In today’s filing, Attorney General Paxton opposes a regulation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Known as Section 75.300, the rule deters certain faith-based organizations, including the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, from participating in Texas’ foster care system. And it threatens the federal funding of states that partner with those organizations. Both limiting Texas’ foster care network and reducing federal funding harm Texas children.
“Texas partners with a vast number of child-placing agencies, and we cannot serve the best interest of our children when the government unlawfully excludes many of those organizations. To refuse those with the capability and expertise to aid our children, based solely on their religious beliefs, will not only diminish the number of child-placement agencies available, it is an egregious violation of religious freedom,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Cooperation between states and faith-based groups is vital to ensuring that children in our foster care system are provided with the best care available and the safe and loving home they deserve.”
In 2017, Texas enacted House Bill 3859, which protects the religious liberty of child-placing agencies and prohibits the State from granting or denying funding to such organizations based on their religious beliefs. It prohibits government entities from discriminating or taking adverse action against a child-placing agency if that provider declines to provide, facilitate, or refer a person for child welfare services that conflict with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs. Texas law also explicitly requires that, if a faith-based child welfare organization declines to provide a particular service based on their religious beliefs, a secondary child welfare service provider is available.
To view a copy of the filing, click here.