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CompassCare v. Cuomo

Description:  SB 660, a law passed by the New York State Assembly and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, requires all employers—including churches, religious schools, faith-based pregnancy care centers, and religious nonprofits—to disavow their beliefs about abortion, contraception, and sexual morality by forcing them to hire and employ those who refuse to abide by the organizations’ statements of faith.


CompassCare pregnancy care center
Friday, Apr 29, 2022

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A faith-based pregnancy center, a church, and a national pro-life organization filed an appeal Thursday in a lawsuit that seeks to protect their freedom to hire employees who agree with their fundamental beliefs and missions. At issue is a New York state law that violates the groups’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to employ people who refuse to abide by the organizations’ statements of faith.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Rochester pregnancy care center CompassCare, First Bible Baptist Church, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, an association of pro-life pregnancy centers, in the lawsuit, CompassCare v. Cuomo.

“It is imperative religious employers be able to continue to hire like-minded individuals who share their core beliefs, and no government can force faith-based organizations to contradict those convictions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life. “We are asking the 2nd Circuit to uphold the constitutionally protected freedoms of our clients as they fulfill their critical service to the community.”

ADF attorneys asked a federal district court to rule that New York’s SB 660 violates the groups’ freedom of speech, religion, and association. The court declined to do so in full but did rule that a requirement that the law be communicated to employees in employee handbooks was unconstitutional. SB 660 requires all employers—including churches, religious schools, faith-based pregnancy care centers, and religious nonprofits—to turn a blind eye to their own beliefs about abortion, contraception, and sexual morality by forcing them to employ those who refuse to abide by the organizations’ statements of faith.

James P. Trainor, one of more than 4,400 attorneys in the ADF network, is serving as local counsel in the case, which now heads to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

  • Pronunciation guide: Harle (HAR'-lee)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Denise Harle

Denise Harle serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is the director of the Center for Life. Prior to joining ADF, Harle served as deputy solicitor general in the Office of the Florida Attorney General, where she drafted appellate briefs and presented oral arguments on behalf of the state in a wide variety of constitutional cases, including defending the constitutionality of pro-life laws. In 2017, she participated in the prestigious Supreme Court Fellow program, sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General. She clerked for Justice Ricky L. Polston on the Florida Supreme Court and worked for several years as an appellate litigator at a large firm in California. Harle earned bachelor’s degrees, summa cum laude, in psychology and interdisciplinary social science from Florida State University, a master’s degree in political science from Stanford University, and a Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law. At Duke, she served as the executive editor of Law & Contemporary Problems, the law school’s oldest journal. A member of the state bars of California, Florida, and Georgia, she is admitted to multiple federal district and appellate courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.

ABOUT Ken Connelly

Ken Connelly serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he plays a key role with the Center for Life. His primary focus is ensuring that medical and allied health practitioners can deliver professional and compassionate care without violating their deeply held personal beliefs. He earned his J.D. from the University of St. Thomas Law School in 2007, graduating magna cum laude. Before graduating, he completed the ADF leadership development program to become a Blackstone Fellow in 2005. He received a B.A. in government from Dartmouth College in 1992. Connelly is a member of the state bars of Arizona and Minnesota, along with numerous federal district and appellate courts.