One of the Left’s favorite things to advocate for is diversity and inclusion training. It’s celebrated and even revered, and it’s demanded on social media, in workplaces, at corporations, and within educational institutions.
But it seems the Left isn’t so happy when the tables are turned.
Take the Monday ruling of a federal judge in Texas who, while issuing sanctions in an employment case, ordered three lawyers for Southwest Airlines to take religious-liberty training from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit law firm that specializes in First Amendment law. The ADF is best known for its wins at the Supreme Court in both Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and 303 Creative v. Elenis.
As part of the court-ordered sanctions in the case of a flight attendant who successfully sued for religious discrimination, U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr ordered the three lawyers to take eight hours of such training by Aug. 28. Starr is a 2019 appointee of then-President Donald Trump.
“[T]he Court concludes that training on religious freedom for three lawyers at Southwest the Court finds responsible (Kerrie Forbes, Kevin Minchey, and Chris Maberry) is the least restrictive means of achieving compliance with the Court’s order,” Starr wrote in his ruling. “The Alliance Defending Freedom (‘ADF’) has conducted such training in the past, and the Court deems that appropriate here.”
Southwest announced Tuesday that it would appeal Starr’s ruling, but it seems logical and sensible, and it’s not overwrought. But some in the left-of-center media reacted to the sanctions with outrage and disdain over both this particular kind of “diversity training” and the group the judge prescribed for providing it; namely, the ADF.
In a Substack newsletter called “Law Dork,” Chris Geidner took issue with the law firm, writing, “ADF is not an unbiased, educational institution—nor does it pretend to be. The only relevant ‘training’ its website discusses in the training section is a ‘Legal Academy’ connecting ‘like-minded attorneys’ in an effort to show lawyers how ‘to effectively advocate for religious liberty, free speech, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.’”
At Salon, a headline called the ADF a “Christian hate group.”
Slate’s legal analyst, Mark Joseph Stern, called the order “pretty frightening” and tweeted: “If upheld, Trump Judge Brantley Starr’s order would let courts force lawyers to undergo religious indoctrination sessions from an extremist group that may well contradict their own deeply held spiritual beliefs and freedom of speech. This cannot possibly be legal.”
The double standard here is blatant.
There are all kinds of diversity and inclusion trainings required at corporations, in education institutions, and demanded on social media. Such training may be commonplace, but the level of political correctness it typically features is a direct result of left-wing ideology that highlights “diversity” and “inclusiveness” over everything else, often including someone else’s “deeply held spiritual beliefs and freedom of speech” to use Stern’s formulation.
Trump was so sick of it — or perhaps knew his base was — that the Justice Department under him canceled all such trainings, although a few months later, a federal judge blocked part of the ban.
Those objecting to Starr’s order to Southwest might recall, for example, Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Lakewood, Colorado, who refused to make a custom-ordered wedding cake for a gay couple. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordered Phillips to be given “comprehensive training” on Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws.
In 2017, Southwest fired Charlene Carter, a pro-life flight attendant, after she disagreed with its union’s president for attending the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., that year and voiced concern on social media with her dues being used to support pro-abortion causes.
Carter sued, claiming she was discriminated against due to her pro-life beliefs rooted in her religious beliefs. Originally, a jury awarded Carter $5.2 million. Starr reduced her award to $800,000, to align with federal limits on punitive damages, and ordered Southwest to rehire Carter.
Southwest was found to be in serious violation of Carter’s religious liberties. As such, it seems like a suitable consequence that, among other things, Southwest understand what the concept of religious liberty entails within the First Amendment.
Who better to facilitate such training than a legal organization that has won 15 cases at the Supreme Court on issues just like this. The Alliance Defending Freedom is no “hate group.” It’s a highly specialized law firm of attorneys and staff who understand and respect the authority of the First Amendment, especially as it relates to free speech or free exercise of religion cases.
The hysteria the Left has shown in this case is so outrageous as to be laughable. In effect, it’s diversity and inclusion training for me, but not for thee.
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