Following other prestigious institutions, Harvard Law School announced the launch of a religious freedom clinic, but already officials are refusing to defend it in response to criticism by LGBTQ activists.
The College Fix reported the activists want to restrict which clients and subject matter the clinic can take on.
Leaders of the gay-rights organization Lambda wrote a letter published by the Harvard Law Record earlier this month complaining their objections to the clinic were ignored by Dean John Manning after he proposed the clinic in October.
The activists said they wrote a letter to Manning in November “seeking a guarantee that the clinic would not weaponize ‘religious freedom’ to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people or jeopardize reproductive justice.”
The group wants a legal clinic that supports “religious minorities, incarcerated individuals, and religious asylum-seekers” and another “aimed at addressing urgent problems of bigotry, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism.”
At the same time, it wants to ban cases of religious conscience on sexuality matters.
The College Fix said Manning ignored requests to comment, and “right-of-center” faculty and students refused to defend the clinic.
High-profile conservative legal thinker Jack Goldsmith, a former George W. Bush administration official, insisted he didn’t have “an informed take” on the subject.
Prof. Adrian Vermeule did not respond, and neither did the campus chapter of the Federalist Society.
Two students who helped develop a petition asking Harvard Law School for right-of-center clinics, including a religious freedom clinic, declined to comment.
Harvard Law School said the clinic is to be modeled on the religious freedom clinic at Stanford University. Yale University announced its own in October. Harvard’s will represent “underserved” clients “from a diverse array of religious traditions,” the school announcement said.
On the day the clinic was announced, Lambda held a protest, according to The Harvard Crimson. The activists held signs such as “HLS FOLLOW YOUR ANTI-DISCRIMINATION POLICY” and “YOUR SILENCE IS POLITICAL DEAN MANNING.”