Six human rights organizations submitted a “friend of the court” brief in support of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Secretary of State Pompeo’s unlawful formation and operation of the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights. In their brief, Human Rights Watch, American Jewish World Service, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights First, and the International Women’s Health Coalition write that they “are deeply troubled by the Commission’s apparent intent to undo decades of progress — repeatedly affirmed in multilateral treaties which the United States has signed and, in some cases, ratified — by replacing authoritative interpretations of international human rights law with those of the Commission’s members.”
The plaintiffs — four human rights advocacy groups represented by Democracy Forward — are now joined by amici in raising concerns that the Commission is poised to issue recommendations that will change America’s stance on fundamental tenets of human rights law, including by prioritizing religious liberties over other rights, and that it will do so in violation of federal law.
On Tuesday, concerns about the Commission were also raised by members of Congress. Rep. Jamie Raskin, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Rep. Joaquin Castro, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent a letter to the Commission expressing grave concern that its “upcoming report will undermine our nation’s ability to lead on critical issues of universal human rights, including reproductive freedom and protections for millions of people globally in the LGBTQI community.” Their letter is but the latest in a string of objections raised by members of Congress since the Commission was announced. A group of 20 Senators recently expressed their concern with the Commission in a letter sent on May 20.
The amicus brief was filed on June 9 in the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York. Read it in full here.