The new top spokesperson at the Department of Justice comes from the anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom.
Kerri Kupec has been appointed director of the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs, a development first reported by The Daily Beast. She replaces Sarah Isgur Flores, an ally of ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Flores has transferred to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office.
Kupec, who has been with ADF since 2014, also assisted White House staff in working for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She has a law degree from Liberty University, founded by the late homophobic televangelist Jerry Falwell. She was an attorney and director of communications for ADF.
ADF, a legal group that specializes in representing the religious right, has gained a high profile in recent years. It represented Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who cited religious objections to making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Phillips won a qualified victory this year.
It has now asked the Supreme Court to hear a case in which it represents a Michigan funeral home that fired an employee for being transgender and another in which it represents students who objected to a Pennsylvania school district’s trans-inclusive restroom policy.
It has also defended practitioners of conversion therapy, Mississippi’s “license to discriminate” law, and many other anti-LGBTQ clients. It even helped to write and promote the Mississippi law, and it did the same with anti-transgender “bathroom bills” in several states. It worked on federal legislation that would have banned payment for transgender military members’ transition-related health care, a bill that was narrowly rejected by the House of Representatives before Donald Trump announced his trans military ban (now temporarily blocked by courts).
It further advised Sessions on the “religious freedom” guidance he delivered to federal agencies last year, allowing federal employees and contractors to discriminate against those who offend their religious sensibilities and not face repercussions. Sessions famously gave a closed-door speech to ADF in 2017 and later slammed the Southern Poverty Law Center, a progressive legal organization, for designating ADF as a hate group.
The SPLC, which has staunchly defended the designation, provides this summary of ADF on its website: “Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society. ADF also works to develop ‘religious liberty’ legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of religion. Since the election of President Donald Trump, the ADF has become one of the most influential groups informing the administration’s attack on LGBT rights working with an ally in Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
Sessions, deemed by Trump to be insufficiently loyal, is out now, but ADF still has many allies in the Justice Department.