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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says religious expression under attack

Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio

Avoiding comment on his ongoing conflict with President Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions  says one of his main priorities is to uphold freedom of speech, especially for religious groups.

Sessions was the keynote speaker Thursday at the Michigan Chapter of the Federalist Society.

He says freedom of religion includes freedom of expression, which is under attack in the U.S. -- and that's why the justice department is intervening in cases like free speech on college campuses.

"It's amazing some of the extremes we've seen on college universities that supposedly were the foundational spot for free speech in America," he says. "One of the cases arose when a student proclaimed his faith at a school in Georgia."

Sessions says the Obama administration should not have tried to make religious groups include contraception in health insurance policies for staff, which is why the justice department has settled 22 civil cases involving the mandate.

He also says people of faith should not be forced to provide services that violate their religion. The justice department is intervening in a lawsuit on behalf of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Sessions would not take questions from the press after his speech.  

He continues to be the butt of hostile remarks by President Donald Trump. Earlier this week, Trump tweeted that he wished he hadn't appointed Sessions.

Sessions has refused Trump's request to un-recuse himself from the special investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The recusal came after it was revealed that Sessions had failed to disclose during his Senate confirmation hearing that he had met with Russia's ambassador to Washington prior to the election.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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