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U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright denied this afternoon a request by two churches for a restraining order to block a law that goes into effect Sunday permitting same-sex couples to enter civil unions.
WorldNetDaily: For the first time in dozens of court cases challenging Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president, a judge has ruled that Obama must, in order to be a candidate on the Georgia ballot for president in 2012, meet the constitutional demands for candidates for the office.
USATODAY.com: The blistering fight over whether Mississippi law should define life at conception is expected to continue this year by way of the Legislature.
LifeSiteNews.com: Canada’s Evangelical leaders are backing recent calls by Members of Parliament for a debate on the legal status of children in the womb.
Eagan, MN Patch: On Tuesday night, the council is expected to hold a discussion on a proposed domestic partner registry ordinance, among other items. The Eagan City Council is holding a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday night in the Eagan City Hall.
LifeSiteNews.com: Legislation proposed in August 2011, by Angolan Justice Minister Guilhermina Prata to decriminalize abortion in the African country will likely fail now that the Catholic Church has come out in opposition to the measure, according to at least one government minister.
John Mulhane at Slate Magazine: While it’s true that marriage is in serious trouble in the United States, it’s not because of the gay and lesbian couples seeking to achieve it. If my own research telegraphs future marriage trends, the real peril may come from an increasing number of straight folks who have had their fill of traditional marriage. Instead of fretting about how gay couples are redefining marriage, maybe we should start talking about why straight couples are rejecting it.
Baptist Press: Beijing authorities detained 48 members of a large persecuted house church on New Year’s Day, marking a total of more than 1,000 church members who have been taken into police custody during the church’s 38 weeks of attempting to hold outdoor worship services.
HumanRights.gov: Since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Human Rights Day speech in Geneva last month, some have publicly wondered—and I imagine a great many more have privately done so—about why an American secretary of state would give a speech about protecting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people abroad.
LifeSiteNews.com: Uruguay’s senate passed a bill in late December, by a vote of 17 to 14, that eliminates all penalties for abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
LifeNews.com: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has approved new regulations the state health department proposed in Virginia that pro-life advocates supported because they could close abortion clinics that don’t follow health and safety laws.
ADF at LifeNews.com: Depressed patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves. State law reflects this, and no one should believe the recent falsehoods that pro-death proponents have spread about the law. The Hawaii attorney general has clearly concluded that state law does not permit doctor-prescribed death and that any physician who participates in it can be prosecuted,” said Honolulu attorney Jim Hochberg, one of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance.
Eugene Volokh at the The Volokh Conspiracy: A common argument against the claim that “the freedom of the press” protects all who use mass communications technology — and thus in favor of the claim that “the freedom of the press” specially protects the institutional media — is that otherwise the “freedom of the press” would be redundant of the “freedom of speech.” | Related: The Original and Traditional Meaning of “Freedom … of the Press”
NYTimes.com: “The free-speech rights of students and teachers are under an all-out assault,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of the Liberty Institute, a Christian legal group in Plano, Tex. He described one continuing legal case in which “children had pencils ripped out of their hands” because they carried a Christian message and students were “banned from writing Merry Christmas to the soldiers.”
UPI.com: Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich may have fired the first shot, but the federal courts and especially the U.S. Supreme Court may be in danger of being seen as political entities rather than an impartial judiciary.
New Hampshire NEWS06: Beginning today, girls younger than 18 will have to notify a parent or guardian before they have an abortion.
LaTimes.com: In a cause celebre for the right, an Idaho couple seeks a hearing on an EPA warning that a dry lot for their dream home is protected ‘wetlands.’
Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic: There is a growing gulf between the Supreme Court justices and the rank-and-file federal judges who decide the merits of tens of thousands of cases each year.
Court Allows Pregnancy Centers To Intervene In Establishment Clause Challenge To Informed Consent Abortion Law
Religion Clause: In Planned Parenthood Minnesota v. Daugaard, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148345 (D SD, Dec. 27, 2011), a South Dakota federal district court permitted two South Dakota crisis pregnancy centers to intervene as defendants in a lawsuit challenging on Establishment Clause and free speech grounds the 2011 changes to South Dakota’s informed consent abortion law.
Religion Clause: According to Focus News Agency, Hungary’s Parliament last Friday passed a restrictive new Law on Churches which recognizes only 14 religious faiths (the so-called traditional faiths), instead of the 300 that have previously been recognized.
Religion Clause: The Times of India on Saturday reported on a case in which parents in Ahmedabad (in Gujarat state in India), unhappy with their daughter’s choice of husbands, are attempting to use Gujarat’s Freedom of Religion Act that aims at coerced conversions to undo or undercut the marriage.
Religion Clause: Over the last ten days, the press in India has been filled with commentary on the Indian government’s December 22 decision (CNN) to create a 4.5% sub-quota for economically and socially disadvantaged non-Hindu minorities– Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians– within the existing 27% Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota.
The National Law Journal: Two days after receiving word that the American Bar Association had denied it provisional accreditation, the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law on Dec. 22 filed a federal lawsuit against the organization.
Education News: The sought-after school, half a mile from the Pacific Ocean, admitted 1,460 fewer California residents this year to accept higher-paying students from out-of-state, many from China.
Religion Clause: The Orange County Register last month, in an editorial, reported on a lawsuit filed on Dec. 9 against the Compton (CA Unified School District challenging its two denials of a charter school application filed by a Christian minister.
CharlotteObserver.com: As Charlotte and North Carolina take the national spotlight for this year’s Democratic National Convention, one area will get particular scrutiny: the region’s climate for gays and lesbians.
The Economist: Now, however, comes evidence that India may in fact be succeeding. In a pair of articles in the Indian Express, Surjit Bhalla, an economist, and Ravinder Kaur, a sociologist, use a different set of figures to get a different result. On the basis of the national sample surveys (NSS), they calculate that India’s sex ratio at birth swung from 924 females per 1,000 males in 2004-05 to 977 in 2011, a stunning turnaround in favour of girls.
KansasCity.com (AP): The American Civil Liberties Union has warned a northwest Missouri school district that it is coming close to breaching the line of separation between church and state with some of the motivational speakers it has arranged through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Fox News: In a scathing statement, the head of the ACLU, and other leading civil liberties and human rights groups who were among President Obama’s most ardent campaign supporters said the President’s decision to sign a sprawling defense bill including controversial detainee provisions would tarnish his legacy.
News from The Associated Press: Israeli lawmakers have pushed ahead contentious legislation that critics say undermines the independence of the country’s Supreme Court and is part of a broader assault by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Israel’s democracy.
Bryan Kemper at LifeNews: 6. Wear pro-life t-shirts and clothing. You can reach thousands of people a day wearing a pro-life t-shirt. My favorite place to wear mine is the airport; I think I get maximum visibility there. School is also a great place to wear a pro-life t-shirt – if your school gives you trouble, you can always contact the Alliance Defense Fund at 1-800-tell-adf. You can order great pro-life t-shirts at Pro-life World: www.prolifeworld.com
News from The Associated Press: Investigators enlisted a chemical-sniffing dog from the Florida state fire marshal’s office on Tuesday to help determine if a New Year’s blaze at a Pensacola abortion clinic was arson.
AP: Morocco’s ruling coalition formed a new government on Tuesday that gives top posts to an Islamist party but also keeps close allies of the king in powerful positions.
Care2 Causes: I’m rounding up the year in a series of posts — in which no doubt I’ve missed something, so please let me know what I’ve missed in the comments!
“The Department of State’s Accomplishments Promoting the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People”
State.gov: Human rights are inalienable and belong to every person, no matter who that person is or whom that person loves. Since January 2009, Secretary Clinton has directed the Department to champion a comprehensive human rights agenda—one that includes the protection of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The Department uses its full range of diplomatic and development tools to press for the elimination of violence and discrimination against LGBT people worldwide, particularly those forced to flee their homes or countries.
: Promote ideological fairness and freedom in the educational system, buy doing things such as supporting organizations like Alliance Defense Fund, the ACLJ and David Horowitz’s Freedom Center, as well as participate on school boards, in public and private schools, on all levels of education.
Idaho Press-Tribune (12/29): It’s generally accepted that federal law trumps state law. So the Alliance Defense Fund, which has taken up the case on behalf of NCA, has legitimate reason to believe it has a valid argument. But if the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t agree to hear the case, it doesn’t matter how strong it is. The odds aren’t very good. But it would benefit Idaho greatly if it does happen.
The Advertiser: Oller and UL officials did not return calls for comment, and his local council referred The Daily Advertiser’s requests for comment to the Alliance Defense Fund, which is also representing Oller. According to the group’s website, the ADF formed in the 90s and is, “a servant organization that provides the resources that will keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel through the legal defense of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, marriage and the family.” The group claims on the website that it is fighting against ACLU attacks on religious freedom and other religious dogma. One of the ADF’s deceased founders, Marlin Maddoux, is quoted praising ADF in its fight against “radical attacks.” “ADF gives Christians a unique way to fight back against the radical attacks of groups like the ACLU, homosexual activists and anti-family activists,” Maddoux is quoted as saying.
NC Register (12/28): According to the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the 12 nurses, the terms of the settlement require that if a woman suffers a true emergency from an abortion, the nursse will help protect her until other staff, such as the emergency team, arrives moments later. “Because the abortions are all elective, outpatient surgeries, and the court is requiring the hospital to fully staff all abortion cases with non-objecting medical personnel, the pro-life nurses should never actually be needed in any such case,” the ADF statement said. [more Matt Bowman quoted]
Christian Examiner: “No pro-life medical personnel should be forced to assist or train in services related to abortions. The hospital has finally done the right thing in agreeing to obey the law and not force our clients to do any work on abortion cases in violation of their beliefs,” said ADF legal counsel Matt Bowman. “The hospital agreed not to penalize our clients in any way because they choose not to participate in abortion, according to their legal rights.”
Heritage Foundation (12/28): One issue is whether religious student organizations at public universities should be free to select members and leaders who agree with the religious beliefs of the organizations. Just this month, for example, the Alliance Defense Fund sought Supreme Court review for two Christian student organizations that were denied official recognition by San Diego State University because the organizations wished to require members and/or leaders to agree with the religious beliefs of the organizations.
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty: “This is a big issue now,” [ADF attorney Mike] Johnson said of the prayer debate. “It is a bigger one nationwide. The court needs to clear up confusion.” … The county argues in its latest brief, as it did previously, that different circuit courts have ruled differently in cases with similar facts. For instance, the appeals court for the 11th Circuit, which covers Georgia, ruled that sectarian references in the prayers of randomly invited clergy didn’t constitute a government endorsement of religion.
David Bohon The New American: ADF Attorney Matt Bowman, who represented the nurses in the case, recalled that the change in hospital policy had come “out of the blue,” noting that UMDNJ “had been performing abortions for decades without forcing nurses to violate their religious beliefs.” In September hospital officials announced to nurses at the Same Day Surgery Unit that they would now be required to assist with the procedures. The hospital instituted the policy change the following month “and repeatedly threatened that they must assist abortions or be terminated,” Bowman explained. “When one nurse objected to assisting abortions on the grounds of her religious beliefs, a supervisor responded that UMDNJ has ‘no regard for religious beliefs’ of nurses who object to participating in abortions.”
Partisanship in the pulpit, then and now: Prohibition Johnson put through in 1954 could face court challenges
National Catholic Reporter (12/28): This quietude of the courts could well change. The conservative Alliance Defense Fund recruited a group of more than 30 pastors to preach explicitly on the moral qualities of the candidates on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008, which they deemed “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” As Mayer notes, the group “then made a list of the participating pastors and churches public, in effect daring the IRS to investigate them.” The Internal Revenue Service may be reluctant to get into a clash with a church, but at some point, the government must enforce its own laws, and a challenge to the constitutionality of the proscription on partisanship in the pulpits may come before the courts.
Catholic Culture (12/28): “It is a victory because the hospital finally agreed to obey the law and not force our clients to do any work on abortion cases in violation of their beliefs,” said the nurses’ attorney, Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund. “The hospital agreed not to penalize our clients in any way because they choose to not help abortions, according to their legal rights. The hospital is required to fully staff all abortion cases so that our clients would never be needed for those cases, and the hospital cannot use pro-abortion staff to replace our clients or reduce their hours.”
Crosswalk Religion Today News (12/28): The city backed up the event organizers, but the federal court ruled in favor of the men’s First Amendment rights. Alliance Defense Fund litigation staff counsel Jonathan Scruggs applauded the ruling: “The court made the right decision in suspending the ban so that people can share their faith in a nondisruptive manner.”
Wisconsin Salem-Journal (12/28): Mike Johnson, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund which is representing Forsyth County, said he has heard that the justices may discuss in January what cases to take . . . “This is a big issue now,” Johnson said of the prayer debate. “It is a bigger one nationwide. The court needs to clear up confusion.”
National Right to Life News (12/28): Last week I asked the nurses’ lawyer, Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, how he would describe the settlement: a “victory” he told National Right to Life News Today. “It is a victory because the hospital finally agreed to obey the law and not force our clients to do any work on abortion cases in violation of their beliefs. The hospital agreed not to penalize our clients in any way because they choose to not help abortions, according to their legal rights. The hospital is required to fully staff all abortion cases so that our clients would never be needed for those cases, and the hospital cannot use pro-abortion staff to replace our clients or reduce their hours. The judge warned the hospital that our clients could return to his court if they were assigned to work abortion cases or if the hospital claims that routine abortions are emergencies. We hope that other hospitals will realize that they should agree to obey conscience laws that protect pro-life medical personnel.”
LifeNews: Officials with the Alliance Defense Fund and Americans United for Life submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court supporting the law. “Parents should have a right to be involved in their child’s critical life-changing decisions, and that includes abortions,” ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman told LifeNews.com previously. “Secret abortions performed on minors leave children in the hands of a predatory abortion industry that has put profits above parents’ rights and the health and safety of young girls and their preborn children.”
Bloomberg: The West is using cultural means to divide China (PRCH), which needs to be alert to this threat, President Hu Jintao said in a Communist Party magazine.
LifeNews: This was indeed a great victory, and the credit goes to twelve brave and principled nurses who stood their ground, and attorney Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund for his skillful and equally courageous defense of the nurses. There is a fundamental principle at stake here, one that is testing all of our established human anthropology, metaphysics, ethics, and jurisprudence . . . Blessedly, we have principled leaders and warriors today in people like Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, Nikolas Nikas and Dorinda Bordleee of the Bioethics Defense Fund, who speak frequently at medical and law schools about conscience rights, and brave medical professionals who are dedicated to upholding the highest estimation of humanity under the law.
Norman Transcript (AP) (12/25): The preachers’ attorney, Jonathan Scruggs, of Memphis, Tenn., had argued that the public retains its rights to free speech and freedom of religion while attending a public event on public property. But he acknowledged that the city and the Bentleyville group could alter the contract to try to get around Davis’ ruling. “We would then evaluate that,” said Scruggs, who works with the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, which advocates for religious freedom. “We take them as they come.”
StarTribune.com: In a church-state dispute with echoes across the country, a Wayzata congregation has won its battle to build a new church in a residential neighborhood.
ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Eastern Missouri today filed a lawsuit charging the Salem Public Library and its board of trustees with unconstitutionally blocking access to websites discussing minority religions by improperly classifying them as “occult” or “criminal.”
LifeNews.com: As we’re all VERY familiar with by now, Planned Parenthood absolutely insists that abortions only comprise 3% of their “services.” Now, even if this were an accurate representation of the truth, it would be abhorrent.
Reacting to critics of the Supreme Court who have raised their voices lately about the Justices’ ethical values, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., used his year-end report on Saturday to seek to reassure the nation that he and his eight colleagues are sensitive to the issue, and are entitled to the public’s confidence in their integrity.