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American Independent: A federal court judge in Minnesota ruled on Monday that a marriage between a man and a transgender woman was legal under Minnesota law and that a health insurance plan could not drop the woman from her husband’s health benefits. The judge said that because one person is male and the other legally transitioned to female, the couple qualifies as legally married under the state’s Defense of Marriage Act . . . In his decision (PDF), he said that the Radtkes’ marriage was legal. He went on to lecture the health plan administrators for their actions. | Radtke v. Miscellaneous Drivers & Helpers Union Local #638 Health Welfare Eye & Dental Fund
Robert Reich at Christian Science Monitor: Organized gambling is a scam. And it particularly preys upon people with lower incomes – who assume they can’t make it big any other way, who often find it hardest to assess the odds, and whose families can least afford to lose the money. Yet with new, relaxed gambling laws, America is now opening the floodgates.
Baptist Press: With a 20-13 party-line vote, the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee passed March 27 the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA). Now CIANA will move from the committee to the full House.
Baptist Press: A survey of 1,191 likely voters by Public Policy Polling has the amendment ahead, 58-38 percent, while a poll of 1,001 by SurveyUSA has the amendment up, 58-36 percent.
Christian Concern: Jeffrey Ventrella, the senior vice president of the Alliance Defense Fund, gave a series of talks on the role of the advocate in society entitled “Law, Lordship & Liberty”.
Wendy Wright at Turtle Bay and Beyond: As the UN considers creating “sexual rights” for children as young as 10, a court in Brazil shows what this would mean.
Catholic Culture: Two weeks after a military coup toppled the government of Mali President Amadou Toumani Touré, Tuareg rebels, working with a separate Islamist rebel group . . .
ACLU, 70 members of Congress lobby for Executive Order restricting religious freedom of federal contractors
ACLU: On Tuesday afternoon, over 70 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama urging him to sign an executive order to ensure that federal contractors receiving tax dollars do not discriminate against applicants and employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Baptist Press: With North Carolina voters poised to vote on a constitutional marriage amendment May 8, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary held a forum to discuss the importance and appropriateness of protecting the traditional definition of marriage.
CBS: In the escalating battle between the administration and the judiciary, a federal appeals court apparently is calling the president’s bluff — ordering the Justice Department to answer by Thursday whether the Obama Administration believes that the courts have the right to strike down a federal law, according to a lawyer who was in the courtroom.
Christian Post: As the violent conflict between rebels and the Syrian government continues putting the lives of civilians at risk, many Christians are reportedly considering fleeing the country, once considered a safe haven for Christians in the Middle East.
LifeNews: A hearing in the criminal case against a Kansas Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, which was scheduled for last Thursday, has been put off indefinitely. Attorneys for Planned Parenthood and the District Attorney’s office made a brief appearance in court last week to ask for the continuance.
Washington Post: A gay student whose southwest Ohio high school prohibited him from wearing a T-shirt designed to urge tolerance of gays is suing the school, saying it’s violating his freedom of expression rights.
Bryron Babione at Townhall: Imagine a T-shirt print shop run by owners who openly practice homosexual behavior. Let’s call it “Tolerance 101.” They make T-shirts for community events, annual “gay pride” rallies, and sports teams around their city. Now, imagine that a major Christian ministry contacts the company to have them make T-shirts that will be worn at an event supporting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
David French at National Review: In my experience, federal judges are more likely to be angered than intimidated by direct attacks from politicians and pressure groups.
Steven D. Smith at the Law of Library and Liberty: Indeed, for reasons we will notice, the proposition that government should remain “neutral” in matters of religion appears to be virtually irresistible. Which leads to embarrassment: that is because, upon closer inspection, religious neutrality also turns out to be impossible. Worse yet, the attempt to maintain religious neutrality subtly works to undermine the constitutional commitment to religious freedom. This essay briefly considers the predicament and reflects on possible responses.
Darrel Hart at the Library of Law and Liberty: These historical reminders may be a long winded way of saying that Stephen Smith has a point when he argues that religious neutrality, an implication of religious freedom, is theoretically impossible. As he observes, the earliest claims on behalf of religious neutrality, such as those proposed by Jefferson and Madison, made assumptions about God and people that were hardly universal. Smith is also correct to see how the nation’s commitment to religious freedom has left the courts tied in legal knots. Crafting better rationales for religious freedom would be welcome.
Reconsidering the Authority of Religious Liberty within the Liberal Order: The Problem of Neutrality
Zachary R. Calo at Library of Law and Liberty: In particular, the problem with neutrality is not merely that it is circular and self-defeating in its logic, but that it sustains and deepens the chasm of moral meaning between law and religion.
Jennifer Roback Morse at the Ruth Institute: Libertarians are being taken in by rhetoric that sounds libertarian but, in fact, will lead to a dramatic shift in the balance of power between the state and civil society, indeed between the state and the natural order itself.
Thomas More Law Center Files Lawsuit: City of Dearborn Employs New Tactic to Silence Christian Pastor
Christian Newswire: Yesterday afternoon, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) filed a federal lawsuit in the Federal District Court against the City of Dearborn, and its police chief over the City’s new tactic to stop Pastor Terry Jones from speaking out against Sharia law.
Institute for Religion and Democracy on the Christian Newswire: IRD President Mark Tooley commented: “No seriously religious group, or any seriously principled group, could comply with Vanderbilt’s oppressive ‘diversity’ policy.
LifeSiteNews (includes video): Last Thursday’s high-charged rally against the Ontario government’s Bill 13, imposing the province’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy (EIE) on all public and private schools, revealed many parents are dismayed over this attempt to remove parental rights.
LifeSiteNews: A Brazilian federal appeals court has ruled that a child molester who committed sex acts with three twelve-year-old girls was not guilty of rape because, “the victims were far from innocent.”
LifeSite News carries the the story and the image. “According to English reports regarding the original post, the pregnant mother was forcibly held down as she was given an injection to induce labor, after which the baby ‘even gave a cry when it came out,’ but was left in a bucket to drown.”
Christian Institute: The number of assisted suicides for Swiss residents has risen by 700 per cent in the space of 11 years, according to new figures.
Marcia Coyle and Tony Mauro at National Law Journal: Regardless of the outcome of the challenge to the new health care law, three days of arguments last week may have cemented the view of the Roberts Court as a willing and aggressive player in the American political conversation.
Huffington Post (includes video): “I think if President Obama came out as gay he wouldn’t — President Obama is not going to lose the black vote no matter what he does,” Jones quipped Monday on MSNBC, responding to a question from host Alex Wagner about a potential loss of support among African Americans if Obama came out in favor of marriage equality
Bloomberg: “I think there’s something of a fightback going on, and we should welcome that,” the prime minister told guests including church ministers and Christian politicians at an Easter reception in his official Downing Street residence in London today. “The values of the Bible, the values of Christianity are the values that we need.”
Sacramento Bee: After two papal visits, support is growing for the Roman Catholic Church among long-suffering Cubans. Yet support from the Communist Party that rules the island nation . . .
Washington Examiner: House Bill 1196 would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, unless the woman’s health is at risk.
Charlotte Observer: Johnson, the board vice chairman, said he understands the question, but also has this response: “One thing comes to mind. If the moral and social issues of our country are not addressed, we don’t have to worry about the economic issues. They will not matter at that point in time.”
Blog of the Legal Times: It was Robert Long, the Covington & Burling partner who was appointed by the justices to argue that the Court has no jurisdiction yet to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
Religion Clause Blog: According to the Greensboro (NC) News & Record, a North Carolina state trial court judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed last year by 11 clergy challenging the state’s requirement that marriages be solemnized by clergy or a magistrate.
Religion Clause Blog: In Kubala v. Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp., (CT App., March 27, 2012), a Connecticut appeals court adopted the trial court’s opinion (see prior posting) and dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction a suit brought against a Catholic priest, his church and the Hartford Diocese . . .
Liberty Counsel: Hallmark Management Company has settled with Daniel and Sharon Dixon, after firing and evicting them from a property management position for having a piece of artwork hanging in their office that contained a Scripture reference . . .
The Hill: Democrats have waged a not-so-subtle pressure campaign on the Supreme Court in recent days by warning a ruling against the healthcare reform law would smash precedent and threaten popular social programs.
WITN.com (includes video): A separation of church and state is bringing one county together. Complaints of prayer at Jones County Commissioners meetings has prompted public feedback, and demands for action at a public hearing Monday morning.
MO Family Policy Council: Medical professionals and health care institutions would have strengthened conscience protections under legislation approved by the Missouri House of Representatives . . .
Paul.House.gov: It is precisely this lawless usurpation of federalism that liberty-minded Americans must oppose. Why should a single swing vote on the Supreme Court decide if our entire nation is saddled with Obamacare? The doctrine of judicial review, which is nowhere to be found in Article III of the Constitution, has done nothing to defend liberty against extra-constitutional excesses by government. It is federalism and states’ rights that should protect our liberty, not nine individuals on a godlike Supreme Court.
Benjamin Bull at Townhall: A gut-wrenching example of the lengths to which men will go to silence the voices of conscience recently played out in an Ontario Court of Justice. There, Judge S. Ford Clements sentenced pro-life advocate Mary Wagner to 92 more days in jail, on top of the 88 days she’d already spent behind bars, all because she has been walking into the waiting rooms in Canadian abortion clinics and sharing hope with the women who are waiting to have their babies killed. And the story gets worse. Clements was so outraged by Wagner’s passion for life that he lashed out at her in front of the court . . . .
Christian Post: “Easter brings different thoughts and holds different meanings to different people,” Cortman stated. “Some think first of that chocolate Easter bunny that you may get (if you’ve been good, maybe it will even be solid chocolate and not just that thin outer shell with nothing inside but air). Or those marshmallow peeps (my kids love those). Or the Cadbury eggs. But to many, Easter is first and foremost about the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Arguably the most important day in Christendom.” . . . The entire ADF memo “Constitutional Rights of Students, Teachers, and Public Schools to Seasonal Religious Expression” can be read on a PDF file here: http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/Content/pdf/2012_Easter_Memo.pdf
One News Now: “It’s a little bit difficult, in my opinion, for students to learn about our culture, our history, religious inscriptions in our monuments just generally speaking without teaching about our religious heritage and some of our religious beliefs,” he [Dave Cortman] offers. The ADF attorney concludes that it is permissible to talk about Easter in public schools, as well as other holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving and so forth. His firm has written a memo that explains the law in this this area.
Tulsa World: “All we were asking for is a policy change to make sure groups like these are treated equally and reassurance that you’re going to treat our client equally going forward,” he said. “The original policy basically prohibited any religious materials from being distributed at school. The district has drafted a new comprehensive policy that specifically says that no materials will prohibited based upon religious content,” Sharp said. “Our client got what they were seeking in this case, which is to have the same right to get their message out as other groups.”
Don Byrd at Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty: Over at the blog of the Alliance Defense Fund, David Cortman writes that public schools shouldn’t let church-state concerns dissuade from teaching the Christian meaning and celebration of Easter . . . I don’t disagree with his conclusion . . . Important too is how the discussion is led, and that (along with his parenthetical name-calling) is where I part ways with Cortman’s post . . .
Baptist Press: The attacks are out of line, said Jim Campbell, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, the organization representing Hands On Originals. “No business owner should be forced to violate his conscience simply because someone demands it,” he said. “The Constitution absolutely supports the rights of business owners to decline a request to support a message that conflicts with their deeply held convictions.”
AP: Arthur Spiegel says in his ruling last week that Dias was a non-Catholic computer teacher with no role in ministering or teaching Catholic doctrine.
Engage Family Minute: Evidently, the Kanawha County Commission voted in February to add, “sexual orientation” to their equal opportunity. Had we been aware, we could have at least countered the talking points that were clearly fed to them by activists for the “tolerance” agenda.