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The Independent: Louisa Hodkin, 24, had wanted to wed fellow Scientologist fiance Alessandro Calcioli at a chapel in the London base of the movement in central London
Liberty Institute: The San Angelo Police Department of San Angelo, Texas, is the newest target of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) aggressive efforts to systematically remove faith from public view.
Blog of the Legal Times: By voice vote on December 17, the Senate confirmed Fernando Olguin to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and Thomas Durkin to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Christian Institute: A male teacher at a Church of England primary school in Lancashire is to return next year as a female because he is “transitioning to live as a woman”.
Becket Fund: Today, a federal court denied a request to temporarily stop enforcement of the abortion pill mandate, which would force the Christian-owned-and-operated Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., to provide the “morning-after pill” and “week-after pill” in its health insurance plan, or face crippling fines up to $1.3 million per day.
First Things: The FamilyScholars blog is hosting a symposium on marriage this week to mark the release of “The President’s Marriage Agenda for the Forgotten Sixty Percent” (PDF here), a new report from the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values. The “sixty percent” in the title refers to the roughly three in five Americans who have graduated from high school but not from college—a group whose members are rapidly becoming less likely to marry and more likely to have children outside of marriage, with all the disadvantages those trends imply.
The Age: ANGER at plans for a mosque and evangelical church to be built side-by-side in Melbourne’s east has spilled over amid claims Islam ”directly contravenes our freedom values”.
Miami Herald: Respondents opposed same sex marriage by a 10 point margin back in May, but in the poll released Thursday they were nearly evenly divided, with 43 percent in favor of allowing gay marriage and 45 percent opposed. Voters younger than 29, however, overwhelmingly support the idea, by a 66-23 percent margin.
FTC Strengthens Kids’ Privacy, Gives Parents Greater Control Over Their Information By Amending Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule
FTC: The Federal Trade Commission adopted final amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule that strengthen kids’ privacy protections and give parents greater control over the personal information that websites and online services may collect from children under 13.
Reuters: The Boy Scouts of America can lease public land from the City of San Diego for a cheap rate despite the fact the scouts prohibit atheists, agnostics and homosexuals from becoming members, a U.S. appeals court ruled. In an opinion on Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said two leases do not violate the constitutional separation of church and state. | Barnes-Wallace v. San Diego
TiwnCities.com (AP): The conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom filed the lawsuit late last month, claiming the state pays for abortions that aren’t really medically necessary, without the legal authority to do so, and without a meaningful review of whether these abortions really qualify as therapeutic.
Daily Caller: If the threatened lawsuit by the unnamed parents materializes, it would face substantial legal hurdles according to David Cortman, an attorney who specializes in the First Amendment at Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative-leaning nonprofit. “It doesn’t create a constitutional crisis to sing Christmas songs at Christmastime,” Cortman told the Daily Mail. “If every time there was a piece of art or classical musical with a religious theme, we censored it, we would be eliminating much from the students’ education.”
LifeSiteNews: A new study of Canadian women finds that pregnant women who are married suffer less partner abuse, substance abuse, and post-partum depression than women who are cohabitating or single. Dr. Marcelo Urquia, an epidemiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto . . .
Joe Carter at LifeSiteNews: Economic growth is therefore not, as McCarraher claims, the “beatific vision of the capitalist moral imagination.” It’s neither a goal that should be pursued for its own sake nor a means to achieve a materialist paradise. Economic growth is not the chief end of man, but merely the blessing that results from fulfilling God’s cultural mandate.
AP: As a whole, the U.S. population grew by 2.3 million, reaching 313.9 million people. That growth of 0.75 percent was higher than the 0.73 percent rate in 2011, ending five years of slowing growth rates. Nevertheless, growth levels remains stuck at historically low levels not seen since 1937, restrained by reduced childbirths.
Jonathan Last at the Weekly Standard: The New York Times has finally discovered that fiscal cliffs aren’t the only thing that menace the modern nation-state. There’s a demographic cliff, too.
LifeNews: President Barack Obama, in what appears to be a significant conflict of interest, has named a lobbyist for the maker of the Plan B morning after pill as the top attorney for the Health and Human Services Department.
KPHO.com: “It is legal to celebrate national holidays like Christmas in the public square,” said Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which is an alliance-building legal ministry advocating for the right of people to freely live out their faith. “Public officials should not fear attacks from atheists because their freedom to participate in community celebrations is protected under the First Amendment,” Tedesco said in his own letter to the Arizona secretary of state and various city and school officials in Prescott. [Click here to read the full letter (PDF)]
MyFoxAtlanta: A judge is considering whether to block Georgia’s new law that bans abortions after 20 weeks pending the outcome of a legal challenge.
The Hill: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) vowed on Thursday that Republican leaders would have the votes to pass Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “Plan B” tax bill over Democratic and conservative opposition.
Jordan Lorence at Townhall: Each year, misguided government officials and fearful corporate executives try to censor expressions of Christmas, and, each year, after people object, others deny such censorship exists. But it does. This year’s examples include . . .
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys sent a letter Wednesday to Missoula County Public Schools after the district faced complaints that certain religious songs should not be included in a Christmas performance by children at Chief Charlo Elementary school.
Mark Sherman at AP: “The vicious opposition by the left to Bob Bork’s nomination turned what had sometimes been a contentious confirmation process into literally a political campaign,” Meese said Wednesday.
The Globe and Mail: An Islamic witness may be required to remove her niqab veil to testify in court depending on the seriousness of the case and the intensity of her religious beliefs, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday. | R. v. N.S., 2012 SCC 72
Public Discourse: Young adult men’s support for redefining marriage may not be entirely the product of ideals about expansive freedoms, rights, liberties, and fairness. It may be, in part, a byproduct of regular exposure to diverse and graphic sex acts.
Religion Clause Blog: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced Tuesday the unsealing of indictments (full text of charging documents) charging 26 individuals in overlapping immigration fraud schemes involving fabricated claims of persecution asserted by Chinese aliens seeking asylum. Those charged were lawyers and paralegals in ten different law firms in the Chinatown area of Manhattan and Queens . . .
Alan Sears at the Human Life International Truth and Charity Forum: The 19th century Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky once wisely said, “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.” Christians continue to wage a political and legal battle against a predominantly secular culture about the law and the meaning of life—both increasingly corrupted by what Blessed Pope John Paul II coined a “culture of death.”
AP: resident Vladimir Putin says a draft bill banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children is a legitimate response to a new U.S. law that calls for sanctions on Russians deemed to be human rights violators. But he has not committed to signing it.
Christian Civic League: According to the 2012 Annual Report of the Family Planning Association of Maine (the organization which runs the abortion clinic in Augusta on Gabriel Drive): “ This year we made strategic decisions that help ensure our future sustainability …” Sources of Funding for Family Planning Association of Maine in 2012 and % of total . . .
Wall Street Journal: The U.S. Senate has had many low, retrograde moments, but easily among the worst was its 1987 rejection of Robert Bork to sit on the Supreme Court. Bob Bork died Wednesday at age 85, having contributed far more to American law than the 58 Senators who voted against him and more than most Supreme Court Justices.
Wall Street Journal: Without the Constitution’s original intent as their guide, wrote the great jurist who died Wednesday at 85, justices are left with merely their own ‘moral philosophy.’
N.Y. Federal Court Hearing Today in Priests for Life’s Legal Challenge to HHS “Contraception” Mandate
American Freedom Law Center: Today, Robert J. Muise, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), is presenting oral argument in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in support of AFLC’s request that the court immediately halt the enforcement of the Obama administration’s “contraception” mandate.
AP: Socialist President Francois Hollande’s budget aims to cut (EURO)30 billion ($40 billion), with two-thirds of that coming in tax hikes, including a 75 percent levy on incomes earned over (EURO)1 million. But it was the increase in taxes on profits from investments that raised the most hackles in France . . .
LA Times: People who post offensive messages on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter should face criminal charges only if their comments are harassing or threatening and not simply in bad taste, according to new legal guidelines in Britain that follow a spate of controversial prosecutions.
Boston Globe: A federal judge said today that he would award more than $700,000 in legal fees to the team of lawyers who represented Michelle Kosilek, the convicted murderer who sued the state for a sex change operation to treat her gender identity disorder. Chief US District Judge Mark L. Wolf . . .
Examiner.com: Today, Dec. 19, 2012 it was announced by Alliance Defending Freedom that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) officially complained to the Arizona Secretary of State that their participation in a privately sponsored Christmas lighting ceremony in front of the county courthouse violates the Constitution. A false claim to be sure, but they will try anything to stifle the traditions that they do not agree with.
Todd Starnes at Fox News: “For them to include traditional religious Christmas carols is perfectly constitutional,” said Matt Sharp, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom. “The courts have clearly held that it’s constitutional for schools to include traditional religious carols as part of a secular educational music program.” The ADF said they sent a letter to the Missoula, Mont. School district advising them of their rights under the law and offered to give them legal support in the event of a lawsuit.
Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) Defends Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) | Christian Newswire
Christian Newswire: As a result of increasing attacks on religious freedom, many persons of conscience have meritorious claims for harassment, defamation, and discrimination. With his decades of experience in this area, Charles LiMandri has been selected to head up a joint strike team comprised of the FCDF and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is making available its nationwide network of thousands of attorneys to assist in these cases at the local level under Mr. LiMandri’s direct supervision.
Bill Donohue at Newsmax: While there have been many organizations fighting the foes of Christmas — the Catholic League, the Thomas More Law Center, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Family Association — without the participation of men and women in our nation’s towns, villages, and cities, we wouldn’t be winning. Here are a few examples:
The New American: Alan Sears of Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal advocacy group, said in a statement that Judge Bork “stands as a constitutional giant of our generation, indeed, one of the greatest legal minds and tireless defenders of religious freedom in American history.” Sears said that Bork “had a dramatic impact on our nation, on its legal culture, and on the minds and hearts of many of its finest judges, law professors, students, and attorneys. Perhaps his greatest mark was the restoration of scholarship on Originalism, which has helped preserve the ingenious framework for freedom forged by our nation’s founders that many others in the legal profession had hoped to toss into the dustbin of history.”
Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic (includes video of the confirmation hearings): The relentless honesty and arrogant mien of Robert Bork, who has died at 84, during his unforgettable 1987 Supreme Court nomination hearing resulted in two very important things for this nation. First, it precluded the ideologue from becoming a life-tenured justice, which has meant over the intervening 25 years many saving graces for progressives and many bitter disappointments for conservatives. Second, it changed (forever, I suspect) the way judicial confirmation hearings unfold, by encouraging earnest nominees to say to the Senate Judiciary Committee nothing at all candid, specific, or profound about their judicial philosophies or views of the law.
Jeffrey Rosen at the New Republic: My contribution to the epic battle was modest: I helped with research for a speech on the history of the confirmation process, in which Biden argued that the Senate had the duty to scrutinize not only the legal qualifications but also the constitutional views of nominees. This was a controversial proposition at the time; today it has been taken to extremes that neither Biden nor Bork, who died today at 85, could have imagined.
Reality Check: Alliance Defending Freedom filed the suit on behalf of the Walkers, a pair of anti-choice activists who are claiming not only are the taxpayers of Minnesota being forced to pay for abortions for poor women against their will but that those abortions are an act of eugenics on the African American community. The suit ignores the fact that in Doe v. Gomez, Minnesota established that the right to an abortion is a civil right and that as long as the state pays for services related to pregnancy though Medicaid it must also pay to terminate pregnancies, too.
Baptist Press at Florida Baptist Witness: “Marriage between a man and a woman is a universal good that diverse cultures and faiths have honored throughout the history of Western Civilization,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jim Campbell said in a statement. ADF supports DOMA and Prop 8. “Marriage expresses the truth that men and women bring distinct, irreplaceable gifts to family life. The ProtectMarriage.com legal team looks forward to advocating before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the people’s right to preserve this fundamental building block of civilization.”
Aarathi Prasad at CNN (includes video): In an article in the UK’s “traditional values” tabloid, the Daily Mail, titled “A Terrifying Future for Female Fertility,” Djerassi said, “There are an enormous number of well-educated, proficient women who, when facing the biological clock, first pay attention to their professional ambitions…in the next 20 years, more young people will freeze their eggs and [sperm] in their 20s, and bank them for later use. They will do away with the need for contraception by being sterilised, and withdraw their eggs and sperm from the bank when they are ready to have a child via IVF.”