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Ed Whelan at National Review: In five of seven cases, the owners of for-profit businesses have obtained injunctive relief against the HHS mandate. Of the two cases that have gone wrong, I’ve already discussed the Tenth Circuit’s mess-up yesterday in the Hobby Lobby case. Here I’ll briefly address the adverse ruling a week ago in Korte v. U.S. Dep’t of HHS.
Washington Post: For Patrick Laplace, the mayor of this trim little town, the Socialist government’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in France is a colossal mistake.
LGBT Weekly: Monday, a Brazilian state judge approved what the court described as the nation’s first gay marriage. Sao Paulo state Judge Fernando Henrique Pinto ruled two men could convert their civil union into a full marriage.
Washington Post: With Maryland’s same-sex marriage law set to take effect Jan. 1, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Thursday directed his Cabinet secretaries to “work expeditiously” to clear any bureaucratic hurdles that stand in the way of conferring new rights on gay couples.
Reuters: Egyptian Islamists are planning a mass protest in Alexandria on Friday in a move likely to raise tensions on the eve of a divisive referendum that will determine the political future of the Arab world’s biggest nation.
STL Today: The City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to expand its anti-discrimination ordinance to include prohibitions against discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity.
When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.
Spiegel Online: Archeologists are studying the ruins of a buried Christian empire in the highlands of Yemen. The sites have sparked a number of questions about the early history of Islam. Was there once a church in Mecca?
Woodbridge.Patch.com: First it was a Nativity scene at the municipal building that was a problem…now it looks like a huge lighted menorah may be an issue as well.
Leicestershire: An atheist shocked Muslim volunteers at a stall promoting Islam when he ripped out pages from the Koran. Peter James Crawford (52) then threw the holy book onto the ground and told them: “Your religion is a load of b******s.”
U.S. News and World Report: A judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Senate rules that establish a 60-vote threshold for defeating filibusters. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington ruled that the plaintiffs lack the legal right to sue, and that if the court took up the case, it would offend the separation of powers among the different branches of government. | Common Cause v. Biden, No 12-775 (D.D.C Dec. 21, 2012)
Star-Tribune.com: The Wyoming chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union fired off a letter to the Jackson mayor and Town Council about a new prayer at the summer rodeo, saying it’s illegal.
“Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to stop including prayers during official events. In a letter to Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon and other officials, Americans United asserted that the academy’s prayer policy runs afoul of the Constitution and violates the rights of cadets.”
Religion Clause Blog: The Times of Israel reported yesterday that in Tunisia, the Tunisian Association to Support Minorities has filed a lawsuit against a prominent imam for anti-Jewish remarks he made in a televised sermon [excerpts] delivered at the Khatib mosque near Tunis last month.
Religion Clause Blog: However, in American Pulverizer Co. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (WD MO, Dec. 20, 2012), a Missouri federal district court granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the contraceptive coverage mandate in a challenge filed by a group of metal recycling businesses owned by Evangelical Christians Paul and Henry Griesediek . . .
Court Rejects Father’s Establishment Clause Challenge To Divorce Decree Provision On Religious Education of Children
Religion Clause Blog: In Roberts v. Roberts, (TX App., Dec. 19, 2012), a Texas appeals court rejected a father’s Establishment Clause challenge to a provision in a divorce decree under which his former wife was given the right to pick up the children for religious classes on Sundays on which the father otherwise had possession of the children.
Eric Metaxes at the Christian Post: When we see bullying tactics being employed during the holidays, we ought to direct the victims to religious rights groups like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, or the Alliance Defending Freedom. They take on religious hostility cases with great gusto and, I might add, with great success.
Matt Bowman at Life News: In the weeks before Christmas, many Christians read about John the Baptist in the Gospel of Luke. They see that ordinary people came asking John if it was possible for them, too, to prepare the way for the Lord. Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers came as well, asking, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
National Catholic Register: Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a coalition of Christian attorneys formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, told the Register that the Dec. 18 ruling shows that religious nonprofits have standing “to protect themselves from bureaucrats that are attacking their religious freedom.” “It shows that federal bureaucrats who are trying to pick and choose what faith is and who can practice faith cannot do so without oversight to ensure they don’t trample on religious freedom,” said Bowman.
One News Now: Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jeremy Tedesco has sent a letter [PDF] to assure those officials that their actions were not illegal. “Of course it’s legal to celebrate national holidays like Christmas in the public square,” he insists. “Public officials should not fear attacks from atheist groups, because their freedom to participate in these events is protected under the First Amendment. “The attacks on Christmas are part of a larger campaign to snuff out all references to our Christian heritage and are best ignored by government officials.”
One News Now: “So what we’re praying for is that we will find those individuals that are not willing just to avoid the issue and enjoy their freedoms and the benefits, but also those persons that will stand up and, of course, with our national partners like Alliance Defending Freedom … offer them the legal resources to make that fight,” Conley tells OneNewsNow.
WorldNetDaily: An appeals court panel in Sweden has imposed the “death penalty” on a homeschooling family, granting the state full custody of their son, who famously was “state-napped” from a jetliner in 2009 as the family prepared to move to India. The appeals panel reversed a lower court ruling that granted Annie and Christer Johansson custody of their son, Domenic. But if the decision is not reversed again by the nation’ Supreme Court, the Johansson’s will lose their son, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been working on the case with the Alliance Defending Freedom . . .
AP: A major gay-rights group said Thursday that Chuck Hagel’s comments on gays and his past votes are “unacceptable,” another strike against the former Republican senator’s chances of becoming the next defense secretary.
The Hill: President Obama will nominate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to replace Hillary Clinton as the secretary of State on Friday, according to multiple reports.
AP: Wisconsin’s domestic partnership registry is constitutional, a state appeals court ruled in a decision released Friday that marks a major victory for the state’s largest gay rights group. | Appling v. Doyle (HTML | PDF)
AP: Thousands of Islamists clashed with their opponents on Friday in Egypt’s second largest city, Alexandria, a day before the second leg of voting on a proposed constitution that has deeply polarized the nation.
WorldNetDaily: More than six of 10 colleges and universities across the United States have yet to figure out the First Amendment, because their “speech codes” conflict with the Constitution, according to a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “FIRE surveyed 409 schools for this report and found that over 62 percent maintain severely restrictive . . .
Bloomberg: Three and a half years after the worst recession since the Great Depression, the earnings and employment gap between those in the under-35 population and their parents and grandparents threatens to unravel the American dream of each generation doing better than the last. The nation’s younger workers have benefited least from an economic recovery that has been the most uneven in recent history.
Kevin Seamus Hasson at the Wall Street Journal: Does it sometimes seem as if the Christmas wars—namely the battle between secularists and believers over how and where Christmas and Hanukkah (not to mention other faiths’ holidays) should be recognized—have been around forever? If so, you’re not far off. The opening shots of the war, at least in America, were fired in Plymouth Colony itself. And after nearly 400 years, it’s past time we learned our lesson and ceased hostilities.
Telegraph: Pope Benedict XVI has weighed in on a heated debate over gay marriage, criticising new concepts of the traditional family and warning that mankind itself was at stake.
Piero Tozzi reports at Turtle Bay and Beyond: Late yesterday the Inter-American Court of Human Rights released a lengthy opinion (Murillo et al. v. Costa Rica, dated November 28, 2012) holding that Costa Rica’s law which protects life at its earliest stages by prohibiting in vitro fertilization violates the American Convention on Human Life. In so doing, the Court turned the Convention, which protects the right to life “from conception,” on its head.. . . Alliance Defending Freedom, C-FAM and Americans United for Life submitted a brief to the Court on article 4 of the American Convention, which is the article containing protection of life “from conception.”
Yahoo (AP): Brett Harvey, a lawyer at the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian group that often helps towns defend their practices, sees it the other way. He says liberal groups have made a coordinated attempt to bully local governments into abandoning prayers, resulting in more cases. “It’s really kind of a campaign of fear and disinformation,” Harvey said. Harvey has talked with hundreds of towns about their policies and been involved in about 10 court cases in the past three years. Right now, his advice differs for different parts of the country because the law is in flux.
The Hill: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference,” the downtrodden House Speaker said at a hastily called closed-door meeting Thursday night to tell fellow House Republicans that he didn’t have to votes to pass his “Plan B” effort to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
Telegraph: The Republican leadership was forced to abandon a vote on its alternative plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff” on Thursday night after its members rebelled at the prospect of raising taxes for millionaires.
Washington Post: There’s an asterisk there, though: It’s not entirely clear whether Boehner will be the speaker of the House a month from today. The vote to elect the next speaker is on Jan. 3. To win, you need an absolute majority of the House, not a plurality. Even a hopeless conservative challenge that attracts only a handful of Republican votes could deny Boehner the speakership until a consensus candidate emerged. Tonight’s vote makes that challenge more likely.