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Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic: On Tuesday, the first substantive brief was filed in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case now under review by the Supreme Court. The document was filed by lawyers representing a group of citizens who took over the case after California’s elected officials refused to continue to defend the measure. I’m still not convinced that their arguments are going to persuade Justice Anthony Kennedy to save Prop 8. And without his vote the measure is doomed. But these are about the best legal arguments that can be offered in support of this dubious measure, and they are laid out more impressively here than I have yet seen while covering this case.
Engage Family Minute: Yes, the authorities in two jurisdictions in the State of Alabama have succeeded in prosecuting two women who took drugs during their pregnancies and thereby caused harm to their unborn children. The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld those convictions.
AP: U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice objected Wednesday to the Palestinians’ latest bid to capitalize on their upgraded U.N. status when their foreign minister spoke at the Security Council while seated behind a nameplate that read “State of Palestine.”
Baptist Press: The U.S. government and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom have issued calls for the release of an American pastor who may face the gallows for spreading the Gospel in Iran . . . The U.S. State Department has yet to call for Abedini’s release, although U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor urged Jan. 18 that the pastor be freed.
Washington Post: The Tibetans of China had a difficult 2012, and so far 2013 is not looking much better. Tibetan self-immolations, in protest against Beijing’s increasingly harsh rule over the Himalayan region, are continuing apace. Since the new Communist Party leadership took power, Chinese authorities appear to have tightened their grip on Tibet, sending in security forces to cordon off areas of unrest and even confiscating thousands of satellite dishes.
CBC.ca: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is signalling that his long-promised, much-anticipated office of religious freedom is set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.
LifeSiteNews: There is hope for women who have started a chemical abortion but then changed their minds and decided to keep their babies, according to a case study of six women.
Telegraph: In Jordan, hundreds of Syrian females have been affected by an informal trade that has sprung up since the start of the war in Syria, where men use “agents” to source Syrian refugees to use for sex. Often this is done under the guise of “marriage”: The ‘dowry’, which in Muslim society is traditionally paid by the groom as a guarantee of the bride’s security has become a payment for sex. And the “marriage”, is an affair that lasts only a few days or even hours.
Telegraph: A Roman Catholic adoption agency faces being stripped of its charitable status after regulators ruled it is discriminating against gay couples.
LifeSiteNews: The political arm of Canada’s pro-life movement is urging the federal Justice Minister to use “whatever legal or punitive measures are necessary” to prevent Quebec from “legalizing euthanasia” and thereby violating the country’s Criminal Code.
FlaglerLive.com: The ACLU of Florida intervened today on behalf of a Lake County middle-school student leader seeking to establish a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at Carver Middle School in Leesburg. The eighth grader spearheading the effort, Bayli Silberstein, says the club is needed to combat bullying at her school, but has faced administrative resistance in trying to establish it.
Nina Shea at National Review: The State Department’s very quiet, if not silent, response to the imprisonment and abuse of an American citizen now on trial for his Christian faith in Iran, described by David French on the Corner, is consistent with its sphinx-like reaction to the new Egyptian constitution, which virtually enshrines repression of basic individual freedoms.
Christian Science Monitor: Legislation currently being debated in Parliament would reverse a 16th century ban on the king or queen marrying a Catholic – and end discrimination against female heirs.
Blog of the Legal Times: Senate Republicans are holding up the nomination of Sri Srinivasan for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, saying they want to know more about his role in the abrupt settlement of a Fair Housing Act case a year ago.
Christian Institute: An official from the Scottish National Party has resigned, citing as one of his reasons Alex Salmond’s plans to redefine marriage. Andrew Walker, who was the secretary of a local SNP branch in the Western Isles, said the Scottish Government had ignored “the views of the majority” on the issue.
Ed Whelan at National Review Bench Memos: Yesterday the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives filed its merits brief in the Supreme Court in defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The remainder of this post is the “Summary of the Argument” from the brief . . .
National Review Bench Memos: Hearings in Kansas over judicial selection reform continued yesterday, as two members of Kansas’s judicial nominating commission testified for the House Judiciary Committee. They attested to what Bench Memos readers already know—that the commission masks partisan politics in the name of “merit.”
Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review: The biggest political problems for pro-lifers remain what they have been for many years: They are in coalition with economic conservatives who have not found a way to translate their principles into a popular program, and they have not found a way to form a coalition with blacks and Hispanics who agree with them. Solving or mitigating those problems will require a massive effort not limited to the pro-life movement alone. In the meantime, pro-life politicians cannot afford to make avoidable mistakes.
Christian Institute: A child of a ‘royal gay marriage’ should be an heir to the throne, even if the child is not genetically connected to the royal line, an MP says. Labour MP Paul Flynn wanted to change the Succession to the Crown Bill so that an adopted child or one conceived using insemination would become monarch.
Fox News: Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.
World Net Daily: More medical professionals, including nurses and midwives, would be permitted to perform certain early abortions in California under a bill unveiled Tuesday.
San Francisco Chronicle: In a statement, Walgreens said its company policy is to fill all prescriptions, including birth control medications. “Having said that, we must recognize that there may exist pharmacists who object to filling certain prescriptions based on their religious, moral or ethical beliefs,” the company said. “To balance the needs of our pharmacists and our customers, Walgreens has developed appropriate policies and procedures for our pharmacies to assure that these prescriptions, for example, birth control, are handled as efficiently as other prescriptions without imposing any burden on the customer.”
Baltimore Sun: According to New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, just hours after Baltimore’s AFC championship win, Ayanbadejo directed an e-mail to marriage equality advocates asking how he could utilize the increased Super Bowl media to help support same-sex marriage.
LifeNews: Despite some reports claiming China may relax or even do away with its brutal one-child policy, that results in forced abortions, coercive sterilizations and other human rights abuses, Chinese officials are renewing its commitment to it.
Clarion Ledger (videos): Three anti-abortion demonstrators were hospitalized this morning after a hired security guard at the state’s only abortion clinic sprayed them with pepper spray. Jackson Police Officer Colendula Green said simple assault charges are pending against the security guard.
Katrina Trinko at National Review: By this same logic, isn’t infanticide also fine and dandy? After all, if we’re talking about autonomy, kids aren’t exactly independent as soon as they are born. No infant can take care of themselves. And even later on in childhood, children rely heavily on the adults in their life to provide shelter, food, and emotional support. What about kids and adults who become disabled in life? What about quadriplegics?
Washington Post: Forty years later, a lot has changed. While the Roe decision still stands, abortion opponents have made significant gains passing restrictions on abortion access. There are fewer abortion providers than there were in 1973 and fewer clinics. As Wonkblog did last year, we now provide an updated look at how the Roe decision changed abortion rights – and what has happened since.
CNSNews (video): “When the abortionist administered the poison in my stomach I was mortified and shocked because I felt my child kick and turn hastily,” Beltran said. “Later, I found out she was being burned and could feel the pain.”
“Despite Obama’s Divisive Speech, Gays and Lesbians Are ‘Treated Like Anyone Under The Law’” | Brian Brown at CNSNews
Brian Brown at CNSNews: Sadly, the President squandered this opportunity when he chose to proclaim that our journey as a people would not be complete until gay and lesbian people are “treated like anyone under the law,” a not-so-veiled reference to his politically-motivated decision to endorse the radical movement to redefine marriage, one of our most sacred institutions. First of all, gay and lesbian people are already treated equally under the law. They have the same civil rights as everyone else. They’re free to live as they choose and love whom they wish. What they don’t have is the right to redefine marriage for society.
The HIll: The House on Wednesday put new pressure on the Senate to pass its first budget in nearly four years, by approving a bill that threatens to withhold senators’ pay until that work is done.
Fisher, Jeffrey L., A Supreme Court Clinic’s Place in the Supreme Court Bar (February 29, 2012). Stanford Law Review, Vol. 65, 2012 ; Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 1921430 . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1921430 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1921430
Blog of the Legal Times: Five federal judicial nominees got a nomination hearing Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a sign that Democrats will continue to push aggressively to reduce the historically high number of vacancies on the federal bench.
Plumas County News: Supervisor Lori Simpson said that she prays before, during and after Tuesday board meetings — and she still can, but prayer will no longer be part of the regular agenda. That’s the decision reached by the Plumas County Board of Supervisors during its Jan. 15 meeting.
Reuters: “If this goes on, there will be no taxpayers, no workers and no caregivers for the elderly,” said Gu Baochang, a demography professor at Renmin University.
San Francisco Chronicle: Sponsors of California’s ban on same-sex marriage told the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday that the scope of legally recognized unions shouldn’t be decided in the federal courts – which thus far have found Proposition 8 unconstitutional – but in ongoing debate within the states.
Religion Clause Blog: In Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. New Kensington-Arnold School District, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8269 (WD PA, Jan. 22, 2013), a Pennsylvania federal district court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss a challenge to the constitutionality of a 6-foot tall 10 Commandments monument that has stood for decades at the entrance to Valley High School.
Religion Clause Blog: According to a report yesterday by Forum 18, in Kazakhstan, seven people – four Jehovah’s Witnesses, two Muslims and a Protestant – have been prosecuted for illegal missionary activity since August 2012.
Education News: Introducing more school choice to parents could save Texas billions of dollars and result in higher pay for public school teachers, a witness testified Tuesday in the lawsuit trial of the state’s school finance system.
Religion Clause Blog: In EEOC v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., (D DC, Jan. 18, 2013), the D.C. federal district court dismissed an EEOC lawsuit against a rent-to-own business finding that accommodating the religious beliefs of store manager Ferdinand Charles would impose an undue hardship on the company.
Wisconsin Gazette: “The lifelong, faithful union of a man and a woman is the foundation of every healthy, stable society. The people of Wisconsin recognize this, and that is why they approved a constitutional amendment that specifically protects marriage from all imitators,” said ADF attorney Austin R. Nimocks. “We are appealing the appellate court’s decision because this domestic partnership scheme is precisely the type of marriage imitation that the voters intended to prevent.”
Patheos: This is a guest post from Dr. Brian Mattson, Senior Scholar of Public Theology for theCenter for Cultural Leadership. Dr. Mattson also serves as faculty for the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship. You can follow his blog Dead Reckoning or connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.
iance Defending Freedom Litigation Counsel Kellie Fiedorek will testify Wednesday on the lack of safeguards for religious freedom in a Colorado bill (SB 13-011) that proposes to create “civil unions.”
AP: The family of an imprisoned Chinese rights lawyer was allowed to visit him for the first time in nearly 10 months, providing a confirmation that he was still alive, a human rights group reported.
AP: he filmmakers acknowledge that even those who favor abortion rights often don’t support or understand the procedure, and they hope their film humanizes the doctors and offers a sense of “the wide-ranging circumstances” that motivate women to choose third-trimester abortions.
AP: The Air Force recorded an “appalling” number of reports of sexual assault last year even as it worked to curb misconduct in the wake of a sex scandal at its training headquarters in Texas, the service’s top officer told lawmakers on Wednesday.
AP: President Barack Obama’s emphatic gay-rights advocacy in his inaugural address thrilled many activists. Yet almost immediately came the questions and exhortations as to what steps should be taken next.
The HIll: The Nevada Democrat said he would give Republicans another 24 to 36 hours to agree to filibuster reform and then trigger the so-called nuclear option. This controversial tactic would allow him to change the Senate rules with a simple majority vote.
HSLDA: The Supreme Court of Nebraska will decide whether homeschoolers Eric and Gail Thacker violated Nebraska law because their homeschool calendar didn’t start until October while the public schools began in August.
SCOTUS Blog: The Republican members of the House of Representatives’ leadership — the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) — have filed their brief on the merits in the Defense of Marriage Act case. It can be read here.
SCOTUS Blog: California citizens who put together the winning ballot measure against same-sex marriage in that state told the Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon that the state supreme court clearly gave them the right to defend the constitutionality of that measure — “Proposition 8.”
he Fourth Circuit Court found that the town government did not violate the First Amendment by fining the late David Bowden for the message he had painted on his house in 2009. Three judges unanimously overturned a lower-court decision in the Bowden estate’s favor. “We acknowledge that the Town’s Sign Ordinance, and in particular its application to Bowden, has aggravated some Cary residents who believe it excessively restrictive,” wrote Judge Albert Diaz. “But their recourse here lies with the ballot, not the Constitution.”