Lyle Deniston at SCOTUS Blog: Seeking to head off a wave of lawsuits by non-profit religious hospitals, colleges, and charities, the Obama administration on Friday issued a new set of proposals that promise those organizations’ female employees or their female students free access to birth control and other reproductive health services while insulating their employers from any role in providing or paying for that access.
Heritage Foundation: As the Alliance Defending Freedom rightly noted last summer, the Administration’s idea of accommodation “creates a federally imposed religious caste system.” The same holds true for today’s announcement. Again, only the precious few who are deemed religious enough by the Administration would be afforded true protection of their religious freedom and ability to live and act in accordance with their beliefs.
LA Times: But a religious-rights group that represents employers said the new proposal does not go far enough. “All Americans, not just those in church organizations, are guaranteed freedom of conscience in their daily lives and work,” said Matt Bowman, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has filed lawsuits on behalf of family-based companies.
USA Today: Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian group that advocates prayers at public meetings and crosses on public land, called the rule an “abortion pill mandate.” “The administration’s narrow gesture does nothing to protect many faith-based employers or religious families from the unconstitutional abortion pill mandate,” said senior legal counsel Matt Bowman. “The government has no business putting religious freedom on the negotiating table, or picking and choosing who is allowed to exercise faith.” Bowman refers to the “morning-after pill,” or Plan B, available as an over-the-counter pill for adult women that prevents pregnancy up to three days after unprotected sex, or Ella, a prescription-only pill that prevents pregnancy up to five days after unprotected sex.
Washington Times: The Alliance Defending Freedom, a self-described “legal ministry” that is litigating several of the corporate cases, said Mr. Obama’s gesture on Friday fell short. “All Americans, not just those in church organizations, are guaranteed freedom of conscience in their daily lives and work,” ADF senior counsel Matt Bowman said. “The administration’s narrow gesture does nothing to protect many faith-based employers or religious families from the unconstitutional abortion pill mandate.”
RNS: Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has represented a range of religious institutions and business owners in court challenges to the mandate, called the proposed changes “radically inadequate” and “extremely disappointing.” Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said: “The administration’s narrow gesture does nothing to protect many faith-based employers or religious families from the unconstitutional abortion pill mandate. The government has no business putting religious freedom on the negotiating table, or picking and choosing who is allowed to exercise faith.”
World Magazine: Alliance Defending Freedom’s Matt Bowman, a lawyer handling a number of the cases against the mandate, described the proposed “accommodation” as an “accounting gimmick.” He said it was “insulting to the intelligence—and the freedom that religious employers receive under the law.”
Christianity Today: “The government has taken the first step to reveal its plan, and its plan is to pick and choose who’s allowed to exercise faith and to limit full religious freedom,” said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom.
Salon: The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative religious liberty group which is representing several for-profit businesses in lawsuits over the regulation, said it would continue to press for exemptions for business owners in court. So far, about 10 businesses have obtained temporary injunctions against the regulation while their cases move through the courts.
White House backs down and offers religious groups a way to avoid directly providing employees with contraceptives | Daily Mail
Daily Mail: One of the dissenting organizations, the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement that the administration’s offer was ‘narrow’ and failed ‘to protect many faith-based employers or religious families from the unconstitutional abortion pill mandate.’ Matt Bowman, the senior legal counsel for the alliance, which identifies itself as a ‘legal ministry’ that has filed multiple lawsuits against the requirement, stated that the government had no right ‘picking and choosing who is allowed to exercise faith.’ ‘The mandate is losing in court,’ Bowman stated. ‘The only acceptable solution is for the administration to obey the Constitution and its legal duty to protect religious freedom.’
“All Americans, not just those in church organizations, are guaranteed freedom of conscience in their daily lives and work. The administration’s narrow gesture does nothing to protect many faith-based employers or religious families from the unconstitutional abortion pill mandate. The government has no business putting religious freedom on the negotiating table, or picking and choosing who is allowed to exercise faith.”
Christian Post: “Americans have the God-given freedom to live and do business according to their faith,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said in an email to The Christian Post. “Forcing employers to surrender their faith in order to earn a living is unprecedented, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. Honoring God is important every day, in all areas of life, including in our work. Freedom is not the government’s to give and take away when it pleases. We are pleased that the court delivered the Obama administration a reminder of this foundational truth, and we are confident that this unconstitutional mandate’s days are numbered.”
HHS.gov: The Obama administration today issued proposed rules for public comment regarding contraceptive coverage with no cost sharing under the health care law. The proposed rules provide women with coverage for preventive care that includes contraceptive services with no co-pays, while also respecting the concerns of some religious organizations. Today’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking reflects public feedback received through the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in March 2012. In addition, these proposed rules are open for public comment through April 8, 2013.
8th Circuit suspends abortion pill mandate against MN family-run business | Alliance Defending Freedom
“Americans have the God-given freedom to live and do business according to their faith. Honoring God is not just important within the four walls of a church; it is important every day, in all areas of life, including in our work. Freedom is not the government’s to give and take away when it pleases. The court did the right thing in issuing its order, and we are confident that this unconstitutional mandate’s days are numbered.”
Gerard Bradley at NRO Bench Memos: The latest administration proposal does nothing whatsoever to help businesses like Hobby Lobby or Dominos Farms. All for-profit companies are subject to the contraception/abortion mandate, just as before. They will have to seek legal protection from the courts, and in some cases (at least) will likely receive it from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act..
U.S. Citizens Association v. Sebelius, No. 11-3327/3798
National Review Bench Memos: Great news out of Kansas. The Kansas senate overwhelmingly passed judicial selectionreforms on Wednesday. The constitutional amendment, required for the Kansas supreme court reforms, passed with a 28-12 vote, while the Senate Concurrent resolution, required for the Kansas Court of Appeals reforms, passed with a 29–10 vote, with one abstention. The Capital Journal has more . . .
One News Now: A prominent Southern Baptist pastor believes it’s possible that homosexuality could be genetic, although there is no scientific proof of that. Regardless, says the pastor, homosexuality remains sinful behavior in God’s eyes.
Vermont Public Radio (includes audio): The Vermont Senate Health and Welfare and judiciary Committees have been holding hearings this week on whether to allow terminally ill patients to get a prescription to legally end their own lives. Supporters call it Death with Dignity, opponents refer to it as Physician Assisted Suicide.
Move Over, Abortion? Religious Freedom Is the New Battleground for ‘Personhood’ | Christianity Today
Christianity Today: Matt Bowman, general counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, agrees. The ‘corporate veil’ is not a ‘moral veil.’ It’s a limited legal veil,” he said. “A mandate on [a family's] business is a moral requirement for them personally.That has no implication on the legal liability that is limited in a corporate form.”
Catholic Post: For centuries marriage has been defined as the union between one man and one woman and now is the time for the body of Christ to “rise up” and defend it, said the speakers at a recent dinner for religious leaders hosted by the Illinois Family Institute. “If we don’t respond — unless God works a miracle — same-sex marriage will soon be the law of your land here in Illinois,” said keynote speaker Joe LaRue of Scottsdale, Ariz., legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund).
World Net Daily: Just as details emerged of growing financial and political pressure on the Boy Scouts to reverse a century-old and Supreme Court-approved policy barring homosexuals, the president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays issued a plea to the Scouts to seriously consider the dangers of giving in . . .
Christian Post: Shane L. Windmeyer, a prominent LGBT activist and leader, “nervously” revealed to the public that he developed a friendship with Dan Cathy, the president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, despite their strongly opposing views on same-sex marriage.
CNSNews: The U.S. Senate Thursday defeated an amendment that aimed to prevent the Obama administration from transferring F-16 fighter aircraft and Abrams tanks to an Egypt in disarray.
CNSNews: In new, final regulations issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said that parents must pay a federal fine under Obamacare if their children or dependent spouses are uninsured for any part of the year.
Christian Institute: Nick Clegg has confirmed that he opposes the introduction of a tax break for married couples. David Cameron promised a transferrable tax allowance worth £150 a year, where one spouse stays at home, in the Conservative Party manifesto. But the Liberal Democrats are against the move.
Christian Concern: A Christian psychotherapist is the subject of a professional conduct inquiry in London for supporting therapy for those with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction. Dr Davidson is a trainee with the British Psychodrama Association (BPA) and also a director of Core Issues Trust, a non-profit Christian ministry . . .
Broad support for marriage, Prop. 8 reflected in numerous briefs at Supreme Court | Alliance Defending Freedom
The U.S. Supreme Court has received more than 30 friend-of-the-court briefs this week in support of California’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Many of the briefs were simultaneously filed in Windsor v. U.S., the challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act also being heard by the Supreme Court.
LifeNews: If you saw the news about New York’s governor proposing that his state do even more late abortions, you were probably shocked, but maybe not surprised.
Politico: Conservative states may have lost their bid to kill Obamacare, but they’re winning the battle on another front: abortion coverage.
LifeNews: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposes a call by three MPs to look into figures from a story LifeNews broke showing 491 babies have been born alive and subsequently left to die following failed abortions.
LifeNews: The number assisted suicide deaths were: 77 in 2012, 71 in 2011, 65 in 2010 and 59 in 2009. There has been a 30% increase in the number of assisted suicide deaths in Oregon since 2009.
Catholic Herald: Soon, an abortion Bill will travel through the Oireachtas, the two houses that together make up Ireland’s government. Our prime minister, Enda Kenny, wants legal grounds for an abortion if the baby’s mother is suicidal. He’s arguing that this will not, in everyday clinical practice, become “abortion on demand”. For most people, pro-life or pro-abortion, Kenny lacks credibility.
First Things: After the 2009 Super Bowl in Miami, the Florida Department of Children and Families reported more than twenty children identified as sex trafficking victims in conjunction with the big game.
Catholic Culture: Rimsha Masih, who had spent 18 months in prison, was freed when an appeals-court judge found insufficient evidence to support the blasphemy charge.
Baptist Joint Committee: I posted last month about the controversial FEMA rule denying aid to damaged churches and synagogues out of church-state separation concerns, despite other non-profit organizations receiving funds for storm damage following Hurricane Sandy.
Concord Monitor: Supporters of New Hampshire’s new education tax credit program got a big boost yesterday when a key senator came out against a repeal bill being considered by the Democratic-controlled House, signaling the legislation could face a deadlock in the Senate.
Kansas City Star: The Kansas House is considering a bill that would allow the display of religious symbols on public lands, if the symbols are considered part of a community’s history or heritage.
Wall Street Journal: Law-school applications are at their lowest in a decade, but that hasn’t stopped a handful of colleges and universities across the nation from opening new law schools.
National Review: “The world has changed beneath us,” Gilmore says. “Shrillness and extreme language are driving away the voters who could help us build a majority. We’re not speaking to them as reasonable conservatives. Republicans have to decide if they want to govern or play ideological parlor games.” “Young people today have a more tolerant, hands-off perspective,” he says. “Their libertarian philosophy, for example, has to be taken into consideration. Yet we keep projecting anger at the gay community and the Hispanic community, even though they’re open to many of our ideas.”
Islamist Watch: Zead Ramadan, board president of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), is eyeing a bigger platform from which to promote his Islamist agenda: a seat on the New York City Council. If he prevails, the city that endured 9/11 will count among its lawmakers a senior official in an organization linked to the financing of terrorists and intent on frustrating law enforcement efforts to foil the next jihad plot.
Business Journal: A Silver Spring megachurch that claims Montgomery County violated federal law by blocking its plan to relocate to a 119-acre plot in Germantown should get a chance to prove its case, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, the Maryland Daily Record reported. | Bethel World Outreach v. Montgomery County Council, No. 11-2176 | Religion Clause post
LegalCheek.com (includes video): Amid the glow of the UK Supreme Court’s psychedelic carpets (the work of Sgt Pepper’s album cover designer Peter Blake), former Linklaters trainee Cameron Sim tells me what it has been like to spend the last year working as the judicial assistant to Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger…
The HIll: The Health and Human Services Department rejected calls to let any employer opt out of the mandate based on religious objections to contraception. Instead, the department released regulations that hew largely to the policy it had previously announced.
Religion Clause Blog: Last Sunday, the country’s President, Michel Sulaiman , indicated that he would support legislation to create civil marriage inside Lebanon
Denver Post via Google News / PressDisplay.com: The Alliance Defending Freedom has brought a caseonbehalf of Hercules Industries, a Denver-based company that makes sheet-metal products. It was granted an injunction by a judge in Colorado who said the religious values of the family ownerswere infringed by the law. “Two-thirds of the cases have had injunctions against Obamacare, and most are headed to courts of appeals,” said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for the alliance. “It is clear that a substantial number of these cases will vindicate religious freedom over Obamacare. But it seems likely that the Supreme Court will ultimately resolve the dispute.”
Campus Reform: Travis Barham, the litigation staff counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization that filed the lawsuit on behalf of Cowboys for Life, told Campus Reform he thinks the school broke the law by placing unreasonable restrictions on students’ First Amendment rights. “The university doesn’t require this of other groups, they made up special restrictions for this pro-life group…simply because of the content and the viewpoint of what the Cowboys for Life were trying to say,” Barham said.
Ed Whelan at NY Post: Under the policy change that the Scouts’ national board will consider next week, the churches, schools and civic groups that sponsor troops would each be free to adopt their own policies on gay leaders and scouts. Yet this proposed revision is incoherent and unworkable.
Jennifer Roback Morse at Public Discourse: Radical pro-choice rhetoric attacks the most basic facts of our human existence: that the human body comes in two different but complementary types, male and female. They cannot forgive women who embrace femininity rather than neuter themselves
RealTruth.org: Partly as a result of this action, ministers across America risked their status as tax-exempt charities and tackled politics from the pulpit: “About 1,600 pastors across the country violated a 58-year-old ban on political endorsements by churches in October by explicitly backing political candidates in their Sunday sermons, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom of Scottsdale, Ariz., a conservative Christian legal organization behind a campaign called Pulpit Freedom Sunday” (NBC News).
LifeNews: “Americans have the God-given freedom to live and do business according to their faith. Forcing employers to surrender their faith in order to earn a living is unprecedented, unnecessary, and unconstitutional,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman told LifeNews. “Honoring God is important every day, in all areas of life, including in our work. Freedom is not the government’s to give and take away when it pleases. We are pleased that the court delivered the Obama administration a reminder of this foundational truth, and we are confident that this unconstitutional mandate’s days are numbered.”
On Top Magazine: Christian conservative groups which oppose the measure, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and CitizenLink, the political arm of Focus on the Family, have previously said that the measure threatens religious freedom.
AP: Chinese courts convicted eight Tibetans over accusations they incited others to self-immolate in the first such prosecutions to become publicly known . . .
Signs and Wonders: Geraldo’s Senate bid, tipping in St. Louis, tuition and tax tussle, pastor back to jail | World
World Magazine: The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a letter to Georgia lawmakers and to Christian schools this week defending the scholarship program and highlighting SEF “mischaracterizations.” ADF senior counsel David Cortman said, “No one should be ostracized because they don’t share the same sexual agenda as an activist group that opposes school choice. The Constitution protects the right of private, Christian schools to teach and follow biblical principles. Any efforts to prevent these schools from participating in the state’s tax credit scholarship program would violate the First Amendment freedoms of these schools and the students who attend them.”
Michael Foust of Baptist Press at Christian Examiner: Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Grote. “Americans have the God-given freedom to live and do business according to their faith,” ADF attorney Matt Bowman said in a statement. “Forcing employers to surrender their faith in order to earn a living is unprecedented, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. Honoring God is important every day, in all areas of life, including in our work. Freedom is not the government’s to give and take away when it pleases.”
The Hill: Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.), John Hoeven (N.D.), John McCain (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Richard Shelby (Ala.), John Thune (S.D.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) voted with the Democratic caucus to pass the legislation. Only one Democrat — Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.)— voted against the bill.
LifeNews: The Arkansas Senate voted today for a bill that would ban virtually all abortions in the state. The measure would ban abortions at the point when a unborn child’s heart starts to beat.
AP: Thousands of Egyptians marched across the country, chanting against the rule of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, in a fresh wave of protests Friday, even as cracks appeared in the ranks of the opposition after its political leaders met for the first time with the rival Muslim Brotherhood.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan at the Wall Street Journal: Since the mid-19th century, the Catholic-school model has been “one parish, one school.” That served us well for many years, but it has become painfully obvious that a new model is needed. Beginning in September, the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York will be broken down into regions, and every parish will be responsible for, contribute to, send children to, and have a voice in Catholic education in the archdiocese.
CBS Chicago: Hold on to your wallets: we are in the middle of a gas price spike, and experts say it will only get worse. CBS 2′s Courtney Gousman learned several factors might push the price in our area to more than $4 a gallon.
CNSNews: In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.
One News Now: Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Travis Barham says school officials claimed other students might be “offended” by the pro-life message. “OSU needs to learn that it does not have free reign to censor its students,” he insists. “It can’t exile displays to remote areas of campus, or restrict students from distributing literature just because the hyper-sensitive feelings of a university administrator got ruffled.”