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Rory Gray at Speak Up Movement: Churches have always served a key role in American society, not only as centers of worship but also as polling places, food pantries, concert venues, and general meeting places. So it is hardly surprising that when the Elmbrook Community School District in Wisconsin lacked an adequate venue for its high school graduation ceremonies, it rented a local church. Graduation moved back on campus once a building was completed that could comfortably accommodate every student’s guests. But the District’s secular use of a church building upset the atheists who so often view religion as a kind of communicable disease that must be quarantined from public life. And they filed a federal lawsuit to prohibit the District from renting a church, in the future, for any purpose.
Jon Scruggs at Speak Up Movement: In this respect, our proposed “worship paradigm” highlights the importance of the Bronx case and reveals conceptual flaws underlying the effort to exclude New York City churches from school buildings after hours. With the Bronx decision liable to come any day now, it will be interesting to see whether the Second Circuit continues to perpetuate the worship service/discussion distinction. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear (i.e. those who adopt our proposed worship paradigm), the continued perpetuation of this false distinction strikes right at the heart of our religious freedoms.
FRC: Three public interest law firms (Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Counsel, and Liberty Institute) have offered to give counsel to BSA in their efforts to maintain their policy. Those standing with the Scouts are strong in number, but the other side will continue to use bullying tactics to eliminate this common sense policy. This is why we must redouble our efforts.
AP: The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops are in a difficult position as the debate over immigration reform gets underway: The immigrant-built American church, known for advocating a broad welcome for migrants and refugees, could end up opposing reform because it would recognize same-sex partners.
Illinois Family Institute (large photo Joe LaRue): The Senate Executive Committee decided to override Illinois history this afternoon by approving SB 10 which redefines marriage to include two individuals of the same sex. The bill passed out of committee by a 9-5 vote along party lines.
AP: “The decision from the Boy Scouts today is no doubt a victory. And it’s a result of people standing up and standing for the timeless values and moral principles that the Boy Scouts teach and they stand for themselves.” – Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values
AP: The Boy Scouts of America put off a decision Wednesday on whether to lift its ban on gay members and leaders, saying the question will be taken up at the organization’s national meeting in May.
One News Now: According to David Cortman of Alliance Defending Freedom, the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) is going after Christian schools, claiming they have “draconian anti-gay policies and practices.” “This specific attack, I think, is pretty egregious, basically because they want to exclude these Christian schools just because they don’t share the same sexual agenda as this far-left activist group does,” he says.
Independent: Conservative MPs have warned David Cameron that he had won a battle but not the war on gay marriage as they vowed to seek big changes to the Bill that will legalise it. Ministers are privately nervous the House of Lords will water down the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill and that a majority of Tory MPs might back key changes sought by peers, which Mr Cameron would then seek to overturn in the Commons
Baptist Press: Facing pressure from its supporters and members, the Boy Scouts executive board announced Wednesday it is delaying a decision on lifting its prohibition of gay Scout leaders and members until May, when it will put the matter before its 1,400 voting members.
Blog of the Legal Times: Capitol Hill has been getting most of the heat for the large number of judicial vacancies in the federal courts, but one D.C. advocacy group has issued a new report highlighting delays in the filling the bench before the nominees even reach the Senate.
LifeNews: The NAACP has threatened to sue LifeNews.com and black pro-life leader Ryan Bomberger, a LifeNews blogger, for a recent column that took the civil rights organization to task over its abortion position . . . Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Charles M. Allen with the Glen Allen, Va. firm Goodman, Allen & Filetti PLLC filed Friday in U.S. District Court in The Radiance Foundation v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division.
National Review Bench Memos: North Carolina is an important front in the ongoing battle over our nation’s state courts, as I’ve written about before. Last Thursday, Republican North Carolina state senators Jerry Tillman and Thom Goolsby presented legislation to introduce partisan affiliations to judicial elections.
Nathaniel Botwinick at National Review: In a foreign-policy address at the Heritage Institute this morning, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) called for a shift in American foreign policy, saying that the U.S. should apply a strategy of containment to radical Islam and declaring himself “a realist, not a neoconservative.”
Turtle Bay and Beyond: As John Kerry replaces Hillary Clinton as US Secretary of State, the White House made clear that Hillary’s priority of women’s rights will carry on. What, some wonder, will happen with another top priority – a totalitarian insistence on LGBT rights, to the point of threatening aid to developing countries?
Christian Institute: Children whose parents divorce after they turn seven are more likely to misbehave and perform badly at school, according to a new Government-funded study.
Christian Concern: Over half of Conservative MPs voted against the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, causing embarrassment for the Prime Minister, who had to rely on the votes of Labour and the Liberal Democrats to see it pass.
Christian News: A lawmaker in Kansas has introduced a bill that seeks to protect the display of religious symbols in the state following threats from a prominent atheist organization that it would sue officials in one Kansas city if they did not remove a cross from their welcome sign.
McPherson Sentinel: The chaplaincy program is here to stay. The McPherson City Commission signed a resolution on Monday affirming the constitutional validity of the McPherson police chaplaincy program.
NorthEscambia.com: Those behind displaying a nativity scene that once belonged to the Town of Century until it came under attack by an atheist group’s attorney as being illegal, are the February recipients of the Century Chamber of Commerce’s Community Pride Award.
Keloland.com: City council meetings in Rapid City have started with a prayer for as long as anybody in the community can remember. But the practice is coming under attack from a group that says the prayers are unconstitutional.
Northwestern.com: That means it only took about 54 years for the Freedom From Religion Foundation to send a letter to the county complaining that the prayers before County Board meetings are “pervasively Christian.” The Madison gadfly group reviewed 11 prayers and found that nine were delivered “in Jesus name.”
Orlando Sentinel: Proposed rules comes after student application to form Gay-Straight Alliance was denied
LifeSiteNews: – Despite a substantial increase in HIV testing at sexually transmitted infection clinics in the UK, there has been no decline in HIV incidence among homosexuals in England and Wales, according to a new study.
LifeSiteNews: In a Jan. 23 column for the diocesan newspaper, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said those who voted for Obama “bear the responsibility for a step deeper in the culture of death.” Though he would have hoped American’s first African-American president “would have stood on the side of freedom for all,” Obama has been “a proponent of an expediency that is shameful and criminal in the eyes of Almighty God,” the bishop wrote in The Tablet.
Steve Aden at Townhall: Tomorrow, the parishioners of Mother Seton Parish in Germantown, Md. will lay Michael Schwartz to rest. Although you’ve probably never heard his name, Mike Schwartz was the “man to see” in the pro-life movement.
Perils of Prosecutorial Discretion in a World Where Everyone is a Criminal | Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy
Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy: University of Tennessee lawprof Glenn Reynolds (AkA “Instapundit”) has an interesting short paper on the dangers of prosecutorial discretion in a world where the scope of criminal law has gotten so vast that almost anyone can be convicted of a crime if the prosecutor goes after them aggressively enough . . .
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog: With about two weeks left to think about it, the government’s top advocate in the Supreme Court — Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. — has a choice of getting into the issue of states’ power to define marriage in a big way, or not so big. He could jump into the middle of it by joining the constitutional challenge to California’s “Proposition 8.” Or he could take a more modest approach, and support the idea that the constitutional fate of “Proposition 8″ is not properly before the Court. The second choice may have more political appeal, if that is a factor he will consider.
Findlaw: George Washington University is already very LGBT friendly. According to the GW Hatchet, the school already receives perfect marks on the Law School Admissions Council’s LGBT survey due to its nondiscrimination policy and LGBT-focused student organizations, classes, and faculty.
Matt Bowman on the Don Kroah Show, WAVA Radio to discuss: Obama Admin.’s Narrow Gesture On Abortion Pill Mandate Falls Short. | MP3 audio 11:20 mins
Star Courier: But opponents such as Joe LaRue, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, and Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, the committee’s ranking Republican, argued the bill does not go far enough to protect religious freedom. “We’re going to end up in a situation here where, on a case-by-case basis, churches are going to have to be dragged to court to highlight … where their First Amendment right begins and ends,” Murphy said.
Christian Post: “Americans should be free to honor God and live according to their consciences no matter where they are. A person’s faith convictions don’t disappear the moment he or she steps outside of a church building,” said ADF Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton, a former U.S. attorney. “This lawsuit puts a glaring light on the fact that the Obama administration just doesn’t understand what religious freedom really is. All Americans have a God-given freedom to live and do business according to their faith, and the First Amendment has always protected that.”
Register-News (AP): But Joseph La Rue, minister and legal counsel for the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defending Freedom, said the bill’s language discriminates against religious organizations precisely because it relies on the state human-rights law. That law doesn’t force a church to hire someone who professes a different faith, but it’s not clear what would happen to a Catholic who’s in a same-sex union, he said. “The church will not be able to refuse to hire them on the basis of their same-sex marriage if they’re of the same faith … ,” La Rue said. “The Catholic diocese could be faced with an application for employment for a receptionist – who is the face of the diocese – who is in a same-sex marriage … and under your Human Rights Act, could be required to hire that person.”
News-Gazette: But Joseph La Rue, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., suggested several possible scenarios where the same-sex-marriage proposal might limit religious freedom. “I am extremely concerned that it does not do enough (to protect religious liberty) and in fact, the bill as written, if enacted, will actually infringe on religious liberty and instead of being a religious-freedom act, it will actually become a religious-discrimination act,” he said.
WLSAM: Some of the bill’s opponents say a lack of clarity in this area could cause trouble in the courts. Joseph La Rue, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, testified before the committee that the bill doesn’t clearly exempt churches from renting out their facilities such as in other states like New York. “What Illinois’ bill says is public accommodations decisions will be subject to the Human Rights Act and to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and nobody knows for sure what that means,” he said. “Nobody knows how this will play out. And so instead of giving churches protection, the Legislature is simply punting the ball down the field for future courts and future legislatures to decide, and that leaves churches in a very precarious spot.”
Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom Blog: Two crucial decisions last week by federal courts solidified the legal case Alliance Defending Freedom is making on behalf of a broad cross-section of Christians opposed to the ObamaCare abortion pill mandate.
Florida Baptist Witness: Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel Matt Bowman said the proposal still infringes on religious liberty. “Religious non-profits will, in fact, be forced to provide an insurance plan with a provider that gives the religious group’s employees abortion-pill coverage in direct connection with that plan, the coverage is definitely not free, and the coverage is imposed ‘automatically’ even against the objection of many employees who don’t want free abortion-pill coverage for themselves or their daughters,” Bowman said.
Religion Clause Blog: The complaint (full text) in Briscoe v. Sebelius, (D CO, filed 2/4/2013), alleges that plaintiff Stephen Briscoe, owner of affiliated corporations and LLCs that operate senior independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, believes that furnishing coverage for contraceptives that may prevent implantation of an already fertilized egg is a sin for which he will be held accountable . . . Alliance Defending Freedom announced the filing of the lawsuit.
Alan Sears at the Washington Examiner: Alliance Defending Freedom and our associated attorneys represent religious colleges, family business leaders and faith-based companies. Overall, there are more than 110 plaintiffs against this mandate around the country. The only solution is for the administration to obey the Constitution and its legal duty to protect religious freedom for everyone, not just for those it chooses.
Religion Clause Blog: The New York Times reports that a New York federal district court on Monday dismissed one of three lawsuits challenging a proposed eruv that Orthodox Jews in Westhampton Beach plan to put up.
Windy City Times: Illinois’ gay marriage bill is headed for a full Senate vote after the measure passed easily out of the Senate Executive Committee Feb. 5. The Committee voted 9-5 to send to the bill for a full vote . . . Joe LaRue of the Alliance Defending Freedom argued that the bill failed to adequately protect churches. “I am extremely concerned that it does not do enough,” LaRue said. LaRue said while the bill purported to protect religious institutions, it threatened to discriminate against them. He said the bill lacked protections for businesses who disagreed with same-sex marriages like cake bakers.
ABC2: In a letter to top Boy Scout officials, Liberty Institute, Liberty Counsel and the Alliance Defending Freedom note that the Supreme Court upheld the ban as part of scouting’s self-defined mission to instill morals, so making gay membership optional would suggest the Boy Scouts no longer consider homosexuality immoral.
B.C. Catholic: The Alliance Defending Freedom – which is handling several religious freedom lawsuits challenging the regulation – explained that the “new exemption is simpler than before but continues to cover only a sliver of religious organizations.”
LGBTQ Nation: “The so-called religious protections put forth in the proposed legislation are not only inadequate, but the extreme narrowness of those protections suggests intent to legislate prejudice toward individuals who possess deeply-held religious beliefs about sexual unions or marriage,” said Kellie Fiedorek, a representative for Alliance Defending Freedom at a Jan. 23 Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill that would establish civil unions in Colorado.
LifeNews: . “As a result, the latest White House “compromise” already has a wave of critics, including respected national religious liberty law firms like the Becket Fund and the Alliance Defending Freedom. And many are far harsher than Professor Bradley in their analysis.”
John W. Whitehead at Education News: Just as the 9/11 terrorist attacks created a watershed between the freedoms we enjoyed and our awareness of America’s vulnerability to attack, so the spate of school shootings over the past 10-plus years from …
NCPA Policy Digest: Now that the dust has settled and the true costs of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been revealed, union leaders are realizing the overhaul may not be such a good deal, says the Wall Street Journal.
NBC: A 13-month-old child was fatally crushed by a car containing Chinese officials after they went to collect a fine from the parents for breaching the country’s one-child policy, according to Chinese state media.
Haaretz: In interview with Al-Ahram on eve of Islamic Summit Conference in Cairo, Iranian president also says his country opposes outside intervention in Syria.
Public Discourse: Family, church, and school are the three basic people-forming institutions, and it is no wonder that they produce the best results—including economic and political ones—when they cooperate.
Telegraph: David Cameron has been warned that plans to let same-sex couples marry in churches will be “massacred” in the House of Lords and alienate grassroots Conservatives.
The HIll: Iowa’s 2014 Senate race is fast becoming an early battleground in the Republican family feud over recruiting “electable” candidates, with an early GOP front-runner scoffing Tuesday at suggestions he wouldn’t survive a general election.
AZ Central: The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion annually, the financially struggling agency says.
LiveScience: Imagine if you could take living cells, load them into a printer, and squirt out a 3D tissue that could develop into a kidney or a heart. Scientists are one step closer to that reality, now that they have developed the first printer for embryonic human stem cells.
Cass R. Sunstein at Bloomberg: Can the Defense Department overrule the U.S. Supreme Court? Can the Boy Scouts of America? The short answer is: Of course not. But a full response turns out to be more complicated, and it offers a lesson for thinking about the relationship between constitutional law and the evolving nature of rights.