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Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette at Detroit Free Press: “[T]he Detroit Free Press Editorial Board is urging the State of Michigan’s chief legal officer to violate his oath of office, ignore the constitution and negate the will of the people. To be clear: I will uphold my oath, I will support the constitution and I will defend the will of the people. . . . Moreover, Michigan’s voters had a rational basis for their vote: Marriage has been understood to be between one man and one woman by virtually all civilizations throughout the centuries.”
Reuters: “A federal appeals court panel on Tuesday upheld a 2011 Kansas law that would stop federal family planning money the state receives from flowing to two Planned Parenthood clinics.” | The opinion is here.
Yuval Levin at National Review: “Bazelon’s article essentially attempts a redefinition of pluralism as a tool of progressive political action rather than a broad protection of the right to dissent. Pluralism is only legitimate, Bazelon suggests, when it is used by progressive dissenters to break the stranglehold of a traditionalist majority; when instead it is used by traditionalist dissenters to break the stranglehold of a progressive majority, it is illegitimate. It is a view of the right of conscience narrowed by its subservience to the progressive understanding of the nature of the liberal society—that is, to a view of history as defined by a series of breakthroughs in the struggle against ancient prejudice.”
Robert George and Hamza Yusuf at the Wall Street Journal [Google link for full text]: “The argument against exemptions would be plausible if such laws only protected religious believers of one faith, or if the laws stipulated that religious interests should prevail in every case in which they competed with other interests and values. But the federal civil-rights law at issue in the Hobby Lobby case—the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—protects people of all faiths. Exemptions are not automatic, because the government is always permitted to show that it has compelling reasons to deny the exemption. Historically the government has often met this burden and won the case.”
“The fact that the justices took no action today means that, under the Supreme Court’s rules, the justices are actively considering the case. Most likely, the court will consider the case again on Friday. We hope that the justices will take the case and rule that the government cannot force people to express ideas they do not support.”
Reuters: “A U.S. appeals court on Saturday placed a temporary hold on a federal judge’s ruling that struck down Michigan’s ban on gay marriage, a move that followed hastily arranged and joyful wedding ceremonies in the state.” | The order is here. | Religion Clause has more.
National Review Editorial Board: “Whatever the federal government might have done differently, the express purpose of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is to prevent it from doing what it has done in the Affordable Care Act: ride roughshod over the free exercise of religion whenever doing so proves politically convenient.”
Ken Starr, president and chancellor of Baylor University, at USA Today: “If the Supreme Court accepts the government’s formalistic argument, it will deal an unnecessary blow to the cause of religious liberty and simply create incentives for families of conscience to carry on their business enterprise in another form. The Greens will, win or lose, be able to carry on and continue their admirable mission to serve a cause higher and nobler than their own commercial success. But something very valuable – the nation’s historic commitment to religious freedom – will have been needlessly compromised.”
Rick Warren at The Washington Post: “The first people who came to America from Europe were devout pilgrims seeking the freedom to practice their faith. That’s why the first phrase of the first sentence of the First Amendment is about freedom of religion — preceding freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. Why? Because if you don’t have the freedom to live and practice what you believe, the other freedoms are irrelevant. Religious liberty is America’s First Freedom.”
Alliance Defending Freedom, Bioethics Defense Fund, and Life Legal Defense Foundation filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that argues a defamation lawsuit against Susan B. Anthony List is baseless because the pro-life group only told the truth.
Detroit News: “In his 31-page written opinion released shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, Judge Bernard Friedman said the constitutional amendment known as the Michigan Marriage Act, passed by the voters in 2004, was unconstitutional because it denied gays and lesbians equal protection under the law.” | The opinion is here.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys challenging the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate will be available for media interviews at the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday following oral arguments in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. The case is one of two major legal challenges to the mandate that the high court will hear that day.
Matt Bowman at National Review: “Religious freedom used to mean that religion was none of the government’s business. Now it is being changed to mean that religion is none of your business. . . . Every relevant legal authority contradicts Winkler’s view that religion can have no place in business. The laws of all 50 states and the District of Columbia explicitly allow businesses to pursue all lawful purposes. Religion is still lawful in America, however much some may lament it.”
Matt Bowman at Public Discourse: “Did you know that a for-profit corporation can be African American? Actually, a court recently ruled that a corporation can be an African American person under federal law. . . . A gaggle of special interest groups supporting Obamacare’s coercion is outraged at this suggestion. They profess to be shocked—shocked!—that anyone would say a family business has religious freedom. But these same groups apparently favor a legal regime that says for-profit corporations can be racial minorities and can exercise the most intimate and private constitutional ‘rights’ to contraception and abortion. Their outrage is withheld until families in business claim to be religious.”
BuzzFeed: “A federal judge has denied Tennessee’s request to put the state’s recognition of three same-sex couples’ marriages on hold while state officials challenge the judge’s original decision.”
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog: “At 10 a.m. next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hold ninety minutes of oral argument on the government’s authority to require private businesses to provide birth control and other pregnancy-related services to their employees under the Affordable Care Act. . . . Only one thing, perhaps, is certain as the argument in this case approaches: whatever the Court decides, it will not decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act.”
A jury issued a verdict Thursday that found the University of North Carolina–Wilmington retaliated against one of its professors for his views. Last year, a federal court found sufficient evidence to warrant a trial after an appeals court determined that the First Amendment protects the views criminology professor Dr. Mike Adams published in opinion columns with which university officials disagreed.
California sisters fighting back after professor steals graphic pro-life sign; police report released
Fox News: “Two California sisters told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly Thursday they are fighting back against a college professor [Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young] who they say assaulted them and stole their pro-life signs because ‘no one has the right to take someone else’s property.’”
Ross Douthat at The New York Times: “[I]t’s precisely when people in liberal societies see themselves as out on the vanguard of history that they’re least likely to concede that they might, just might, be making a mistake, and most inclined to feel instead that the thing to do is shatter the shield wall around the remaining bastions of unenlightenment rather than permit them to persist. It’s when a consensus is at its most self-confident, in other words — and therefore most vulnerable to the errors of overconfidence — that the kind of pluralism that might serve as a corrective becomes hardest for that consensus’s exponents to accept.”
Joshua Hawley, associate professor of law at the University of Missouri and a counsel to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, at USA Today: “The Obama administration contends that starting a for-profit business means leaving religious liberty behind. The administration has effectively told the Supreme Court that for-profit companies have no right to act on moral convictions the government opposes. They are about profits. That position is deeply mistaken.”
Stanford Anscombe Society: “The Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) is requesting that Stanford University remove a burdensome $5,600 security fee it imposed on the conference organizers following the Graduate Student Council’s revocation of funding for its April Communicating Values conference.”
The Courier-Journal: “A federal judge has extended the stay of his ruling allowing state recognition of gay marriages while Gov. Steve Beshear appeals it. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II on Wednesday said the stay will remain in effect until the U.S. 6th Circuit of Appeals dissolves it.” | The order is here.
Paul S. Loverde, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, at First Things: “Those who deny that the act of viewing pornography has any negative consequences must understand just how toxic the situation has become. . . . The most graphic forms of pornography are now easily and anonymously accessible on the internet and on any smartphone. Many among us are now caught in patterns of addiction that rival those of drugs and alcohol in their grip on the individual, if not in the disruption that results in their lives. Depression, anxiety, isolation, marital strife, and job loss can all be intensified for those caught in the web of this addiction. . . . This addiction is not merely behavioral, a bad habit that can be broken like any other. Chronic viewing of pornographic material impacts one’s brain chemistry in a manner that can “hook” a person and lead to a quest for increasingly lurid forms of pornography.”
Associated Press: “The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed the convictions of a former nurse accused of encouraging two people whom he met online to kill themselves. The court ruled that the language in the state’s assisted-suicide law that pertains to ‘encouraging’ suicide is unconstitutional. However, it upheld the part of the law that bans ‘assisting’ suicide.” | The opinion is here.
The Tennessean: “As promised, the Tennessee Attorney General will ask the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a decision granting recognition to three same-sex married couples. . . . In addition to filing a notice of appeal on Tuesday, the AG also asked Trauger for a stay on her injunction.”
Defendants’ Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Stay Pending Appeal (March 18, 2014)
Alliance Defending Freedom sent West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin a letter Tuesday supporting a bill that protects unborn children from pain by prohibiting most abortions at 20 weeks or later after fertilization.
Ryan T. Anderson, Vigen Guroian, Russell D. Moore, Francesca Aran Murphy, David Novak, Edward Peters, Ephraim Radner, and Eric Teetsel discuss the church and civil marriage at First Things: “No-fault divorce changed the American culture of marriage. So did the sexual revolution. Now proponents of gay rights are redefining marriage at an even more fundamental level. What’s to be done? As a post-biblical vision of sex, gender, and marriage gains the upper hand in our society, should our religious institutions get out of marriage? Should priests, pastors, and rabbis renounce their roles as deputies of state authority in marriage? Or should we sustain the close links between religious and civil marriage?”
Eugene Volokh and Ilya Shapiro at the Wall Street Journal: “The Supreme Court’s ruling in Wooley guarantees the right of photographers, writers, actors, painters, actors, and singers to decide which commissions, roles or gigs they take, and which they reject. But the ruling does not necessarily apply to others who do not engage in constitutionally protected speech. The U.S. Supreme Court can rule in favor of Elane Photography on freedom-of-speech grounds without affecting how antidiscrimination law covers caterers, hotels, limousine drivers, and the like. That’s a separate issue that mostly implicates state religious-freedom laws in the more than two-dozen states that have them.”
Religion Clause: “The ACLU announced on Friday the entry of a consent decree (full text) in Lane v. Sabine Parish School Board, (WD LA, March 14, 2014), enjoining the blatant promotion of Christianity (and harassment of a Buddhist student) that had been taking place in the Negreet, Louisiana schools.”
The Salt Lake Tribune: “That wrecking ball would impose ‘novel’ and ‘corrosive’ principles about marriage and parenting and would undermine state sovereignty, according to the 120-page reply brief the state submitted to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals just minutes before its midnight deadline Friday.” | The brief is here.
Associated Press: “A federal judge Friday struck down Arkansas’ attempt to ban most abortions beginning 12 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, saying viability, not a heartbeat, remains the key factor in determining whether abortions should be allowed.” | How Appealing has a link to the ruling.
ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM MEDIA ADVISORY March 14, 2014 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT MEDIA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS: (480) 444-0020 or www.adfmedia.org/home/contact UNC–Wilmington on trial for retaliation against professor Alliance Defending Freedom attorney available for media interviews each day of trial …
Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that rebuts the claims of an atheist group that sued a South Carolina school district over one of its school’s 5th-grade graduation ceremonies and lost.
Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist: “The Associated Press is a good journalism brand that is being tarnished by shoddy coverage of the pro-life movement even as coverage of pro-choice activists and their arguments could not be more favorable. Let’s hope some higher-ups recognize the need to fix this problem.”
Zac Crippen at The Federalist: “In full disclosure, I need to mention that I have some personal experience with Mr. Weinstein’s organization. In 2011, when I was a senior at the Academy, I was an approval authority for emails disseminated to the student body. One of these emails—written by a fellow senior of mine—was collecting support for a charity campaign called Operation Christmas Child (OCC) . . . If Mr. Weinstein were a better student of the law, he would recognize that a cadet’s whiteboard does nothing to establish a state religion. If Mr. Weinstein were a better student of American history, he would recognize the positive role that religious faith has played in the character formation of the men and women in our military.”
Indianapolis Star: “For the second time in less than a week, Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages has become the target of a federal lawsuit.”
The Arizona Republic: “Seven Arizona same-sex couples and the surviving spouses of two others filed a federal lawsuit Thursday challenging Arizona’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples as unconstitutional.”
Fox News: “The Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition, a group of two dozen like-minded religious liberty organizations, announced Thursday that they are ready to offer assistance to any Air Force Academy cadet who faces repercussions for writing Bible verses on their hallway whiteboards. . . . ‘Suppressing religion is wrong whether it is done behind an Iron Curtain or in a dorm hallway,’ said Gary McCaleb, of the Alliance Defending Freedom. ‘Certainly such raw anti-religious discrimination has no place in America’s Air Force.’”
“Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court that asks the court to make clear that a public employee has a First Amendment right to speak freely outside the workplace, especially when he is legally required to testify truthfully in a court proceeding. Alliance Defending Freedom filed the brief to ensure broader free speech protections for employees of public universities and colleges that often suppress their employees’ speech simply because the schools disagree with their views.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a brief Wednesday that responds to the Obama administration’s defense of its abortion pill mandate in one of two major legal challenges the U.S. Supreme Court will hear on March 25. Alliance Defending Freedom and allied attorneys represent the Hahns, a Pennsylvania Mennonite Christian family, and their woodworking business in one of those cases, Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius.
Associated Press: “Two civil rights groups that challenged an Arizona law banning abortions based on the race or sex of the child are appealing a judge’s dismissal of the suit.” | Alliance Defending Freedom resource page
The Salt Lake Tribune: “Assistant Utah Attorney General Kyle J. Kaiser told U.S. District Court Judge Dale A. Kimball that couples who married after Utah’s Amendment 3 was found unconstitutional on Dec. 20 knew the state was seeking to stay the ruling and planned to appeal it.”
The Hill: “House Democrats joined Republicans on Tuesday to pass legislation that would expand an exemption under ObamaCare for people who don’t want health insurance for religious reasons.” | H.R.1814 – EACH Act
“An Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney filed a brief Monday with the Supreme Court of Canada in defense of a private Catholic high school being forced to teach a government-mandated ethics and religion course that includes teaching contrary to Catholic belief. In January, the court granted other denominations the right to intervene in the case in defense of the Catholic school.”
Philip Hamburger at National Review: “It would be very dangerous for the Supreme Court to accede to the government’s assumption that specialized organizations are often only specialized persons with only specialized constitutional rights — that is, only partial persons with only partial rights. If government can act on this vision of specialization, it can divide and undermine civil society.”
Doug Mainwaring at The American Thinker: “The left is seeking not only equal status to enumerated constitutional rights, but a position of superiority. . . . Same-sex marriage is a trial balloon of sorts, being used to test how far Americans will allow their consciences to be suppressed by the State. . . . We are not witnessing a clash of rights; we are in the middle of a massive social experiment. This is a test for the viability of incremental totalitarianism. Nothing less.”
“No one should want the government to gag speech just because it doesn’t reflect the government’s views or the views of abortionists. For that reason, we are pleased that the anti-speech ordinance did not go into effect as scheduled, and we welcome the city’s attempt to reconsider it in the wake of our lawsuit. We will monitor the city council’s decisions as we continue our fight to protect free speech for the people of Madison.”
Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review: “The anti-discrimination regime . . . takes the reshaping of opinion, through the marginalization and stigmatization of views it considers bigoted, as one of its main goals. A same-sex couple with a psychology shaped by classical liberalism might have seen the baker who refused to make them a wedding cake as sadly misguided, or a jerk. The new regime encourages them to see him as a civil-rights violator. This mindset, far from being confined to a left-wing fringe, is now the dominant one in America.”
Las Vegas Review-Journal: “The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has set oral arguments in Nevada’s same-sex marriage ban for April 9 in San Francisco.”
SCOTUSblog adds: “Lawyers who are involved in the Tenth Circuit’s case in support of Utah’s ban, which is set for argument on April 10, had asked the Ninth Circuit not to set the Nevada case for hearing close to that date. The Nevada case is Sevcik v. Sandoval (docket 12-17668).”
Associated Press: “The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals outlined a schedule Monday that will expedite the case to the Richmond court, with briefs scheduled for later this month.”
Access relevant documents at SCOTUSblog.
Deseret News: “Outside the courtroom, the government lauds companies for making morally motivated decisions to preserve natural resources and extinguish tobacco use. Inside the courtroom, the government fights a company’s morally motivated policy to preserve human life.”
Indianapolis Star: “Four Indiana same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana challenging the state law, hoping to catch a recent wave of successful challenges to similar state laws.”
Patrick Brennan at National Review: “In addition to being told they ‘have to win,’ Santorum said, conservatives are told they ‘have to lose’ — lose ‘those currently unfashionable stances on cultural and limited-government issues.’ That message seemed to win over CPAC’s crowd, winning a standing ovation at the end from a packed auditorium.”
A federal court issued a ruling Friday that strikes down the entirety of a Maryland county’s law that forced pro-life pregnancy counselors to advise women against using their services. The court’s permanent injunction prohibits the Montgomery County law from being enforced effective immediately.
Alliance Defending Freedom issued two letters Thursday concerning Planned Parenthood’s involvement in sex education curricula that an Arizona school district has considered in recent weeks–curricula that, if adopted, would likely violate a state law that requires preference to be given to abstinence, childbirth, and adoption, not abortion.
Breitbart: “Contrary to what many in the mainstream media have claimed, the conservative Christian group that backed and drafted Arizona’s Religious Freedom Law has not been pouting since Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed the measure. In fact, the organization is actually celebrating the fact that 123 of the bills it has supported since its inception in 1995 have been signed into law.”
Associated Press: “The federal lawsuit announced Wednesday by Planned Parenthood Arizona and the Center for Reproductive Rights alleges that the new rules required under a 2012 law will effectively block the ability of many women to use medication abortions.”
A new legal settlement means pro-life student groups will no longer face disruption of their pro-life events and displays at Oklahoma State University. Cowboys for Life, a student organization represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, filed a federal lawsuit against the university last year after officials there took numerous actions to impede and disrupt the group’s pro-life displays on campus.
FOX News: “A German home-schooling family facing deportation following the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear their appeal is being allowed to stay in the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security has granted the family “indefinite deferred status,” their attorney confirmed to Fox News.”
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court Monday that supports a pro-life organization’s right to challenge an Ohio law that silenced the group’s ability to speak out about an elected official’s position on Obamacare. In January, the high court agreed to hear the case.
Press Release: “General Conway has advised me that he will no longer represent the Commonwealth in Bourke vs. Beshear. The State will hire other counsel to represent it in this case, and will appeal Judge Heyburn’s decision to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and ask the court to enter a stay pending appeal.”
Washington Post: “In their petition, the Huguenins and lawyer Jordan W. Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom mention religion frequently. But their plea does not cite constitutional protection of their right to freely exercise their religion. Instead, they rely on another part of the First Amendment: their right to free speech.”
Ross Douthat at The New York Times: “We are not really having an argument about same-sex marriage anymore, and on the evidence of Arizona, we’re not having a negotiation. Instead, all that’s left is the timing of the final victory — and for the defeated to find out what settlement the victors will impose.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and requested a court order Wednesday to block a new Madison ordinance that creates hundreds of “bubble zones” throughout the city that ban leafleting and other free speech.
Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist: “[O]ne of the most interesting things about modern media’s deep hostility toward the religious, their religions, and religious liberty in general is that press freedom in America is rooted in religion. . . . Moving forward nearly 300 years, we have a press that loathes and works actively to suppress this religious liberty, as confident in being on the ‘right side of history’ as they are ignorant of natural rights, history, religion and basic civility.”
National Review editor Rich Lowry at Politico: “The question isn’t whether businesses run by people opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds should provide their services for gay weddings; it is whether they should be compelled to by government. . . . For [critics of the bill], someone else’s conscience is only a speed bump on the road to progress. It’s get with the program, your religious beliefs be damned.”
Press Release from Trent Franks: “The aim of the sponsors and proponents of SB 1062 was to defend against increasing and ubiquitous efforts by the secular left to do away with religious freedom in America as they have successfully done in many other parts of the world. Rather than join an honest debate about the actual text, legal application and effect of this bill, the secular left has resorted to their primary strategy of flooding the zone with gross distortion, political intimidation, and economic extortion.”
“University administrators cannot pick and choose which viewpoints they will allow on campus. This settlement resolves that problem at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville by removing the vague policies that the 6th Circuit found to be unconstitutional. Confusing policies that don’t provide appropriate direction to both speakers and university officials don’t benefit anyone.”
The Arizona Republic: “Facing intense pressure from political and business interests and a growing public outcry, Gov. Jan Brewer announced Wednesday that she had vetoed Senate Bill 1062, the divisive right to refuse service legislation.”
“Freedom loses when fear overwhelms facts and a good bill is vetoed. Today’s veto enables the foes of faith to more easily suppress the freedom of the people of Arizona. Even though the battle has become more difficult, Alliance Defending Freedom stands ready to defend any Arizonan who suffers the indignity of religious discrimination.”
Kellie Fiedorek in The East Valley Tribune: “Distortion has been out in full force regarding the bill, a simple adjustment the Arizona Legislature made to the state’s existing religious freedom law to make clear what it has always protected and to bring it into conformity with federal law.”
Houston Chronicle: “A federal judge in San Antonio on Wednesday declared Texas’ ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The Lone Star state’s refusal to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages is also unconstitutional, he ruled.” The order is here.