Alliance Defending Freedom: It’s days away: The Supreme Court’s marriage decision is expected to come down on June 29.
Becket Fund: The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to take up Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions.
San Francisco Chronicle: Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June overturning a federal law that denied equal benefits to same-sex spouses, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered federal courts in Oregon to reimburse Margaret Fonberg $6,190 plus interest, the amount she spent on health coverage for her domestic partner since 2009. | In the Matter of Fonberg
Michael Barone at Human Events: As Utah Senator Mike Lee noted in speeches at the Heritage Foundation, “the problem of poverty is linked to family breakdown and the erosion of marriage among low-income families and communities.” Lee is careful not to cast opprobrium on single or divorced parents. But he insists on pointing to the uncomfortable but undeniable fact that economic outcomes for their children have been far worse than those for children raised in two-parent families. That produces many personal tragedies. And in cold economic terms, it means that society is losing gross domestic product because of less than optimal development of human capital.
My Christian Daily: U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled on Friday (Nov. 22) in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, saying the exemption violates the establishment clause because it “provides a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise.” | Opinion: Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Lew | Freedom from Religion press release
Bipartisan approval lends a sense of balance to the judiciary | J. Harvie Wilkinson III at Washington Post
J. Harvie Wilkinson III at Washington Post: It is far beyond my purview to comment on the impact last week’s events will have on the Senate as an institution, but the impact on the institution of the federal courts will, over time, be severe. A return to bipartisan understandings in the judicial nominations process would help to keep the courts above political rancor and would serve this country well.
Wall Street Journal: The federal judiciary, already ideologically polarized over contentious legal questions, may see the divide grow deeper after the Senate voted Thursday to permit confirmation of lower-court nominees by simple majority vote.
Fight for Faith: Christian Photographers Appeal to SCOTUS | Jordan Lorence on Fox News, The Kelly File (video)
Aired November 12, 2013.
UALRPublicRadio: The Arkansas Supreme Court has reversed a judge’s decision barring a man’s same-sex partner from staying overnight when his son visits. | ACLU press release | Opinion: Moix v. Moix, 2013 Ark. 478
Morningstar News: After Iran’s secret service learned he was evangelizing in the Christian rehabilitation center, Davoodi was falsely convicted of selling drugs in the facility and was sentenced to prison. His probation officer also told him he would face death if he failed to show up for his weekly meeting with him.
LifeNews: In yet another pro-life victory against the HHS mandate that forces churches and religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions for their employees, a federal judge has ruled that the Catholic Church in Pittsburgh doesn’t have to comply.
Alliance Defending Freedom issued a letter Wednesday to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide to explain constitutional protections for religious Christmas carols that some districts have censored due to misinterpretations of the First Amendment.
Eastern Michigan University has reached a settlement agreement in an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit filed on behalf of a pro-life student organization. EMU originally denied student activity fees to the group based on its “political or ideological” views, but officials have now agreed to revise university policy and remove the ban on funding for groups with such perspectives, especially since the university had not consistently applied the policy.
Fox News: Majority Leader Harry Reid, moving quickly following days of speculation, used the so-called “nuclear option” to pass the change. Typically, major changes like this take 67 votes, but he did it with just a simple majority.
On behalf of concerned parents, Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Tuesday to a South Carolina public charter school whose band director prohibited students from performing the music to “Joy to the World” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” A student also provided the letter to the school at a board meetingTuesday night.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne asked the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday to uphold an Arizona law that limits the use of taxpayer funds for abortion. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit struck down the law in August.
Fox News: The court by a 5-4 vote denied a request by Planned Parenthood to block a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which allows key parts of the Texas abortion law to stay in effect while the case plays out.
SCOTUS Blog’s latest edition of Petitions to Watch is here.
Reuters: The measure, which would have barred doctors within city limits from performing abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, unless a mother’s life was in danger, was rejected 55 percent to 45 percent.
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox will be available for media interviews immediately following his oral argument in federal court Wednesday on behalf of a former Planned Parenthood facility director.
Alliance Defending Freedom has sent a letter to Italy’s National Anti-Discrimination Office in defense of a teacher who asked students to answer a questionnaire about the morality of a variety of activities in an optional hour of teaching on Catholicism. Two activist groups filed a discrimination complaint simply because one of the activities among the many listed was homosexual behavior.
Cleveland Dispatch: The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Mount Vernon City Schools properly fired middle school science teacher John Freshwater because his refusal to eliminate religious symbols from the classroom — excluding his Bible — was insubordination. | Opinion: Freshwater v. Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is receiving calls from concerned parents of Air Force Academy cadets about the Academy’s removal of the phrase “So help me God” from the Cadet Oath, the Officer Oath, and the Enlisted Oath in the Academy Contrails Cadet Handbook.
Betsy Woodruff at National Review: Albuquerque is pulling a Texas. A coalition of pro-life activists has managed the improbable: They’ve gotten a ballot measure set for a vote on Tuesday that would ban abortions in the city after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Christian Institute: Today the Court of Appeal upheld a ban on a Christian radio station broadcasting an ad on Christian marginalisation, a decision described as an “attack on freedom of speech” by the station’s CEO.
Adam Liptak at NY Times: Jordan W. Lorence, a lawyer at the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Elane Photography, said Ms. Huguenin should be able to decline assignments at odds with her beliefs in a way that, say, motels and hardware stores may not. “There are some professions that are inherently expressive — an ad agency, website designer or even a tattoo artist,” he said. “A tattoo artist should not be forced to put a swastika on an Aryan Nation guy,” Mr. Lorence said. “The government could not force someone to put a bumper sticker on their car that says ‘I support same-sex marriage’ or ‘I support interracial marriage.’ ”
English Lessons: A defence of personal liberty and coming assault on the First Amendment | Paul Diamond at Christian Concern
Paul Diamond at Christian Concern: Over the past 20 years I have witnessed a steady assault on the rights of Christians in Britain to speak and act according to their conscience. During that time, different parts of the state—our parliament, publicly funded organizations and the judiciary—have opposed and punished the expression of Christian belief and conscience. My experiences compel me to voice a warning to Christians and others in the United States who may soon see some fundamental rights taken from them.
Washington Post: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) said Thursday that he would sign an executive order to allow gay and lesbian couples who were legally married in other states to file joint tax returns with the state Department of Revenue, a move likely to prompt a legislative reaction from the Republican-dominated legislature.
WorldNetDaily: The case argues that since the U.S. Constitution requires that revenue-raising measures originate in the U.S. House and Obamacare was created in the Senate, the law is unconstitutional. The case is headed toward the Supreme Court.
Obamacare Abortion Mandate, Religious Liberty at the threshold of the U.S. Supreme Court | Matt Bowman on Relevant Radio with Sheil Liaugminas
Matt Bowman appeared on Relevant Radio with Sheil Liaugminas to discuss this: 7th Circuit: Obama’s Defense Of Abortion Pill Mandate ‘Unsound And Extraordinary’ | MP3 audio 11:33 mins
Speak Up Movement Church: Cities, towns, villages, and hamlets across the country often permit a wide array of signs—especially political signs—to be placed within their borders. Yet all too often these local governments apply different, and far more restrictive, rules to signs placed by churches. In legal terms this is called “content-based discrimination,” and it is forbidden by the First Amendment.
Fox News: The House passes a Republican sponsored bill to restore health insurance policies canceled by ObamaCare. The bill passed, 261-157 — including 39 Democrats who voted for the measure.
AP: The judge in a federal court challenge to Pennsylvania’s 17-year-old law that bans recognition of same-sex marriages is rejecting three different attempts to dismiss the lawsuit.
The only way to end that discriminatory system is to bring everyone into the system and pay one fair price. That means that the genetic winners, the lottery winners who’ve been paying an artificially low price because of this discrimination now will have to pay more in return.
Alliance Defending Freedom, Cornerstone Policy Research, and Liberty Institute have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the New Hampshire Supreme Court in defense of the state’s tax credit program for businesses that wish to help students attending private schools.
David Cortman of Alliance Defending Freedom and Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State appeared on Armstrong & Getty to discuss Town of Greece v. Galloway. | MP3 audio 11:24 mins
Politico: Albuquerque could become the first city in the country to pass a ban on abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy after a vote next Tuesday.
ABQ Journal: “Albuquerque is one of three in cities in the nation that has late-term abortions. One website says they will provide abortions at 28 weeks or later, with cause,” Farnsworth said. “You have citizens right here in Valencia County born at 25 weeks. That is viability . . . Assuming the Albuquerque ban will pass, Farnsworth said that “huge business” will be looking to relocate to the next closest place to the airport — Valencia County, to the south.
LA Times: A judge refused Thursday to block implementation of Hawaii’s new gay-marriage law in court Thursday morning, clearing the way for the state to issue its first-same sex wedding licenses.
Ed Whalen at National Review: Let’s start with the questions whether each plaintiff corporation (1) is a person under RFRA, and (2) is engaged in an exercise of religion when it refuses to provide health insurance that covers contraceptives.
he U.S. State Department announced Wednesday that it is designating the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram as a “foreign terrorist organization.” Numerous concerned organizations, including Alliance Defending Freedom, have formally requested the designation for years.
WhiteHouse.gov: With today’s vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognize that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Whenever freedom and equality are affirmed, our country becomes stronger. By giving loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry if they choose, Hawaii exemplifies the values we hold dear as a nation.
SCOTUS Blog: Arguing that doctors and clinics are exaggerating the impact of a new abortion control law on women in Texas, state officials on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to allow the state to continue enforcing that law while an appeals court reviews its constitutionality.
Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart stands by confessional despite abuse recommendations | ABC.net.au Video
ABC.net.au (includes video): The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne has stood by the church’s stance on keeping information on abuse gained through the confessional secret, despite a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry recommending withholding information relating to child abuse be criminalised.
An Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney has secured a legal settlement on behalf of a non-profit organization that helps provide housing and treatment to single mothers struggling with addictions. The lawsuit concerned a Mississippi town’s unconstitutional zoning restrictions.
7th Circuit: Obama’s defense of abortion pill mandate ‘unsound and extraordinary’ | Alliance Defending Freedom
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit issued a strongly worded decision Friday that found the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate to be in violation of federal religious liberty protections.
LifeNews: In a 2-1 decision issued Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the court reversed the federal district court’s denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded the case for the district court to enter the preliminary injunction. The appeals court upheld the rights of both individuals and companies to challenge the ObamaCare HHS Mandate – the first decision of its kind in the ongoing HHS Mandate litigation.
Honolulu Star Advertiser: Today’s vote, while historic, was a somewhat anti-climatic end to the 16-day legislative special session that included more than 55 hours of public testimony, followed by two day-long sessions in the House where lawmakers approved the bill late Friday night in a 30-19 vote
SCOTUS Blog: Without comment, the Court turned down an appeal by Oklahoma officials seeking to revive a law requiring that women seeking abortions be shown ultrasound images of the fetus before the procedure can occur.
Washington Post: Opponents of a new California law that gives transgender students certain rights said Sunday that they had collected enough signatures for an initiative that would repeal the law.
On Aug. 22, the New Mexico high court upheld a decision against Elane Photography after its co-owner, Elaine Huguenin, declined to use her artistic expression to communicate the story of a same-sex ceremony.
SCOTUS Blog: On the premise that taking photos is a form of story-telling — recall the old idea about how many words a picture is worth — an Albuquerque studio on Friday asked the Supreme Court to protect its owners from having to send the message that the uniting of same-sex couples in marriage-like ceremonies is acceptable. The new case of Elane Photography v. Willock . . .
Religion Clause Blog: In Vallianatos and Others v. Greece, (ECHR, Nov. 7, 2013), the European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber) held, by a vote of 16-1, that a Greek civil union law which is limited to heterosexual couples violates The European Convention on Human Rights.
Center for AZ Policy: “It is deeply disappointing and shocking to see Senator John McCain and Senator Jeff Flake break their promise to Arizona voters to oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA is a false bill of goods: while it claims to end discrimination, this bill in fact fosters discrimination against business owners and employers with sincerely held religious beliefs.
AP: Moments after the Senate passed a historic measure to outlaw workplace discrimination against gays, activists turned their attention toward President Barack Obama and a long-sought executive order that would have the same effect, though on a much smaller scale.
San Francisco Chronicle: The Honolulu Star-Advertiser says (http://bit.ly/17g5wp1 ) Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto on Thursday said many voters might have thought they were voting to narrowly limit marriage when they voted on a constitutional amendment in 1998. The amendment gave the Legislature the power to decide whether to limit marriage.
“Every innocent life deserves to be protected. This bill would protect children who experience horrific pain during a late-term abortion and the women whose physical and mental health is in greater danger from such abortions. We commend Sen. Graham and other leaders in the Senate for taking this step, as the House and numerous states have already done, to protect children from the excruciating pain of such abortions.”
Tom Strode at Baptist Press: Jordan Lorence, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said Kennedy — who may be the swing vote again between the court’s conservative and liberal coalitions — “seemed disinclined to have government people editing prayers.” “And there seemed to be a majority of the justices that were bothered by that, as well as prayers that are too specific,” Lorence told BP after sitting in on the oral arguments. “[T]here are all sorts of things that go on as public events at a city council meeting that could be offensive to people,” Lorence said. “I think the solution is teaching people how to be more tolerant of other views, not saying you have a constitutional right to sanitize the corridor you walk down from anything offensive. And I think we have a majority [on the court] that is going to go the right way on this case.”
AP: Refugees facing imprisonment in their home country because they are gay may have grounds to be granted asylum in the European Union, the 28-nation bloc’s top court ruled Thursday. | European Court of Justice press release: Homosexual applicants for asylum can constitute a particular social group who may be persecuted on account of their sexual orientation | Judgment
ADF: Albuquerque law protecting unborn babies from pain is legally, medically sound | Alliance Defending Freedom
Alliance Defending Freedom released a letter Wednesday prepared for the Susan B. Anthony List that supports the constitutionality of Albuquerque’s proposed Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance.
The Transcript of oral arguements is here.
AP: The tenor of the argument indicated the justices would not agree with the appellate ruling. But it was not clear what decision they might come to instead.
Joe Infranco at Alliance Defending Freedom: One of the underlying issues will be the claim that someone who hears a prayer in a public setting has participated in it. And if that person has been forced to pray merely by hearing a prayer, this amounts to improper government coercion. Analyzing the argument in this way is challenging (among other problems) because it involves someone’s subjective feelings . . . Here is another way to consider the question: If directly after the prayer, a citizen addressed the city council officials, would merely hearing them argue for a playground repair mean the hearers were forced to participate in that speech or agree with their viewpoint?
LifeNews: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox responded to the decision in an email to LifeNews: “Every innocent life deserves to be protected, and that’s especially true of babies being targeted for death simply because of their sex or race. There is nothing medically necessary or constitutionally protected about an abortion that is committed on the basis of sex or race, and the NAACP should be opposed to such a practice more than anyone. The court has done the right thing in dismissing this meritless lawsuit.”
St. Louis Today: The Illinois House has passed passed a measure legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. The bill now returns to the Senate to concur with amendments. The Senate has already passed the measure once, in February, and is expected to pass it again. Senate leadership announced in an email it will take up the bill at 5 p.m. today.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys defending prayer before public meetings will be available for media interviews at the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday following oral arguments in Town of Greece v. Galloway.