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Tampa Bay Times: “While other factors such as growing unemployment played a role, there is a strong case that redefining marriage is mostly responsible for the decline,” Sheedy said. We wanted to examine his theory.
Liberty Counsel: After nearly six years of effort, culminating in a yearlong battle with Charlotte County’s zoning board, Lutheran Church of the Cross will now be able to build a 60-foot monument cross on its 11-acre property.
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.
Orlando Sentinel: Proposed rules comes after student application to form Gay-Straight Alliance was denied
News-Press.com: Following a challenge from the Freedom From Religion Foundation to the city’s practice of holding invocations before City Council meetings, Cape Coral’s city attorney has issued an update on case law in which she indicates the city amended its routine years ago to fall within the law.
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.
Patheos: This is a guest post by Daniel Koster. Daniel is the President of the Wekiva Atheist and Secular Alliance at Wekiva High School in Florida. . . . We found out late Monday night that the School Board had given a group permission to hand out Bibles at our schools. The news reported it and David Williamson, leader of the Central Florida Freethought Community, alerted several local leaders in a message headed “URGENT.”
Sun Sentinel: The memo cites the Corporate Resource Council estimates that the coverage will increase costs by 5 percent. This Arizona-based council shares the same physical address with the Alliance Defending Freedom, which describes itself as “thousands of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations to protect religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family in America and around the world.”
Fox4Now: Freedom From Religion Foundation fought to prevent the Ten Commandments from being displayed at city hall. This time, it’s taking issue with what they call Christian-themed prayer at council meetings.
Education News: An Indiana state senator has introduced a bill that would give the state’s public schools the option to require recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day.
Salon: In a court motion, the defense claims that the state law against bestiality deprives 32-year-old Carlos Romero of his “personal liberty and autonomy when it comes to private intimate activities.” But it’s actually not quite as crazy a move as it might seem.
David Hacker at the Speak Up Movement Blog: We have a lot to be thankful for this year at Alliance Defending Freedom as our clients prevailed time and again in cases across the country. Here’s a recap of the top university victories in 2012 . . .
Miami Herald: Respondents opposed same sex marriage by a 10 point margin back in May, but in the poll released Thursday they were nearly evenly divided, with 43 percent in favor of allowing gay marriage and 45 percent opposed. Voters younger than 29, however, overwhelmingly support the idea, by a 66-23 percent margin.
Miami Herald: In other business, commissioners will take up a measure regarding the governing board of Jackson Health System and decide on their federal and state priorities for 2013.
Religion Clause Blog: The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission on Wednesday filed a Notice of Formal Charges (full text) against Leon County Judge Judith Hawkins for using her judicial position to sell religious books and materials through her for-profit business, Gaza Road Ministries.
LifeNews: An abortion clinic in Florida has botched the insertion of an IUD and was forced to rush a woman to the hospital after she faced medical complications from the failure.
Click Orlando: Baby Jesus and a wooden donkey were stolen from the nativity scene of a Central Florida city, prompting officials to offer a cash reward for their return.
Florida Ends Discriminatory Exclusion of Christian College from Tuition Assistance Program | Greg Baylor at Speak Up Movement
Greg Baylor at Speak Up Movement University Blog: The Florida Department of Education recently ended its discriminatory exclusion of a Christian college from one of its tuition assistance programs.
Religion Clause Blog: In Florida yesterday, the Miami-Dade County Commission voted 8-3 to re-institute prayer before the opening of the Commission’s formal meetings.
Naple News: In a case that offers a glimpse of the complexity of Florida’s parental-notification of abortion law, a divided appeals court this week overruled a Polk County judge and said a 17-year-old girl could receive an abortion without her mother being told. | In re Petition of Jane Doe
Inside Higher Ed: Florida officials have agreed to declare Florida Christian College’s students eligible for a state student aid program, settling a lawsuit by the college, The News Service of Florida reported
Politico: Florida Rep. Allen West — the tea party pugilist and face of the class of House Republicans that stormed to power two years ago — conceded Tuesday to 29-year-old construction executive Patrick Murphy in one of the nation’s highest-profile congressional races.
CBS: Election officials missed a deadline Sunday to report results of a two-day recount in GOP Rep. Allen West’s race to remain in Congress, apparently sealing unofficial results giving the win to Democrat Patrick Murphy.
Washington Times: The Republican Party of Florida is backing Rep. Allen West’s call for a recount of all early votes in St. Lucie County, saying it would be “unconscionable” not to answer lingering questions about the results — which show Mr. West trailing Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.
Florida education officials have agreed to a settlement that will allow students at Kissimmee’s Florida Christian College to participate in a state grant program open to students at other religious and non-religious schools.
BuzzFeed: The White House announced on Wednesday that President Obama has nominated Judge William Thomas, an out gay man, to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Thomas would be the first out LGBT black man to serve as a lifetime-tenured federal judge.
WorldNetDaily: U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., calls a mysterious 4,000-vote swing late on Election Night “unconscionable” as he continues his fight to challenge his razor-thin apparent loss to Democrat Patrick Murphy.
FedSoc Blog: On Monday, November 5, SLF, on behalf of another Florida citizen and taxpayer, filed an original action in the Florida Supreme Court asking the Court to issue a writ of quo warranto regarding the actions of Secretary of State Ken Detzner in determining the Justices “qualified” to be placed on the ballot. The argument is not one of conduct, but instead contends that none of the three justices lawfully qualified for the retention election and that the secretary of state failed to properly carry out his constitutional and administrative duties in the matter.
National Review: Florida congressman Allen West trails his Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by .8 percent and, though Murphy has declared victory, West isn’t conceding. West is behind by a margin greater than the .5 percent required to trigger a recount, but he is demanding one nonetheless, citing vote-counting irregularities.
Religion Clause Blog: Florida voters yesterday (official results) defeated Amendment 8, the proposed Religious Freedom Amendment, that would have repealed the state’s Blaine Amendment– the state constitution’s ban on public funds going to religious institutions.
Seattle Post Intelligencer (AP): ustices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince each led about 67 percent to 33 percent with about 80 percent of the precincts reporting.
Religion Clause Blog: While the Presidential contest obviously looms largest at the polls tomorrow, those interested in church-state and religious liberty issues are watching a number of down-ballot issues and contests . . .
Religion Clause Blog: As previously reported, last March Florida’s legislature, at the urging of school prayer proponents, passed a new law authorizing school districts to adopt policies permitting inspirational messages to be composed and delivered by students at student assemblies.
Miami New Times: Coral Gables has joined seven other local municipalities and Miami-Dade County in passing a Domestic Partnership ordinance which grants LGBT city employees partnership benefits.
NapleNews: On paper, the amendment — the result of a joint resolution filed with the Florida Legislature in March 2011 — states that public funding won’t go to abortion, including in the form of health-benefit coverage, for example for state employees.
Washington Post: Justices Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy A. Quince have faced voters twice before and easily retained their jobs. But this year they have hired consultants with the $1.3 million raised on their behalf, filmed commercials and hit the road for appearances.
One News Now: Matt Sharp of the Alliance Defending Freedom . . . The ADF attorney points out that elementary-age students have the same constitutional free-speech rights as adults. “Students have the right to engage in religious speech at school,” he notes, “and schools should be welcoming the free exchange of ideas among students, whether it’s an Easter egg hunt invitation or anything like that at school.”
USA Today: Americans for Prosperity agrees that it is critical that the judicial branch of government be independent, neutral and unbiased. The courts play a crucial role in maintaining the system of checks and balances our Founding Fathers so brilliantly created. But what happens when the courts lose their neutrality and overstep their role?
AP: An audit of the U.S. Department of Education’s division overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in charter school funding has criticized the office for failing to properly monitor how states spend the money.
AP: But days after Austin-Knight’s children were put in foster care, she met foster mother Krista King at a park as part of an effort in Florida to encourage more foster parents to communicate with birth parents, let them talk to their children and honor their child-rearing wishes. Similar programs are in California, Virginia and New Mexico. Several other states – including Oregon, New Hampshire and Washington – provide legal representation or mentorship for birth parents.
WorldNetDaily: Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan backed homeschool freedom at a recent campaign event in Florida. At the town hall-style event in Ocala, Florida, on Thursday, October 18, the following exchange took place. We encourage you to watch the video clip. Transcript . . .
LifeNews: While most pro-life Americans are understandably focused on the Presidential election and key Congressional races, citizens in several states will also vote on life-related ballot initiatives on November 6th. Below is a summary of these initiatives, and why they are important.
AP: An Iowa court official is accused of helping a same-sex couple from Florida to get a marriage certificate without stepping foot in the state.
Wall Street Journal: A federal appeals court upheld sanctions against a veteran Florida bankruptcy lawyer who called a judge’s findings “half-baked,” and then sent a bottle of wine to his chambers with a handwritten note. The case raised an interesting question, at least in theory: What First Amendment rights do lawyers have to get sharp with judges?
News4jax.com: To hear supporters and opponents of Amendment 6 talk, what’s at stake is whether taxpayer money should fund abortions for public employees — and whether minors should get parental consent to end a pregnancy. The amendment would prohibit the use of state tax money for abortions except as required by federal law if it’s passed by voters Nov. 6 — something the state doesn’t do, anyway.
Tampa Bay Times: Another Florida Supreme Court justice targeted by the Republican Party in this year’s merit retention election pleaded with Tampa attorneys Friday to help keep partisan politics out of the judiciary.
Religion Clause Blog: In Gillio v. School Board of Hillsborough County, Florida, (MD FL, Oct. 5, 2012), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended issuance of a preliminary injunction to allow a 4th grade student to distribute invitations to a church organized Easter egg hunt to fellow classmates.
Washington Post: A bare majority of voters in Florida and Ohio, and nearly half in Virginia, support the right of same-sex couples to wed, according to September Washington Post polls showing that the national trend toward accepting such unions has taken hold in these swing states.
Brian Walsh at National Review: Today, a bipartisan group of over 100 legislators in nine states is announcing the nation’s first state legislative caucuses focused solely on religious freedom. These working groups of legislative leaders are being established in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. This is the first installment in a national plan to form state religious-freedom caucuses in all 50 states by the end of 2013.
LJWorld: Claiming religious freedom is under assault, 120 legislators in nine states, including Kansas, announced on Tuesday the formation of caucuses that they said would be dedicated to protecting religion from government intrusion.
InAmerica: The Broward County school district in Florida signed a resolution in September in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Americans. Last week, the Los Angeles school district, the nation’s second-largest, also signed on. The two districts have more than 1 million students.
Palm Beach Post: In the proposed amendment, they also included a single sentence — “This constitution may not be interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution” — that at least with respect to abortion would strip the right to privacy guaranteed in Florida’s constitution.
Daily Caller: Unhappy with President Barack Obama‘s support of same-sex marriage, a group of African-American faith leaders have announced a campaign aimed at stripping 25 percent of the black vote that went to Obama in 2008 (95 percent).
Reuters: Facing unprecedented political opposition, three Florida Supreme Court justices are fighting back against Republicans and conservative activists seeking to change the balance in the state’s highest court by getting voters to fire them. Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente, and Peggy Quince face what is called a “merit retention” vote in November.
FFRF: As Sheriff, your overt promotion of religion using your official title, badge, and seal gives the unfortunate impression that the County supports and endorses particular religious rituals . . . pparently, the OSCO believes that this prayer will lower crime: “According to Chaplain Willie James Barnes, praying for safer streets is something that works. He was part of a similar project with Orlando police in 2008. ‘It worked. We did it all over the city of Orlando, and I’ll tell you the crime rate went down,’ said Barnes.” The members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation believe that nothing fails like prayer. Prayer is the ultimate cop-out, the ultimate admission that the invoker is giving up, is transferring personal responsibility to an imaginary being. It is particularly vexing to see people congratulate themselves for praying or holding a prayer rally, instead of taking meaningful action, such as working for rational regulation assault rifles and those who purchase them.
The Church Report: Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has a narrow advantage in his fight for re-election, according to a Suffolk University/WSVN-TV poll released Tuesday.Nelson leads GOP Rep. Connie Mack, 40 percent to 34 percent.
Orlando Sentinel: A battle among religious groups, abortion providers and conservative politicians over taxpayer support of abortions is drawing big checks this election season — despite the fact that Florida doesn’t spend tax dollars on abortion services now.
TBO.com: The culture war over a woman’s right to an abortion will play out at the polls in November as a measure billed as a ban on public funding of the procedure – which could have much more far-reaching implications – appears on Florida ballots.
NY Times: In a bid to remake Florida’s judiciary, Republicans are asking voters to oust three state Supreme Court justices and give the legislature greater power over Supreme Court appointments and judicial rules of procedure.
TBO: Before the Brevard County couple split up, the genetic mother had donated an egg that was fertilized and implanted in the other woman, who gave birth in 2004. The couple separated two years later, and a trial court granted sole custody to the birth mother. An appellate court disagreed and said the women should share custody.
Miami Herald: After months of speculation, Republicans and conservative groups have come forward with their plans to try to defeat three of Florida’s Supreme Court justices but their supporters warn of politicizing the judiciary . . .
Orlando Sentinel: With Catholic organizations from around the state raising money to promote passage of an anti-abortion constitutional amendment in November, a coalition of religious groups is decrying the measure as a state imposition of religious dogma.
AP: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked a Florida preacher Wednesday to withdraw his support of the anti-Muslim film blamed for fueling the fatal attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Religion Clause Blog: The Palm Beach Post reports that Palm Beach County, Florida, Democratic Party Chairman Mark Alan Siegel resigned Friday, two days after making controversial remarks about pro-Israel Christians.
Bradenton.com: The Florida Supreme Court listened but also responded Wednesday as three lower court judges and a high-profile lawyer criticized new rules for the state courts, including term limits for chief judges and new limits on what judges are permitted to say. The high court set off a firestorm in February by adopting rules limiting judges’ comments to lawmakers and others about the court system and setting eight-year term limits for chief circuit and district court of appeal judges.
Nathan Cherry at the Engage Family Minute Blog: Matt Sharp with the Alliance Defending Freedom commented on the case: “We … unfortunately see this pop up all too often where students can’t express their faith in school. This is a common thing, but fortunately the courts have commonly held that schools can’t restrict this.”
AP on Tampa Bay Online: Gilio sued, employing the services of Christian legal organizations: David Gibbs of the Christian Law Association and lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom . . . Matt Sharp, a lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom, said this type of case is not unusual. “We … unfortunately see this pop up all too often where students can’t express their faith in school,” Sharp said. “This is a common thing, but fortunately the courts have commonly held that schools can’t restrict this.”
The Florida Times Union: The federal government has sued Florida’s Department of Corrections for not offering kosher meals to all prison inmates.
Liberty Counsel: A federal appeals court has reversed the decision in American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Inc. v. Dixie County Florida. Last summer, a U.S. District Judge ruled in favor of the ACLU and ordered Dixie County to remove the six-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments. Today’s ruling reverses that decision and sends the case back down to the district court on standing.