Alliance Defending Freedom: It’s days away: The Supreme Court’s marriage decision is expected to come down on June 29.
LifeNews: “Supporters of a personhood amendment are trying a second time to get a measure to define unborn children as people starting at conception on the ballot in Montana. Should they obtain a November vote and Montana residents support it, the measure would challenge legal abortions and head for an immediate court battle.”
Great Falls Tribune: “The Montana Foundation of the American Civil Liberties Union believes an invocation and benediction that occurred during graduation ceremonies at Montana State University-Northern in Havre earlier this month were unconstitutional . . . The ACLU charges that MSU-Northern asked a local pastor — Tim Zerger of Community Alliance Church — to give the invocation and benediction, and that he was clearly ‘proselytizing’ by invoking the image of Jesus Christ during the ceremonies, which the ACLU said violates the separation of church and state . . . ”
Ross Douthat writing in the New York Times: “Liberals sometimes argue that their preferred approach to family life reduces the need for abortion. In reality, it may depend on abortion to succeed. The teen pregnancy rate in blue Connecticut, for instance, is roughly identical to the teen pregnancy rate in red Montana. But in Connecticut, those pregnancies are half as likely to be carried to term. Over all, the abortion rate is twice as high in New York as in Texas and three times as high in Massachusetts as in Utah.”
OneNewsNow: “Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has filed suit against Montana over an employee charitable gift fund . . . ‘[O]ur client is the Montana Family Foundation (MFF), and they applied to participate in this program and to be able to receive donations from state employees,’ [ADF Attorney Jonathan Scruggs] explains. ‘But they were turned down because there is a rule in the eligibility requirements that says you cannot be essentially pervasively sectarian. You can’t be too religious.’” | ADF News Release
First Amendment Center (AP): “A conservative Montana group [contends] its exclusion from a state employee charitable-donation program is discriminatory because it’s based on the group’s religious views . . .’Government officials are denying state employees the opportunity to give to one group, while allowing them to contribute to groups with other views and activities that the state is more fond of,’ said [Nate Kellum], senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.” | ADF News Release
Billings Gazette: “A Laurel-based conservative religious group is suing state officials, claiming that it is being illegally excluded from a charitable-giving program for state employees . . . ‘Christian groups shouldn’t be penalized for their beliefs,’ said [Nate Kellum], senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Tennessee-based alliance of Christian lawyers and organizations, which is representing the Laurel group.” | ADF News Release
Missoulian (AP): “A conservative Montana group has filed a lawsuit against the state contending its exclusion from a state employee charitable donation program is discriminatory because it’s based on the group’s religious views . . . ‘Government officials are denying state employees the opportunity to give to one group, while allowing them to contribute to groups with other views and activities that the state is more fond of,’ said [Nate Kellum], senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.” | ADF News Release
Missoulian: “Breaking ground in Montana, the Missoula City Council on Tuesday adopted the first equality ordinance in the state that protects people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday on behalf of the Montana Family Foundation, which was excluded from the Montana State Employee Charitable Giving Campaign even though other issue advocacy and religious groups were allowed to participate.
KAJ18: “The Montana Family Foundation based in Laurel says a Montana Supreme Court decision last year did not legalize physician assisted suicide. … The foundation hired two attorneys to analyze the decision. Defense attorney Greg Jackson of Montana and Matt Bowman with the Alliance Defense Fund in Washington, DC analyzed the Supreme court ruling in Baxter v. State of Montana.”
Montana Family Foundation: “A legal analysis of the Montana Supreme Court’s decision in Baxter v. Montana shows how the decision still allows physicians to be charged with homicide. The analysis of the of the decision was written by attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman, at the request of the Montana Family Foundation . . . ”
Citizen Link: “The Missoula, Mont., City Council is considering an ordinance that adds ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ as special classes protected against discrimination.”
Cathleen Kaveny writing at Commonweal: “The Baxter decision is radical: it says that intentional killing isn’t always a matter of public concern. It is stealthy. By refraining from finding a state constitutional right to assisted suicide, it avoided immediate criticism for judicial activism. It is politically canny. It put the burden of action on opponents. Most troubling of all, its strategy is portable. There’s no reason its contorted logic can’t be exported to other states by euthanasia activists.”
Law Review: Ninth Circuit Holds Montana Election Contribution Disclosure Requirements Unconstitutional as Applied to De Minimis Contributions
Ninth Circuit Holds Montana Election Contribution Disclosure Requirements Unconstitutional as Applied to De Minimis Contributions — Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church of East Helena, Inc. v. Unsworth
“As political campaigns have become more expensive and sophisticated, Congress has increasingly regulated them, yet the Supreme Court has declared many aspects of that regulation unconstitutional. Recently, in Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church of East Helena, Inc. v. Unsworth, the Ninth Circuit continued this deregulatory trend byholding that Montana’s election contribution disclosure requirementswere unconstitutional as applied to de minimis campaign expenditures. Though the bureaucratic disclosure requirements of the regulation at issue may chill speech, an effect that the court correctly recognized, another feature of the regulation may chill speech even more: its third-party enforcement mechanism. Because the regulation allows third parties to bring complaints of campaign rulebreaking, enforcement against minor parties may spring from questionable motives, result in disproportionate burdens, and ultimately militate against the public interest. Legislatures crafting campaign law and judges applying it should be cognizant of these difficulties.”
Tom Stockton writing to the Helena Independent Record: “We live in a state and nation of laws and apparently the ACLU has decided the laws of Montana and the United States are inferior and that UN has more authority, that is wrong.”
Religion Clause Blog: “A Montana trial court this week upheld the action of Butte High School officials in refusing to let one of the class’ ten valedictorians speak at her 2008 graduation when she refused to remove religious references from her remarks.”
Religion Clause Blog: “In State of Montana v. Turk, 2010 Mont. Dist. LEXIS 18 (MT Dist. Ct., Jan. 12, 2010), a Montana state court rejected a claim by defendant Richard Turk that his rights under the U.S. and Montana constitutions were violated by the state’s requirement that he present a social security number in order to obtain a drivers’ license.”
KFBB.com (AP): “The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the United Nations to intervene in the case of a Montana State Prison inmate the ACLU says is being subjected to ‘torturous’ treatment.”
E. Christian Bugger writes at the Culture of Life Foundation: In late December, Montana became the third state (behind Washington and Oregon) to permit physician assisted suicide to terminally ill patients. The State Supreme Court in Baxter et al. v. State of Montana was considering an appeal of a ruling from a lower district court dated December 2008 . . . the court’s tortured ‘reasoning,’ . . . departs so far from commonly accepted ways of moral reasoning (which are not the province only of educated moral theologians, but available rationally to all thinking persons) that not only it but the system that tolerates it deserve criticism. Judges should not be able to engage in irrational textual or other argument just because they’re judges . . . ”
Education Week: “Juneau said that to qualify for the federal money, Montana would have to weaken local control of schools, change how it evaluates teachers in ways that could violate labor contracts and possibly agree to transfer teachers from one district to another.”
Death With Dignity’s Emerging Conceit: Could Vacco v. Quill Be Losing Its Appeal?
“The holding of one Montana judge, who discovered a fundamental right to PAD within enumerated state rights to privacy and dignity, is unlikely to have a parroting effect upon non-Montanan state judges reviewing the constitutional implications of death with dignity issues. After all, Montana’s is only one of five state constitutions that contain substantive enumerations of privacy rights, and for three of those that do, California, Florida, and Alaska, judges have already considered and denied pleadings that state privacy rights shield actions of patients and willing physicians from criminal prosecution for actions amounting to assisted suicide. For the Justices of the Supreme Court, the absence of a ‘careful description of [an] asserted fundamental liberty interest’ in the Bill of Rights that even remotely resembled PAD proved pivotal in convincing them to decline Glucksberg’s invitation to create such a right on their own. Given that reasoning, then, one could quite plausibly imagine that most judges in most states confronting similar state challenges on cognate state constitutional grounds would unhesitatingly follow the High Court’s lead and choose to defer to the prevailing forces at play in the political arena.”
LifeNews: “Jeff Laszloffy of the Montana Family Foundation told LifeNews.com, ‘Definitely not what we wanted, but not as bad as it could have been. While we would have preferred an outright reversal of the lower court’s decision, this ruling is a partial victory,’ he explained. ‘The fact that the Court did not find a constitutional right to physician assisted suicide is good for those of us opposed to this abhorrent practice.’”
NPR: “The Montana case has drawn wide national attention, with advocates for physician-assisted suicide weighing in on the side of Baxter and his doctors. Meanwhile, conservative groups like the Alliance Defense Fund and the Family Research Council sided with Montana’s attorney general against physician-aided suicide.”
LifeNews: “The high court did not determine if the Montana constitution guarantees a right to assisted suicide but said nothing in state law or the precedent of the court prevented assisted suicide . . . The Montana Supreme Court received 19 amicus briefs, including one from attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life group who filed their brief in April.”
“The Supreme Court disagreed that the Montana Constitution guarantees the right. But it said in an opinion Thursday that ‘we find nothing in Montana Supreme Court precedent or Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy.’”
Religion Clause Blog: “Last week in Office of the State Public Defender v. McMeekin, (MT Sup. Ct., Dec. 23, 2009), the Montana Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus ordering the jail revise its policy so that attorneys can have face-to-face visits with pretrial detainee clients . . . Apparently no one challenged the suspension of religious activities . . . ”
Montanasnewsstation.com: “Planned Parenthood of Montana is not only seeing a drop in patients because of the slumping economy, but more patients who aren’t able to pay for health services.”
OneNewsNow: “The Montana Supreme Court has granted parental rights to a non-parent . . . Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, tells OneNewsNow that Montana’s highest court decided to uphold the demands of a legal stranger. ‘What the Montana Supreme Court did was give a third party — the parent’s former roommate and girlfriend — parental rights…,’ says the attorney. ‘And it runs contrary to clear precedent dating back several years in Montana and the United States Supreme Court. [It's] a very, very disturbing decision.’”
Billings Gazette: “Planned Parenthood of Montana has announced it is closing its Kalispell clinic next month due to a decline in patients.”
HSLDA: “Home School Legal Defense Association assisted eight member families in Butte at the beginning of this school year when the county superintendent of schools rejected their notice of intent. In a letter sent to each of the families, the superintendent stated that she was unable to ‘register’ the children to be homeschooled because of insufficient information contained in the notices of intent.”
ADF attorney Steven Aden appeared on the Jody Hice Show to discuss “Personhood” Amendments.
The MP3 runs just over 17 minutes.
Related ADF Alliance Alert posts
MSNBC (AP): “[Personhood] Amendment language has been cleared, with petition drives under way, in Colorado, Mississippi, Montana and Nevada. Amendment language will be filed later this month in California and Florida.”
MSNBC (AP): “[Personhood] Amendment language has been cleared, with petition drives under way, in Colorado, Mississippi, Montana and Nevada. Amendment language will be filed later this month in California and Florida.”
LifeNews: “The Montana Supreme Court held a hearing today on a case that could make the state the third to allow assisted suicide . . . So far, the court has received 19 amicus briefs, including one from attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life group who filed their brief in April . . . ‘Doctors are licensed to heal, not to kill. It should seem obvious, but the law should never allow private individuals to poison one another,’ ADF senior legal counsel Steven H. Aden told LifeNews.com.”
NY Times: “The state’s highest court on Wednesday will take up Mr. Baxter’s claim that a doctor’s refusal to help him die violated his rights under Montana’s Constitution — and lawyers on both sides say the chances are good that he will prevail.”
LifeNews: “The Montana Supreme Court will take up a case on Wednesday that could make the state the third to allow assisted suicide . . . So far, the court has received 19 amicus briefs, including one from attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life group who filed their brief in April. ‘Legalizing assisted suicide diminishes compassionate treatment of pain because…assisted suicide encourages the elimination of patients themselves rather than of their suffering,’ the brief states . . . ‘Doctors are licensed to heal, not to kill. It should seem obvious, but the law should never allow private individuals to poison one another,’ ADF senior legal counsel Steven H. Aden told LifeNews.com . . .”
Flathead Beacon: “The Montana Board of Pharmacy took no action Wednesday after hearing comment on the issue of pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives because of religious beliefs. Montana currently has no rule or statute that requires pharmacies to stock every drug on the market, and ‘we decided to leave it at that,’ board President Jim Cloud of Stevensville said.”
One News Now: “A bill to grant carte blanche to teenagers failed in the last session of the Montana state legislature. But Planned Parenthood is now attacking the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which supposedly prohibits coverage of prescriptions of birth control.”
Missoulian: “Montana is one of only five states that forbids the Children’s Health Insurance Program from paying for birth-control products – and, as part of the budget deal struck by lawmakers over the weekend, that ban will remain intact. Sen. John Brueggeman, R-Polson, this month inserted language into a pair of budget bills to allow CHIP to start paying for contraception for teenage children covered by the government insurance program.”
Politico: “President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has quietly agreed to move a pornography prosecution out of socially conservative Montana to more urbane New Jersey – fueling perceptions by some attorneys that the new administration is stepping back from the aggressive approach the Bush administration took to prosecuting obscenity . . . But Patrick Trueman, a former obscenity prosecutor pressing the new administration to do more to battle pornography, said critics were jumping the gun by blaming the Obama team for moving the Goldman case.”
LifeNews reports: “So far, the court has received 19 amicus briefs, including one from attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life group who filed their brief in April. ‘Legalizing assisted suicide diminishes compassionate treatment of pain because…assisted suicide encourages the elimination of patients themselves rather than of their suffering,’ the brief states. ‘The dignity and privacy rights of vulnerable patients require that they not be propelled into a society where they can be successfully pressured to die. Their lives are valuable and protectable by law.’”
Great Falls Tribune: “Great Falls police arrested former Mayor and Cascade County Commissioner Gayle Morris on Thursday afternoon on charges that he promoted prostitution at his Sun Prairie strip club.”
Right Side News has posted an Alliance Defense Fund video and transcript detailing the Montana Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church 9th Circuit victory. On Feb 25th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed a ruling which had upheld as constitutional a Montana commissioner’s determination that a church violated state law by not registering as an “incidental political committee.”
John S. Adams, Capitol bureau chief for the Great Falls Tribune, reports on his blog: “Right to Life of Montana, the Montana Family Foundation and the Montana Catholic Conference will not support the campaign to get a so-called “personhood” amendment on the 2010 ballot.”
John S. Adams reports in the Great Falls Tribune: “A Montana anti-abortion group launched a new campaign on Wednesday aimed at changing the state’s constitution to define ‘personhood’ as all human beings ‘from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.’”
“The law school requires all students to pay fees to support student groups but then allows distribution of those fees to be skewed toward groups with viewpoints favored by the Student Bar Association.”
Mark Z. Barabak writes at the LA Times: “Frustrated by the expanded power of Washington, a growing number of state lawmakers are defying the federal government and passing legislation aimed at rolling back the reach of Congress and President Obama. While many measures are symbolic ones declaring the sovereignty of states, some Westerners are taking more dramatic steps. One Utah lawmaker wants to limit federal law enforcement in his state. In Montana, legislators enacted a bill that flagrantly ignores federal firearm restrictions, hoping to force a constitutional showdown.”
John S. Adams reports in the Great Falls Tribune: “Planned Parenthood of Montana filed a complaint Monday with the Montana Human Rights Bureau over a provision in the state Children’s Health Insurance Program that prohibits coverage of prescription birth control.”
Vincent R. Caravan writes in The Valley News: “Now Pastor B. G. Stumberg and his small Baptist church were in the national news, but also in potential trouble, like losing its non-profit status and becoming a political action committee. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) enters the fray at this point. Its objective was to uphold the principle that churches have a right to speak to moral-political subjects from the pulpit…”
Religion Clause: “In Christian Legal Society v. Eck, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42980 (D MT, May 19, 2009), a Montana federal district court accepted a magistrate’s recommendations and upheld the University of Montana Law School’s non-discrimination and open-membership policies for recognized student groups.”
Charles S. Johnson reports in the Billings Gazette: “The Montana ProLife Coalition is proposing a 2010 constitutional initiative that ultimately could ban abortion by declaring that human life begins when an egg is fertilized.”
Proud Parenting: “Montana – Lesbian Custody Case – Another case of ‘you are not the parent’ explained in detail by Julie Shapiro, who has a great blog with alot of information on many legal issues. Of course, one of the women did not adopt the children, which would likely not be allowed in Montana, and the other woman wants full custody. It is another unfortunate case that is even bringing in the Alliance Defense Fund, who opposes gay/lesbian rights.”
Catholic News Agency: “The Montana Supreme Court is considering whether to overturn a state judge’s ruling that Montana residents have a legal right to assisted suicide. On Thursday attorneys for the Chicago-based law firm Americans United for Life (AUL) filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of a bipartisan group of 28 Montana senators and representatives . . . The Alliance Defense Fund has also filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Catholic Medical Association, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Family Research Council and Montana physicians.”
One News Now: Last week, ADF filed a friend-of-the-court brief in State of Montana v. Baxter, representing several groups, including the Family Research Council, and numerous Montana physicians. Steven Aden, senior legal counsel with ADF, explains their argument. “Under the Hippocratic Oath, doctors are licensed to heal, not to kill,” says the ADF attorney. “It should seem obvious, but the law should never allow private individuals to poison one another.
Rutherford Institute Files Free Speech Lawsuit: Valedictorian Ordered To Strip References To God From Speech, Prevented From Participating In Graduation
The Rutherford Institute: “Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed a free speech lawsuit in the Montana Thirteenth Judicial District Court on behalf of a high school valedictorian who was forbidden from making any remarks at all in her school’s graduation ceremony after she refused to strip references to God and Christ from her valedictory speech. A copy of the complaint is available here
Pete Winn reports at CNSNews: “Another “friend-of-the-court” brief has been filed by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group, on behalf of the Catholic Medical Association, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Family Research Council and Montana physicians.”
Helena Independent Record (AP): On Tuesday the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group, filed a brief on behalf of the Family Research Council, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Catholic Medical Association and several Montana physicians. “Legalizing assisted suicide diminishes compassionate treatment of pain because … assisted suicide encourages the elimination of patients themselves rather than of their suffering,” the brief states. “The dignity and privacy rights of vulnerable patients require that they not be propelled into a society where they can be successfully pressured to die.”
CNSNews (AP): “In a bill passed by the Legislature earlier this month, the state is asserting that guns manufactured in Montana and sold in Montana to people who intend to keep their weapons in Montana are exempt from federal gun registration, background check and dealer-licensing rules because no state lines are crossed. That notion is all but certain to be tested in court.”
Americans United for Life Represents 28 Bipartisan Montana Legislators Arguing Assisted Suicide Not a Right
“Americans United for Life (AUL) today filed a friend of the court brief before the Montana Supreme Court on behalf of a bipartisan group of 28 Montana Senators and Representatives, arguing there is no right to assisted suicide under the State’s constitution.” The brief is here.
KPAX.com (AP): “On Tuesday the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group, filed a brief on behalf of the Family Research Council, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Catholic Medical Association and several Montana physicians.”
LifeNews: Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a friend-of-the-court brief Monday with the Montana Supreme Court. The brief asks the judges to not determine that the Montana Constitution allows a “right” to assisted suicide . . . “Doctors are licensed to heal, not to kill. It should seem obvious, but the law should never allow private individuals to poison one another,” ADF senior legal counsel Steven H. Aden told LifeNews.com.
Montana News Station: “In this case as a matter of law, there can only be one natural parent. Because we had a single parent adoption,” said Austin Nimocks, Maniaci’s senior legal council. “And when you look at the statutory parameters of who can become a natural parent and how they can become, that’s the only possible avenue.”
The ACLU has issued this press release that uses the term “parent” rather loosely and argues that the former partner of an adoptive parent should be granted parental rights in the absence of a showing of abuse, dependency, or neglect. Related ADF press release: ADF attorney to argue against ACLU attorney before Montana Supreme Court
Associated Press: “The fundamental rights of parents to raise children the way they see fit should not be threatened by the wishes and desires of a legal stranger,” said Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, who will argue Maniaci’s appeal.”
Associated Press: “Four months after a District Court judge ruled that physician-assisted suicide is a right protected under the state’s constitution, terminally ill patients say they’re having trouble finding physicians willing to prescribe drugs that would hasten their deaths.”
Helena-IR reports: “Republican lawmakers opposed to abortion Tuesday blasted their Democratic colleagues at the Legislature for blocking several anti-abortion bills this past week, saying Democrats are allied with “the big business of killing babies.”
Two attorneys involved in defending Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church in a recent victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will make brief comments at a worship service at the church Sunday. ADF-allied attorney Tim Fox–a partner with the Helena law firm Gough, Shanahan, Johnson & Waterman, PLLP–and ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb will be available for media interviews before and after a celebratory luncheon following the church service.
ADF Allied Montana Attorney Tim Fox on radio: The effort to force Canyon Ferry Road Baptist to register as a political committee
Tim Fox discusses the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church v. Montana Commissioner of Political Practices that ruled the State of Montana had violated the Constitutional rights of a small rural Baptist Church when it required the Church to register as an incidental political committee for speaking in support of Montana’s CI-96 ballot initiative amending the Montana Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
AP: “A showdown is shaping up in some of the nation’s most conservative states over embryonic stem cell research, as opponents draw language and tactics from the battle over abortion to counter President Barack Obama’s plan to ease research restrictions.”
The Montana Kamin: “A University of Montana law professor who opposes the content of the Kaimin’s weekly sex column could eventually take the issue to the state legislature unless the newspaper establishes written policies for hiring columnists and reviewing content …