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NewsOK.com: The U.S. Senate failed to advance the nomination of Robert E. Bacharach, an Oklahoma City magistrate, falling four votes short of breaking a Republican filibuster that has become presidential election-year custom.
Washington Post: The Supreme Court may have declared that the government can order Americans to get health insurance, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to sign up.
Oklahoma legal leaders urge Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe to seek vote on state’s judicial nominee
NewsOK.com: Senate Republicans are blocking votes for nominees to federal appeals courts, and leaders in Oklahoma’s legal community want the state’s GOP senators to intervene for Robert E. Bacharach.
Fox News: But Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., became the ninth Congressional incumbent to lose a primary Tuesday night.
Related AP report: GOP lawmaker loses in Okla., Hatch wins in Utah
The Church Report: They say no good deed goes unpunished. An Oklahoma volunteer police officer may lose his position on the force over an act of kindness by his neighbors.
AP: Here’s a look at the 10 states with the lowest funding percentages in 2010, according a new report from the Pew Center on the States . . .
USA Today: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit against a Tulsa lighting store charging that the company required prospective workers to be Christian, the Tulsa Worldreports.
Ardmoreite.com: An advocacy group, Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisc., believes the invocation at the start of the commission meetings is in violation of the Constitution.
Tulsa World: The state House approved a measure that would continue the life of an oversight committee that handles state employee United Way contributions, despite arguments that it was a way of using state tax money to fund abortion.
EnidNews.com: Fallin nominated former Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth to the Oklahoma State Election Board last fall. Roth has since served as a member of the election board, pending a Senate confirmation hearing.
Religion Clause Blog: In Cressman v. Thompson, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68236 (WD OK, May 16, 2012), and Oklahoma federal district court rejected a claim by an Oklahoma driver that the picture on the state’s standard license plates compel him to express a message contrary to his religious beliefs.
Edmondsun.com: Grau called the ruling “unprecedented,” and said the judge long-jumped Oklahoma’s right, and a duty, to regulate the use of drugs and medicine within its borders. He compared the issue to the debate surrounding regulation and access to the non-prescription drug pseudoephedrine, a drug used to relieve nasal congestion caused by colds that is also an ingredient used to make meth.
NECN: An Oklahoma law restricting the use of certain abortion-inducing drugs has been ruled unconstitutional by a district court judge, who said it violates “the fundamental rights of women to privacy and bodily integrity.” | Center for Reproductive Rights press release
NewsOK.com: The House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure Wednesday that would allow a woman to bring a lawsuit against abortion providers and prescribers of abortion-inducing drugs or chemicals for not following voluntary and informed consent provisions of state law related to abortions. House Bill 2561 . . .
NewsOK.com: The nominations for two long-vacant judicial positions may soon go before a Senate committee now that Sen. Tom Coburn has given the green light. The White House has struggled to find judicial candidates that meet with the approval of Oklahoma’s senators.
Christian Newswire: Steve Crampton, Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, who represents Personhood Oklahoma, said: “This ruling epitomizes judicial overreaching. It not only misinterprets and misapplies federal constitutional law, but it also denies states’ rights and strips Oklahomans of their right to petition for a substantive change in state law, which is guaranteed under the state constitution. We are hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will reverse this decision.”
The Hill: The personhood proposal in Oklahoma is “clearly unconstitutional,” the state supreme court said in a unanimous ruling Monday. Abortion-rights supporters hailed the decision. | Center for Reproductive Rights press release | In re Initiative Petition No. 395 State …
Durant Daily Democrat: Anti-abortion activists urged House Republicans to bring a “personhood” bill to the floor for a vote and vowed on Tuesday to label any lawmaker who refuses to support the move as “pro-abortion.”
LifeSiteNews: The steady stream of legislation strengthening protections for unborn children and draining funds from the abortion industry has continued in recent weeks. Here are a few of the latest developments . . .
Personhood USA: Oklahoma Personhood Act Still Alive — Speaker Steele Called Upon to Answer Tough Questions
Personhood USA at the Christian Newswire: “We are not surprised that there are a few Republicans such as Representative Doug Cox and House Speaker Steele, who wish to suppress life-affirming and pro-family legislation such as the Personhood Act,” commented Keith Mason, Personhood USA President. “However, it is surprising that these Republicans can be allowed to do everything in their power to kill a bill and then blame the entire Republican caucus. It is not too late – truly pro-life Oklahoma Representatives can still call for a vote and pass SB 1433.”
Reuters: State Representative Randy Terrill, a conservative Republican, called the announcement of the bill’s failure “stunning” and complained the speaker “threw the caucus under the bus.” “There was no vote in the caucus,” he complained. Instead, there was a private “whip count” in which party floor leaders polled fellow Republicans on the matter, Terrill said.
Reuters: Oklahoma’s Personhood Act passed the state Senate in February and is expected to be approved by the Republican-controlled House within weeks. The state’s Republican governor, Mary Fallin, is an abortion opponent and is expected to sign the bill if it passes.
Matt Sharp on the Hugh Hewitt Show. | MP3 audio 5:26 mins | ADF Memo: Constitutional Rights of Students, Teachers, and Public Schools to Seasonal
One News Now: ADF litigation staff counsel Matt Sharp says the club was forced to file a lawsuit when Owasso Public School District officials told them the religious nature of their organization meant they could not promote it (see earlier story). [more quotes]
Fox23.com: A lawyer with the Alliance Defense Fund representing Owasso Kids for Christ released the following statement about the settlement: “A Christian organization should have the same right to publicize its voluntary meetings as other groups do,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Matt Sharp. “The district has done the right thing in revising its unconstitutional policy. That will allow ‘Kids for Christ’ and other similar groups to have the same access to publicize their events to students that all other groups enjoy.”
Tulsa World: “All we were asking for is a policy change to make sure groups like these are treated equally and reassurance that you’re going to treat our client equally going forward,” he said. “The original policy basically prohibited any religious materials from being distributed at school. The district has drafted a new comprehensive policy that specifically says that no materials will prohibited based upon religious content,” Sharp said. “Our client got what they were seeking in this case, which is to have the same right to get their message out as other groups.”
LifeNews: The state attorney general in Oklahoma will appeal a ruling issued last week striking down the ultrasound law the state legislature approved to allow women to see one of their unborn baby before considering an abortion.
Tulsa World: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt determined that the wording on a personhood initiative petition did not comply with state laws. As a result, his office has rewritten it because it did not adequately explain the effects.
LifeNews: An Oklahoma judge has struck down as unconstitutional a state law that would allow women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn child before an abortion.
LifeSiteNews: While campaigning in the state of Oklahoma recently, former Pennsylvania Senator and current presidential candidate Rick Santorum signed a draft version of the Oklahoma Personhood Amendment petition.
OUDaily.com: As state legislators debate the future of abortion in Oklahoma, citizens and lawmakers on both sides of the issue are speaking out for what they think is fair. The Senate approved a measure Tuesday requiring doctors to inform a patient she has a right to hear the heartbeat of her unborn child before it is aborted, according to a press release.
USA Today: Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry won 18% of the vote against President Obama in yesterday’s Democratic primary in Oklahoma — and could win a delegate to the convention in September.
The Republic (AP): A group of anti-abortion physicians and Christian leaders are supporting an Oklahoma bill that bestows personhood status to a fertilized human egg.
TulsaWorld.com: A Senate panel on Monday passed a measure that would require abortion providers to make a fetus’ heartbeat audible for a woman to hear before she consents to an abortion.
Non-Catholic Christian groups, state governments sue over Obama birth control mandate | Daily Caller
The Daily Caller: But the more surprising development may be the entrance into the fight of Christians from denominations other than Roman Catholicism. On Tuesday the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit on behalf of Geneva College, a Beaver Falls, Penn. school affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, and Louisiana College, a Baptist institution, adding them to the growing list of plaintiffs.
MSNBC: Seven states asked a federal judge Thursday to block an Obama administration mandate that requires birth control coverage for employees of religious-affiliated hospitals, schools and outreach programs.
OneNewsNow.com: A conservative military watchdog believes Oklahoma might face some problems from the Obama administration if it passes a measure banning homosexuals from serving in the state’s National Guard.
ABC News: An Oklahoma bill that would ban the sale of food containing aborted human fetuses has some people wondering: What food currently contains aborted human fetuses?
NewsOK.com: A federal appeals court has upheld a judge’s order blocking an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that would ban state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases. | Awad v. Ziriax, No. 10-6273
Tulsa World: The plaintiffs’ legal representation includes local counsel Richard D. White Jr. and attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund, which on its website describes itself as “a servant organization that provides the resources that will keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel through the legal defense of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, marriage and the family.” Matthew Sharp, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, said Wednesday that for the entire fall semester, Owasso Kids for Christ has been denied any opportunity to inform parents and students about its weekly before-school meetings . . . [more]
Tulsa World: A beleaguered process that repeatedly has failed to put Oklahomans in key federal positions reportedly has produced a potential nominee to fill a year-old vacancy on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Robert Bacharach, a federal magistrate in Oklahoma City, is being vetted for the post, according to sources familiar with the process.
Religion Clause: In Fields v. City of Tulsa, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136522 (ND OK, Nov. 28, 2011), an Oklahoma federal district court rejected an attempt by a Tulsa police officer to file a second amended complaint in his suit against the Tulsa Police Department.
Greeley Gazette: Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, told WND the move was alarming because “this would be the very first governmental and societal disapproval of a sincerely held religious belief, held by a majority of Americans, namely that homosexual behavior is immoral. “It’s the first time the federal government is writing into law a disapproval of that belief,” he said.
WorldNetDaily: For example, Blair participates in the annual Pulpit Freedom Day assembled by the Alliance Defense Fund that is intended to restore free speech to pastors who speak from their pulpits about the moral issues of the day. It is in opposition to an IRS rule that says pastors are not supposed to mention those issues in connection with political candidates.
Tulsa Beacon: “I respect the views of those who argue that no-fault divorce creates less havoc than the alternatives, but I question that orthodoxy,” McCullough said. “There is very little in the divorce process that is even remotely connected to the interest of the children.”
Tulsa Beacon: Alliance Defense Fund attorneys representing a community-led Christian club for students filed suit against the Owasso School District after it revoked the club’s ability to publicize its events as other community groups are allowed to do and discouraged the club from promoting itself anywhere in the community, including through the media.
Religion headlines in the media around the country | Deseret News (AP): The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Tulsa by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Owasso Kids for Christ. It alleges the school unconstitutionally prohibits the group from distributing religious flyers, from taking part in an open house and from using the school’s public address system.
Religion Clause: Insofar as teacher Martha Braun claimed she was dismissed because she was an Episcopalian, the court concluded that the school is protected by the exemption in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (42 USCS § 2000e-1) that permits religious educational institutions to hire and fire on the basis of religion.
The New American: “A Christian organization should not be targeted for discrimination when it is simply seeking to publicize its voluntary meetings just like other community groups do,” said ADF attorney Matt Sharp. “The district would have people believe that the Constitution requires a religious organization to be singled out in this manner when, in reality, the Constitution strictly prohibits this type of discrimination. The courts have repeatedly upheld this.”
ADF Attorney Matt Sharp at the Washington Examiner: In what has increasingly become a troubling sign of the times, an Oklahoma public schools district has barred a community-led Christian club for students from publicizing its before-school meetings on the Northeast Elementary campus.
Religion News In Brief | Fox News (AP): The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Tulsa by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Owasso Kids for Christ. It alleges the school unconstitutionally prohibits the group from distributing religious flyers, from taking part in an open house and from using the school’s public address system.
CBN.com: e lawsuit against Owasso Public Schools was filed in federal court this week by the Alliance Defense Fund.
Tulsa Beacon: “A Christian organization should not be targeted for discrimination when it is simply seeking to publicize its voluntary meetings just like other community groups do,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Matt Sharp. “The district would have people believe that the Constitution requires a religious organization to be singled out in this manner when, in reality, the Constitution strictly prohibits this type of discrimination. The courts have repeatedly upheld this.”
OneNewsNow.com: Matt Sharp, litigation staff counsel for Alliance Defense Fund . . . “All of the court cases on this have dealt with specifically this type of discrimination,” Sharp explains, “where all of the other community groups are allowed in, but a Christian religious group is specifically targeted and excluded because of its religious nature.” “Time and time again,” he adds, courts have held that under the First Amendment, such censorship is unconstitutional.
Huffington Post (embeds Fox 23 Video): “The school district cannot engage in that type of discriminatory behavior,” ADF attorney Matt Sharp told KOKI Fox 23. “The school has to remain neutral in all of this, it can’t pick and choose which group it likes or doesn’t like based on the religious content or viewpoint of their message.”
Religion News in Brief – The Washington Post (AP): The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Tulsa by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Owasso Kids for Christ. It alleges the school unconstitutionally prohibits the group from distributing religious flyers, from taking part in an open house and from using the school’s public address system.
KRMG.com: Owasso Kids for Christ is a before-school, Bible-based character building organization according to the Alliance Defense Fund’s Matt Sharp, the attorney handling the case.
Before-school Bible study group sues Owasso Public Schools for alleged civil rights violations | The Republic (AP)
The Republic (AP): The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Tulsa by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Owasso Kids for Christ.
Tulsa World: The complaint was filed Monday in Tulsa by local counsel Richard D. White Jr. and attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund, which on its website describes itself as “a servant organization that provides the resources that will keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel through the legal defense of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, marriage and the family.”
NewsOK.com: Matt Sharp of Georgia, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, said Tuesday the defense fund has filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the Kids for Christ Club of Owasso.
FOX23 News: The club used to send home flyers and permission slips with kids until the District told them they had to stop when it had its motto, “One Dream, One Vision, Reaching the World for Christ!” attached to the flyer. “The school district cannot engage in that type of discriminatory behavior,” says Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney, Matt Sharp. The ADF who represents the youth group is Christian legal team defending the right of people to live their faith. “That’s basically the Christian faith that’s showing love for Jesus to others, I don’t see how that is harmful to others,” says an Owasso mother.
Christian Post: “This is a pretty straight forward case of the school district impermissibly discriminating against a Christian community organization based on its religious message,” said Matt Sharp, an attorney representing OKC from the Alliance Defense Fund, in an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday.
Bartlesville Radio: Attorney Matt Sharp of the Alliance Defense Fund claims the school district is targeting a Christian organization. Owasso Kids for Christ meets at Northeast Elementary School before school starts. It is open to students Kindergarten through Sixth Grade.
Religion Clause: Alliance Defense Fund announced Monday that it had filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of “Kids for Christ” against the Owasso, Oklahoma Public Schools challenging school policy that bars religious groups from distributing flyers in the schools, as well as posting signs and making announcement of their events
TruthDive: According to a Fox news report, Matt Sharp, an attorney representing the Kids for Christ, a community-led Christian group, is suing the Owasso Public Schools. Sharp, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, said the school district told the club it could no longer publicize its events, including discouraging organizers from spreading the word in the community and local media.