Friends, The new Alliance Alert Daily Digest is finally here! You can subscribe to the daily e-mail here: Subscribe to our mailing list * indicates required Email Address * First Name * Last Name *
TribLive: An Arizona-based legal ministry that helped overturn protest-free “buffer zones” at Massachusetts abortion providers might try to reverse a similar rule in Pittsburgh, a ministry lawyer told the Tribune-Review. “I’m certainly looking very closely into the possibility of bringing that challenge,” said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom. He would not say when he might file an objection.
Trib Live: “We are looking into other areas that have such laws and ordinances, and, yes, we will seek to bring them in line with the Constitution and today’s ruling,” said Kerri Kupec, spokeswoman for Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the plaintiff in the Massachusetts case and sued to change rules restricting activists in Pittsburgh eight years ago.
CBS Philly: A federal judge who overturned Pennsylvania’s law barring the recognition of same-sex marriage is rejecting a bid by a county official from eastern Pennsylvania to appeal it.
Alliance Defending Freedom: “Marriage expresses the reality that men and women bring distinct, irreplaceable gifts to family life, especially for children who deserve both a mom and a dad. The time-honored marriage laws of Pennsylvania deserve a full defense instead of being nullified by a single federal judge. A public official like the Schuylkill County clerk, who is responsible for issuing marriage licenses, is the correct official to defend the law when the governor and attorney general refuse to do so.”
Trib Live: The Catholic Diocese of Greensburg on Tuesday became the third diocese in Western Pennsylvania to file suit against the federal government to claim that the Affordable Care Act infringes upon the religious beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church.
Allied News: Offended by the predominant Christian prayers at the council meetings, the women – who are atheist and Jewish – claimed they were unconstitutional. Greece is primarily Christian, but tried to bring in other religious groups to pray when the women complained. Alliance Defending Freedom argued for the town, stating that prayer by governmental bodies has always been constitutional.
The Christian Post: Dear Governor Corbett,
I urge you to reconsider your decision not to appeal the “gay marriage” ruling by the rogue federal district judge John Jones. I understand that you continue to regard marriage as a union between one man and one woman but believe that an appeal has little chance of success. This matter is too important not to exhaust every option available to you. If necessary, the state needs to appeal the decision all the way up to the Supreme Court.
MSNBC: Hopes to revive the 1996 law – which defined marriage as an institution between one man and one woman – were dashed Wednesday when Republican Gov. Tom Corbett announced he would not continue the legal battle.
The Volokh Conspiracy: In a decision breaking new doctrinal ground, Pennsylvania District Court Judge John E. Jones today struck down the sate’s ban on same-sex marriages.
Pennlive: “A trial – previously scheduled for June – became unnecessary after the Commonwealth indicated it would not call experts to counter the argument from plaintiffs that there is no rational reason why lesbian and gay couples are excluded from marriage. The state has also indicated it does not plan to dispute the specific harms caused to the plaintiffs by the marriage ban.”
The Express-Times: “But Matt Sharp, an attorney with the Georgia-based nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom representing the Abramos, believes the couple will win the lawsuit and force the district to change its policy. The Alliance wrote 300 school districts in Pennsylvania — including Nazareth Area — following an extensive review of policies pertaining to religion. He asked each district to change its policy and numerous ones complied, Sharp said.”
Christian Today: “‘The student was upset about this,’ [Matt Sharp] told WFMZ Allentown. ‘He and his siblings that had also prepared them had put a lot of work into these and to see all of your hard work basically thrown out because it was religious. He was upset by it.’”
The Morning Call: “The U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit by a group of protesters who claimed their right to free speech had been violated when the abortion clinic and Allentown police conspired to keep them away from patients outside the center’s former offices on Union Boulevard. Now, an anti-abortion advocate from Pottsville, Schuylkill County, has leveled similar claims against Hanover Township, Township Manager John Finnigan, Colonial Regional Police Department and police Chief Roy Seiple.”
Todd Starnes at The Christian Post: “Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit against the Nazareth Area School District on behalf of Donald and Ellen Abramo and their son. They claim a teacher and the principal at Floyd R. Shafer Elementary School violated their son’s constitutional rights. . . ‘To single out a faith-based message for censorship is exactly the type of hostility to religion that the First Amendment forbids,’ ADF attorney Jeremy Tedesco said.”
Fox News: “‘To single out a faith-based message for censorship is exactly the type of hostility to religion that the First Amendment forbids,’ ADF attorney Jeremy Tedesco said.”
Nazareth area school district policy on Valentine’s Day cards needs to be revoked, attorney says | The Express-Times
The Express-Times: “Matt Sharp, an attorney with the Georgia-based nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, said Donald and Ellen Abramo have been personally impacted by the district’s policy. . . . Sharp said the Abramo children researched the story of St. Valentine on the Internet after their mother told them it was a feast day. The family wrote the notes themselves and included them with valentines to be handed out in school.”
Parents claim school banned son’s God-themed Valentine’s Day cards – and now they’re suing | The Blaze
The Blaze: “‘They prepared a Valentine’s note that said this is the history of Valentine’s and we wanted to share God’s love, message of God’s love for you, so they included the Bible verse John 3:16,’ Sharp told WFMZ-TV. ‘The teacher sees the Bible verse, brings it up to the principal and ultimately it led to the notes being removed from our client’s cards.’”
Nazareth Area School District sued over religious notes removed from Valentine’s Day cards | The Express-Times
Rudy Miller at The Express-Times: “The Abramos’ cause has been taken up by an organization called the Alliance Defending Freedom, which wrote to Nazareth Area superintendent Dennis Riker in December 2013 urging him to change the policy banning the distribution of religious materials, the suit says. When the family reached out to him to intervene on Feb. 19, Riker allegedly told them he forwarded the matter to the district attorney to handle, the suit says.”
Bob Unruh at WND: “‘A Bible verse and a reference to God does not make such a card unconstitutional,’ said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. ‘Religious expression is just as protected by the First Amendment as other messages that students communicate.’”
WFMZ: “‘It’s really impacted him personally,’ said Matt Sharp, an attorney who is representing Donald and Ellen Abramo and their son. The couple filed a lawsuit on behalf of their son. Sharp is an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, which, he explained, is a nonprofit law firm that seeks to defend the right of Christians to share their faith.”
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Monday against a Pennsylvania school district on behalf of a 1st grade student and his parents. In February, Nazareth Area School District unconstitutionally prohibited the student from distributing St. Valentine’s Day cards to his classmates because the cards contained a note that mentioned God and included the Bible verse John 3:16 after a sentence about the history of St. Valentine’s Day.
The Morning Call: “The suit was filed on the Abramos’ behalf by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Georgia-based group that defends the right to engage in religious speech.”
Archbishop Chaput at the Catholic News Agency: “This year’s Fortnight for Freedom has special urgency because the U.S. Supreme Court will likely rule on cases involving the HHS mandate . . . This year — on Friday, May 2 — the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) will sponsor “The Manhattan Declaration in Philadelphia,” an interfaith prayer service and religious liberty forum. Speakers and panelists will include Ryan Anderson, editor of The Public Discourse; Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List; author Sherif Girgis; Robert George of Princeton University; Patrick Brennan, Scarpa Chair at the Villanova University School of Law; Alan Sears of the Alliance Defending Freedom, and others.”
The Intelligencer (Doylestown, PA): “Following the ruling, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal organization that represented K.A. in her lawsuit, sent letters to about 300 school districts throughout Pennsylvania about their policies, Leader said. The association realized that many of those policies, including that at Central Bucks, were outdated and wouldn’t stand up against the court ruling.”
Brandon McGinley at The Federalist: “Now, in 2014, almost one year to the day of Gosnell’s perverse not-guilty plea, Planned Parenthood announced it is actively working to remove Margo Davidson from office. They have endorsed one of her primary opponents—opponents who have emerged because Rep. Davidson’s witness to the suffering of her family has unsettled certain factions in the Democratic Party.”
Ed Whelan at National Review: “I’m grateful to be the keynote dinner speaker at a March 31 symposium, titled ‘Dictating Conscience: Law as a Cultural Weapon,’ at the University of Pennsylvania law school.”
NBC10: “A Northeast Philadelphia mother who believes in faith-healing rather than modern medicine will surrender Friday to begin serving her sentence for the death of her 8-month-old son, the second time one of her ill children died without seeing a doctor.”
Associated Press: “A former medical technician at a Philadelphia abortion clinic that authorities called a ‘house of horrors’ was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison for her role in the 2009 overdose death of a patient.”
Associated Press: “The complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, alleges the School District of Philadelphia in October 2010 instituted a grooming policy preventing school police and security officers from having beards more than a quarter of an inch long and discriminated against Siddiq Abu-Bakr and other people by failing to accommodate their religious beliefs.”
Religion Clause: “Hough v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, (WD PA, March 4, 2014), is an Age Discrimination In Employment suit brought by three former Catholic parochial school teachers who were not hired into a consolidated Catholic school system created when their school closed.”
PennLive: “Central Dauphin School Board is scheduled to vote tonight – Monday, February 24 — on a new policy that addresses students’ rights to free expression at school, at school-sponsored events and in certain situations away from school. . . . Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nonprofit that defines itself as an ‘alliance building legal ministry,’ sent letters to superintendents in 300 Pennsylvania school districts after the federal court ruling.”
Associated Press: “Lawyers for Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration are urging a state judge to uphold Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage by throwing out a lawsuit brought by more than two dozen same-sex couples that challenges its constitutionality.”
Associated Press: “Marriage bureau officials in Philadelphia expressed their support Tuesday for same-sex couples, but said they cannot grant them marriage licenses until the law changes in Pennsylvania.”
RNS: “A Pentecostal couple who believes in faith healing has been sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison for neglecting to take their sick son to the doctor.”
The Reporter: “After a lengthy zoning hearing Tuesday night, the North Penn Mosque has gotten permission to move ahead with plans to convert the former Sons of Italy building on Fifth Street into a religious educational center with apartments for religious instructors.”
Washington Times: “The push to ban sexual-orientation “change” therapy for children is growing as lawmakers in at least eight states have introduced bills to outlaw the practice and gay-rights advocates expect at least a few to become law this year.”
Observer-Reporter (AP): “Government attorneys have appealed two injunctions issued by federal judges on challenges by religious organizations over contraceptive coverage requirements in the new health care law.”
Associated Press: “An unlicensed doctor who worked as an assistant at a Philadelphia abortion clinic that authorities dubbed a “house of horrors” has been sentenced to six to 12 years in prison.”
The Patriot-News: “Saying the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association is misinterpreting its own rules, an East Shore mother is waging a court fight to get her home-schooled son on a local Christian school’s soccer and basketball teams.”
The News Item: “A Washingtonville mother waived to Montour County Court charges that she helped her teen daughter abort her unborn child using illegally obtained drugs from overseas.”
AP: “A woman has sued a residential treatment center run by Catholic nuns in northwestern Pennsylvania, claiming its ‘growth and change’ therapeutic philosophy violates her beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness.”
Lancaster Online: “Denlinger is circulating a memo seeking supporters for a proposal that would protect the rights of private business owners who want to decline service based on their convictions. The proposal — called the Freedom of Conscience Amendment — would allow employers, store owners, Realtors, hotel managers and others to deny jobs, groceries, homes or rooms to anyone offending their ‘sincerely held beliefs.’”
Philadelphia Inquirer: “Similar suits are pending in almost every state that still bans same-sex marriage, but experts believe Pennsylvania may be the next to change.”
TribLive: “‘The underlying legal issues are very similar. The precedents are the same. If the court issues a dissenting decision, Pittsburgh may have to re-evaluate as well,’ said Steven Aiden, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian conservative legal defense organization representing lead plaintiff Eleanor McCullen.”
York Daily News: The U.S. Supreme Court’s deliberation on a Massachusetts law creating buffer zones around abortion clinics has caused York City Council to shelve its own proposal to establish an access corridor to health-care facilities. At a committee meeting in December, Council President Carol Hill-Evans introduced an ordinance that would have barred protestors or demonstrators from congregating within 30 feet of entrances and exits to health-care facilities.”
Associated Press: “A state judge has dismissed Gov. Tom Corbett and state Attorney General Kathleen Kane as defendants in a court challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage.”
Valley News Dispatch: “The policies were used to prevent a fifth-grade student from handing out invitations to a Christmas party at her church. The speech and literature distribution policies of many Pennsylvania school districts are ‘virtually identical’ to the one struck down, says the Arizona-based Alliance for Defending Freedom, which represented the student involved in the case. ‘These policies violate the First Amendment right of students to distribute religious materials at school,’ said Alliance legal counsel Matt Sharp, based in Atlanta.”
Associated Press: “This month’s opening of the John C. Anderson Apartments vindicates years of work by supporters who felt gay elders have been marginalized by youth culture, even within LGBT circles.”
CBS: The marriage equality bill has been locked down in the State Government Committee of the state House for the past four years by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), a conservative legislator from western Pennsylvania. Metcalfe is strongly opposed to the bill.
Pittsburgh Tribune: The marble monument of the Ten Commandments has been standing outside Valley High School in New Kensington for 50 years. It will endure there for at least another year, as a lengthy court battle continues.
AP: United Methodist church officials defrocked a pastor from central Pennsylvania on Thursday who officiated his son’s gay wedding in Massachusetts, a move seen as contradictory to the denomination’s beliefs.
The Patriot News (AP): A federal judge hearing a challenge to Pennsylvania’s law banning recognition of same-sex marriages is keeping the case on track for trial by preventing an appellate review at this stage. | Opinion: Whitewood v. Wolf | Hat tip: How Appealing
No Unemployment Benefits Because Employee Failed To Notify Employer of Scope of Needed Religious Accommodation
Religion Clause Blog: In Rhodes v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 2013 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 890 (PA Commonwealth Ct., Dec. 16, 2013), the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania agreed with the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review that a former veterans’ center food service worker had left his job voluntarily, and had not been forced to leave because of discrimination based on his religious beliefs
Philadelphia Inquirer: In a marked shift toward the political center, Gov. Corbett said Tuesday that he would support legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
FoxNews: A Philadelphia doctor already serving life in prison for performing rogue abortions has been sentenced to a concurrent 30 years for illegally distributing painkillers, including many later sold on the street by addicts and drug dealers.
ABC27.com: Lawyers in a key federal court challenge to Pennsylvania’s law that bans same-sex marriage say the state’s lawyers are using delay tactics and are making unreasonable and intrusive requests for information.
AP: A United Methodist minister in Pennsylvania plans to defy a church order to surrender his credentials for performing a same-sex wedding.
NC Register: Religious liberty is under attack in a state bill that would prevent Catholic schools from enforcing the morals clause in teacher contracts.
AP: Administrators at a Roman Catholic high school suffered a sharp and swift backlash this week after firing a well-liked teacher who sought to marry his same-sex partner.
WorldNetDaily: “Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “The speech and literature distribution policies of many schools districts in Pennsylvania are virtually identical to the ones the 3rd Circuit struck down. These policies violate the First Amendment right of students to distribute religious materials at school.” The letter says, “The Supreme Court has made it clear that students ‘do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’” Moreover, the letter states, “The Supreme Court has definitively held that religious expression – whether spoken, written, or symbolic – is protected by the First Amendment.” “America’s public schools should recognize the constitutionally protected freedom of all students, regardless of their religious views,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We hope that school districts in Pennsylvania will respect these freedoms and revise their policies accordingly.”
“. . . For Christians, it is the most basic of expectations – no one has to be Billy Graham to ask a friend to come to a service, a concert, a Bible study. Even to non-believers, it’s the most harmless, least aggressive expression of faith imaginable: “if you want to come, we’d love to have you.” That, at least, is how a 10-year-old Pennsylvania school girl named Katie Ayers saw things, tucking invitations to her church’s Christmas party into her book bag before school one December morning. It really didn’t occur to her that anyone else might see them differently . . . ” Read the rest in the latest issue of Faith & Justice (2013 Vol. VI, Issue 3).
McCall: The Easton Area School District on Tuesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether a ban on the phrase “I ♥ boobies!” violates the First Amendment. In a 217-page filing, district solicitor John E. Freund contends a federal appeals court overstepped its bounds in deciding that the popular rubber wristbands worn by two middle-school girls are appropriate for school.
Brian Bowling at Tribune Live: Matt Bowman, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious freedom group representing Conestoga Wood Specialties, agreed that a decision in the company’s appeal could end up helping the dioceses.
LifeNews: The state of Pennsylvania has shut down a late-term abortion clinic in Philadelphia run by a notorious abortion clinic owner who has lost his license in multiple states.
The Morning Call: The school board voted 7-1 last month to ask the Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a decision by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which in August ruled in favor of middle school students Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez. The girls sued the district after they were suspended for wearing bracelets that said, “I ♥ boobies! Keep a breast.”
DelCoTimes: The trial of a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s gay-marriage ban will be held in June, a federal judge said Friday. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III told lawyers he would allow two weeks for the trial.
Washington Post: The jury will reconvene Tuesday morning for the penalty phase, where Schaefer faces punishment ranging from a reprimand to losing his ministerial credentials.
Jill Stanek at LifeSiteNews: I spoke with Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Michael Norton about this apparent PP hustle. He said if it is true that PP isn’t providing full disclosure before the onset of one’s abortion in order to pull her in so deep financially she feels she can’t back out, then PP may be violating a state health standard and may also be liable for medical malpractice, which is suable. “Women who have been tricked and coerced to complete the abortion procedure after being baited to begin the process may have claims of fraud, failure to provide adequate informed consent, reckless endangerment, and pain and suffering,” said Norton. “In addition, Planned Parenthood may be committing both civil and criminal violations.”
PoliticsSpa.com: A majority of Democrats, 52%, said abortion should be legal in most or all cases. 43% said it should be illegal, or legal only in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger. Men took a more liberal view of the issue than women. They were about 4% more likely to support access to abortion. Interestingly, younger Democrats were most likely to support restrictions on abortion
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.
Robert Carle at Public Discourse: California and New Jersey’s new laws banning talk therapy to address same-sex attraction in minors violate the rights of parents and children to seek counseling that conforms to their values. They also endanger First Amendment rights.