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LifeNews: The Rutgers basketball story continues to transfix the media, and why shouldn’t it? Mike Rice, the disgraced former Rutgers basketball coach allegedly killed a woman and at least seven viable, born-alive babies “by plunging scissors into their spinal cords” in his filthy, macabre “house of horrors” abortion clinic. Oh wait, my mistake.
Trib Live: Westmoreland County Controller Jeff Balzer on Monday blasted an effort by the American Civil Liberties Union to ensure jail inmates can get free abortions.
Philly.com: “It’s wasn’t fully developed,” West told the Common Pleas Court jury, referring to the 18- to 24-inch long newborn in the pan. It didn’t have eyes or a mouth but it was like screeching, making this noise. It was weird, it sounded like a little alien.”
Philadelphia Inquirer: The leaders of two black anti-abortion groups today denounced West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell as a “racist of the worst kind” and a “butcher who preyed on the women and girls of his own race.”
Scott Cooper at PennLive: In the last week, there’s been another push to change the way Pennsylvania selects judges for the three appellate courts – Commonwealth, Superior, and Supreme — moving from direct election to an appointment system. Proponents argue a switch would take the politics out of the system by removing the need to raise funds to win election.
Wall Street Journal (via Google): On a conference call in March with the George Soros-funded Justice at Stake, former Governors Ed Rendell, Tom Ridge and Dick Thornburgh said they want judicial selection taken away from voters and given to a judicial nominating commission. The state’s current system of judicial elections, Mr. Ridge said, “casts a dark shadow, a heavy cloud over the integrity and independence of the judicial system.”
Reuters: Members of the Pennsylvania legislature are pushing back against a state Supreme Court decision that made it more difficult for hospitals to prove they are nonprofit organizations deserving of tax-exempt status.
Matt Sharp at Alliance Defending Freedom: We often underestimate children. We think they understand less than they do and that they are incapable of having their own thoughts or views. Schools often make the same mistake and use a child’s age to justify restrictions on their speech. We have been involved in numerous cases where schools restricted young students from handing out invitations to church events or sharing their faith at school.
LifeSiteNews: But one of the most puzzling, as well as macabre mysteries, surrounding the case, is the motivation behind Gosnell’s decision to keep jars of the severed feet of babies he had killed in his clinic.
Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom: The dangers posed more and more across America to the First Amendment protections of Christians like you – and your children – often show themselves in subtle ways. A small legal bias here, an evasion of religious freedom there, and those who would sideline people of faith gain one more crucial foothold of legal ground they can use to block the spread of the Gospel.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The Goliath that Pittsburgh faces is UPMC, a $10 billion medical enterprise defined by superlatives — largest health care provider in the region, biggest property owner in Allegheny County. It is considered a tax-exempt nonprofit, which means it gets a $20 million tax break from the city every year because it pays taxes on only a portion of its properties and no payroll preparation tax.
LifeNews: ABC, CBS, and NBC’s morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, which began on Monday. Gosnell is charged with murdering seven babies who were born after viability in his rundown abortion facility.
Pocono Record: Voters may not know as much as they should about statewide judicial candidates. But the common sense of ordinary citizens inspires more confidence than savvy, politically motivated power brokers in smoke-filled rooms. Pennsylvanians need judges who are willing to face the voters, not who owe their appointment to insider fat cats.
Christian Post: Where is tolerance? Where is diversity? Where is equality? If you live in California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, or Massachusetts and have a child who experiences unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA), soon you may not find tolerance, diversity, or equality there. That’s because activists in these states are carefully working with sympathetic members of their state legislatures to take away your parental rights and your child’s ability to receive treatment for unwanted homosexual feelings.
Court allows student Christmas fliers in the Poconos | Matt Sharp on IQ 106.9 Philadelphia with Lionel and Michelle Murillo
One News Now: David Cortman is senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed the lawsuit in March 2011 on behalf of the Barrett Elementary Center student. “In this day and age, when our younger students are subject to so much that comes from both the school district and outside sources, it’s certainly important that they’re able to speak about their own faith and not be subject to censorship for it,” he states.
ACLU gives Chambersburg until Wednesday to permit Gay-Straight Alliance at high school; no board meeting scheduled
Public Opinion: The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has agreed to give Chambersburg Area School District an extension amounting to three more business days to reverse a decision that blocked a Gay-Straight Alliance from forming at Chambersburg Area Senior High School.
Citizen Link: “America’s public schools should recognize the constitutionally protected freedom of students who wish to hand out these kinds of fliers,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “A flier cannot be banned just because some element of religious faith is part of it. On the contrary, the First Amendment specifically protected religious speech.”
Leonard Blair at Christian Post: In an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday, Matt Sharp, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group based in Scottsdale, Ariz. which represented K.A. and her family, said they were happy with the ruling.
Stoyan Zaimov at Christian Post: “Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman, who argued before the court in October. “Those ideas include a 5th-grader’s invitations to a religious event. The 3rd Circuit was correct in striking down the school district’s unconstitutional ban.”
Maryclaire Dale at Pocono Record (AP): Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., backed the family’s appeal. “America’s public schools should recognize the constitutionally protected freedom of students who wish to hand out these kinds of fliers,” said Matt Sharp, the group’s legal counsel. “A flier cannot be banned just because some element of religious faith is a part of it. On the contrary, the First Amendment specifically protects religious speech.”
WJACTV.com (AP): Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., backed the family’s appeal.
Fifth-grader can hand out Christmas party invitations in public school, court rules | The Morning Call
The Morning Call: “As the Supreme Court said many years ago, students don’t shed their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate, and that certainly applies to elementary school students as well,” said David Cortman, of Alliance Defending Freedom, a Georgia group that supports religious expression.
MSNBC: Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., backed the family’s appeal. “America’s public schools should recognize the constitutionally protected freedom of students who wish to hand out these kinds of fliers,” said Matt Sharp, the group’s legal counsel. “A flier cannot be banned just because some element of religious faith is a part of it. On the contrary, the First Amendment specifically protects religious speech.”
Examiner.com: Today, Alliance Defending Freedom has announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the third Circuit Tuesday unanimously affirmed a lower court’s order that found two policies at a Pennsylvania school district unconstitutional after they were used to prevent a 5th-grade student from distributing invitations to a Christmas party at her church. [more]
3rd Circuit rules in favor of student prohibited from handing out Christmas party fliers | Alliance Defending Freedom
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit Tuesday unanimously affirmed a lower court’s order that found two policies at a Pennsylvania school district unconstitutional after they were used to prevent a 5th-grade student from distributing invitations to a Christmas party at her church.
Religion Clause Blog: In Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Connellsville Area School District, (WD PA, March 7, 2013), a Pennsylvania federal district court refused to dismiss an Establishment Clause challenge to a 6-foot tall stone monument containing the Ten Commandments located near the auditorium entrance to a junior high school.
CBN: Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the two organizations, was pleased with the court’s Seneca ruling. “All Americans, including job creators and providers, should be free to live according to their faith rather than be forced into violating their own consciences,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said.
TribLive.com: Allegheny County nonprofits that own tax-exempt properties will likely receive one or more of 2,800 letters this week asking them to prove to the Office of Property Assessments that they deserve the tax break.
WREG.com: Philadephia physician is accused of running a “house of horrors” where he performed illegal abortions past the 24-week limit prescribed by law. He used scissors, authorities say, to sever the spinal cords of newborns who emerged from their mothers still alive.
ABC: Three years after drug agents searching a suspected “pill mill” at a West Philadelphia clinic instead found a medical “house of horrors,” an abortion doctor is going on trial on eight counts of murder.
ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania have sent a letter requesting that school officials at Governor Mifflin School District in Berks County stop using Internet filters that violate students’ First Amendment free speech rights. The district uses a “sexuality” filter that blocks sites that express support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and an “intolerance” filter that blocks political advocacy sites that are labeled as intolerant.
Newsitem.com: The Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way Board announced Friday it will be placing discretionary funding for the Susquehanna Council of Boy Scouts of America on “pause” while the national Boy Scouts of America organization concludes its review of a policy of “not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals.”
AP: Philadelphia will host a large gathering of the Roman Catholic church called the World Meeting of Families in September 2015, an event expected to bring hundreds of thousands from around the world, church officials announced Monday.
Daniel Pipes at Townhall: Philadelphia, the city where I live, has quietly and unassumedly become the capital of the Western world as regards female Islamic garb as an accessory to crime.
Religion Clause Blog: The complaint (full text) in Child Evangelism Fellowship of Dauphin County, Inc. v. Harrisburg School District, (MD PA, filed 2/8/2013), alleges . . .
Religion Clause Blog: In Persico v. Sebelius, (WD PA, Jan. 22, 2013), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed on ripeness grounds a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate brought by the Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania and two organizations affiliated with Pennsylvania Catholic Charities.
TribLive.com: Thou Shalt Not Move is continuing to keep the fight to keep the Ten Commandments monument at its current location at Connellsville Junior High School in the public eye.
MyFoxNY.com: A southwestern Pennsylvania hospital will stop delivering babies after March 31 because its obstetricians are either leaving or refocusing their practices, and because hospital officials believe they can’t afford it based on projected reimbursements under looming federal health care reforms.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys sent a letter Tuesday to the Chambersburg Area School District after an atheist group complained about the selection of songs included in an annual Christmas performance by the Chambersburg Area Senior High School’s Glee Club.
Pittsburgh Tribune; The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said the organization might sue over the filing of “sexting” charges against two Greensburg Salem Middle School students.
Public Opinion: Chambersburg Area School District community members are upset a Wisconsin organization is trying to end one of the district’s longest-standing traditions. By some reports, the CASHS’ Glee Club’s annual performance of “The Song of Christmas” has surpassed six decades.
Religion Clause Blog: In Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, (ED PA, Dec. 28, 2012), a Pennsylvania federal district court issued a 14-day temporary restraining order barring enforcement of the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate against a cabinet and wood specialties company whose Mennonite
Catholic News Service: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced Dec. 12 that the state would not set up its own health insurance exchange and instead join the federal exchange, which will cover elective abortions.
Pittsburgh Tribune: A lawsuit seeking to force a Fayette County school district to remove a Ten Commandments monument from school grounds should be dismissed because the monument is more secular than religious, and its outdoor location means students aren’t forced to read it, according to school district attorneys.
Philly.com: City Councilman James Kenney is to introduce legislation Thursday that would give a tax credit to employers who provide health-care benefits to same-sex partners, saying his bill would make Philadelphia, already a popular city for gays and lesbians to live, even more so.
Freedom from Religion Foundation: The Freedom From Religion Foundation helped one of its Pennsylvania members obtain a favorable ruling for nonbelievers from the state Human Relations Commission. After John Wolff of Lancaster was unable to get the owners of Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia to stop discriminating against atheists and agnostics, he enlisted FFRF’s help. The restaurant was offering an illegal 10 percent discount for customers who brought in a church bulletin.
Challenge To Contraceptive Coverage Mandate By Pittsburgh Diocese Dismissed On Ripeness and Standing Grounds
Religion Clause Blog: In Zubik v. Sebelius, (WD PA, Nov. 27, 2012), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed on ripeness and standing grounds a challenge by the the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh and Catholic Cemeteries Association of Pittsburgh to the contraceptive coverage mandate issued under the Affordable Care Act.
ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the city of Philadelphia’s appeal from a jury verdict that it was “unreasonable” for the city to require the Boy Scouts of America’s Cradle of Liberty affiliate to certify that it would not discriminate against gay scout members and leaders as a condition of continuing its rent-free use of city property for its headquarters building at 21st and Spring Streets.
Blog of the Legal Times: President Barack Obama sent three judicial nominees to the Senate on Tuesday for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, all with experience working as public defenders or with a legal aid organization.
Washington Blade: The White House announced on Tuesday that Obama named Nitza Quiñones Alejandro as part of a group of three nominees to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Quiñones is a lesbian and was recommended by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).
Religion Clause Blog: AP reported Saturday that the 21-family congregation of Swartzentruber Amish who have lived in western Pennsylvania are moving to St. Lawrence County in upstate New York rather than continue their battles with local officials over sewage disposal codes.
Lancaster Online: Prayers were said at Monday’s Eastern Lancaster County school board meeting, the first meeting with a public comment period since the district stopped opening its meetings with prayer.
Dechert LLP: Six Pennsylvania judges filed a lawsuit today in Harrisburg claiming that a provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which mandates all Pennsylvania justices and judges retire at the end of the calendar year in which they turn 70, violates their rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and under Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
PennLive.com: Harrisburg City Council unanimously adopted a law Tuesday night preventing protesters from being within 20 feet of entrances and driveways of abortion clinics and other medical facilities.
It’s one thing for a Democratic presidential candidate to dominate a Democratic city like Philadelphia, but check out this head-spinning figure: In 59 voting divisions in the city, Mitt Romney received not one vote. Zero. Zilch.
Religion Clause Blog: In Pocono Mountain Charter School v. Pocono Mountain School District, (MD PA, Nov. 8, 2012), a publicly funded charter school, along with students and parents, claimed that a Pennsylvania school district imposed harsher conditions on the school out of racial and religious animus
The Republic (AP): An abortion protester has agreed to stay 25 feet further away from the entrance to a Pittsburgh abortion clinic to settle a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit which claimed she pushed two volunteers who were escorting women into the downtown facility.
Religion Clause: According to the Wilkes-Barre (PA) Citizens Voice and the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, a former member of the Shickshinny (PA) borough council filed suit in federal court Wednesday, alleging that the borough and various of its current and former council members are unconstitutionally forcing her to support a religion by placing a church sign in her yard without her consent.
Religion Clause Blog: In Central Dauphin School District v. Garisto, (PA Com. Pl. Ct., Sept. 20, 2012), a Pennsylvania Dauphin County trial court, in a suit by a school district, issued a permanent injunction requiring a street preacher to stay at least 20 yards away from any school bus stop at which children are waiting to board or de-board buses.
Politics is the place where competing moral visions meet: A Statement on the 2012 Elections by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference
Catholic Culture: Because politics is the place where competing moral visions of a society meet and struggle, our democracy depends on people of conviction fighting for what they believe in the public square, yet doing so with an abiding respect for one another. That struggle includes and depends on all of us, precisely as Catholics. For if we believe that a particular issue is gravely evil or that it will result in serious damage to society, then we have a duty, both as Catholics and as Americans, to hold political candidates accountable.
Christian Post: DF Senior Counsel David Cortman argued that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit should affirm the district court order. There was no decision made by the court during the hearing Wednesday involving the school district. “Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas – and that certainly includes a 5th-grader’s Christmas party invitations,” Cortman said. “America’s public schools should recognize the constitutionally protected freedom of religious students who wish to hand out these kinds of fliers. The district court was right to stop this unconstitutional ban on Christmas party invitations. Numerous courts have upheld similar fliers around the country.”
Pocono Record: The Alliance Defending Freedom sued the district in March, claiming the student’s free speech rights were violated because the district has let students hand out fliers for other events, including Halloween parties and even the plaintiff’s younger sibling’s birthday party.
TimesOnline.com (AP): The Alliance Defending Freedom sued the Pocono Mountain School District in March, claiming the student’s free speech rights were violated because the district has let students hand out fliers for other events, including Halloween parties and even the plaintiff’s younger sibling’s birthday party.
lliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman and Legal Counsel Matt Sharp will be available for media interviews immediately following Cortman’s oral argument at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit Wednesday in favor of allowing elementary school students to distribute Christmas party fliers at school.
Queerty (site promotes homosexual behavior and may contain objectionable content): Inspired by a law recently enacted in California, Pennsylvania State Representative Babette Josephs (D- 182nd) has introduced a bill that would ban the practice of reparative or “conversion” therapy in the state of Pennsylvania.
Law.com (subscription): A federal judge in Philadelphia has placed a closely-watched case involving the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and the survivors of a deceased Cozen O’Connor partner on the suspense docket, effectively terminating the matter pending the outcome of other relevant cases. U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones II of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania heard arguments on DOMA’s constitutionality in Cozen O’Connor v. Tobits . . .
Philly.com: A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit by an atheist group that challenged the legislature’s resolution declaring 2012 the “Year of the Bible,” but he also chastised the lawmakers for “pandering.” | FFRF press release and opinion link