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Education News: Governor Tom Corbett, a former history and civics teacher, detailed his measures to increase school choice and combat teachers union power.
ABC27: “A gay college student says he’s transferring from a Pennsylvania Christian college after being harassed by students and a professor. Messiah College freshman Isaiah Thomas . . . ”
ABC27.com: A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation that would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. | HB 1434
Washington Times: A yearlong sting operation, including aliases, a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and surreptitious purchases from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania, culminated in the federal government announcing this week that it has gone to court to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling its contraband to willing customers in the Washington area. The product in question: unpasteurized milk.
A Christian missionary charged with helping a woman take her 9-year-old daughter to Central America during a custody dispute with her former lesbian partner was allowed Monday to remain free on $25,000 bond . . .
Religion Clause Blog: In Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America v. Meena, (PA Commonwealth Ct., April 18, 2011), a Pennsylvania appellate court, in a 6-2 decision written by Judge Pellegrini, held that it must defer to the decision of the governing Synod to impose synodical administration on a local church and close it because of its diminished attendance and income.
AP: epublicans have moved quickly to convert November election gains to legislative advances in the states. A look at some GOP successes, and setbacks, in the first months of the new order . . .
LifeSiteNews: A Pennsylvania man arrested by police for walking by an abortion clinic because he was recognized as a regular pro-life witness has been paid $10,000 by the city of Ligonier.
AP: School officials in eastern Pennsylvania will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that allows students to wear breast cancer fundraising bracelets that say, “I (heart) boobies! | ACLU information and link to court documents
LifeNews: Yesterday, the Pennsylvania House Health Committee voted for legislation (HB 574) that would require the state’s abortion clinics to be regulated like every other ambulatory surgical facility.
AP: A federal judge in Pennsylvania says the popular “I (heart) boobies!” breast cancer fundraising bracelets aren’t lewd or vulgar, so it’s OK for public school students to wear them.
LifeNews: The office of Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, who claims to be a pro-life Democrat, has confirmed he will not vote for an amendment to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business.
Religion Clause Blog: Yesterday’s Pittsburgh (PA) Tribune-Review reports on a lawsuit filed against a Beaver County (PA) bathroom remodeling company by a woman who alleges she was forced out of her job with the company by the company’s insistence that she attend faith-based training sessions to increase her trust in God.
Mercury News: Lawyer Jack McMahon says the Gosnells have agreed to freeze those assets at the request of a Virginia family suing Gosnell over their mother’s death from a botched abortion.
Pocono Record: Matt Sharp, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, the Christian attorneys’ organization that filed the March 7 suit on behalf of the student, said the law backs up students’ right to distribute invitations to religious events in schools. “Schools have been misinformed that students are supposed to check their religious beliefs at the school door, and that’s not true,” Sharp said.
The Christian Institute (includes photo of David): ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman said: “Christian students and churches shouldn’t be discriminated against, censored and excluded in public schools because of their beliefs. “Disallowing a 5th-grade student’s invitation to a Christmas party just because it takes place in a church is simply unconstitutional”, he added, “especially when Hallowe’en parties and promotional events for businesses and other community groups indiscriminately receive a free pass”.
Philly.com: Students are free to pray alone or in groups as long as the activity is not disruptive and does not infringe on the rights of others,” according to a resolution adopted unanimously in Council yesterday at Blackwell’s request. It calls for Council’s Education Committee, headed by Blackwell, to schedule hearings on prayer in Philadelphia public schools.
ADF attorney Matt Sharp appeared on the Raffaele Report: ADF attorneys file suit against Pocono Mountain School District over discriminatory policy barring 5th-grader from inviting schoolmates to church event. | MP3 audio 4:22 mins
LifeNews: “The inspections, which hadn’t taken place in over a decade, turned up problems at two abortion centers also located in Philadelphia and the owner and operator of the centers has decided to shut them down and retire as opposed to correcting the problems.”
One News Now: Matt Sharp, litigation staff counsel with ADF, says his client was treated unfairly. “What’s interesting…is that every other student was allowed to hand out birthday party invitations, Halloween party invitations, even Valentine’s dance and local community groups — a basketball league and a bowling club were allowed to have flyers sent home with students as well,” he points out. “So basically everyone else could invite students to their events — some that you had to pay to attend — but our client was denied from being able to invite students to this free event at her church.”
The Morning Call: “The girl, identified in court papers only by the initials K.A., filed the suit through her father, Michael Ayers. She is represented by lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund in suburban Atlanta, a group providing legal defense of religious freedom and values.”
ABA Journal: “Other students can hand out fliers for birthday parties, pizza parties, and Halloween parties,” ADF attorney David Cortman said, Fox News reports. According to Cortman, district policies forbid any student speech advertising Christianity.
ADF attorney Dave Cortman appeared on the Mike Pintek Show on 1020 KDKA to discuss this: Pa. elementary school: Invitations to children’s party OK…unless held at a church. | MP3 audio 15:23 mins
Fox News: District policies, according to attorney ADF David Cortman, prohibit any student speech promoting Christianity. “It’s another example where schools need to be educated about the First Amendment,” Cortman told Fox News Radio. “The policies that are at the heart of this lawsuit are unconstitutional.”
Charisma: “Christian students and churches shouldn’t be discriminated against, censored, and excluded in public schools because of their beliefs,” says ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “Disallowing a fifth-grade student’s invitation to a Christmas party just because it takes place at a church is simply unconstitutional, especially when Halloween parties and promotional events for businesses and other community groups indiscriminately receive a free pass.”
TheTimesTribune.com: The suit, which states “students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate,” asks the court to declare the district’s policies and practices unconstitutional and to award “nominal damages” and pay reasonable attorneys’ fees. It was filed by Randall L. Wenger, a Harrisburg lawyer, and David A. Cortman and J. Matthew Sharp, two Georgia lawyers with the Alliance Defense Fund.
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Pocono Mountain School District officials Friday on behalf of a 5th-grade student who was prohibited from distributing fliers that invited fellow Barrett Elementary Center students to a Christmas party at her church. District policies prohibit any student speech promoting Christianity.
Fox News: District policies, according to ADF attorney David Cortman, prohibit any student speech promoting Christianity.
Westchester Fox 19: “Washington, D.C.-based Operation Rescue/Insurrecta Nex is protesting Planned Parenthood Monday morning at the West Chester office of Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester).”
Pocono Record: “Law enforcement authorities were Thursday considering laying charges against the family of a 13-year-old girl who ran away from home to avoid being forced into an arranged marriage in Pakistan.”
LifeNews: “A local judge has ruled that embattled abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell — who has gained national notoriety for the shoddy abortion business he ran — can’t sell his assets to avoid a civil lawsuit.”
Philly.com: “For the first time, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has acknowledged it is reviewing the case of a pregnant teenager who was denied permission for an abortion by a county judge. Pennsylvania’s 17-year-old abortion law requires girls under 18 to get consent for an abortion from a parent or, if she wants to bypass her parents, from a judge. The high court’s ruling could clarify how much discretion county judges have to refuse to grant a “judicial bypass” – but only if the justices bend the requirement that such cases be kept confidential . . . ”
The Daily Collegian: “Penn State ACLU President Brian Flowers said Chick-fil-A’s corporate values and sponsorship of programs that outwardly advocate against same-sex marriage run counter to Penn State’s principles of equal rights.”
LifeNews: “The attorney general of the state of Delaware wants the licenses of two abortion practitioners who were colleagues of embattled abortionist Kermit Gosnell yanked because they did not report problems associated with their colleague.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and several other Pennsylvania newspapers filed a petition today to open a sealed state Supreme Court case that could potentially alter part of the state’s abortion law. The case involves a 17-year-old who requested permission from an Allegheny County judge to have an abortion and was denied . . . ”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Mr. Wenger, along with Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, sought a redacted version of the case file so they could prepare their Supreme Court brief, but the request was denied. Still, they maintain that Judge Ignelzi considered all the facts and made an informed decision. “Whatever went into the judge’s decision, we can be sure it was a weighing of testimony and facts about the maturity, health and safety of letting the minor undergo a secret abortion without her parents’ knowledge,” said Mr. Bowman, “and the law of Pennsylvania defers to the judge who decides to protect her by involving her parent.”
Delco Times: “The first school voucher bill with a chance to become law since the Tom Ridge administration has the backing of three state senators with Delaware County constituencies. Dubbed the “Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act” . . . ”
CBS Pittsburgh Local: “A Baldwin man is refusing to take down his lighted crosses. Carl Behr said he isn’t going down without a fight at a Baldwin Borough Council.”
AP: “A western Pennsylvania man has been ordered to remove a 24-foot illuminated cross from his front yard following complaints by his neighbor, who claims the act of faith is actually an act of revenge.”
One News Now: The city ordinance on a floating and a fixed “100-foot bubble zone” prohibited pro-lifers’ free-speech rights at virtually all Pittsburgh abortion clinics, but David Cortman of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) tells OneNewsNow the ordinance violates the Constitution. (David is quoted in several paragraphs)
How Appealing reports on the case in Mesivtah Eitz Chaim of Bobov, Inc. v. Pike County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 16 MAP 2011
LifeNews: “Authorities investigating the activities of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who is accused of the murder of viable infants born alive in his Philadelphia clinic, are also putting together the pieces of his corrupt financial practices, according to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday.”
NECN: “Brown and the Alliance Defense Fund had argued that the combination of buffer and bubble zones kept protesters too far away from clients to hand them anti-abortion leaflets and to conduct conversations about abortion without having to shout.”
GoErie.com: “Supporters call them a matter of choice, a lifeline for children stuck in broken schools. Opponents deride them as unconstitutional and unworkable and warn that they will erode conditions in some of Pennsylvania’s most troubled schools.”
The New American: Randall Wenger, an attorney who is representing the case with the ADF, noted that Officer Armbruster “understood that police officers are called on to acknowledge and respect” the constitutional guarantees of American citizens, “including Christian pro-life advocates, who have the same First Amendment-protected rights to express their beliefs as everyone else. He should be commended for holding to his duty as a civil servant to protect — not violate — the free speech rights of the group he was told to arrest.” Tom Marcelle, senior counsel for the ADF, predicted a favorable decision from the Third Circuit Court within 60 days. “Placing an officer on unpaid leave, putting a disciplinary letter in his file jeopardizing his promotion to sergeant, and threatening him with termination is the wrong response to upholding his oath as a law enforcement official to obey the Constitution,” said Marcelle. “This case should never have been dismissed, and we’re optimistic that the 3rd Circuit will agree.”
Religion Clause Blog: “The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that retains affiliation with the Episcopal Church USA has won its claim to property of the Diocese following the 2008 vote by the Diocesan Convention to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. In Calvary Episcopal Church v. Duncan, (PA Commn. Ct., Feb. 2, 2011) . . . ”
Times Online: “A Christian advocacy organization has contacted Ellwood City officials with the possibility that it might support efforts to fight a possible lawsuit opposing the annual Nativity display in front of the municipal building. Borough Manager Dom Viccari said he had exchanged information with attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund. Officials from the organization, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., did not respond Wednesday to an interview request.”
LifeNews: “Fox 29 indicates Pennsylvania state records it obtained show taxpayers forked over $100,000 in legal bills for attorneys for the state officials the grand jury subpoenaed. The local prosecutors in the case grilled the state officials and they were entitled to legal representation, but chose to accept public attorneys paid for at public expense.”
LifeSite News: Defending the law are the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorneys, along with Americans United for Life and ADF-allied attorney Randall Wenger, who submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court at the end of December. Backing ADF are the Pennsylvania Family Institute, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, and nearly 70 state legislators who support the law . . . “Parents should have a right to be involved in their child’s critical life-changing decisions, and that includes abortions,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Secret abortions performed on minors leave children in the hands of a predatory abortion industry that has put profits above parents’ rights and the health and safety of young girls and their preborn children.”
WSBT: “The university decided to remove Chick-fil-A as a campus vendor after news that a Pennsylvania franchise will be donating food for an event hosted by a known anti-homosexual group.”
WorldNetDaily: “Does a police officer have the right to disobey an order that would cause him to violate the constitutional rights of, say, a Christian open-air preacher at a public university? ‘Armbruster v. Cavanaugh is an important case,’ said ADF Senior Counsel Tom Marcelle. ‘A police officer takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. If he has that obligation, he also has a right to refuse to uphold orders that cause him to violate the very Constitution he is sworn to defend.’”
ChristianNewsWire: “Tom Ritter, who taught physics and chemistry for over a decade, has filed a federal lawsuit against The Blue Mountain School District in the Middle District of Pennsylvania . . . If evolution is unscientific, why teach it? Because no Creator means no God. In other words, evolution taught without a possible alternative is Atheism.” | Complaint is here (via Religion Clause).
Clark Forsythe writing in the The Weekly Standard: “We can thank, in large part, the Supreme Court, after 38 years of Roe v. Wade, for the lurid reports coming out of Philadelphia . . . Philadelphia’s clinic conditions and lackadaisical approach to regulating clinics are the direct result of the ‘fine print’ in Roe.”
Attorneys with ADF available for media interviews after arguments against
Bloomberg: “When they finally resumed routine inspections of abortion clinics last year after more than 15 years, Pennsylvania health regulators ordered 14 of the state’s 22 freestanding clinics to remedy problems, a review of records shows.”
LifeNews: “The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee passed a measure on Tuesday 12-2 to opt out of allowing any abortion funding under the state exchanges the Obamacare law sets up by 2014.”
Marian Wang writing at ProPublica: “In the mid-1990s, the administration of Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, ended regular inspections of abortion clinics—a policy that continued until just last year. According to the grand jury report [PDF] released this week by Philadelphia prosecutors, Pennsylvania health officials deliberately chose not to enforce laws to ensure that abortion clinics provide the same level of care as other medical service providers.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “The voucher proposal, announced last week by state Sens. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, and Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, would allow low-income students from ‘persistently poorly performing’ public schools to switch to other public or private schools — and receive taxpayer-funded vouchers to pay their tuition. Proposals in the 1990s had broader reach.”
Salena Zito writing at Townhall: “‘William Penn is one of America’s great forgotten founders,’ says Catherine Wilson, a Villanova University political scientist. ‘His policies on religious toleration and political freedom were touted as some of the most welcoming throughout all the colonies.’”
William Saletan writing at Slate: “It’s a tale of gore and nihilism—and an occasion for pro-choice advocates to reflect on the limits of reproductive freedom . . . [According to the pro-choice absolutist view] there’s no moral difference between eight, 18, and 28 weeks. No one has the right to judge another person’s abortion decision, regardless of her stage of pregnancy. Each woman is entitled to decide not only whether to have an abortion, but how long she can wait to make that choice . . . It’s one thing to preach these ideas in the lefty blogosphere. It’s quite another to see them in practice. That’s where Kermit Gosnell, the doctor at the center of the Philadelphia scandal, comes in.”
Robert George writing at Mirror of Justice: “District Attorney Seth Williams estimates that [Gosnell] performed the procedure hundreds of times . . . Gosnell’s procedure for late term babies was to induce delivery and then kill the children with a quick snip . . . People seem to be shocked. One wonders why . . . is it really such a big surprise that a doctor who bought this line [i.e., "the idea that a 'fetus' is not a human being"] would set up shop as an abortionist and perform what have come to be known as ‘live birth abortions’?”
The Patriot-News: “Earlier this month, Derry Township officials found themselves considering a legal challenge when the owner of Shane’s City Limits sought to revive his business by having scantily-clad dancers shimmy for customers several nights a week . . . The Shane’s incident was unusual not only because of the novelty . . . but because cases involving adult establishments have quieted in the past decade.”
The Morning Call: “Allentown City Council on Wednesday extended medical benefits to partners of gay employees in the city’s largest union and white-collar staff, but delayed extending the same benefits to firefighters and police officers.”
Philadelphia Daily News: “Time and time again, authorities alerted to Kermit Gosnell’s filthy and macabre abortion clinic – and to the injured, diseased or dead women he left in his wake – failed to rattle the alarm bells loudly enough to shut his house of horrors, the district attorney’s grand-jury report found.”
“. . . During a press conference, Smith said Gosnell ‘induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord.’”
Associated Press: “An abortion doctor who catered to minorities, immigrants and poor women was charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said Wednesday.”
LifeSiteNews: “A pro-life organization called ‘People Concerned for the Unborn Child’ (PCUC) based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania organizes the largest coordinated contingent to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., sending 120-130 buses yearly.”
phillyburbs.com (AP): “A central Pennsylvania school district wants a self-styled street preacher barred from approaching students at bus stops.”
“The death of a female partner of Cozen O’Connor has put the law firm in the center of a dispute over a cutting-edge same-sex marriage issue—whether a marriage that is legal in one jurisdiction should be recognized as valid in another in which the parties would not have a right to wed.”