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 *
Religion Clause Blog: Last Friday President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation (full text) declaring Friday, September 6 through Sunday, September 8, 2013, as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance to remember the victims of 9-11.
AL.com: The chairman of the Madison County Commission is expecting a lawsuit challenging the new practice of having organized prayer before commission meetings.
Hardin County News: Beaumont attorney David Starnes, who represents a handful of the district’s cheerleaders, issued a written response on Thursday to the ACLU’s filing in which he accused the Kountze school district of partnering with the organization to prevent the girls from using Scripture on football run-through banners.
TimesFreePress: The Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling South Pittsburg High School’s pre-game prayer service, dubbed “Meet Me at the 50,” unconstitutional.
LifeNews: When the Quebec National Assembly opens this fall, one of the most important issues it will be voting on is Bill 52, a bill to legalize euthanasia. The legislation proposed offers end of life care to those living in Quebec which will include both terminal palliative sedation, as well as medically-assisted dying, or medical aid in dying, a euphemism for euthanasia.
NewsLeader.com: A federal judge issued an injunction in March barring the board from opening meetings with prayers associated with any one religion. Board members voted unanimously Tuesday to appeal the ruling.
NewsAdvance: Bedford County residents often bring requests, concerns and complaints before the board of supervisors. Jackie Davis brings prayers.
KXII: POTTSBORO, TX- Just a day before high school football kicks off in Texas, a Texoma community is shaken after they found out they can no longer have a public prayer before their home games.
WTOP.com: A federal judge has ordered the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors to pay a woman’s legal fees in her battle over prayers at public meetings.
WHNT.com (includes video): HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Stop praying, and the sooner the better. That’s the message an out-of-state atheist group is sending to one local county commission, which plans on ignoring the request.
One News Now: Brett Harvey of Alliance Defending Freedom says board members of the Clay County School Board are waiting for a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Nov. 6 in a case after an atheist sued because she didn’t like the way people were praying to open their public meetings, Harvey tells OneNewsNow. “We feel confident they’re going to support this cherished tradition,” Harvey predicts. “It’s very consistent with prior Supreme Court precedent and our historical practice.”
Christine Wrath (School Superintendent) at Concord Monitor: In recent weeks the Concord School District administrators’ decisions regarding prayer on the high school campus have been questioned, initially by two national organizations, the Freedom from Religion Foundation based in Madison, Wis., …
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog: The owners of the studio are represented by lawyers for the advocacy group, Alliance Defending Freedom. The staff attorneys have said they are exploring with the owners their next step — an appeal to the Supreme Court. The petition would be due three months from now; it is likely to raise both the compelled speech and free exercise arguments.
David Cortman appeared on Wallbuilders Live to discuss the Town of Greece v. Galloway legislative prayer case that is pending at the U.S. Supreme Court. | MP3 audio 7:41 mins
Brett Harvey appeared on the Bishop’s Hour with Bob Dunning to discuss this: Atheist demands to end prayer at Calif. town’s meetings baseless. | MP3 audio 14:35 mins
Laura Milam Ross at Kentucky City, The Past, Present, and Future of Legislative Prayer, p. 32 (Sept./Oct. 2013)
Kevin Walsh at Mirror of Justice: I am preparing this evening for an argument simulation that we are doing tomorrow for the incoming 1Ls as part of orientation. I have been assigned the task of arguing for the petitioner (the town government) in Town of Greece v. Galloway. The process has caused me to appreciate the difference in perspective that comes from my stance as an academic lawyer rather than a government lawyer. But I find myself in need of orientation because switching between these two perspectives is disorienting.
SCOTUS Blog reports.
Kevin Theriot at Alliance Defending Freedom: At the beginning of every Chico City Council Meeting in northern California, a different spiritual leader from the community offers an invocation.
One News Now: Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) senior counsel David Cortman says history is on Chico’s side. “Americans today should be as free as the Founders were to pray,” he states. “In fact, the Founders prayed while drafting our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has ruled that public prayer is part of the ‘history and tradition of this country.’ “The city of Chico, therefore, is on extremely firm ground to allow prayer before its public meetings.”
Charisma News: “Americans today should be as free as the Founders were to pray,” says senior counsel David Cortman. “The Founders prayed while drafting our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has ruled that public prayer is part of the ‘history and tradition of this country.’ The city of Chico, therefore, is on extremely firm ground to allow prayer before its public meetings.”
California City Under Fire From Atheists for Allowing Prayers Before Council Meetings | Christian News Network
Christian News Network: In the Friday statement, ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman argued that public, legislative prayer has always been—and, consequently, should always be—a fully legal component of U.S. government.
Religious Freedom Lawyers Respond to Atheists Wanting Prayer at City Council Meetings Stopped | Christian Post
Christian Post: “Americans today should be as free as the Founders were to pray,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “The Founders prayed while drafting our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has ruled that public prayer is part of the ‘history and tradition of this country.’ The city of Chico, therefore, is on extremely firm ground to allow prayer before its public meetings.” . . . Senior Counsel Brett Harvey added, “A few people should not be able to extinguish the traditions of our nation merely because they heard something they didn’t like. Because the authors of the Constitution invoked God’s blessing on public proceedings, this tradition shouldn’t suddenly be considered unconstitutional. It’s perfectly constitutional to allow community members to ask for God’s blessing according to their conscience.” [more]
LA Times Editorial: The Supreme Court should not only allow prayers at government meetings that favor one religion.
WAFF.com: Rep. Henry issued a statement to the media on Tuesday, stating the FFRF’s actions were “liberal left attacks.” “If these anti-religion activists continue to press their liberal cause, I will do everything in my legislative powers, which includes sponsoring legislation, to ensure that the right to seek divine guidance and intervention is protected,” Henry said.
Tennessean: A Christian prayer at the recent dedication of Stewarts Creek High School again has raised questions about prayer in schools and at public meetings.
The Florida Times Union: Board member Johnna McKinnon, who wants to keep the invocation as it is now, had placed the issue on the board’s agenda for discussion. McKinnon gave the panel an open letter from Alliance Defending Freedom, a national nonprofit legal ministry in Scottsdale, Ariz., which advocates for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.
One News Now: Matt Sharp, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, is defending Urena’s constitutional rights. “We sent a letter on her behalf to the school explaining to them that contrary to what Freedom from Religion Foundation had said, this is not a violation of the Establishment Clause,” the attorney tells OneNewsNow. “The school can allow her to come on campus and pray and has no need to be concerned about getting sued for it.”
What’s prayer got to do with it?: Local atheist group protests religious invocations at City Council meetings
Chicoer.com: A group of local atheists have united to insist the Chico City Council stop starting its meetings with prayer.
Liberty Institute To Discuss The Constitutionality Of Public Prayer During League City City Council Meeting
PRNewswire: Tomorrow at 6 PM CT, Liberty Institute attorneys will attend the League City City Council Meeting to discuss the constitutionality of permitting invocations before the Council’s meetings, as it has done since 1962.
Washington Post: “Prayer has been a hallmark of not just the Senate, but the House of Representatives, and state and local legislatures around the country. Legislative prayer is as familiar as the Pledge of Allegiance, and has a longer pedigree. Yet, it is a practice that is under assault . . .
Concord Monitor: The Alliance Defending Freedom will provide legal services to Lizarda Urena of Concord to challenge the Concord School District’s decision to disallow her from praying on school property . . . Matthew Sharp, general counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said yesterday the group has not filed a lawsuit and is still determining how to move forward. The group provides all legal services pro bono.
Fox News (AP): The Concord Monitor reported the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based conservative Christian group that advocates for religious rights, is providing legal services to Urena. Matthew Sharp, the group’s general counsel, says Urena’s speech is protected under the First Amendment. He said the foundation’s complaint that the prayers violate separation of church and state is “blatantly false.”
Dayton Daily News (AP): The Concord Monitor reports the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based conservative Christian group that advocates for religious rights, is providing legal services to Urena.
Obama administration, in court brief, supports prayer at public meetings | Baptist Press at Townhall
Baptist Press at Townhall: The latest settlement brings to at least $12.5 million the amount of “waste, abuse and ‘fraudulent overbilling’ of taxpayers” by Planned Parenthood affiliates in publicly revealed audits, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF has charged Planned Parenthood with misusing millions of dollars in government funds in a report to Congress . . . ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox responded by saying, “If you believe Planned Parenthood would voluntarily pay $4.3 million if it thought the claims were truly ‘baseless’ then I have appreciating property to sell you in Detroit.”
KTAR: The Concord Monitor reported the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based conservative Christian group that advocates for religious rights, is providing legal services to Urena. Matthew Sharp, the Arizona group’s general counsel, said Urena’s speech is protected under the First Amendment. He said the foundation’s complaint that the prayers violate separation of church and state is “blatantly false.”
Christian Post: “I personally believe that one of the problems we have in this country is taking God out of, not only our lives, but out of government. But, we can’t force that on someone. That’s what the Constitution says. We cannot force that on people. But, people have the right to express their opinions on their beliefs. And I do it all the time. Nobody’s put me in jail yet,” Bentley told WAFF 48 News in Huntsville.
Ken Klukowski at Breitbart: Now the first briefs have been filed. Tom Hungar of Gibson Dunn is lead counsel in thisAlliance Defending Freedom (ADF) case; his excellent brief is what you would expect from someone as accomplished as Hungar, as he prepares to argue for his 26th time before the Supreme Court. A total of 25 amicus briefs (“friend of the court” briefs) were filed supporting ADF and the town of Greece. Among them is a brief by Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher on behalf of 23 states nationwide, a brief by Steffen Johnson representing 34 U.S. Senators, and the brief that I authored on behalf of 85 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Evansville Crosses, Freedom to pray and the Supreme Court | David Cortman and Chris Wischer on The World and Everything In It
Alliance Defending Freedom Attorney David Cortman appeared on The World and Everything In It (8/7) to discuss the importance of the Galloway legislative prayer case in the segment that begins about 7 mins into the broadcast. Allied Attorney Chris Wischer also appeared on the program briefly to discuss the Evansville cross situation. He appears about 4 mins. into the broadcast. The audio program runs 27:35 mins.
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog: The Obama administration, entering a major new test case on government-religion ties, has urged the Supreme Court to allow prayers at the beginning of government meetings, even if most if not all of the recitals are from one religion, such as Christianity. But, in a newly filed brief, it has also asked the Court not to allow citizens to join in such sessions with their own private prayers.
Times-Standard.com: Eureka attorney Peter Martin and City Attorney Cindy Day-Wilson presented their arguments today on motions in a lawsuit targeting invocations at council meetings and the city’s annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast during a motion hearing in Humboldt County Superior Court.
McAlesterNews.com: “I believe our founding fathers would be dismayed by our current culture’s attempt to dictate where the freedom of religion can and cannot be expressed,” said Inhofe. “Our fathers wrote the First Amendment not to protect government from religion, but quite the opposite. I applaud Sen. Rubio for filing this amicus brief that fights to preserve our nation’s heritage of welcoming those of any religion to practice openly, freely and peacefully.”
ABPNews: The first legal brief filed since Russell Moore took over as the new chief of Southern Baptists’ moral- and religious-liberty concerns agency weighs in on The Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court’s first major case testing the constitutionality of legislative prayers in 30 years.
AL.com: Attorney General Luther Strange has joined other attorneys general in filing a brief in a New York case asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court rulingthat a city’s practice of having prayers before board meetings violates the Establishment Clause.
NewsAdvance.com: A magistrate judge has recommended that the county award Barbara Hudson $53,230 in attorney’s fees from the case. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert S. Ballou made the recommendation to Federal Judge Michael Urbanski in a report last week. The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia defended Hudson in the case that was brought last year.
Texas Attorney General Abbott leads multi-state effort to protect the right of governmental bodies to begin meetings with prayer
YourHoustonNews.com: The Texas Attorney General’s Office on Friday filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a federal appeals court’s ruling that struck down the town of Greece, New York’s practice of allowing citizens to offer a prayer to begin monthly town board meetings. Attorney General Abbott and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed the “friend of the court” brief on behalf of the 23-state coalition
WHNT.com (includes video): In July, the Wisconsin-based organization sent a letter to the superintendent’s office about a prayer caravan planned for this coming Saturday. Those who wish to pray for the upcoming school year will meet at every school in the county at different times throughout the day. Coleman says FFRF has gotten some bad information. “The short explanation is that the prayer caravan is a private event that I sponsored in my private capacity as a concerned citizen and a resident of Cullman County.”
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, an organization dedicated to protecting the right of service members to live out their faith as they protect the liberties of all Americans, has filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the right of Americans to pray before public meetings.
Argus Leader: South Dakota’s attorney general has thrown the state’s support behind a legal defense of prayer at government meetings.
Christian Post: Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nonprofit group, then filed the appeal to the Supreme Court. David Cortman, senior counsel of the ADF, said in a press release on Monday that the number of amicus briefs filed in this case in support of public prayer shows that Americans are still very committed to their religious liberty. “Americans today should be as free as the Founders were to pray,” Cortman said. “The Founders prayed while drafting our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has ruled that public prayer is part of the ‘history and tradition of this country.’ The numerous and significant parties that have filed briefs in this case support the continuation of this cherished practice.”
Democrat and Chronicle: The town’s petition on the case’s merits was filed with the Supreme Court late last month. The town is represented pro bono by Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian-rights organization, while the two residents who originally brought the suit are represented pro bono by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Religion Clause Blog: After opening the meeting and reading a statement saying they believed the injunction was unconstitutional, the commissioners briefly recessed the meeting so that they could go into another room and pray. During the three minutes they were gone, someone attending the meeting stood up and offered their own prayer, ending “in Jesus’ name.”
MO. Family Policy Council: Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom, the nation’s leading Christian legal interest organization, welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the Galloway v. Town of Greece case. “Since this nation’s founding, public meetings have been opened with prayers offered according to the conscience of the speaker,” says ADF attorney David Cortman. “There is no legal reason why a town can’t do this today with people from within its own community.” “A few people should not be able to extinguish the traditions of our nation merely because they heard something they didn’t like,” says Brett Harvey, ADF Senior Counsel. “It’s perfectly constitutional to allow community members to ask for God’s blessing according to their conscience.” Noted legal observer Eugene Volokh says . . .
FRC, 85 Members of Congress File Brief in Biggest Religious Liberty Supreme Court Case In Last Half Century | PR Newswire
PR Newswire: Ken Klukowski, J.D., director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council (FRC), has filed an amicus brief on behalf of 85 Members of Congress in Town of Greece v. Galloway, a religious liberty case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
UPI: A New Hampshire mother who was ordered by school officials to stop praying in front of her daughter’s school said she may file a lawsuit.
Indianasnewscenter.com: Friday an amicus brief co-authored by Indiana and Texas and joined by 21 other states was filed in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway.
Even If Your Prayers Aren’t Brief, This Brief Could Help Your Prayers | FRC Washington Update at Patriot Post
FRC Washington Update at the Patriot Post: Friday Ken Klukowski, FRC’s Director of the Center for Religious Liberty and also a constitutional lawyer, filed a brief at the United States Supreme Court on behalf of 85 Members of Congress in what is likely to be a historic religious-liberty case the Court will hear late this year, Town of Greece v. Galloway . . . The Town of Greece, New York, has been defended for years in this case by our friends at the Alliance Defending Freedom against militant secularists. It will be argued on our side by Tom Hungar, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who is one of the most accomplished Supreme Court litigators in America.
Journal Gazette: Today an amicus brief co-authored by Indiana and Texas and joined by 21 other states was filed in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway. This friend-of-the-court brief asks the Supreme Court to overturn a U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had prohibited legislative prayer at the start of a government assembly.
David Bohon at The New American: But Matt Sharp of Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group, said that the school district had no legal right to silence the mother. “Students and community members that are allowed to come on campus and participate in a neutral thing are allowed to express religious viewpoints,” Sharp told the New Hampshire Union-Leader. “The students know it’s the mother and her own speech — something that the First Amendment protects — and that it is not the school mandating this woman to do it.”
One News Now: Matt Sharp of Alliance Defending Freedom explains how Urena initiated her vigils in February. “She actually contacted the principal just to say [she would] like to start praying for the students before school begins, not disrupting or interfering with the school work or anything like that – and the principal saw no problem with it,” says the attorney. “And that’s exactly the right way she should have approached it: get permission to do so.”
Liberty Counsel: Today, Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the Town of Greece, in upstate New York, which was sued for opening its town meetings in prayer. In our brief, Liberty Counsel asks the Supreme Court to overturn the “Lemon” test and adopt a new test, which provides that if a religious observance comports with history and ubiquity, and does not objectively coerce participation in a religious exercise or activity, then it would be deemed a permissible acknowledgment of religion, not a violation of the Establishment Clause.
Christian Post: In a recent letter sent to a Michigan school district, Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom responded to the ACLU’s accusation that a football coach was leading student prayers. (Rory Gray and Jeremy Tedesco quoted)
Jerusalem Post: The inauguration of an American president has, since 1937, always begun with an invocation by a clergyman and ended with a benediction.
KSDK.com: A judge dismissed the lawsuit Friday, July 19 because the Jane Doe plaintiff refused to come forward with her real name.
Patheos: Of course, a Religious Right group is arguing that this is a violation of the mother’s rights: [Says Matthew Sharp, general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom,] “The students know it’s the mother and her own speech — something that the First Amendment protects — and that it is not the school mandating this woman to do it.” . . . Sharp of the pro-prayer Alliance Defending Freedom says the group hasn’t decided whether to take up Urena’s cause. “What this mother is doing is carrying on one of the great American traditions,” he said. I reiterate my earlier point: If the mother were preaching any faith other than Christianity, I doubt Sharp would be defending her . . .
The New Age: However lawyers from conservative advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom have come out in defence of the religious mother, saying that she was allowed to express her religious viewpoint. “The students know it’s the mother and her own speech — something that the First Amendment protects — and that it is not the school mandating this woman to do it,” the group’s general counsel Matthew Sharp was quoted saying.
Christian Institute: Local Labour leaders in Plymouth have removed prayers from the beginning of council meetings, as “part of the process of modernisation”.