Alliance Defending Freedom: It’s days away: The Supreme Court’s marriage decision is expected to come down on June 29.
The Christian Post: A White House representative has responded to an online petition that received over 103,000 signatories calling for the Obama Administration to recognize “non-binary genders.”
Ted Cruz joins demonstrators in front of White House, calls on Obama to help imprisoned Sudanese Christian woman
The Christian Post: A group of demonstrators representing over 40 different organizations gathered outside the White House to demand that Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy in Sudan, be freed.
Fox News: “In a letter to President Obama Tuesday, Rubio, R-Fla., said he finds it troubling that no new ambassador-at-large has been appointed for the Office of International Religious Freedom since Suzan Johnson Cook’s resignation six months ago.”
Jo Becker at the New York Times Magazine: “‘Mr. President, we just filed a case challenging the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage,’ he recalled saying. ‘We certainly hope you will be with us on this.’ It had taken four years and a profound shift in public opinion, but the president was, at last, with them.”
Washington Times: “The Right Rev. Gene Robinson said in a tweet, accompanied by a photo of Mr. Obama behind a podium at the event: ‘POTUS “preaches” at the Easter prayer breakfast. Then, out of the blue, asks ME to close with prayer. OMG!’”
U.S. Postal Service press release: “Harvey Milk was a visionary leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S. when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk’s achievements gave hope and confidence to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in the United States and elsewhere at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility and discrimination. Milk believed that government should represent all citizens, ensuring equality and providing needed services.”
“So this Easter Week, of course we recognize that there’s a lot of pain and a lot of sin and a lot of tragedy in this world, but we’re also overwhelmed by the grace of an awesome God. We’re reminded how He loves us, so deeply, that He gave his only begotten Son so that we might live through Him. And in these Holy Days, we recall all that Jesus endured for us — the scorn of the crowds and the pain of the crucifixion, in our Christian religious tradition we celebrate the glory of the Resurrection — all so that we might be forgiven of our sins and granted everlasting life. ”
Washington Post: “Citing the requirement that even religious employers must provide contraception for their employees — the issue at stake in the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case — Cruz said the ‘assault’ on religious freedom is unprecedented.”
Newsmax: “President Barack Obama told the nation’s military leaders to either back his efforts to end their controversial ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy or resign, BuzzFeed reported. In a video obtained by the news website, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp says Obama refused to compromise with the nation’s five service leaders during a meeting in 2010.”
Michael Severance at the Acton Institute: “In reality, of course, the Affordable Care Act effectively seeks to force Catholic institutions to violate the Church’s moral teachings on a number of critical human life issues. As we speak, landmark injunctions involving Christian business owners have reached the Supreme Court for hearings, with the help of legal groups like the Becket Fund and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which have fought tooth and nail to protect religious freedom in America and around the globe. (ADF, coincidentally just finished their Rome summit with the Catholic media today, educating them on their current religious rights cases in Europe and elsewhere.)”
Reuters: “Pope Francis and Vatican officials on Thursday told U.S. President Barack Obama they were concerned about ‘religious freedom’ in the United States, an apparent reference to the contraception mandate in Obama’s health care plan.”
Washington Post: “The Obama administration has decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health-care plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline.”
CNN Political Ticker: “Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law that makes it illegal to tell children about gay rights is linked to the nation’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea, Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday night. Speaking at a gala in Los Angeles for the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, Biden suggested countries that don’t respect the rights of gays, lesbians and transgender people also disregard borders.”
Josh Encinias at National Review: “Chief justice at the Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke called president Obama’s policies “anti-life” and “anti-family” in an interview with Polonia Christiana magazine, transcribed by Life Site News.”
Andrew Jenkins of Choice USA at The Hill: “Last week, President Obama released his annual budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year. The budget is our chance to get a clear understanding of the priorities held by the highest office in the land. . . . Unfortunately, abortion coverage restrictions remain in the president’s budget proposal. While it doesn’t come as a surprise, the inclusion of ongoing restrictions on abortion funding in the federal budget is evidence of an unfortunate truth in American politics today: we’ve come to accept that the reproductive health and rights of the poor are somehow less valuable or important – nothing more than a bargaining chip and compromise we’re willing to make in service of short term political victories.”
Associated Press: “The vote was 233-181 in the Republican-led House as GOP lawmakers excoriated Obama for multiple changes to his 4-year-old health care law, steps he’s taken to allow young immigrants to remain in the United States and the administration’s resistance to defend the federal law banning gay marriage.”
Mike Gonzalez at Heritage: “Search President Obama’s speech to minority youths last Thursday for the word ‘marriage,’ and you will find just one reference, and in a throwaway line at that. There are nine references to ‘men of color’ and three to the minimum wage, but none at all to out-of-wedlock birth rates. There are also zero appeals for more two-parent families, not even of the ‘LGBT’ variety, the only one liberals seem to champion these days.”
Deseret News: “Outside the courtroom, the government lauds companies for making morally motivated decisions to preserve natural resources and extinguish tobacco use. Inside the courtroom, the government fights a company’s morally motivated policy to preserve human life.”
Mike Gonzalez, vice president for communications at the Heritage Foundation, at National Review: “So let me sound a note of caution about President Obama’s newest initiative. The history of progressives, and of this administration in particular, should make us wary. The balance — or imbalance — in the president’s themes is a matter of concern, particularly considering the potential power of the messenger. The main obstacle to Hispanics’ upward mobility is the ongoing breakdown of the Hispanic family. On this there is a growing consensus among researchers across the political spectrum.”
Steve Forbes at Forbes: “One question congressional and presidential candidates should be asked is how we should go about restoring the rule of law to our federal government. Not even during the world wars of the last century was the executive branch as brazen in assuming sweeping and unlegislated powers, changing laws without the consent of the legislative branch and ignoring laws it didn’t like.”
Associated Press: “President Barack Obama is praising University of Missouri football player Michael Sam for announcing he is gay before the NFL draft.”
Weekly Standard: “Republicans have denounced such actions as ‘lawless.’ But if what the president has done is illegal, then why haven’t Republicans, or anyone else, taken him to court to stop him? According to Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a conservative Republican with impeccable legal credentials, the main problem is finding someone who would have the standing to sue the president over his unilateral changes to the law.”
Washington Post: “Without a hint of irony, the president lamented eroding protections of religious liberty around the world. . . . Nary a mention of the legal challenges to religious liberty now in play between this administration and the Catholic Church and other religious groups, as well as private businesses that contest the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare.”
White House Press Office: “Now, here, as Americans, we affirm the freedoms endowed by our Creator, among them freedom of religion. And, yes, this freedom safeguards religion, allowing us to flourish as one of the most religious countries on Earth, but it works the other way, too — because religion strengthens America. Brave men and women of faith have challenged our conscience and brought us closer to our founding ideals, from the abolition of slavery to civil rights, workers’ rights.”
Lyle Denniston at Constitution Daily: “Many Americans, not just the courts, help shape the meaning of the Constitution in the nation’s life. This series explains the actual or potential contributions of these other individuals, groups, or institutions. Today’s Constitution-maker is President Obama. In his State of the Union message last week, the President declared a measure of independence from Congress, saying that he would not wait for the legislative process to take action that he believed was necessary.”
Kerri Kupec at Townhall: “Not many Americans would disagree with his repeated sentiment. But there’s a crucial chasm between what the president loves to say he loves and how it works out in his administration’s policies. The increased liberty burdens and conscience costs the administration has imposed on family business owners have made America less freedom-friendly for entrepreneurs than at any other time in our nation’s history.”
York Daily Record (AP): “White House spokesman Shin Inouye said that the delegation ‘represents the diversity that is the United States’ and that Obama was proud to cheer America’s athletes on at the 2014 Olympic Games.”
W. Bradford Wilcox at USA Today: “In his State of the Union Address tonight, President Barack Obama hit a number of high notes — e.g., expanded apprenticeship programs, help for the long-term unemployed — in outlining his plan for renewing the American Dream. But Obama was strangely silent when it came to addressing a major obstacle to his agenda of expanding ‘opportunity for all’: the divided state of our unions in America.”
ABC: “The Obama administration is threatening a veto of legislation that would permanently ban federal funds for abortion.”
White House: “Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health. We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom. And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.”
White House: “America proudly stands with people of every nation who seek to think, believe, and practice their faiths as they choose. In the years to come, my Administration will remain committed to promoting religious freedom, both at home and across the globe. We urge every country to recognize religious freedom as both a universal right and a key to a stable, prosperous, and peaceful future.”
Washington Post: “It’s been three months since the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook resigned as the State Department’s religious freedom watchdog, and those who decry religious persecution in Syria, Sudan and elsewhere are wondering how long it’s going to take the White House to name a new ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.”
Adam J. MacLeod at Public Discourse: “In particular, his expressed interest in fatherhood is difficult to reconcile with his administration’s attack on fatherhood during the last term of the Supreme Court of the United States. Perhaps no one in the administration appreciates that, when it successfully argued that the Court should redefine marriage in United States v. Windsor, the administration helped to eliminate the legal office of fatherhood from federal law.”
Politico: “Monday’s expected confirmation of Robert Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit Court will be the latest judicial win for the White House — not just because he’s the third of the three nominees the president announced in June to increase pressure on Senate Republicans, but because he’s the 41st African-American Obama’s gotten confirmed for the bench.”
Washington Times: “About the only time President Obama showed any emotion for the U.S. military was when the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy giving gays more freedom to serve was raised, said former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in his new book, ‘Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War.’”
CBS Local: According to the Statesman, Cruz also slammed the POTUS for what he referred to as a pattern of “lawlessness on a breathtaking scale.” “We are a nation of laws and not men,” Cruz was additionally quoted as saying by the website. “If we had a system where a president can pick and choose what laws to follow at utter whim … that is seriously dangerous.”
Blog of the Legal Times: Clement appeared on Capitol Hill today next to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who filed a federal lawsuit today challenging an Office of Personnel Management rule regarding health coverage for members of Congress and staff.
The Hill: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Monday said he’s suing the Obama administration over the federal contributions that lawmakers and their staffs get for health insurance in an attempt to curb the president’s “abuse of executive authority.”
David Rivkin and Lee Casey at Wall Street Journal (via Google): Later this month the Supreme Court will hear a case that should resolve how much latitude presidents have to make recess appointments to federal offices that otherwise require Senate confirmation. The boundary of this power has never been decided by the high court. Yet the entire scheme of the U.S. Constitution—which is based on a separation of powers, enforced through checks and balances to safeguard individual liberty—is at stake. Noel Canning v. NLRB involves several recess appointments President Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board on Jan. 4, 2012.
Hot Air: It didn’t take long for the Obama administration to respond publicly to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s temporary injunction against HHS for enforcement of the contraceptive-coverage mandate. Expressing confidence in their position, the White House insisted that their “compromise” for religious organizations satisfied any risk to conscience objections:
Politico: The Obama administration Wednesday said the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage regulations are fair — and they don’t really hurt the Denver-based religious organization that got a temporary New Year’s Eve reprieve from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Russell Wheeler at the Brookings Institute: Changing Composition of Court of Appeals Obama, in terms of the party of the president who appointed circuit judges in active status, has not able to put as much of an imprint on the courts of appeals as did Bush by the end of his fifth year. Obama had a circuit confirmation rate about the same as Bush’s, but Bush inherited an appellate judiciary split evenly between Republican and Democratic appointees, with 26 vacancies. He was able by the end of 2005 to shift that split to 59 percent Republican appoints (and 60 percent by the end of eight years). Obama inherited that 60-40 split. At the end of 2013 it slightly tilted to Democratic appointees (52% to 48%). (Table 12) In 2009, seven courts of appeals had a majority of Republican appointees among their active status judges. Today, seven of them have Democratic-appointee majorities.
George F. Will at Washington Post: To contend that the obligation imposed on the president to see the laws faithfully executed implies a power to forbid their execution is a novel construction of the Constitution, and is entirely inadmissible.”
AP: President Barack Obama sent Russia a clear message about its treatment of gays and lesbians with who he is – and isn’t – sending to represent the United States at the Sochi Olympics.
The Hillhttp://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/193439-gop-balks-at-obamas-human-rights-nominee: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday is scheduled to tackle the nomination of Keith Harper to become the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Harper was a major donor to Obama’s reelection effort in 2012.
Fred J. Eckert at Townhall: America, we have a problem: We are in the midst of a serious constitutional crisis. Consider what has been happening in our nation’s capital: President Barack Obama has asserted and acted upon the notion that he can at whim and by decree make changes to law – and Speaker Boehner is complicit both by his continuing acceptance of the president’s unilaterally changing law and by his publicly urging the president to do so one more time.
Breitbart: House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp said, “The committee has reviewed thousands of tax exempt applications. The new regulation so closely mirrors the abused tea-party group applications, it leads me to question if this new proposed regulation is simply another form of targeting.”
NPR: The Supreme Court agreed Monday to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s request to let Senate Republicans participate in the high-profile case Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board.
The Hill: The conference has sought to put the president’s rulemaking agenda on trial in dozens of hearings convened in 2013 by Republican committee and subcommittee leaders.
Illinois Review: C. Steven Tucker stood face-to-face with an IRS agent this morning in his Chicago home. After months of traveling the Midwest, warning taxpayers about negative changes coming with ObamaCare, Tucker suddenly received two letters from the IRS the day before Thanksgiving 2013.
Religion Clause Blog: The NGO Human Rights First convened its second-annual “Human Rights Summit: American Ideals. Universal Values” on Dec. 4 and 5. Among the speakers at the event held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. was President Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan E. Rice. Her wide-ranging speech (full text) included only two specific references to U.S. concerns about religious freedom or religious conflict.
Aaron Klein at World Net Daily: The reports of stepped-up activism to ensure non-Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount comes as the Obama administrations continues to quietly push a plan in which the Palestinian Authority and Jordan will receive sovereignty over the holy site.
CNSNews: In a speech at TheArc arts school in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said that “100 million Americans” have gained the right to free contraception thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
Real Clear Politics: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power in every single branch.
NBC: President Barack Obama said his signature health care reform law is going nowhere as long as he’s in office, and he’ll spend the remainder of his presidency fighting to make it work if he has to.
Adam Liptak of NY Times on the Boston Globe: “Our policy is designed to ensure that health care decisions are made between a woman and her doctor,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary . “The president believes that no one, including the government or for-profit corporations, should be able to dictate those decisions to women.” . . . David Cortman, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the company and its owners, said the ruling was misguided. “The administration has no business forcing citizens to make a choice between making a living and living free,” he said.
Newsmax: “The government has no business forcing citizens to choose between making a living and living free,” said David Cortman, of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian public-interest law firm that is representing Conestoga Wood. Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obamacare “puts women and families in control of their healthcare by covering vital preventive care, like cancer screenings and birth control, free of charge.” The administration has already exempted churches from the requirement, Carney said, and has created a buffer between faith-affiliated charities and contraceptive coverage by requiring insurers or another third party to provide contraceptive coverage instead of the religious employer.
How Appealing links to the report and several filings in connection.
LifeNews: The Obama administration has offended the Catholic Church before by putting in place ambassadors who support abortion and flout the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church. Now, President Barack Obama is taking this further and launching what could be the first step in pushing the United Nations to remove the Holy See’s official status at the UN.
Washington Free Beacon: The United States released $8 billion in frozen assets to Iran on Sunday in a move meant to ensure Tehran’s compliance with a nuclear pact signed over the weekend, according to top Iranian officials.
CNSNews: “President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry turned their backs on a U.S. citizen by refusing to secure his freedom before reaching an agreement with Iran,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
Washington Post: White House aides and their allies said they have yet to finalize plans for how to push through another 186 executive nominees and 50 judicial nominees awaiting confirmation in the Senate.
USA Today: That’s because the little-known appeals court has vast jurisdiction over the federal government’s powerful bureaucracy — its myriad departments and agencies, and the thousands of regulations and executive actions that get churned out without much fanfare.
CNSNews: President Barack Obama on Wednesday awarded the highest honor that can be bestowed on a civilian – the Presidential Medal of Freedom – to 16 people, including a homosexual who led the socialist party in the United States and astronaut Sally Ride, whose partner “outed” her as a lesbian in Ride’s obituary last year.
CNSNews: President Barack Obama told a gathering of corporate executives Tuesday he’s confident that his model of health care will work in the end, but he said he’s going to have to “re-brand” it to sell it to a skeptical public.