Daniel Horowitz – June 29, 2018
In case you thought that the potential to flip Justice Kennedy’s seat alone will bring us back to the constitutional promised land, think again. So long as the lower courts are not restrained, we will never return to the Constitution and the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
There is nothing more radical than a lower court granting standing to random plaintiffs to sue against non-coerced public prayer in county government meetings, prayers that have been going on since our founding. Yet a district judge in 2015 and the en banc decision of the radical Fourth Circuit in 2017 barred Rowan County, North Carolina, from opening council sessions with a prayer, similar to what our federal Congress does every day. Yesterday, the Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari to the appeal from Rowan County, despite three years of being under a tyranny that the judges know is unconstitutional.
We shouldn’t even need to get into court precedent to understand our heritage and the true meaning of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. But just four years ago, in Town of Greece v. Galloway, Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority that as long as the prayer “comports with our tradition and does not coerce participation by non-adherents,” there is no room for judicial intervention. “To hold that invocations must be non-sectarian would force the legislatures sponsoring prayers and the courts deciding these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech,” Kennedy wrote in the 2014 case.
Lianne Laurence – June 1, 2018
OTTAWA, (LifeSiteNews) – Canada’s top court has affirmed the right of religious groups to govern their own affairs. It ruled yesterday that an Alberta court had no jurisdiction to review a decision by a Jehovah’s Witness congregation to expel a member for alleged drunkenness and domestic verbal abuse.
In a 30-page ruling released Thursday, all nine Supreme Court justices agreed the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench had no authority to rule on civil action against Jehovah’s Witness brought by former member Randy Wall. The plaintiff had argued that his expulsion from the church affected his property and civil rights.
Courts have neither the “legitimacy nor institutional capacity to deal with contentious matters of religious doctrine,” wrote Justice Malcolm Rowe.
“In the end, religious groups are free to determine their own membership and rules,” Rowe concluded, adding courts will only intervene in such matters if there is an underlying legal dispute that must be resolved, reported the National Post.
WND – June 2, 2018
A U.S. court has opened the door to restrictions on religious practices that are not considered “mandatory” by the faith.
That’s the concern of the Rutherford Institute, which worked with other faith groups to ask the high court to overturn a lower court’s approval of a prison policy that deprived a Christian inmate of a Bible.
Conraad Hoever, held in Florida’s Franklin Correctional Institution, was placed in solitary confinement in 2013 for “disrespecting” a prison guard, and he asked to have a Bible with him.
Hoever, who “believes that he is called to study the Bible daily and that these daily devotionals prevent him from falling from grace,” had asked for one of the three Bibles he already owned.
The prison refused, only to relent and give him a Spanish-language Bible, which he could not read. Hoever then sued and lost in the courts.
An appeal was submitted to the Supreme Court by groups that work with the three Abrahamic faiths.
Kevin Daley – February 14, 2018
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops filed an amicus brief at the Supreme Court supporting a pro-choice labor union in a dispute over mandatory union fees.
The case is wrought with peril for the bishops, as it places the Church’s historic support for organized labor in direct tension with its opposition to abortion.
The case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), is the latest challenge to a 1977 Supreme Court precedent called Abood v. Detroit, which allows public union bosses to collect “fair-share fees” from non-members for collective bargaining and dispute resolution.
Bob Unruh – August 23, 2017
The atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation is demanding – again – that the Internal Revenue Service revoke the tax-exempt status of churches whose ministers express an opinion about a moral issue or a candidate’s position that is deemed political.
The lawsuit against President Trump and IRS Director John Koskinen says any consequent harm to churches is of no concern.
But several pastors and other organizations that would be affected have filed a motion to have the case dismissed.
That request comes from Charles Moodie, Koua Vang, Patrick Malone and Holy Cross Anglican Church, whose arguments were submitted to the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin by the Becket Fund.
“Plaintiff FFRF asks this court to issue an injunction requiring the IRS to penalize internal church teaching, including the preaching of proposed intervenors Rev. Charlies Moodie, Pastor Koua Vang, and Father Patrick Malone to their church congregations, … But since 1871, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly confirmed that the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment prevent the government from interfering with internal church affairs,” the new brief explains.
Joshua Gill – July 14, 2017
A federal court ruled Friday that praying at the opening of North Carolina county commission meetings is unconstitutional.
The full 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the initial ruling of the circuit’s 3 judge panel, which said that the prayers were constitutional so long as Rowan County commissioners did not pressure anyone to join. According to the full circuit’s 10-5 ruling, the prayers constitute a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the initial lawsuit over the prayers, and alleged the religious practice was discriminatory, according to NBC Charlotte.
The court’s ruling conflicts with the Supreme Court’s ruling three years ago that religious leaders may open legislative meetings with prayer, regardless of whether everyone in attendance adheres to the same faith, according to a press release sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation from First Liberty Institute.
Mollie Hemingway – July 13, 2017
ABC News’ Pete Madden and Erin Galloway smeared Christians who believe the Bill of Rights secures religious liberty as a “hate group,” in an article this week headlined, “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks.” The lede of the story made it clear this was not just the work of a rogue headline writer but the failure of the reporters themselves:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to an alleged hate group at an event closed to reporters on Tuesday night, but the Department of Justice is refusing to reveal what he said.
First, a note that you can — and should — read the prepared remarks of the Attorney General here at The Federalist.
Who is this “hate group”? Alliance Defending Freedom is not a hate group at all, but a civil liberties organization that battles for religious liberty. And they’re not a fringe group either. They just weeks ago won their most recent Supreme Court victory — Trinity Lutheran v. Comer — 7-2. It was their fifth Supreme Court victory in seven years, during which time they’ve had no losses at the high court.
And the group is ranked among the top law firms in the country for its successes at the Supreme Court.
Melanie Arter – June 26, 2017
(CNSNews.com) – The White House on Monday praised the U.S. Supreme Court decision to review President Donald Trump’s travel 90-day travel ban on people coming to the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen and its decision to ban any foreign national who doesn’t have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity” in the U.S. until the high court hears the case.
“The president was honored by the 9-0 decision that allows him to use an important tool to protect our nation’s homeland. His number one responsibility as commander-in-chief is to keep the American people safe, and that’s exactly what this executive order does,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during an off-camera press briefing.
The high court’s decision means injunctions imposed by federal appeals courts preventing the president from implementing his executive order on immigration have been partially stayed.
Bob Eschliman – June 5, 2017
The Supreme Court on Monday effectively announced that those who put on the uniform of the U.S. military and swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States themselves have no support or defense from one of the document’s greatest protections against government overreach.
Former Marine Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling and her attorneys at the First Liberty Institute were hoping the high court would take up her case after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces returned a decision that upheld her court-martial for refusing to take down a Bible verse from her work-space. By refusing to take the case, the lower court decision remains in place for all members of the military.
Click here to learn more about Sterling’s case.
“Because the Supreme Court did not decide to review the case, the travesty below by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will now stand,” President, CEO, and Chief Counsel for First Liberty Institute Kelly Shackelford said. “The military court’s outrageous decision means federal judges and military officials can strip our service members of their constitutional rights just because they don’t think someone’s religious beliefs are important enough to be protected. Our service members deserve better.
Neil Munro – May 2017
The federal constitution requires that school officials submit to the demands of a teenage girl who wants to change her sex to become a boy, says a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The judges say that Kenosha Unified School District violated federal law and the Constitution because the teenager’s “gender identity” as a “transgender boy” is more important than the popular laws, civic customs and scientific consensus which recognize that girls and boys, men and women, are biologically and socially different even as they are also complementary and legally equal.
The court’s ruling in Whitaker v. Kenosha likely will be sent to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will likely decide in 2018 whether the new idea of “gender identity” will replace society’s distinctions between girls and boys, and between men and women.