Monday, January 16, 2017

‘Sister Wives’ polygamy case goes to Supreme Court


Joe Grabowski
After the Supreme Court’s ruling on so-called same-sex marriage, critics warned that the legalization of  polygamy would be next. Well, it just might be. Tuesday Joe Grabowski, spokesman for the National Organization for Marriage will join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday to discuss the Brown v. Buhman, better known as the ‘Sister Wives’ case.

Sister Wives is a reality television program featuring a polygamist family, Kody Brown, his four wives and 18 children. Brown filed suit in federal court challenging Utah’s anti-polygamy law which he quickly won in the district court; however, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit ordered the suit dismissed on standing grounds. The court found that since Utah rarely enforced the anti-polygamy law Brown was unlikely to be adversely affected and thus he had no standing to challenge the law.

Brown is represented in the case by the well-known constitutional lawyer George
TLC's Sister Wives' Kody Brown & his 4 wives
Washington Law School professor Jonathan Turley. The case has been appealed to the Supreme Court which has not indicated if it will hear it, but has asked Utah for a reply brief.

In addition to Joe, we’ll have the usual coverage of stories that affect people of faith. FOT airs every Tuesday morning at 9 (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com and on our app that can easily be downloaded to your smart phone. Podcasts of our programs can be found on the station’s webpage. Each episode is webcast on the Iowa Catholic Radio channel at YouTube.

FOT is sponsored and underwritten by our loyal sponsors and underwriters:  Attorney Rick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055; Confluence Brewing Company – off the Bike Trail just south of Grey’s Lake, 1235 Thomas Beck Road where there is live entertainment in the tap room every Thursday; and Robert Cota, Farm Bureau Financial Services, 200 West 2nd Ave., Indianola, Iowa 50125, 515-961-4555 or 515-205-5642.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Planned Parenthood baby parts broker StemExpress drops lawsuit against undercover journalist


Thomas More Society Attorneys Mark Another Win in Defense of David Daleiden 

(January 13, 2017 – Chicago) StemExpress, a fetal tissue vendor identified in the Planned Parenthood baby parts scandal, has dropped its lawsuit against undercover journalist David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress. As part of Daleiden’s legal team, Thomas More Society attorneys are encouraged that the California-based tissue broker has relinquished attempts to justify its participation in the human tissue and body parts trade.   

“We are pleased that StemExpress has chosen not to waste taxpayer time and money with this lawsuit. It was an attempt to escape public censure and to futilely justify the unjustifiable,” said Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen. “The findings of Congress’ Select Investigative Panel have demonstrated the validity and integrity of Mr. Daleiden’s undercover research and his publicly released findings. This is the third legal matter in which we’ve seen Mr. Daleiden vindicated.”   

StemExpress’ dismissal of their legal complaint came within days of the release of the final report by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel. In the report, the panel refers StemExpress for criminal prosecution for violation of multiple federal and state laws. 

The panel’s findings allege that StemExpress:
  • destroyed documents that were the subject of congressional inquiries.
  • profited from the sale of fetal body parts.
  • violated HIPAA (privacy) laws when collecting fetal body parts. 

On July 14, 2015, Daleiden, CEO of the Center for Medical Progress, began releasing a series of video exposés. One of the videos captured unguarded conversation at a dinner party that revealed the depth of StemExpress’ involvement with Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts trafficking.  

The tissue vendor filed a retaliatory lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles on July 27, 2015. The videos featured frank discussion between Planned Parenthood executives and their business partners, including StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer. One clip, which Breen labels “gruesome, callous, and crude,” shows Dyer laughing as she describes the procedure for shipping the babies' bodies so as to not alarm the recipients who will see their intact faces. 

The Thomas More Society notes that the withdrawal of the lawsuit, StemExpress LLC et al v. The Center for Medical Progress et al., is the latest triumph in the defense of David Daleiden. Other victories in the onslaught of legal attacks that the abortion industry has brought against Daleiden include:  


About the Thomas More Society: The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago and Omaha, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit thomasmoresociety.org.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

9th Circuit vindicates Christian in false arrest claim


Pasadena, CA. Today, three federal appellate judges in the Ninth Circuit issued a final ruling in favor of a Christian man, Mark Mackey, who was arrested for reading the Bible aloud in front of the California Department of Motor Vehicles in Hemet, CA in 2011. Read the ruling here.

The CHP Officer, Darren Meyers, erroneously cited Mr. Mackey for violating a state law that forbids the interference with an open business through obstruction and intimidation. The Ninth Circuit rebuked the officer’s fabricated claims in his police report:

Upon arrival, Meyer encountered Mackey reading his bible aloud in a dirt patch, neither obstructing nor intimidating anyone in line. Meyer avers that Mackey was “yelling at the people waiting in line,” “that there was obvious verbal confrontation between the group of men and the people standing in line,” and that the “confrontation was heated and nearing a physical state.” That version of events is completely belied by video and audio footage which does not reveal any confrontations whatsoever, and merely shows Mackey reading the bible aloud somewhat apart from people standing in line.

View the
video of the arrest. This story was widely covered by Fox News and many other news outlets shortly after the arrest: Fox News Video.

Representing Mr. Mackey, Advocates for Faith & Freedom filed a federal lawsuit for unlawful arrest arguing the officer had no basis or probable cause to arrest Mr. Mackey. Mr. Mackey offered to dismiss his suit if the CHP simply admitted the arrest was unlawful and agreed to properly instruct its officers. The CHP rejected that offer and Mr. Mackey was instead criminally prosecuted in California state court in the County of Riverside.

However, Mr. Mackey prevailed in the criminal prosecution and was found not guilty of the charges. Thereafter, Mr. Mackey’s federal case continued ending up in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal.

Robert Tyler, who argued in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Mr. Mackey, stated, “An innocent man exercising his religious liberty and free speech was criminally prosecuted based on erroneous claims put forth by a false and deceitful police report. It appears to me that the arrest and prosecution of my client was politically motivated because they did not agree with my client’s speech. But that is exactly why our founders created the First Amendment – to protect even disagreeable speech.
Today’s decision renews my hope in the justice system.”
Mark Mackey stated, “Justice still prevails. I am excited that our country is going in the right direction.”

Co-counsel and volunteer criminal defense attorney Nic Cocis commented, “It is refreshing to know that our system still works. The video evidence clearly contradicted the claims of the officer, but it took our appeal to the Ninth Circuit before justice could be realized. The officer and the CHP should be held accountable for their disregard of constitutional liberties.”

Advocates for Faith & Freedom is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts. You can visit our website at www.faith-freedom.com. Email info@faith-freedom.com to receive press releases. Also, join us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on our progress in this case and others.

Judge rules selective police enforcement of Chicago’s abortion ‘Bubble Zone’ warrants hearing


Thomas More Society Moves Closer to Victory in Fight
for Right to Share Life-Affirming Alternatives

 (January 11, 2017 – Chicago) Chicago area pro-life advocates achieved a victory last week when United States District Judge Amy J. St. Eve denied the City of Chicago’s motion to dismiss a federal complaint challenging Chicago’s abortion-protective “bubble zone.” This ruling was in response to the Thomas More Society’s challenge, on behalf of the Pro-Life Action League, Live Pro-Life Group and several individual pro-life counselors, that the ordinance that denies life advocates their First Amendments rights and impedes their ability to share life-affirming alternatives with women seeking abortions. 

Ann Scheidler, Anna Marie Scinto Mesia, David Berquist and Veronica Price are citizens who peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights on the public ways near Chicago abortion facilities by reaching out to women who are approaching the clinics.  These “sidewalk counselors” and their organizations inform these abortion-bound women of the dangers inherent in the procedures and share life-affirming alternatives. Their complaint asserts that Chicago’s “bubble zone” law unconstitutionally constrains the peaceful work of these counselors because police have selectively and erratically applied it against them, but not abortion clinic escorts.  

St. Eve ruled that the plaintiffs could proceed with the challenge to the “bubble zone” ordinance.  She decided that since the law was enacted in 2009, sufficient instances of discriminatory and inconsistent enforcement have been alleged to warrant a hearing. She deemed valid the need for a hearing on whether the Chicago police enforced the ordinance with “deliberate indifference” toward the rights of the plaintiffs. 

The “bubble zone” law, which is exclusively applicable to abortion facilities, designates a 50-foot radius of an abortion clinic entrance as an area in which a pro-life counselor is prohibited from intentionally coming closer than eight feet to a person approaching the entrance, unless that person gives permission for the counselor to approach. 

Thomas More Society Senior Counsel and Co-Executive Director Thomas Olp explained, “Contrary to pro-abortion propaganda, pro-life counselors do not intimidate women approaching abortion clinics. That type of engagement would be ineffective.  Pro-life sidewalk counselors compassionately and calmly approach women, one-on-one, to offer them information about abortion alternatives. The Chicago ‘bubble zone’ ordinance is designed to impede -- and does impede -- this communication. This law is unconstitutional and it deliberately curtails our clients’ First Amendment rights.” 

Read U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve’s January 4, 2017, Memorandum Opinion and Order handed down in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division in the case, Veronica Price et al. v. The City of Chicago et al., here [https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Order-granting-and-denying-MTD-010417.pdf

About the Thomas More Society

The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago and Omaha, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit thomasmoresociety.org

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Six simple ways you can Save a baby between now and the January 22 anniversary


(January 10, 2017 – Chicago) Is your pro-life group still struggling to find the right way to mark this year’s anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark United States Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion? TC Public Relations is encouraging life advocacy groups, letting them know there is still time to capitalize on this opportunity to maximize their pro-life message and promote their organizations. 

Tom Ciesielka, president of TC Public Relations, noted, “Many pro-life groups participate in larger events during January, such as the national March For Life in Washington, DC, or regional gatherings such as the March for Life Chicago or Speak Out Illinois. It is also a wonderful opportunity to build awareness of the facts about abortion and the damage it wreaks on women and their families. I encourage pro-life advocacy organizations to share their own stories and let their communities know how they are making a positive difference. 

Ciesielka offers the following suggestions for ways that pro-life groups can promote their life-affirming views during the Roe v. Wade observance:


  • Increase your followers on social media. Whether you are promoting your own material or sharing content from others, this is a great way to get noticed and build your support base.
  • Invite discussion from the opposition. Write and submit letters to the editor in local papers or post stories to community news sites. Chronicle the actions of an area abortion clinic or challenge a local pro-abortion group with your organization’s life-affirming counter response.
  • Invest in a paid social media post. It can be as simple as a picture of a baby with the words “Life is Precious” followed by your organization’s contact information.
For groups that would like to reach out with their own life-affirming initiative during January’s traditional celebration of the sanctity of human life, Ciesielka suggests starting simple. “Don’t try to throw something big together at the last minute. You can participate in larger, established events that have already been planned and coordinated…but you can still make your mark in an impactful way.” He offers the following ideas:


  • Host an observance. Hold an outdoor candlelight memorial service for victims of abortion at a cooperating church or lay a wreath of flowers outside an abortion clinic.
  • Organize a “witness of the crosses” display. Use small white wooden crosses to represent children who have died by abortion and incorporate signage that details the death count.  
  • Get visible. Select a noticeable location within the public right of way (such as a pedestrian overpass) and display pro-life signage to passersby. 

Ciesielka encourages life advocates to be creative and memorable. “It also helps to have an annual publicity plan. When you plan ahead, you can leverage a wider array of media and increase your impact,” he advises. “And if you choose to coordinate and cooperate with other pro-life groups, you can exponentially maximize the reach and frequency of life messages.”


About TC Public Relations

TC Public Relations is a Chicago-based firm managing reputations for businesses and nonprofit organizations. President Tom Ciesielka and staff handle media relations, social media strategy, and crisis communications for clients that include attorneys, authors, churches, and social change advocates. Visit tcpr.net

Texas court dismisses ‘Clock Boy’ defamation lawsuit


Following a nearly three-hour hearing held yesterday in Dallas, Texas, newly appointed District Court Judge Maricela Moore dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by Mohamed Mohamed on his own behalf and on behalf of his 15-year old son, Ahmed Mohamed.
Ahmed is better known as “Clock Boy” for bringing a hoax clock bomb to his Irvine, Texas middle school in September 2015 and causing a bomb scare that led to his arrest and suspension from school.
The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed the motion to dismiss, along with local counsel Pete Rowe, on behalf of the Center for Security Policy (“CSP”) and Jim Hanson, two of the defendants in the defamation case, which also named as defendants the local Fox affiliate, Glenn Beck, and Beck’s Production Company.
Mohamed had sued Hanson and CSP for statements Hanson had made on Beck’s program about the connection between the Clock Boy hoax bomb affair, the attendant media frenzy created in large part by his father Mohamed, civilization jihad, and the Counsel on American-Islamic Relations (“CAIR”), the Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas front group in the United States that promotes civilization jihad.
During the hearing, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel David Yerushalmi explained to Judge Moore that the purpose of the lawfare-driven lawsuit was to intimidate into silence those who might comment publicly on the connection between jihad, terrorism, sharia, and Islam.  As such, Yerushalmi argued,
“This case is a classic Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation or ‘SLAPP’ case and should be dismissed.”
During the lengthy hearing, Judge Moore pressed Mohamed’s lawyer, Fort Worth attorney Susan Hutchison, to provide any facts that would suggest that Hanson and the other defendants had said anything false or defamatory about Mohamed or his son during the television broadcasts. 
After spending a painfully embarrassing 15 minutes flipping through reams of paper, Mohamed’s lawyer was unable to provide any such evidence.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Moore took the matter under advisement but informed the parties that she would rule by the end of the day.  Today, the Court published Judge Moore’s ruling dismissing the lawsuit against Hanson and CSP with prejudice.
Upon leaving the courtroom, Yerushalmi explained:
“This lawsuit filed by Clock Boy’s father is yet another example of Islamist lawfare, which is a component of the Muslim Brotherhood’s civilization jihad.”
Yerushalmi further explained that the purpose of such lawsuits, formally labelled Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”), is to intimidate into silence those who might comment publicly on the connection between jihad, terrorism, sharia, and Islam.
Yerushalmi added:
“The Islamists employ the progressive mainstream media to label any public criticism of a sharia-centric, jihad-driven Islam as ‘Islamophobic,’ and they add fear and financial ruin to the equation by utilizing the legal system to file SLAPP actions,”
Now that the lawsuit has been dismissed, AFLC will petition the court for its legal fees and will seek sanctions against both the plaintiff and his attorney.
Robert Muise, AFLC’s other co-founder and senior counsel, made clear:
“AFLC was formed in large measure to take on Islamists like CAIR who use and abuse the legal system with their cynical form of lawfare to undermine our constitutional liberties—notably free speech.  We have confronted these lawsuits across the country in federal and state courts and have defeated CAIR and its minions at every turn.  When appropriate, we have won sanctions.  This lawsuit will be no different.”

Monday, January 2, 2017

Court strikes down harmful transgender mandate; Ruling protects children, doctors, and hospitals from federal regulation


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week a Texas court protected the rights of families and their doctors to make medical decisions for their child free from government bureaucrats’ interference. 

The court ruling comes after eight states, an association of almost 18,000 doctors, and a Catholic hospital system challenged a federal regulation that requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children, even if the doctor believes the treatment could harm the child. Doctors who followed their Hippocratic Oath to act in the best interest of their patient would have faced severe consequences, including losing their job.  

“This is a common-sense ruling: The government has no business forcing privte doctors to perform procedures on children that the government itself recognizes can be harmful and exempts its own doctors from performing,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, which filed a lawsuit against the new federal regulation. “Today’s ruling ensures that doctors’ best medical judgment will not be replaced with political agendas and bureaucratic interference.”    

The new regulation applied to over 900,000 doctors—nearly every doctor in the U.S.—and would have cost healthcare providers and taxpayers nearly $1 billion. The government itself does not require its own military doctors to perform these procedures. It also does not require coverage of gender transition procedures in Medicare or Medicaid—even for adults—because HHS’s medical experts that oversee those programs did not believe medical research demonstrates that gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes, with some studies demonstrating that these procedures were in fact harmful. But under the HHS rule developed by political appointees, doctors citing the same evidence and using their best medical judgment in an individual case would have faced potential lawsuits or job loss.  
 
A recent website provides leading research on this issue, including guidance the government itself relies on, demonstrating that up to 94 percent of children with gender dysphoria (77 to 94 percent in one set of studies and 73 to 88 percent in another) will grow out of their dysphoria naturally and live healthy leaves without the need for surgery or lifelong hormone regimens.  

“This court ruling is an across-the-board victory that will ensure that the deeply personal medical decision of a gender transition procedure remain between families and their doctor,” said Windham. 

Becket Law defended Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations from the new government regulation. The States of Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, and Mississippi joined Becket’s legal challenge. More information can be found at www.transgendermandate.org.