Friday, July 22, 2016

Planned Parenthood loses motion to dismiss claims of libel related to assertions of violence

(July 22, 2016 – Geneva, IL) Today, an order was entered in Kane County Circuit Court, Geneva, Illinois, denying a motion to dismiss by Planned Parenthood of Illinois and its former head, Steve Trombley, in a defamation lawsuit brought by the Thomas More Society, alleging that Planned Parenthood lied when it tried to tie the Pro-Life Action League to violence in four separate public communications. These included full-page ads in area newspapers, Daily Herald and Aurora Beacon News, a letter to City of Aurora aldermen and a related press release. The libel case was filed in 2007, in the wake of controversy over the Planned Parenthood location in Aurora, Illinois, and in response to accusations made in the publications by Planned Parenthood and Trombley that the Pro-Life Action League had a “well documented history of advocating violence.”

One of the full-page advertisements included a photo of a bombed-out abortion clinic in Michigan. 

The first ad, which ran in the Beacon on September 6, 2007, was followed by a “cease and desist” letter from the Thomas More Society on behalf their clients.  This letter demanded a “prompt and public retraction of false, libelous, and malicious statements.”  Planned Parenthood responded with an ad that was more inflammatory and accusatory than the original.

“No one should have to suffer the kind of vicious and false accusations of violence that the Pro-Life Action League has suffered,” said Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen. “This ruling means that the Pro-Life Action League will finally have the opportunity to clear its name in court against Planned Parenthood’s lies. The League twice beat Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry before the U.S. Supreme Court in a related case, and we look forward to mounting a vigorous prosecution of these defamation claims.” 

The abortion provider’s defense cited a jury verdict in the trial court in NOW v. Scheidler [https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/case/now-v-scheidler/], a verdict reversed and vacated in two decisions by the United States Supreme Court.  That long running case, brought by abortion clinics and the National Organization for Women against the Pro-Life Action League and its founder Joseph Scheidler, father of current League executive director Eric Scheidler.  That suit sought to apply federal racketeering laws, intended to stop organized crime, to the League’s peaceful pro-life advocacy. 

This case had been delayed for years, due to appeals on issues unrelated to the merits of the defamation claims brought by the Pro-Life Action League. 

Read the order entered in Kane County Circuit Court, Geneva, Illinois, today denying a motion to dismiss by Planned Parenthood here 

Read the Thomas More Society’s current Complaint in the Circuit Court for the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit – Kane County, Illinois here 

A copy of the original Beacon News ad is available here. 

Find background on the Thomas More Society’s involvement in Scheidler v. Trombley here.

About the Thomas More Society

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, 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. Visit www.thomasmoresociety.org

Monday, July 18, 2016

This week: Understanding the First Amendment Defense Act

The First Amendment Defense Act, now pending in Congress, provides that “the federal government "shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage."

Roger Severino
While its provisions protect the rights of Christians and people of faith not to participate in same-sex weddings, it has engendered a lot of debate and opposition.
Tuesday, Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, will be our guest to discuss the provisions of the act and the hurdles it may face in getting passed and signed into law. Roger has recently penned an article for the Daily Signal defending the act which you can find here.
Before joining Heritage in 2015, Roger was a trial attorney in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. He worked in the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section on dozens of district and appellate court matters, including issues involving the Fair Housing Act and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. He previously was chief operations officer and legal counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, where he argued for the rights of religious believers and houses of worship to be free from discrimination and unjustified government burdens. 
He has also contributed commentary on church and state issues to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and New Republic Online, and has been interviewed on news topics by CNN, PBS, and C-SPAN, among others.
In addition to Roger, we’ll have our usual news reports and movie review, so join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll at 9 a.m. Tuesday (Central time) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com. The program will be re-broadcast at 9 p.m. Pod casts of past programs may be found on the Faith On Trial page of IowaCatholicRadio.com.
Faith On Trial is sponsored by our 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 Rob denHartog, Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual Life, NW corner of 128th Street and Hickman Rd, 515-210-4472.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Can the Iowa Civil Rights Commission do that to a church?

Christiana Holcomb
This week on FOT is the case of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission that has interpreted a state law to ban churches from expressing their views on human sexuality if they would “directly or indirectly” make “persons of any particular…gender identity” feel “unwelcome” in conjunction with church services, events, and other religious activities. The speech ban, of course, could be used to gag churches from making any public comments—including from the pulpit—that could be viewed as unwelcome to persons who do not identify with their biological sex. The commission says the law applies to churches during any activity that the commission deems to not have a “bona fide religious purpose.”

Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for the  Alliance Defending Freedom, has filed a Federal lawsuit seeking to prohibit the commission from enforcing its rule on behalf of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ. Christiana will be our guest Tuesday. In that suit she argues that all events held at a church on its property have a bona fide religious purpose, and that the commission has no authority to violate the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion and speech.
Pastor Cary Gordon
In Sioux City another church, Cornerstone World Outreach, send a demand letter to the Civil Rights Commission objecting to its interpretation of the law and received a reply that in some respects “walks back” the commission’s claim. We will also have an interview with Cornerstone’s senior pastor and old friend of the program, Rev. Cary Gordon, who taped an interview with us for broadcast on the program.
So join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll for an interesting discussion of the legal and moral issues involved in the commission’s rules and in the Federal case filed in Des Moines.
Faith on trial is supported by our 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 Rob denHartog, Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual Life, NW corner of 128th Street and Hickman Rd, 515-210-4472. 
Faith On Trial is broadcast every Tuesday at 9 a.m. and rebroadcast at 9 p.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com where you can find podcasts of older programs.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Reaction to today’s ruling striking down Texas abortion clinic law

Today, the United States Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that requires abortion clinic facilities to meet the same standards as other surgical centers. The Thomas More Society filed an amicus brief in the case (see it here), which stated the law is constitutional. 

Thomas More Society attorney Jocelyn Floyd, a former FOT guest, issued this statement in response to the 5-3 ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt: 

“The Supreme Court today overturned a Texas law protecting women’s health because it viewed the law as ‘unnecessary.’ Texas enacted common-sense provisions to protect women at abortion facilities from substandard care, requiring abortion providers to meet the same standards as other similar medical clinics. Here in Illinois, we’ve seen all too well what disastrous consequences come from holding abortion providers to lower standards than other medical providers—contamination, dirty facilities, patient injury, and even death. We’re disappointed that the Supreme Court views vital protection against these consequences as ‘unnecessary’.”   

And Eric Scheidler, Executive Director of the Pro-Life Action League, issued this statement:  

“It is shameful to see a majority of the Supreme Court sacrificing public health and safety to prop up the abortion industry in Texas. If this case were about anything other than abortion, this law would have been upheld. Indeed, it would never have been challenged. Only the abortion industry balks at adhering to the same standards considered routine by legitimate health care providers. 

“How many Kermit Gosnells will it take for public officials to uphold common sense health and safety standards for the abortion industry? In the wake of this irresponsible ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, pro-life activists will be redoubling our efforts to highlight the dangerous conditions at America’s abortion clinics -- like the ambulances we see turning up regularly at abortion clinics around the country -- in hopes that one day the abortion industry will be held accountable for endangering public health.”

This week on FOT: The California Department of Managed Health Care is forcing churches to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance plans.

While the Supreme Court is preventing the closing of abortion clinics in Texas (read), the California Department of Managed Health Care is trying to force churches (yes, churches) and other religious entities to pay for elective abortions (see story).

Casey Mattox
Leading the fight against the state’s efforts is the Alliance Defending Freedom and on Tuesday we’ll have ADF’s Casey Mattox to discuss this issue. Casey serves as senior counsel with ADF and his litigation efforts focus on sanctity of human life issues, including waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars by the abortion industry. Prior to serving with ADF, he litigated for the Christian Legal Society Center for Law & Religious Freedom, as well as the Rutherford Institute, and clerked for Justice Champ Lyons of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Commenting on this issue, Casey said: “The Obama Administration is once again making a mockery of the law, and this time in the most unimaginable way. Churches should never be forced to cover elective abortion in their insurance plans, and for ten years the Weldon Amendment has protected the right to have plans that do not include coverage for abortion-on-demand. But the state of California has ordered every insurer, even those insuring churches, to cover elective abortions in blatant violation of the law.
“The Obama Administration’s refusal to enforce this law continues its pattern of enforcing laws it wants to enforce, refusing to enforce others, and inventing new interpretations of others out of whole cloth. We will continue to defend churches from this clear violation of the First Amendment and federal law and call on Congress to hold the Department of Health and Human Services accountable,” he added.
In addition to Casey, we’ll also be joined by Greg Baker of the Family Leader to discuss its upcoming Fifth Annual Family Leadership Summit Saturday July 9 at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, featuring speakers including Evangelist Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz.
Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll and Casey as they discuss these and other issues of interest to people of faith at 9 a.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com. The program will re-air at 9 p.m. and pod casts of our previous programs may be found here.
Faith On Trial is supported by our loyal underwriters and sponsors: 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 Rob denHartog, Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual Life, NW corner of 128th Street and Hickman Rd, 515-210-4472.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Politics from “The Patriot and the Preacher” – Next FOT

Mark Anthony
This week we’re doing something a little different, we’re hosting a religious broadcaster, Mark Anthony from the syndicated “The Patriot and The Preacher” radio program he hosts with Ben Kinchlow.

The program attempts to reignite the vision of a nation based on traditional spiritual and political values. In it “We believe the average voter is not only disenchanted, but feels powerless to effect true change in our country. Political radio pundits bombard us daily with the problems we face and provide ‘solutions’ that are unrealistic and divisive in nature while religious radio pundits are mocked and essentially marginalized.”
Mark’s program was developed to call our nation back to its spiritual and political foundations, using Biblical truth and the wisdom of our founding fathers, this show seeks to make our nation great, once again.
Mark, a history buff, has been involved in politics for over 15 years as both a volunteer and paid staff for many campaigns and organizations, raising money and creating events for fundraising and messaging purposes. He has also been the campaign manager for two congressional campaigns.
After Mark we will have our monthly visit from Stephanie Crowley with a review of the movie “Me Before You.”
Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll for another interesting program Tuesday at 9 a.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com (where pod casts of previous programs can be found). The program will re-air at 9 p.m.
Faith On Trial is brought to you by our sponsors 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 Rob denHartog, Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual Life, NW corner of 128th Street and Hickman Rd, 515-210-4472.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Texas judge dismisses misdemeanor criminal charge against undercover Planned Parenthood journalist David Daleiden

Thomas More Society wins dismissal in defense of journalist

HOUSTON – June 14 – Misdemeanor criminal charges against undercover journalist David Daleiden have been dismissed by a Harris County, Texas, court this week. The charges for “unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly offer[ing] to buy human organs, namely, fetal tissue, for valuable consideration,” were brought against Daleiden in response to his investigation exposing Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the sale and trafficking of the body parts of aborted children. Felony charges related to the use of fake identifications in connection with entering the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast facility in Houston, Texas, are pending before a different branch of the Harris County courts. The Thomas More Society is defending Daleiden in multiple court cases, including the Texas criminal charges, along with numerous lawsuits by the abortion industry.
“The Harris County prosecutors were in such a rush to criminalize David Daleiden that they did not properly obtain grand jury approval of each of the elements of the charged misdemeanor,” said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Special Counsel. “All charges against Daleiden and his investigators should be dismissed, based on the evidence that Harris County District Attorney’s prosecutors colluded with Planned Parenthood to secure these indictments. Planned Parenthood’s illegitimate aim is clear: it hopes to turn attention away from the abortion industry’s baby parts trafficking, by instead attacking the man who exposed its illegal practices. The Harris County District Attorney’s office should reject that aim and prosecute Planned Parenthood, not David Daleiden and his investigators.”
Read the order dismissing the case for want of jurisdiction here [https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Criminal-charges-dropped.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, 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 www.thomasmoresociety.org.