Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Planned Parenthood attorney admits receiving confidential materials from Houston DA

Motions Alleging Prosecutorial Misconduct and Collusion Prove True

HoustonThe Thomas More Society announced today that recent court filings in the Houston-area civil and criminal cases against undercover journalist David Daleiden reveal that the Harris County District Attorney’s office illegally shared evidence with Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast attorney Josh Schaffer admitted in a sworn declaration that the DA’s office shared materials and information with Planned Parenthood, even after the Texas Attorney General’s office had forbidden them from doing so. The declaration was included as part of the DA office’s response to David Daleiden’s motion to quash the indictment against him, alleging prosecutorial misconduct. 

Under oath, Schaffer admitted that he and Assistant District Attorney Sunni Mitchell attempted to do an end-run around the Texas Attorney General’s directive to Mitchell to not share raw video footage with Planned Parenthood: “I was told that the Attorney General’s office agreed to give it to the Harris County District Attorney’s office on the condition that they not give it to Planned Parenthood. Mitchell told me that she would try to obtain the footage by other means.” In 2013, Mitchell was responsible for a Grand Jury that refused to indict Houston’s late-term abortionist Douglas Karpen. This was despite photographs and eyewitness testimony that implicated Karpen in illegal late-term abortions and homicide of born-alive infants, similar to Philadelphia’s notoriously convicted Kermit Gosnell. 

“The recent filings by the Harris County District Attorney confirm that the DA shared confidential documents and information with abortion provider Planned Parenthood, colluding with it in the prosecution of David Daleiden,” said Daleiden’s attorney, Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen. “These filings also include evidence that appears to show that the DA’s office worked with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to undermine the Texas Attorney General’s independent investigation of that abortion provider. The conduct of Harris County prosecutors in this case is outrageous and illegal. We look forward to pressing our motion to quash this indictment in court.” 

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.


Thomas More Law Center wins victory for free speech and unborn babies against Planned Parenthood

In a huge victory for free speech and unborn babies, United States District Judge Nancy Torresen, yesterday, issued a preliminary injunction barring the Maine Attorney General and City of Portland police officers from enforcing the Noise Provision of the Maine Civil Rights Act (“Act”).  Under the Act, after being warned by a police officer, it is illegal to make noise that can be heard inside an abortion clinic with the intent to interfere with a medical procedure.
In a 35–page opinion and order, Judge Torresen, an Obama appointee, held that the Noise Provision of the Act is content-based because it restricts speech based on its purpose, and therefore, is facially unconstitutional. Read Judge Torresen’s entire opinion here.
The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national, nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a lawsuit in December 2015, on behalf of Pastor Andrew March after a Portland police officer officially warned Pastor March under the Act, and ordered him to quiet his pro-life speech on the public sidewalk outside the Portland Planned Parenthood facility or face prosecution. Despite this threat of prosecution, Pastor Andrew March courageously continued to plead for the lives of the unborn at the doors of the Planned Parenthood facility.
Kate Oliveri, the Thomas More Law Center Trial Counsel handling the case, commented, “This is a victory regardless of whether you acknowledge that unborn children posses lives worth defending. Free speech rights are central to maintaining a free society and the court took a huge step toward protecting those rights for all citizens of Maine.”

The Planned Parenthood facility, located on a loud and busy thoroughfare in downtown Portland, has been the focus of pro-life counselors and prayer groups for the last several years. However, in October 2015, the Maine Attorney General resurrected the 15-year-old Noise Provision of the Act to sue Pastor Brian Ingalls in a state court for his opposition to abortion on those sidewalks. This occurred only two weeks after the City of Portland admitted that their a previous attempt to drown out free speech on the public sidewalk—a 39 foot buffer zone—was unconstitutional. The state case against Brian Ingalls is still pending.  After the State sued Pastor Ingalls, Pastor March stepped in and began his preaching to save the lives of unborn babies.
Because a judge must determine that a plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction has a likelihood of success on the merits, by granting TMLC’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Judge Torresen has indicated that Pastor March will ultimately prevail in his claim that the Act is an unconstitutional suppression of free speech when the case goes to summary judgment. In the mean time, the order assures that Pastor March and other individuals can continue to preach pro-life messages and pray without being silenced by the Noise Provision.
Judge Torresen focused on the “intent to interfere with a medical procedure” portion of the statute. This portion restricts speech based on the purpose for which the speech is made and differentiates speech based on the message expressed. In order for a content-based restriction on speech to be constitutional, it must be the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest. Judge Torresen concluded that the State had other content-neutral means of keeping peace at abortion clinics.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Next FOT: Forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions; open rest rooms all courtesy of the Obama Administration

Lisa Bourne in Vatican Press Room
Recent decisions by the Obama Administration to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions and gender re-assignment surgery will be our topic with guest Lisa Bourne of LifeSiteNews. Lisa has been on the forefront of reporting on these events including her reporting last week that on the same day President Obama was threatening the nation’s schools with loss of federal funds if they do not open their restrooms and locker rooms to children of both sexes, he also threatened to end federal funding for Catholic hospitals that fail to perform abortions and “gender transition” services.

We will discuss these issues with Lisa and perhaps speculate on how much more debased the Obama Administration can go.  So join Deacon Mike and Stephanie Crowley, who will be sitting in for the traveling Gina Noll, for a lively discussion of these topics and others of interest to people of faith trying to navigate thought the slug pit of rules and regulations that the anti-Catholic Obama Administration is laying out.
We broadcast every Tuesday at 9 a.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com.
Faith On Trial is supported by its loyal 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.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

50 Virginia students, parents, others to 4th Circuit: Uphold policy to protect privacy in restrooms

ADF files friend-of-the-court-brief asking for reversal of panel’s 2-1 decision against student privacy

RICHMOND, Va. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief Wednesday with the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on behalf of 50 concerned parents, students, grandparents, and community members who support the Gloucester County School Board’s restroom policy. That policy protects students’ privacy and safety by reserving restrooms and locker rooms for members of the same biological sex, while providing an alternative private facility for students uncomfortable using a facility that corresponds with their sex.
A federal district court had ruled in favor of the school district in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, finding that its policy “seeks to protect an interest in bodily privacy that the Fourth Circuit has recognized as a constitutional right,” but a 4th Circuit panel nonetheless rejected that ruling 2-1 in April. The ADF brief, which the Family Foundation of Virginia also joined, asks the full 15-judge court to reverse that decision.
“Schools have a duty to protect the privacy and safety of all students. That’s a principle that numerous other courts—including the 4th Circuit itself—have previously upheld,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “It’s common sense that boys shouldn’t be in girls’ locker rooms, but furthermore, the school district’s policy is on solid legal ground because federal law specifically authorizes schools to have single-sex restrooms and locker rooms, as the judge who dissented from the panel’s decision rightly noted. We have asked the full 4th Circuit to reverse the panel’s ruling, which is out of step with the law and all previous federal court precedent.”
The ACLU of Virginia sued the school district over the policy in June of last year and asserted that the school board violated Title IX, a federal law, and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause when the district declined to allow a female student to use the boys’ restrooms. The U.S. departments of Education and Justice have also furthered this erroneous argument, and ADF recently filed lawsuits in North Carolina and Illinois against DOE and DOJ over their misinterpretation of the law, their lack of authority to change the law’s meaning, and the bullying tactics they are using to enforce their political will.
“Title IX, the federal law that this lawsuit cites in its attempt to overturn the school district’s policy, does just the opposite of what the ACLU is arguing,” explained ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “Title IX specifically authorizes schools to have separate restrooms and locker rooms for boys and girls. The policy accommodates students who aren’t comfortable using facilities designated for their biological sex without neglecting the established right of children to bodily privacy and safety.”
“Both the plain language of Title IX and its legislative history clearly indicate Congress’ intent to allow schools to maintain separate restrooms and locker rooms for boys and girls based on biological sex…,” the ADF brief states. “Nonetheless, DOE is holding ‘a gun to the head’ of Gloucester and other school districts across the country by threatening to revoke all of their federal education funding if the districts do not comply with this new definition of ‘sex….’ Physiological differences require distinctive and separate spaces, which is why the Title IX regulations expressly allow schools to ‘provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex….’ In situations where privacy or common sense dictates that biological boys and girls should be separated, Title IX allows schools to do just that. Numerous courts have recognized this fact.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The American Legion asks federal court to keep “in God we trust” on U.S. currency

Largest veteran’s organization in America files brief asking for the dismissal of a lawsuit to remove “In God We Trust” from national currency

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, May 17, 2016 – Today, in defense of the National Motto, First Liberty Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of The American Legion with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in the case of New Doe Child #1 v. The Congress of the United StatesRead the brief 

A group of atheists, humanists and others have filed a lawsuit against the federal government demanding the removal of the National Motto, “In God We Trust,” from U.S. currency. The Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and, today, The American Legion, the largest veterans organization in America with over 2 million members, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the motion, asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit. 

In the brief, First Liberty notes that federal courts at every level have repeatedly upheld the National Motto as constitutional. They explain that the phrase “In God We Trust” is deeply rooted in American history and not only appears on U.S. currency, but is also displayed on prominent government property. 

Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty Institute, says, “Our National Motto is deeply embedded in the history of our nation and serves both a historical and secular purpose.  The federal government’s decision to display it on our currency promotes patriotism and recognition of our national heritage. It is completely appropriate and lawful to include the Motto on our currency. Banning the national motto would be both unlawful and wrong.”    

Justin Butterfield, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute and frequent FOT guest, says, “The Supreme Court has described the National Motto, “In God We Trust,” as consistent with the U.S. Constitution. It appears on government buildings across the country, including the House and Senate Chambers and the Washington Monument. As every federal appeals court to have heard the issue has upheld ‘In God We Trust’ as lawful, we have asked the Court to dismiss the lawsuit.” 

In the brief, the attorneys say, “The American Legion believes that our National Motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ itself originating in Francis Scott Key’s poem that would become ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and honoring the courage and valor of our service members who defended Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, is a fitting and solemnizing motto for this nation. The American Legion has, therefore—as recognized even in Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint—regularly advocated for the recognition and honor of our National Motto as well as its history and heritage.” Read the brief  

About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Busy news week and lots to talk about: The Kevorkian Oath, assisted suicide, open locker rooms, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and a movie review by Stephanie

Lots to talk about on Faith On Trial this week – from same-gender locker rooms to assisted suicide to the Little Sisters of the Poor, AND a movie review, it will be hard to get it all into our allotted 28 minutes … but we’ll give it a try.

Our guest this week is Dr. Richard E. Brown, author of the novel, The Kevorkian Oath, about a futuristic America where euthanasia is required for those who put a strain on the medical delivery system. Dr. Brown is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Medicine and practices plastic surgery in central Illinois. He has published over fifty articles and chapters in medicinal literature and has served on the board of directors of various national organizations and in 2003 the American Association for hand Surgery named him Clinician of the Year.
The Kevorkian Oath was published last year and can be purchased through the link on the
Dr. Richard Brown
right side of this page. “
It’s a doctor’s duty to “do no harm”, but in a world where healthcare is completely in the hands of the government, meet physicians whose main mission is taking life instead of giving it,” from the back description of the book. This is a cautionary tale and we’ll have the author with us to explain why.
We’ll also have our research associate and movie reviewer, Stephanie Crowley, with a movie review.
Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll for an interesting and lively discussion of the issues of the day affecting people of faith: Tuesday 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.
Our program is underwritten by our loyal 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.

Little Sisters of the Poor beat Big Brother at Supreme Court

Justices send case back to lower courts in light of government’s new position

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Moments ago, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided to send back to the lower courts the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns who care for the elderly poor. The Court’s decision is a win for the Little Sisters and other groups who needed relief from draconian government fines.
In its decision, the Supreme Court held that after its unprecedented call for supplemental briefing that the lower courts should again review the cases.
“We are very encouraged by the Court’s decision, which is an important win for the Little Sisters. The Court has recognized that the government changed its position,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead Becket attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor. “It is crucial that the Justices unanimously ordered the government not to impose these fines and indicated that the government doesn’t need any notice to figure out what should now be obvious—the Little Sisters respectfully object. There is still work to be done, but today’s decision indicates that we will ultimately prevail in court.”       
The Court’s full decision can be found here.