Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pro-abortion license plates on the horizon

California may soon have thousands of rolling "billboards" supporting abortion, thanks to proposed legislation that would authorize automobile license plates promoting a woman’s right to choose. Senate Bill 309, authored by Santa Barbara Democrat Hanna-Beth Jackson, would also serve as a fundraising vehicle for abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood. The bill is sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice California, which is also pushing several other pro-abortion bills this year.

In proposing the measure, Jackson took a swipe at President Donald Trump and the Republican majority in Congress, saying their attempts to cut federal funding for to reproductive health care services is what propelled her effort.

“We will not stand idly by and let this happen,” Jackson said, adding, “This license plate represents one way that we can demonstrate that we will stay true to our values and the right of every woman to safe, affordable and quality reproductive health care.

The initial cost for the “California Trusts Women” plates would be $50, but at least 7,500 of them would have to be ordered in advance before manufacturing could begin. The annual renewal fee for the plates would be $40. The plate’s design would be determined through a contest among Golden State artists.

According to a Los Angeles Times opinion piece, the phrase “Trust Women” is a nod to late-term abortion doctor George Tiller. The Kansas doctor was killed by an extremist in 2009 and has become a hero for many abortion supporters.

Not surprisingly, California is not among the 29 states that offer Choose Life license plates. Additionally, groups in 16 other states are working to get similar pro-life plates approved. In fact, California is one of only five states in which there is no active effort for the pro-life specialty plates.

Pregnancy clinics ask Supreme Court to protect them from forced abortion advertising

Washington, DC—A major pro-life case is being filed with the U.S. Supreme Court today that could become one of the biggest abortion-related cases in years. 

At issue is a California law that requires pro-life pregnancy clinics to post signs telling visitors that they can obtain free or low-cost abortions and related services by contacting the county health department.  Similar laws were struck down by federal courts of appeals in New York and Virginia, but the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found nothing wrong with the mandate.  

Pacific Justice Institute represents two pregnancy clinics, one each in Northern and Southern California.  The clinics contend that forcing them to convey a government message that is reprehensible to their beliefs is an egregious violation of the First Amendment.  PJI is filing its brief, known as a Petition for Writ of Certiorari, with the Supreme Court today.  Although most cases have roughly a 1% chance of being granted review by the court, the contradictory rulings by the federal courts of appeals make it much more likely the Supreme Court would weigh in. 


Brad Dacus, president of PJI, and a frequent guest on FOT, commented, “This is an important day for the future of free speech in America.  If the government can force conscientious Americans to advertise for the government and say things that contradict their deeply-held beliefs, our liberties are lost.  We are very hopeful the Supreme Court will take up this case and restore free speech in this crucial area of national debate.”

Monday, March 20, 2017

Parents battle sex-ed in Omaha’s public schools: Next FOT

A local Nebraska group, Nebraskans for Founders Values (NFV), an affiliate of MassResistance, and hundreds of school parents have challenged the Omaha Public Schools (OPS) over a “Comprehensive” sex education program established at all grade levels in the school district. One point of contention is that the sex-ed, homosexuality, and transgender lessons are not only outrageously age-inappropriate, but are saturated with radical LGBT ideology that is incongruent with actual science. is applicable to all grade levels in the school district.

Joining Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday for a discussion of the program and why there is such resistance will be John Dockery, a spokesman for the NFV and parents group. FOT airs every Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Central) and is rebroadcast at 9 p.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94. 94.5 FM and streams on IowaCatholicRadio.com and can be heard anywhere on the Iowa Catholic Radio app that you can download free from the app store.
Faith On Trial is on the air courtesy of 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.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ban on late-term baby dismemberment defended before Kansas Supreme Court

Thomas More Society brief argues that state constitution
does not grant “right to abortion”

 (March 16, 2017 – Topeka, Kansas) Today, the Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit dealing with the state’s law prohibiting the performance of dismemberment (dilation and evacuation) abortions on live, unborn children.  The Thomas More Society’s friend of the court (amicus) brief in Hodes v. Schmidt supports the ban, which is being challenged by two abortionists, Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser.  The law was passed by the Kansas legislature and signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback. 

The plaintiffs argue that the measure violates Section One of the Kansas Bill of Rights, which provides that, “all men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Hodes and Nauser insist that this phrasing guarantees a woman a right to abortion at any stage.  A state trial court entered a temporary injunction against the ban and a divided appellate court affirmed that injunction.  

The Thomas More Society brief was filed by Special Counsel Paul Benjamin Linton on behalf of the Family Research Council, a national organization dedicated to promotion of marriage, family and the sanctity of human life. Linton maintains that the Kansas Bill of Rights' provision cited does not create a right to abortion in Kansas and therefore cannot be used to block enforcement of the state law that aims to end the widely-opposed gruesome practice of dismemberment abortions.  

A constitutional scholar, Linton reviews similar provisions from 28 other states, none of which support the view that Kansas' Bill of Rights provision creates a right to abortion. In fact, Kansas outlawed abortion until Roe v. Wade. Linton points out that Kansas courts have never previously interpreted Section One of the Kansas Bill of Rights to create judicially enforceable substantive rights, and he demonstrates that the dismembering of live, unborn children has no foundation in the Kansas constitutional law.   

Read the Brief Amicus Curiae of the Family Research Council filed by the Thomas More Society in the case of Hodes v. Schmidt, heard March 16, 2017, in the Supreme Court of Kansas here.

About Paul Linton

Paul Benjamin Linton, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, is a constitutional scholar based in Northbrook, Illinois. He is the author of a standard legal treatise entitled, Abortion Under State Constitutions, A State-by-State Analysis (Carolina Academic Press, 2nd edition, 2012), for which principal funding was provided by the Thomas More Society. 

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 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Homeschooling harrassment?

Tuesday we’re going to discuss homeschooling and an apparent overreach by school officials in one Kentucky school district.  Apparently, School officials in the district were dispatched to monitor homeschooling families – similar to the way that parole officers check up on and keep tabs on former inmates.

“Just last month, several families in the Paris Independent School District reported being
Tj Schmidt, HSLDA staff attorney
visited by school officials,” Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt, Tuesday's guest, (see video below) reported.   “If no one was at home, the visit was marked by a doorhanger.”


One of the markers brought to HSLDA’s attention requested a follow-up.
“Home school check. Please give us a call,” read one of the district’s markers, which was signed by the local elementary school’s principal. Schmidt contends that the state’s unwarranted infringement on the education of homeschoolers is not wanted … and not legal.
“Two school officials who visited parent Jenny Griffith at her home said the district intends to visit every home school family three times this year,” Schmidt recounted. “As part of their plan to help families, the school officials asked about attendance records and curriculum. Before leaving, one official asked Jenny about meeting her child. “
Being intimidated by the threatening and intrusive visitation, Griffith contacted HSLDA attorneys for legal advice and possible legal representation if the unwelcomed home invasions continued.
“I got the impression that district staff could become more difficult if I didn't cooperate in answering their questions or bring out my child to meet them,” Jenny explained. “I tried to handle the situation as civilly as possible – without adding any threat to them,” said one parent.
Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday to discuss this and other matters of interest to people of faith. FOT airs at 9 a.m. (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com as well as our phone app that you can download free from the app store. The program is re-broadcast at 9 p.m.
Faith On Trial is on the air courtesy of 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 FinancialServices, 200 West 2nd Ave., Indianola, Iowa 50125, 515-961-4555 or 515-205-5642.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Blaine Amendment vs. Trinity Lutheran Church: Teed up for SCOTUS

ADF Senior Counsel
Erik Stanley
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral arguments on April 19 in arguably the most important religious freedom case this term, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley. We have been reporting on this case since it started and this week we will have as our guest Senior Counsel Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defending Freedom to discuss the impact of this case and the future of the so-called “Little Blaine” amendments.

Trinity Lutheran Church Learning Center in Columbia sought to participate in the 2012 Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grant Program. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources disqualified the center solely because a church operates it. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit narrowly upheld a district court’s decision that ruled in favor of the state.
At stake could be the future of the Little Blaine Amendments which refers to a provision in 38 of the 50 state constitutions in the United States that forbid direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation. They were designed to prohibit aid to parochial schools, especially those operated by the Catholic Church in locations with large immigrant populations.
The Blaine Amendments get their name from former Speaker of the House James G. Blaine who proposed it as an amendment to the U. S. Constitution in 1875. When it failed several states adopted it for their states.   
James G. Blaine
“This is a critical case because, under the state’s logic, the government could deny churches access to fire services or water treatment, for example. That’s obviously not what the state or federal constitution was designed to prevent,” noted Erik Stanley, who has litigated the case since its inception. “The state admits that it blatantly excludes religious organizations from a safety program that has nothing to do with religion. That’s precisely the kind of hostility to religion that the U.S. Constitution prohibits.”
FOT airs Tuesday mornings at 9 (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streams on IowaCatholicRadio.com where you can download our free app to listen on your smart phones anywhere, and where podcasts of earlier programs can be found.
FOT is on the air courtesy of our loyal sponsors and underwriters: Attorney RickMcConville, 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.