Friday, December 9, 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Thomas More Society Demands Apology from Fort Wayne School Board
for Abuse of Pro-Life Advocates
(December 7, 2016 – Fort Wayne, IN) The Fort Wayne Public School Board has received a letter from the Thomas More Society demanding an apology for the alleged disturbing misconduct of South Side High School Principal Carlton Mable. On November 18, 2016, Mable, in front of students, tried to block pro-life advocates from displaying abortion-condemning signs on the public right of way and prohibit them from providing students with pro-life information, even going so far as to physically wrest a sign away from one pro-life advocate before throwing it to the ground. Mable’s tirade, caught on video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG_AsVZBFZk#action=share] and eventually halted by police, has resulted in the demand issued by attorney Thomas M. Dixon, Thomas More Society Special Counsel and President at Dixon, Wright & Associates, P.C. Acting on behalf of Created Equal and individuals whose First Amendment rights were trampled by Mable, the Thomas More Society has also asked the City of Fort Wayne for reassurances of the continued protection of the pro-life advocates’ constitutionally guaranteed rights.
The letter details how Mable denied Created Equal and its members the right to peaceably assemble and speak on a public sidewalk adjacent to South Side High School by:
- aggressively approaching them
- verbally accosting them
- making threats towards them when he saw that he was being videotaped
- mischaracterizing a public sidewalk as being school property
- asserting a false right to “protect” students from being exposed to speech he deemed inappropriate
- forcefully taking property from them and throwing it into the street
- flouting and squelching their First Amendment rights in the presence of many students
The Thomas More Society letter states, “Principal Mable trampled on rights that are enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Articles 2, 3, 4 and 9 of the Indiana Constitution, and are fiercely protected by the United States Supreme Court. Our clients insist on the respect to which they are entitled. We seek written apologies from Principal Mable and School Board Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson, assurances from the School Board that this will not happen again, and guarantees from the City of Fort Wayne that it will continue to uphold free speech rights.”
Mark Harrington, National Director of Created Equal, remarked, “Pro-life activists have been experiencing an increase in vandalism and violence at high school campuses across the country. Unfortunately, to some school officials, public sidewalks are considered their own private property in which they feel they can wield control and censor free speech. Creating unconstitutional ‘safe zones’ in the public square where students can be shielded from unpleasant subjects does a disservice to our youth, and does not prepare these young adults for the real world.”
Read the December 2, 2016, letter sent by Attorney Thomas M. Dixon to Fort Wayne School Board here [https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Created-Equal-Demand-Ft-Wayne-Ltr.pdf].
View the video documenting South Side High School Principal Carlton Mable’s actions against peaceful pro-life advocates on the public right of way here [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG_AsVZBFZk#action=share]
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 www.thomasmoresociety.org
at 12:27 PM
Court hears case for employees’ rights to observe religious holidays
WASHINGTON, D.C. – An Orthodox Jewish woman who was fired by the government agency that operates Dulles and Reagan National Airports because she observed Passover took her case to court today.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia will decide the case of Susan Abeles, who lost her job of 26 years for observing Passover, an important religious holiday in Judaism. An employee of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), the government agency that operates Reagan National and Dulles Airports, Ms. Abeles had observed Passover every year without incident until 2013, when she was punished and forced to retire despite following leave protocol.
“My Jewish faith is an integral part of who I am and that includes observing Passover,” said Susan Abeles. “I worked at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for twenty-six years and provided to various supervisors the same advance notice of all Jewish holidays without incident. It is saddening that despite following the same protocol I had each year, I was put on AWOL and suspended for five days which drove me to retire early for simply practicing my faith.”
Passover is observed for eight days, and Jewish religious law prohibits work during the first two and last two days. Millions of Orthodox Jews like Ms. Abeles have observed Passover for thousands of years, yet the MWAA’s policy is to ignore this important religious holiday. Of course, like all government agencies, MWAA treats Christmas as a holiday for all workers. In 2015, Ms. Abeles sued the MWAA, which now claims to be exempt from both federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and Virginia religious freedom laws, giving it free rein to avoid all anti-discrimination laws.
Becket and the American Jewish Committee argue that MWAA is not above the law, stating in their brief, “Can a governmental entity wielding the full force of law, armed with police and eminent domain powers and tasked with the oversight of two of the busiest airports in the country, properly declare itself exempt from the reach of both state and federal anti-discrimination law? …the law says no.”
“It takes some chutzpah for the government to punish a Jewish woman for celebrating Passover,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “It takes even more chutzpah to say that they are the only government agency in DC exempt from our civil rights laws.”
Becket and the American Jewish Committee, a leading Jewish advocacy group, filed a friend-of-the-court brief earlier this year defending Ms. Abeles and her right to practice her faith as protected by RFRA. After a Virginia federal district court ruled against Ms. Abeles, she appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard her case today. Ms. Abeles is represented by Nathan Lewin of Lewin & Lewin.
at 11:29 AM
Monday, December 5, 2016
This week we’ll be joined by Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for Life to update
us on the latest in the
pro-life community. We’ll have a special focus on activities surrounding
Thursday’s celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Executive Director, Iowans for Life
Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll will also bring you up-to-date on news of interest to people of faith. So join us Tuesday at 9 a.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming live on IowaCatholicRadio.com. Check out our YouTube channel to see the program as it is being webcast. Podcasts of earlier programs can be found here.
Faith On Trial is brought to you 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.
at 4:09 PM
Thursday, December 1, 2016
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, December 1, 2016 – Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio dismissed a lawsuit against the federal government demanding the removal of the National Motto, “In God We Trust,” from U.S. currency. In the opinion, the court dismissed the Plaintiffs’ claims that the use of the National Motto on currency violates their rights to free exercise, free speech, and equal protection. Read the opinion.
After a group of atheists, humanists and others filed a lawsuit against the federal government demanding the removal of the phrase “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency, First Liberty Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of The American Legion (the largest veterans service organization in America with over 2 million members) defending the National Motto in the case of New Doe Child #1 v. The Congress of the United States. Read the brief.
Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty Institute, says, “We’re grateful that the court upheld the federal government’s ability to display our National Motto on our currency. Federal courts have repeatedly upheld the National Motto as constitutional. ‘In God We Trust’ is deeply embedded in our nation’s history and is a symbol of patriotism.”
Justin Butterfield, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute, says, “The National Motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ appears on government buildings across the country, including the House and Senate Chambers. Banning the National Motto from our currency would have been egregious, and the court ruled correctly in dismissing the lawsuit.”
In the brief, the attorneys said, “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.”
About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.
at 9:28 AM
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Monday, November 28, 2016
Sunday’s Des Moines Register contained a long article about the controversies over
physician assisted suicide; whether or not it is necessary, and are there enough safeguards to protect the elderly, the infirm, and mentally challenged. The story was complete with the semi-sanitized version of one California woman’s death via assisted suicide.
Tuesday the focus of our discussion will be on this topic, what we refer to as doctor prescribed death. In the studio with Deacon Mike and Gina will be Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference and chief lobbyist for the Church. Tom will be able to discuss what is happening in the statehouse and what is being done about it. This is an issue that has come before the legislature, but thus far has failed to pass. The fortunes of the sponsoring pro-suicide Democrats have changed somewhat since the election turned both houses of the General Assembly over to the Republicans, but that doesn’t mean a suicide bill is dead or that a resort will not be made to the courts.
This will be an interesting discussion so plan on joining Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll for an interesting discussion of whether or not doctor prescribed death will find a place in Iowa. Tuesday at 9 a.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming live on IowaCatholicRadio.com and on our own app that you can download from our site. And don’t forget that FOT is now being webcast so you can actually watch the program. Pod casts from older programs are available from the station’s website and the program itself will re-broadcast at 9 p.m. – all times are Central.
FOT is brought to you 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.
at 4:20 PM