Thursday, September 7, 2017

Godfather of the Pro-Life Movement” Turns 90: Joe Scheidler Urges Well-Wishers to Send Birthday Cards to Planned Parenthood

(Chicago) On Thursday, September 7, 2017, Joe Scheidler will turn 90. The man Wikipedia calls the “Father of Pro-Life Activism,” and whom others have dubbed the “Godfather of the Pro-Life Movement,” will spend that day like he has each day for more than four decades: fighting the legalized killing of unborn children and urging others to do the same. 

Here are some of the reasons that Joe Scheidler, National Director and Founder of the Pro-Life Action League, is hailed by many as a pro-life hero:

        Joe has been there right from the beginning… In 1973, he founded the Chicago Office for Pro-Life Publicity, believing that the American people would rise up in opposition to abortion once they saw the scientific proof of the humanity of the unborn child. But when confronted by widespread apathy about the injustice of abortion, Joe turned to more creative strategies, launching 40 years of active leadership in the pro-life movement.
        Joe has always been active in demanding social justice… In the spring of 1965 he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama. It was a natural jump from speaking out for the civil rights of disenfranchised African-Americans to defending the right to life of unborn children who cannot speak for themselves. King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, stood by Scheidler in his legal battles to protect the lives of children in the womb.

        The “Godfather” of the pro-life movement was victorious in the Supreme Court—twiceAfter 28 years of legal battles, Joe won the class action RICO case NOW v. Scheidler that singled him out as a primary enemy of abortion. The RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) laws were originally designed to address organized crime. No mobster, “Godfather” Joe won lopsided victories at the Supreme Court in both 2003 (8-1) and 2006 (8-0), and was finally vindicated once and for all in 2014 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

        A search for Joe’s name on the pro-abortion National Organization for Women website yields pages and pages of results… He is the pro-life advocate that abortion supporters can’t quit talking about.

        Joe is a pioneer in the controversial tactic of displaying images of abortion victims in the public square… His Pro-Life Action League continues to conduct Face The Truth tours across the nation, eliciting strong reactions from supporters and opponents alike.

        Joe was among the first to advocate “sidewalk counseling” outside abortion clinics… For the countless thousands of unborn babies saved through this compassionate pro-life outreach, Roe v. Wade has effectively been overturned. Sidewalk counselors inform women about the risks of abortion, offer them an opportunity to talk through their feelings, and direct them to free help at pro-life pregnancy centers.

        Providing a forum for abortion industry whistleblowers was another first for Joe… Since 1987, Joe has been hosting conferences at which former abortion clinic doctors, nurses, and other staff tell the shocking story of what it’s really like inside the abortion business—and what led them to renounce the killing of unborn children.

        Joe knows how to work in the trenches… He’s never sought out personal publicity or served as a figurehead. Joe has joyfully worked side by side with people in all sectors of the pro-life battle and is quick to credit others for their achievements. 

        This is not a phase, a gig, or a cause célèbre for Joe… His commitment to the defense of life stems from his deep religious faith. His many years studying theology and serving as the pro-life movement’s spiritual “Godfather” have helped Joe understand the far-reaching moral issues involved in abortion. He is deeply concerned for all who have been impacted by the legally sanctioned destruction of over 59 million unborn babies. 

        He IS Joe Scheidler, the “Godfather of the Pro-Life Movement.” You’ll find the official bio of Joseph M. Scheidler, National Director of the Pro-Life Action League, at 

About the Pro-Life Action League

The Pro-Life Action League was founded by Joe Scheidler in 1980 with the aim of saving babies from abortion through direct action. Not content to await a political or judicial solution to abortion, the League seeks to stop the killing of unborn children right now through all available peaceful means, including public protest, sidewalk counseling, education, youth outreach, and national leadership. Visit to learn more.

Court protects small-town prayer from pagan activist

WASHINGTON, D.C. A federal appeals court rejected a one-man crusade to eliminate the long-standing tradition of allowing county commissioners to open their meetings in prayer. In Bormuth v. County of Jackson, the court rejected pagan activist Peter Bormuth’s lawsuit against the county of Jackson, Michigan, addressing an important church-state issue that will likely set up the need for Supreme Court review because of its conflict with another recent ruling.  
In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously protected legislative prayer in its Town of Greece v. Galloway decision, which required courts to consult history to interpret the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. Yet Bormuth attempted to dodge that ruling by using the discredited Lemon test to end the county’s prayer practice. The ruling by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati directly disagrees with a very similar case, Lund v. Rowan County, in the Fourth Circuit in North Carolina.
“The Court was right to look to our nation’s history—and not the archaic Lemon test—to interpret the Establishment Clause” said Daniel Blomberg, counsel at the non-profit, religious liberty law firm Becket. “And the court’s strong disagreement with a very similar case just decided in the Fourth Circuit means that the Supreme Court will soon have the chance to provide much-needed clarity in this area of the law.”
Legislators have opened meetings in prayer since before the founding of the country, and no one considered it to be an establishment of religion. As Becket explained in the friend-of-the-court brief that it filed with Stanford Law School Professor Michael McConnell, the Founders understood an establishment of religion to be government control of the church or government attempts to force people into or out of a church.
Yet the Lemon Test, named after the 1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman case, ignores history and encourages anti-religious activists to file lawsuits against religious expression, including monuments to fallen soldiers and the national motto “In God We Trust” in U.S. currency. Town of Greece and yesterday’s Bormuth decision are important steps to ensuring that the Establishment Clause is interpreted in the same way the rest of the Constitution is: by analyzing it through its historical context.
“Small-town officials and weary judges shouldn’t be held hostage to activists determined to fight over anything that hints at religion in public life. Today’s ruling helps both reconnect the First Amendment with its historical roots and prevent future divisive church-state lawsuits,” said Blomberg.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

REPORT: America’s top universities deny students fair hearings

By FIRE September 5, 2017

·         A new survey reveals that the overwhelming majority of America’s top universities fail to provide students accused of serious misconduct with the most basic elements of fair procedure

·         A shocking 85 percent of top institutions maintain policies that receive a D or F grade for due process protections

·         Nearly 74 percent of institutions don’t even presume a student innocent until proven guilty

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 5, 2017 — Students accused of misconduct on campus are routinely required to defend themselves against serious accusations without even the most basic due process protections, according to a first-of-its-kind report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

“Spotlight on Due Process 2017” surveyed 53 of America’s top universities and found that a shocking 85 percent of schools receive a D or F grade for not ensuring due process rights. The schools were judged based on whether they guarantee those accused of campus misconduct 10 core elements of fair procedure, including adequate written notice of the allegations, the presumption of innocence, and the right to cross-examine all witnesses and accusers. FIRE awarded each institutional policy a grade based on how many of those elements it guaranteed.

“Most people will probably be surprised to learn that students are routinely expelled from college without so much as a hearing,” said Samantha Harris, FIRE’s vice president of policy research. “This report should be a huge red flag to students, parents, legislators, and the general public that an accused student’s academic and professional future often hinges on little more than the whim of college administrators.”

FIRE’s report found that 74 percent of top universities do not even guarantee accused students the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Making matters still more unjust, fewer than half of schools reviewed (47 percent) require that fact-finders — the institution’s version of judge and/or jury — be impartial.

Additionally, 68 percent of institutions fail to consistently provide students a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine their accusers or the witnesses against them — despite the fact that the Supreme Court has called cross-examination the “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.”

Most universities try students under one set of procedures for sexual misconduct, and an entirely different set of procedures for all other offenses. Of the 49 institutions in the report that maintain separate policies for sexual and non-sexual misconduct, 57 percent grant students fewer procedural protections in sexual misconduct cases — even when those cases allege criminal behavior. Troublingly, 79 percent of top universities receive a D or F for failing to protect the due process rights of students accused of sexual misconduct.

Of the 102 policies at 53 institutions rated for this report, not one received an A grade. Only two institutions — Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley — earned a B for protecting student due process rights in both sexual and non-sexual misconduct cases.

The significant risk of erroneous findings from disciplinary procedures that do not include procedural safeguards are compounded by an April 4, 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Among other things, that letter mandated that institutions use the low “preponderance of the evidence” standard when adjudicating sexual misconduct cases. At institutions that provided few procedural protections to begin with, this mandate left accused students vulnerable to guilty findings unsupported by reliable evidence and reached without following fair procedures.

“The decisions made by campus tribunals have serious and lasting consequences,” said Susan Kruth, senior program officer for legal and public advocacy at FIRE. “Colleges and universities must maintain policies designed to help fact-finders arrive at the truth. That way, institutions can discipline students who have been fairly adjudicated to be guilty without needlessly punishing innocent students.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Change your child’s gender by the stroke of a pen? Custody fight over frozen embryos! All next on FOT

Brad Dacus, president
Pacific Justice Institute
Tuesday we’ll explore a couple of items that we haven’t talked about much in the past. First we’ll have our old friend Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, to discuss pending legislation in (where else?) California that would permit a parent to change the gender of their children – no questions asked – by simply filling out a form.

The law would also create a “third” gender for state driver’s licenses and birth certificates. There is another piece of legislation that would jail people for up to a year for not using a person’s pronoun of choice.
After Brad we’ll have a real first for FOT: a legal fight over frozen human embryos in a Colorado custody case. Special counsel for the Thomas More Society Rita Gitchell, who recently filed an amicus curie (friend of the court) brief on behalf of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, will join us.
The nub of the case is that dad wants custody of the embryos so they can be destroyed but
Rita Gitchell
Thomas More Society
mom wants to keep them for possible later implantation. How might the court decide? Rita has served as president and on the board of directors for the National Lawyers Association and is a member of the review board for the Diocese of Joliet.
So join Deacon Mike Manno and Pam Briddell Tuesday at 10 a.m. (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM, and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio. You can also hear the repeat broadcast at 10 p.m. Podcasts of earlier programs can be heard here.
FOT is on the air courtesy of our loyal sponsors and underwriters: 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.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Fired for observing Passover, Jewish woman asks Supreme Court to hear her case; Becket to SCOTUS: Federal agencies must respect their employees’ right to observe religious holidays

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An Orthodox Jewish woman who was fired from her job at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for observing Passover is asking the nation’s highest court to hear her case. Last month, in Abeles v. Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, Susan Abeles appealed to the Supreme Court to hold her former employer accountable for unjustly firing her from her job of 26 years for observing the first two and last two days of Passover. A ruling from the high court could protect the right of all religious federal employees to live their faith without fear of losing their jobs.
Susan Abeles was a statistician at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), the government agency that operates both Reagan National and Dulles International Airports, for 26 years. She observed Passover every year without incident until 2013, when she was punished and forced to retire despite following leave protocol. Today, Becket and Jews for Religious Liberty, an association of Jewish lawyers and rabbis, filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the Supreme Court to hear Ms. Abeles’ case, arguing that the lower court decision “will inhibit Jewish religious exercise within the federal workplace and could easily result in a de facto government hiring ban on Orthodox Jews.”
“Talk about chutzpah,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at Becket, a non-profit religious liberty law firm. “The Airports Authority says it was okay to fire Ms. Abeles for observing Passover because it hasn’t said anything openly anti-Semitic. If that becomes the rule, then federal agencies will have a license to terminate all of their religious employees, as long as they are careful to hide their tracks. Even Pharaoh honestly admitted that he was discriminating against Jews.”
Jewish religious law prohibits work during the first two and last two days of Passover. Millions of Orthodox Jews like Ms. Abeles have observed this important holiday for thousands of years. Despite following the MWAA’s leave policy for decades, Ms. Abeles was accused of not following protocol and forced into retirement in 2013. She sued the MWAA, which claims it is exempt from both the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Virginia religious freedom laws, giving it free rein to avoid all anti-discrimination laws. In July 2017 Ms. Abeles asked the Supreme Court to hear her case.
“The Airports Authority claiming to be above the law adds insult to injury,” said Rassbach. “The Supreme Court should take this case to ensure that people of all faiths can observe their deeply held beliefs in the federal workplace without facing discrimination or being forced out of their jobs.”
Ms. Abeles is represented by Nathan Lewin of Lewin & Lewin.
Additional Information:                                                
Becket’s Amicus Brief (August 28, 2017)
Case Page for Abeles v. Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) (all legal docs, press releases, news, images)  
Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United States Supreme Court. For over 20 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians (read more here).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Emergency national collection to assist people affected by Hurricane Harvey

WASHINGTON—Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called on the bishops to consider taking up a special collection to support victims of Hurricane Harvey and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses.

In an August 28 letter, Archbishop Gomez requested that the collection be held during the weekend of September 2-3 or September 9-10.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones and to all who have lost homes and businesses along with their sense of peace and normalcy,” said Archbishop Gomez. “We also stand with our brother bishops in the region who have the difficult task of providing pastoral care in these most trying times while managing their own losses. Our prayerful and financial support is urgently needed.”

Funds given to the collection will support the humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA and will provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses through the USCCB. The hurricane has affected southeast Texas, including the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and could also strike Louisiana. As a result, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of USSCB, has asked Archbishop Gomez to coordinate this effort.

“Together with Cardinal DiNardo and the bishops throughout the affected region I express deep gratitude to the first responders and countless volunteers who are assisting the Gulf Coast region in countless ways,” Archbishop Gomez said.

This collection is to be taken on the weekend alternate to the CUA Collection. For more information on how to participate contact your local diocese or visit:

Monday, August 28, 2017

Attorneys argue that right-to-parent trumps property treatment of human embryos in Colorado embryo custody case

          Thomas More Society files brief for pro-life Ob-Gyns supporting mom

(August 28, 2017 – Denver) Thomas More Society attorneys have filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in a controversial Colorado embryo custody case. On behalf of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the nonprofit public interest law firm submitted documents to the Colorado Supreme Court supporting Mandy Rooks, the mother of six cryopreserved babies. The embryos are those remaining in cryogenic storage after in-vitro fertilization procedures which allowed Ms. Rooks to deliver a son, and later twins, while married to Drake Rooks, the children’s father. Despite the couple’s divorce, Ms. Rooks wants to keep the babies for future implantation. Her now ex-husband has asked to the court to deliver the six embryos to him for destruction. 

Attorney Rita Gitchell, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, spoke to one of the primary issues in the submitted amicus brief. “The appellate court erred in adopting a ‘balance of interest’ approach and treating the preserved human embryos as marital property in the divorce. Current science has established that these embryonic children are the result of procreation and are not property.”  For that reason, any balancing of interests must include the interest in continued life of the living embryonic human beings. 

Gitchell added, “Neither the appellate or lower district court cited any law that permits the court to terminate the life of a human being without a compelling reason. For those who argue that Roe v. Wade permits termination of an unborn child during pregnancy, but that does not apply when a mother desires to give birth to her child. Because Mandy Rooks wants to bring her embryonic children to birth, Roe is inapplicable to this case. Roe does not grant a father the right to terminate his genetic embryonic child to avoid procreation, which has already occurred.”  

Gitchell also criticized existing legal precedents that fail to recognize these human embryos as human beings with identifiable parents. “These children were created intentionally with the participation of both Ms. Rooks and her husband. They deliberately conceived these biological offspring with the intention of bringing them to birth.  Their mother has the right to carry out their intention to bear, raise and protect them, even if their father has decided he no longer wishes to do so,” explained Gitchell. Colorado law supports this position because it allows a father to relinquish legal parenthood under the facts of this case. This does not affect the mother’s parental rights over the embryos.  

Read the amicus curiae submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court in Rooks v. Rooks by Thomas More Society attorneys on behalf of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, here.

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