Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Illinois bill forcing pro-life pregnancy care centers to promote abortion heads to governor’s desk

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A bill that has passed both houses of the Illinois Legislature and that will likely be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature would violate federal law and therefore place federal funding, including Medicaid reimbursements, in jeopardy, according to a letter Alliance Defending Freedom sent to Rauner on Friday on behalf of numerous pro-life physicians, pregnancy care centers, and pregnancy care center network organizations. ADF warned legislators about the problems with the bill last year.

The bill, SB 1564, forces medical facilities and physicians who conscientiously object to involvement in abortions to adopt policies that provide women who ask for abortions with a list of providers “they reasonably believe may offer” them. Two federal laws, known as the Coats-Snowe amendment and the Hyde-Weldon amendment, together prohibit states that receive federal funding from forcing pro-life physicians and entities to refer women for abortion or to make arrangements for their referral. Illinois law also prohibits government from placing burdens on religious conscience without a compelling interest for doing so.

“No state can rob women of the right to choose a pro-life doctor by forcing pro-life
Matt Bowman
physicians and entities to make or arrange abortion referrals. That’s what federal law clearly states,” said ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. “The governor would be on firm legal ground to veto this bill because of its collision with federal law and the U.S. Constitution—and because the courts have invalidated similar measures in other states.”

“Alliance Defending Freedom has represented multiple pro-life pregnancy help organizations in federal lawsuits in which we have obtained court orders against laws that attempted to force the pregnancy centers to recite government’s messages,” the ADF letter explains. “Several of the cases specifically struck down the requirement that pregnancy centers tell women certain things about abortion or birth control, or that they give the women information about alternative service providers. See Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County…. Alliance Defending Freedom is ready and willing to represent Illinois pro-life pregnancy centers if SB 1564 becomes law.”

The federal Coats-Snowe amendment declares that “any State or local government that receives Federal financial assistance, may not subject any health care entity to discrimination on the basis that” it (1) “refuses to…provide referrals for…abortions,” or it (2) “refuses to make arrangements for any of the activities specified in paragraph (1).”

In addition to protecting “entities,” the Coats-Snowe amendment protects “individual physician[s].” The federal funding that violating the Coats-Snowe amendment jeopardizes “includes” but is not limited to “governmental payments provided as reimbursement for carrying out health-related activities.” Separately, the federal Hyde-Weldon amendment prohibits states that receive certain federal funding from requiring physicians or health care entities to refer for abortions.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The cover-up of ambulance calls to abortion facilities in Chicago and opposing the ACLU’s defense of dismemberment abortions in Kansas

The Thomas More Society out of Chicago is currently involved in two matters of interest. In the first it is representing the Pro-Life Action League in a dispute with the City of Chicago and the Illinois Department of Public Health over emergency medical calls to area abortion clinics. As we have reported in the past, there are numerous instances of women being maimed and killed at these clinics. The issue here involves the release of the emergency calls under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The city has refused all requests and Thomas More is taking up the cause.

Tom Olp
In the second matter, the Kansas legislature has passed a bill that outlaws dismemberment abortions. The Kansas ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of that law and Thomas More, representing the Family Research Council, has now filed briefs with the Kansas Supreme Court supporting the law.
Discussing these matters will be Thomas More attorney Tom Olp. Tom has been a guest on our program before and we expect a lively conversation about these cases as well as a discussion of other cases that are of interest to people of faith.
So join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday at 9 a.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com for an interesting discussion of these issues. The program will be re-broadcast at 9 p.m. and all of our archived programs are now available on the station’s web page; look under “programs” and click on “Faith On Trial” to find the podcasts.
This program is brought to you by our loyal sponsers: 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 Robd enHartog, Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual Life, NW corner of 128th Street and Hickman Rd, 515-210-4472.

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.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Small town judge faces ban for religious beliefs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ignoring the pleas of LGBT citizens in the small town of Pinedale, Wyoming, a state agency is demanding that – after over 20 years of sterling service – Judge Ruth Neely be banned for life from the judiciary and pay up to $40,000 in fines merely for stating that her faith prevents her from personally performing same-sex weddings. Even though small-town magistrates like Judge Neely aren’t required or even paid by the state to perform weddings, the state agency concluded that Judge Neely “manifested a bias” and is therefore permanently unfit to serve as a judge. This would be the first time in the country that a judge was removed from office because of her religious beliefs about marriage.

Judge Ruth Neely
“As a local LGBT couple who actually knows Judge Neely put it: punishing Judge Neely for her religious beliefs would be ‘obscene and offensive,’” said Daniel Blomberg, Legal Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which submitted a friend-of-the-court brief defending Judge Neely. “They were right. In America, the government doesn’t get to punish people for their religious beliefs—especially not for beliefs that the U.S. Supreme Court itself, in the very opinion that recognized same-sex marriage, said were ‘decent and honorable’ and held ‘in good faith by reasonable and sincere people.’”
Judge Neely has served the community of Pinedale, Wyoming (population, 2030) for over 20 years. Many local officials in Pinedale can solemnize weddings, but are not required to do so. Judges like Judge Neely can decline to perform weddings for many reasons, such as a desire to marry only friends and family, to avoid conflicts with fishing, football games, or hair appointments, or even simply because they “don’t feel like it.” Nevertheless, Judge Neely faces removal from office for saying that her religious beliefs would prevent her from performing a same-sex marriage—even though she has never even been asked to perform one.
Judge Neely has had a career of impeccable service, with local mayors and citizens praising her fairness and impartiality. The local town attorney says that “every[one] who appears before Ruth gets a fair shake,” and another Pinedale resident says “Ruth Neely is one of the best people I have ever met.” Even the state agency calling for her ouster admits she has “served the community well” and she’s a “well-recognized and respected judge.” The worst offense that the state agency was able to find was that she occasionally corrected police officers who used bad grammar in writing tickets.
“Unfortunately, the agency is trying make an example out of Judge Neely to intimidate any other judge that doesn’t toe the agency’s line on marriage,” continued Blomberg. “But the constitution doesn’t allow government agents to purge the judiciary of anyone who holds ‘heretical’ views about marriage.”
The Becket Fund today submitted an amicus brief in support of Judge Neely in the Wyoming Supreme Court. Joining the Becket Fund on the amicus brief is local counsel Douglas W. Bailey. Judge Neely is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty 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. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

A look at today’s college campuses from a Christian and conservative viewpoint

What is happening on college campuses today when a Christian or conservative group wants to take part in campus activities? Are their free speech rights being abridged? Are their morals being undermined?

John Ritchie
Not a week goes by where there is not a story concerning speech and activity rights on some campus somewhere – some are even on Catholic college campuses – being curbed. Conservative speakers are either not invited to speak on campus, or their events are being shut down by protesters. Are these stories overblown or do they represent a growing trend of anti-Christian and anti-traditional values being pushed by colleges today?
Helping us answer these questions on this week’s FOT will be John Ritchie, director of Traditional Family Property Student Action (TFP) who has been organizing the group’s outreach for moral values on college campuses for over ten years. TFP Student Action is a project of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. It was formed to resist, in the realm of ideas, the liberal, socialist and communist trends of the times and proudly affirm the positive values of tradition, family and private property.
Networking with thousands of students and concerned parents, TFP Student Action defends
TFP Logo
traditional moral values on college campuses. Inspired by the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, TFP volunteers are on the front lines of the culture war, working to restore the values of Christian civilization.
Join John, Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll for another lively discussion of issues that affect students and all people of faith.  In addition to John, we will also be reporting on other stories of interest. Tune-in Tuesday at 9 a.m. (CDT) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com. The program will be rebroadcast at 9 p.m.
Faith On Trial 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.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Missouri State University sued for denying student degree on religious grounds

The Thomas More Society Files Complaint in Defense of Civil and Religious Rights
This week, attorneys with the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, filed a federal civil rights action complaint against the Governors of Missouri State University on behalf of Andrew Cash. He was a student at the university who was dismissed from his M.S. in Counseling program after expressing concern over counseling same-sex couples due to his religious views. His suit claims that he is unable to be a counselor and suffers daily emotional grief and pain. He is also seeking MSU to reinstate him in his counseling with safeguards so that he can earn his degree.
Cash began the program at MSU in September 2007. He was a student in excellent standing and nearing the completion of his degree when the disagreement with the school arose in 2011 over counseling gay couples.
“Traditionally, universities have been places for freedom of thought, expression, and religion,” said Tom Olp, Executive Director and Attorney for the Thomas More Society. “Yet we see Missouri State University has betrayed long-held values of academic freedom by denying educational opportunity to Mr. Cash on the basis of his deeply-held religious beliefs. We are working to correct the denial to freedom of expression and freedom of religion he experienced at MSU.”
As a part of the degree program, students are required to complete a 600 hour clinical
Andrew Cash
internship, with 240 hours “face-to-face” with clients. Cash started his internship in January 2011 with the Springfield Marriage and Family Institute (SMFI). This organization was approved by MSU as an internship site, and at least one other student in the M.S. in Counseling program had previously completed an internship with them. They are a Christian based counseling agency.
After hosting a class presentation at SMFI on Christian counseling with the director of the center, it became known to his academic advisor that Cash would not counsel a gay couple in regards to their relationship, a view he shared with those at SMFI. He expressed that he would be happy to counsel gay individuals on any other matter – for instance, depression or anxiety – and would be glad to refer them to a counselor better fit to advise on same-sex relationship matters. Suddenly, the school determined SMFI was no longer considered an appropriate location for a school internship due to “ethical concerns.”
Although Cash worked with the administration to find a different internship, they made further demands on him to redo certain coursework he had previously completed. They determined that the 51 clinical hours completed at SMFI would not count towards the 240 face-to-face hours he needed to graduate. Despite numerous appeals to higher levels of the MSU administration, Cash was notified in November 2014 that he was being removed from the program.
Read the Complaint, filed in the Western District of Missouri Court, here.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How low can we go? Public urination facilities paid for by tax dollars!

You’re not going to believe the latest in public degradation: public urination facilities known as “pissoirs” and we have our old friend Brad Dacus, President of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) joining us to tell our listeners what PJI is doing to stop them.  

Several years ago, you might recall, Brad joined us to discuss something most of us had
Brad Dacus
never heard of before: Same-sex locker and rest room facilities. Since that time, Brad and many others have been fighting the LGBT agenda over open restrooms.

Now we see one city, San Francisco, sink to a new low: public urination facilities. Brad will join us again this week to discuss the legal issue and PJI’s suit against the city in an effort to stop this new demonstration of depravity.  

PJI first reported on February 4 that San Francisco had constructed a semi-circular structure, known as a pissoir, at the corner of Dolores Park. The wall is about 4 feet high and is completely open at the back, with no roof or doors. Men using the hole in the ground are visible to children playing in the park, passersby on the adjacent street, sidewalk and light rail, and to residents overlooking the park. ​

PJI sent a demand letter to the City and County of San Francisco more than two months ago, identifying numerous legal problems with the pissoir.  In response, San Francisco offered no substantive rebuttal but disclosed documents confirming that it spent at least $15,000 on the pissoir.
A pissoir in use
Brad commented, “San Francisco’s use of tax dollars to promote public urination is not only disgusting; it is also blatantly illegal.  Officials would not and could not allow such a facility to be constructed by private businesses or residents, because it so obviously violates disability access and basic health and safety laws, to name a few.  These officials are not above the law.”    

Join Deacon Mike Manno and his co-host Gina Noll Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM; and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com for a discussion of this and other legal issues of interested to people of faith. The program will re-air at 9 p.m. 

FOT is sponsored by our 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.