Monday, October 31, 2016

What direction will the Supreme Court take? Next FOT

John Malcom
What will be the direction of the Supreme Court and the other federal courts after the election and inauguration of the next president? That will be the topic of tomorrow’s Faith On Trial. Our guest will be John G. Malcolm, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and the Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson senior legal fellow at Heritage.

Before being named director of the Meese Center in July 2013, John spearheaded the center’s rule of law programs. His research and writing as senior legal fellow focused on criminal law, immigration, national security, religious liberty and intellectual property.

John recently conducted an interview at the Heritage Foundation with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. That interview can be seen below.

The Meese Center works to educate government officials, the media and the public about the Constitution and legal principles -- and how they affect public policy. The center was founded in 2001 and overseen until early 2013 by the conservative icon whose name it bears, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III.

Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll for a discussion of the evolution of the federal courts and other issues of interest to people of faith Tuesday at 9 a.m. (central) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM, 88.4 & 94.5 FM and streaming on and on our own radio app that you can download from the app store – its free! Podcasts of prior programs can be found on our page on the station’s web site here.

Faith On Trial is broadcast courtesy of our underwriters and sponsors: Attorney Rick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055; and 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.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Up next on FOT: Iowa becomes Ground Zero on First Amendment freedoms

Tuesday we are turning our attention to two nation-wide stories that emanate from right here
Casey Mattox
in Central Iowa. The first is the Iowa State University speech code and the second is the effort by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission to dictate to Iowa churches just what can and cannot be said during their services. Both subjects have generated federal lawsuits and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is involved in both.

Joining us Tuesday will be Senior ADF Counsel Casey Mattox. Below is a blog post by Alan Sears, president and CEO of ADF about both cases.

So join Deacon Mike Manno, co-host Gina Noll and Casey Mattox for a lively discussion of these and other stories of interest to people of faith. Faith On Trial is aired every Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Central) and 9 p.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on where you can find podcasts of earlier programs.

Faith on Trial is on the air courtesy of our underwriters and sponsors: Attorney Rick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055; and 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.

Alan Sears’ post (Posted Oct. 21) is below: 

Sometimes, the events in just one state offer a pretty clear microcosm of what’s happening all over the country. Right now, Iowa is Exhibit A for what is fast becoming a nationwide contempt in our courts for the First Amendment of our constitution. 

Assault on Freedom of Speech

Alan Sears

t Iowa State University, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Robert Dunn, a student at Iowa State University, who is challenging the school’s draconian speech code. University officials are openly warning students that “engaging in First Amendment-protected speech activities” may be punished as “harassment,” and telling them that if they fail to embrace that singular interpretation of the constitution, they may be prohibited from graduating.

Dunn is a Christian and the president and founder of the politically conservative student group ISU Young Americans for Freedom, the campus chapter of the national Young America’s Foundation. Last month, he received an e-mail from the university requiring a new online training program on “the university’s non-discrimination policies and procedures.” The 118-slide course doesn’t acknowledge any free speech rights for students, and  requires each student to certify that he has “read, understood, and will comply with” the university’s speech policies.

The policies, as outlined, “may cover those activities which, although not severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to meet the legal definition of harassment, are unacceptable …” What’s more, officials say, even “First Amendment-protected speech activities” may constitute harassment “depending on the circumstances,” including whether other students believe the speech is not “legitimate,” not “necessary,” or lacks a “constructive purpose.”

The policies define “harassment” as, among other vague things, any student expression that may “annoy or alarm another.” Iowa State officials have warned that opposing same-sex marriage, for instance, could be deemed a violation of the harassment policies.

“No university policy can trump the First Amendment,” points out ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox, who says Iowa State is setting up itself and other students – rather than the constitution –  as the arbiters of what speech is and is not protected. “These are anti-speech policies masquerading as ‘harassment’ policies,” he says, calling the policies unworthy of an institution of higher education, “especially when Iowa State – a taxpayer-funded entity – demands that students agree to them under threat of withholding the ability to graduate.”

These threats to freedom on campus affect the rest of us as surely as they do the students themselves. Students who’ve been taught that their First Amendment rights are somehow gifts from the government, to be granted or taken away at that government’s whim, may take those impressions with them when they graduate and assume their own careers in our schools, courts, and legislatures. That’s how misconceptions become popular misconceptions. 

Assault On Religious Freedom

Some Iowa state officials are no fonder of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, as members of the state’s Civil Rights Commission are moving to censor church statements on biblical sexuality and forcing congregations to open their restroom and showers to members of both sexes and all gender identifications.

Those officials asked a federal district court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by ADF attorneys on behalf of several Iowa pastors and churches; last week, the court declined to do so. The court’s ruling states that the church’s “fear of prosecution …is objectively reasonable,” since churches have never been public accommodations subject to government regulation, and state officials have no business trying to decide which church activities are religious and which ones aren’t.

“The government acts outside of its authority when it attempts to control churches. Neither the commission nor any state law has the constitutional authority to dictate how any church uses its facility, or what public statements a church can make concerning sexuality,” says ADF Senior Counsel Steve O’Ban, who argued before the court on behalf of the church. “As the court found, government bureaucrats don’t get to decide which church activities have a religious purpose; that’s for the church to decide.”

The court’s ruling is crucial, as the lawsuit goes forward, because other states (especially Massachusetts) are watching this case as they move to enforce their own encroachments on church autonomy and religious freedom.

As Americans and as people of faith, so blessed for so long with the protections afforded to us by a remarkable constitution, we are all tempted to put too much faith in inertia – why would a country that has for 240 years moved in one clear direction suddenly swerve off into another?

But today, other hands are grappling for the wheel – and if we don’t keep a firm grip (through our prayers, through our votes, through our willingness to fight in the courtroom for our constitutionally protected rights), the nation we love and the heritage we cherish will skid out of control in new, profoundly dangerous directions.

What’s happening in Iowa isn’t a fluke or an exception – just among the most high-profile examples of the moment of this growing assault on our most cherished freedoms. Please be in prayer for our ADF attorneys and allies, and for the courageous clients in Iowa and elsewhere who are standing in defense of the truths we hold dear. 

Alan Sears, President, CEO, and General Counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom

Alan Sears leads ADF efforts through a comprehensive legal strategy that includes training, funding, and legal advocacy that have resulted in various important roles in 49 victories at the U.S. Supreme Court and three out of four cases.

Federal appeals court scheduled to hear case involving censorship of Christian public school teacher

On October 25th, Robert Muise, Senior Counsel at the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), will present oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is located in New York City, on behalf of Joelle Silver, a public school teacher and devout Christian who was forced by Cheektowaga (Buffalo) Central School District officials to censor her personal speech and remove all religious content from her classroom under threat of being fired.
Muise commented,
“Public school officials restricted Ms. Silver’s personal, non-curricular speech and effectively ordered her to cease being a Christian while she is on school property in direct violation of the First Amendment and the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment.  We are seeking a reversal of the district court’s order dismissing this lawsuit—an order that is dripping with hostility to religion.”
The lower court dismissed Silver’s claims, holding that the School District’s discrimination was justified because school officials feared that by allowing the personal speech, it could run afoul of the Establishment Clause, particularly in light of the fact that school officials received a threatening letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation complaining about Silver.
On June 22, 2012, Silver, who has taught in the School District for many years, received a “counseling letter” from school officials in which she was ordered to remove all religious items from her classroom, including, among other things, a small poster stating: “Be on guard.  Stand true to what you believe.  Be courageous.  Be strong.  And everything you do must be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-4.”
Ironically, the School District also directed Silver to remove a small posted quote from President Ronald Reagan that states: “Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience . . . without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure . . .  If ever we forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.”
The School District further ordered Silver to remove small, personal “sticky notes” that contained inspirational Bible quotes and religious messages that she discreetly affixed to the back of her desk.  To add further insult, the School District informed Silver that if she needed “to occasionally glance at inspirational Bible verses between classes during the course of the day,” then she should “keep such material in a discreet folder that only [she] will have access to” and only “so long as [she took] precautions not to share it or disclose its content to [her] students or their parents or guardians,” thereby treating Silver’s Bible quotes as if they were a form of obscenity.
In addition, the School District ordered Silver “to refrain from all other forms of communication with students during the school day (whether verbal, email, texting, written, etc.) that would conflict with [her] duty to show complete neutrality toward religion and to refrain from promoting religion or entangling [herself] in religious matters.”
According to the “counseling letter,” which was signed by the superintendent, failure to follow any of the directions would lead to “serious disciplinary consequences, including the termination of [her] employment.”
David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented:
“To assert that the School District was justified in ordering Ms. Silver to remove small, sticky notes containing handwritten, inspirational Bible verses that she attached to the back of her desk for fear that these small, personal notes would violate the Establishment Clause, as the School District argued and the lower court found, is simply absurd.  Indeed, this case should remove any lingering doubts as to whether our government, including the judiciary, is hostile to religion.”
The argument is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on October 25, 2016, at the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, New York, NY, 10007, 17th Floor, Room 1703.  The media and public are welcome to attend.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Alinsky film producers are this week’s guests on FOT

The past few weeks, Facebook and other social media were abuzz over the new film about socialist community organizer Saul Alinsky, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (trailer below), which appeared on EWTN. The film outlines Alinsky’s career and how he and his followers have crafted political organizations that have succeeded in infiltrating the Church as well as the body politic and how those organizations have affected these institutions.

According to The Free Republic, the film answers the following: “Why is political discourse so bad right now? How have Christian beliefs, particularly Catholic beliefs, and those who hold them come to be reviled by so many in the secular culture? Where did political correctness, gender conflict, gender confusion — and so many other aspects of the Culture of Death — come from?” (Read the entire review here.)

(The film is now available for sale digitally for $14.99 and rental for $4.99 USD at Stream the film wherever you go, watch it on TV via the Vimeo app on iOS, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast, mobile, or tablet. Download DRM-free SD, HD mobile files and watch the film anywhere and anytime. #alinskyfilm)

Tuesday, the producers of the film, Richard and Stephen Payne of Arcadia Films, will join Deacon Mike Manno and Stephanie Crowley to discuss the film and the message it delivers. So join Deacon Mike and Stephanie (sitting in for Gina Noll) for an interesting discussion at 9 a.m. (central) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM, and streaming on The program will be rebroadcast at 9 p.m. and can be heard on the Iowa Catholic Radio App which can easily be downloaded to your device. Additionally, past programs, including our September 20, 2016 program with Stephanie Block, a consultant and contributor to the film, and our September 13, 2016 program with Lisa Bourne of LifeSiteNews on the influence of socialist George Soros and how it mirrors the Alinsky model at our web page here.

That’s Tuesday at 9 & 9; on the internet or via app. Don’t miss this program.

Faith On Trial is on the air courtesy of our loyal sponsors and underwriters: AttorneyRick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055; and 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.