Tuesday, June 27, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court reinstates textbook lending program: New Mexico Supreme Court told to give low-income, minority kids a second chance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court this morning told the Supreme Court of New Mexico to reconsider a ruling discriminating against low-income and minority children. A New Mexico textbook program was designed to promote equal access to a quality education for low-income and minority children, yet the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against it because some of those kids attend religiously affiliated schools. Today’s order protects the right of religious organizations and all New Mexico students to participate in government programs without discrimination. 
This is the Supreme Court’s second such ruling in two days. Yesterday, in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, the U.S. Supreme Court protected religious organizations’ right to participate in Missouri’s “safe playgrounds” initiative. Both the Missouri and New Mexico cases challenged Blaine Amendments, which are 19th century provisions in many state constitutions that discriminate against religious organizations—especially those focused on serving vulnerable populations. Today’s order requires the New Mexico Supreme Court to give the textbook program “further consideration in light of Trinity Lutheran.”  
“In preventing skinned knees or ensuring kids learn their A-B-C’s, states are getting a clear message from the Supreme Court: they can’t exclude people from participating in government programs because of their religion,” said Eric Baxter, senior counsel at Becket. “The Court’s back-to-back rulings prove that it shouldn’t matter what your faith is—everyone has the right to participate in society on equal footing.” 
Becket is defending the New Mexico Association of Nonpublic Schools and the state’s textbook program. Both the trial court and New Mexico Court of Appeals protected the program, but in 2015, the New Mexico Supreme Court disagreed. The New Mexico Supreme Court must now reconsider its ruling in light of Trinity Lutheran v. Comer.

Monday, June 26, 2017

USCCB chairman applauds U. S. Supreme Court decision protecting religious liberty

Archbishop Wm. Lori
WASHINGTON– Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, in which the Court held that the exclusion of churches from an otherwise available public benefit violates the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  Trinity Lutheran’s preschool sought to participate in the State of Missouri’s scrap tire program, which would have allowed it to repave its playground with recycled tire pieces in order to provide a softer and safer playground surface for children.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, offered the following statement in response: 
“Today’s decision is a landmark victory for religious freedom. The Supreme Court rightly recognized that people of faith should not be discriminated against when it comes to government programs that should be made available to all. The decision also marks a step in the right direction toward limiting the effects of the pernicious Blaine Amendments that are in place in many states around the country.  Blaine Amendments to state constitutions, most of which date back to the nineteenth century, stem from a time of intense anti-Catholic bigotry in many parts of the country. We are glad to see the Supreme Court move toward limiting these harmful provisions, which have restricted the freedom of faith-based organizations and people of faith to serve their communities.”

California state court rejects attack on millennia-old orthodox Jewish ceremony

Decision protects California synagogue against challenges to its religious exercise by those who disagree with its religious practices 

Santa Ana, CA – On Friday, June 23, a California state court rejected an activist organization’s challenge to an ancient religious ceremony practiced by a small Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Irvine, California.  The challenge to the synagogue, represented by First Liberty Institute, could have threatened the religious practices of every house of worship across the state.  The court’s decision is the second court since May to reject a lawsuit brought against the synagogue by activists who sought to end a millennia-old Orthodox Jewish ceremony. Read the court’s order here. 

“We are thrilled that, once again, another court has seen the importance of protecting our ability to practice a cherished tradition of our faith,” Rabbi Alter Tenenbaum, the rabbi of the Chabad of Irvine, says. “As we live in peace and tolerance with one another, we hope these legal victories strengthen and encourage the religious liberty of everyone.”   

The synagogue was represented at trial by Leslie Keith Kaufman of Kaufman & Kaufman and Stephanie Taub of the national religious freedom law firm First Liberty Institute.  

“Targeted attacks on a religious sect should be rejected by every American,” Stephanie Taub, counsel to First Liberty says. “Protecting a millennia-old religious tradition is a victory, not just for the Chabad of Irvine, but for all Californians.” 

Had the lawsuit been successful, the synagogue’s religious ceremony would have been declared a “business practice,” putting at risk the religious practices of every mosque, church, temple, synagogue, or house of worship. The lawsuit attempted to transform these non-profit religious ceremonies into government-regulated business practices whenever a place of worship accepts voluntary donations, tithes, or offerings. The lawsuit is the second in just over a month to come to a conclusion in favor of Chabad of Irvine.  On May 12, 2017, a federal district court judge dismissed a similar lawsuit, filed by another activist organization.  After one day of trial, California state judge Martha K. Gooding of the Superior Court of California, Orange County, ruled in favor of the Chabad of Irvine. 

As the court concluded, “[M]any religious services or ceremonies result  in donations being solicited and made . . . But that does not convert those religious activities, rituals and observances into business practices.  They remain religious activities, rituals and observances.”

Read more about both cases at FirstLiberty.org/Chabad

Georgia high court protects scholarships for low-income children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning the Georgia Supreme Court protected low-income schoolchildren and their scholarship program from a challenge that used a discriminatory 19th century law called the Blaine Amendment. The decision allows students to receive the best education for their needs, regardless of the school they choose.
Georgia’s Scholarship Tax Credit Program was created to help Georgia schoolchildren—particularly low-income students—get a quality education. However, several challengers sued to shut down the program, arguing that students on scholarships may choose to attend religious schools. The challengers claimed these tax credits amounted to state money for religious education. Today, the court rejected the attack on the program, stating, “When the state refunds money for overpayment of taxes, it is not remitting public funds but is returning the taxpayer’s own money.”  
“Disgruntled taxpayers do not have the right to deprive children of a quality education,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the scholarship program. “Thanks to the court, schoolchildren who rightfully earn scholarships have the right to choose their own futures.” 
Under the program, Georgia taxpayers can donate to scholarship organizations and receive a credit on their state taxes. But some challengers used the state’s Blaine Amendment, a 19th century law rooted in anti-religious bigotry, to try and shut down the scholarship program. Blaine Amendments were passed during a wave of anti-Catholic bigotry during the 1870's and were designed to keep Catholic organizations—including orphanages, schools and charities—from having access to public funds, during a time when public schools used Protestant prayers, lessons and Bible readings. Today, those laws are being used against any school that is “too religious.”  
“This law has been discriminating against religious schools, charities, and children for centuries. It’s time to end Blaine’s baneful existence,” said Windham.            
Last year, a lower court dismissed the case, but the challengers appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which ruled to protect the program. Late last year, Becket urged the court to protect both the children and the religious schools they attend from discrimination. 
A similar lawsuit in Oklahoma aimed at preventing special-needs kids from using a scholarship to help them attend a school—secular or religious—was defeated in February of last year (watch video). 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

School takes child for sex change without informing mother; implications of this year’s annual Fortnight for Freedom

Erick Kaardal
Thomas More Society
On May 23, 2017, a Federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Minnesota mother whose parental rights were violated by a Minnesota school system, and state and county agencies. Anmarie Calgaro, parental rights were repeatedly usurped because her son was advised by defendants that he was emancipated, and was subsequently provided with medical treatment for a sex change from male to female and prescribed narcotics. Calgaro was also denied access to his medical and school records and was refused any input into her son’s educational decision-making.

United States District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson wrote that, although Calgaro’s parental rights over her minor son “remain intact,” she has no standing to sue for their violation.
Tuesday we will have Anmarie’s attorney, Erick Kaardal, special counsel with the Thomas More Society, who will discuss the case and the ultimate appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Erick is past Chairman of the John Adams Society and an Advisory Board Member of the Minnesota Chapter of the Federalist Society. He has also been recognized by the Institute for Justice for an Outstanding Contribution to the Cause of Liberty. He is also co-author of two books including Neopopulism as Counterculture available on amazon.com.
After visiting with Erick we’ll welcome a returning guest, Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, who writes and speaks about Catholicism, religious freedom, and the intersection of faith and science for The Catholic Association. As a Hispanic, she brings a special focus on social issues that affect the growing Latino population, such as the state of the family and the real needs of the poor and marginalized.  As a physician, she is able to address complex subjects relating to government health policy and its true impact on the people it purports to help.
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie
The Catholic Association
Dr. Christie will be discussing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s (USCCB) annual Fortnight for Freedom and her recent article “Embracing 2017’s Fortnight for Freedom” in Real Clear Religion. Each year dioceses around the country arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. The Fortnight for Freedom is from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day.
In announcing this year’s Fortnight, the USCCB wrote: “In this time of increasing polarization in our culture, we can contribute to a better understanding of religious freedom in a way that respects all people.” It has also produced a short guide to help Christians speak with friends and neighbors about religious freedom and work to clear up misconceptions about it.
So, join Deacon Mike Manno and Pam Briddell this Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com. Podcasts of earlier programs can be found on the station’s website here.
FOT 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.
And remember, we will not have a new program for next week – July 4 – but when we return July 11 we will be at our new time: 10 a.m. Central.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

5th Circuit allows Mississippi anti-coercion law to go into effect

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled unanimously on Thursday that those who filed suit to stop a state law protecting Mississippians against government discrimination haven’t shown they have been or will be harmed by the law. The court therefore vacated the injunction that had been blocking the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act (HB 1523) from going into effect.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are part of the legal team representing Gov. Phil Bryant in the lawsuits, Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.

“Good laws like Mississippi’s protect freedom and harm no one. The court did the right thing in finding that those who have challenged this law haven’t been harmed and, therefore, can’t try to take the law down,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The sole purpose of this law is to ensure that Mississippians don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union. Those who filed suit have not and will not be harmed but want to restrict freedom and impose their beliefs on others by ensuring dissenters are left open to the government discrimination that has already occurred in states without protective laws like this one.”

HB 1523 protects citizens, public servants, businesses, and religious institutions from government reprisal for operating publicly according to their belief that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman. Bryant signed the overwhelmingly popular bill into law in April 2016, but a federal district court stopped its enforcement shortly thereafter.

The 5th Circuit, however, concluded in its opinion that since “the plaintiffs do not have standing, we reverse the injunction and render a judgment of dismissal…. Because the challengers have failed to provide sufficient evidence of an injury-in-fact from HB 1523…, they have not made a clear showing of standing.”

Co-counsel Jonathan F. Mitchell of Stanford Law School argued before the 5th Circuit in April on behalf of Bryant.

Pro-life advocates, sued by New York state's attorney general, represented by national public interest law firm The Thomas More Society

The Thomas More Society is representing defendants affiliated with the Church at the Rock, a non-denominational Christian church in Brooklyn, New York, who are pro-life advocates charged in a federal lawsuit filed on June 20, 2017 by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.  Schneiderman alleges that these defendants unlawfully harassed patients, families and clinic staff at the Choices Women’s Medical Center in Jamaica, Queens. 
In response to these allegations, Thomas More Society General Counsel, Andrew Bath, issued the following statement:
“Members of the Church at the Rock peacefully counsel women who are considering having an abortion.  They conduct themselves reasonably and compassionately, and offer information about abortion alternatives to those willing to listen.  This is the exercise of their core First Amendment rights, and is an activity that takes place on the public sidewalk, the traditional venue for expression concerning important ideas and societal issues. 
“The New York Attorney General's suit seeks to deny our clients their fundamental First Amendment rights and is without factual or legal basis.  We will vigorously defend our clients' right to continue to peacefully deliver a pro-life message to abortion-minded women on the public sidewalk, and will seek dismissal of the State of New York’s meritless attempt to deny our clients the rights guaranteed them by our Constitution.”
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.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Canadian Supreme Court decides not to protect people from assisted suicide.

The Supreme Court of Canada has made an activist decision by giving physicians the right in law to cause the death of their patients by assisted suicide.

The Supreme Court is naïve to think that assisted suicide will not be abused, when abuse already occurs.
Dr. Leo Alexander, an American psychiatrist, who was a medical advisor at the Nuremburg trials and who was part of the Nuremburg code, stated in an article in the New Journal of Medicine (July 1949):
“Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in basic attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived.”
This is the experience that the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland have had with assisted death, and unless Canada’s Parliament resists this same direction, this will be the same experience in Canada.
Recently, a depressed healthy man who was retired, but alone and lonely, died by euthanasia in the Netherlands. In Belgium, a healthy depressed woman died from euthanasia after experiencing the break-up of a long-term relationship. In Switzerland, a man died by assisted suicide after receiving a wrong diagnosis.
Giving doctors the right to cause the death of their patients will never be safe and no amount of “so-called safeguards” will protect those who live with depression or abuse. There will always be people who will abuse the power to cause death and there will always be more reasons to cause death.
Assisted suicide creates new paths of abuse for elders, people with disabilities and other socially devalued people. The scourge of elder abuse in our culture continues to grow.
Depression is common for people with significant health conditions. Assisted suicide is an abandonment of people who live with depression who require support and proper care.
Assisted suicide undermines important mental health and suicide prevention programs. Assisted suicide has had a suicide contagion effect in the State of Oregon.
The Supreme Court gave Parliament one year to provide a legislative framework.
Parliament must first use the notwithstanding clause to continue to equally protect every Canadian. Then Parliament and Provincial governments must commit to: improving access to end-of-life care, creating awareness to change social attitudes towards the lives of people with disabilities and the reality of elder abuse, and focusing on effective suicide prevention strategies to provide the care that Canadians require and deserve.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will work to protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide. We will not abandon Canadians to the false lure of assisted suicide and someday the Supreme Court will overturn this activist decision.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Author of new book on the Kermit Gosnell trial along with physician opposing doctor assisted suicide will join Deacon Mike and Pam this Tuesday on FOT

Cheryl Sullenger
Operation Rescue
In 2011 a Philadelphia abortionist, Kermit Gosnell, was charged with the murder of seven babies born alive after botched abortions and the murder of a patient who died following an abortion. In all, Gosnell and several co-defendants were charged with eight counts of murder, 24 felony counts of performing illegal abortions and 227 misdemeanors for violating Pennsylvania’s 24 week time limit. Ultimately, Gosnell was convicted of three counts of first degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and 21 felony counts of illegal late term abortions and 211 misdemeanors. He is currently serving a life term without the possibility of parole.
Gosnell being led off
to state prison

Sitting through the entire trial was Cheryl Sullenger, senior vice president of Operation Rescue and author of forthcoming book, The Trial of Kermit Gosnell: The Shocking Details And What It Revealed About The Abortion Industry In America, which is scheduled for publication this Wednesday. In the book she relates shocking eye-witness revelations from the often-emotional testimony. And based on over three decades of experience researching abortion industry abuses, she also provides disturbing evidence that proves Gosnell is not alone.
And this Tuesday, one day before publication, Cheryl will join Deacon Mike Manno and Pam Briddell to discuss her book (which can be ordered by clicking on the cover on the right) and what the Gosnell story says about abortion in America today.

Dr. Brian Callister
 In addition to Cheryl, Dr. Brian Callister, M.D.  a board certified internal medicine specialist and hospitalist, who is nationally recognized as an expert in both acute care medicine and the post-acute continuum, and critic of physician assisted suicide, will also join Deacon Mike and Pam. Dr. Callister was recently featured in a video by the Patients Rights Action Fund which was posted earlier on this blog (link here).
This week and next FOT moves into a temporary time slot, starting at 8:30 and running until 9:40. Starting July 11 FOT moves into its new permanent time for one hour at 10 a.m. (all times central). We’ll keep reminding you of the time changes. FOT airs on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streams on IowaCatholicRadio.com. Podcasts of earlier programs can be found here.

FOT 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.
Remember, FOT is interested in what you’d like to hear. If you have any suggestions you can contact Deacon Mike at DeaconMike@IowaCatholicRadio.com or Pam at Pam@IowaCatholicRadio.com. We’d love to hear from you. And during our program, if you have any comments you can text us on our new text line 515-223-1150.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Iowa recognizes "wrongful birth" claims

This month the Iowa Supreme Court recognized “wrongful birth” as a legal cause of action. The case involved a couple who claimed that their physicians under informed them on the condition of their unborn child who was born with serious birth defects. The parents claimed that had the correct information been given them they would have aborted the child. Read Deacon Mike’s latest column on the subject in The Wanderer. http://bit.ly/2swqUX1

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Future of county’s practice of invocations before public meetings hangs in the hands of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

CINCINNATI—Today, attorneys from First Liberty Institute defend the longstanding practice of opening government meetings with invocations before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  First Liberty’s legal team will argue on behalf of Jackson County, Michigan, in the case of Bormuth v. County of Jackson.

“Legislatures at the federal, state, and local levels nationwide have opened their sessions with invocations for more than two centuries, as the Supreme Court has twice recognized in upholding this widely accepted practice,” said Ken Klukowski, Senior Counsel at First Liberty.  “Jackson County’s invocations are fully consistent with the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s guidance on this issue.”
A local activist sued the commissioners of Jackson County, arguing that their tradition of beginning monthly meetings with an invocation violates the First Amendment. A federal district court judge upheld Jackson County’s practice of allowing each of its nine commissioners to have rotating opportunities to deliver a voluntary invocation. A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit reversed the lower court’s ruling in a 2-1 decision. But the Cincinnati-based appeals court decided to hold a rare en banc rehearing of the case, meaning all 15 judges of the court will now hear the case.
In a similar case, First Liberty also represents the commissioners of Rowan County, North Carolina (Lund v. Rowan County), which was heard en banc in March 2017 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. If the Sixth Circuit and Fourth Circuit issue contradictory rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court could well take up this issue again.
Read more about this case at FirstLiberty.org/Jackson.

School district tells high school graduate closing remarks at commencement break the law

BEAVER, PA, June 13, 2017—This morning, attorneys with First Liberty Institute sent a letter to Beaver Areas School District (BASD) officials explaining that forcing a student to alter her personal graduation remarks to remove any religious viewpoint violates the United States Constitution.  Read First Liberty’s letter to BASD here
“The last lesson this school district taught its students is that they should hide their religious beliefs from public view.  That fails the test of the First Amendment,” said Jeremy Dys, Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty. “School officials should remember that students retain their constitutional rights to freedom of expression from the schoolhouse gates, all the way through the graduation ceremony.” 
Moriah Bridges was asked by the Beaver High School senior class president to provide the closing exercise of their commencement on June 2, 2017.  When she submitted her remarks to the school district, Dr. Carrie Rowe, superintendent of BASD, forced Moriah to remove all religious references from her speech, explaining that her remarks could not be religious and, “most certainly may not recite a prayer that excludes other religions.”
“I was shocked that the school said my personal remarks broke the law and saddened that I could not draw upon my Christian identity to express my best wishes for my classmates on what should¹ve been the happiest day of high school,” said Moriah Bridges.  “I hope the school district will realize their mistake and make sure future students never have to go through this again.” 
In its letter to BASD officials, First Liberty explains that the First Amendment protects the personal remarks of graduates.  It concludes by asking school officials to acknowledge the wrongdoing and to setup a meeting with BASD and First Liberty Institute attorneys to help facilitate a way to protect the religious expression of students in the future. 
Read more about this case at FirstLiberty.org/Bridges
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, June 12, 2017

Religious message approved, then banned leads to federal lawsuit

Seattle, Washington — June 6, 2017.  The Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a federal lawsuit against officials at North Seattle College for permanently banning Chris Dickinson from proclaiming a religious message in the university’s designated free speech zone.

Dickinson is a Christian who wants to share his faith publically with others, and on October 3, 2016, went to North Seattle College, a public college, for this purpose. To avoid trouble, he contacted campus security about where on campus he could speak, and was directed to an outdoor courtyard in the middle of campus containing a sign designating it as the area for free speech.  Dickinson soon shared his views there, orally engaging students with his natural voice about the merits of his Christian faith.  He caused no disturbance, and several students listened to what he had to say.
However, a short while later, campus security approached Dickinson, and notified him that he would not be allowed to continue with his message because someone who had passed through the courtyard complained about it.  Due to the complaint, Dickinson’s message was deemed a “disturbance”, and campus security forced him to leave.  Not wanting trouble, Dickinson left.  But, subsequently, he received a trespass notice advising that he was permanently banned from all areas of campus, including the free speech zone.
CRE sent a letter to the college, requesting they rescind the unconstitutional ban on Dickinson’s speech, but the college declined.  CRE filed suit to restore Dickinson’s free speech rights.
“Once the government opens up an area for speech, it cannot perpetually ban speech from occurring there because someone does not like it,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum.  “Censoring Mr. Dickinson’s speech because someone complained, the college has effectively turned its free speech zone into a speech-free zone for Mr. Dickinson.”
Center for Religious Expression is a servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian legal organization dedicated to the glory of God and the religious freedom of His people. For more information, visit http://www.crelaw.org.

Should the judge who was affiliated with Planned Parenthood and later censored the undercover PP videos be removed from the case?

Tom Brejcha
Thomas More Society
Tuesday, Tom Brejcha, president and CEO of the Thomas More Society that is representing The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and undercover journalist David Daleiden, will join Deacon Mike Manno and Pam Briddell to discuss their efforts to disqualify the judge who censored its undercover footage of an abortion conference because of his ties to a pro-Planned Parenthood organization that lets the abortion company run a clinic on its premises.  

When David Daleiden began releasing his now-famous expose on the abortion industry’s participation in the baby body parts trade, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) took him to court. Daleiden had undercover recordings of its abortion trade show. NAF succeeded in getting U.S. District Judge William Orrick to issue a gag order preventing the release of this footage. 
The organization is Good Samaritan Family Resource Center (GSFRC) in San Francisco. It describes its relationship with Planned Parenthood as a "key partnership." Orrick is a former GSFRC board member. He was GSRFC's secretary of the board in 2001 "when GSFRC entered 'key partnership' with PPSP [Planned Parenthood]," the motion states. 
"The video recordings that are the subject of this case include recordings of PPSP/PPNC
Judge William Orrick
staff members," it says. 
"At no time did Judge Orrick disclose to Defendants that he sat on the board of an organization that had as a 'key partner' an organization Defendants alleged, both in public statements and as part of their defense, was involved in violations of state and federal law," CMP's motion continues. "Judge Orrick did not disclose his close and long-standing relationship with an organization that houses a facility and hosts Planned Parenthood staff, whom NAF claims are in physical danger from 'anti-abortion extremists' incited by Defendants."
CMP is arguing that Orrick should be disqualified from the case because he served on the board of an organization that houses a Planned Parenthood clinic. CMP's motion to remove Orrick from the case says that Orrick's affiliation with this organization shows "bias in favor of the plaintiff and prejudice against the defendants." 
For the last 17 years Tom Brejcha has served as president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, defending the sanctity of life, religious liberty, and family values. Serving as an Army Captain in Vietnam during 1969-70, Tom was awarded a Bronze Star and an Army Commendation Medal. 
Join Deacon Mike and Pam Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming live on IowaCatholicRadio.com. an listen to this interview and other news of interest to people of faith. Podcasts of earlier programs can be heard here.
FOT is on the air courtesy of its 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, June 8, 2017

Victory for free speech on college campus

On June 7, 2017, a federal judge sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York signed a stipulated order that ended our successful First Amendment lawsuit against several officials from the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY-Buffalo).

In this lawsuit, the American Freedom Law Center (“AFLC”) sued SUNY-Buffalo officials on behalf of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc., a national pro-life group, and its student sponsors for permitting an unruly mob of pro-abortion protestors to purposely disrupt a peaceful, pro-life demonstration on the university’s campus.  The case is captioned Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc. v. Black.
This order requires the “State University of New York” to “not engage in discriminatory enforcement of its regulations against Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc., and UB Students For Life” and to “take all reasonable measures to enforce its policies against deliberately disrupting or preventing the freedom of any person to express his or her views.”  The order also requires the State of New York to pay AFLC $30,000 in attorneys’ fees.
The order came as the result of a prior favorable ruling in which the judge denied the motion to dismiss filed by the SUNY-Buffalo officials, who argued that the lawsuit failed to state a constitutional violation.
In that important First Amendment ruling, the judge held as follows:
CBR’s “exhibition was unquestionably subject to First Amendment protection,” that “when the University defendants allowed counter-demonstrators to use signs, umbrellas, and bed sheets to block the photo-murals from view,” these facts were “sufficient to allege that the defendants took adverse actions against plaintiffs,” and “that the protected speech was at least a ‘substantial’ or ‘motivating’ factor in defendants’ alleged discriminatory and retaliatory acts.”  To that end, the court found “the specific allegations of plaintiffs of statements and circumstances tending to show the defendants were hostile to the content and viewpoint of plaintiffs’ photo-murals, and plaintiffs’ insistence on exercising their rights to freedom of speech, are legally sufficient.”
Robert Muise, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented:
"This is an important case which establishes the principle that public university officials cannot stand idly by as protesters seek to disrupt the free speech rights of other students and groups on their campuses.  Indeed, we’ve accomplished every goal we pursued in this litigation: we established an important First Amendment principle of law and we ensured that our clients’ speech is fully protected by this constitutional safeguard.  And on top of that, the State of New York is paying us $30,000 in attorneys’ fees.  Victory is complete."

Monday, June 5, 2017

City bans farmer for traditional marriage beliefs; Iowa PP closings show reason to defund abortion giant

Can a city ban a farmer from its farmer’s market who believes in traditional marriage? The City of East Lansing, Michigan, has banned Steve Tennes and Country Mill Farms, his family’s fruit orchard, from participating in the city’s farmer’s market because, in response to a question on Tennes’ Facebook page he said he believes in traditional marriage.  Shortly after that post, the city banned him from participation in the market. (See video posted in this blog).

Kate Anderson
ADF Counsel
Tuesday we will have his attorney, Kate Anderson, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom. She is a key member of the Center for Conscience Initiatives. Since joining ADF in 2015, Anderson has focused on protecting the conscience rights of individuals being unjustly compelled to forfeit their beliefs under threat of commercial retaliation, heavy fines, or punishment.
After that we’ll turn to a recent Washington Examiner report that Planned Parenthood closings in Iowa show why the abortion machine should be defunded. PP’s latest annual report shows that while total number of women served are down, the number of abortions are up.
Deanna Wallace
Staff Counsel AUL
Here to discuss that with us will be Deanna Wallace, staff counsel with Americans United for Life. At AUL she works directly with legislators to assist their efforts to protect mothers and their unborn infants from abortion industry abuses. She consults with state and federal legislators, provides testimony in favor of life-affirming legislation and creates strategic legal tools to advance life in the law. Prior to joining AUL’s team, Deanna was Legislative Director for Louisiana Right to Life, where she helped pass legislation establishing Louisiana as one of the most pro-life states in America.
Make it a point to join Deacon Mike Manno and Pam Briddell Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM; and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com and on a free downloadable app from the app store. The program will be rebroadcast at 9 p.m. and podcasts of earlier programs can be found here.
FOT is on the air courtesy of our loyal underwriters and 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 Robert Cota, Farm Bureau FinancialServices, 200 West 2nd Ave., Indianola, Iowa 50125, 515-961-4555 or 515-205-5642. 

Assisted suicide: the least costly alternative

City punishing farmer for view on marriage

A quick preview of Tuesday’s program (our 200th BTW). Join Deacon Mike Manno, Pam Briddell at 9 a.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM, and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust claim victory as false charges dropped against Survivors Founder, Jeff White!

RIVERSIDE, Calif., June 2, 2017 -- Wednesday, Life Legal Senior Counsel Allison Aranda was in court on behalf of Jeff White, founder of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, a nationwide faith-based organization that equips young people to advocate for human life in the womb. Jeff was distributing leaflets for a pro-life congressional candidate in a church parking lot when he was surrounded by the church's security team. At least four large men harassed Jeff and beat him to the ground, resulting in extensive injuries to his head. Only then did they call the police-to press charges against Jeff! 

Officers arrested Jeff and charged him with battery, based solely on the statements of the security team.

Life Legal obtained a video of the incident, which shows that Jeff was cornered by the security guards, who ignored his plea to immediately call the police. Instead, they assaulted him and then alleged that he was the aggressor.

The incident occurred in November of last year. Since then, Aranda has argued that this was a false arrest and that the security team initiated the confrontation. At yesterday's hearing, all charges against Jeff were dropped!

"We are appalled that a prolife activist would be attacked in this way simply because he was handing out literature," said Life Legal Defense Foundation Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. "It took several months, but we are pleased that the court finally delivered justice for Jeff White."

Life Legal is currently evaluating options on behalf of Jeff White going forward.

Life Legal Defense Foundation was established in 1989, and is a nonprofit organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens committed to giving helpless and innocent human beings of any age, and their advocates, a trained and committed voice in the courtrooms of our nation. For more information about the Life Legal Defense Foundation, visit www.lldf.org.

Life Legal Senior Counsel Allison Aranda has been a lead attorney for the Survivors over the years and has trained numerous campers at our Survivors Pro-Life Training Camps. This year she will continue her training on our legal rights as advocates for the preborn! 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Deacon Mike's latest Wanderer column

Deacon Mike Manno’s latest column in The Wanderer: What we might expect from the Supreme Court in June. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pro-Life advocates’ lawsuit prompts free speech education for Chicago police

                  Thomas More Society wins in abortion “Bubble Zone” settlement
(May 31, 2017 – Chicago) Chicago area pro-life advocates achieved a victory this week with a court settlement that results in Constitutional rights education for Chicago police. The Thomas More Society’s challenge on behalf of the Pro-Life Action League, Live Pro-Life Group and several individual pro-life counselors resulted from misapplication of Chicago’s abortion-protective “bubble zone” ordinance. In multiple cases, overenthusiastic or mistaken enforcement of this city ordinance [MCC § 8-4-010(j)(1)] resulted in alleged violation of the First Amendments rights of those sharing life-affirming alternatives with women seeking abortions. While the City did not admit liability, it agreed to pay attorneys’ fees.
The “bubble zone” ordinance, which has been applied exclusively at abortion facilities, designates a 50-foot radius from an entrance door as an area in which persons are prohibited from intentionally approaching closer than 8 feet to another person, unless the person consents, for the purpose of engaging in a covered act, defined as "passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education or counseling with" the other person. 
Officers will receive training on such matters as:
Both pro-life advocates and abortion escorts and clinic personnel, if they approach closer than 8 feet from another person (within the 50 foot radius from a clinic entrance) in order to engage in a covered act, must have consent from the other person;
An approach to engage in covered acts is allowable if the person approached consents either verbally or nonverbally;
Just standing in a designated area does not amount to approaching a person within that area -- there must be some movement toward the person to constitute an approach.
Ann Scheidler, Anna Marie Scinto Mesia, David Berquist and Veronica Price peacefully exercised their First Amendment rights on the public ways near Chicago abortion facilities by reaching out to women who approached the clinics. The complaint that has resulted in this settlement was filed to address the alleged unconstitutional constraints that police enforcement of Chicago’s “bubble zone” ordinance placed on the peaceful work of these “sidewalk counselors.” A primary issue has been that Chicago police officers erratically applied the ordinance against them, by, for example, requiring sidewalk counselors to stay 50 feet away from a clinic entrance door.  The police also selectively enforced the ordinance against sidewalk counselors but not against abortion clinic escorts. 
In January, United States District Judge Amy J. St. Eve denied the City of Chicago’s motion to dismiss the federal complaint challenge to the “bubble zone” ordinance insofar as it challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance “as applied.”  She decided that since 2009, when the law was enacted, sufficient instances of discriminatory and inconsistent enforcement had been alleged to warrant a hearing on whether the Chicago police enforced the ordinance with “deliberate indifference” toward the rights of the plaintiffs.  She also decided, however, that since the Chicago ordinance was based on a Colorado statute that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court (in Hill v. Colorado, 530 U.S.703 (2000)), she was not authorized to find the law itself to be unconstitutional.  That ruling would have to come from a higher court than hers, she concluded.  The settlement of the "as applied" claim allows an immediate appeal of plaintiffs' challenge to the ordinance itself. 
Thomas More Society Counsel Thomas Olp explained, “Pro-abortion propaganda claims that pro-life counselors intimidate women approaching abortion clinics. That is not true.  That type of engagement would be ineffective. Pro-life sidewalk counselors compassionately and calmly approach women, one-on-one, to offer them information about abortion alternatives. The bubble zone law impedes that interaction, unconstitutionally, we believe, in violation of our clients’ First Amendment rights. With this settlement, we have secured Chicago's agreement to train its police force on the correct application the ordinance. If there continue to be problems in how the ordinance is applied, we will enforce the settlement agreement or re-file new allegations.  But we also do intend to continue our argument in the higher courts that the law itself is unconstitutional.” 
The Thomas More Society, on behalf of the plaintiffs, plans to pursue the unconstitutionality of the “bubble zone” ordinance with an appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. 
Read the settlement agreement in the case, Veronica Price et al. v. The City of Chicago et al., here
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 thomasmoresociety.org.

Colorado State University drops unconstitutional student group funding policies

     Settlement reverses decision to deny Students for Life funding because speaker’s 
                 topic ‘didn’t appear entirely unbiased as it addresses…abortion’

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Colorado State University has agreed to drop unconstitutional policies that enabled university officials to deny a student organization’s funding request strictly because of the group’s pro-life views. As part of the settlement ending a lawsuit that Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed on behalf of the campus chapter of Students for Life, the university has agreed to overhaul its policies to ensure that all student groups will have equal access to mandatory student activity fees charged to all students.

“University officials shouldn’t use mandatory student fees to favor some views while shutting out others,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer. “We commend Colorado State for making the necessary changes to ensure that Students for Life, or any other recognized student organization, will not be discriminated against because of their viewpoint when they request funds for speech activities.”

Under the terms of the agreement, CSU has agreed to make several reforms. First, it has eliminated its discriminatory and unconstitutional “diversity grant” program, through which it denied Students for Life’s request for funds to host a pro-life speaker. CSU officials engaged in viewpoint discrimination when they denied the request, stating that the speaker “did not appear entirely unbiased as it addresses the topic of abortion,” and therefore its diversity grant committee worried “that folks from varying sides of the issue won’t necessarily feel affirmed in attending the event.”

Additionally, the university has also agreed to modify its student organization funding policies so that they now include clear, objective, and viewpoint-neutral criteria for evaluating funding requests. The revised policies also eliminate a prohibition against funding any faith-based activities, or those involving a “religious service.”

“Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, commissioners, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public universities model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students,” added ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “When a university discriminates against some viewpoints in funding student groups, the marketplace of ideas is skewed toward the government-prescribed orthodoxy. Colorado State did the right thing by eliminating these flawed policies.”

In light of the settlement in the case, Students for Life at Colorado State University v. Mosher, ADF attorneys filed a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Abortion sanctuary city? Incorrect use of ‘gendered’ language? Next FOT

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson and Thomas More
President Tom Brejcha at press conference announcing the lawsuit
Is the City of St. Louis angling to become an abortion sanctuary city? According to a federal law suit filed by the Thomas More Society, it just might be.  

The city recently passed a new ordinance that creates protections for anyone who has “made a decision related to abortion,” even when the abortin is not their own. It forbids any entity, including Christian organizations and individuals whose teachings hold abortion to be a grave sin, from refusing to sell or rent property to individuals or corporate organizations that promote or provide abortions. The ordinance also compels private business to include abortion coverage in their employee health plans. 

 “This ordinance does not exempt individuals with sincere religious, moral or ethical objections to abortion from its requirements in any way,” stated Sarah Pitlyk, special counsel
Sarah Pitlyk
Thomas More Society
for Thomas More Society and Tuesday’s FOT guest, “and even for qualifying religious organizations, the exemption for employment, housing and realty is extremely limited. That is unconstitutional, and directly violates both federal and state law.” She added: “Ordinance 70459 is unlawful and unenforceable, and we fully expect the court to invalidate it.”

Sarah received her J.D. from Yale Law School after earning a master’s degree in Philosophy from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in Applied Biomedical Ethics from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, where she studied as a Fulbright Scholar. In addition to practicing law, Sarah has taught philosophy and bioethics at the university level. She graduated summa cum laude from Boston College. 

In addition to Sarah we’re going to welcome Adam Steinbaugh, Senior Program Officer and Investigative Reporter for The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Recently FIRE reported on efforts at the University of Rochester to sanction 55 student groups for either being single-gender organizations or for their improper use of “gendered” language.  
Adam Steinbaugh

Adam graduated cum laude from Loyola Law School in 2012. Following law school, Adam practiced entertainment-focused civil litigation in California and authored an eponymous blog, where he covered a wide range of topics involving the First Amendment and the Internet. He later joined Popehat, and his commentary on internet and free speech issues has been featured in The Guardian, ArsTechnica, Channel 4, the CBC, and various other outlets. 

So join Deacon Mike Manno and co-host Pam Briddell as they discuss these and other issues of concern to people of faith Tuesday at 9 a.m. (central) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM; and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com and heard on our Iowa Catholic Radio app which can be downloaded free from the app store. The program will be re-broadcast at 9 p.m. Pod casts of past programs can be found here.

FOT 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.