Friday, March 23, 2018

Court gives voice to kids and families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Adopted children and foster families in Michigan can now join the fight against the ACLU’s efforts to shut down the adoption programs that brought their families together, a federal court just ruled. In Dumont v. Lyon, the ACLU is suing to stop the state of Michigan from relying on private adoption agencies like St. Vincent Catholic Charities because they run their programs based on their religious beliefs. If the ACLU succeeds, it would take away vital support that foster families need, and make it even harder for thousands of foster kids to find permanent homes (watch their story in this 3-min. video).  

The court allowed the “children and families to have a voice in these proceedings” to explain how they could be harmed if the ACLU wins its lawsuit. Families like the Bucks could “lose critical services that are currently provided to them by St. Vincent and may lose the ability to adopt biological siblings of their present adoptive children.” And former foster children like Shamber Flore may lose “the opportunity to volunteer at St. Vincent and do the important work of mentoring children in a faith-based setting who, like herself, come from broken and abusive backgrounds.”  

“The ACLU’s lawsuit would take away homes from vulnerable kids who have already gone through so much,” said Shamber Flore, a former foster child who found her adoptive family through St. Vincent. “I’m so grateful the court didn’t let the ACLU silence our voices, particularly since children are the ones who will lose the most.”   

There is a nationwide shortage of families willing to foster and adopt. In Michigan alone, there are thousands of kids in the foster care system, many of whom age out without finding a home. The government can’t recruit enough families to foster and adopt on its own so it relies on private agencies, like St. Vincent, to help find more willing families. Last year alone, St. Vincent recruited more new foster families than nearly 90 percent of other agencies in its service area.  

“St. Vincent brought my family together and continues to be an invaluable resource for us. If it is shut down, it will take away essential support we rely on right now,” said Melissa Buck, a mother of five children with special needs adopted through St. Vincent.  

In 2017, the ACLU sued the State of Michigan to shut down its partnerships with faith-based foster and adoption agencies like St. Vincent solely because of their religious beliefs about marriage. St. Vincent takes care of children regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and its beliefs have never prevented a child from being placed in a loving home. Gay couples working with other agencies have been able to adopt children in St. Vincent’s care in the past. The ACLU’s clients could have done the same thing, and they even live closer to four other foster and adoption agencies that would have helped them adopt. Instead of going to these agencies to help kids, they have spent years going out of their way to target St. Vincent and try to shut down their programs. 

“It’s baffling why the ACLU is attempting to shut down one of Michigan’s most successful adoption agencies,” says Stephanie Barclay, counsel at Becket. “Michigan foster kids and their families need St. Vincent. And now, because of today’s ruling, the court will hear why.” 

The Buck family, Shamber Flore, and St. Vincent, represented by Becket, have now requested the court to dismiss the needless lawsuit filed by ACLU and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Oral argument for this hearing will take place on May 10.  


Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians (read more). 

Good Friday brings fifth anniversary “Way of the Cross” to abortion clinics nationwide

                                Participation Sites Have Doubled for Annual Pro-life
                                     Witness on Observance of Christ’s Crucifixion

 Chicago -- This year’s Good Friday, falling on March 30, 2018, will mark the fifth anniversary of the Pro-Life Action League’s Way of the Cross for Victims of Abortion [], commemorating the 60 million  children lost to abortion since its legalization in 1973. The number of abortion facilities where this solemn prayer vigil will be observed has doubled since the nationwide event was launched in 2014, growing to nearly 100 locations coast-to coast this year. Crowds of mournful pro-life advocates will gather outside of abortion vendors, including many run by Planned Parenthood—the nation’s largest abortion chain—to pray for an end to abortion on this Christian holy day.

“Good Friday marks the bleak day that Jesus suffered and died on the Cross as an innocent victim,” remarked Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League and national coordinator of the event. “Two thousand years later, innocent unborn children made in His image are suffering and dying every day through abortion. Through our Way of the Cross prayer vigil, we forge a spiritual link between Jesus on the Cross and the unborn victims of abortion.”
Scheidler observed, “We hear cries for social justice all around us—and we should heed them all. Christ identified Himself with the prisoner, the homeless, the immigrant. But He also identified Himself with the unborn when he became incarnate as an unborn child. No matter how many poor and downtrodden people we help, this will never be a truly just and compassionate society until every unborn child is welcomed into the human family.”
Good Friday vigils will be held at Planned Parenthood centers and other abortion clinics across the country. A list of observances nationwide is available here].
About the Pro-Life Action League 
The Pro-Life Action League was founded by Joe Scheidler in 1980 with the aim of saving babies from abortion through direct action, and is now headed by Joe’s son, Eric. Not content to await a political or judicial solution to abortion, the League seeks to stop the killing of unborn children right now through all available peaceful means, including public protest, sidewalk counseling, education, youth outreach, and national leadership. Visit to learn more.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Pro-life student group lawsuit prompts end to ‘trigger warnings’ at Ohio University

ADF attorneys represent Students for Life at Miami U. of Ohio

CINCINNATI – Miami University of Ohio has agreed to change its unconstitutional policies that authorized officials at its Hamilton campus to require students to post signs “warning” others about their group’s pro-life display. As part of a settlement ending a federal lawsuit that Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed on behalf of the campus chapter of Students for Life, the university has agreed to revise its policies to respect the free speech rights of all students, regardless of their viewpoint.

“We commend the university for quickly recognizing that its officials do not have the authority to censor student speech simply because of how someone might respond to it,” said ADF Legal Counsel Travis Barham. “By revising its policies to respect students’ constitutionally protected rights, the university has fostered the marketplace of ideas that public universities are supposed to be. After all, the only permission slip students need to speak on campus is the First Amendment, and they cannot be forced to post ‘trigger warning’ signs simply to share their ideas.”

Last year, Students for Life sued university officials after they shut down the group’s annual Cemetery of the Innocents display. When Students for Life sought approval to hold the display, an official informed the group’s president that the display would only be permitted if the group placed signs around campus warning people about its content. She justified this “trigger warning” requirement by saying the display might cause “emotional trauma” to those who might see it, and she offered to discuss “less harmful” ways the group could express its pro-life views.

Under the settlement agreement, Miami University of Ohio has disavowed one policy officials used to impose the warning sign requirement, a policy that also created a complex, burdensome permit system for speech activities. It agreed to revise a second policy used to justify the warning signs so that other student groups will not face similar mistreatment. And it agreed to revise a third policy so officials cannot stifle speech simply because it could “cause alarm, annoyance, or nuisance.” The university has also agreed to pay Students for Life’s damages and attorneys’ fees.

“Today’s university students will be tomorrow’s voters and civic leaders,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “That’s why it’s so important that public colleges and universities exemplify the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students. Miami University has shown it wants to do that by taking quick corrective action in agreeing to revise their policies to protect free speech.”

“Tolerance is a two-way street,” added Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins. “Just like any other student group seeking to promote its message, Students for Life members should be free to share their love and concern for mothers and their children without government censorship. These policy changes will protect the views of all students, not just those favored by a few administrators.”

In light of the settlement agreement reached in Students for Life at Miami University of Ohio, Hamilton v. Trustees of Miami University of Ohio, ADF attorneys dismissed the lawsuit on Thursday.

Thomas W. Kidd, Jr. one of more than 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel for the Students for Life chapter. Students for Life of America is the nation’s largest pro-life youth organization and currently serves more than 1,200 groups in colleges, high schools, and medical schools across the U.S. 

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to ensuring freedom of speech and association for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference chairmen urge support for the ‘First Amendment Defense Act’

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, gave their strong support for the First Amendment Defense Act, which was recently introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) in the U.S. Senate: 

“We welcome and applaud the recent reintroduction of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). The USCCB has been vocal in support of the legislation since its inception. FADA is a modest and important measure that protects the rights of faith-based organizations and people of all faiths and of no faith who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. For example, in a pluralistic society, faith-based charitable agencies, and schools should not be excluded from participation in public life by loss of licenses, accreditation, or tax-exempt status because they hold reasonable views on marriage that differ from the federal government’s view. 

The leadership of the Catholic Church will continue to promote and protect the natural truth of marriage as foundational to the common good. The Church will also continue to stand for the ability of all to exercise their religious beliefs and moral convictions in public life without fear of government discrimination. 

We are pleased to support the First Amendment Defense Act, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation.” 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Christian student group out in cold at Michigan University

Wayne State University boots group because it asks its leaders to share its faith

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Christian student group is fighting for its right to continue serving at the same campus it has been on for over 75 years. In InterVarsity Christian Fellowship v. Wayne State University, an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship student group, represented by Becket, sued Michigan-based Wayne State University after school officials stripped them of official recognition just because the group requires its leaders to affirm their faith. Wayne State has over 400 student groups that contribute to its intellectual and cultural diversity, all of which are free to select leaders who embrace their missions—except, suddenly, one Christian student group.
InterVarsity welcomes all students to its meetings and to join as members. It requires only that its leaders believe in and live out its faith. Yet in 2017, Wayne State rejected the group’s constitution, derecognized InterVarsity, and cancelled all of InterVarsity reserved meetings. Wayne State’s reason?  After 75 years, Wayne State decided that InterVarsity’s religious leadership requirements violated school policy. Meanwhile Wayne State actively violates its own policy in many of its programs, and allows dozens of other larger student groups do the same.
“Don’t Michigan universities have bigger problems than who leads Bible studies?” said Lori Windham, Senior Legal Counsel at Becket, which represents InterVarsity. “Wayne State should focus on educating students instead of playing belief police.”
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Wayne State is one of the oldest InterVarsity chapters in the country, and has held weekly Bible studies, meetings, and organized service opportunities on campus for over 75 years. For instance, in 2009 the group sponsored a series of campus events that raised awareness regarding human trafficking. And the group regularly hosts discussions of important issues, like the intersection between faith, race, and social justice.
Now InterVarsity is given second-class status, forced to rent tables like outside vendors if it wants to host discussions or reach out to new students. It can no longer reserve meeting rooms for free like other student groups.
“Asking religious leaders to practice what they preach isn’t discrimination, it’s integrity,” said Windham. “Targeting one Christian group that’s served the campus for over 75 years, while giving itself and dozens of larger groups a pass is truly discriminatory.” 


Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Edina Minnesota School Board settles lawsuit with conservative students, denies wrongdoing

By Jon Miltimore

Jon Miltimore
A school board in Minnesota settled a federal lawsuit filed last week that had accused the district of violating the First Amendment rights of conservative students.
Edina High School, which has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the Minnesota’s best schools, came under scrutiny last year after it was revealed the school had implemented an ideologically-driven curriculum (first reported by Intellectual Takeout here and here).
The controversy reached a crescendo last fall when a group of conservative students sued the school district after claiming their organization, the Young Conservative Club, was terminated after club members took to social media to criticize a student-led protest of the U.S. flag and the National Anthem. (The district denies terminating the club.)
Erick Kaardal, an attorney representing the students, had called the school’s action “a clear case of discrimination against students with conservative beliefs by a school whose policies have been documented as promoting an extreme ideological agenda.”
According to attorneys representing the students, Edina High School agreed to the following:
  • U.S. flags will hang in every classroom.
  • The Young Conservatives Club can be reinstated as a school-sponsored club, or a non-sponsored club…with the ability to exercise free speech without consequence.
  • USA Day is restored to Spirit Week, and district administration cannot object to the theme.
  • District Policy 628 (Education Programs, Student Activities Program) and the EHS Club Guidelines and Responsibilities policies were amended to include language that respects students’ right to free speech, and that revocation may not be based on the exercise of free speech or free association rights.
“The result of the settlement for the students is First Amendment freedom—something they did not have before the settlement,” Kaardal said. “Now and forevermore, the Young Conservatives Club will be able to criticize Edina Public Schools’ ideology in a First Amendment-protected way.”
Though the district agreed to tweak its free speech policies, officials denied wrongdoing and pointed out no monetary damages or fees were paid. 
Officials also said the absence of U.S. flags in many classrooms was the result a two-year construction project, during which flags were removed so they would not be damaged.
You can read Edina School District's entire statement here.
Jon Miltimore is the Director of Digital Media of where this article was originally published.

USCCB chairmen call faithful to prayer and action urging Congress to enact the Conscience Protection Act

WASHINGTON–Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty urge the faithful to flood Congress with emails and calls asking for enactment of the Conscience Protection Act as part of the 2018 funding bill and to pray for this outcome. Congress is currently considering whether to include the Conscience Protection Act in must-pass government funding legislation, and a decision on the Conscience Protection Act’s inclusion will be made prior to March 23, 2018.

The joint statement follows:

“Increasing and fierce attacks on conscience rights regarding abortion cry out for an immediate remedy. Nurses and other health care providers and institutions are being forced to choose between participating in abortions or leaving health care altogether. Churches and pro-life Americans are being forced to provide coverage for elective abortions—including late-term abortions—in their health care plans. Opponents and supporters of abortion should be able to agree that no one should be forced to participate in abortion. Congress must remedy this problem by enacting the Conscience Protection Act now as part of the FY 2018 funding bill.

We call on all the faithful to pray and to act by emailing and calling Congress in the coming week especially on Monday, March 12 with the message that enacting the Conscience Protection Act is urgently needed to protect Americans from being forced to violate their deeply held convictions about respect for human life. Your calls and emails to your Members of Congress really do make a difference, so please act now to protect conscience rights!”

Members of Congress can be reached by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and asking to be connected with your representative or senator.  Or you can email and call your Members of Congress quickly and easily at

The USCCB has also created a video available on its YouTube channel and

For additional information and videos featuring nurses who were forced by their employers to choose between their jobs and participating in abortions go to

Monday, March 5, 2018

No justice for Native Americans in Oregon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the Klickitat and Cascade tribes in Oregon were denied justice late Friday after a federal magistrate judge ruled that the government is free to bulldoze sacred Native American burial grounds and destroy sacred artifacts. The tribal members plan to appeal the ruling in Slockish v. U.S. Federal Highway Administration, which dramatically narrows the religious freedom rights of Native Americans by saying that a key federal religious freedom law cannot be used to protect their artifacts and sacred sites. (Watch their story. 

In 2008, while widening Highway 26 near Mount Hood, the Federal Highway Administration destroyed a sacred site that included a stone altar, ancient burial grounds, a campground, and trees and medicinal plants used for religious rituals. Although tribal members repeatedly alerted officials to the importance of the site, and there were many ways to widen the highway while still protecting it, the government refused to listen and bulldozed the site.   

“For centuries Native Americans have endured the destruction of sacred places by the federal government, and it’s heartbreaking that the court would say this completely preventable destruction was okay,” said Carol Logan, member of the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde. “All we want is the return of our sacred artifacts, the rededication of the area for our ancestors, and the promise that we can continue to worship as our tribes have done for centuries.” 

The tribal members sought justice under a federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—which was enacted in 1993 after the Supreme Court neglected to protect religious freedom for Native Americans. Nevertheless, the magistrate judge’s opinion said, “Even where the government’s actions would virtually destroy a group’s ability to practice their religion the Constitution simply does not provide a principle that could justify upholding [their] legal claims.”   

“The federal government has repeatedly shown a callous disregard for Native American religious beliefs,” said Stephanie Barclay, counsel at Becket. “For these tribes, this burial ground was their church. Our religious freedom laws wouldn’t allow the government to destroy other churches with impunity, and it shouldn’t be any different for Native Americans.” 

Plaintiffs Wilbur Slockish and Johnny Jackson are Hereditary Chiefs of the Klickitat and Cascade tribes of the Yakima Nation and Carol Logan is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde.  They are joined in their lawsuit by the Cascade Geographic Society and the Mount Hood Sacred Lands Preservation Alliance. They are represented by Becket, together with Seattle-based law firm Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch and Oregon City attorney James Nicita. 


Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United States Supreme Court. For over 20 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians (read more here). 

Federal appeals court orders formal responses to petition that judge step down in abortion lawsuits

Thomas More Society and David Daleiden Sought “Writ of Mandamus” for Removal of Allegedly Biased Judge

San Francisco, California -- Last December 2017, the legal team for undercover citizen journalist David Daleiden, who exposed the abortion industry’s role in the trafficking of aborted baby body parts, filed a petition for an “extraordinary writ of mandamus” in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The petition asked that the appellate court order that William Orrick, a San Francisco federal judge, step down from presiding over two lawsuits, owing to an apparent conflict of interest and other facts creating the appearance of bias. On Wednesday, February 28th, a three-judge “motions panel” ruled that Daleiden’s “petition for writ of mandamus raises issues that warrant an answer.” The panel ordered that the abortion groups suing Daleiden in Judge Orrick’s courtroom, namely, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (“PPFA”), its many California-based affiliates as well as others, and the National Abortion Federation (“NAF”), file answers to the mandamus petition within 14 days. The panel further directed that in their answers, the abortion groups “shall address the basis for the district court’s denial of [Daleiden’s] motion for disqualification of Judge William H. Orrick under 28 U.S.C. Secs. 144, 455(a) and 455(b)(1).” And the panel specified that, “in particular,” the answers [shall] address Judge Orrick’s relationship with Good Samaritan Family Resource Center.” 

The three-judge panel is comprised of Senior Circuit Judge William C. Canby, Jr., Senior Circuit Judge Stephen S. Trott, and Circuit Judge Paul J. Watford. They added in their terse order that Judge Orrick might also “address the petition if [he] so desires,” either by filing an answer in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or by issuing an order and serving a copy on the appellate court. Daleiden is to file a reply in 5 days after service of the answers, and all relevant papers “shall be referred to the next available motions panel.” The order was to be served not only on Judge Orrick, but also on District Judge James Donato, to whom Judge Orrick had referred Daleiden’s initial motions for disqualification and who denied both of them.

Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, explained, “We welcome this ruling by the 9th Circuit panel as we were asking the court to order Judge Orrick to do what he should have done preemptively on his own…that is, recuse himself and step aside from presiding over a case in which he has had a direct, personal, and decades-long relationship with an organization whose property and employees were alleged by the abortion provider plaintiffs to be endangered by our client’s citizen journalism, namely, the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center (GSFRC), of which he was a founder and longtime officer and director, and which houses one of the plaintiff PPFA affiliate’s facilities. This relationship was established during Judge Orrick’s leadership tenure on the board, and GSFRC continues in an active joint venture with this plaintiff PPFA affiliate. At the same time, Judge Orrick has been held out to the public as serving as an Emeritus Board Member of GSFRC. This relationship was not discussed to the parties, nor did Judge Orrick disclose its full extent or duration to the U.S. Senate during his confirmation process.” Other facts were also cited as having created the appearance of bias.

Judge Orrick issued a gag order, which Daleiden is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down as an illicit “prior restraint” on free speech, censoring Daleiden’s remaining video footage taken at NAF annual meetings in 2015 and 2016. On Monday, February 26th, NAF’s counsel filed its opposition to the Supreme Court hearing the appeal. Earlier, NAF had formally waived its right to respond, but the justices ordered that it respond. 

A copy of the filed petition for a writ of mandamus in Planned Parenthood et al v. the Center for Medical Progress et al and National Abortion Federation v. the Center of Medical Progress et al is available here.

Read background on this and related cases in which the Thomas More Society is defending Daleiden for his exposé of Planned Parenthood’s participation in trafficking baby body parts here. 

About the Thomas More Society

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. Visit for more information. The Society represents David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress together with Life Legal Defense Foundation and the Law Office of Charles LiMandri, based in California, as well as former L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley and his former assistant prosecutor Brentford Ferreira.

Friday, March 2, 2018

First Liberty Institute files appeal at Oregon Supreme Court in Sweet Cakes by Melissa case

First Liberty Institute asks state high court to overturn
                                               ruling against Aaron and Melissa Klein 

Salem, Ore. – Today, attorneys with First Liberty Institute and Boyden Gray & Associates filed an appeal at the Oregon Supreme Court in the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa.  The Oregon Court of Appeals late last year ruled against the Kleins, upholding a decision by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) that resulted in a $135,000 penalty, forcing the Kleins to close their family-run bakery. 
“Aaron and Melissa Klein are entitled to the Constitution’s promises of religious liberty and free expression,” Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty Institute, says. “As Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy said during recent oral arguments on a similar case, ‘Tolerance is essential in a free society, and tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual.’ Freedom of expression for ourselves should require freedom of expression for others.” 
Since this case began, the Kleins – and those with whom they used to do business – have been targeted with hate mail, harassment and threats.  That, along with the government’s massive financial penalty, forced them to close their business. 
Watch the video outlining the harassment the Kleins have received. 
“Popular ideas are not in great danger of being suppressed or silenced,” said Stephanie Taub, Senior Counsel for First Liberty. “The true test of our commitment to freedom is when we welcome disagreement and live peaceably as neighbors anyway. In its ruling, the Oregon Court of Appeals undermined America’s promise of protection even for those forms of expression which may be unpopular.”  
First Liberty Institute, a national religious freedom law firm, represents the Kleins in their appeal along with C. Boyden Gray who served as White House Counsel to President George H. W. Bush.  
Read more about the Kleins’ case at  
# # # 
First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Wheaton College wins five-year battle against HHS mandate; court says federal government violated civil rights law, orders end to mandate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wheaton College, one of the top Christian liberal arts colleges in the country, has won the right to carry out its religious mission without fear of government fines. Late yesterday a judge ruled in Wheaton v. Azar that the government would violate federal civil rights laws if it forced Wheaton to provide services like the week-after pill in its healthcare plans against its religious beliefs. The judge’s order permanently forbids the government from imposing that mandate on Wheaton, ending the College’s five-year legal battle, which included receiving protection against the mandate from the Supreme Court in 2015.    

This is the first district court order offering permanent protection from the HHS mandate after the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Zubik v. Burwell, which said that the government could not fine religious groups for following their faith and said it could find other ways to provide services to the women who want them. Yesterday’s decision permanently protects Wheaton from any current or future version of the mandate.   

“The government is not above the law—that’s why we have civil rights laws. Wheaton should never have had to go to court to protect its rights in the first place. This order ensures we won’t have to come back,” said Diana Verm, Wheaton alumna and legal counsel at Becket, which represented the College.    

Wheaton College was founded in 1860 by prominent abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard. Its religious mission “For Christ and His Kingdom” guides everything it does. That is why, in 2012, after receiving no response from HHS to its concerns, Wheaton filed a lawsuit to defend its right to operate according to its religious principles.  

The contraceptive mandate went to theSupremeCourtfivetimes, and each time the Supreme Court ruled in favor of protecting religious groups. Yesterday’s order follows a new HHS rule that admits the federal government violated the law and provides temporary protection to religious objectors. However, the new rule was halted in late December by judges in California and Pennsylvania. The California and Pennsylvania orders have been appealed. Meanwhile, the court’s order will permanently protect Wheaton from any current or future version of the mandate. 

“We are grateful to God that the court recognized Wheaton’s religious identity and protected our ability to affirm the sanctity of human life,” said Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College. “The government should never have tried to force us to provide drugs and services against our faith, and we are pleased by the resolution of our case.” 

Wheaton College is represented by Becket and Christian Poland of Bryan Cave LLP.     


Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United States Supreme Court. For over 20 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians (read more here). 

Abortion clinic escort’s false testimony in federal court tears hole in harassment charges

                            Thomas More Society cross exam destroys accusations                                                                         against pro-life sidewalk counselors

(February 23, 2018 – Brooklyn, NY) A star witness in New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s lawsuit against a group of pro-life sidewalk counselors admitted in federal court that her testimony was not true. In reality, Mary Lou Greenberg, who heads up the abortion escort program at Choices Women’s Medical Center in Jamaica, New York, testified on Wednesday, February 21, that her accusations against the life advocates on trial were “borrowed” from another escort, whose words were used to describe actions by different people at an entirely different clinic. 

“Greenburg also admitted that when a woman is leaving the clinic in the company of sidewalk counselors, she will insert herself, uninvited, into the conversation, and will follow the entourage continuing her comments,” explained Martin Cannon, Thomas More Society Special Counsel. “This is the same behavior the Attorney General is accusing the pro-life witnesses of engaging in, but calling it illegal harassment when done by them to save babies lives. Greenburg claims she is justified because she is providing ‘important information’ she feels the woman ought to have. By contrast, our clients are offering receptive women information that can save the lives of their babies.” 

The pro-life sidewalk counselors, ten of whom are members of Church@TheRock ( in Brooklyn, have been slapped with federal harassment charges by Schneiderman, for offering abortion-bound women information on life-affirming alternatives. The sidewalk counselors are represented by the Thomas More Society, whose legal defense of them is rooted in their Constitutionally guaranteed rights.  

Greenberg wrote in a sworn declaration: “They say that Choices does not care about them. The protesters say that ambulances come and take women away once or twice a day, that women have to have hysterectomies after an abortion, and that Choices throws away ‘the baby’ in the garbage. All of these are just lies.” 

On cross examination by Cannon, Greenberg admitted that she used those exact words in 2010 magazine article, quoting another escort at another clinic. That was two years prior to the weekly pro-life outreach conducted by Church@TheRock members outside of Choices, which commenced in 2012.  

The trial, which began on February 12, has garnered attention due to Schneiderman’s well-publicized support of the abortion industry and the notoriety of Choices’ owner, Merle Hoffman, the woman Forbes dubbed the “millionaire abortionist,” who has been providing abortions since 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade became law.  

Read more about People v. Griepp et al, heard in the United States District Court Eastern District of New York, before Judge Carol Bagley Amon 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

Churches, radio station file suit over city’s attempt to control religious employment, advertising, and facility use

De Pere, WI (Feb. 23) —A coalition of churches and a non-profit radio station filed suit yesterday challenging a sweeping ordinance that purports to control aspects of religious employment, facility use, and even advertising.  The plaintiffs are represented by Pacific Justice Institute, with local counsel Heidi Miller of Wauwatosa. 

The ordinance was enacted by the City of De Pere, near Green Bay, just before Thanksgiving last year.  It is set to take effect March 1.

The ordinance bars discrimination, broadly defining that term as well as public accommodation and employment decisions in ways that would severely curtail religious exercise.  The only exception for religious entities like the churches and radio station is for hiring people of the same religion.  That limitation would afford no ability to make employment decisions if a pastor, other employee, or applicant acts inconsistently with church teaching but continues to claim to be of the same faith or denomination.

The sweeping ordinance would also prevent public accommodations from denying use for events such as same-sex weddings or drag shows. 

The ordinance also affects advertising and purports to restrict the radio station’s ability to promote people or events consistent with its beliefs.  A broad reading would also affect the churches’ ability to promote Bible-based marriage conferences and potentially even sermons proclaiming age-old Christian teachings on sexuality.  The ordinance hands enforcement authority to the city attorney.    

Because the ordinance is written so broadly, and is devoid of typical safeguards such as religious employment exceptions, or even the ministerial exception unanimously recognized by the Supreme Court, PJI first sought amendments or assurances that the ordinance would not be interpreted or enforced in ways that impinged on religious freedom.  The City of De Pere refused to provide any such assurances, leaving the religious institutions vulnerable absent court action.   

PJI is asking the court in Brown County to either interpret the ordinance narrowly, or declare it invalid under the Wisconsin and U.S. Constitutions.

Brad Dacus, president of PJI, commented, “If cities can tell churches who they must hire, retain or promote, and to whom their sanctuaries and other sacred grounds must be made available, and what types of viewpoints may be espoused through advertising, our religious freedom is in serious jeopardy.  It is alarming that the City of De Pere would not enact basic protections of religious freedom.  We are very hopeful that the court will uphold the rights of these churches and this radio station.” 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Is Western Civilization committing suicide?

By Daniel Lattier | February 20, 2018

In the past century there have been numerous thinkers who have outlined the signs of the decline of Western Civilization. We have mentioned many of them in articles for Intellectual Takeout: Richard Weaver, Georges Bernanos, Alasdair MacIntyre, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Samuel Huntington, David Bentley Hart, and Rod Dreher.
I will now add another one to the list—British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990), who wrote the following in 1976:
“Similarly, it has become abundantly clear in the second half of the twentieth century that Western Man has decided to abolish himself. Having wearied of the struggle to be himself, he has created his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, his own vulnerability out of his own strength; himself blowing the trumpet that brings the walls of his own city tumbling down, and, in a process of auto-genocide, convincing himself that he is too numerous, and labouring accordingly with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer in order to be an easier prey for his enemies; until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keels over, a weary, battered old brontosaurus, and becomes extinct. Many, like Spengler, have envisaged the future in such terms, and now what they prophesied is upon us.”
It’s difficult to deny that many of the conditions of decline that Muggeridge lists are realities of today's life in America, which is regarded by some as the last best hope of Western Civilization. For instance…
“… his own impotence out of his own erotomania”: 
As reported by a recent Politico article titled “Too Much Netflix, Not Enough Chill,” in spite of the decrease in sexual inhibitions, “Americans are having less sex, the share of Americans who say they never once had sex in the past year is rising, and—perhaps most surprising—this revolution in sexual behavior is being led by the young.”
“… in a process of auto-genocide, convincing himself that he is too numerous, and labouring accordingly with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer in order to be an easier prey for his enemies”: 
According to the Centers for Disease Control, U. S. fertility is at an all-time low, and below the levels needed to replace an aging workforce and keep the economy stable. And there have been over 60 million abortions performed in the U.S. since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, which is estimated to have reduced today’s U.S. population by about 10%.
“… having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction”:
Student performance in American schools continues to decline, and they no longer read most of the Great Books that shaped Western Civilization. In many schools, students are being taught that past men (rarely women) of the West have not only made mistakes, but that the West itself is evil and must be systematically forgotten. As Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen has noted, “What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like ‘critical thinking,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘ways of knowing,’ ‘social justice,’ and ‘cultural competence.’”
And then there’s the high prevalence of drug use: 45% of Americans above the age of 12 take prescription painkillers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives; 1 in 10 American adults take antidepressants (thirty years ago it was less than 1 in 50); 22% of Americans use marijuana (some do so legally); and an estimated 10% of Americans use illegal drugs.
But the question of whether these conditions are actually signs of civilizational decline represents a point of division in America today. A large percentage of Americans believe that the earth is already overcrowded, and thus, that any reduction in population is unquestionably good; that teaching America’s students to look more favorably on cultures other than their own is a necessary facet of “critical thinking”; and that increased use of pharmaceuticals is an indicator of medical progress.
Others, however, see the above conditions as indicators that Americans no longer believe the West is worth preserving, and are reminded of the words of another 20th-century thinker, Will Durant: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within.”
This article was originally published on

Dan is a Senior Fellow at Intellectual Takeout. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (MN), and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can find his academic work at E-mail Dan