Category Archives: courts

The Point: Leave the Little Sisters Alone

DOWNLOAD

 

 

Leave those poor nuns alone. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

It was a big win for religious liberty when the Trump administration rolled back the infamous HHS mandate, which would have required religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide insurance covering contraceptives and abortifacients.

No doubt the Little Sisters rejoiced and felt they could start concentrating on their ministry instead of lawsuits. But that would only be in a sane world. The attorneys general of California and Pennsylvania are suing to strip the Little Sisters of that exemption. The hearing is, in fact, today.

The Becket Fund, which represents the Little Sisters, calls the move “political grandstanding.” I’d call it anti-Christian ideological tyranny.

Mother Lorraine Marie Maguire of the Little Sisters had this to say: “We just want to be able to continue our religious mission of caring for the elderly poor as we have for 175 years. We pray these state governments would leave us alone and let us do our work in peace.”

Let’s all pray the same thing for them today.

 

Resources

Little Sisters of the Poor Are Returning to Court

  • Rachel del Guidice | The Daily Signal | November 21, 2017
Advertisements

BreakPoint: Jack Phillips Before the Supreme Court “Tolerance Is a Two-Way Street”

DOWNLOAD

 

Audio Player

 
 
00:00

I was honored yesterday to rally in support of Jack Phillips on the steps outside the Supreme Court. Now I’d like to tell you what went on inside.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Eric Metaxas and I have given you the details before, of Colorado master cake designer Jack Phillips who declined to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

As David Brooks wrote in yesterday’s New York Times, “Phillips is not trying to restrict gay marriage or gay rights; he’s simply asking not to be forced to take part.”

Neither the couple or the state of Colorado saw it that way. Phillips was found to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination law, and forced to choose between his convictions and losing forty percent of his business. Phillips appealed to the Supreme Court.

While Phillips’s actions were grounded in his religious beliefs, the legal argument was primarily about whether Colorado had violated his right to free speech.  Unlike those commentators who disparaged the idea that creating custom cakes constitutes a form of speech, yesterday the Court took the question seriously.

Phillips’ lawyer, Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that “the first amendment protects bakers such as Mr. Phillips against being forced to express any belief, and that as a custom-cake maker, he sketches, sculpts and hand-paints—in other words, he’s an artist.”

Waggoner had barely gotten started when the questions began.

Responding to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she reiterated that neither she nor her client were challenging his obligation to sell his ordinary wares to everyone. In fact, he offered to sell the couple any already-made cake in his store.

Custom cakes, Waggoner told the Court, were a different matter. The use of writing and symbols convey a message in a way that a cake off the shelf does not.

Inevitably the comparison to race came up. The best answer was given by U. S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco. Francisco, in response to several justices, argued that discrimination on the basis of race, such as refusing to serve an interracial couple, was different than refusing to participate in a ceremony.

He also argued that upholding Phillips’ free speech rights would not damage civil rights protection because it would only apply to “a small group of individuals” in “narrow circumstances.” However, Justice Breyer disagreed.

But the roughest treatment was reserved for Colorado’s Solicitor General Fred Yarger because of Colorado’s treatment of Phillips throughout the whole ordeal. Justice Kennedy—likely the swing vote in this case—told him that tolerance must go both ways, adding that, “It seems to me the state has been neither tolerant nor respectful” of Jack Phillips views.

He cited a comment by a member of the Civil Rights Commission, who called Phillips’ religious beliefs “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric.” He then asked Yarger to disavow the comment. After Yarger lamely replied that he wouldn’t counsel a client to say a such a thing, Kennedy pressed him, and Yarger disavowed.

It’s never a good thing when a judge asks you to disavow your client’s statement.

So where are we? Justice Kennedy definitely seems troubled by the way Phillips was treated, and it’s encouraging that he insisted tolerance is a “two-way street.”

Heartening as well was Justice Breyer’s asking Yarger if some kind of compromise might be possible. Whatever else Breyer is thinking, he seems to be concerned that Colorado didn’t make sufficient allowance for people with dissenting views.

I can’t tell you whether Phillips will prevail, but there’s reason to be encouraged. It’s also possible that Kennedy could side with Phillips, but in a narrow opinion that would open the floodgate for future cases. Even then, that better, far better than a Phillips loss.

So let’s continue to pray earnestly that Phillips, and freedom, prevails.

 

Jack Phillips Before the Supreme Court: “Tolerance Is a Two-Way Street”

As both John and Eric have stated, this free speech case is extremely important. So continue to pray for the justices of our Supreme Court, that God would guide them in their deliberations and decision in this free speech and religious freedom case.

Resources

Kate Shellnutt | Christianity Today | December 5, 2017 

Great Jurist, Great Writer, Great Speaker, Great American

There have been a lot of positive reviews of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s recently released book of speeches. This will be another one. What’s not to like? The speeches were selected by his son, Christopher Scalia, and a former law clerk, Edward Whelan, from the many the justice delivered over the last 30 years or so of his life. They show not only an articulate and scholarly jurist with a well thought-out and consistent view of the law, but a full-service human being, full of insights and humor about the roller-coaster we call life, which he was very good at living.

 

Those who’ve read Scalia’s opinions, especially his occasionally acerbic dissents, know he was a clear, persuasive, and amusing writer. (I lift up 2004’s Scalia Dissents — Regnery — still available.) Can you feature it? Legal opinions that one can read for pleasure. What next?

( More )

Fire Chief Fired for expressing his faith on his own time

While many people are gearing up for Supreme Court arguments over the rights of a religious baker, a case involving the rights of a religious fire chief also remains up in the air.

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran says he was fired for his Christian faith and beliefs. The case began in 2014 after Cochran self-published a men’s devotional book he had written on his personal time. While the book does mention biblical sexual morality, attorney Kevin Theriot of Alliance Defending Freedom says it was only a brief mention in the 162-page book.

“We had a hearing on whether or not the court would go ahead and decide the case without a trial or that the case would proceed to trial – it’s called a summary judgment,” says Theriot about the November 17 hearing before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

 

“[At that] hearing both sides presented arguments as to why they think that they should succeed – and what we argued, on behalf of Chief Cochran, is that the city has conceded that they considered the content of the speech and his book about his religious beliefs when they suspended him without pay and when they fired him; and because of that, that violated his constitutional rights.”


Atlanta argues that it is an inclusive city and an inclusive employer. But according to Theriot, Atlanta’s definition of inclusiveness means excluding those that disagree with the city.

“Not only did the mayor say but several of his staff [also] said Look, these were offensive to us and therefore we got rid of him,” he explains. “That clearly violates the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.”

A decision by the judge in Cochran v. City of Atlanta is expected in December or early next year.

( Read more here. )

An Act of Deception, and the Anti Christian Union has a party over the death of a baby ( sad )

Listen to the commentary

BreakPoint: The Dogma of Sens. Feinstein and Franken

.      

On May 8, 2017, President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to a seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

By any reasonable measure, Barrett is beyond qualified. After graduating with highest honors from Notre Dame Law School, she clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia at the Supreme Court. And a few years later, she returned to Notre Dame. There, she “teaches and researches in the areas of federal courts, constitutional law, and statutory interpretation.”

She is exactly the kind of person you want serving on the Court of Appeals, if we lived in more reasonable times.

As her Notre Dame affiliation suggests, Barrett is a Catholic, which wouldn’t be an issue if she were the kind of Catholic whose faith is so private, as the old joke goes, that she wouldn’t impose it on herself.

But she’s the kind of Catholic who lives as if her faith is actually true.

At her confirmation hearings, Senator Diane Feinstein, channeling Darth Vader in Star Wars, told Barrett that “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.” An example of what Feinstein considers “loudly living dogma” is Barrett’s address to the Law School’s 2006 graduating class.

Barrett said that “Your legal career is but a means to an end, and . . . that end is building the kingdom of God. . . . [I]f you can keep in mind that your fundamental purpose in life is not to be a lawyer, but to know, love, and serve God, you truly will be a different kind of lawyer.”

Feinstein and other Democratic senators also pointed to a 1998 article on the death penalty, which the Catholic Church opposes in all but a few, highly improbable, instances. Barrett wrote that “Judges cannot—nor should they try to—align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge. They should, however, conform their own behavior to the Church’s standard. Perhaps their good example will have some effect.”

What Barrett had in mind was recusal, which is done to insure impartiality. But to hear Feinstein and others discuss it, you would have thought that Barrett was talking about an auto-da-fé, the burning of heretics.

But by far the most ridiculous moment came when senator Al Franken compared Barrett’s speaking before the Alliance Defending Freedom to giving a speech to Pol Pot, the genocidal Cambodian dictator. I am not making this up.

Coming on the heels of Bernie Sanders’ mistreatment of Russell Vought, a Wheaton College grad, over his belief that Jesus is the only way to the Father, it’s clear that some Democrats seem intent on imposing a de facto religious test for government office, notwithstanding the Constitution’s explicit prohibition of such a test.

Of course, they deny they’re doing any such thing. Instead, in the case of Barrett, they’re recycling one of the oldest prejudices in American life: “The notion that Catholics are so beholden to Rome as to be incapable of rendering independent judgment in public office.”

The modern version, as the late Richard John Neuhaus used to say, goes “the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic,” someone who doesn’t live as if his faith were actually true.

As Russell Vought learned, the same is also true for Evangelicals. For some people, even the gentlest, most winsome faith is simply beyond the pale.

Richard Dawkins asks a very good question about a faith in a god

Listen to, or read the commentary.

President Trump needs to focus on the bench, not on folks who are looking into the Russia issue

Republicans have enough problems on their hands. There are 20 vacancies on the circuit court of appeals and over 100 vacancies on the lower courts for which there has not been a nomination put forward yet. This is unacceptable. It’s a failure of governance.

( Read, or listen to the rest of this commentary. )

Charles was wrong on little Charlie

The more I read, and watch Charles Krauthammer the more I struggle if he is truly on the right.
In a recent column Charles kind of stood behind the system in the UK which kept the parents of that little boy Charlie Gard from bringing him to America. Little Charlie died yesterday, and from what I heard the British hospital he was in would not even let his mommy, and daddy take him home to die at their home. Talk about evil, and mean.
The issue in Gard case was not that the tax payers of England having to pay for treatment here in America. The parents had raised money to pay for the treatment themselves.
Krauthammer in his column seem to accept the idea that the courts, and doctors of the U.K. knew what was best.
That is not even the issue. The issue is should they decide if little Charlie was brought to America. Don’t parents have the right to decide about healthcare for their children. Unless there is abuse involved.
Krauthammer writes in his column sometimes parents are wrong. I agree, but what about judges, and doctors. They are not perfect either. But this again should not be about who was right, or who knows what is best for the child. This should have been about who has the right to decide.
When you give a government control of healthcare as has happened in England this kind of issue may happen. Are you listening parents of America. This is another reason us in America needs to get Obamacare off the books. Too bad the Democrats in the Senate along with three GOP senators has made this kind of thing a possibility here in America.

Parents’ loss in UK highlights need in U.S.

Here is the story.