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CitizenLink is proud to work with the North Carolina Family Policy Council and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
Despite an ongoing lawsuit challenging the program, North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Grants, that will enable eligible lower-income students in North Carolina to attend the non-public school of their choice, are scheduled for distribution on August 15. Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood, on July 30, denied a request that would have prevented the State from distributing the grants for the 2014 fall semester. Although he is the same judge who issued an injunction in February that halted the Opportunity Scholarship program, the State Supreme Court took action in May that overturned his injunction. As a result, the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority was able to hold a random selection lottery in June to identify the recipients of roughly 2,400 available scholarships. More than 5,500 grant applications had been submitted.
In a News & Observer report, Judge Hobgood stated that his July decision allowing the funds to be distributed hinged on the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling to overturn the injunction he had placed on the program. According to Hobgood, the Supreme Court “has given us all a clue” of how they are likely to rule if the case reaches them again. “If taxpayer money goes out before the date of the hearing, then I’m just following what the Supreme Court has told me to do,” Judge Hobgood said, recognizing “they’re the Supreme Court, and I’m a superior court judge.”
The judge has set August 22 as the date for a ruling on the merits of the case challenging the program. Attorneys for both sides are scheduled to present their arguments before him in a hearing on August 19. Also in his ruling on July 30, Judge Hobgood granted a motion by state legislative leaders, Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), to intervene as defendants in the lawsuit.
In related news, state lawmakers finalized a state budget last week, which includes an additional $840,000 for these scholarship grants. According to Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, that money will provide approximately 400 more Opportunity Scholarships for “low-income students in the Spring 2015 semester with priority going to those who applied for the Opportunity Scholarship Program but did not receive a scholarship for the Fall 2014 semester due to high demand.”
by Brittany Farrell, North Carolina Family Policy Council
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
Faith Leaders Thank President Obama for Responding to Crisis of Genocide and the Persecution of Christians and Other Religious Minorities in Iraq
Pro-lifers in Madison, Wis., will once again be able to exercise their free-speech rights — without restrictions. City officials voted this week to rescind an ordinance that created hundreds of unconstitutional censorship zones.
This follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision last month that struck down a Massachusetts law requiring “buffer zones” around abortion sellers.
“The government cannot muzzle speech just because it doesn’t reflect the views of abortionists or of those in government who favor abortion,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The Supreme Court made that clear when it affirmed the long-recognized fact that public streets and sidewalks are places where free speech is highly protected.”
Madison City Attorney Michael May put the ordinance on hold last month. In an email to city officials, he said the high court decision played a key role in halting it. The council voted Tuesday to modify it to remove all unconstitutional restrictions on speech. It now awaits the mayor’s signature.
City council member Lisa Subeck, the former director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, introduced and sponsored the ordinance. It required anti-speech “bubbles.” The zones, which were 200 feet in diameter, existed around the entrances of every place in the city where a nurse or physician provides medical services. Within each bubble, no person could approach another person to give a leaflet or display a sign. They also could not protest, educate or counsel passers-by.
ADF filed suit in February on behalf of Madison Vigil for Life and other organizations and individuals. In light of the change, the Christian legal group plans to voluntarily dismiss the suit.
“We agree with the city attorney’s conclusion,” Bowman said, “that the censorship zones are unconstitutional, as our lawsuit has argued. The city was right to rescind bad law.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Madison Vigil for Life v. City of Madison.
Read the letter May wrote concerning the ordinance.
Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers filed a lawsuit saying he was forced to retire from the United States Army because of his conservative beliefs.
A 25-year veteran and decorated soloist in the U.S. Army Band Chorus, Sommers says he was targeting for serving Chick-fil-A; for reading books by conservative authors; and for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his car. He said his superiors ordered the stickers to be removed.
“The Army took no action against those soldiers with pro-Obama bumper stickers,” said John Wells, an attorney representing Sommers. “Master Sgt. Sommers did nothing to interfere with good order and discipline. He was the perfect soldier.”
Sommers said he was accused of “unit disruption” for reading David Limbaugh’s “The Great Destroyer.” Even though he was not reading out loud, he said he was told he was offending other soldiers. And in 2012, he provided Chick-fil-A sandwiches, on his own dime, when he became a master sergeant.
According to Military-Veterans Advocacy, documents from the Army show he was reprimanded for his actions.
Sommers was eventually given a sub-standard evaluation. After that, the Army’s Quality Management Panel ordered him discharged from the military. He was allowed to retire.
Military-Veterans Advocacy filed suit on Aug. 1. The group wants Sommers returned to active duty with full pay and benefits and to have his record cleared.
“Just because someone joins the military,” said Wells, “they do not give up their rights as a citizen. Unfortunately, in this world of political correctness, some commanders believe they can force their will on subordinates.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Sommers v. U.S.A.
Learn more about Military-Veterans Advocacy.
CitizenLink is proud to work with Louisiana Family Forumand other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
Louisiana Family Forum released the 2014 Legislative Scorecard today, which provides an essential tool for Louisiana residents to evaluate each member of the Louisiana House and Senate on key policy votes. “LFF selects votes, which offer a snapshot of primarily social, limited government and free enterprise issues Louisiana lawmakers dealt with in the most recent legislative session,” Gene Mills, President of LFF, said. “We hope each concerned citizen uses this scorecard to analyze how well their lawmakers are representing Louisiana family values!”
Eleven Senators and 16 Representatives earned the Outstanding Family Advocate award by scoring 100 percent on LFF’s Scorecard. These 27 Legislators will receive LFF’s coveted Patrick Henry Award in a special ceremony during the 2014 Annual Legislative Awards Banquet Thursday, September 18, 2014, at The Healing Place Church Arena in Baton Rouge. An additional 56 Legislators–14 Senators and 42 Representatives—will be honored during LFF’s Awards Banquet with the Family Advocate award by scoring 80 to 99 percent on LFF’s Scorecard.Life and Liberty Awards are given each year to legislators who authored and successfully passed key legislation that promotes life and liberty. Award recipients are as follows:
- Sen. AG Crowe-SB 312, Parents’ Bill of Rights in Education.
- Rep. Neil Abramson-HB 1025, Protection for Victims of Sexual Exploitation.
- Rep. Joe Harrison- HB 1058, Down Syndrome Awareness Act.
- Rep. Cameron Henry-HB 1269, Government Whistleblower Protection Act.
- Rep. Frank Hoffmann-HB 305, Prohibits Abortion Providers in Classrooms.
- Rep. Barry Ivey-HB 1262, Informed Consent of Psychological Impact of Abortion.
- Rep. Katrina Jackson-HB 388, Requires Abortionists Have Admitting Privileges.
- Rep. John Schroder-HB 988, Local Control of School Curriculum and Content.
- Rep. Scott Simon-HB 1254, End of Life Care Act.
- Rep. Julie Stokes-HB 569, Creates Human Trafficking Courts.
- Rep. Kirk Talbot-HB 780, Voucher Program eligibility in Student Tuition Organizations.
“The votes represented on the LFF Scorecard clearly illustrate that public awareness and feedback are vitally important to Louisiana’s future. We are living in a time when it is of utmost importance to preserve the principles of life, liberty and limited government. I appreciate these lawmakers for representing their districts with excellence and honoring the principles that LFF advocates on behalf of,” Mills said.
Since LFF’s initial scorecard in 2004, legislative voting patterns continue to reflect a greater appreciation for family values in Louisiana.
The LFF 2014 Legislative Scorecard is available online at lafamilyforum.org.
by the Louisiana Family Forum
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Louisiana Family Forum.
Read the 2014 Legislative Scorecard.
Ultimate Date Night Movie and New Line of Resources Created to Transform Marriage by Megachurch Pastor Kyle Idleman and City on a Hill
In his Stoplight® commentary, Stuart Shepard explains that the IRS says it’ll be listening to sermons to determine whether they’re legal.