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‘Irreplaceable’ to Hit Theaters Nationwide — Tuesday Only

Citizen Link - Mon, 05/05/2014 - 17:59

A documentary from Focus on the Family is in theaters May 6, for a one-night theatrical event. “Irreplaceable” follows Tim Sisarich, a father from New Zealand, as he embarks on a journey to find the meaning of family and how it affects our world.

“God created family from before the foundations of the earth,” Sisarich told host Jim Daly on a recent Focus on the Family broadcast. “He was in family in the Trinity. He was in relationship within the Trinity. And so what God said is, ‘If you want a strong community, you have to start in the strong community of family.’ His model of expressing who he is is expressed through the family – through the value of a mom, the value of a dad, the value of a child.”

Sisarich served as executive director of Focus on the Family — New Zealand. Through interviews with experts and ordinary people, he discovers why marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been the standard for people all over the world.

“We need to get back to thinking about the rights of children,” said Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, who interviewed for the documentary. “It’s actually a human right for every child to have a loving mother and a loving father.”

Tickets are still available at www.irreplaceablethemovie.com. And don’t forget to use social media to talk about your experience. Just use the hashtag #Irreplaceable.

“‘Irreplaceable’ is a very thought provoking film that looks at some of the core issues affecting our families today,” said Super-Bowl-winning football coach Tony Dungy. “It details how our changing views on marriage, children and parenting have negatively impacted our society. And rather than merely highlighting the problems, it also points people to Jesus Christ to find the answers.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Listen to CitizenLink radio broadcast, “Family is ‘Irreplaceable.’”

Learn more about “Irreplaceable” and purchase tickets.

View a complete list of theaters.

 

US Supreme Court Sides with Palmetto Family, South Carolina on Public Prayer

Citizen Link - Mon, 05/05/2014 - 17:50

In a dramatic 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled this morning in favor of the Town of Greece, a New York city that had been sued for allowing sectarian prayers at its council meetings. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the opinion for the majority, wrote: “An insistence on nonsectarian or ecumenical prayer as a single, fixed standard is not consistent with the tradition of legislative prayer…”

In 2007, Palmetto Family Council worked with South Carolina Senator Chip Campsen to draft the “South Carolina Public Invocation Act,” the only law of its kind in the nation. A group of state senators led by Campsen submitted a brief two years ago written by attorney Tim Newton petitioning the Supreme Court to take the Forsyth case, a North Carolina case that was eventually wrapped into Town of Greece this year.

South Carolina Solicitor General Bob Cook also weighed in on the matter in an amicus brief to the court that was cited by Justice Samuel Alito during oral arguments. The Freedom from Religion Foundation had threatened the South Carolina subdivisions of Spartanburg County, the City of Aiken, and the City of Woodruff in 2010 for allowing prayers consistent with the South Carolina Act. Jay Thompson of the Nelson Mullins firm developed guidelines for the cities and towns in cooperation with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF led the fight for Greece.

“This a great day for religious freedom,” said Palmetto Family President Dr. Oran Smith. “Our efforts since 2005 have called for open expressions of faith at public events no matter what the specific religion. Our opponents wanted all religion to be purged from public life. We wanted freedom, and by God’s grace, we won.”

by the Palmetto Family Council

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CitizenLink is proud to work with Palmetto Family 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.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Palmetto Family Council.

 

 

 

U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Prayer at Government Meetings

Citizen Link - Mon, 05/05/2014 - 17:38

After more than five years of legal battles, the nation’s high court ruled today in favor of public prayers — including those “in Jesus’ name” — before government meetings.

“The Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the practice of prayer before legislative bodies is firmly embedded in the history and traditions of this nation,” said Thomas Hungar, an allied attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented the town. “Americans should be free to speak and act consistently with their own beliefs.”

The case came out of Greece, N.Y. It had long opened its sessions with prayer. The council invited volunteers from congregations in the community to pray.

In 2008, two people challenged the prayers. An appeals court said the town must invite non-Christians from other communities to pray.

In the opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy underscored the rights of Americans:

From the earliest days of the Nation, these invocations have been addressed to assemblies comprising many different creeds. These ceremonial prayers strive for the idea that people of many faiths may be united in a community of tolerance and devotion. Even those who disagree as to religious doctrine may find common ground in the desire to show respect for the divine in all aspects of their lives and being. Our tradition assumes that adult citizens, firm in their own beliefs can tolerate and perhaps appreciate a ceremonial prayer delivered by a person of a different faith.

The court affirmed that as long as the prayers are respectful, those praying may say essentially what they like. It also affirmed that if one prayer should wander outside what’s proper, that alone is not a reason to stop public prayers. And because most of the congregations in Greece are generally Christian, it’s acceptable for most of the people who pray to be Christians—no need to go outside the community to bring some unattainable sense of “balance” to what’s said in the prayers.

The Supreme Court’s ruling will likely affect similar cases still in progress in lower courts, according to ADF. Attorneys with the group plan to resolve those cases in light of the decision. They also are planning a nationwide effort to remind governmental bodies that public prayer before meetings is constitutional.

“In American, we tolerate a diversity of opinions and beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “We don’t silence people or try to separate what they say from what they believe.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the Supreme Court decision in Greece v. Galloway, et al.

Learn more by watching this ADF video about the case.

A Father’s Sacrifice

Citizen Link - Mon, 05/05/2014 - 01:07

Family Expert: It’s a Human Right for Every Child to Have a Mother and Father

Citizen Link - Fri, 05/02/2014 - 17:08

The attack against God’s design for marriage sometimes seems to be spiraling downward as gay activist groups continue redefining the institution in states across the country.

This may lead some to wonder: Does the institution still matter? What relevance does it have in our modern-day culture?

Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, is among the family experts interviewed for Focus on the Family’s upcoming film “Irreplaceable.” And according to her: Marriage does matter. But our culture today has forgotten why it matters so much.

“We need to get back to thinking about the rights of children,” she said. “And they need both a mother and father who are loving and committed to each other.”

The documentary takes a close look at marriage and other important family-related issues. The one-night theatrical event will take place in theaters across the country on May 6.

McGuire said our culture is too focused on “me” and “the individual.”

“We started to lose sight of the fact that what it really should be about is the rights of the most vulnerable,” she said. “It’s actually a human right for every child to have a loving mother and a loving father.”

Glenn Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus, agrees with McGuire.

“The big thing is to know the value there,” Stanton explained. “And to really hold up the married family as a gold standard against all other family forms — and know that’s what’s best for children.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Listen to CitizenLink radio broadcast, “Family is ‘Irreplaceable.’”

Learn more about “Irreplaceable” and purchase tickets.

View a complete list of theaters.

 

Arizona School District’s Bathroom Policy Raises Concerns

Citizen Link - Fri, 05/02/2014 - 16:58

The Tucson Unified School District has instituted a new policy allowing children to use bathrooms of the opposite sex. The decision has led to at least two incidents that have parents speaking out.

Susan Wright, a parent at Anna Henry Elementary School, complained that her 10-year-old son was using the restroom when a girl entered the bathroom. Another similar incident has been reported.

“My son won’t even let me go in the bathroom with him,” Wright told Tucson News Now. “He won’t let a female teacher go with him — this did not make him comfortable.”

Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a letter to the school district explaining that there is no law requiring public schools to allow boys into girls’ restrooms or vice versa.

“Protecting young children from inappropriate exposure to the opposite sex is not only perfectly legal, it’s a school district’s duty,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “Letting boys into girls’ bathrooms is an invasion of privacy and a threat to children’s safety. The school district is actually subjecting itself to potential liability if any of these children encounter any harm.”

The letter explains the legal precedent behind it and offers an alternative policy that would address the school district’s concerns about discrimination without endangering children.

“TUSD does not have any legal duty to open changing areas to opposite-sex students as a means to prevent discrimination,” attorneys said in the letter. “There simply is no discrimination in protecting young children from inappropriate exposure to the opposite-sex.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read ADF’s letter to the school district.

Read ADF’s recommended school facility policy.

North Dakota: Lives Saved, One Prayer at a Time Through the Work of 40 Days for Life

Citizen Link - Fri, 05/02/2014 - 16:45

A group of people were praying on a Wednesday, the day that the abortion clinic in Fargo kills 10-25 babies each week.  As they peacefully prayed for the lives of the innocent blood being shed, a young lady, planning to have an abortion, approached the clinic with her boyfriend.  She began to hesitate and question if her decision was the correct one.  Because of the prayer and presence of the sidewalk advocates on that day the young lady decided not to go through with the abortion and to save the precious life being formed within her.

Several months later, the same people that were praying for this baby and many others were invited to visit the young lady in her apartment.  Her daughter was so beautiful!  The mother expressed how saddened she was that she considered abortion and that not a day goes by she doesn’t thank the Lord for her little girl.

On another Wednesday, as prayer was being lifted up on the same sidewalk, in front of the same place, that again was killing 10-25 babies that day, a lady driving by stopped her car, rolled down her window and asked the group to look at the little girl smiling contently in her carseat. Her happy face surrounded by loose, blonde curls shone like that of an angel.   The mom explains that it is because of their prayer that her little girl is alive.  She was planning to have an abortion and decided not to because of the presence and prayer on the sidewalk on her way to the clinic.

It is all worth the effort if even one life gets saved because of the prayer and presence of sidewalk advocates every Wednesday near the abortion clinic in Fargo.  Praise God, more than one life has been saved!  58 lives have been confirmed saved and those are only the ones that we know of!

Thank you to the 40 Days for Life committee for sharing these stories and for being obedient in their calling to raise up more prayer warriors and sidewalk advocates in the Fargo area!  God bless you, Father Charles LaCroix, Pastor Dave Motta, Rachelle Sauvageau, Jody Clemens, Mary Thoelke and Colleen Samson!

by North Dakota Family Action

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 ­­­­­­­­­­CitizenLink is proud to work with the North Dakota Family Action and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the North Dakota Family Action.

 

The Free Speech Zone

Citizen Link - Fri, 05/02/2014 - 01:05

Secular Group Wants to Silence National Day of Prayer

Citizen Link - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 16:25

A secular group is still trying to prevent Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper from issuing honorary prayer proclamations during the annual National Day of Prayer (NDP). The state high court heard arguments today, which happens to be this year’s date for NDP.

“Public officials today should be as free to issue prayer proclamations as the founders of America and Colorado were,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel and former U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado Michael Norton. “State and federal courts nationwide have repeatedly upheld and recognized prayer proclamations as a deeply rooted part of American history and tradition.”

In 1952, President Harry Truman signed a joint resolution of Congress creating a national day of prayer. This month, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a resolution reaffirming its role in America.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed suit in 2010 to challenge the constitutionality of issuing prayer proclamations in Colorado. A lower court ruled against the group, which then appealed and won in the Colorado Court of Appeals. The Colorado attorney general then appealed to the state Supreme Court.

ADF filed a friend-of-the-court brief last year on behalf of the NDP Task Force.

“No governor of any other state in the nation has been barred from issuing such proclamations” said ADF Senior Counsel Brett Harvey. “Our prayer is that the Colorado Supreme Court does not become the first state to bar its governor from doing so.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Hickenlooper v. FFRF.

 

Marriage Expert: Dads’ Involvement May Help College Grad Rates

Citizen Link - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 15:42

Dedicated dads make a big difference in whether their children graduate from college. That’s the word in a new report from the American Enterprise Institute. Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, wrote the report.

“Teenagers who have involved dads — with things like helping them with their homework, playing sports with them or talking to them about their personal problems — were about 90 percent more likely to graduate from college compared to teens who reported that their dads were not involved in their lives,” he explained.

Wilcox said there are four components researchers think contribute to the high graduation rate. One: A dad has a direct impact on his children’s knowledge by talking to them about news and politics or helping with homework. Two: A dad who is in loving marriage is more likely to devote substantial resources to the education of his children.

“The third thing we talk about is the way in which dads are more likely, compared to moms, to challenge their kids to embrace life’s difficulties and life’s opportunities,” Wilcox said.

For example, girls who have supportive, loving fathers are “less likely to become pregnant as teenagers,” he shared. “And boys are less likely to end up being delinquent and having trouble with the law.”

In this clip, Carey Casey, chief executive officer of the National Center for Fathering, underscores the important role that dads play:

In previous reports, Wilcox says he’s also found that fathers who are involved with their spouse in a faith community are also more likely to be engage with their children.

The upcoming Focus on the Family film “Irreplaceable” takes a look at one man’s journey to discover his purpose as a husband and father. That story includes an uncovering of God’s timeless truths for the family. Focus President Jim Daly, has high hopes for the project.

“We pray that the Holy Spirit will make the truths found in this film — truths about God’s design for family and how His character is reflected through that design — come alive in the hearts and minds of those who watch ‘Irreplaceable’ and it’s follow-up companion curriculum, ‘The Family Project.’”

Pictured above: Brad Wilcox

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read “The Difference Fathers Make for College” by Brad Wilcox.

Learn more about “Irreplaceable.”

Learn more about “The Family Project.”

 

North Carolina Family Groups Asks Congress to Defund Common Core

Citizen Link - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 15:31

As concerns about Common Core continue to mount nationwide, the North Carolina Family Policy Council has joined over 40 national and state pro-family organizations in urging congressional leaders to support the elimination of federal funding for the national education standards. The April 28 letter is addressed to U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and is signed by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, John L. Rustin, president of the NCFPC, and 46 other leaders of pro-family groups across the nation. The letter asks Congress to eliminate “all existing and future funding for multi-state academic standards and assessments by the Department of Education, such as Common Core, in the Fiscal Year 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill.” It argues that, “The Secretary of Education should be prohibited from using grants, waivers and other funding mechanisms to entice states to adopt multi-state academic standards both now and in the future.”

The letter goes on to highlight a number of concerns about Common Core, including that the standards “remove local accountability for a child’s education from the hands of parents, teachers, and elected school officials,” and that “Federal funding for these standards promote a ‘one size fits all’ educational policy that does a disservice to students.” It points to the growing “pushback” against Common Core from parents, teachers, and even teachers unions, noting that “as of January 2014, 19 states have seen bills or executive actions to delay, alter, or repeal Common Core…” The letter concludes by emphasizing that, “The power of the federal purse should not be misused to make it even more difficult for parents and local communities to make educational choices on children’s behalf.”

The Tar Heel State is no stranger to the controversy surrounding Common Core. Just last week, on April 24, a legislative study commission recommended draft legislation that would “replace Common Core by exercising North Carolina’s proper constitutional authority over all academic standards.” The study commission, established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013 to review Common Core, presented the proposed legislation as  part of its final report to lawmakers in preparation for the 2014 legislative session, which begins May 14. The draft legislation would create the “Academics Standards Review Commission comprised of public and legislative members to evaluate Common Core” and make recommendations to the State Board of Education for changes and modifications to the standards.

by Alysse ElHage, associate director of research at the North Carolina Family Policy Council
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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.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the North Carolina Family Policy Council.

 

Three defendants dismissed in same-sex marriage lawsuit

Wisconsin Family News - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 13:26
Wisconsin Law Journal: Three ACLU defendants dismissed from same-sex marriage lawsuit.

Stoplight: The Free Speech Zone

Citizen Link - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 11:52

Is one quarter of one percent all the room there is for “free speech?” Stuart Shepard explains what happened to a couple students in Hawaii in his Stoplight® commentary.

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National Day of Prayer Calls for American Unity

Citizen Link - Wed, 04/30/2014 - 18:03

Millions of people across the country will pray on Thursday — some in groups and others in solitude — asking for God to intercede on behalf of their communities and on behalf of our nation and leaders.

The theme of the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer (NDP) is: One Voice, United in Prayer. This year’s key Scripture is Romans 15:6: “So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Any employers with questions about what’s OK to do for NDP will find a one-page guide useful. It’s put together by Alliance Defending Freedom and CitizenLink.

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, will serve as the 2014 Honorary Chairman of the NDP Task Force. She said that God will continue to show us the way.

“He’s gone ahead of us into the year 2014,” she said. “And if He’s gone ahead of us, He will lead us on the right path. When we come to the One to whom we pray — and we glorify with one mind and voice the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ — we’re coming to the one true living God, the creator of all things.”

Even though there are those who want to remove any mention of religion from the public square, NDP Task Force Vice Chairman John Bornschein said the roots of prayer have been enshrined in law, our courts and our personal lives.

“Ultimately, we are a nation that is spiritually, morally and legally ‘under God,” he explained. “Being so is healthy for this generation and the many to come. Those who desire to remove our accountability before Almighty God are the very same people who naïvely believe that a society without religion is a society of free thinkers — a world without restricting boundaries.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Watch the event live on May 1 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., EST.

Read the “Employer Participation in National Day of Prayer” FAQ.

 

In Defense of Marriage in Connecticut

Citizen Link - Wed, 04/30/2014 - 17:56

Five years ago last week, Connecticut secured the strongest religious-liberty exemptions against same-sex marriage in the nation. On April 22, 2009, the legislature amended a law to say churches and religious organizations cannot be forced “to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges” to a same-sex marriage, or be forced to admit or distribute benefits to them through a fraternal organization or be forced to “provide adoption, foster care or social services” to a same-sex marriage.

These are religious liberties that no longer exist in most of the other states that have same-sex marriage. Securing these liberties was a huge victory for Connecticut’s pro-family movement.

Few people know same-sex marriage, despite being such a cause célèbre for the political left, was defeated every year it came before the Connecticut legislature. Even fewer people know of the religious-liberty victory that was won after same-sex marriage was imposed by a 4-3 vote of the state Supreme Court. It is a story that has remained largely untold until now.

The movement to redefine marriage arrived in Connecticut about 12 years ago. Coincidentally, the Family Institute of
Connecticut (FIC) was being essentially restarted at about the same time, under my predecessor, Brian Brown.

At the time Brian was hired, the late Laurence Cohen wrote a column titled “Family Institute Deserves to Be Heard.” In
made the conventional case that we don’t do “icky” issues like abortion and same-sex marriage in Connecticut, and that there are no social conservatives in our state.

In the years that followed, FIC repeatedly would prove the conventional wisdom was wrong. There are thousands of
pro-family citizens in Connecticut who feel disenfranchised by the social liberalism of both parties, and who can be mobilized to take action.

In 2002-03, FIC organized an unprecedented alliance among Catholic parishes, the Knights of Columbus and the state’s evangelical Protestant churches that led to a petition drive gathering 100,000 signatures for the defense of marriage. In 2004, we rallied 6,000 people on a cold day at the state Capitol to protect largest rally in Connecticut history.

We rallied thousands at the Capitol again in 2005 and 2008, and on hundreds of occasions too numerous to count. Our pro-family rallies were always diverse, including people from every walk of life: black, white and Hispanic; male and female; Democrat and Republican; Catholic and Protestant and Jewish.

And it had an impact.

In 2003, a same-sex “domestic-partnership” bill was defeated in committee. In 2005, a civil-union law was passed, but with an amendment explicitly defining marriage in Connecticut as the union of a man and a woman.

In 2007, a full same-sex-marriage bill died without a vote when its supporters realized they did not have the votes to pass it.

Having lost at the Capitol every year that it came up, same-sex marriage won at the state Supreme Court in 2008 by a 4-3 vote, the crucial fourth vote coming from a substitute judge after the mysterious recusal of former Chief Justice William “Taco” Sullivan of Waterbury, who refused to explain why he removed himself from the case.

In his dissent, Justice Peter T. Zarella noted then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s office — whose job it was to defend the marriage laws of our state — omitted the only argument that has ever won in cases of this kind: that society has an interest in protecting traditional marriage because of its role in the procreation and upbringing of its citizens.

That is the sordid, untold tale of how same-sex marriage really came to Connecticut. But while most people know same-sex marriage won in 2008, few know the state’s pro-family movement won a stunning victory six months later.

We expected a bill to “codify” what the court had already done, and we knew stopping that bill would not repeal same-sex marriage — those court-ordered marriages were already being issued. Our goal, instead, was to use the codification bill to
restore the religious liberties whose continued existence was now in doubt because of the court’s ruling.

What we could not know was how some of our biggest foes inadvertently would help us.

In 2009, the Judiciary Committee, at the time under the cochairmanship of pro-same-sex-marriage leaders Andrew J. McDonald and Michael P. Lawlor, introduced a bill to strip Catholic bishops and priests of financial authority over their own parishes.

The bill was widely criticized as an attempt by McDonald and Lawlor at payback against the Catholic Church for its opposition to same-sex marriage. They withdrew the bill just before 5,000 angry citizens rallied at the Capitol against it.

But the damage had been done. McDonald’s and Lawlor’s apparent hostility to religious liberty was now way above the radar. And it gave us the momentum we needed.

Family Institute of Connecticut Action placed full-page ads in all 16 of Connecticut’s daily newspapers for several days,
drawing attention to the additional dangers to religious liberty posed by the same-sex-marriage codification bill.

Those ads generated 20,000 phone calls to the Capitol. In the end, our religious-liberty amendment was so popular, even McDonald and Lawlor felt compelled to vote for it.

Thanks to the law we passed in 2009, churches and religious organizations still have liberties that no longer exist in other states with same-sex marriage.

The Methodist beachfront pavilion in New Jersey that lost tax-exempt status and had to pay a fine for not allowing itself to be rented out for a same-sex ceremony, Catholic Charities of Boston giving up its adoption service rather than be forced by the government to place children in homes with same-sex married couples — these things have not occurred in Connecticut these last five years because of the 2009 law.

The increasing success of same-sex marriage elsewhere has led to the sort of attacks on religious liberty that we predicted — bakers, photographers and florists being forced to violate their conscience or face the heavy hand of government sanctions; a software CEO being ousted from his position merely for donating to an initiative for traditional marriage.

Some of those attacks could still happen in Connecticut. We saved the religious liberty of churches and religious organizations, not of individuals. That fight — and many other fights for religious liberty and parental rights in the aftermath of same-sex marriage — continues.

But the pro-family citizens of our state can justly take pride in what we have accomplished. In the “enlightened” state of Connecticut, where social conservatives supposedly don’t exist, we defeated same-sex marriage proponents every year before the court’s ruling and even after the ruling. And we continue to lead the fight for life, marriage and religious liberty in a place where they said it couldn’t be done.

 

by Peter Wolfgang of Waterbury, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut

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CitizenLink is proud to work with the Family Institute of Connecticut and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.

 This opinion piece was originally published in the Hartford Faith & Values on April 29, 2014.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Family Institute of Connecticut.

 

Pro-Lifers Celebrate Victory in Historic Case

Citizen Link - Wed, 04/30/2014 - 17:45

After 28 years of court battles — including three trips to the U.S. Supreme Court — a federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a Chicago-based pro-life group.

On Tuesday, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals awarded $63,391 to the Pro-Life Action League. In his seven-page opinion, Judge Frank Easterbrook called the arguments presented by the abortion lawyers “preposterous.”

Tuesday’s decision is a “long-awaited, hopefully final victory,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society.

The story began in 1986, a year after Joseph Scheidler’s book, “Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion” was published. In the book, Scheidler — president of Pro-Life Action League — urges pro-lifers to “shut down” the abortion industry via a national crusade.

Abortion activist groups then filed a federal anti-trust “class action” claim on behalf of abortion sellers and women seeking abortions in the entire United States. They later amended their complaint to include claims against another pro-life group, Operation Rescue. They also added claims under the federal extortion and racketeering (RICO) laws. In these claims, they said that each pro-life “sit in” or “rescue” was a federal felony crime of extortion.

“The abortion plaintiffs had been claiming that the heroic leaders whom we defended were leaders of a vast nationwide conspiracy comprising as many as a million members,” Brejcha explained. “This put a black cloud over pro-life efforts to advocate against abortion, as if these efforts to save human lives were some horrific enterprise bent on ‘extortion’ and ‘racketeering.’”

Some of the court decisions in the seemingly never-ending battle include:

* In 1994, the Supreme Court ruled that the case could go forward to trial as a civil RICO action.

* In 2003, the high court overturned a lower court jury verdict from 1998. They jury had found Scheidler and his co-defendants guilty.

* In 2006, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Scheidler — again.

The Pro-Life Action League then went back to court asking for reimbursement of court costs. And in 2013, 7th Circuit Judge Charles Norgle awarded $63,391 to the group. The abortion activists appealed this decision. Tuesday’s ruling upholds Norgle’s opinion.

“After nearly 28 years of litigating and three trips to the U.S. Supreme Court, we are proud to declare that pro-lifers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and association are once again secure and protected by law,” Brejcha explained. “Banding together with fellow citizens to advocate for the sanctity of each and every human life — born and unborn, wanted or allegedly ‘unwanted’ —  are precious rights of all American citizens.”

Pictured above: Joseph Scheidler wins historic pro-life battle.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the appeals court decision.

Learn more about the case.

 

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