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Renewal of Faith in America and South Korea Confronted Before July 4 with New Media and Ancient Arts at Berkeley Conference
Pro-family attorneys on Wednesday defended Florida’s constitutional marriage amendment. Approved by more than 60 percent of Floridians approved it in 2008, it defines the institution as a union between one man and one woman.
Six couples filed suit in January.
John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Action, argued before the court in defense of the marriage amendment. He said he wasn’t alone in his beliefs.
“The courtroom was packed with about 60 percent supporters of marriage and about 40 percent gay activists,” he explained. “There was an overflow courtroom with about another 150 people watching by video — they were mostly our supporters.”
The legal arguments presented for same-sex marriage “were surprisingly weak,” he said.
The other lawyers “spent a lot of time reading stories, citing anecdotal evidence, misrepresenting the impact of multiple cases, and generally dispensing an assortment of inappropriate political rhetoric before the court.”
Stemberger complimented Liberty Counsel’s chairman for providing strong arguments.
“Mat Staver had command of the law, the Constitution, legal procedure and the social science research,” Stemberger explained. “Not surprisingly, none of the plaintiff’s lawyers ever cited, let alone mentioned, the only clear and controlling legal precedent before the court — Florida’s Constitution and its marriage definition.”
Marriage supporters also let their voices be heard outside the court.
Following the hearing, a large crowd chanted “Respect my vote” near the courthouse steps. On the other side of a long stretch of yellow caution tape, gay activists shouted back. In a video of the event, there appears to be more marriage advocates present.
Staver said it’s important for supporters to keep fighting.
“The future of civilized society depends on protecting permanence and exclusivity in family structure,” he said. “The union of one man and one woman acknowledges the inherent complementary nature of the sexes.”
Staver said it’s unclear when Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel will issue a ruling.
“But the bottom line is this,” he said, “if the judge does her job and follows the law in Florida, we will prevail. If she ignores the Constitution and ignores the will of the people, then she could rule against us — and with a stroke of a pen strike down the vote and intentions of millions of Floridians.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Pareto v. Ruvin.
The city of Madison, Wisc., suspended a law this week that created hundreds of anti-speech “bubbles.” The zones, which were 200 feet in diameter, were placed around the entrances of every place in the city where a nurse or physician provides medical services.
The move follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision last week that struck down a Massachusetts law requiring “buffer zones” around abortion sellers.
Madison Mayor Michael May admitted in an e-mail Tuesday that the high court decision played a key role in halting the ordinance. The statute said that within each “bubble” people could not approach another person within eight feet to hand out a leaflet, display a sign, protest or counsel passers-by.
“The government cannot gag speech just because it doesn’t reflect the government’s views or the views of abortionists,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The Supreme Court has now made it even more clear that public streets and sidewalks are places where free speech is highly protected. The city is wisely abandoning enforcement of its unconstitutional censorship zones.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Madison Vigil for Life v. City of Madison.
Read the email the Madison mayor sent Tuesday to announce the ordinance reversal.
Read “U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Pro-Lifers, Free Speech.”
A Christian legal group is suing a Tampa, Fla., health center on behalf of a woman who was denied a nursing position because of her pro-life associations.
Sara Hellwege, is a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG). When applying for a job at the Tampa Family Health Centers, she was unapologetic about her involvement in life-affirming organizations. She was also candid about her inability to prescribe hormonal birth control drugs that may cause early abortions.
She received an email from the director of the clinic stating: “Due to the fact that…you are a member of AAPLOG, we would be unable to move forward in the interviewing process.”
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Matt Bowman said the clinic’s actions violate “multiple federal laws.”
“No one deserves to suffer discrimination just because they’re pro-life,” he said. “Federal and state law make it clear that being pro-abortion cannot be a prerequisite for employment, nor can federally funded facilities force nurses to assist with practices that could lead to an abortion.”
The lawsuit states that “Florida law shall not require ‘any person to participate in the termination of a pregnancy, nor shall… any person be liable for such refusal.”
“Willingness to commit an abortion cannot be a litmus test for employment,” said Steven Aden, senior counsel with ADF. “All we are asking is for the health center to obey the law and not make a nurse’s employment contingent upon giving up her respect for life.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint inHellwege v. Tampa Family Health Centers.
It’s not so much what people know about the Hobby Lobby decision, it’s what they know that just ain’t so. Stuart Shepard explains in his Stoplight® commentary.
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Catholic Benefits Association Granted Temporary Restraining Order Covering 150+ Catholic Employers in Second Lawsuit Against HHS Contraceptive Mandate
In news outlets, the Hahn family business — Conestoga Wood Specialties — often follows Hobby Lobby as the other family-owned business involved Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision. The high court ruled the federal government cannot force these companies, or any closely held business, to offer potential abortion-inducing drugs under Obamacare.
Like the Greens, who own Hobby Lobby, the Hahns filed suit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, because it betrayed their deeply held beliefs. Anthony Hahn runs the cabinet-making business in Lancaster, Pa.
“We are Mennonite — that’s our religion,” Anthony said in an Alliance Defending Freedom video. “The company was founded on that religion as well.”
Anthony’s dad, Norman, started the company in a small garage in 1964. The family has grown the business into an industry leader that employs nearly a thousand people. Hahn said the government went too far by ordering his company — and most other businesses and nonprofits — to comply with HHS mandate.
The majority of the Supreme Court agrees. In Monday’s opinion, Justice Alito said the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).
Under HHS’s view, RFRA would permit the Government to require all employers to provide coverage for any medical procedure allowed by law in the jurisdiction in question—for instance, third-trimester abortions or assisted suicide. The owners of many closely held corporations could not in good conscience provide such coverage, and thus HHS would effectively exclude these people from full participation in the economic life of the Nation. RFRA was enacted to prevent such an outcome.
Randy Wenger, an attorney with the Independence Law Center, said it’s gratifying to know the Hahn’s will be protected from government intrusion.
“My concern was that maybe in the modern age, religious liberty was too much for those who are government-minded about things,” he told CitizenLink. “It was a relief to see five members of the court recognizing that the principles of religious liberty still stand.”
Hahn said he and his family fought the HHS mandate on behalf of all Americans.
“We wholeheartedly affirm what the Supreme Court made clear — that Americans don’t have to surrender their freedom when they open a family business,” he said. “This effort wasn’t just for Conestoga. We took this stand for others as well. The administration has gone too far in disrespecting the freedom of Americans to live out their convictions.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Watch “Conestoga Wood Specialties.”
Read the decision in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores.
Read the complaint in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius.
Read the complaint in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.
The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have denied a request to review a case involving a cross at the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego. The case now goes back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It will likely make its way back to the high court.
“We will continue to fight for this veterans memorial and the selfless sacrifice and service of all the millions of veterans it represents,” said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of Liberty Institute. “It is the least we can do for those who gave so much to us all.”
Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito issued a statement about the case. He said that because the cross is in no danger of being removed — while the case moves forward — the justices would wait until the lower court ruled before they decide whether to hear it.
The cross, erected in 1954, has been the subject of litigation for the past 26 years. The 29-foot-tall cross contains the names of more than 3,500 veterans who served our country with honor. The monument is cared for by the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, which is comprised of veterans.
Allyson Ho, lead counsel for the association, said they will work tirelessly to save the cross.
“We look forward to the final resolution of the important question of the memorial’s constitutionality,” she said, “as the fate of hundreds of similar veterans memorials hangs in the balance.”
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Family Policy Institute of Washington and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
When the Supreme Court released their decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius on Monday it started the race to understand what it means for the other challenges to the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare.
The Hobby Lobby case established that the mandate violates the religious freedom of private, family owned companies, but a number of religiously affiliated non-profit organizations have challenged the mandate as well.
Obamacare includes an exemption from the mandate for churches, but that does not extend to thousands of religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals, colleges, universities, religious schools, and charities.
For example, Tyndale House Publishing, which is owned by the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation and is the largest Bible publisher in the world, has been deemed not religious enough to be exempt.
Another non-profit organization that does not want to be forced to purchase contraception in their insurance plans is Little Sisters of the Poor, an international organization of Catholic nuns that cares for elderly poor people.
They have filed a lawsuit claiming that the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage violates their religious freedom.
In an effort to accommodate religious organizations without exempting them, the Obama Administration has told Little Sisters to sign a letter that the organization’s employees (nuns) could then use to obtain birth control coverage.
However, Little Sisters has argued that signing a letter that someone else would use to obtain birth control makes them complicit in something they believe is wrong.
The Department of Health and Human Services responded by claiming that Little Sisters should not object to signing the letter because it does not make them a party to the transaction but only releases them from the obligation of providing birth control themselves.
But the premise is wrong.
If the free exercise of religion means anything, it means the government doesn’t get to tell the people what is important to them as a matter of conscience, they get to honor it.
When the government tells you what beliefs are approved, that looks much more like an establishment of religion rather than the free exercise of it.
The good news is that the Hobby Lobby decision rejected the idea that government can decide for individuals when an action is morally objectionable.
Justice Alito, in the majority opinion, wrote, “[The objection to the mandate] implicates a difficult and important question of religion and moral philosophy, namely, the circumstances under which it is wrong for a person to perform an act that is innocent in itself but that has the effect of enabling or facilitating the commission of an immoral act by another. Arrogating the authority to provide a binding national answer to this religious and philosophical question, HHS and the principal dissent in effect tell the plaintiffs that their beliefs are flawed. For good reason, we have repeatedly refused to take such a step.”
He continued, “it is not for us to say that their religious beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial.”
This seems like good news for Little Sisters of the Poor.
The government’s argument that religious organizations should be content with the accommodation being offered appears to have been rejected on the grounds that the government doesn’t get to dictate to its subjects err… the people…what is acceptable to them on moral grounds.
If, as we hope they will, the Supreme Court agrees that the contraception mandate violates the religious freedom of non-profit organizations as well, then we can go back to figuring out who thought it was critical to guarantee birth control coverage for an order of nuns in the first place.
by Joseph Backholm
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Family Policy Institute of Washington.