April 5, 2017
In an opinion concurring with the majority, Judge Richard Posner wrote that changing norms call for a change in interpretation of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex. "I don't see why firing a lesbian because she is in the subset of women who are lesbian should be thought any less a form of sex discrimination than firing a woman because she's a woman," wrote the judge, who was appointed by Republican Ronald Reagan. The dissenting opinion - written by Judge Diane Sykes, a conservative who was on Trump's list of possible Supreme Court appointees - said the majority were stretching the meaning of the law's text too far. "We are not authorized to infuse the text with a new or unconventional meaning or to update it to respond to changed social, economic, or political conditions." The dissent alludes to the judicial philosophy of Trump's high-court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who advocates sticking with the original legislative texts in deciding legal disputes.
April 1, 2017
Congress has passed two pieces of legislation protecting religious freedom with overwhelming bipartisan support: the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). These laws strike a sensible balance so no American-particularly those who are politically unpopular-can be unnecessarily forced by the government to violate their faith. These laws have been pivotal in protecting religious freedom for individuals of many faiths, including Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, and Native Americans. The balance required by these laws is put in the hands of judges, and so it is crucial that any Supreme Court nominee demonstrate a knowledge of how they function. Judge Gorsuch's reasoned and thorough understanding of RFRA and RLUIPA has been well documented and is vividly demonstrated in his Yellowbear v. Lampert decision that protected a Native American man's right to practice his faith while in prison. Pub. 3/26/17
March 28, 2017
Gorsuch has been a valuable ally of these believers through his judicial career, noted Hannah Smith, senior counsel at the public interest law firm Becket, who voiced her support during a day of testimony from outside experts on Friday. "Judge Gorsuch has demonstrated repeatedly that he applies the law fairly to protect religious minorities and incarcerated persons - some of the most politically powerless in our society," she said. Overall, Gorsuch's past rulings and testimony before the SenateJudiciary Committee illustrate his commitment to upholding religious freedom, Smith argued. "His jurisprudence demonstrates an even-handed application of the principle that religious liberty is fundamental to freedom and to human dignity, and that protecting the religious rights of others - even the rights of those with whom we may disagree - ultimately leads to greater protections for all of our rights," she said.
March 24, 2017
"Overall, he was part of a unanimous decision in almost 90 percent of the time, and when he actually authored the religious liberty decision for the court, he produced a unanimous decision every single time. This is a striking record of coalition-building in an area of jurisprudence that can be quite contentious." Watch video
March 21, 2017
During the presidential campaign, President Trump produced a list of 21 potential nominees for Justice Scalia's vacant seat on the Supreme Court. We are pleased that he nominated a great candidate off that list -- Judge Neil Gorsuch. Upon confirmation, Judge Gorsuch will be faced with a host of pressing legal issues, and it is important to understand how he will rule and why. This issue analysis generally discusses the type of justices who should sit on our highest court, and explains why Judge Gorsuch is qualified for that role and should be confirmed. (.pdf file)
March 20, 2017
Gorsuch recently said, "Judges should be in the business of declaring what the law is using the traditional tools of interpretation, rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views, always with an eye on the outcome, and engaged perhaps in some Benthamite calculation of pleasures and pains along the way." This point is especially popular with the large majority of American people. According to a January poll from Marist, eight out of ten Americans want a Supreme Court justice who will interpret the Constitution as it was originally written.By recognizing in both Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Little Sisters v. Burwell that the Affordable Care Act's mandate is oppressive to many consciences, and by showing that even a stillborn baby's rights deserve protection in Pino v. United States, Gorsuch consistently affirms that, as an originalist, he would have all rights to life in mind as a Justice.
March 20, 2017
He was raised Catholic but now worships with his wife and two daughters at St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado. Like the city, the congregation is politically liberal. It bars guns from its campus and installed solar panels; it condemns harsh rhetoric about Muslims and welcomes gays and lesbians. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, said, "Would I be happier if he were going to a more traditional Episcopal Church? Yeah, I'd be happier for him. But I'm more concerned with his views on the Constitution than where he goes to church." Gorsuch himself drew on natural law while writing his 2006 book "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia." In it, he argued that "all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong." "It is impossible to come away from this rather remarkable book with any conclusion other than that this is a man who has a very high regard for the sanctity and the dignity of human life," said Timothy Goeglein, vice president for external relations for the evangelical ministry Focus on the Family.
March 16, 2017
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told a Catholic legal group that the United States' dedication to religious liberty is being put to the test. Alito told the Catholic lawyers and judges on Wednesday, "A wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs," according to the Associated Press. "We are likely to see pitched battles in courts and Congress, state legislatures and town halls," Alito said in New Jersey, according to the AP. "But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. It is up to all of us to evangelize our fellow Americans about the issue of religious freedom." Alito, a Catholic, reportedly also read from his dissent in the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage case and said he predicted those who opposed the high court's decision would be cast as bigots.
March 7, 2017
St. Anthony School and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York went to a Manhattan court today to defend their right to choose a school principal without government interference, against a lawyer who says protecting Catholic schools may aid "potential jihadists." "Talk about shameless. This blatantly anti-Catholic lawsuit is nothing but a scheme to take money away from needy New York schoolkids and put it in an attorney's pockets," said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at Becket, the non-profit religious liberty law firm, who argued the case for St. Anthony's and the Archdiocese. "Not only are these attacks uncalled-for, they are ignorant. The Supreme Court has already said that the Church, not the State, should pick religious leaders."
March 2, 2017
Today, the Oregon Court of Appeals heard the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein, a couple who lost their bakery for running their business according to their religious beliefs. During the oral arguments, the Kleins' attorneys argued that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) violated the Kleins' constitutional rights to religious freedom, free speech, and due process. "The government should never force someone to violate their conscience or their beliefs," Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty Institute, says. "In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs. We hope the court will uphold the Kleins' rights to free speech and religious liberty."
March 1, 2017
Saying everyone but churches can participate in a state program is blatant religious discrimination. The Constitution protects the rights of religious people to exercise their religion and not be punished for it. Just because these kids attend a preschool run by a church doesn't mean their safety on the playground is less important than that of students who do not attend religious schools. "As far as I know...the Lutheran kids and the neighbors around there, their kids, bruise just as easily as kids going to secular daycare centers. The lower courts basically said, under current Supreme Court precedent, the State of Missouri is allowed to say everybody gets the eligibility for these rubber grants except the churches." said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. Thankfully, the United States Supreme Court will hear the case.
February 16, 2017
Gorsuch voted with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in its en banc decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, which sided with the religious challengers and articulated a strong view of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In that same case, he wrote a concurring opinion explaining how the Green family (owners of Hobby Lobby) themselves are also entitled to protection under the same statute. In addition, when the en banc 10th Circuit rejected the Little Sisters' claims in Little Sisters v. Burwell, Gorsuch joined the dissent, clearly stating that their religious beliefs had been substantially burdened under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Yet he won't allow the religious liberty law to be used as an excuse for all behavior. In United States v. Quaintance, he rejected drug smugglers' claims that their marijuana distribution was motivated by religious belief as insincere and thus not protected by the statute.
January 19, 2017
The court reminded the federal Department of Health and Human Services, the issuer of the regulations, that when Congress, as in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), prohibits "sex" discrimination, that's what it is prohibiting, not also discrimination on the basis of "gender identity" and "termination of pregnancy." Congress can expand nondiscrimination requirements, but the regulators cannot just do the same thing on their own. ...Part of the judge's reasoning in stopping the regulation is that it would essentially prohibit a doctor from refusing to perform certain procedures even though the doctor is sure that the procedure will harm, rather than help, the patient-and despite the fact that the federal government itself is doubtful that transition procedures are always positive.
November 18, 2016
The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment is designed to ensure that all Americans may freely live out their faith. This is not limited to freedom of worship, but includes the heart, mind, and soul of religious people, thereby guiding how people act in the public square. When a law restricts that first freedom, the American conscience is put on trial. One way to preserve the American conscience is for individuals to preemptively put unjust laws on trial by way of pre-enforcement challenges. This ensures that the owner is not at risk of criminal or civil penalties for violating an ironically titled anti-discrimination law when faced with the challenge of being asked to participate in any practice that violates his conscience.
October 5, 2016
Trinity Lutheran submitted its grant application, and the DNR ranked it fifth out of 44 applicants due to numerous factors, including the poverty level of the surrounding area. But, instead of awarding the grant, the DNR pointed to a section of the state constitution that prohibits government aid to religion and promptly disqualified the learning center solely because it was operated by a church. Committed to preserving the rights of the church, ADF petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2015 to take the case. "Seeking to protect children from harm while they play tag and go down the slide is about as far from an ‘essentially religious endeavor' as one can get," explains the ADF petition. "The DNR's religious exclusion sends a message that Trinity's children are less worthy of protection simply because they play on a playground owned by a church. This is not a mild disapproval of religion." The high court accepted the petition to hear the case, and oral arguments are set for fall 2016. SCOTUS blog coverage
October 5, 2016
But instead of attacking the Obama administration on the policy itself, which allows transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity instead of their biological sex, Lankford is taking a different approach. The 48-year-old senator is challenging the process the executive branch used to implement the sweeping policy, arguing that it was wholly unlawful. "This administration has been notoriously focused not on passing legislation, but trying to find ways to be able to do things through regulation," Lankford told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. "But even as they try to do things through regulation, they're not trying to actually follow the rules of regulation-they're just making it up as they go, and trying to push as hard as they can and saying, ‘Sue me ... I'm going to do what I want.'"
August 24, 2016
Five states and a group of religiously-affiliated hospitals and physicians are suing the Obama administration over a federal mandate that forces doctors to perform gender transition procedures on adults and children against their medical judgment. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in a Texas federal court, attempts to roll back a rule imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services in May that expanded the interpretation of "sex" under the Affordable Care Act to include "gender identity." "It's a very rare moment in history when the government would force doctors to go against their conscience and their medical judgment and perform procedures that may be deeply harmful to patients," said Luke Goodrich, a lawyer at the Becket Fund, which is representing Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network, and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, two of the parties involved the lawsuit.
August 10, 2016
United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal (LCpl) Monifa Sterling was court-martialed after she refused to take down Bible verses she had posted in her workspace and for reposting the verses after her supervisor threw them in the trash. A trial court ruled against Sterling, giving her a bad conduct discharge and reducing her rank. Sterling appealed to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, but the appeals court also ruled against her. First Liberty Institute stepped in and appealed Sterling's case to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF)- the highest military court. On August 10, 2016, the CAAF ruled against Sterling, denying her constitutional right to religious freedom. First Liberty announced they will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
July 22, 2016
A group of religious dating sites has agreed to stop restricting users to opposite-sex matches after being charged under California's Unruh Act that prohibits sexual-orientation discrimination in public accommodations. ChristianMingle.com, CatholicMingle.com, and AdventistSinglesConnection.com are now required to facilitate searches for same-sex partners, whatever the business model of the parent company or the convictions of its owners concerning intimate relationships. And yet the outcome of the court settlement is a less diverse marketplace.
July 11, 2016
n one of its last orders of the term, the high court refused to hear a case brought by a family-owned drugstore in Washington state. The Stormans, who own Ralph's Thriftway, object to state regulations that force pharmacies to dispense certain drugs. A federal district court ruled in their favor, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned it. The Stormans asked the Supreme Court to hear their case, but the four liberal justices refused. Justice Samuel Alito wrote an irrefutable dissent, which fellow conservative justices John Roberts and Clarence Thomas joined. Alito makes it painfully clear that Washington's rules amount to blatant religious discrimination.In refusing to hear the Stormans' case, the Supreme Court has given states a green light to practice what the district court called a "religious gerrymander": They can single out deeply felt religious scruples as unworthy of consideration even while they accede to far less important objections, such as added paperwork. Alito calls the decision "an ominous sign." He's absolutely right.
May 16, 2016
It illustrates that the government could have accommodated the Little Sisters of the Poor all along without affecting contraceptive coverage, but chose not to. And it guarantees that the government cannot force the Little Sisters of the Poor and the other challengers to choose between violating their consciences as the government demands or face crippling fines and penalties. In the coming months, the lower courts will reconsider these challenges, but it is hard to see how the administration and the lower courts can find a way to get around the Supreme Court's unanimous order-making the decision a big victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor.
May 16, 2016
Priests for Life, the first group of the 37 Supreme Court petitioners in Zubik vs. Burwell to challenge the HHS mandate in court, has responded to today's action by the Court in this consolidated case. Robert Muise, of the American Freedom Law Center, which has represented Priests for Life in this case from the beginning, explained, "The Court's action today continues to protect us from this unjust mandate, and from any punishment for not obeying it. It gives us a chance now to work out in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, whose ruling against us is now vacated, a solution that will continue to protect our religious freedom. As we have always said, because the very mission of Priests for Life is to advance a culture free from any kind of abortion, this organization continues to be a perfectly situated petitioner to object to the mandate."
AUL Will Continue Fight to Protect Conscience as Supreme Court Returns Challenges ... to Lower Courts
May 16, 2016
In support of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the other religious non-profits, AUL filed our 29th amicus brief against the coercive HHS Mandate, which requires most insurance plans to provide coverage for life-ending drugs and devices. In its brief, available here, AUL demonstrates that pro-life Americans are correct in objecting to the life-ending drugs included in the Mandate, detailing how the life of a new human being begins at fertilization (conception), that so-called “emergency contraception” has post-fertilization effects that can prevent a new, developing human being from implanting in the uterus and thus ending his or her young life, and that forcing the religious employers such as Little Sisters of the Poor and Priests for Life to facilitate and provide coverage for such drugs violates their First Amendment freedoms. AUL’s brief was filed on behalf of Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Christian Medical Association, Catholic Medical Association, Physicians for Life, National Association of Pro Life Nurses, National Association of Catholic Nurses, and The National Catholic Bioethics Center.
May 16, 2016
Alliance Defending Freedom represents five Christian universities whose cases were consolidated with those brought by 32 other plaintiffs, all objecting on religious grounds to providing abortion-inducing or contraceptive drugs through their healthcare plans.Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman had this to say about today's decision: "Religious organizations have the freedom to peacefully operate according to their beliefs without fear of severe penalties by the government. The Supreme Court was right to protect the Christian colleges and other groups from having to pay fines or fill out forms authorizing the objectionable coverage. The government has many other ways to ensure women are able to obtain these drugs without forcing people of faith to participate in acts that violate their deepest convictions. We look forward to addressing the remaining details as we advance these cases in the lower courts."
May 16, 2016
Moments ago, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided to send back to the lower courts the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns who care for the elderly poor. The Court's decision is a win for the Little Sisters and other groups who needed relief from draconian government fines. In its decision, the Supreme Court held that after its unprecedented call for supplemental briefing that the lower courts should again review the cases. "We are very encouraged by the Court's decision, which is an important win for the Little Sisters. The Court has recognized that the government changed its position," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead Becket attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor. "It is crucial that the Justices unanimously ordered the government not to impose these fines and indicated that the government doesn't need any notice to figure out what should now be obvious-the Little Sisters respectfully object. There is still work to be done, but today's decision indicates that we will ultimately prevail in court."
April 12, 2016
The Alliance Defending Freedom news release below highlights an important case that illustrates just how far some will go to force abortion ideology on those who would protect the unborn. Thanks to colleagues Matt Bowman and Kevin Theriot for their typically excellent work in this case. "Those who doubt that anyone would ever try to force someone to commit an abortion need only look at this case," explained ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. "This is precisely what the ACLU sought to do. The court came to the right conclusion in putting an end to their quest. The ruling relies on important case law that our pro-life medical group clients cited showing that the ACLU's case was based on pure speculation."
March 30, 2016
In an order Tuesday afternoon, the Supreme Court asked the petitioners and Obama administration to file supplemental briefs in the consolidated challenge to Obamacare’s requirement that nonprofit employers provide employee health insurance coverage that includes potentially life-ending drugs and devices. Now the parties have the opportunity to spell out for the Supreme Court how such a system could work without "hijacking" the Little Sisters' and other employers' insurance plans. This order may signal that a majority of the justices accept the challengers' sincerely held religious belief that the current regulatory scheme makes them complicit in sin.
March 24, 2016
The government does not have the right to declare that serving the elderly poor, or educating students from a religious mission, is supposedly not religious enough to count for exemptions granted to other church groups. With this definition, the government tried to define out of the heart of Christianity all of the religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor that serve those in need, educate about a culture of life, and share their faith with the world. In the words of one Christian leader, "even Jesus himself would not be religious enough to receive this exemption." It is un-American to be forced to participate in things you object to, regardless of what President Obama believes. This is a pivotal moment in US history.
March 23, 2016
In a rare public appearance, a group of nuns stood before the Supreme Court Wednesday to rally against a provision in the Affordable Care Act that they believe forces them to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs. The provision, often called the "contraceptive mandate," requires employers, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, to offer coverage for birth control, sterilization and abortifacients. The Daily Signal spoke to Sister Veronica Proffitt, who has served the sick and elderly with the Little Sisters of the Poor for more than 30 years. Watch the video to hear her story, along with others who attended the rally.
March 11, 2016
Justice Kennedy concluded his majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges with this summary: Gay couples "ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." Some have called for dignity as the basis of a new public or legal philosophy, but it would set an impossible standard. No society can grant respect to every choice; societies must discriminate, and so must (on this theory) inflict indignity. Even when there is no intent to inflict harm, a law rooted in this view of dignity teaches that anyone who feels excluded by the law should see this exclusion as an affront to their worth as a person. The damage to democratic process is immense, as electoral defeats would come to be seen as a violation of a right to dignity.
March 10, 2016
A judge ruled last month that two Christian organizations in Florida can continue helping newly released prisoners reintegrate into society. The Christian organizations had been brought to court by a New York-based atheist organization called the Center for Inquiry that sued to strip the ministries of government funding because of their religious identities. Because the atheist group failed to appeal the judge's decision, the Christian ministries will now be free to carry on helping ex-convicts.
March 2, 2016
The government's own statistics show that one in three Americans are exempted from the mandate. In its arguments to the Supreme Court, the government admits that women who are not covered by the mandate can still access contraception through other means, such as on a family member's plan or through the government's own insurance exchanges. But it then bizarrely argues that exempting the Little Sisters and letting the nuns' employees get contraceptives the same way would pose a serious threat to the government's goal of providing universal free access to contraception and early-term pharmaceutical abortion, thus harming the "harmonious functioning of a society like ours." The Little Sisters of the Poor have simply asked to be exempt too, and have suggested the government could better meet its goals if it provided services through the healthcare exchanges for everyone instead of trying to force religious plans to offer these services that violate their beliefs.
February 28, 2016
Doug Laycock, a distinguished professor of law and professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and a lead player in helping draft RFRA, occupies a middle ground between Haynes' and Garnett's viewpoints, describing Scalia's work on the case as both a blow to religious freedom advocacy in the early 1990s, but also an impetus for the heightened protections the U.S. has today. "Smith has had real consequences that, on the whole, have been bad for religious liberty. But not as bad as people feared at the time. And the growth of statutory protection has probably been good for religious liberty," Laycock wrote in an email. Scalia was supportive of the protections guaranteed by RFRA.
February 16, 2016
The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons and the Christian Medical Association filed amicus briefs in favor of the Texas law. Given the medical risks of abortion, they argued, the restrictions on abortion clinics are reasonable. The other reproductive rights case, Zubik v. Burwell , centers on the mandate in the Affordable Care Act that health plans cover contraception. A group of religious organizations suing the government, which includes a nursing home chain operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor, does not want to do anything that makes them complicit in offering contraception coverage. The only medical societies to weigh in on this case so far are the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons and other groups opposed to abortion that say some forms of contraceptive amounted to abortion, given that life begins at conception.
January 27, 2016
A transgender student's fight to use a boys bathroom at his Gloucester County school went before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday. Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union asked a three-judge panel to overturn a district court's denial of a preliminary injunction.One point of contention throughout the hearing was the definition of gender, whether it was based on biological or psychological factors. Judge Andre M. Davis asked how the School Board defined gender when crafting the bathroom policy. "This is 2016," Davis said. "The question is what is the meaning of sex in 2016?" The U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice have come out in support of Grimm in court papers, saying the policy constitutes unlawful bias under Title IX.
January 25, 2016
Recently, however, the Judicial Crisis Network's Carrie Severino, writing one of the many amici briefs for the Little Sisters case, has directed attention to emails from officials at the IRS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Why has the Obama administration insisted on applying an unrelated tax regulation (a provision defining the entities that have to file tax returns) to determine which religious groups fall under the contraception mandates of Obamacare? The answer starts to emerge when, in the light of the administration's intransigence in the Little Sisters case, we look back at those emails. In October 2011, for example, Medicare's Alexis Ahlstrom wrote her agency's law and policy advisers to find out "what student health plans at catholic universities cover today."
January 5, 2016
A group of pharmacists in Washington state is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to protect their religious rights. They're fighting a ruling that lets the state force them to dispense drugs that may cause abortions, even though that violates their conscience. The group, including a Ralph's Thriftway Pharmacy in Olympia and two other pharmacists, says requiring them to dispense the Plan B drug infringes on their religious beliefs and is equivalent to involving them in abortion.
January 2, 2016
He said the idea that government must be neutral between religion and unbelief is not grounded in the country's constitutional traditions and that God has been good to the United States because Americans honor him. He said he would concur with their principle of treating religion and non-religion as equals if Congress enacted it by statute. "But don't cram it down the throats of an American people that have always honored God," he said. Quoting from his “text” — “I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’ ” he then quipped, “That seems to be what my court does.”
November 17, 2015
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has decided that the women waiting inside a Portland clinic to lose their babies to an abortionist have heard more than enough from Brian Ingalls. So, Mills has filed a lawsuit to shut him up for good - or at least move him far enough away from the Planned Parenthood clinic that his warnings about a dismal afterlife for those who take the life of an unborn child can't be heard. But attorneys for the Thomas More Law Center argue that is a violation of the man's constitutional rights and they are committed to standing alongside Ingalls in court. Richard Thompson, the Thomas More Law Center's president and chief counsel and a former prosecuting attorney, said Mills' lawsuit is nothing but "a blatant abuse of her powers to aid the pro-abortion political establishment dominating the city of Portland."
November 17, 2015
With the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear the case of Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York, the for-now final outcome of this 20-year-old case-centered on the public's right to meet for worship in rented public school facilities-is now in the hands of the city's mayor, Bill de Blasio. While he has assured Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and their allies (including many New York civic and religious leaders) that, under his administration, churches like Bronx Household will be allowed to hold worship services in public buildings, the only permanent hope for that freedom now lies with the state legislature.
November 13, 2015
The Supreme Court will decide one of the most important cases on abortion policy in recent years by the end of June. Today, the justices announced that they will decide whether to uphold parts of a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet basic health and safety standards and abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Known as H.B. 2, the Texas law requires, among other things, that abortion clinics meet the same regulations for cleanliness and safety as other outpatient surgical facilities and that doctors working in those clinics have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
November 9, 2015
I knew he was in a relationship with a man and he knew I was a Christian. But that never clouded the friendship for either of us or threatened our shared creativity - until he asked me to design something special to celebrate his upcoming wedding. If all he'd asked for were prearranged flowers, I'd gladly have provided them. If the celebration were for his partner's birthday, I'd have been delighted to pour my best into the challenge. But as a Christian, weddings have a particular significance.
November 1, 2015
"Americans disagree about sex and religion. That's nothing new. But this case is about whether the government will allow people who disagree to live side-by-side in peace, or whether the government will instead pick one ‘correct' moral view and force everyone to conform," said Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "Fortunately, the Supreme Court has already resolved this question and held that the government can't force people to promote views they disagree with."
October 20, 2015
Could we invoke a plea for religious tolerance? Chai Feldblum, a gay activist, descended from a line of rabbis, brushes away with a breezy contempt the claim for religious tolerance here, for it would stand in opposition to things she regards as commandingly rightful. This argument can be met then only by an argument showing why it cannot be wrongful to confine marriage to a man and a woman. It can be met, that is, only by an argument that takes up precisely the question of "What is Marriage?," the question that Anderson has pursued in this book, and in his book of that title with Robert George and Sherif Girgis.
October 15, 2015
The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns who provide shelter and health care for the elderly poor, have filed a class action lawsuit against the Obama administration in order to be exempt from an Obamacare provision that requires employers to pay for abortifacient drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives in their employee health plans. Daniel Blomberg, legal counsel for The Becket Fund, said the government is making the "odd" and "dangerous" argument that the Little Sisters "aren't religious enough" to qualify for the exemption. "It's hard to be more religious than the Little Sisters," Blomberg said. "The federal government has drawn a discriminatory line between the Little Sisters and the church they serve."
October 5, 2015
A judge in Washington state ruled this week that a 70-year-old florist who declined to make flower arrangements for a gay couple's wedding violated the state's anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. In a phone interview with The Daily Signal, Barronelle Stutzman said the decision-and its accompanying fines-will put her flower shop out of business, or worse. After the fines and legal fees, "There won't be anything left," Stutzman said. "They want my home, they want my business, they want my personal finances as an example for other people to be quiet."
October 1, 2015
A court battle in the Pacific Northwest has opened another front in the fight over religious liberty, raising questions over whether pharmacies are legally obligated to provide patients with emergency contraception despite moral objections. "The opponents to religious liberty keep escalating their demands," says Douglas Laycock, a law and religious studies professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. "People who are offended by religious opposition to emergency contraception may bring political pressure to enact such rules despite the lack of any need for them."
October 1, 2015
The government could easily open those subsidies to any employees of religious groups who want the coverage not included in their employers' plan. This would satisfy the government's concerns, satisfy the ministries' religious beliefs, and ensure that Americans still receive vital services from groups like the Little Sisters. For that reason, the Eighth Circuit Court of appeals sided with religious ministries last week. Echoing a unanimous Supreme Court opinion on religious freedom, it said, "[I]f a less restrictive means is available for the Government to achieve its goals, the Government must use it."
August 24, 2015
The Little Sisters of the Poor has been through more than any faith-based charity should have to go through all to continue the noble work they're doing without violating their faith. But, for the time being at least, some good news has come their way. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the group must comply with Obamacare's abortion mandate, The Little Sisters of the Poor found reprieve Friday morning after the Tenth Circuit issued an order temporarily safeguarding the group and other ministries from being forced to violate their faith. “The federal government doesn’t need the Little Sisters or any other ministry to help it distribute abortion-inducing drugs and other contraceptives,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the Little Sisters, said in a statement.
August 24, 2015
Craig James, a former professional football player, ran into trouble when he started working at Fox Sports Southwest. Network executives fired him when they discovered statements he made while running for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in Texas. He said he believed marriage was between a man and a woman. He ended up losing the nomination to Ted Cruz. Earlier this month, James filed a lawsuit against Fox Sports. "He understands that this is going to touch every single employee across this country. Are you going to be allowed to talk about your faith at work?" said attorney Jeremy Dys of the Liberty Institute.
July 29, 2015
During an information session for students last week that was streamed live online, Paul Chelsen, Wheaton's vice president of student development, said he regretted the last-minute decision and the hardship it brings. "What has brought us here is about student health insurance, but it's bigger than student health insurance," Chelsen said. "What really breaks my heart is that there are real people that are affected by our decision. But if we don't win this case, the implications down the road in terms of what the government will tell us what we can and cannot do will be potentially more significant.
July 24, 2015
"Public officials should not be allowed to run roughshod over the right of the people to decide these types of issues, especially when the citizens of Houston clearly met all the qualifications for having their voice heard," Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said in a statement. "The scandal began when the city arbitrarily threw out the valid signatures of thousands of voters. The city did this all because it was bent on pushing through its deeply unpopular ordinance at any cost."
July 23, 2015
The Washington, D.C.-based Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which joined in the representation of the plaintiffs, called the decision unfortunate. "The government has no business punishing citizens solely because of their religious beliefs," the group's deputy general counsel, Luke Goodrich, said in a news release. "The pharmacists in this case willingly refer patients to over 30 pharmacies that stock the morning-after pill within a 5 mile radius, and no patient has ever been denied timely access to any drug."
July 10, 2015
Today the Department of Health and Human Services announced that—despite losing repeatedly at the U.S. Supreme Court—it would continue trying to force religious nonprofits like the Little Sisters of the Poor to help distribute contraceptives, including the “week-after pill.” Today’s announcement comes after multiple losses in contraceptive mandate cases at the Supreme Court, including last year’s Hobby Lobby decision and Court decisions regarding the Little Sisters of the Poor and Wheaton College. "The government keeps digging the hole deeper," said Adèle Auxier Keim, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
July 2, 2015
"As a legal matter, the Constitution is not where [setting social policy] happens. The Constitution is completely agnostic as to how marriage is defined. The states have traditionally defined marriage law. The way this decision was reached undermines the ability to have that debate in the public sphere."
July 1, 2015
Notice what Kennedy says and does not say. He says the First Amendment is an excellent predicate for allowing one's beliefs to continue to be taught. Okay. But he gives no deference to that inconvenient clause of the First Amendment that insists upon the free exercise of religion, which signifies a lot more than simply the right to "teach" one's views in the abstract. Religious teaching, contra Kennedy, is doctrinal, of course. But if doctrine is worth anything, it's worth something because Christianity, along with all religions, believes its orthodoxy is personally and socially transformative.
June 30, 2015
[The First Amendment] actually guarantees freedom of religious expression, of which teaching the faith is but one small part. Or as the First Amendment puts it, Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. To pat the religious on the head and say, “you can kind of still teach, for now” while discovering a new constitutional right in deep conflict with those teachings is disconcerting, to put it mildly. Kennedy's muddled opinion included a total of one paragraph on the most contentious religious freedom issue of our time. Even that paragraph showed, as Thomas put it, a mistaken understanding of the First Amendment.
June 28, 2015
"People of faith and people who believe that marriage is one man and one woman are going to continue to be heckled, harassed or even persecuted legally under the law as they have been in the past. We need strong public officials to stand up [and pass] laws protecting them. The Alliance Defending Freedom and other groups like ours will continue to defend people of faith and the rights of conscience that are cornerstones of our constitution."
June 27, 2015
First, we must call the court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges what it is: judicial activism. Just as the pro-life movement successfully rejected Roe v. Wade and exposed its lies about unborn life and about the Constitution, we must make it clear to our fellow citizens that Obergefell v. Hodges does not tell the truth about marriage or about our Constitution. Second, we must protect our freedom to speak and live according to our beliefs. The pro-life movement accomplished this by ensuring that pro-life doctors and nurses would never have to perform abortions. And it made sure that pro-lifers and pro-life organizations could not be discriminated against by the government. We must ensure that the government does not discriminate against citizens or organizations because of their belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife.
June 27, 2015
The court in Obergefell v. Hodges ignored history, the text and meaning of the Constitution, and prior Supreme Court jurisprudence to justify its holding that the 14th Amendment mandates the recognition of same-sex marriage. The decision becomes all the more difficult to explain when one considers that exactly two years ago, to the day, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the same court, assured us in United States v. Windsor that states rightly possess the "historic and essential authority to define the marital relation."
June 26, 2015
The American College of Pediatricians, in an amici brief in Obergefell v. Hodges, stated what is often the case when sound research is ignored by the left when it fails to support their causes: "Despite being certified by almost all major social science scholarly associations-indeed, in part because of this-the alleged scientific consensus that having two parents of the same sex is innocuous for child well-being is almost wholly without basis. All but a handful of the studies cited in support draw on small, non-random samples which cannot be extrapolated to the same-sex population at large. This limitation is repeatedly acknowledged in scientific meetings and journals, but ignored when asserted as settled findings in public or judicial advocacy."
June 25, 2015
Today's cultural power elite is entirely aligned with the economic power elite, and they're ready to steamroll anyone in their way. In the case of Indiana's RFRA, corporate and gay activists combined to bring to heel conservative Christians in a rural, Rust Belt state that struggles at the margins of America's global economy. Corporate America is willing to join any coalition that advances its financial interests and deeper philosophic commitments, at the expense of Americans on the wrong side of history, especially those Americans living in places like Indiana who aren't part of the meritocratic global elite.
June 23, 2015
In separate free-speech rulings Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled against an Arizona town's sign code, which was used to punish a small, local church. In the eight-year-long Arizona church sign case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Justice Clarence Thomas concluded that the town's signage code was "content based," which meant the code had to meet the highest constitutional test. Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel David Cortman, who represented Pastor Clyde Reed and Good News Community Church, said the unanimous ruling was a "victory for everyone's freedom of speech."
June 15, 2015
A federal court ordered the Army to allow a Sikh college student to join his college's NROTC unit without having to shave his beard, cut his hair or remove his turban. "All this Sikh student wants to do is to serve his country," said Eric Baxter, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "The military cannot issue uniform exemptions for secular reasons but then refuse to issue them for religious reasons. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was written and passed nearly unanimously by Congress precisely to protect the rights of individuals such as Mr. Singh."
June 4, 2015
In other words, the employer can't discriminate against the employee or prospective employee "because of" their religion, or on account of their religion, and can't make their religious practice "a factor" in employment decisions. This is a good result with regard to protecting the religious practices of employees. In the future, in other contexts where employers may seek to exclude Christians from the workplace, the employers won't be able to escape the law by claiming ignorance. The Court's ruling today means that the employer won't be able to escape liability by just claiming "the employee never told me they needed a religious accommodation."
June 3, 2015
Attorney Jim Campbell, who handles various constitutional cases for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has a working list written down at his office in Scottsdale, Ariz. The list details benefits religious nonprofits could lose if the Supreme Court makes gay marriage a constitutional right. When he arrived at work recently, he read it off: 501(c)3 status, tax benefits, government licensing, accreditation, and government contracts or grants, among others.
May 6, 2015
Why must we, therefore, reject our faith's millennia-old, traditional-natural-biblical teaching on marriage as between one man and one woman? For Catholics faithful to their Church's teachings, the Justice Kennedy scenario is increasingly maddening, if not dismaying. They're not optimistic, especially given Kennedy's shockingly relativistic views expressed in previous major court decisions. The most notorious was Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which enshrined Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. There, Kennedy led the majority with this breathtaking proclamation: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."
May 1, 2015
On the rights of conscience, by unilaterally creating a "right" to abortion, the Court created a situation where for the past 40 years abortion funding has been a constant source of religious liberty concerns-most recently with the coercive Department of Health and Human Services mandate. Why would the Court want to repeat these mistakes now on marriage? After all, there simply is nothing in the Constitution that requires all 50 states to redefine marriage. Whatever people may think about marriage as a policy matter, everyone should be able to recognize the Constitution does not settle this question. Unelected judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and then say the Constitution requires them everywhere.
April 30, 2015
That question of knowing one's parent plays a significant, yet under-the-radar, role in the marriage cases before the Supreme Court. Among others, two women, Heather Barwick and Katy Faust, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in which they discuss their experiences as children raised by women in same-sex relationships who felt deprived of their fathers. Katy expanded on this theme in a recent piece she penned titled, "Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent."
April 11, 2015
Ryan T. Anderson, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation who opposes same-sex marriage, said the episode was a turning point. "When the former solicitor general and superstar Supreme Court litigator is forced to resign from his partnership," Mr. Anderson said, "that shows a lot." The current climate, Professor McConnell of Stanford said, means that important distinctions are being lost. One is that it is possible to favor same-sex marriage as a policy matter without believing that the Constitution requires it. But this is, he said, a topic he has learned to avoid. "You're going to shut up, particularly if you don't care that much," he said. "I usually just keep it to myself."
April 9, 2015
These new political, cultural, and legal realities directly affect the church's freedom to live out its faith. While most church decisions about internal governance or doctrine currently enjoy constitutional protection, churches cannot assume that these protections will stand indefinitely. Maintaining a gospel-centered witness in today's culture requires not only standing firm on the truths of Scripture, but also taking affirmative steps to protect the church's freedom to continue peacefully teach and live out its faith. Here are five ways churches can protect their freedom to maintain fidelity to the faith.
March 5, 2015
These two points-that InterVarsity qualified for the ministerial exception and that it could not waive its constitutional rights-were the most significant outcomes of the case, according to David French, senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, the firm that defended InterVarsity. "It matters not whether the plaintiff is claiming a specific violation under Title VII or any other employment discrimination statute," the court wrote. "The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses do not permit federal or state courts to adjudicate such matters when the defendant properly asserts the ministerial exception as an affirmative defense."
February 12, 2015
Chief Justice Moore is now proving true to his word. Under his leadership, the Alabama judiciary is refusing to surrender the power of his state and its people over matters the Constitution's 10th Amendment clearly reserves "to the States respectively, or to the people." Since the U.S. was founded, the Congress and the federal courts respected the constitutionally reserved power of the people, in their respective states, conscientiously to establish and maintain civil respect for the exercise of individual right that, by reproducing and preserving human offspring, directly serves the common good of their society, and indeed of humanity itself.
January 13, 2015
David Cortman, who represented Reed before the justices, warned afterward, "No one's speech is safe if the government is allowed to pick free-speech winners and losers based on the types of speech government officials prefer." In addition to the ERLC, among others signing onto the CLS brief were the Anglican Church in North America, Association of Christian Schools International, Christian Medical Association, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
November 5, 2014
March for Life, the pro-life organization that holds its well-known annual march in Washington, D.C., is challenging the Obama administration's abortion-pill mandate, which forces employers, regardless of their moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy financial penalties through the IRS. "Pro-life organizations must be free to operate according to the beliefs they espouse," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. "March for Life was founded to oppose the tragedy of abortion - the very thing the government is forcing the organization to provide through its health insurance plan. The government cannot selectively punish organizations that wish to abide by their beliefs."
October 7, 2014
Marriage is too important to allow unelected judges to redefine it without a fight. Even if the umpires are colluding with the other team, that's no reason to allow them an unopposed victory. Even if many of the courts of law are biased, we can still win in some of them-indeed many who favor redefining marriage think the 6th Circuit Court will uphold Ohio and Michigan's marriage laws, and the battle continues in other circuits, including the 5th Circuit which will review Texas and Louisiana's law (a federal judge recently upheld Louisiana's law). And the composition of the Supreme Court might well change for the better before the Court ends up actually deciding the marriage question.
October 7, 2014
A small, non-profit public interest law firm, with just eleven litigating attorneys and a $5 million annual budget, the Fund is a rising star in Washington. Its lawyers are most famous for arguing the often politically incorrect view that the constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion has been eclipsed in recent years by government deference to other parts of the constitution. That’s no easy task, since arguments over religious liberty can be some of the thorniest, and most heated, in America. But the Becket lawyers are shaking up Washington for a simple reason: they win. Over 20 years, Becket has won 85% of its cases–from 1920-2000, the ACLU averaged a little over 65% in religion cases at the Supreme Court.
September 10, 2014
Kristina Arriaga, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, states, "simply disliking a government monument does not mean that anyone can just run into court to make a federal case about it. ... The Establishment Clause does not require courts to scrub every religious reference from public life."
August 14, 2014
"All Americans should oppose unjust laws that force people - under threat of punishment - to give up their freedom to live and work according to their beliefs," said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. "Louisiana College is a Christian college that simply wants to continue to operate as a Christian college as it has since its founding in 1906. The court - in the first final ruling finding against the mandate that we are aware of - did the right thing in striking down the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate as it applies to Louisiana College's health insurance coverage."
August 12, 2014
The fundamental legal question is who gets to define marriage. Simmons ruled it "should be the prerogative of each State." The judge continued: "neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state's responsibility, which is to provide a framework of laws to govern the safety and wellbeing of its citizens."
July 30, 2014
For those who insist that only secular institutions can fully cultivate students' minds, I would offer a wager: Let's compare the academic growth of similar students who attend a religious school such as Wheaton with students who go to secular colleges. We could compare the growth in student performance during college in areas such as literacy, math, science, even critical analysis. Let's grade their papers blindly; I think we would be surprised by what we found. There are policies at Wheaton with which I disagree, but disagreement must not tempt us to banish difference but instead should spur us to look harder.
July 23, 2014
"If the government just kept us out of the process altogether of either triggering, authorizing, or in any fashion being the gateway for employees to receive coverage for objectionable practices, that would satisfy our concerns," said the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, a nonprofit, pro-life organization.
July 22, 2014
The Equal Protection Clause does not authorize the judiciary to substitute its own value judgments for those of Congress and the People of the states unless the Constitution itself confers the contested status. This Article concludes by arguing that the federal government has no authority to deconstruct the moral culture of any community. The Constitution expressly prohibits any attempt to require an individual or institutional dissenter to affirm, expressly or implicitly, abhorrent moral or religious views or behaviors.
July 22, 2014
The Court’s 5-to-4 decision in favor of the religious freedom of these familyowned companies was immediately greeted by a hailstorm of negative, misleading, and ignorant commentary by those who are politically committed to mandatory contraceptive coverage for all Americans. However, what the court did, in fact, was follow its own precedents and faithfully apply a law passed almost unanimously by the people’s elected representatives. That law is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was approved by the 103rd Congress almost unanimously in 1993 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. RFRA says that a federal policy cannot “substantially burden” a person’s religious freedom unless it furthers a “compelling governmental interest” in the way that is “least restrictive” of that freedom.
July 20, 2014
With just a dozen full-time attorneys, the firm, after a string of Supreme Court successes, is earning a reputation in legal circles as a powerhouse, though its leaders play down talk about the firm's growing influence. "We had a good laugh," said Kristina Arriaga, the firm's executive director, when asked about the nationwide attention that followed the Supreme Court's June 30 Hobby Lobby ruling. "We find there has been an aggressive push from the government to become the sole arbiter of morality, which is not good for the country," Arriaga said. "Regrettably, religious liberty work has augmented exponentially."
July 7, 2014
But the organizations say the accommodation provided by the administration does not go far enough because, though they are not on the hook financially, they remain complicit in the provision of government-approved contraceptives to women covered by their plans. "Anything that forces unwilling religious believers to be part of the system is not going to pass the test," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents many of the faith-affiliated nonprofits. Hobby Lobby Inc., winner of its Supreme Court case last month, also is a Becket Fund client.
July 4, 2014
Two 5 to 4 decisions this week, on the final decision day of the Supreme Court's term, dealt with issues that illustrate the legal consequences of political tactics by today's progressives. One case demonstrated how progressivism's achievement, the regulatory state, manufactures social strife and can do so in ways politically useful to progressives. The other case arose from government coercion used to conscript unwilling citizens into funding the progressives' party.
July 3, 2014
Even more encouraging for religious non-profits is the Court's discussion of the strong deference owed to the faithful's judgments about what their religion forbids in terms of complicity in wrongdoing and requires by way of integrity of witness. The Court pointedly refused to allow the government (or the principal dissent) to substitute its own view of these matters for that of Hobby Lobby, and made clear that the only role for the Court in this context is to confirm that the asserted beliefs are sincerely held. This signals that the Court is very likely to accept the claims of religious non-profits that the so-called accommodation, in particular the self-certification requirement, coerces them to facilitate immoral activities and impedes their ability to bear authentic witness to the truths that their faith affirms about the dignity of human life and the gift of conjugal love.
July 1, 2014
What do women on the bench think about the mandate? Most of them don't like it. So far, women judges in the lower courts have voted to stop the mandate 24 times. In only 15 cases have they voted to let it proceed. Yesterday's votes from the high court don't change the equation. Surprisingly, even after having been assaulted by the "war on women" rhetoric for two years, the average American woman still holds an unfavorable view of the contraceptive mandate. In poll after poll, more women oppose it than support it.
July 1, 2014
Ashley McGuire (The Catholic Association): Just because you're an employer doesn't mean you have to pay essentially fines or comply with something that violates your most deeply held beliefs. That doesn't mean that you're trying to deny anybody anything, but I think that that's our first freedom. The founders considered it our first freedom and for people of faith to feel like they can live in a diverse and pluralistic society and be respected for who they are, this is a huge victory.
June 30, 2014
In response to the Supreme Court's ruling, Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, issued the following statement: "Today the Supreme Court actualized the fundamental purpose of the First Amendment's guarantee of the ‘free exercise' of religion. In essence, the Court's ruling stands for the proposition that-even when the government seeks to implement valuable policy goals-it must do so without trampling upon the conscientious beliefs of American citizens, especially, as is the case here, when there are many other ways to meet the policy goals without infringing on religious liberty.
June 30, 2014
With today's ruling, the Greens' and Hahns' family businesses will be able to continue offering their employees generous healthcare plans (which cover most forms of contraception) without fear of government penalties. And the women who work for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood remain free - like all women - to make their own decisions about these four drugs and devices (as well as other birth control) and to purchase or find insurance coverage for them. But the government cannot coerce these family businesses to participate in those decisions in violation of their beliefs.
June 30, 2014
"This is a landmark decision for religious freedom. The Supreme Court recognized that Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business," said Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and counsel for Hobby Lobby. [click link or image to view video]
June 30, 2014
"I'm here at the Supreme Court today, where we have just had a tremendous victory for religious liberty...to protect family-owned businesses from being forced to do things that violate their faith--particularly providing abortifacients that would violate their conscience." [click image or link to view video]
June 30, 2014
The briefs were filed by an all-woman team of four AUL attorneys on behalf of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Christian Medical Association, National Catholic Bioethics Center, Physicians for Life, National Association of Pro Life Nurses, Drury Development Corporation, Drury Southwest, Inc., Drury Hotels Company, LLC, and the National Association of Catholic Nurses. Click here to read the brief. “Real healthcare respects life,” noted Dr. Yoest. “Whether the issue is punishing Americans for their beliefs, pushing life-ending drugs that have been deceptively labeled as contraception, or creating new income streams for the abortion industry, the anti-life implications of Obamacare are far reaching.”
June 30, 2014
"This is a much-needed victory for faith freedoms, because this administration continues its assault on the values of the faith community. We are witnessing increasing attempts by the government to coerce the faith community to adopt the government's viewpoint in matters of conscience."--David Stevens, CEO of Christian Medical Association
June 27, 2014
Mark Rienzi -- who argued in January before the justices on behalf of Eleanor McCullen, a grandmother who does sidewalk counseling in Boston -- said the court's opinion "has affirmed a critical freedom that has been an essential part of American life since the nation's founding. Americans have the freedom to talk to whomever they please on public sidewalks," Rienzi, who is allied with the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a written release. "That includes peaceful pro-lifers like Eleanor McCullen, who just wants to offer information and help to women who would like it." Christian Legal Society filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a coalition of religious organizations in support of citizens' religious speech and assembly rights.
June 25, 2014
What comes next? The answer is simple: the Little Sisters of the Poor. Just as Hobby Lobby headlined a group of for-profit businesses challenging the contraception mandate, the Little Sisters of the Poor headline a much larger group of non-profit ministries challenging the same mandate. The Little Sisters of the Poor are an international order of Catholic nuns founded by St. Jeanne Jugan. They take a vow of poverty and spend their lives caring for the elderly poor. They have thirty homes in the United States, where they care for the elderly and dying with love and compassion. Because of their commitment to the dignity of all human life, they cannot participate in a system that would provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
June 6, 2014
If, after the bishops have claimed that conforming to the mandate would involve acting against Church teachings, Catholics then conformed, we would be sending a very clear message to the present administration, and to future administrations as well: When we say that something is against our teachings, it doesn't mean that we won't do it-all it means is that someone has to threaten us first. We may speak truth to power, but we give power the last word. Our conscience is for sale, and the only thing left to discuss is the price.
June 5, 2014
President of the Catholic Benefits Association Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, said the group was formed to support Catholic employers in providing quality, cost-competitive and morally compliant health care benefits for their employees. "Yesterday's decision makes this a reality," Lori said. The owners of the Hobby Lobby won a favorable ruling in a similar lawsuit in the same federal court and at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The chain of arts-and-crafts stores does not want to provide insurance coverage for certain forms of contraception that it finds objectionable on religious grounds.
June 5, 2014
Religion is the No. 1 motivation for giving and serving in America. Christian faith prompted the rise of such historic charities as the Red Cross, YMCA, Salvation Army, United Way, and Goodwill Industries. Today, of the $300 billion donated to charity in America each year, 32 percent is directed to religious causes. Educational institutions rank a distant second, at 14 percent.
May 12, 2014
If judges decide the topic of marriage is off-limits to the political process, it follows that many other issues would be decided by judicial fiat instead of the democratic will of the people. "Tax policy, housing subsidies, wage regulations, and even the naming of public schools, highways, and monuments," wrote Justice Kennedy, "are just a few examples of what could become a list of subjects that some organizations could insist should be beyond the power of voters to decide, or beyond the power of a legislature to decide when enacting limits on the power of local authorities or other governmental entities to address certain subjects."
May 7, 2014
In the case of religious nonprofit organizations such as Priests for Life, the government recognizes that they do have rights of religious freedom, but is claiming that those rights have been protected by the "accommodation" the government offered in regard to the mandate. In our suit, we claim the accommodation is still a violation of our faith.
May 5, 2014
By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court has ruled that the town of Greece, New York, has not violated the Establishment Clause by opening its monthly board meeting with a prayer. Justice Kennedy inquires whether the town of Greece's prayer practice "fits within the tradition long followed in Congress and the state legislatures." He rejects the claim that legislative prayer must be "nonsectarian or ecumenical."
May 4, 2014
"With Obamacare, if you like your current plan, you can't always keep it, and you may have to pay for other people's abortions in your new plan," said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Casey Mattox in a statement. "Neither the Constitution nor federal and state law allow for this type of government coercion."
The lawsuit also challenges the so-called "secrecy clauses" that prohibit insurers on the exchange from divulging whether their policies cover abortion and what portion of the premiums collected from enrollees go toward paying for elective abortions.
April 8, 2014
Hobby Lobby was providing generous health insurance and wages long before the phrase "Affordable Care Act" touched paper in Congress. Forcing Hobby Lobby to drop health coverage burdens their religious exercise because their religious beliefs require them to provide generous benefits to employees. All that's required is that Hobby Lobby have a sincerely-held religious belief and that the government's policy put substantial pressure on it to act against those beliefs. This has been unambiguous statutory law under RFRA for 20 years and clear Supreme Court precedent for more than 30 years.
April 7, 2014
Today's actions by the Supreme Court may unfortunately embolden some to expand their efforts to punish and humiliate publicly those who believe marriage is defined only as one man and one woman. The zealous followers of this ascendant orthodoxy supporting same-sex marriage are falling into the same error that many have stumbled into before them-when you gain power somewhere, punish the "heretics" and hound them to the outskirts of society. As a First Amendment attorney, I am concerned that this dark time of viewpoint suppression will get darker before it gets better.
April 1, 2014
From the Declaration of Independence through the Revolution, the Civil War through the civil rights movement, Americans have frequently been willing to fight back and assert their rights when overzealous governments tried to take them away. That's still happening today. The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties took their turn recently, when their lawyers argued before the Supreme Court.
March 27, 2014
During the oral argument Justice Kennedy asked whether, on the government's theory of the case, it would be permissible to force companies to cover abortion in their insurance policies for their employees. I think the answer to that question is clearly yes. And as Matthew Franck points out, the question is not a hypothetical one: The case itself concerns a company that objects to covering drugs that may cause abortion.
March 26, 2014
Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life, stressed that the challenge to the mandate is not about contraception, but instead "is about religious liberty. This is about President Obama changing the landscape of the separation of church and state that we have known until today," she said, adding that "no one should be forced into a corner on things such as this."
March 26, 2014
Rep. Joe Pitts (PA) speaks out on a Supreme Court religious liberty case involving a constituent family.
March 25, 2014
Today the Supreme Court heard arguments in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases challenging the HHS contraceptive mandate. Defenders of religious liberty have much to be optimistic about in today's arguments, but the outcome is far from clear. The justices' questions broke down along typical liberal/conservative lines - Justice Kennedy offered questions on both sides, but Justice Breyer had a few comments that were surprisingly harsh to the government.
March 25, 2014
Justice Kennedy (p. 75): "Under your view, a profit corporation could be forced in principle, there are some statutes on the books now which would prevent it, but could be forced in principle to pay for abortions."
March 25, 2014
Millions of Americans are losing their health plans as Obamacare takes effect. Waiting for your cancellation notice has become the modern-day equivalent of waiting for your draft number to come up. The Department of Health and Human Services' mandate of early abortion pill and birth control coverage will only make things worse. It threatens the jobs, health plans and livelihood of millions of Americans.
March 25, 2014
An even bigger problem is the sheer contentiousness of contraception, especially morning-after pills and other methods that some say can cause the abortion of fertilized eggs and fetuses. At one point Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote the Obama administration needs to win this case, asked Verrilli if "under your reasoning, a profit corporation could be required to pay for abortions."
March 25, 2014
The two convened at the Willard Hotel on Monday, the day before oral arguments in the case were presented to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a delightful back-and-forth punctuated by yarns and anecdotes, the two legal luminaries affirmed at least two points of agreement: (1) separation of church and state is good for religion; (2) corporations are people and people are corporations (echo Mitt Romney?) and, therefore, Hobby Lobby should be permitted an exemption from the contraceptive mandate imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
March 24, 2014
"The question is this: Can the government use the threat of crippling fines to force the owners of a business to violate their own deeply held beliefs?"
March 23, 2014
The United States is one of the most religiously diverse nations on earth. People of a vast array of traditions of faith live here in a harmony that would have been unthinkable in most of the world for most of human history. One of the ways America has fostered and protected this diversity is by nurturing a robust understanding of religious liberty that includes granting certain exemptions to people who need them in order to be true to their religious faith.[WSJ subscription req'd]
March 22, 2014
At stake are no less than two questions: do Americans give up their religious freedom when they start a family business? Are all Americans free to live and work according to their beliefs? Or should some Americans be required by the government to go against their religious beliefs and violate their consciences?
March 20, 2014
"We see companies act on ethical and philosophical and moral views every day of the week," says Mark Rienzi, an attorney with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby in court. The Supreme Court ruled in 2010's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations have free speech rights and, therefore, can spend freely in federal elections. Whether they can practice religion is another question - albeit one the justices need not answer if they base their decision on the owners' rights.
March 20, 2014
The Green family members signed a formal commitment to run the two chains according to Christian religious principles. The owners and their stores do not object to every part of the contraceptive mandate, but they do object to the use of any drugs or intrauterine devices that — in the words of their lawyers — “end human life after conception.” There is, on the corporations' side, a brief by constitutional law scholars seeking to answer that constitutional challenge. That brief contends that RFRA is a valid exercise of Congress's legislative powers, and that nullifying the law "would threaten thousands of statutes that protect religious minorities." [see listing of briefs]
March 11, 2014
The effect of this kind of distinction is to curtail the constitutional rights (and associated statutory rights) of Americans when they associate with one another in organizations. Why is this so troubling? Standing alone, individuals in an egalitarian society are weak in relation to government. But when they associate with one another, as Tocqueville observed, they acquire a shared strength, including the resources, capacity, and courage to develop public opinion independent of government and thereby to defend their freedom.
March 4, 2014
A German home-schooling family that was facing deportation by U.S. authorities will be permitted to stay here indefinitely, the leader of a national home-school support group said Tuesday. The devoutly Christian family came to America in 2008 after being threatened and fined for disobeying German rules requiring all children to attend a state-approved school. "This is an incredible victory that I can only credit to Almighty God," Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), said on the group's website Tuesday afternoon.
March 4, 2014
The Arizona Legislature sent Mrs. Brewer an amendment to the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would have given business owners a defense against local and state action that would "burden the person's exercise of religion." Homosexual activists made the defeat of this measure their top priority, even though the words "gay" or "homosexual" do not appear anywhere in the legislation.The governor's veto "enables the foes of faith to more easily suppress the freedom of the people of Arizona," argued Doug Napier, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
March 2, 2014
In their petition, the Huguenins and lawyer Jordan W. Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom mention religion frequently. But their plea does not cite constitutional protection of their right to freely exercise their religion. Instead, they rely on another part of the First Amendment: their right to free speech.
February 27, 2014
Distortion has been out in full force regarding the bill, a simple adjustment the Arizona Legislature made to the state's existing religious freedom law to make clear what it has always protected and to bring it into conformity with federal law. From what you see on TV, however, you might think every person in Arizona wants to stop serving sandwiches to those who aren't heterosexual.
February 26, 2014
The ruling was yet another setback for same-sex marriage opponents, who hope the Supreme Court will ultimately reverse what they call the work of a group of activist judges. "What we're in is essentially a state of lawlessness that I do believe will eventually get corrected at the United States Supreme Court," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that has campaigned for gay marriage bans across the country.
February 13, 2014
The Supreme Court has agreed to review two challenges brought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. It will consider whether family-run businesses can exercise religion and, if so, how such a ruling would affect the anti-conscience mandate. Americans do not forfeit their right to live and work in accordance with their faith simply because they go into business to provide for themselves, their families, and their employees.
February 13, 2014
Whether Ms. Greenhouse agrees or not, the Little Sisters of the Poor feel a religious obligation not to sign such forms. The plaintiffs in these civil rights cases are not the "school-yard bully"; the bullies are the governments that threaten these women with jail or financial ruin for engaging in kind and loving First Amendment activity.
February 12, 2014
The Greens' specific concerns about HHS's policies are shared broadly and deeply by millions of Americans. Catholic bishops, Evangelical leaders, and Orthodox Jews are all singing the same pro-life refrain. The federal government doesn't seem to care about their objections. According to the federal government, reproductive freedom, vigorously supported by the expert federal agency (the FDA) and now enforced by HHS regulations, trumps religious scruples. That's not the way of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
February 10, 2014
But two years ago, the rules changed for every business. As of 2013, the Green family had to decide if they would follow their faith or follow the Obama administration's new regulations. The Green family, through the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, will file its brief with the Supreme Court Monday seeking relief from paying a daily fine of potentially more than $1.3 million for refusing to violate their biblically based views on life.
February 3, 2014
Ken Connelly, whose organization Alliance Defending Freedom has intervened in the Norfolk case to defend Virginia's law, said the handful of cases decided in the aftermath of Windsor are simply wrong. "There are plenty of rational reasons for states to adopt the time-tested definition of marriage" as that between a man and a woman, Connelly said. The importance of Windsor was the court's recognition of a state's role in making that definition, he said.
February 1, 2014
The brief shows that the government's claim that religious-liberty rights must be violated in the interest of women's "preventive" health care is an empty and biased assertion. A robust body of widely accepted research that the government selectively ignored is surveyed in the amicus brief, showing that the mandated contraceptive drugs and devices significantly increase risks of serious disease, including HIV, stroke, and heart attack.
February 1, 2014
In both the Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor cases, the federal government is attempting to define religion so narrowly as to exclude all but churches and church-affiliated institutions. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents both plaintiffs, argues that this is a pinched and constraining interpretation of the law and the Constitution. Our religious liberty is more than freedom of worship.
January 31, 2014
Hundreds of individuals and groups from a broad range of religious and political backgrounds have filed briefs supporting the owners of Hobby Lobby in their religious freedom case at the Supreme Court. "The breadth of support has been incredible," said Lori Windham, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby and its owners before the Supreme Court. Where else do you see Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews coming together?" she asked. "Religious freedom is important to Americans of all faiths, and we hope the Supreme Court will protect that freedom."
January 29, 2014
AA slew of other legal challenges to White House wish list policies have been launched by unhappy Republicans. One deals with the implementation of Obamacare, seen by some as a piecemeal approach that picks and chooses which political favorites get exempted, and by others as a trouncing of religious rights in favor of birth control. Among those in the GOP who have tacked on to lawsuits over Obamacare: Sen. Roy Blunt and Rep. Randy Forbes filed amicus briefs in a case against the Department of Health and Human Services, alleging a violation of religious freedoms over the contraception mandate. Eighty-eight other lawmakers have signed on to the brief.
January 28, 2014
This is a very significant case for the United States. At stake are conscience rights, not only for these plaintiffs, but for all people of faith whose religious beliefs govern the way they do business or earn a living. Our brief argues that the reasons given by the government for forcing these objectors to provide free contraceptives to employees are insufficiently important to require overriding the objectors' conscience rights.
January 26, 2014
The Little Sisters of the Poor seem to have taken the lesson. Because they just sent President Obama to the mat over his contraceptive mandate. In a ruling that includes no dissent, the Supreme Court did not simply stay an order: It enjoined the executive branch from enforcing the mandate on the sisters while the case is pending before the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Though it is an issue decided on procedural grounds, it is a big victory for both the sisters and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented them.
January 24, 2014
Without recorded dissent, the Supreme Court has enjoined the federal government from enforcing the HHS mandate against the Little Sisters of the Poor and their co-plaintiffs during the pendency of their Tenth Circuit appeal. This is an important procedural victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor and their co-plaintiffs, and it ought to lead the lower courts to grant similar relief to other religious nonprofits challenging the HHS mandate.
January 20, 2014
"They didn't think they had any other choice," said Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of religious traditions. Blomberg said the Little Sisters of the Poor had two options: provide contraception coverage to their employees, in violation of their Roman Catholic beliefs, or pay hefty tax fines for failing to comply with the law.
January 13, 2014
I don't know how much more emphatically the Supreme Court could make this point. Even if an activity is a mere "gratuitous" privilege or benefit, the government's placement of a condition on that activity inconsistent with someone's religious beliefs constitutes a substantial burden. This is because in America, pursuing free activities consistent with one's beliefs is at the heart of the meaning of our "liberties of religion." It is "too late in the day" to even propose otherwise.
January 12, 2014
That last exemption, for clinic employees, tilts the scales in favor of their point of view, said Mark L. Rienzi, a lawyer for Ms. McCullen and other protesters. "The government does not have the ability to decide," he said, "that its public sidewalks are open for speakers on one side but not speakers on the other side."
January 12, 2014
When the Obama administration picked a fight with Catholics and other religious groups over free birth control coverage for employees, sooner or later it was bound to end up doing battle with a group like the Little Sisters of the Poor. And sure enough, the administration is now stuck arguing that it is justified in compelling nuns who care for the elderly poor to assist in offering health insurance that they say conflicts with their religious beliefs. Talk about a political loser.
January 12, 2014
Claims to free speech will clash with abortion rights Wednesday when the Supreme Court takes up a closely watched case on the constitutionality of "buffer zones" around abortion clinics. At issue: whether state laws forcing abortion protesters to stay at least 35 feet away from the doors of clinics are prudent safety measures given the passions surrounding the issue or whether they constitute an illegal infringement on the free speech rights of protesters.
January 8, 2014
But of course the employers are not going to court to stop employees from using contraception (or even resorting to abortion) should they wish to do so; they are merely trying to keep themselves from any complicity in it. A right not to be coerced into such complicity had never previously been asserted in court only because it had been taken for granted through the first two centuries of our country's existence.
January 7, 2014
It takes some doing to get embroiled in a court fight with nuns who provide hospice care for the indigent. Amazingly, the Obama administration has managed it. Its legal battle with the Little Sisters of the Poor is the logical consequence of Obamacare's conscience-trampling contraception mandate.
January 6, 2014
Almost forgotten in the tumult was the unpleasant reality that the highly controversial "HHS mandate" was about to go live on January 1, along with the rest of Obamacare. The mandate is the requirement that all employer-sponsored insurance plans, including those offered by employers with strong religious objections to the mandate, must provide "free" contraceptives, abortifacient drugs, and sterilization procedures to their workers and their workers' families.
January 3, 2014
The Department of Justice filed a legal memorandum Friday morning with the Supreme Court, affirming its opposition to the Little Sisters of the Poor's complaint that they should not be forced to facilitate free distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients to any of their employees who might desire them. Perhaps just stating the issue makes manifest the proper resolution of the lawsuit. In a morally sane world, it would.
January 3, 2014
But the White House wants to make an ideological statement, and so Mr. Verrilli is in effect telling the nuns that they don't understand their own church teachings and that signing the contract doesn't really tread upon their religious beliefs. This case is simply a raw assertion of state power directing the religious to follow orders. Thus ObamaCare forces women who have taken a vow of chastity and minister for the dying to implicate themselves in what they consider to be grave moral wrongs.
January 2, 2014
Mark L. Rienzi, senior attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who is representing the Sisters of the Poor, explained that the nuns would have to sign a paper requesting that their insurance, not their employer, pay for any and all birth-control benefits to avoid substantial fines. "At the end of the day, they can't be involved in certain things, and one of them is signing forms authorizing permission slips for those kinds of drugs," Mr. Rienzi told The Washington Post.
December 2, 2013
Nearly 100 companies, nonprofits and religious groups, including several Catholic dioceses, have challenged the birth control rule. The two cases the Supreme Court took involve commercial interests. "What it shows in taking on both cases is that the court is interested in hearing the full array of issues that were present in both petitions and the diversity in which Americans practice their faith in all types of business," said David Cortman of Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Conestoga.
December 2, 2013
Contrary to Greenhouse's assertion, the PRH brief establishes that the Hobby Lobby plaintiffs are right to believe that copper IUDs can operate to prevent implantation (and thus to kill the developing human embryo). The PRH brief also reveals, if backhandedly, that the state of the science on whether Plan B and ella can also operate to prevent implantation is not definitively settled-and thus, given their objections to facilitating the destruction of human embryos, amply justifies the Hobby Lobby plaintiffs in resolving the scientific uncertainty against providing coverage of Plan B and ella (in addition to copper IUDs).
December 1, 2013
The last time the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to cut religion from the First Amendment it lost 9-0 in Hosanna Tabor. Time and again, the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations, such as churches and universities, can exercise religion.
November 13, 2013
With this decision, three circuit courts have now upheld challenges to the mandate, against two that have ruled the other way. As Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center puts it: "It's a very safe bet that the Supreme Court will grant review soon to address the fundamental questions of religious liberty that these cases present."
November 1, 2013
"The D.C. court has affirmed that this principle applies to everyone, be they small business owners or nuns," said Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with the Catholic Association, in a statement. "Hopefully the Obama administration will finally stop bullying religious employers and repeal its oppressive mandate."
November 1, 2013
A divided panel of the D.C. Circuit ruled this morning, in Gilardi v. U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Services, that two brothers, Francis and Philip Gilardi, who own and operate a food-supply company are entitled under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to a preliminary injunction against imposition of the HHS mandate on contraception and abortifacients.
November 1, 2013
Writing for the majority, Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote that the mandate "trammels the right of free exercise_a right that lies at the core of our constitutional liberties_as protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act." The Gilardis' lawyer, Francis Manion, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, an anti-abortion legal group that focuses on constitutional law, said he was pleased that the court accepted the "bulk" of his arguments, but will appeal the part of the ruling on the free exercise religious rights of corporations.
October 28, 2013
Alabama's Attorney General Strange said in a statement, "I am proud to stand with EWTN to oppose this unconscionable mandate. Whatever we personally may think about contraception and abortion-inducing drugs, the government should not be in the business of forcing people to violate their religious convictions." Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, noted that the government's "accommodation" requires EWTN to contract with a third party to provide contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs on its behalf.
October 11, 2013
The owner of a U.S. manufacturing business is filing an appeal to the Supreme Court over the HHS mandate, both because it violates his religious beliefs and because it interferes with his ability to treat his workers justly. "I've never checked my faith at the door when I walked into the for-profit business arena" John Kennedy, owner of Autocam, told CNA Oct. 8, explaining that the company's generous health care benefits are "part of our mission as employers ... to treat our employees justly."
October 3, 2013
I write because the mandate is forcing me and my family to choose between the teachings of our faith and the operation of our business. It gives us three options, all of which are unconscionable according to our beliefs: (1) violate our faith by complying with the mandate and provide our employees with insurance that covers contraception and sterilization; (2) pay over $16,000,000 in fines per year, destroying our business and putting our employees out of work; or (3) cut our employees' health benefits so that we do not have to violate our beliefs. While the last choice would save our family and the company $5,000,000, we reject it because of the respect we have for our employees.
October 3, 2013
A small town in upstate New York is at the center of what legal scholars say could be one of the biggest religious freedom cases in decades, as the Supreme Court prepares to open its 2013-14 term next week. The case, the Town of Greece (N.Y.) v. Galloway, involves the town council's practice of beginning its meetings with a prayer offered by a volunteer "chaplain of the month" - Christian and non-Christian - and has attracted friend-of-the-court briefs from religious, secular and civil liberties organizations.
October 2, 2013
The Obama administration has never been able to prove that merely having the freedom to decide whether to cover other people's abortion pills and birth control would cause some kind of catastrophe. But now the Obama administration is backhandedly admitting that the abortion-pill mandate is not the highest priority of government in the first place. If it were, defending it would not stop during a shutdown.
September 5, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), once claiming to support religious freedom, recently praised a Mennonite family's loss in court, opining with regard to the family's small woodworking business that "corporations don't pray and have values." Really? What about churches? They are corporations, too. Don't they pray? The New York Times and the ACLU themselves are both corporations. They have no values?
September 4, 2013
In Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Shulman, the court ruled that the Freedom from Religion Foundation has standing to challenge the alleged policy of the Internal Revenue Service of not enforcing against churches and religious organizations the requirement of tax-exempt status that they not participate in or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.
August 25, 2013
Matthew Franck, of the Witherspoon Institute, a conservative think tank in Princeton, N.J., argued the only real protection for religious freedom is maintaining the traditional definition of marriage. He said same-sex marriage advocates are unlikely to tolerate for long any "deviations from the ‘new normal' they wish to create," so he predicted religious exemptions granted now will eventually be repealed. "We have not lost the fight for the truth about marriage, and surrendering the field is premature," Franck said. "I continue to hope that it will never finally be necessary, and I work to make that hope a reality."
August 14, 2013
Critics of the contraception mandate in President Obama's healthcare law said they will appeal to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court declined to re-hear their case Wednesday. Alliance Defending Freedom, one of the organizations challenging the contraception mandate in the courts, said it will ask the Supreme Court to consider whether the mandate is unconstitutional.
August 12, 2013
"Even after the IRS scandal went public, it was nonstop," said Peter Shinn, director of Cherish Life Ministries in Arlington, Va. "They continued stiff-arming us and doing everything they could to block our approval. The agent kept asking about our prayer activities and said we had to pray from all sides," he recalled. According to Shinn, to "pray from all sides" was part of the agent's insistence that his organization teach about the option of abortion while defending innocent life.
August 12, 2013
Like the Soviet Union's commissars and President Obama, they support "the freedom to worship," a cramped view of religious freedom that protects essentially nothing. You can do what you want behind closed doors or inside your head. God help you, though, if you want to have an active faith and exercise your constitutional freedom outside those doors.
August 9, 2013
Some of the business owners who sued the Obama administration over the "contraception mandate" tied to the health care law are insuring employees' birth control against their will - now that the rule is in effect - or refusing to comply in an act of civil disobedience. While many companies have obtained court orders excusing them from the obligation while they challenge the law, at least seven for-profit businesses were unable to get a temporary reprieve, leaving them to decide whether to obey the mandate or ignore it and risk substantial fines.
August 9, 2013
A family business that manufactures sights and scopes for the military, law enforcement, and hunters has filed suit through its Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys against the Obama administration's abortion pill mandate. The suit joins an ever-growing number of legal challenges to the mandate, a component of Obamacare that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties. "All Americans, including job creators, should be free to honor God and live according to their consciences wherever they are," said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman.
August 1, 2013
Helen Alvare, a George Mason University law professor, founded Women Speak for Themselves last year to combat the Obama administration's belief "that women care more about free birth control than freedom of religion." Alvare kicked off Thursday's rally with opening remarks before giving way to a string of speakers, many trained in the medical field.
July 31, 2013
The split decision, said legal experts, means that the high court will be under pressure to clarify whether free exercise rights protected under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act apply to religious nonprofits as well as businesses like Conestoga, which is wholly owned by the Hahns, a Mennonite family. Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the public-interest group that represents Hobby Lobby, noted the dueling judicial rulings and predicted that other HHS for-profit cases before the Sixth and Seventh Circuits that await review would "deepen the split decision."
July 26, 2013
A federal appeals court ruling on Friday increased the chances that the Supreme Court in its coming term will need to settle whether secular, for-profit corporations must provide contraceptive coverage to employees despite the owners' religious objections. A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled that a Pennsylvania cabinet-making company owned by a Mennonite family must comply with the contraceptive mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act. "It looks like we're heading for a Supreme Court review," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is active in opposing the contraceptive mandate.
July 21, 2013
A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance," Hobby Lobby founder David Green said last year in a opinion piece in USA Today. "Being Christians, we don't pay for drugs that might cause abortions. Which means that we don't cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the biblical principles on which we have run this company since Day 1. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines."
July 3, 2013
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' final rule on its mandate that requires employee health insurance for contraceptives, including abortion-causing drugs, and female sterilization does not appear, on first analysis, to eliminate "the need to continue defending our rights in Congress and the courts," Cardinal Timothy Dolan ofNew York said July 3.
July 2, 2013
"To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here we stand; we can do no other. God help us."
July 2, 2013
The final version of Obamacare's "preventive services" regulation that the Department of Health and Human Services published on Friday discriminates against faithful members of the Roman Catholic Church by effectively barring them from owning and operating health-insurance companies. This is because the regulation orders health insurance companies to provide sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to all female beneficiaries except those insured by "religious employers"--which, according to the regulation, includes only actual "houses of worship" (n.b. parish churches), their immediate auxiliaries, associations of houses of worship and the "exclusively religious activities of any religious order."
July 2, 2013
Like the administration's multiple previous attempts to "fix" the mandate, this final rule doesn't provide any workable or adequate solutions to the mandate's trampling on Americans' fundamental freedoms. At the renewal of health-plan years, employers still will be forced to facilitate coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization - regardless of religious or moral objection to one or more of these practices.
June 27, 2013
Today, the en banc 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a major victory to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., by reversing and remanding the district court's erroneous ruling. The circuit court returned the case to the district court with instruction to consider whether to grant Hobby Lobby a preliminary injunction. "Today marks a milestone in Hobby Lobby's fight for religious liberty," said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
June 26, 2013
A Largo electric company won't have to cover certain contraceptives under its employee health plan after a federal judge Monday issued a preliminary injunction freeing the company from a controversial provision under the Affordable Care Act. "I fought the law and the Lord won!" exclaimed a jubilant Thomas Beckwith, owner of Beckwith Electric Co., who argued the "Obamacare" contraceptive mandate violated his religious beliefs.
June 26, 2013
Unless something dramatic changes in the drift of public opinion, the future of religious liberty on these issues is going to depend in part on the magnanimity of gay marriage supporters - the extent to which they are content with political, legal and cultural victories that leave the traditional view of marriage as a minority perspective with some modest purchase in civil society, versus the extent to which they decide to use every possible lever to make traditionalism as radioactive in the America of 2025 as white supremacism or anti-Semitism are today.
June 24, 2013
Federal lawmakers, archdiocesan representatives and leaders of companies and non-profit organizations came together at a Philadelphia forum to publicly support religious liberty from governmental threats. "What brought us all here today is so much bigger than a single piece of legislation or a political party; it is about protecting Americans' First Amendment right to religious freedom," said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.).
June 21, 2013
Religiously affiliated schools, hospitals, and social-service ministries that continue to live by their beliefs about marriage could face anti-discrimination lawsuits, and their access to government contracts and benefits could be at risk. It's not far-fetched to think that such groups may face the loss of tax-exempt status; the California Senate has passed a bill that would take away the Boy Scouts' tax-exempt status in reaction to what it sees as the Scouts' discriminatory membership policy.
June 21, 2013
Geneva College in Pennsylvania has been given temporary relief from having to provide emergency contraceptives in its health-insurance plans, as required by the federal contraception mandate. "The court has done the right thing in allowing Geneva College to suspend the enforcement of the Obama administration's abortion-pill mandate for the student health plan while the case moves forward," said Gregory Baylor, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the college.
June 21, 2013
The House Energy and Commerce Committee today released a staff report that outlines the current status of pending litigation related to requirements in the health care law that have drawn widespread criticism for infringing on religious liberty. The report also details federal "fines on faith" that could be imposed on employers that exercise their conscience by refusing to pay for services that violate their beliefs - penalties totaling millions of dollars.
May 26, 2013
Hobby Lobby, the Oklahoma-based craft-store corporation and most well known of the corporate plaintiffs, made its case before the entire 10th Circuit Court of Appeals the next day, and the 3rd and 6th circuit courts are scheduled to hear arguments from two more plaintiffs Thursday and June 11.
Adele Keim, a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, attended the Denver arguments while her colleague, Kyle Duncan, delivered arguments on behalf of the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby. She said it was clear that the eight judges - it was an "en banc" hearing, so all of the circuit judges attended instead of only three - were taking the matter seriously.
May 23, 2013
In the most prominent challenge of its kind, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. asked a federal appeals court Thursday for an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill. The Oklahoma City-based arts-and-crafts chain argued that businesses - not just the currently exempted religious groups - should be allowed to seek exception from that section of the health law if it violates their religious beliefs.
May 21, 2013
"We had everything in order, and one of their agents shared that our application was ready to go through," Martinek explained. "But before that could happen, each member of the board would have to sign a letter stating we would not protest Planned Parenthood." The case went to Thomas More Society special counsel Sally Wagenmaker, who was shocked at the request the IRS had made of her new clients. "This was disturbing, content-based scrutiny," Wagenmaker said. "We have freedom of speech. We have religious freedom, and we have the right to peaceable assembly, and they seemed determined to deprive this organization of all of those protections. It's the type of activity that can have a chilling effect on our constitutional rights."
May 6, 2013
David Cortman, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said using prayer to open public meetings is a long-standing American tradition that has been upheld by the Supreme Court. "Nonetheless, new legal attacks by people and activist groups claiming to be 'offended' by the way private citizens voluntarily pray have created significant confusion in the lower courts," he said.
May 1, 2013
In his most recent study on so-called "emergency contraception," Dr. James Trussell, whose research has been cited by the FDA, states that, "to make an informed choice, women must know that [emergency contraception pills] . . . may at times inhibit implantation." Over-the-counter access of Plan B removes the opportunity for teens to be informed by a health-care provider about all of Plan B's mechanisms of action, including its ability to end life.
April 22, 2013
Ongoing conflict over the contraceptive mandate promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") has resulted in more than two dozen lawsuits by profit-making businesses and their owners seeking protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"). To date, the businesses and their owners are winning handily, having obtained preliminary relief in seventeen of the cases, and being denied relief in only six.
April 18, 2013
...religious believers who oppose the destruction of the lives of unborn human beings have ample basis to object to being dragooned to provide Plan B, Ella, and copper IUDs in their health plans.
March 30, 2013
A federal appeals court in Denver has granted Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.'s request for the entire court to hear its legal challenge over part of the Affordable Care Act that requires the company to cover emergency contraceptives for its employees. Typically, appeals cases are heard by a panel of three judges, but Hobby Lobby had asked the full court to hear the case - a request that federal appeals courts seldom grant, said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is defending Hobby Lobby in its lawsuit.
March 21, 2013
TMLC attorney, Erin Mersino, has been spearheading the Law Center's legal initiatives against the Federal Government's HHS Mandate, which requires companies to provide insurance for their employees that cover and promote abortion inducing drugs and contraception. Michael Potter is a practicing Roman Catholic who strives to follow the teachings of his faith which include the belief that "any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation, whether as an end or means"--including abortifacients and contraception--is wrong.
March 19, 2013
The Bible says “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” The Constitution doesn’t. When considered in the light of religious teachings, actual business practices, and the law's treatment of for-profit businesses in other contexts, it is clear that there is no inherent disconnect between earning profits and exercising religion. For this reason, there is no principled basis for excluding profit-making businesses and their owners from the protection of our religious liberty laws.
January 20, 2013
At the same time, "the business cases are moving quickly," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, one of the groups coordinating the challenges to the law. By Duncan's count, there are 14 cases filed by business owners who say the law forces them to choose between running their companies and following their religious beliefs. In nine of those cases, courts have issued injunctions until the conflicts can be decided on their merits.
January 18, 2013
Hobby Lobby maintains that some birth control products, such as the morning-after pill, are equivalent to abortion. The company has sued the government on religious freedom grounds. Hobby Lobby still potentially faces millions in fines for not following the mandate. With 13,000 employees and a proposed fine of $100 per employee per day, that would equate to $1.3 million in daily fines.
January 17, 2013
President Obama's mandate that most private companies provide health insurance plans that cover the costs of contraceptives has met with considerable headwinds in the legal system, where nine of the 14 federal courts to rule so far have sided with employers who say the mandate violates their beliefs and infringes on their religious liberties.
January 13, 2013
A federal judge has rejected the argument of the Mennonite owners of a central Pennsylvania furniture manufacturing company that new health care requirements that they pay for employees' contraceptive services violate their free speech and religion rights.
January 3, 2013
Kyle Duncan, an attorney representing Hobby Lobby in its case, said that the company plans to continue providing health insurance to its employees without paying for the drugs that it finds morally objectionable. To continue following their Christian beliefs, the company's owners now risk fines of $1.3 million per day.
January 3, 2013
In a Public Discourse essay titled "The HHS Mandate and Judicial Theocracy," Melissa Moschella nicely explains how appalling it is that some judges ... have somehow seen fit to impose on religious believers the judge's own view on what constitutes improper complicity in immoral conduct.
December 29, 2012
Late yesterday afternoon, the Seventh Circuit granted an emergency injunction against the HHS mandate - preventing its enforcement against an Illinois business and its owners.
December 27, 2012
Craft store giant Hobby Lobby is bracing for a $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare. "It's just so sad that Hobby Lobby is facing this choice. What company, even a successful family owned business like Hobby Lobby, how can they afford the government $1.3 million in fines every day? It's just really absurd that government is not giving on this," said Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser for the Catholic Association.
December 26, 2012
St. Louis, Missouri - A federal court has ruled against a newly-enacted Missouri law that sought to block Obamacare's abortion pill mandate by allowing religious-owned businesses to be exempt from the requirement. In September of this year, Missouri legislators enacted the law, overriding a veto from Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. It had initially passed in May, 28-6 in the Senate and 105-33 in the House.
December 3, 2012
The Judicial Education Project, in conjunction with two leading Jewish Orthodox Groups, Agudath Israel of America and the National Council of Young Israel, has filed an amicus curiae brief in a Becket Fund case, Stormans Inc. v. Mary Selecky, et al., defending conscience rights for pharmacies and pharmacists. Stormans challenges the constitutionality of Washington State's Board of Pharmacy regulations that require pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense emergency contraceptives.
November 30, 2012
I'm pleased to pass along that an Eighth Circuit panel has, for now, overridden the badly confused decision (O'Brien) from Missouri that denied a Catholic employer injunctive relief against the HHS mandate.
November 27, 2012
Five months after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision upheld the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, the high court directed the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to consider a case that challenges two key provisions of the federal health law, including the contraception mandate.
November 19, 2012
The HHS contraceptive mandate suffered another loss last Friday—its third loss in the four decisions that have addressed the merits of the claim that the HHS mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In a thorough opinion in Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, Judge Reggie B. Walton of the federal district court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction that bars the federal government from penalizing a publishing house for its religiously based refusal to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives that also operate as abortifacients.
November 13, 2012
Americans United for Life (AUL) filed a brief today in Nebraska v. Health and Human Services, a case initiated by the state of Nebraska and six other states challenging the Obama Administration's "HHS Mandate," which requires that employers provide insurance coverage for all forms of FDA-approved "contraception," including life-ending drugs and devices classified as "emergency contraception."
November 11, 2012
The Obama administration this month, in defending its health plan's contraception mandate, articulated a narrow view of the First Amendment's religious liberty protections. Obamacare requires employers to pay for contraception and sterilization coverage. This includes coverage of "morning-after" contraceptives, whose makers admit the drugs can kill a fertilized egg by preventing or "affect[ing]" implantation.
November 6, 2012
Many plaintiffs, like Mr. Weingartz and Hercules, have invoked the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. That law provides that officials may not burden a person's exercise of religion unless they can show "a compelling governmental interest" and use "the least restrictive means" of advancing that interest.
November 1, 2012
Good news. Contrary to the O'Brien case in St. Louis, and consistent with the Hercules case in Colorado, a judge has protected a Catholic-owned business from having to comply with Obamacare's Free Birth Control Rule. First, since the company is owned by a Catholic family, it substantially burdens their faith.
September 21, 2012
An Illinois appellate court Friday affirmed a lower court finding that the state cannot force pharmacies and pharmacists to sell emergency contraceptives - also known as "morning after pills" - if they have religious objections. "This decision is a great victory for religious freedom," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, quoted in a statement about the decision.
September 20, 2012
The Obama Administration's mandate that religious employers provide contraception, abortifacients and sterilization for their employees is a monumental attack on religious liberty: never before has our government chosen to force American citizens to violate their consciences so directly. Yet while Alliance Defending Freedom successfully makes the case that this law violates employers' religious freedom, the potentially devastating impacts of this mandate on others should not be ignored.
August 27, 2012
"The government has now re-written the 'safe harbor' guidelines three times in seven months, and is evidently in no hurry to defend the HHS mandate in open court," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Wheaton.
August 21, 2012
Some of the plaintiffs had been misled by President Obama himself. During his Notre Dame speech, the president promised that, notwithstanding his support of abortion rights, he intended to "honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause."
August 18, 2012
What is the breadth and scope of the religious liberty you believe ought to be respected? Do you believe religious liberty stops where Planned Parenthood's financial needs begin? Should Americans be forced to pay for that which violates their conscience and the tenets of their faith?
August 17, 2012
Hannah Smith, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Wheaton College and The Catholic University of America in the jointly filed suit, said, "They have rewritten the guidelines so that the 'safe harbor' says if you took measures before Feb. 10, 2012, to correct any inadvertent coverage of these contraceptive drugs, these abortion-inducing drugs, then you will still qualify for the 'safe harbor.'"
August 15, 2012
Louisiana College filed a response in federal court Friday to the U.S. Department of Justice's motion to dismiss the college's lawsuit against the Obama administration's abortion pill mandate. The lawsuit challenges the unconstitutional mandate, which requires religious employers to provide insurance coverage for abortion pills at no cost to employees regardless of religious or moral objections.
August 10, 2012
The government claims that:
1) Seeking profit is a wholly secularist pursuit;
2) Hence, once we go into business, we lose our religious freedoms in the context of those activities;
3) Meaning that all who engage in such secular undertakings must accede to the precepts of secular ideology;
4) Which the government establishes through the passage of laws and promulgation of regulations.
July 27, 2012
“Every American, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith. For the time being, Hercules Industries will be able to do just that,” said Matt Bowman, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the Arizona-based organization representing the Newlands. “The bottom line is that Congress and the Constitution explicitly protect all religious freedom. They don’t exclude family businesses.”
July 26, 2012
The basic principle in this case is the same as in other cases: that Congress does not let federal agencies punish people of faith for abiding by their faith, without passing the most demanding test known to federal law. We believe that in this case the government does not even come close to justifying its refusal to exempt religious objectors. This is because Congress provided secular exemptions for millions of employees, and it could easily give out more free contraception itself if the political will existed.
July 26, 2012
Ashley McGuire with the Catholic Association, a group that promotes activism against the mandate, said Catholics see the policy as "bullying" their faith. "People in the pews may not agree with all of the Vatican's teachings," she said. "But they love their priests and they love their bishops. They see the mandate as a violation of the church's authority to act according to its conscience."
July 24, 2012
A charitable interpretation may be that Obama just doesn’t understand this. After all, he grew up unchurched, so how would he know Christians who live to serve? A more cynical reading of the situation is that Obama wants to compel religious hospitals and colleges to set aside their religious principles in order to follow his pelvic politics.
July 17, 2012
Today’s decision by a federal district court in Nebraska to dismiss one of the many pending lawsuits against the HHS abortion-drug, contraception and sterilization mandate is unfortunate (and in one respect, seriously mistaken). But the decision turns on technicalities and doesn’t decide the merits of the dispute. Bear this context in mind if you should hear anyone trumpeting this decision as some sort of “victory” for the federal government on the religious-liberty questions at the heart of the HHS mandate litigation.
July 11, 2012
Thomlison is 31 and suffers from Crohn’s disease, a chronic gastrointestinal condition that threatened her life when she was a teenager. This patient is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by seven state attorneys general in response to the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers, regardless of their religious convictions, to provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
Thomlison is 31 and suffers from Crohn’s disease, a chronic gastrointestinal condition that threatened her life when she was a teenager. This patient is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by seven state attorneys general in response to the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers, regardless of their religious convictions, to provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
July 6, 2012
Fifty-six plaintiffs have filed 23 lawsuits against the Health and Human Services Department mandate, including three Protestant educational institutions. "We have seen an incredible intensity on this issue," said Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser at the Catholic Association, told Roll Call in an article published Thursday.
July 4, 2012
It is outrageous that the bishops must go to federal court to protect the constitutionally protected first freedom, but our country’s history abounds with examples of the need for eternal vigilance.
July 3, 2012
In her separate opinion – joined by Justice Sotomayor, Justice Breyer, and Justice Kagan – Justice Ginsburg notes that beyond the provisions directly at issue in the healthcare case, other constitutional provisions limit the power of the federal government: “A mandate to purchase a particular product would be unconstitutional if, for example, the edict impermissibly abridged the freedom of speech, interfered with the free exercise of religion, or infringed on a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause.”
June 29, 2012
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List: "From the outset, Obamacare is fundamentally flawed legislation because it makes American taxpayers complicit in the deaths of countless unborn children. Today's decision to uphold the individual mandate to force individuals to purchase health care plans that offend their conscience is incredibly disappointing."
June 29, 2012
Christian Medical Association director David Stevens warned that forcing employers and individuals with faith-based convictions to subsidize abortion or life-ending contraceptives would lead to “huge faith fines on those of us who resist.”
June 29, 2012
Dr. Gene Rudd, senior vice president of the Christian Medical Association (CMA), says the high court decision basically endorses the healthcare law, which will lead to a severe encroachment on the rights of conscience and the exercise of religion.
June 29, 2012
The first of Obamacare's hammers has already fallen, targeting religious freedom. And attention must now turn to the dozens of cases around the country aimed at stopping what is known as the Health and Human Services, or HHS, mandate -- the requirement that qualifying insurers and self-ensuring employers pay for sterilizations, abortifacient drugs and contraception, or else pay a fine.
June 29, 2012
June 29, 2012
Nothing in the court’s opinions directly addressed the religious-freedom challenges brought in the 23 lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate that all employers must provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and drugs and devices that cause early abortions. In fact, every justice who voted to uphold the law was quite clear that Congress’ exercise of its taxing power remains subject to other constitutional guarantees like the right to religious freedom.
June 28, 2012
“The Becket Fund’s religious liberty lawsuits against the unconstitutional HHS mandate will continue,” said Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Never in history has there been a mandate forcing individuals to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay a severe fine, a fine which could force many homeless shelters, charities, and religious institutions to shut their doors.”
June 28, 2012
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare reflects a tragic misreading of the law, one which could cost us not just economically but also in terms of liberty. On the bright side, the Court recognized that there are limits to what Congress may do under the Commerce Clause. But this was the silver-lining of a dark cloud. The Court then fundamentally misreads ObamaCare, contorting to find another authority—the power to tax—for Congress to enact the law.
June 28, 2012
From the perspective of social justice, this law jeopardizes the principle of subsidiarity, which, like the principle of federalism upon which our Constitution was written, holds that services ought to be provided by those social agencies and instrumentalities of government that are closest to the point of delivery. Tremendous dangers lie in health care being orchestrated by the highest level of social organization, our federal government.
June 28, 2012
This morning, the Supreme Court didn’t just miss the opportunity to protect individual liberty. It also failed to defend religious freedom. The Court’s ruling to uphold the health care law doesn’t mean it has cleared its legal challenges, however. Twenty-three federal lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate—which goes into effect on August 1—now take on added urgency.
June 27, 2012
As a matter of policy substance, the individual mandate is peripheral, not central, to the Left's approach to health-care reform. It is necessary to the system envisioned by Obamacare precisely because that larger system is at odds with basic economics. Left to itself, the system would quickly self-destruct, since it would create strong incentives for people to remain uninsured until they were sick.
June 18, 2012
The Supreme Court will soon decide the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. How does this impact the HHS lawsuits? This graphic illustrates the three different scenarios.
June 4, 2012
Priests, rabbis and pastors, as well as ministry and faith leaders across the spectrum, are speaking out against this policy. The mandate impacts people of all faiths. Forcing a religious institution to provide and pay for services that violate its own faith goes against our nation’s history of religious liberty.
May 25, 2012
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This is the first line of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Apparently, this now only applies to the certain instances for which President Barack Obama sees fit.
May 23, 2012
Imagine the church's surprise, then, to be told by the federal government that when a Catholic organization serves its neighbors, it isn't really practicing its religion. That is the unacceptable principle at the heart of a mandate, issued in February by the Department of Health and Human Services, that requires religious organizations to provide health-care coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, even if their faith teaches that those drugs and procedures are wrong.
May 23, 2012
Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell has seen a lot of media abuse in his time as the master monitor of the liberal press. Now, he's seen the very worst: The broadcast networks "all but spiked the largest legal action in history to defend our constitutionally protected religious freedom," the analyst says, citing CBS, ABC and NBC for skimming over news that 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations filed a lawsuit Monday against the Obama administration.
May 23, 2012
Republican leaders might be trying to avoid getting re-entangled in the culture wars, but Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt on Tuesday said he is considering intervening in a legal challenge to a proposed federal contraception rule brought by Catholic organizations.
May 23, 2012
This week my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, was one of more than 40 plaintiffs to file suit against the Department of Health and Human Services regarding its mandate that private health insurance plans cover life-ending drugs and devices, including the abortion-inducing drug ella.
May 23, 2012
In January, the Obama administration hit Catholic employers with arguably the most religiously-oppressive government directive in modern American history: Provide free abortion drugs and birth control pills in your health insurance plans, in flagrant violation of your religious beliefs, or face legal punishment. This week the bishops of the Catholic Church hit back. In one of the largest legal actions to defend religious liberty in U.S. history, Catholic organizations filed a dozen lawsuits across the country claiming the Obama Health and Human Services Department rule violates the right to religious freedom set forth in the U.S. Constitution.
May 23, 2012
Greg Baylor, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, says the outcry against the mandate is justifiable and understandable. "They're basically saying, Hey, if you're a religious organization that's out there in the world, serving the world, hiring people who don't necessarily share your religious commitments, you're not entitled to freedom of conscience."
May 22, 2012
In the most comprehensive survey conducted on the issue yet, Washington-based public opinion firm QEV Analytics recently found that some 50% of regular churchgoing Catholics heard a statement during Mass setting forth the bishops' serious misgivings about the insurance mandate. Of all the Catholics who heard this statement, most apparently agreed with it.
May 22, 2012
HHS is further suggesting that rather than allowing female employees of religious institutions to seek contraceptive coverage, a government-approved entity will simply provide it to them and all their female beneficiaries (minors included) “automatically” — and without any co-pay to tip off minors’ parents. This isn’t freedom. This is coercion, along with the undermining of parents’ duties and rights respecting their children.
May 22, 2012
Chancellor Jane Belford of the Archdiocese of Washington explains the significance of the lawsuit filed to protect freedom to practice religion. Chancellor Belford details why the suit is necessary in light of the attempt of the government to redefine what is a religious institution. She explains that under the new definition that the work of Mother Teresa no longer would qualify as the work of a religious institution.
May 21, 2012
NEW YORK (AP) - Dozens of Roman Catholic dioceses, schools and other institutions sued the Obama administration Monday over a government mandate requiring most employers to provide birth control coverage as part of their employee health plans.
May 21, 2012
ADF attorneys file suit against administration's 'abortion pill' mandate on behalf of Denver's Hercules Industries.
April 2, 2012
Last week's Supreme Court arguments over the Affordable Care Act focused on the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the expanded Medicaid entitlement. Could those cases also affect the religious-liberty lawsuits challenging the HHS abortion/sterilization/contraception mandate, which are now pending in many federal district courts? The short answer is: Maybe.
February 22, 2012
"Today's decision sends a very clear message: No individual can be forced out of her profession solely because of her religious beliefs," said Luke Goodrich, deputy national litigation director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Read Court opinion.
February 21, 2012
Religious liberty isn't even the only thing at risk; the mandate also threatens the financial viability of any organization that disagrees with the administration's politics. They could be forced to stop offering health insurance and be saddled with fines, which are immense competitive disadvantages. They'll have to take money away from their core missions to pay fines. They'll lose employees who can't afford to work for employers who offer no health insurance. They'll lose donors who are scared off by the penalties. The end result: organizations that agree with the administration or are willing to compromise their beliefs will thrive. Organizations that don't will shrink or die.