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Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Supreme Court’

Free Speech no More

In Uncategorized on May 13, 2015 at 6:20 am

First Amendment on Trialby Diane Robertson

Two hundred forty years ago, there were tens of thousands ready to give their very lives for freedom. With God on their side, and a sacrifice of blood, they were able to bring freedom to the world. Today on the very land hallowed by their sacrifice, millions upon millions of people cower at being called names, and those freedoms that men bled and died for will be taken away without a single shot fired.

On May 9th, Alliance Defending Freedom, posted a warning to the American people on their Facebook page. They wrote:

“Americans need to prepare for the same sort of surveillance-society if the Supreme Court rules to ban marriage as a male-female institution. It means that no matter what you believe, the government will be free to regulate your speech, your writing, your associations, and whether or not you may express your conscience.

Americans also need to understand that the endgame for some in the LGBT rights movement involves centralized state power—and the end of First Amendment freedoms.”

This prefaced an article making its way around the web. Canadian citizen, Dawn Stefanowicz, wrote about the changes gay marriage has initially made in the Canadian government and society. She wrote it as a warning to the American people who may be facing a sweeping ruling from the US Supreme Court ordering the nation to legalize gay marriage. I summarized this in an earlier article titled: 3 Ways Gay Marriage Has Changed Canada. Since gay marriage became legalized in Canada, the citizens can no longer speak freely about homosexuality without legal consequences. They may no longer write blogs, newspaper articles, or anything that speaks against gay marriage, homosexuality, or the laws governing marriage and family. Parental rights are trampled upon and the government justifies intervening in how parents teach their children about religion and sexuality. Churches are loosely monitored for any public teachings that include the common religious beliefs on homosexuality and marriage. Canada is now under a surveillance-society. There is no right to conscience and there is no freedom that allows Canadian citizens to disagree with gay marriage or homosexuality.

To keep the United States government from ever making laws that would trample upon the natural rights of the people and destroy all that the soldiers fought for in the Revelutionary War, James Madison penned these words:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

After more than two hundred years of freedoms guaranteed by the sacrifice of blood given freely by our founding fathers, we have come to a point where these freedoms may be done away. And why? Because too many people, too many American citizens, cowered and watched silently, as they eroded. Guns did not need to be pointed, too many have given up their freedom simply because they could not stand up against words.

In Defense of the Christian’s Rights

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2015 at 7:12 am

religious liberty in chainsby Mekelle Tenney

Oral arguments began Monday for a case that many are saying is the most important the Supreme Court will hear this year. In the last three days I have read dozens and dozens of blogs and news articles discussing same-sex marriage. I have read several excellent arguments addressing the many complex questions and problems that arise from this issue. I however would like to make an argument in defense of the Christians in America. In the debate on marriage Christians have;

  1. Had their voice belittled and disregarded solely because they have a religious base
  2. Have been denied their basic fundamental right to religious freedom
  3. Have been penalized for having and exercising religious beliefs and principles
  4. Have been labeled as bigoted and ignorant

I am a Christian and I want to make it clear that my views regarding this issue are based on my belief in a Supreme Being and his plan for his children. Though social science supports my arguments for marriage between only one man and one woman I cannot deny that my passion for this issue is derived from my religious convictions. Unfortunately America has been plagued by the belief that religious based principles have no place in the political realm. Religious believers, Christians to be more specific, are often stereotyped as closed minded, bigoted, and ignorant. My views as a Christian are neither ignorant nor bigoted. And they do not disqualify me as a voice in this debate.

Submitted to the Supreme Court was an amicus brief written by a coalition of almost 20 different Christian denominations. Though the brief was written for the Supreme Court I believe it presents arguments that should be presented to the nation. I feel that the following experts offer strong support of the Christian’s stance in the same-sex marriage debate. The summary of the brief states the following:

“Recognizing a new right to same-sex marriage would harm religious liberty. That harm is avoidable because neither the Constitution nor this Court’s precedents dictates a single definition of marriage for the Nation……Our religious beliefs, reason, and practical experience with families lead us to support the manwoman definition of marriage. Contrary to malicious caricatures, we do so not out of animus or ignorance but out of concern, conviction, and love.”

They continued to address the possibility of the court deciding that laws defining marriage between a man or woman as being hostile and the damaging effects that would have on Christians.

“A decision that traditional marriage laws are grounded in animus (hostility or ill will) would demean us and our beliefs. It would stigmatize us as fools or bigots, akin to racists……Because we cannot renounce our scriptural beliefs, a finding of animus would consign us to second-class status as citizens whose religious convictions about vital aspects of society are deemed illegitimate. Assaults on our religious institutions and our rights of free exercise, speech, and association would intensify.”

Another issue addressed is the danger that would be imposed on religious liberties if the court held that sexual orientation was a class that had been discriminated against because they had been denied the ability to legally marry.

“Judicial suspicion would quickly follow, aiming not only at laws but also at the beliefs and practices of religious organizations and believers themselves. If this Court declares sexual orientation a suspect class (a class that has been subjected to discrimination), it will soon be argued that the government has a compelling interest in protecting against private religious conduct that burdens homosexual conduct……A constitutional right to same-sex marriage under any theory would create severe tensions with religious freedoms and related interests across a wide array of religious, educational, social, and cultural fronts. Directly or not, such a High Court ruling would unavoidably convey “hostility toward religion. . . inconsistent with our history and our precedents.”

In regards to the accusation that those who oppose same-sex marriage are “hatters” they boldly state:

“We emphatically reject the accusation that we and millions of our fellow believers seek to protect traditional marriage out of “ancient religious bigotry against gay persons.” Id. That slander aims to intimidate and suppress public conversation on a complex issue by equating disagreement with hatred. Laws reserving marriage for the union of a man and a woman were the universal rule in this country until a decade ago. They are not tokens of ignorance and bigotry now.” (Justice Alito made a similar observation during Tuesdays oral arguments.)

The brief in its entirety offers a strong defense of Christians and their belief in traditional marriage as well as defending their religious liberties. I stand with many other Christians in my belief that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. Marriage is a fundamental unit that our society depends on for stability. The impact that this case will have on America is hard to imagine. We have already seen on a state level the discrimination perpetuated against Christians as a result of legalizing same-sex marriage. We have heard countless cases of Christians who were fined to the point of financial ruin for not bending to the will of a same-sex couple. Our short history with same-sex marriage leads me to believe that if the court finds that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right Christians will lose their God given religious rights.

Is It Inevitable?

In Abortion, Constitution, Homosexuality, Same-Sex Marriage on February 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm

2 brides, 2 groomsDiane Robertson

Many people have said to me, “It is inevitable. Why do you care?”

Former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, said to American conservatives, “It is in every family. It is in every community. The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to … accommodate and deal with reality. And the reality is going to be that in a number of American states — and it will be more after 2014 — gay relationships will be legal, period.”

Is legalized gay marriage inevitable? In the western world, many countries and states have acquiesced to the same-sex marriage lobby. Does that mean it is something to embrace?

In January 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a constitutional right for women and required every state to legalize abortion. This ruling did not end the abortion fight. A change in law did not convince every person that abortion is good. The fight continued. In fact, in 2012, 39 years after Roe vs. Wade, more state laws were passed to limit abortions than in any year previous. The war to save the lives of the unborn did not end with Roe vs. Wade. Everyone did not embrace and except abortion as a cultural norm.

Three liberal states legalized gay marriage by a small majority vote during the 2012 elections. The Supreme Court is going to hear cases on gay marriage in just two more months. They may decide that gay marriage is a constitutional right. Like Roe vs. Wade didn’t end the abortion battle, Hollingsworth vs. Perry or Windsor vs. the United States will not end the marriage debate.

The abortion battle is not solely about women’s right to choose. The battle is bigger than that– it is about human life and protecting and caring for children. The marriage battle is not just about giving every couple equal standing under the tax code and labeling all sexual relationship as “marriage”.  There wouldn’t be a war if it was. The marriage battle exists to change the law to make sexual freedom more important than any other freedom or right—religious freedom, parental rights, the right to conscience, freedom of speech and of the press, children’s right to a stable family with a mother and a father. The stakes are high in the marriage battle.

Many people still stand strong in their religious beliefs and traditional values. They will fight for their religious freedom. Many people do not like their children being taught about homosexuality in schools. Many people do not like being forced into business that goes against their religion and conscience. Many people strongly believe in the importance of stable families with a mother and a father and how they form society. The war will go on. Gay marriage may be legalized, but just like legalizing abortion did not end the abortion fight, legalizing gay marriage will not end the marriage fight.

 

 

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Proposition 8 Case

In Courts, Homosexuality, Same-Sex Marriage on December 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Diane Robertson

The nine justices of the Supreme Court have just decided to hear the California Proposition 8 case and one DOMA case (Defense of Marriage Act). These cases will be heard before the court in March and a decision will be expected by the end of June.

In the DOMA case, the court will decide if it is constitutional for the federal government to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman and limit federal marriage benefits to married couples of the opposite sex.  This won’t necessarily change any state laws on marriage, but the federal government would be required to recognize the marriages of same sex couples in states where it is legal.

In the Proposition 8 case, the court has two paths that it may take. The justices could decide the more basic issue of whether any state can ban same-sex marriage under the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the law—is same-sex marriage a right protected under the constitution?  Or the court could limit the ruling to apply only to the ban in California. The 9th Circuit Court of appeals ruled that California’s ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional because same sex couples were already granted the right to marry.

Same sex marriage is currently legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C.

If the court rules that same sex marriage is a constitutional right then no one will be able to reject servicing  same-sex couples based on religious conscientious objections—infertility doctors, bed and breakfast owners, reception hall owners, family lawyers, photographers, bakers, etc.  Schools will be required to teach that homosexual unions are equal to heterosexual unions. Homosexuality will be enshrined in the law.

The two U.S. Supreme Court accepted cases are Hollingsworth v. Perry (12-144) and US v. Windsor (12-307).

Religious Freedom on Trial

In Health Care, Religious Freedom, Supreme Court on March 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Monday, March 26th began the first day that the constitutionality of the 2010 healthcare law, known as Obamacare, will be argued in the Supreme Court. This is a court case that many American’s have strong opinions about and will be closely watching the outcome. For some Americans, Obamacare means hope and safety for their future health. For others this law means a stripping of their religious freedoms.

The pasts few months, there has been a lot of talk about the new federal regulations requiring employer health care plans to pay for abortion inducing drugs, contraception and sterilizations. Originally, most churches were not exempt from this requirement.  Currently, churches are now exempt from this requirement.  However, church ministries and organizations (such as church run universities and hospitals) will be required to provide things like abortion-inducing drugs to their employees. It does not matter if those religious organizations maintain beliefs and teachings contrary to this.  Organizations that refuse will be subject to a $2,000 fee per employee per year.

Kevin Theriot ADF (Alliance Defense Fund) Senior Counsel said that, “this is effectively a Conscience Tax.”

Alan Sears, President and CEO of ADF states that:

With one fell swoop, the Obama administration has placed itself in the position of final arbiter of what does and doesn’t constitute religious faith and practice. In this way, they have trampled the rights of the conscience of every American, because they have interjected a man-made standard for religiosity that curtails the protections of the First Amendment by government fiat.

As an average American citizen, I wonder how a government mandate clearly contrary to religious freedom could affect me. Kevin Theriot believes that:

If the federal government can force these ministries to act in a way that is completely contrary to their religious beliefs, they can tax all of us when we act according to our religious convictions by doing such things as refusing to participate in abortions, objecting to sexual immorality, or raising our children according to our faith.

Clearly, most Americans would like to see the serious ill and the poor better assisted with heath care costs. But, fixing and changing health care should not come with the removal of religious freedom and the right to conscience. Most religions are concerned with the sanctity of life and the moral consequences that attend life and death. When employers and individuals are mandated to pay for medicine or procedures that are contrary to their beliefs and teachings it is at a loss to religious freedom.

More Information:

Justices Could Strike Other Parts of Health Law

 

 

Huge Victory for Religious Freedom

In Courts, Religious Freedom on January 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm

In a case that has been hailed as one of the most important religious freedom tests in over a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has rendered a unanimous decision that clearly states that churches have the right to determine who their employees will be and ensure that those employees share their beliefs.

The case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, involved a teacher at a Lutheran school who, for health reasons, took a leave of absence.  The school had replaced her and was planning to reinstate her at the beginning of another semester.  The teacher, who had received some type of ecclesiastical appointment or “ordination” prior to this event, attempted to sue the school and then was permanently fired.  The basis of her firing was the fact that she had violated her commitments as a “commissioned minister” by initiating legal action.

The EEOC’s arguments were not viewed kindly by the Supreme Court as they ruled unanimously in favor of the Lutheran Church and School.  There is hope that this case will roll back some of the damage done to Religious Freedom from the U.S. Supreme Court 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith.

Those of you who are attorneys at heart or love to dig deeper into the law, you can find a good analysis of this legal victory here.

Victory for Children and for Educational Choice

In Parental Rights, Schools on April 5, 2011 at 5:00 am

In a victory for parents, children, and for education as a whole, the U.S. Supreme Court has left intact the state of Arizona’s 14-year old individual tax credit provision that allows a $500 contribution to be made to private schools – including religious schools.  In a 5-4 decision, the court found that the plaintiffs lacked legal “standing” to challenge the tax-credit provision.

The tax-credit was designed to help parents pay for education outside the publicly-funded education system.  This allows for parents who are footing the entire bill for their child’s education to be compensated in a small way and makes a major contribution to the understanding that parent’s have a choice in their child’s education.

Opponents of the tax credit insisted that helping in any way to pay for a private education – particularly to a religious school – violates the First Amendment and that they as citizens were being harmed by being forced to, in effect, contribute to religious institutions.

Attorneys defending the system had counter-argued that since the law only allows taxpayers to direct their own tax dollars to religious schools, the plaintiffs lacked the standing to sue because their tax payments were not being used.‪‪   The court ruled that the defendants needed to show specific individual harm.

Alliance Defense Fund attorney, David Cortman said in a statement:  “Parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children. This ruling empowers parents to do just that.”  He continued: “The ACLU failed in its attempt to eliminate school choice for hundreds of thousands of students nationwide and also failed to demonstrate that it had any constitutional basis for its clients to file suit in the first place.”

The ACLU sees it quite differently.  ACLU Legal Director, Steven Shapiro:  “Today’s decision ignores precedent, defies logic and undermines the role of the courts in preserving the core constitution principle that government may not subsidize religion.”

The Arizona Tax credit program is the third-largest school choice program in the country and the nation’s oldest tax credit program.  This is an important victory for school choice programs around the country.  United Families International offers congratulations to all involved.

More information:

Supreme Court Upholds Educational Choice

Supreme Court Rules Arizona Taxpayers Lack Standing To Challenge Tax Credit System Used To Fund Religious-Based Scholarships

School Choice Program Prevails. Kids & Parents Ultimately Win

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