Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ten Commandments Display Upheld by Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

Read the opinion here (pdf).

Ten Commandments Display Upheld by Appeals Court

Display is identical to the one argued before the Supreme Court earlier this year

Handing the ACLU a significant defeat, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held today that a display of the Ten Commandments together with other historical documents in Mercer County, Kentucky, is constitutional. Liberty Counsel represents Mercer County. Liberty Counsel also represented Elkhart County, Indiana, in which the Seventh Circuit earlier this year upheld an identical Ten Commandments display. Liberty Counsel also represented two Kentucky counties, McCreary and
Pulaski, before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year involving the same display.

This case began when the ACLU sued Mercer County for its “Foundations of American Law and Government” display in the county courthouse that contained the Ten Commandments. The display included the Ten Commandments, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Charta, the Star Spangled Banner, the National Motto, the Preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, the Bill of Rights to the U. S. Constitution, and a picture of Lady Justice.

Today the Sixth Circuit adopted the reasoning of the Seventh Circuit in Books v. Elkhart County, a Liberty Counsel case where the Seventh Circuit upheld an identical display to that in Mercer County. The Sixth Circuit stated, “Our concern is that of the reasonable person. And the ACLU, an organization whose mission is ‘to ensure that … the government [is kept] out of the religion business,’ does not embody the reasonable person.” The Court’s opinion also rejected the ACLU’s “repeated reference to ‘the separation of church and state.’ This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.”

Today’s decision begins to turn the tide against the ACLU, which has been on a search and destroy mission to remove all vestiges of our religious history from public view. Whether the ACLU likes it or not, history is crystal clear that each one of the Ten Commandments played an important role in the founding of our system of law and government. Federal courts are beginning to rightfully reject extreme notions of "separation of church and state." It's about time that courts begin interpreting the Constitution consistent with its original purpose. With the changing of personnel at the U.S. Supreme Court, the trend toward a more historical approach to the First Amendment is well underway. This case should be used as a model for other counties wishing to display religious documents and symbols, including the Ten Commandments. It’s absurd to think that displaying the Ten Commandments is unconstitutional. The Ten Commandments is a universally recognized symbol of law. Our laws, and our notions of right and wrong, have been shaped by the Decalogue.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Florida Cities Agree to Allow Nativity Scene Following Lawsuit

After Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit against two Florida cities over a banned private display of a nativity scene on public property, this afternoon both cities agreed to permit the display. A hearing in federal court was scheduled for 10:30 tomorrow on an emergency basis to hear arguments on the suit. That hearing will now be canceled. The nativity will now be displayed from December 12 to December 31, 2005. The lawsuit was filed by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Ken Koenig against Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach, situated near Jacksonville.

At the point where the towns of Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach join each other is a shared Town Center Park ("Park"). Both towns exercise joint control over the Park. In the Park is a forum that contains a 25-foot-tall Christmas tree that was lit on December 3 during a "Tree Lighting and Holiday Celebration." Both towns have approved an application by Cahabad@the Beaches to erect a large Menorah in the park.

When Mr. Koenig requested to display a private nativity scene, measuring a mere 40 inches tall, his request was denied by both towns. The towns have taken the position that a Christmas tree and a Menorah are secular symbols while the nativity scene is religious, and both towns argue that religious symbols are not a permitted display of the holiday season.

Prior to filing suit, Atlantic Beach denied Mr. Koenig's application in writing. Neptune Beach first said that permission from both cities was required. Then legal representatives for both cities were quoted in the media that both cities denied the request. A letter from Neptune Beach's City Attorney was then sent to Mr. Koenig confirming the denial. After the suit was filed December 6, Tuesday, the court set an emergency hearing for tomorrow. Within the past hour both cities have now reversed their positions and will now permit the nativity scene.

To exclude a private nativity scene from an open forum where a Christmas tree and a Menorah are displayed is a clear violation of the First Amendment. Excluding the nativity scene from a forum that includes a Christmas tree and a Menorah constitutes classic viewpoint-based discrimination, which the Constitution forbids. We are pleased that the nativity scene will now be displayed. Celebrating Christmas is constitutional.

Liberty Counsel launched its Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign to first educate that Christmas is constitutional, but to litigate when governments censor Christmas and blatantly violate the Constitution. Liberty Counsel has posted a legal memo at LC.org which sets forth the law regarding Christmas.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Liberty Counsel Files Suit Over Banned Nativity Scene

Today Liberty Counsel filed suit against two Florida cities after both banned a private display of a nativity scene on public property. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ken Koenig against Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach, situated near Jacksonville.

At the point where the towns of Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach join each other is a shared Town Center Park ("Park"). Both towns exercise joint control over the Park. In the Park is a forum that contains a 25-foot-tall Christmas tree that was lit on December 3 during a "Tree Lighting and Holiday Celebration." Both towns have approved an application by Cahabad@the Beaches to erect a large Menorah in the park.

When Mr. Koenig requested to display a private nativity scene, measuring a mere 40 inches tall, his request was denied by both towns. The towns have taken the position that a Christmas tree and a Menorah are secular symbols while the nativity scene is religious, and both towns argue that religious symbols are not a permitted display of the holiday season.

Liberty Counsel's lawsuit was filed in federal court. The suit argues that the exclusion of the privately sponsored nativity scene from an open forum constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment. The suit requests the court to enter a temporary restraining order requiring the towns to permit the private display.

The Supreme Court has ruled that even government-sponsored displays of a nativity scene alongside a Christmas tree, or a Menorah alongside a Christmas tree, are constitutional. The constitutional right to display privately sponsored religious Christmas displays in an open forum is even clearer. Excluding them is unconstitutional.

To exclude a private nativity scene from an open forum where a Christmas tree and a Menorah are displayed is a clear violation of the First Amendment. While the towns justify their discrimination by contending that the Menorah is secular, the Supreme Court has recognized the Menorah as a religious symbol. By banning the nativity scene while permitting the Menorah, the towns have engaged in the worst kind of constitutional violation - preferring one religion over another. Sectarian preference is repugnant to the Constitution.

Liberty Counsel launched its Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign to first educate that Christmas is constitutional, but to litigate when governments censor Christmas and blatantly violate the Constitution. Liberty Counsel has posted a legal memo at LC.org which sets forth the law regarding Christmas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Grinch" Stores and "Grinch" Cities

Some Retailers Refuse to Acknowledge Christmas --
We have received many reports about stores that sell "holiday trees" instead of Christmas trees, use the word "holiday" and "Seasons Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas and some that even ban the Salvation Army from outside.

Some cities are lighting "holiday trees" rather than "Christmas trees" -- although everyone knows that there is no other holiday in December that uses a tree in its celebration.

We want our blog readers to share their stories with us. Write about your experiences with what we are calling "grinch" stores and post them in comments on this blog. In case you didn't know -- the dictionary defines a "grinch" as someone who spoils the fun of others. That's what these stores do. We look forward to hearing from you!

Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign Gains Ground

Read about Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," as featured on the O'Reilly Factor, Fox and Friends, Hannity and Colmes, Fox News, CNN, Good Morning America and many other programs.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hillsborough County School Board Restores Religious Holidays

Liberty Counsel provides legal memo regarding Christmas holidays

Tampa, FL - Last night the Hillsborough County School Board restored several religious holidays to next year's school calendar. By a 5-2 vote, the board adopted a calendar that gives children a day off on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Good Friday and the Monday after Easter. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, has provided a legal memo to the Hillsborough County School Board regarding the constitutionality of celebrating Christmas during the holiday season.

After 24 people spoke last night, the school board voted in favor of Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia's recommendation to restore religious holidays to the calendar and to further study the issue. The issue gained national attention when Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair criticized the school board on the Fox News channel program, The O'Reilly Factor.

Liberty Counsel's memo is part of its "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," which the religious liberty organization launched a few weeks ago. Christian Educators Association International has joined Liberty Counsel in the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign." Its 8,000 members, consisting primarily of public school teachers and administrators, have also received the Christmas memo and are distributing it in their communities. Last week Dr. Jerry Falwell urged tens of thousands of pastors around the country to join Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign" by placing advertisements in their local newspapers. The advertisements and the Christmas memo are available on our Web site at LC.org.

We are pleased that the religious holidays have been restored by the Hillsborough County School Board. The community senses a sigh of relief. Schools may coordinate days off with religious holidays. It is not only constitutional, but it is common sense to do so. Moreover, during the December holiday season, it is constitutional to celebrate Christmas. It sends a wrong message to either eliminate all holiday celebrations or to eliminate only the religious and Christian components of the holiday season. The Founding Fathers never intended the First Amendment to be used as a weapon against the celebration of Christmas.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Parents Will Ask for Rehearing of Ninth Circuit Court's Ruling on Outrageous Sex Questionnaire

Liberty Counsel joins the fight and becomes lead counsel for the parents

At the request of seven California parents, Liberty Counsel has agreed to become lead counsel in a case that shocked the nation last week. In Fields v. Palmdale School District, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that parental rights to direct the upbringing of their children stop at the "threshold of the school door."

The parents in Fields objected to a survey given to their children at Mesquite Elementary School. The survey was administered and developed by Kristi Seymour. Ms. Seymour volunteered at the school as a "mental health counselor" while enrolled in a master's degree program at California School of Professional Psychology. The survey asked children aged seven to ten about the frequency of: "Touching my private parts too much," "Thinking about having sex," "Thinking about touching other people's private parts," Thinking about sex when I don't want to," "Not trusting people because they might want sex," "Getting scared or upset when I think about sex," "Having sex feelings in my body," and "Can't stop thinking about sex."

Writing for the court, Judge Reinhardt, the same judge who ruled against the Pledge of Allegiance, stated that parents do not have a "right to compel public schools to follow their own idiosyncratic views as to what information the schools may dispense." The court stated that parents have no constitutional right "to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so." The court ruled that the only choice parents have is whether to enroll their children in public school. Once in school, the parents have no authority over what their children are taught. The school, according to the court, can teach the children anything, short of committing treason.

The parents feel like their children were mentally raped when they were subjected to embarrassing and inappropriate sexually explicit materials. Americans will be stunned to learn that parental rights
stop at the threshold of the school door. In the court's opinion, it's okay to teach kindergartners to use condoms or to tantalize youngsters with pornographic materials. Anything, at anytime, for any grade is fine. The court said that the only constitutional restriction is that the school may not commit treason! Such a ruling is unthinkable.

Liberty Counsel will ask the full panel of the Ninth Circuit to set aside the ruling. Liberty Counsel is also prepared to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case. According to The Weekly Standard, Judge Reinhardt is the most reversed judge in history by the Supreme Court.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Christian Ministry Asks Court to Hold Florida Property Appraiser in Contempt for Refusing to Abide by Court Order

--The Property Appraiser Ignores a Court Order Finding the Holy Land Experience Tax Exempt

Today, Liberty Counsel filed a Motion asking a Florida Circuit Court to hold Orange County Property Appraiser Bill Donegan in contempt for refusing to recognize a property tax exemption for The Holy Land Experience Ministries despite a court order holding the property to be tax exempt. Liberty Counsel represents The Holy Land Experience Ministries in a lawsuit brought in 2001 challenging the denial of a property tax exemption.

The Holy Land Experience, located off I-4 in Orlando, is a living Biblical museum that conveys its religious message through teaching, preaching, dramatic enactments, special music and performances, and multimedia presentations. The Biblical museum contains a walk-through replica of the Holy Land, including a towering Temple. The Scriptorium houses the largest private collection of ancient Biblical manuscripts.

On July 5, 2005, after almost 4 years of litigation, the Orange County Circuit Court issued an order stating, "The property on which The Holy Land Experience sits is exempt from ad valorem taxation due to being used predominately for religious purposes and not for a profitmaking purpose." A few weeks before the court's order, Mr. Donegan issued a letter denying property tax exemption for 2005. Following the order, Liberty Counsel requested that Mr. Donegan abide by the court's order and rescind the 2005 denial. Mr. Donegan has refused on more than one occasion, and has failed to recognize The Holy Land Experience as tax exempt.
The Motion for Contempt requests that the Court hold Mr. Donegan in contempt of court for blatantly refusing to abide by the Court's order declaring the property to be tax exempt. The Motion requests that the Court impose sanctions on Mr. Donegan until he comes into compliance with the Court's Order and recognizes The Holy Land Experience as exempt from property taxes.

Mr. Donegan has blatantly refused to follow the law. The property appraiser's office continues to trample on the rights of The Holy Land Experience and has thumbed its nose at the authority of the court. If Judge Roy Moore can be removed from office for refusing to obey a court order, then Mr. Donegan is not exempt from the law. The rule of law means something, and no official, high or petty, is above the rule of law. When a property appraiser refuses to abide by a court order it should cause concern for every property owner.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Dr. Jerry Falwell Urges Thousands of Churches to Join Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign"

FL - Dr. Jerry Falwell announced today that he is urging thousands of pastors and churches to join Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign." For the past 50 years, Dr. Falwell has been the pastor of the 24,000 member Thomas Road Baptist Church. He is also Chancellor of Liberty University, the largest evangelical university in the world.

In his weekly "Falwell Confidential" sent to a half million subscribers, including tens of thousands of pastors, Dr. Falwell stated: "I am calling upon thousands of pastors and churches to join Liberty Counsel's 'Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign.' We must draw a line in the sand and resist bullying tactics of the ACLU and others who intimidate school and government officials by spreading misinformation about Christmas. Celebrating Christmas is constitutional."

Thomas Road Baptist Church is sponsoring local newspaper ads promoting the Christmas Campaign. The ads, which are available in different sizes, point out that celebrating Christmas is still legal in schools, on public property and in private businesses. The ads also offer free legal assistance by Liberty Counsel to individuals facing persecution for celebrating Christmas. Liberty Counsel provides a free educational legal memo, with a pledge to be the "Friend" to those entities which do not discriminate against Christmas and a "Foe" to those that do.

The idea for church participation in the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign" began last year when the largest church in Alaska, Anchorage Baptist Temple, pastored by Dr. Jerry Prevo, launched the
Campaign in Alaska by running newspaper ads. Commenting on the Campaign, Dr. Prevo stated: "The ads were a greater success than I had ever imagined. We received an outpouring of community support, and best of all, the preemptive measures resulted in not one incident of religious discrimination. I would encourage every pastor and church to participate."

We are thrilled to see so many pastors and churches promoting the Christmas Campaign. For too many years we have remained silent while the ACLU and others like them have played the role of the Grinch. We will no longer remain silent. We have no intention of letting misinformation chase our religious liberty or our religious heritage from the public marketplace. It's time to set the record straight - Christmas is constitutional.

Earlier this year Liberty Counsel announced that thousands of public school teachers and administrators, who are members of Christian Educators Association International, are also joining the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign."

The sample full-page newspaper ad and a smaller version are posted on our web site in PDF format.

Click here to download free software to open PDF documents.

Friday, October 28, 2005

New York Appeals Court Rules That New Paltz Mayor May Not Solemnize Same-Sex Marriage

Albany, NY – Yesterday the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, ruled that New Paltz Mayor Jason West had no authority to solemnize same-sex marriages. The lawsuit against Mayor West and the Village of New Paltz was brought by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Robert Hebel, a New Paltz Village Trustee. Rena Lindevaldsen, Senior Litigation Counsel of Liberty Counsel, presented the oral argument before the three-judge panel on September 12, 2005.

Last year New Paltz Mayor Jason West prepared his own form and sought to solemnize same-sex unions. Liberty Counsel filed suit, and Judge E. Michael Kavanagh issued an injunction stopping the mayor, noting that marriage in New York is between one man and one woman. Mayor West then appointed Rebecca Rotzler and Julia Walsh – two other Village Trustees – to solemnize same-sex “marriages.” Liberty Counsel filed suit again and obtained another order blocking any Village official from violating the law. The Mayor and the Village appealed the order.

The appeals court sided with Liberty Counsel and ruled that the Mayor and the Village of New Paltz had no authority to violate state law, which authorizes only marriage between one man and one woman. In the opinion, the appeals court stated that the Mayor’s “actions implicated a core constitutional tenet; that is, the separation of power. Here, West robed himself with judicial powers and declared the marriage laws of this State unconstitutional. Having concluded that the Legislature violated the constitution, he then wrapped himself with that body’s power and drafted his own set of documents for licensing marriages. In so doing, he clearly exceeded his role as a village mayor.”

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated: “Renegade mayors and rogue public officials do not have the authority to violate clearly established marriage laws. Preserving marriage is the social battle for this generation. Our social stability hangs on the strength of families. To the extent we weaken marriage and family, we destabilize our communities and damage our children. Law breaking mayors have no right to undermine marriage. The people must decide this issue once and for all by passing state and federal constitutional amendments to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

In the past 18 months, Liberty Counsel has defended almost 40 marriage cases throughout the country. Liberty Counsel is a national litigation, education and policy support organization defending religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Federal Appeals Court Rules That Kindergarten Student's Case May Proceed To Trial

Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit handed a victory to Antonio Peck and his parents by ruling that his case, involving the censorship of an art poster containing a picture of Jesus, may proceed to trial. Antonio is represented by Liberty Counsel.

The case began in 1999, when Antonio attended kindergarten in Syracuse, New York, at the Baldwinsville Elementary School. His teacher instructed the class to draw a poster regarding their understanding of the environment. Antonio's first poster contained several religious figures and the following statement: "The only way to save the world." Antonio was expressing his belief that God was the only way to save the environment. This poster was rejected. Antonio's second poster contained various cutout figures and other artistic work. Some of the figures on the right side included children holding hands circling the globe, people recycling trash into a recycle bin, and children picking up garbage. On the left side of the poster was a bearded man wearing a robe kneeling with one knee to the ground and two hands stretched toward the sky. To Antonio, this figure was Jesus, although the figure was not identified. This poster was displayed for half a day on the cafeteria wall along with 80 other student posters, but unlike the other kindergarten posters, school officials folded Antonio's poster in half so that the figure of Jesus could not be seen. When school officials refused to remedy the matter or adopt a policy to prevent future censorship, Liberty Counsel filed suit over the second poster.

In 2000, the federal trial court ruled that the school had the right to censor the poster because of "church and state" concerns. On March 28, 2001, a unanimous federal court of appeals reversed the decision and sent the case back to the trial court. Last year the same federal trial court again ruled for the school. Yesterday a unanimous court of appeals again ruled in favor of Antonio and reversed the decision. Based on the testimony in the record, the court of appeals ruled that a trial was necessary to determine whether the poster was censored because of its religious viewpoint. The court of appeals pointed to deposition testimony of school officials, which stated that the poster was censored because of the religious image of Jesus. The officials also testified that they would not censor other secular images, even if they were not responsive to the assignment.

In Peck v. Baldwinsville School District, the federal court of appeals for the Second Circuit joined the Ninth and the Eleventh Circuits in holding that viewpoint discrimination is forbidden, even in the public school classroom context. The First and Tenth circuits hold that viewpoint discrimination in the public school context is permissible. This case will now proceed to trial. Based on the circuit splits, this case has the potential to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

We are elated with the decision. Now Antonio will have his day in court. The school humiliated Antonio when the teacher folded his poster in half so that the cutout drawing of Jesus could not be seen. To allow a kindergarten poster to be displayed for a few hours on a cafeteria wall, along with 80 other student posters, is far from an establishment of religion. To censor the poster solely because some might perceive a portion of it to be religious is an egregious violation of the Constitution.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

NY Appeals court: Same-sex partner can't sue for malpractice

There is an AP article reprinted on Newsday.com entitled "Appeals court: Same-sex partner can't sue for malpractice".
This could have ramifications for other cases in that state where same-sex partners want the benefits traditionally reserved for marriage.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Conservative Legal and Educator Groups Launch Joint Christmas Project

Today, Liberty Counsel and Christian Educators Association International ("CEAI") kicked off their joint Christmas project in Washington, D.C. Liberty Counsel is a national, religious liberty public interest law firm with offices in Florida and Virginia and hundreds of affiliate attorneys in all fifty states. CEAI has 8,000 members comprised of public school teachers and administrators. CEAI is a conservative alternative to the National Education Association.

For the past three years, Liberty Counsel has conducted its "Friend or Foe" Christmas campaign. This campaign provides education about celebrating Christmas in public schools and on public property. Liberty Counsel offers pro bono legal advice and defense to government entities that do not censor Christmas, but Liberty Counsel will file suit whenever Christmas is censored.

CEAI's 8,000 public school teachers and administrators are now joining forces with Liberty Counsel in a national Christmas campaign. CEAI educators will distribute Liberty Counsel's legal memo (in PDF**) about Christmas to their local school districts and government officials. They will also advise Liberty Counsel of any violations of the law so that Liberty Counsel can take whatever legal action is necessary.

Public school students have the right to distribute religious Christmas cards to their classmates, wear clothing or jewelry with religious themes or messages, and sing Christmas carols during choral or talent performances. Teachers have the right to display nativity scenes alongside secular holiday displays and may include Christmas in a discussion about the holidays. In the past few years, students have been suspended for distributing candy canes with an attached card describing the Christian celebration of Christmas. Students have been told they may not say "Merry Christmas," may not sing Christian Christmas carols, or may not wear red and green. These and other forms of discrimination against religious viewpoints will be challenged in court.

Outside the school setting, local, state and federal governments may display nativity scenes or religious greetings alongside secular holiday displays or greetings. Public employees may wear jewelry or clothing with religious themes if other employees are permitted to don secular themes.

Finn Laursen, Executive Director of CEAI, commented: "Christmas is not constitutionally taboo in public schools or in public places. Our teachers and administrators will be the 'eyes and ears' in their communities to ensure that the 'reason for the season' remains part of the holiday celebration."

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated: "With a cavalry of thousands of public school teachers and administrators joining forces with hundreds of religious liberty attorneys, we intend to stop the Grinch from stealing Christmas. We will be the friend of government officials who do the right thing, and the foe of those who don't."

**To open PDF documents get a free Adobe PDF Reader

You can also download the Memo in MS Word

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Netherlands Recognizes Union Between One Man + TWO Women

The Netherlands has legalized polygamy in all but name, granting a civil union to a man and two women. The trio, consisting of a heterosexual man and bisexual women, consider themselves married.

The United States is heading down the same slippery slope -- just a few years behind since Vermont has civil unions and Massachusetts has marriage for same-sex couples. According to the ACLU, polygamy is a "fundamental right." People who agree with the ACLU and support the radical homosexual agenda will not rest until marriage has become completely devalued. Children will suffer most from this debauchery.

We wonder what will be the next step for the Netherlands -- One Man + Two Women + One Horse?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Abortion Proponent Dismisses Challenge to Arkansas's "Choose Life" License Plate

Abortion proponent Tamara Brackett dismissed her federal lawsuit in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which sought to strike down the Choose Life Statute along with the entire system of authorizing specialty and vanity license plates.
Last year, Judge Harry Barnes granted Liberty Counsel's request to intervene on behalf of several pro-life groups to defend the Arkansas "Choose Life" license plate. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, and Rena Lindevaldsen, Senior Litigation Counsel, represent Hannah Medical Center, Life Choices, Inc. (crisis pregnancy centers), Rose Mimms and Debora Griffin (who purchased the plate).
In order to prevent the "Choose Life" specialty plate, Tamara Brackett sought to eliminate every specialty plate. Sponsors of other specialty plates include the Disabled American Veterans; Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients; Purple Heart Medal Recipients; Ex-Prisoners of War; Military Reserve Members; U.S. Armed Forces Retirees; Pearl Harbor Survivors; Active and Retired Firefighters; Universities and Colleges; World War II, Korean War, Vietnam and Persian Gulf Veterans; Armed Forces Veterans; Retired Arkansas State Troopers; Distinguished Flying Cross Recipients; Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Education, Research and Awareness; and Organ Donor Awareness, to name just a few.
The dismissal of the Arkansas suit comes on the heels of the ruling by a federal court in Ohio which threw out a similar challenge to Ohio's "Choose Life" specialty plate. In the Ohio ruling, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Inc. v. Taft, federal Judge Donald Nugent ruled that the Tax Injunction Act prohibits federal courts from enjoining an assessment, levy or collection of any tax under state law when state courts offer a "plain, speedy and efficient remedy." Liberty Counsel was also involved in the Ohio case and filed a motion to dismiss the suit. Arkansas federal Judge Harry Barnes has now approved the dismissal against the Arkansas Choose Life Statute in the case of Brackett v. Weiss.
We are pleased that the lawsuit against Arkansas's "Choose Life"specialty plate has been dismissed. The animosity of abortion advocates against the 'Choose Life' message is incredible. To silence the "Choose Life" plate, they have no shame in trying to eliminate the specialty plates of war veterans, firefighters, police officers, universities or breast cancer research programs.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments Today Regarding Oregon's Assisted Suicide Law

"We are all terminally ill. Life is an illness spread by sexual contact. You die at the end 100%"
- Ludwig Minelli, founder of Dignitas, a Swiss organization the promotes assisted suicide

Today in the case of Gonzalez v. State of Oregon, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments regarding Oregon's assisted suicide law. This important case will give an early glimpse into Chief Justice John Roberts' judicial philosophy. Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief with the High Court in support of the U.S. Attorney General.

Oregon's Death with Dignity Act allows for a physician-assisted suicide. The U.S. Attorney General interpreted the federal Controlled Substances Act to prohibit physicians from prescribing controlled substances for assisted suicide. Liberty Counsel's brief argues that the Attorney General properly exercised his role as protector of the inalienable right to life. This right to life is manifested in the Declaration of Independence which states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, . . ."

The brief reviews many state court decisions prohibiting assisted suicide. The brief also notes that the American Medical Association "continues to stand by its ethical principle that physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer." Like the FCC, which has jurisdiction of the airwaves, and the FAA, which has jurisdiction of the airspace, the FDA has jurisdiction over the regulation of controlled substances. The FDA can release new drugs, restrict them or pull them from the market. The purpose of this regulatory power is to ensure that controlled substances are safely used to heal or control pain. The U.S. Attorney General's decision to prohibit controlled substances from being used to kill people is a permissible exercise of his power.

When a physician participates in a person's suicide by administering controlled substances, the line between healer and executioner is blurred, and the sanctity of life is lost. America should not become like Belgium or the Netherlands, where patients wonder whether a physician with a syringe brings life or death. The state of Oregon does not have a constitutional right to require the federal government to participate, directly or indirectly, through the use of controlled substances, in the termination of an innocent person's life. Had the U.S. Attorney General stood idly by and allowed Oregon physicians to use federally controlled substances to kill the elderly, such inaction would have placed the nation's seal of approval on euthanasia.

Technical definitions aside, the difference between so-called "assisted suicide" where the physician hooks up a device and the patient need only flip a switch or the physician mixes a poisonous concoction which the patient need only drink, and "euthanasia", where the physician administers a drug without the patient's participation, is illusory. There is no difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia in reality -- the patient still dies.

According to an encyclopedia website, the Netherlands and Belgium have legalized euthanasia, while Switzerland has legalized assisted suicide. Another website -- of the Christian Medical Fellowship, states that physician assisted suicide is legal in Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Oregon and Switzerland. In practice, many doctors practice euthanasia on infants with disabilities. The National Review published a chilling article on the practice.

May God have mercy on us all if this nation sanctions any such barbaric practices.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Federal Court of Appeals Hears Arguments of a Woman Who Was Booted From a Bus Because She Handed Out the Bible

On October 28, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on behalf of Gail Anderson who filed suit against the Milwaukee County Department of Public Works and Transportation Division (“Transit Authority”) after she was escorted off a public transportation bus for distributing the Bible. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, presented the oral argument before the three judge panel.

At the time of the incident Ms. Anderson was 56-years-old. Having no driver’s license, she relies on public transportation. The Transit Authority’s policy, Tariff 116, bans leafleting. Transit Authority officials have applied the Tariff in conflicting and confusing ways. Some interpret the Tariff to prohibit the exchange of business cards or any printed material. Others have made exceptions for two passengers exchanging newspapers.

In the summer of 2002, while Ms. Anderson was seated on the bus, she offered The Book of Hope to a few passengers who were next to her. The Book of Hope contains the Bible. After the bus driver saw her, he ordered her to stop and stated that distributing any literature violated the Transit Authority’s policy. Tariff 116 requires that anyone distributing literature be removed from the bus. In the heat of the afternoon, Ms. Anderson was forced to walk home.

The argument before the federal court of appeals focused on the policy being vague, overbroad, and unreasonable. The conflicting and confusing applications of the policy do not provide sufficient clarity to passengers. Moreover, a total ban on leafleting to nearby passengers who are willing to receive literature violates the First Amendment.

It makes no sense to allow verbal conversations between passengers, as the transit authority must, but prohibit the same discussion when oral conversation is transformed to print and freely offered in the form of a leaflet. The Milwaukee Transit Authority policy allows passengers to wear political buttons but would boot them from the bus if they exchanged them. Conventioneers could discuss what meetings they attended but if they offered to another printed handouts they forfeit their right to ride the bus. Such a policy defies common sense and the Constitution.

Audio of the oral argument is available online at:


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hate Crimes Laws Threaten Freedom

Robert H. Knight, Director of the Culture and Family Institute, wrote an excellent explanation of why so-called "Hate Crime" laws must be opposed. The article begins:

"Hate crime" laws pose a danger to civil liberties in three ways:

  • They pave the way for suppression of the freedoms of speech, association and religion.
  • They violate the concept of equal protection under the law.
  • They introduce the un-American concept of "thought crime," in which someone's actions are "more" illegal based on their thoughts or beliefs.

A grandmother walking down the street should have at least as much protection under the law as someone who is leaving a "gay" bar. But under "hate crimes" laws that include "sexual orientation," the same assault would be punished with greater penalties if the victim were perceived as homosexual.

Per capita, the most vulnerable class of crime victims is young, black men who are assaulted and murdered by other young, black men.1 But "hate crimes" laws divide people into racial and other categories. The drive for "hate crime" laws diverts attention from the unfolding tragedy in our nation's cities.

There is no evidence that victims of "hate crimes" are receiving any less protection than victims of other crimes. To suggest otherwise insults the men and women of the nation's law enforcement community.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Florida Marriage Protection Amendment Goes To The Florida Supreme Court

Today, Florida4Marriage.org, the sponsor of the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, filed a 45-page brief with the Florida Supreme Court in preparation for the voter initiative to be placed on the 2006 ballot. Florida4Marriage.org is represented by Liberty Counsel President and General Counsel, Mathew D. Staver, and Mary McAlister, Litigation Counsel.

The Amendment states: “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

Prior to being placed on the ballot, amendments to the state constitution must be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court to ensure that they address a single subject and that the title and summary are clear and unambiguous. The Court cannot address the substance of the language. The ACLU, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality Florida and the AFL-CIO have joined together in a brief voicing opposition to the Amendment by seeking to inject unfounded fear designed to mislead the public. They erroneously argue that the Amendment will strip unmarried same-sex couples of all legal protections. These allegations are not true. Similar scare tactic arguments have been rejected by courts in Louisiana, Kentucky and Massachusetts.

The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment will enshrine in the state constitution what has been true since Florida was a territory – marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage advocates know that when the people have the opportunity to vote they overwhelmingly uphold marriage between one man and one woman. Their only hope is to misrepresent the facts and derail the Amendment. Pure and simple, the ACLU and its allies want to take away our right to vote. But that will not happen. We will vote and we will protect marriage between one man and one woman because it is best for the family and for Florida’s children.

Petitions for the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment can be downloaded at www.Florida4Marriage.org. This Sunday, September 25, Florida churches of all denominations will be participating in Marriage Protection Sunday. Tables will be available for people to sign the Marriage Petition.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Liberty Counsel Settles Dispute With Colorado Library That Rejected Its Application To Use Community Room

After filing a federal lawsuit in Denver, Colorado, Liberty Counsel has now settled its dispute with the Rampart Library District Board of Trustees after its application to use the Woodland Park Library Community Room was denied.

The original Library policy stated that the Community Room is “available to nonprofit civic, cultural and educational organizations for events open to the public.” Additionally, the policy stated the following: “Meetings open to the public that are religious or political in nature must provide a balanced view and [meet] with the Board of Trustees’ approval.” Liberty Counsel applied to use the Community Room for specific dates at the end of May and on June 6, 2005. The application stated that the meeting would present a biblical perspective on marriage and homosexuality. The meeting would include prayer and Scripture reading. David Mula, the director, rejected the application, stating that Liberty Counsel would have to invite someone to present an opposing viewpoint on marriage.

Liberty Counsel filed suit. The library has now repealed the prior policy and adopted a new one that no longer discriminates based on the viewpoint of the speaker or message. The Library also agreed to pay attorney fees and court costs. The settlement has now been submitted to the federal district court in Denver for approval.

We are pleased that the library responded to the suit by repealing its unconstitutional policy. One library official was quoted in a newspaper as saying that she expected to start a dialogue by rejecting Liberty Counsel’s application, not start a lawsuit. But when government officials enforce policies that censor religious viewpoints, they ought to expect consequences. For over two years, the American Library Association has recommended that discriminatory facility usage polices be repealed. It’s time local libraries heeded the warning.

Interestingly, the ALA's "Library Bill of Rights" states: "Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

San Francisco Federal Court Strikes Down Pledge of Allegiance

Today a San Francisco District Court declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. The plaintiff in the case is Michael Newdow, the same man whose case was thrown out when the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that he had no standing to bring suit on behalf of his daughter, because he did not have parental authority to do so following his divorce.

In today’s ruling the District Court ruled that it was bound to follow the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the Pledge in 2003. That decision was set aside by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004. Mr. Newdow then filed the current suit.

Earlier this year, on August 10, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a Virginia case that the Pledge was constitutional. The San Francisco ruling will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and if the Pledge is there ruled unconstitutional, the Supreme Court will likely take the case and this time address the merits.

In the current judicial climate, today’s ruling is not surprising but it is dismaying. This history of the Pledge of Allegiance illustrates that the phrase “under God” is a permissible acknowledgement rather than an establishment of religion. If the Pledge established or tended to establish a religion, then that would have happened during the past 50 years of its existence. Day after day we have recited the Pledge from the classroom to the stateroom, from private meetings to public events, and not once has it tended to establish a religion. Today’s ruling illustrates why we need judges who are umpires applying settled law rather than activists intent on imposing their own ideology.

Liberty Counsel filed a brief in the Newdow case when it was before the United States Supreme Court in support of the Pledge of Allegiance. Liberty Counsel will now file a brief in this most recent Newdow case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and before the Supreme Court if the case ends up there.

Conflicting Rulings on Vermont Same-Sex Union Case Argued Today At The Virginia Court of Appeals

--The cases pit two states against each other and implicate the Federal DOMA

Today at 10:00 a.m. in Richmond, Virginia, the Virginia Court of Appeals will hear oral argument on a case that pits Vermont’s same-sex civil union law against the laws of Virginia, which preserve marriage as one man and one woman. The Vermont Supreme Court heard arguments on the same case last week. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, and Rena Lindevaldsen, Senior Litigation Counsel, represent Lisa Miller in both cases.

The cases involve Lisa Miller, her biological child, and Janet Jenkins. Lisa and Janet traveled to Vermont to obtain a civil union while living in Virginia. Lisa gave birth to a child through artificial insemination. Janet never adopted the child. The relationship ended when Lisa became a Christian and Janet became abusive. Lisa is no longer a lesbian. She resides with her daughter in Virginia. A Vermont court awarded Janet “parent-child” contact and visitation. A Virginia court declared Lisa to be the sole parent and ruled that the Virginia Marriage Affirmation Act barred any recognition of civil unions. In addition to state law, the cases involve the application of the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (which requires courts to recognize out-of-state custody and visitation orders) and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (which allows states to reject out-of-state, same-sex unions).

The Miller v. Jenkins case is unique because it represents the first time that the courts of two states have issued conflicting decisions over the same same-sex union case. It is also the first case to involve dueling federal laws. If the rulings of both courts continue to conflict after the courts issue their decisions later this year, then this case will proceed to the United States Supreme Court.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has the right to define its own marriage policy. In Virginia, marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Traditional marriage is the bedrock of society. The state of Virginia has a right to guard its borders to uphold the family and marriage. The people also have a right to amend their state and federal constitutions to protect the family and marriage.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Babies May Cry While in the Womb

An article by Jennifer Warner posted on Fox News today says:

A baby’s first cry may happen in the womb long before its arrival in the delivery room. New research shows that fetuses may learn to express their displeasure by crying silently while still in the womb as early as in the 28th week of pregnancy.

New York Appellate Division To Hear Second Same-Sex Marriage Case Today

New York, NY – Today the New York Appellate Division, First Department, located in Manhattan, will hear oral arguments on the same-sex marriage case known as Hernandez v. Robles. The appellate court converted Liberty Counsel’s request to intervene into amicus status and accepted the brief. The intervention was filed on behalf of the New York Family Policy Council, state Senators Ruben Diaz Sr. and Raymond Meier, state Assemblyman Daniel Hooker, business owner Michael Long, and City Action Coalition, a large coalition of pastors representing numerous religious denominations.

On February 2, 2005, Judge Doris Ling-Cohan issued a decision in the Hernandez case declaring New York’s marriage laws unconstitutional. Judge Cohan’s decision came on the heels of three separate New York state court decisions which upheld the state’s marriage laws. Liberty Counsel filed briefs in each case that upheld the marriage laws. Following the lower court’s ruling in Hernandez, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made public statements that he favored same-sex marriage. Mayor Bloomberg also directed his Chief Legal Counsel to write a letter to the Empire State Pride Agenda in which he reaffirmed his support for granting marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Every court in New York but one has followed common sense and the clear law that declares marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The New York situation, where one judge can tip the scales of history, underscores the point that marriage is a matter for the people to decide. Moms and dads, husbands and wives, are best for children.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Liberty Counsel Argues Same-Sex Marriage Case Today Before New York Appeals Court

Albany, NY - Today the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, will hear oral arguments regarding same-sex marriage. The case began last year when New Paltz Mayor Jason West sought to solemnize same-sex marriages. Representing Robert Hebel, a New Paltz Village Trustee, Liberty Counsel filed suit and obtained a court order stopping the mayor.

Following the example of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, New Paltz Mayor Jason West prepared his own form and sought to solemnize same-sex unions. Liberty Counsel filed suit, and Judge E. Michael Kavanagh issued an injunction stopping the mayor, noting that marriage in New York is between one man and one woman. Mayor West then appointed Rebecca Rotzler and Julia Walsh - two other Village Trustees - to solemnize same-sex "marriages." Liberty Counsel filed suit again and obtained another order blocking any Village official from violating the law. Liberty Counsel also requested that the court declare the illegal ceremonies void. Mayor West appealed the ruling, and this case is being heard today before the Appellate Division at 1:00 pm ET. Liberty Counsel Senior Litigation Counsel, Rena Lindevaldsen, will be presenting the oral argument.

Preserving marriage is the social battle for this generation. Our social stability hangs on the strength of families. To the extent we weaken marriage and family, we destabilize our communities and damage our children. Law breaking mayors have no right to undermine marriage. The people must decide this issue once and for all by passing state and federal constitutional amendments to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

In the past 18 months, Liberty Counsel has defended almost 40 marriage cases throughout the country. Liberty Counsel is a national litigation, education and policy support organization defending religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

California Governor Vetoes Same-Sex "Marriage" Bill

A day after California's Legislature became the first in the nation to pass a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced through an aide Wednesday that he would veto the measure "out of respect for the will of the people." In a careful statement, Schwarzenegger press secretary Margita Thompson invoked the voter approval in March 2000 of Proposition 22, which said: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Displaying the American Flag Comes Under Fire

Orlando, FL – Nancy Maddox, the owner of Peacock Home Collection, located in Orlando Florida, has been cited by City of Orlando Code Enforcement Bureau for displaying the American flag in the windows of her business. Ms. Maddox has now obtained the representation of Liberty Counsel, a national litigation, education and policy organization.

Nancy Maddox is the daughter of a United States Veteran of three Foreign Wars and the wife of a federal agent who has served our country for 25 years. Nancy founded her business upon the proud principles of the American dream. She believes that those who fight to defend the United States have afforded her the privilege to live safely each day. To honor our military heroes, Ms. Maddox displayed a small American flag, no bigger than 34 ½ inches by 23 inches, in each of the 15 windows at the home furnishings company. The flags are temporarily being displayed in observation of the following holidays: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, V-J Day (the surrender of Japan), Labor Day, and Patriots Day (9-11). City officials cited Ms. Maddox and have now ordered her to remove the flags. A violation hearing is scheduled for September 14, 2005.

Erik Stanley, Chief Counsel of Liberty Counsel, has sent a letter to the City demanding that the citation be rescinded. The demand letter points out the procedural defects in the citation and also warns that the sign ordinance is unconstitutional. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated: “I am astounded that the City of Orlando would reprimand anyone for displaying the American flag. We should encourage patriotism, not punish it.”

If the City proceeds with enforcement action, Liberty Counsel will file suit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the sign ordinance.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Plaintiff in 1962 landmark school-prayer case reflects on his role

The United States Supreme Court in the 1962 case of Engel v. Vitale found unconstitutional the reciting of a prayer every morning in the public schools of the State of New York. The sole surviving Plaintiff of that case is Steven Engel, now 82 years old. The First Amendment Center has an article here where Mr. Engel recollects his role in the case and gives a view as to his role on some contemporary issues as well. Engel is opposed to moment of silence laws, vouchers and teaching intelligent design (he calls it a contradiction in terms). The article provides an interesting perspective from a plaintiff of one of the landmark Supreme Court cases removing prayer from the public schools.

Ohio Library Sued For Requiring Opposing Viewpoints On "Controversial" Speech In Its Community Room

Liberty Counsel filed suit today in Youngstown, Ohio, against the Newton Falls Library Board of Trustees after the group's application to use the Newton Falls Public Library Meeting Room was denied when library officials deemed the subject of traditional marriage to be "controversial." The suit argues that the Library Policy violates the First Amendment.

The Library Policy states that the Community Room is available to "nonprofit organizations" for "programs of a civic, cultural or educational nature." However, the Policy also states the following: "If a program deals with a controversial subject, then all sides of the issue must be presented." Liberty Counsel applied to use the Community Room for specific dates at the end of May and on June 6 or 13, 2005. The application stated that the meeting would present a biblical perspective on traditional marriage. The meeting would include prayer and scripture reading. Kerry McCrone, the library director, denied the application on May 23. With the denial, the library director sent back a copy of the Policy with language highlighted stating that if a program deals with a controversial subject, all sides of the issue must be presented. In other words, the Policy requires that any time a "controversial subject" is discussed, the opposing viewpoint must also be presented.

Library officials ought to know that a policy which purports to ban "controversial" speech is unconstitutional. Under the library policy, any member of the public may use the Community Room to conduct a meeting on any topic so long as it is not controversial, in which case the library requires the speaker to present the opposing view. This library policy would require meetings designed to show support for our troops to include anti-war protesters, like Cindy Sheehan. The government can not compel its citizens to violate their conscience in order to express their viewpoint.

Monday, August 29, 2005

AMA Journal Editor Criticized For Biased Fetal Pain Study

Following criticism, AMA Journal editor, Dr. Catherine DeAngelis , claims she was unaware that "unaware" that the lead author of the study is a former attorney for the abortion advocacy group NARAL. LifeNews.com has the entire story.

Same-Sex Marriage - Have the Best Interests of Children Been Considered?

Citizen Impact Canada, a group described as "dedicated to equipping Canadians for the effective expression of faith-based principles in the public square," has posted a very enlightening testimony on its Web site from a woman who grew up in a homosexual household. The testimony includes links to various sources and research to support the thesis that endorsement of same-sex marraige puts children in jeopardy. Here are some quotes from the article:

"My name is Dawn Stefanowicz, I grew up in a homosexual household during the 60's and 70's in Toronto exposed to many different people, the GLBT subcultures, and explicit sexual practices. I am currently writing a book, soon to be published, on this experience. As well, I was a witness at the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Bill C-250 (hate crimes), and I have presented at the local school board.

My biggest concern is that children are not being discussed in this same-sex marriage debate. Yet, won't the next step for some gay activists be to ask for legal adoption of children if same-sex marriage is legalized? I have considered some of the potential physical and psychological health risks for children raised in this situation. I was at high risk of exposure to contagious STD's due to sexual molestation, my father's high-risk sexual behaviours, and multiple partners. Even when my father was in what looked like monogamous relationships, he continued cruising for anonymous sex."

Click here for the entire article.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Faith-Based Abstinence Group Defunded

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will withdraw funding from "The Silver Ring Thing", a group that promotes abstinence education, stating that the program "includes both secular and religious components that are not adequately safeguarded." There are many news articles on this situation, including one from Agape Press. The Bush Administration's position is in direct conflict with the policy of promoting the involvement of faith-based organization in social services.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Colorado Library Changes Policy After Federal Lawsuit

A public library in Colorado recently changed their policy after Liberty Counsel's federal lawsuit. The library policy would not allow a group to use the library's meeting room unless the group also brought in an opposing viewpoint for any "controversial" topic. The government certainly does not have the right to require you to espouse a viewpoint with which you disagree. That is one of the fundamental principles of the First Amendment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mathew Staver on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews Tonight

Liberty Counsel President and General Counsel, Mat Staver is scheduled as a guest on Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC tonight. The topic is yesterday's bizarre ruling by the California Supreme Court stating that children can have two mothers. On the opposing side will be Joe Solomon of the Human Rights Campaign.

The show airs at 7:00 tonight and 3:00 a.m. tomorrow (ET). Transcripts of the show should be posted on MSNBC's web site within 24 hours.

To view our press release on the California Supreme Court ruling, go to http://lc.org/pressrelease/2005/nr082205.htm

Monday, August 22, 2005

California Supreme Court Rules That Children Can Have Two Lesbian Moms

Today the California Supreme Court ruled that children can have two moms. Liberty Counsel filed amicus briefs in all three of today’s cases on behalf of Kristina Sica. Liberty Counsel urged the court to protect the right of a biological mother to direct the upbringing of her children without interference from a nonparent, former same-sex partner.

In K.M. v. E.G., EG, with ova donated by KM, and inseminated by a sperm donor, gave birth to twins on December 7, 1995. KM signed the standard Consent Form for Ovum Donor, which states that she waives any claim to the children born from the donated eggs. At EG’s insistence, KM did not disclose to anyone that she was the donor. Nor did EG agree to permit KM adopt the child at birth. After the couple separated in March 2001, KM filed a petition to establish a parental relationship with the twin five-year old girls. The Supreme Court, in a 4-2 decision, found KM to be a parent. “A woman who supplies ova to be used to impregnate her lesbian partner, with the understanding that the resulting child will be raised in their joint home, cannot waive her responsibility to support that child. Nor can such a purported waiver effectively cause that woman to relinquish her parental rights.” Two of the justices filed dissenting opinions, criticizing the majority for creating new law that contradicted the plain language of the statute.

In Elisa B. v. Emily B., the Supreme Court adopted an “intent test” for determining parentage, concluding that a woman who agreed to raise children with her lesbian partner, supported her partner’s insemination, and received the resulting twin children into her home and held them out as her own, is considered a parent under the Uniform Parentage Act. As a result, Elisa B, as the non-biological partner, could not disclaim responsibility to financially support the children. The Court explained that there is no “reason why both parents of a child cannot be women.”

In Kristine H. v. Lisa R., the biological mother, while seven months pregnant, and the lesbian partner had obtained from the Superior Court a judgment declaring both of them parents of the unborn child. Two years after the child was born, the biological mother filed a petition to set aside the previous judgment. The lesbian partner filed a separate action for custody of the child. The California Supreme Court refused to invalidate the agreement. In this case, like the two companion cases, the Supreme Court explained that in California, a child can have two moms.

Today’s ruling defies logic and common sense. By saying that children can have two moms, the court has undermined the family. This ruling establishes a policy that essentially says moms and dads are mere surplus. Thousands of studies conclude that children need moms and dads, not two moms and two dads, but one of each. Gender does matter to children. Today’s ruling underscores the importance of amending California’s constitution to preserve marriage as one man and one woman. The people of California will not put up with such nonsense.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

San Diego Rejects Child Evangelism Fellowship

A preliminary injunction hearing is set for tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. PT before federal district Judge Irma Gonzalez on Child Evangelism Fellowship’s (“CEF”) lawsuit against the San Diego City Schools. Liberty Counsel filed suit on behalf of CEF in June because the District charges discriminatory fees for use of school facilities by Good News Clubs, which are religious, after-school clubs for elementary school children sponsored by CEF.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hearing on California Marriage Amendment

A hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. PT tomorrow in Sacramento Superior Court before Judge Raymond Cadei on Liberty Counsel's lawsuit challenging the prejudicial title and summary issued by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer for the marriage amendment proposed by VoteYesMarriage.com. Liberty Counsel litigation attorney Mary McAlister will be presenting
the argument.

The lawsuit, filed on August 1, argues that the Attorney General has a statutory duty to prepare an unbiased, accurate and nonprejudicial title and summary that reflects the chief purpose and points of the proposed amendment. Since the Attorney General is personally in favor of same-sex unions, it appears his office prepared an inaccurate and prejudicial summarydesigned to confuse the voters.

In legal papers filed in response to the suit, the Attorney General has already admitted that the ballot summary his office prepared is not entirely accurate. Still, his office is going to defendthe flawed title and summary.

Knowing and Protecting Your Religious Freedom

Dr. Larry Bates and Chuck Bates, co-hosts of a talk radio program, News & Views, interviewed Liberty Counsel's President and General Counsel today about his new book, Eternal Vigilance -- Knowing and Protecting Your Religious Freedom. The program will be archived online for the next 40 days. The Conservative Book Club called Eternal Vigilance the “most powerful and comprehensive handbook ever written on knowing – and protecting – your religious freedom.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Protection for Non-Traditional "Gender Identities"?

According to Worldnet Daily, "A Pennsylvania appeals court has upheld an Allentown ordinance granting special non-discrimination rights to homosexuals and those with non-traditional 'gender identities.'" One need not imagine the implications. In 2003, a local union forced Carbon County,
Pa., to reinstate a "transgender" prison guard in light of the Allentown ordinance.

Law School Welcomes Second Entering Class

This week is new law student orientation for the second entering class at Liberty University School of Law. Last night we had the opportunity to meet some of the new students. Many of them expressed interest in practicing constitutional law after graduation. Later today, Liberty Counsel President and General Counsel Mat Staver will have the opportunity to address the entire entering class. Potential students (and anyone else interested in law) should read the archive of the Dean's Blog, where Dean Bruce W. Green has eloquently published "thoughts and observations on the progress of founding a new law school, comments and recommendations on preparing for law school, reading, and other insights."

Mat is also scheduled to appear on The O'Reilly Factor tonight, along with our client, Lisa Miller. This topic will be her case, which will impact how states treat custody issues in same-sex unions. The O'Reilly Factor airs at 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. ET.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Appeals Court Upholds Pledge Law

The AP reports that: "An appeals court on Wednesday upheld a Virginia law that requires public schools to lead a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, rejecting a claim that its reference to God was an unconstitutional promotion of religion." Of course, students retain their constitutional right to opt out of saying the Pledge.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

California Marriage Amendment

Today Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court challenging the prejudicial title and summary issued by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer for the marriage amendment proposed by VoteYesMarriage.com.

A hearing on the suit will soon be set. The Attorney General has a statutory duty to prepare a title and summary that is accurate, reflects the chief purpose and points, and is not prejudicial for or against the proposed amendment. He failed to carry out his responsibility in preparing this title and summary. Read Liberty Counsel's news release here.

On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled that a San Diego country club must allow domestic partners of members to play golf for free if it allows spouses to play for free. "Domestic partners registered under ... the current version of the (California) domestic partnership law are the equivalent of spouses for the purposes of the Unruh Act and a business that extends benefits to spouses it denies to registered domestic partners engages in impermissible marital status discrimination," said the Court's opinion.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Religious Freedom Updates

You may already receive our "Liberty Alert" email updates, which are designed to keep you on the cutting edge of issues involving religious liberty, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family. You may not realize that the federal government also sends email updates about religious liberty. The U.S. Department of Justice publishes "Religious Freedom in Focus", a periodic email update about the DOJ's Civil Rights Division and its efforts to protect religious freedom. You can be added to the list by emailing Jacqueline.Greene@usdoj.gov. The June/July email overviews a number of cases where the Civil Rights Division intervened to protect religious freedom.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Canada Approves Same-Sex "Marriage"

Yesterday, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legally sanction "same-sex marriage." Canada followed the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003) and Spain (2005) in allowing homosexuals to marry. This addition underscores why the United States needs a constitutional
affirming that this country only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Voters Want Mount Soledad cross

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that voters approved Proposition A, a ballot measure to preserve the Mount Soledad cross on public land in La Jolla, by a wide margin on Tuesday. The vote requires San Diego give the 29' cross to the federal Department of Interior as a national veteran's memorial. In August, a Superior Court judge will consider the proposition's constitutionality, and other arguments on the cross will be heard in federal court.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Abortion Clinic lets baby die

This baby was born alive at an abortion clinic then left to die. It could happen to your own baby if you seek help at an abortion clinic.

Read the story