Monday, June 30, 2008
On June 2, 2008, the Amendment was certified by the Secretary of State for the November ballot. The Amendment states: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." If passed, the Amendment would nullify the 4-3 ruling of the California Supreme Court issued on May 15.
The same-sex marriage advocates are seeking to have the Amendment removed from the November ballot. They erroneously argue that "the rules for revising the California Constitution were not properly followed." Their brief claims that an initiative is not enough to put the amendment on the ballot, since it must also be approved by two-thirds of the legislature. The suit also alleges that petitions for the initiative, which were circulated prior to the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, were misleading because they stated the amendment would not change existing law and would not have a financial impact on the state. Liberty Counsel's motion to intervene disproves these claims.
Most Californians want the Amendment. A poll conducted on May 30, 2008, by ccAdvertising shows that 56% of California residents support marriage as one man and one woman. Another poll by the Los Angeles Times similarly revealed that 54% of those polled supported the Amendment and only 35% opposed it.
If the people have an opportunity to participate in the democratic process, they will vote for marriage as one man and one woman. The advocates of same-sex marriage want to trample the will of the people and force same-sex marriage with an iron hand, akin to what a dictator would do over his subjects. Those who push for same-sex marriage are willing to destroy both marriage and democracy to achieve a selfish result. Marriage between a man and a woman is best for our children and for our country.
Friday, June 27, 2008
David Barber, Program Director for TeenPact, describes the week-long conference as "a hands-on, on-site program that teaches high-school students about law and the judicial system from a distinctly Biblical worldview. Throughout the week students participate in presentations from expert professors at Liberty University School of Law and some of the nation’s most experienced religious liberty attorneys from Liberty Counsel as they prepare oral arguments for a moot court tournament at the end of the week."
The week long program includes lectures on a broad range of legal subjects. Topics include foundations of law, property, contracts, civil procedure, family law, legal writing and oral advocacy, and the court system. Many of the topics presented not only provide the students a good introduction to these areas of law, but many of these topics are core legal topics tested on many state bar exams.
The second half of the week is dedicated to the TPJ Moot Court tournament. In TPJ Moot Court, students argue a case before a variety of judges and apply what they have learned during the week.
Barber explains that "the goal of the program is to inspire the next generation of Christian leaders to be passionate about their faith and give them the tools they need to proactively engage the culture for the glory of Jesus Christ."
My passion is to train a new generation of leaders in the rule of law from a Christian perspective to use law as a fulcrum to do good. I cannot muster enough superlative words to describe the TeenPact Judicial program. These young students are energetic, bright, and eager to become world leaders. In a few short years, they will begin shaping world history.
In September 2006, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against the District to stop the Gideons from providing Bibles for public school students. Federal district Judge Catherine Perry issued an order prohibiting the distribution of any Bible, which she described as an "instrument of religion." Although the District has an equal access policy that treats the distribution of secular and religious literature outside of class on an equal basis, Judge Perry also ruled the District's open access policy unconstitutional. The ruling presented a novel (and unconstitutional) theory that a private third party (like the ACLU) must have the opportunity to veto the distribution request of the private applicant. The veto power, the judge wrote, must be provided to veto religious, but not secular, literature.
The District has a long-standing open access policy that allows many community groups to present literature and information to students at its schools, outside the classroom during non-instructional time. The many diverse groups include the Army Corps of Engineers, Red Cross, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Iron County Health Department, Missouri Water Patrol, Missouri Highland Healthcare, and Union Pacific Railroad. The distribution of Bibles or religious literature is treated the same as secular literature under the policy, but Judge Perry ruled that religious literature, particularly the Bible, may not be treated the same. If a private third party, like the ACLU, cannot veto the request before the distribution, then, she ruled, the policy must be stricken. No court in the country has provided a private right of veto over private religious speech.
The ACLU might not like the fact that equal access also means equal treatment for religious speech, but the Constitution requires equal treatment. The First Amendment protects private religious viewpoints. Hecklers may heckle but they may not veto private religious speech. The Bible is not radioactive. Religious viewpoints have Constitutional protection.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
The Court did not imply that all limits are invalid, stating: "Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."
The case was started by Dick Heller, who was joined by six other D.C. residents who wanted to keep handguns in their private homes. The gun ban prohibited ownership of handguns that were not registered with the District before 1976. It also required that all guns already registered be disassembled, unloaded, or secured by a trigger lock. The District of Columbia Court of Appeal ruled the ban was unconstitutional; holding the right to own handguns was protected by the Second Amendment. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral argument in March. Thirty-one states submitted amicus briefs. Some federal courts have ruled that the Second Amendment did not create an individual right, but only applied to state militias. The last time the Court ruled on the Second Amendment right to bear arms was in 1939.
'Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition' is the best way to describe today’s decision. The right to self-defense is a liberty at the core of the American Revolution. It was ordinary people who defended life and liberty against organized tyranny. The King of Great Britain sought to disarm the colonists because he, like any criminal, knew that a disarmed people are a weak people who can easily be overcome. The Second Amendment stands as an impenetrable wall between tyranny and freedom.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Accompanying the students and organizing the trip were Mathew Staver, Dean of the School of Law and Founder of Liberty Counsel; Anita Staver, President of Liberty Counsel; Sarah Seitz, Legal Director, Liberty Center for Law & Policy; and David Corry, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel.
After a observing a session of the Court and hearing the delivery of three opinions, the students attended a lecture by Clerk of the Court Gen. William Suter. David Corry, Senior Litigation Counsel of Liberty Counsel commented on the lecture, saying that Gen. Suter was "engaging" as he answered the students' questions.
The students later toured the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building. Some of the points of interest included portraits of Jesus amidst other famous lawgivers such as Moses, which are displayed in the entry foyer of the Great Hall.
Capping off the day, the students attended a reception in the beautifully decorated West Room of the United States Supreme Court.
Commenting on the overall experience, Corry, said, "This invaluable trip brought to life the Supreme Court’s work and the Department of Justice in way our students could never have appreciated otherwise."
The opportunity to visit the United States Supreme Court, to see how it works, and to meet the Chief Justice is a remarkable experience. We are training a new generation of lawyers, judges, policymakers, educators and world leaders in the rule of law. Today we train young men and women. Tomorrow these men and women will be world leaders.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Pleasant Grove City has 11 displays and monuments in Pioneer Park. The displays and monuments were donated by private persons or organizations over a period of more than 80 years. The displays and monuments have come from local people or organizations and depict the history of Mormonism and the city. In 1971, the city accepted a donated monument of the Ten Commandments from The Fraternal Order of Eagles. The city owns, maintains and controls the displays and monuments. The city may remove, modify, remake, or sell the monuments.
Summum is a religion and philosophy that began in 1975, as a result of Claude "Corky" Nowell’s alleged encounter with certain "beings" he describes as "Summum Individuals." Summum practices "Modern Mummification." The Seven Aphorisms include what Summum calls Psychokinesis, Correspondence, Vibration, Opposition, Rhythm, Cause and Effect, and Gender. Summum states that its teachings are similar to Gnostic Christianity.
When Pleasant Grove City rejected Summum's Seven Aphorisms on the basis that Summum was not a local organization nor was the gift associated with any history of the city, Summum filed suit, claiming the city must permanently display the Seven Aphorisms because the city displayed other donated monuments, including the Ten Commandments donated by The Fraternal Order of Eagles some thirty years ago. Incredibly, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Summum and ruled that the city must permanently display Summum's Seven Aphorisms. The American Center for Law and Justice represents the city and requested the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.
By accepting donated displays, the city did not open a forum for everyone wishing to display a monument in the public park. The city owned the donated displays, and the city could remove, modify, remake or sell any of the displays. If the government were required to accept any conflicting message anytime the government spoke through a donated display, then the Statue of Liberty would need to make room for the Statue of Tyranny or perhaps a statue of Stalin or Adolf Hitler. It would not make sense to force the government to include a display devoted to atheism every time it displays a Nativity scene.
The Summum group has no legitimate interest in displaying its Seven Aphorisms. If the government had to display conflicting and confusing messages every time it displays a donated message, the Statue of Liberty would have to make room for the Statue of Tyranny.
Friday, June 20, 2008
On Monday, the homeschooling case known as In re Rachel L. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles will be argued at the California Court of Appeal. On February 28, 2008, the Court of Appeal ruled that parents who lack teaching credentials do not have the right to school their children at home. The decision immediately became the subject of sharp criticism across the Nation, and a U.S. House resolution called for reconsideration of the case. The California Court of Appeal agreed to rehear the case, and oral argument is scheduled for Monday.
Earlier this month, Liberty Counsel filed a 57-page brief in the case on behalf of 19 members of the United States Congress. The brief overviews home education laws of all fifty states and the District of Columbia, where it is legal. In 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the rights of parents to direct the education of their children, stating: "The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations."
Congressional members represented by Liberty Counsel include: Ken Calvert (CA-44), John Campbell (CA-48), David Davis (TN-1), John Doolittle (CA-4), Tom Feeney (FL-24), Randy Forbes (VA-4), Trent Franks (AZ-2), Robin Hayes (NC-8), Wally Herger (CA-2), Jim Jordan (OH-4), Doug Lamborn (CO-5), Dan Lungren (CA-3), Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11), Gary Miller (CA-42), Marilyn Musgrave (CO-4), Ed Royce (CA-40), Pete Sessions (TX-32), Mark Souder (IN-3), and Howard McKeon (CA-25), who introduced H. Res. 1076, calling on the courts to uphold the fundamental and constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.
Parents have a fundamental right to decide how to educate their children. The government does not always know best. Parents have educated their children successfully at home since the founding of this country. Some of the brightest minds in American history were homeschooled. As an attorney who was homeschooled until the seventh grade, I know the value of parent-directed education.
Liberty Counsel represents Daniel and Sharon Dixon in the case of Dixon v. Hallmark Companies. Hallmark owns and manages an apartment complex, which contains units that are government-subsidized by the USDA Rural Development program. Under the USDA program, Hallmark is required to comply with federal employment and housing antidiscrimination laws.
For at least eight years before they were fired and evicted, the Dixons had a 50"x26" piece of stained glass artwork featuring flowers hanging on the wall in the management office where they worked. On the glass was a partial Scripture verse in 1-1/4 inch letters that read: "Consider the Lilies…Matthew 6:28."
In September 2007, Christina Saunders, regional manager for Hallmark, asked Sharon if the words on the artwork referred to Scripture. After Sharon said they did, Sanders told her to remove the artwork. Sharon replied that she needed to discuss it with her co-manager husband, Daniel, and left the office to find him. While Sharon was gone, Sanders consulted her supervisor, Norine Lewis, and then took the artwork and put it inside Daniel and Sharon's apartment. When Sharon returned, Sanders said that Sharon and Daniel were "too religious." She fired them and demanded they vacate their apartment within 72 hours.
The Dixons were granted unemployment compensation over the objection of Hallmark, because Hallmark did not substantiate its claims of misconduct by the Dixons. The Dixons are filing suit today, claiming violations of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of religion. The lawsuit requests punitive damages against Hallmark for reckless indifference to the federal laws.
For eight years, without any complaint, Daniel and Sharon Dixon displayed floral artwork containing a citation to Scripture in their office. They were suddenly terminated as a result of the religious bigotry of one supervisor, even though no one objected to the picture. The Dixons lost their jobs and were booted out on the street, solely because artwork in their office made reference to the Bible. The Constitution and federal law prohibit religious discrimination. There must be ‘room in the inn’ for religious viewpoints.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Yesterday at 5:01 pm (PT), the first same-sex marriage licenses were issued. This happened despite the fact it is well settled in California that "the Legislature has full control of the subject of marriage and may fix the conditions under which the marital status may be created or terminated...." McClure v. Donovan (1949) 33 Cal.2d 717, 728, 205 P.2d 17. The California Family Code specifies that "[a]n unmarried man of 18 years or older and an unmarried female of the age of 18 years or older" may marry. Family Code Section 301 (e). As a part of the marriage license, "the form shall include an affidavit, which the bride and groom shall sign." Family Code Section 505(c). Bride and groom clearly refer to a man and a woman. There is no provision for "Party A" and “Party B.” These statutes, and many others like them, are still in effect.
A recent poll conducted on May 30, 2008 by ccAdvertising shows that 56% of California residents support marriage as one man and one woman. A poll a few weeks ago by the Los Angeles Times similarly revealed that 54% supported the marriage amendment and only 35% opposed it. In November, the people of California will have the opportunity to pass a state constitutional amendment and overrule the 4-3 decision of the California Supreme Court.
The justice system has not been just to the people or the democratic process. Marriage between a man and a woman is universally in the best interest of children. The definition of marriage transcends language barriers and is understood by infants. A few judges may not respect the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, but the common person understands its importance. The people will have the final word on marriage in November. When the people speak for marriage in November and amend California’s constitution, judges will have to listen.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
On May 16 at 5:00 p.m. PT, the Court of Appeal will regain jurisdiction over the same-sex marriage cases. The Supreme Court decision directs the Court of Appeal to take "further action consistent with this opinion." The Supreme Court did not and cannot actually remove the language from the statutes, which must be done by the legislature. See Kopp v. Fair Pol. Practices Comm. (1995) 11 Cal. 4th 607, 675 (Werdegar, J., concurring)(Stating that the power to write laws belongs to the people and political branches of government, not the judiciary). Moreover, the Supreme Court’s decision addressed only two statutes in §300 and §308.5 – Proposition 22). There are many more relevant statutes that were not before the Supreme Court and were not within that Court’s power to address. The Supreme Court cannot rewrite statutes and cannot remove language from the statutes; such must be done by the legislature. The power to write laws belongs ! to the people and political branches of government, not the judiciary.
Many Family Code sections which govern state agencies and government employees were not addressed and are still binding. The Supreme Court held in an earlier related case that local officials cannot refuse to enforce those statutory provisions based upon a belief that they are also unconstitutional. See Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco, (2004) 33 Cal. 4th 1055, 1074.
Since neither the Supreme Court nor the Court of Appeal has declared unconstitutional the myriad of other statutes regarding marriage, local government officials do not have the power to issue marriage licenses until the legislature addresses these statutes. Liberty Counsel asks that the Court of Appeal order that no marriage licenses be issued to same-sex couples until the language cited by the Supreme Court is stricken by the legislature and until there is a judicial determination that the other statutes are unconstitutional.
Liberty Counsel also argues that same-sex marriage licenses should not be issued until after the November 2008 general election, in order to preserve the people’s right to vote on the Marriage Protection Act.
The Supreme Court’s decision has created a mess of the law regarding marriage. Hundreds of laws apply to marriage. The Supreme Court addressed only two. It is inconceivable that by striking down two statutes, the myriad of other marriage laws are automatically changed. They are not. The legislature must act before same-sex marriage is authorized, and the people should be permitted to vote before the legislature acts.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
CEF sponsors the Good News Club for children ages 5 to 12 and also sponsors the Party Club, which is a monthly after-school function for students to enjoy games, crafts, songs, Bible lessons, and scripture memorization. The Rio School Board policy allows all nonprofit organizations to use the school facilities free of charge. Since CEF is a nonprofit organization, this entitles them free usage along with other nonprofits, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The open-access policy also permits CEF and other secular groups to post and distribute information announcing the availability of the after-school opportunities. After receiving a threatening letter, the school district refused to give in to pressure from Annie Laurie Gaylor and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
FFRF erroneously argues that the free use of classrooms after school by CEF violates the Wisconsin constitution, which states: “Nothing in this constitution shall prohibit the legislature from authorizing, by law, the use of public school buildings by civic, religious or charitable organizations during non-school hours upon payment by the organization to the school district of reasonable compensation for such use.” However, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which preempts state law, requires that CEF and other religious organizations be accorded equal treatment with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and similar secular organizations.
If the district bowed to the pressure from FFRF and denied access to CEF on account of its religious viewpoint, the district would violate the United States Constitution’s protection under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clauses.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation pushes the most antireligious agenda of any organization in the country. The goal of the Foundation is a religion-free society. The First Amendment provides freedom of religion and not eradication of religion. The school district’s policy providing equal access is clearly constitutional. Religious viewpoints are fully protected under the First Amendment.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Liberty Counsel filed a Petition on behalf of the Campaign for California Families requesting the California Supreme Court to stay its opinion pending the November election. On Monday, the California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, certified the California Marriage Protection Act ("Amendment") for the November 2008 ballot. The Amendment to the California Constitution states: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Thus, neither the courts nor any governmental agency will be permitted to validate or recognize any same-sex marriage license.
The cases now will return to the California Court of Appeal for the Supreme Court's order to be implemented. Liberty Counsel is considering filing a petition with Court of Appeal requesting a stay pending the outcome of the November vote on the Amendment. The Court of Appeal panel previously upheld the state’s marriage laws.
Denying a stay in light of the certification of the Marriage Protection Act for the November ballot reveals the political agenda of a handful of judges. Judges acting as judges and not as legislators would have granted the stay. The battle over marriage is far from over and will not be decided by four judges. The people will decide in November. If any same-sex marriage licenses are issued before November, the passage of the constitutional amendment will make them invalid and invisible.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Yesterday, the California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, certified the California Marriage Protection Act ("Amendment") for the November 2008 ballot. The Amendment to the California Constitution states: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Liberty Counsel recently filed a Petition requesting the California Supreme Court to stay its opinion pending the vote in November. The Petition also requests the Court to reconsider its decision. Liberty Counsel represents the Campaign for California Families.
A recent poll conducted on May 30, 2008 by ccAdvertising shows that 56% of California residents support marriage as one man and one woman. A poll a few weeks ago by the Los Angeles Times similarly revealed that 54% of those polled supported the Amendment and only 35% opposed it.
Almost two months after the March 4 oral argument, 1,120,590 signed petitions were submitted to the Secretary of State. Only 694,354 petitions were needed to place the Amendment on the November ballot. Unlike Proposition 22, which passed by a margin of 61.4 percent in 2000, but was not a constitutional amendment, the Amendment would amend the state constitution so that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
In light of the certification of the Amendment for the November ballot, the Court must stay its May 15 decision. The Amendment would overrule the Court’s decision and nullify any licenses issued between the end of June and November.
If the Court's ruling goes into effect without modification, individuals could create polygamous and polyamorous relationships. Liberty Counsel has a chart explaining this problem in its Petition and on its web site at www.LC.org. The Court has inadvertently created a system that hopelessly entangles property, custody, visitation and other rights. The decision should therefore be stayed.
Now that we know for certain the California Marriage Protection Act will appear on the November ballot, the California Supreme Court must stay its decision. Issuing a stay is the only course of action. The people of California will have the final say on marriage. I have no doubt that when the people vote, they will affirm marriage as one man and one woman.