Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Republicans Work to Defend Rights as Members of United States Senate

On July 28, 2008, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), attempted to weaken the rights of his Republican colleagues. The Leader brought to the floor what came to be known as the "Coburn Omnibus Bill," a package of 36 bills, combined into one omnibus bill.

Typically, there is little debate on bills in the Senate and measures pass through unanimous consent. Senator Coburn (R-OK) exercised his right as a member of the United States Senate to put a hold on several bills, meaning that he did not give unanimous consent. A hold simply means that, since unanimous consent implies support for a bill, a senator is essentially voting “no” on passage of a bill.

The Majority Leader is still able to pass a bill with a hold on it by bringing it to the Senate floor for public debate; however, this takes up valuable time that could be spent on more high profile measures. As a result, the effect of a hold often works to postpone consideration of a measure indefinitely, and as such, is one of the single most effective tools available to Senate conservatives for stopping legislation.

One additional procedure the Majority Leader has used to great effect is called “filling the tree.” Under this procedure, the Leader can block Republicans from offering amendments to legislation on the floor by offering several amendments that do not change the substance of the bill, but which under the rules, fill all of the available places to amend the bill. He then uses his special right of recognition as Majority Leader to prevent consideration on any amendments other than his own.

In an effort to thwart procedural safeguards available to members of the Senate, the Majority Leader brought an omnibus bill to the floor ironically entitled "A bill to advance America's priorities." Senator Coburn had placed a hold on a number, but not all, of these bills, because of the billions of dollars of authorized spending included in the proposed legislation. Due to the inevitable increase of the national deficit at the hand of these bills, Senator Coburn withheld unanimous consent, in order to have full debate on these pieces of legislation.

In a motion for cloture on July 28, Senate Republicans stood together and defended their rights as members of the United States Senate. The motion failed by a vote of 52-40-8, sending a message to Harry Reid that he cannot use his power as Majority Leader to stifle the procedural rights of his Republican colleagues.

Immediate Action Needed to Help Philadelphia Boy Scouts

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. For a century, the mission of the Boy Scouts has been to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

The Scout Oath states, "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and to my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

As part of its core values and dedication to morality, the Boy Scouts have an internal leadership policy of not hiring known or avowed members of the homosexual community. This policy has recently come under attack in the City of Philadelphia.

Serving 87,000 boys and men, the Cradle of Liberty Council, located in Philadelphia, is the third largest local council in the country. Of the estimated 69,000 youth that participate, many benefit from mentoring and educational services, in addition to the traditional service projects and character building activities.

Since 1928, the Cradle of Liberty Council has rented its headquarters from the City for $1 per year. However, the City of Philadelphia made a decision to penalize the Boys Scouts because of its adherence to long-held moral beliefs by raising the rent to $200,000 per year after May 31, 2008.

In response, Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA) has authored a letter to Mayor Nutter and City Council President Verna asking the City of Philadelphia to reconsider its decision and instead continue its support for the Boy Scouts of America.

Please contact your Representative immediately and request that he or she sign on to this letter by close of business Thursday, July 31. A full list of Representatives is available at www.house.gov.

Friday, July 25, 2008

At Time Of Olympics, China's Population Control Policy Not Medal Worthy

Yesterday, H. Res. 1370, was passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Resolution calls on "the Government of the People's Republic of China to immediately end abuses of the human rights of its citizens, to cease repression of Tibetan and Uighur citizens, and to end its support for the Governments of Sudan and Burma to ensure that the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games take place in an atmosphere that honors the Olympic traditions of freedom and openness."

Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) offered an amendment to the bill to address China's one-child policy. The amendment calls on the Chinese government to abandon its coercive population control policy, which includes forced abortion and involuntary sterilization. Smith's amendment passed by a voice vote and became part of H. Res. 1370.

This Resolution will likely go before the full House sometime next week. With both the Congressional summer recess and the 2008 Summer Olympics fast approaching, this is a very important vote. Please contact your Representative and request that he or she support this Resolution. A full list of members of the United States House of Representatives is available at http://www.house.gov.

Although this Resolution is very important and will send a message that the United States does not support China's coercive population control policy and condemns its human rights violations, words are not enough. Congress must back this up with action, specifically by defunding groups who work to further China's abhorrent practice of coerced and forced abortions.

On April 23, 2007, National Public Radio, in an article entitled, "Cases of Forced Abortions Surface in China, reported that women in China have been forced to have abortions, as late as nine months into their pregnancies. The full article can be found at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9766870.

Last week, both the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and the Senate Appropriations Committee considered a FY09 Foreign Operations Bill which creates an exception to the more than two decades old Kemp-Kasten provision. The new language creates a special carve-out for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations population agency that has assisted the Chinese government with their coercive population control program since its inception in 1979.

The Kemp-Kasten provision gives the President the authority to deny U.S. funding to an organization or program that supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Representative Dave Weldon (R-FL) said of last week's action by the House Subcommittee, “For years we have sought to protect women and children in China because it was morally wrong to support China’s forced abortion program. Now the Democrat Majority in the House has voted to change existing law and send millions of dollars to UNFPA and turn a blind eye to the egregious human rights violations that UNFPA promotes in China. This is a despicable policy change."

The FY09 Foreign Operations Bill could come before both Houses of Congress prior to the August recess. Please contact your Senators and Representatives and ask them to uphold the Kemp-Kasten provision in order to prevent the furtherance of China's forced abortion policy.
A full list of Senators and Congressmen can be found at: http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Abstinence Education Safe for Another Year

Title V, the program that provides $50 million in grants for abstinence education expired on June 30 of this year; however, an extension of the program was included in a recent Medicare bill. The President vetoed this bill due to concerns unrelated to abstinence, but both the Senate and the House voted to override the Presidential veto. Therefore, funding for abstinence has been extended for a period of twelve months!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

California Supreme Court Upholds the People’s Right to Vote on Marriage in Upcoming Election

Today the California Supreme Court rejected the case brought by same-sex marriage advocates, who intended to prevent California voters from voting on the California Marriage Protection Act (“Amendment”) in November. The court’s decision means the Amendment will stay on the ballot. It also allows the Secretary of State to print voter information pamphlets on the issue.

Last month Liberty Counsel filed a motion to intervene in this lawsuit, asking the court to allow the people to vote on the Amendment. Liberty Counsel represents the Campaign for California Families, Randy Thomasson, and Larry Bowler. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three voters and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, the ACLU and Equality California against California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, who certified the Amendment.

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 and would ban same-sex marriage in California.

The same-sex marriage advocates were seeking to remove the Amendment from the November ballot, erroneously arguing that "the rules for revising the California Constitution were not properly followed." Their brief claimed that an initiative was not enough to put the Amendment on the ballot, since it must also be approved by two-thirds of the legislature. The suit also alleged 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 disproved 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. 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.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Liberty Counsel Holds Joint Press Conference to Address McDonalds’ Anti-Christian Attacks

On Wednesday, July 16, at 10:00 a.m., Liberty Counsel will participate in a joint press conference with the American Family Association (AFA), Americans for Truth and the Illinois Family Institute in front of the McDonalds restaurant across from McDonalds' corporate headquarters in Oakbrook, IL. Matt Barber, Director of Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel, will address the media.

Recently, the McDonalds Corporation contributed thousands of dollars and joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, a radical homosexual activist organization that pushes the homosexual agenda, including calling for legalization of so-called "same-sex marriage." In so doing, McDonalds has publicly sided in the ongoing culture war against the majority of Americans who hold traditional family values. For this reason, AFA called for the boycott against McDonalds.

"Unfortunately, McDonalds has chosen to side with militant homosexual activists over people with traditional values," said Matt Barber. "The company has further escalated the controversy by lodging a personal attack against the tens of millions of Americans who support traditional sexual morality and legitimate marriage. While referring to Christians and other people with traditional values, McDonalds spokesman Bill Whitman arrogantly told the Washington Post that, 'Hatred has no place in our culture,' thereby suggesting that people who support the historical definition of marriage are simply motivated by 'hate.' This insult is highly offensive, and anyone who supports traditional marriage should boycott McDonalds and tell the company why they’re doing so."

McDonalds should focus on food quality and safety issues instead of attacking the values held by the majority of people worldwide. Marriage between a man and a woman is the norm throughout the world. McDonalds' personal attack against those who support the traditional definition of marriage, while siding with a narrow group that promotes a radical redefinition, shows that company executives are out to lunch. McDonalds might as well change their signs to read 'billions and billions insulted.'

Friday, July 11, 2008

Future of Christian Radio at Risk

The Fairness Doctrine was a regulation issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that required broadcast licensees to present issues deemed controversial in a fair and balanced manner. In 1987, the Doctrine was abolished by the FCC because "intrusion by government into the content of programming occasioned by the enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters . . . and actually inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and the degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists."

Since 1987, several attempts have been made by Congress to restore the Fairness Doctrine; however, a presidential veto or threat thereof, has thwarted these efforts. As early as last year, over 300 Democrats and Republicans actually stood together to oppose further efforts to revitalize this harmful doctrine. As a result, Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act (H.R. 2905) on June 28, 2007, to ensure that no future president could bring back the Fairness Doctrine without an act of Congress.

Currently, the bill has 207 co-sponsors and has been before the House Committee on Energy, Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, since October 3, 2007. Congressman Pence filed a discharge petition on October 17, 2007 to bring the Act to the House floor without a Committee report. A discharge petition requires 218 signatures, and as of July 10, 2008, 201 signatures have been collected.

On June 24, 2008, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi told a meeting a the Christian Science Monitor that the Broadcaster Freedom Act would not receive a vote because "the interest of my caucus is the reverse." In response, Congressman Pence said, "so far, not one single House Democrat has signed our petition for an up-or-down vote on broadcast freedom . . . and now we know why."

Please contact your Representative and request that he or she sign this discharge petition and allow of the Broadcaster Freedom Act to go to the House floor for a vote. A complete list of the members of the United State House of Representatives can be found at http://www.house.gov.

85 Members of the House Urge the Supreme Court to Reconsider Child Rape Decision

Patrick Kennedy, a 43-year-old man from suburban New Orleans was sentenced to death after being convicted of raping his eight-year-old stepdaughter. The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled on May 22 that the Supreme Court’s 1977 decision barring capital punishment for rape (Coker v. Georgia) does not apply when the victim is a child under age 12.

Patrick Kennedy’s lawyers appealed his case to the Supreme Court on Sept. 11, 2007, raising two issues: first, whether the death penalty for rape of a child was “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and, second, whether Louisiana’s law did not narrow the class of those eligible for that penalty because it applied whenever a rape was committed, and the victim was under 12 years of age.

The case was argued before the Supreme Court of the United States on April 16, 2008 and was decided June 25, 2008. In an opinion authored by Justice Kennedy, the court held 5-4 that the Eighth Amendment bars Louisiana from imposing the death penalty for the rape of a child where the crime did not result, and was not intended to result, in the victim's death. The Court based its decision on what it deemed a "national consensus" against capital punishment for the crime of child rape.

On Thursday, July 10, House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.), along with 84 other members of the United States House of Representatives sent a letter asking the Justices of the Supreme Court to sua sponte withdraw its June 25, 2008 opinion and reconsider the case.

In 2005, Congress enacted the death penalty for child rapists under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The measure passed the House by a vote of 374-41 and passed the Senate 95-0. That provision – Section 552(b) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (became Public Law No. 109-163 on January 6, 2006) – provides that until the President otherwise provides, the punishment for the rape of a child may not exceed “death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.” In September 2007, President Bush issued Executive Order 13447 that codified the provisions of Public Law 109-163, including the provision of the death penalty for child rape, into the 2008 edition of the Manual for Courts-Martial.

The Congressmen are bringing this to the attention of the Justices to show that federal law allows for the death penalty in the case of child rape and to prove that adoption of that provision by such overwhelming majorities in both chambers of Congress clearly demonstrates a "national consensus" in favor of implementation of the death penalty in the case of child rape.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Alaska Court Upholds Religious Teachers’ Housing Exemptions Against ACLU Attack

The Alaska Superior Court has ruled that Alaska can continue to allow tax exemptions for housing of parochial school teachers. The ACLU filed suit to take away property tax exemptions for housing that is owned by religious organizations and used by private parochial school teachers, alleging that the tax exemption violates equal protection and establishment clauses of the state and federal constitutions. Liberty Counsel represents Anchorage Baptist Temple (ABT) and Pastor Jerry Prevo in defense of the exemption. The case is Coonrod v. State of Alaska.

Superior Court Judge Mike Spaan ruled that a 2006 state law exempting organization-owned homes of religious educators is constitutional. The decision says tax exemptions are provided to religious and charitable organizations because they perform services that would otherwise have to be funded from tax revenues and because they foster the moral and intellectual development of the community.

The exemption given by the Alaska legislature applies to the homes of ABT's teachers. Nonreligious educational institutions already enjoyed an exemption for teacher housing before the legislature added the religious institution exemption. Without the exemption, ABT and other religious institutions would not be able to provide quality education to Alaska’s children, where educational opportunities are limited because of the rural nature of much of the state.

ABT operates a number of ministries, including alcohol and drug abuse recovery programs, community outreaches, children’s programs, a bus transportation service, music programs, and Anchorage Christian School, a K-12 school serving approximately 700 students. ABT owns six residences that house teachers. These residences are integral to ABT’s educational mission.

This is a great victory for the children and families of Alaska. Many of these children living in remote areas will benefit from the opportunity to attend a local religious school, where a qualified teacher will give them the key to open the door to their future. The ACLU tried to educationally imprison these children. With its defeat, the children are the winners.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Declaration of American Values Reflects Basis of America's Greatness

In releasing the Declaration of American Values today, Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, stated:

"The
Declaration of American Values reflects the consensus of the shared values that form the basis of America’s greatness. The values affirmed in this Declaration are transgenerational and foundational. They are what make America a great Nation. At this crucial time in history as we celebrate the birth of this revolutionary experiment in self-government, we believe it is necessary to declare the values that unify us and that form the fabric of the United States of America."
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which announced the colonies' separation from Great Britain. One of the signers, John Adams, believed that the day would be celebrated as a day for remembrance with "solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty."

It is fitting that we contemplate these shared values on this 232nd anniversary of American independence.

Read the
Declaration of American Values on Liberty Counsel's web site.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Summit Ministries Students Study the Law and Christian Worldview at Liberty University

On July 4, about 60 high school teenagers will complete a two-week intensive training program at Liberty University sponsored by Summit Ministries, where Dr. David Noebel serves as president. Students attending the Summit program learn from national experts about significant religious, moral, cultural, legal and political issues. They learn about the Christian worldview and how to reason from a Christian intellectual perspective.

Summit Ministries, based near Colorado Springs, Colorado, endeavors to educate Christian youth about today’s post-Christian culture and to equip them with the practical knowledge and tools necessary to stand firm in their faith. During its summer program, Summit offers comprehensive lectures by leading experts on a variety of topics, including apologetics, history, theology and popular culture. Students learn how to articulate a reasoned and biblically sound Christian response on issues such as abortion, postmodernism and popular culture. Summit has dual goals of instilling in those students a steadfast Christian worldview and a meaningful understanding of why they believe what they believe.

During the two-week program, Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, conducted a three-hour interactive dialogue with the eager students in the Supreme Courtroom at Liberty University School of Law. Staver covered topics that included abortion, marriage and the Foundations of Law. Over the course of the two weeks, the students learned from leading national experts such as Dr. Ergun Caner, President of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School, Dr. Gary Habermas, an expert on apologetics at Liberty University, and many others.

With proponents of moral relativism and postmodernism taking our system of education hostage, it is encouraging to know that organizations like Summit Ministries are making a positive difference by equipping a new generation to think biblically. As the largest and fastest-growing evangelical university in the world with a premier law school, Liberty University is proud to partner with Summit Ministries in an effort to prepare this generation of young people to apply a Christian worldview in achieving desperately needed cultural reform.

For more information about Liberty University School of Law, visit
www.law.liberty.edu. For information on Summit Ministries, visit www.summit.org.