US Fighting Gay Rights and Abortion With the First Amendment

04:38  23 november  2017
04:38  23 november  2017 Source:

U.S. top court to hear dispute over California pregnancy center law

  U.S. top court to hear dispute over California pregnancy center law The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether a California law requiring private facilities that counsel pregnant women against abortion to post signs telling clients how to get state-funded abortions and contraceptives violates free speech rights. The justices will hear an appeal brought by Christian-based non-profit facilities sometimes called "crisis pregnancy centers" of a lower court ruling that upheld the Democratic-backed 2015 California law. The challengers argue that the law, by forcing them to post the information, violates the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

WASHINGTON — The details were spare when the event appeared this summer on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s public schedule. He would speak on religious liberty to a group called Alliance Defending Freedom. No exact location was specified. No news media would be allowed in.

Neil Gorsuch reflects on 'surreal' court tenure

  Neil Gorsuch reflects on 'surreal' court tenure Justice Neil Gorsuch returned to the Federalist Society, a conservative group that was instrumental to his nomination to the Supreme Court .Greeted by a standing ovation, Gorsuch delivered a rousing tribute to the conservative jurisprudence of the man whose seat he filled: the late Justice Antonin Scalia.Gorsuch admitted, however, that the months since his nomination have been "surreal" at times.

Only after an outcry over such secrecy — and the anti-gay rights positions of its sponsor — did a transcript of Mr. Sessions’s remarks emerge on a conservative website. “Many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack,” he told the gathering in Orange County, Calif. “The challenges our nation faces today concerning our historic First Amendment right to the ‘free exercise’ of our faith have become acute.”

Mr. Sessions’s focus was not an accident. The First Amendment has become the most powerful weapon of social conservatives fighting to limit the separation of church and state and to roll back laws on same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Sign Up for the Morning Briefing Newsletter. 

Protecting free speech — a cause to unite Americans behind Trump

  Protecting free speech — a cause to unite Americans behind Trump Trump should direct the Justice Department and the Department of Education to ensure that college campuses uphold their students' free speech rights.A large political opportunity is currently presenting itself to President Trump - to move to protect all citizens' First Amendment rights and, in so doing, gain support and increase his poll numbers among conservatives, independents, centrists, and liberals on the left. The president might very well also increase his chances of having Congress pass his growth-oriented agenda.

Few groups have done more to advance this body of legal thinking than the Alliance Defending Freedom. It has a larger footprint than most, with more than 3,000 lawyers working on behalf of its causes around the world. And it is better financed, bringing in $51.5 million in revenue for the 2015-16 tax year, more than the American Civil Liberties Union.

Among the alliance’s successes has been bringing cases involving relatively minor disputes to the Supreme Court — a law limiting the size of church signs, a church seeking funding for a playground — and winning rulings that establish major constitutional precedents.

But it hopes to carve out an even wider sphere of protected religious expression this term when the justices are to hear two more of its cases, one a challenge to a California law that requires “crisis pregnancy centers,” which are run by abortion opponents, to provide women with information on how to obtain an abortion, and another in which it represents a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding.

U.S. top court rejects challenge to Maryland assault weapons ban

  U.S. top court rejects challenge to Maryland assault weapons ban The U.S. Supreme Court, which had avoided major gun cases for seven years, on Monday declined to hear a challenge backed by the National Rifle Association to Maryland's 2013 state ban on assault weapons enacted after a Connecticut school massacre. The court turned away an appeal by several Maryland residents, firearms dealers and the state NRA association, who argued that the ban violated their right to keep and bear arms under the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.The justices sidestepped the roiling national debate over the availability of military-style guns to the public.

While the abortion case is the latest legal volley in a generation-long battle by social conservatives to limit the effect of Roe v. Wade, the Colorado baker’s case, which the court will hear next month, will test whether groups like the alliance can persuade the court to similarly blunt the sweep of Obergefell v. Hodges, the ruling that enshrined same-sex marriage into law, as well as the anti-discrimination laws protecting gay men and lesbians.

If there is a battle somewhere to restrict protections for gay men, lesbians or transgender people, chances are the alliance is there fighting it. The alliance has defended the owners of a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, who did not want to perform same-sex ceremonies. It has tried to stop a Charlotte, N.C., law that gave transgender people the right to use the bathroom of their choice. It backed the failed attempt by the Arizona legislature in 2014 to allow businesses to cite religious freedom in turning away same-sex couples.

“We think that in a free society people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman shouldn’t be coerced by the government to promote a different view of marriage,” said Jeremy Tedesco, a senior counsel and vice president of United States advocacy for the group, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. “We have to figure out how to live in a society with pluralistic and diverse views.”

Rights group taking UAE to ICC over Yemen 'war crimes'

  Rights group taking UAE to ICC over Yemen 'war crimes' A rights organisation is taking the United Arab Emirates to the International Criminal Court over allegations of war crimes in Yemen, the group's lawyer told AFP on Monday.The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK accuses the UAE government, part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting Huthi rebels in Yemen, of "indiscriminate attacks against civilians", lawyer Joseph Breham said.

But civil liberties groups and gay rights advocates say that Alliance Defending Freedom’s arguments about religious liberty and free expression mask another motivation: a deep-seated belief that gay people are immoral and that no one should be forced to recognize them as ordinary members of society.

“They are a very powerful part of this broader movement, which is trying to bring a very particular biblical worldview into dominance at all levels of government and society,” said Peter Montgomery, a senior fellow at People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group.

“They’ve got some very big, very clear goals,” said Mr. Montgomery, who has studied Alliance Defending Freedom since the group’s founding in 1994.

One of those goals was to defend laws that criminalized gay and lesbian sexual conduct.

In a brief the alliance filed urging the Supreme Court not to overturn a Texas law that made homosexual activity illegal, its lawyers described gay men as diseased and as public health risks. The court decided 6 to 3 that the law was unconstitutional.

The United States is not the only place the group has been active. Before Belize’s highest court struck down a law last year that banned “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” the group sent activists there to work with local lawyers who were trying to keep the prohibition in place. In India, an Alliance Defending Freedom-affiliated lawyer was part of the legal team that has defended a similar law in the country’s Supreme Court. That law remains in place, though the Indian court recently signaled that it may revisit the issue.

Moore Using Abortion to Shame Conservatives Into Turning Out to Vote for Him

  Moore Using Abortion to Shame Conservatives Into Turning Out to Vote for Him Roy Moore’s emphasis on the abortion issue shows the importance of a narrow band of conservative voters who may or may not go to the polls.For political observers who have been watching the weird dynamics of the race to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate with a sort of sick fascination for months, it may be hard to keep in mind how disinclined voters may be to show up to determine the fate of Roy Moore and Doug Jones.

And when Russia approved a law in 2013 that imposed a fine for what it called propagandizing “nontraditional” sexual relationships among minors — a move that led for calls to boycott the 2014 Olympics there — Alliance Defending Freedom produced a nine-page memo in support of the law, saying its aim was to safeguard “the psychological or physical well-being of minors.”

Mr. Tedisco said the group had never supported the criminalization of homosexual activity. In Belize and India, he noted, the laws the group supported applied to heterosexual sodomy as well. He described the alliance’s involvement in both countries as “a small group of attorneys” who wanted “to resist the foreign activists that were trying to challenge their public health law.”

Asked if he and other alliance lawyers believed gay men and lesbians were immoral, Mr. Tedisco said, “I’m not going to get into what the Bible says or teaches about homosexuality.”

Alliance leaders have not always been so reticent.

Alan Sears, one of the founders of the group and its longtime president until recently, wrote a book in 2003 with Craig Osten titled “The Homosexual Agenda” in which they described possible consequences of same-sex marriage. “Why not two men and three women, or two men, one woman, and a dog and a chimpanzee?” the book said. “This means marriage will be no better than anonymous sodomy in a bathhouse.”

How the alliance is approaching the case of the Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, is an illustration of its evolving public relations strategy. Gone are the fiery denunciations of gay men and lesbians as sinners and reprobates.

Supreme Court's cake case pits gay rights versus Christian faith

  Supreme Court's cake case pits gay rights versus Christian faith By Lawrence Hurley

A sophisticated multimedia campaign, called “Justice for Jack,” portrays Mr. Phillips as the victim of heavy-handed state bureaucrats. Set to soft piano music, one video describes how Mr. Phillips has received death threats, hateful phone calls and lost 40 percent of his business.

“It’s not about refusing business,” Mr. Phillips’s daughter says to the camera. “It’s about having the freedom for him to artistically create something that allows him to honor Christ.”

Donald Knapp, the Coeur d’Alene chapel owner who sued the city because he worried a new nondiscrimination ordinance would force him to marry same-sex couples, said the alliance not only took up his case but also provided him with media training and flew him to Scottsdale to meet with other Christian business owners in similar positions.

“The A.D.F. was just trying to help us know what to say, how to state our position, what we believe in,” Mr. Knapp said in an interview. “They spent a great deal of time with us.”

Gay rights advocates acknowledge what they are up against. “They know those are messages that work better, and they are no longer leading with the messages they used to, which are ‘gay people are pedophiles and we need to keep them away from our kids,’” said James Esseks, an A.C.L.U. lawyer who focuses on gender identity and sexual orientation issues. “It’s a very intentional shift, a very strategic shift.”

Back in Washington, the alliance’s close connections with Mr. Sessions’s Justice Department seem to be deepening. In September, the department filed a brief arguing that Mr. Phillips should not be forced to violate his faith.

“There is no clear line between his speech and his clients,’” it said. “He is giving effect to their message by crafting a unique product with his own two hands.”

Correction: November 22, 2017

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Because of an editing error, an earlier version of a capsule summary for this article misstated the name of a group that uses the First Amendment to challenge gay rights and abortion laws. It is the Alliance Defending Freedom, not the Alliance Defending Justice.

Floyd Mayweather suing ex-girlfriend, claims she stole money .
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been engaged in a legal war with his ex-girlfriend Shantel Jackson for years, and the latest shot is being fired by the undefeated boxer. According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Mayweather has filed a lawsuit against Jackson alleging that the actress stole an undisclosed amount of money from him while the two were dating. Mayweather claims Jackson took cash from around his house without permission and gained access to his credit card accounts to go on shopping sprees. The lawsuit claims Jackson even had the items she bought shipped a secret location so Mayweather would not know about the purchases.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

This is interesting!