WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2013 /Christian Newswire/
– A pastor at the center of one of this year’s most watched Supreme
Court cases will attend arguments before the justices this Wednesday,
November 6, 2013, at 10:00 AM.
Who: The Reverends Rob Schenck and Patrick Madeiros with other Christian leaders
What: Attendance at U.S. Supreme Court for arguments in Greece, NY v. Galloway, Susan, et al. (12-696) with remarks, news conference and prayer service to follow
Where: In front of the United States Supreme Court, 1 First St, NE, Washington, DC 20543
When: Wed, Nov 6, Revds Schenck and Madeiros arrive at Supreme Court, West Entrance, 9:30 AM, emerge from Court main doors approximately 11:00 AM, make comments to media approximately 11:05 AM, and conduct news conference approximately 11:30 AM
The Reverend Patrick Madeiros (Mah’-dare-ose) is Lead Pastor of
Greece Assembly of God, a congregation in Greece, NY, and has been a
frequent guest clergy member at his local town council meetings. Over
the past fourteen years, Pastor Madeiros has delivered countless opening
prayers before council meetings. On Wednesday the justices will hear
arguments by attorneys for the town that it has a right to continue
the prayers. Lawyers for two atheists will assert that the public
prayers infringe on their clients’ rights not to believe in God.
Madeiros will travel from Greece, New York, to Washington, DC, on
Tuesday, November 5, where he will meet over dinner with the Reverend
Dr. Rob Schenck (Shank) of Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital and
chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance. The two will discuss
continuing strategies for preserving the American tradition of public
prayers by clergy. On Wednesday morning, Pastor Madeiros will accompany
Rev. Schenck to the High Court to listen to oral arguments in Town of
Greece v. Galloway, Susan, et al (12-696) Immediately following
arguments, the pastor will make comments to the media with Rev. Schenck,
and will participate in a news conference and prayer service on the
sidewalk in front of the court building.
Rev. Schenck said about Pastor Madeiros and the prayers he offers at his town council meetings:
“Pastor Pat, as everyone knows him, is one of the warmest and
most considerate people I have ever met. He is beloved by his
congregation and by many, many others. His prayers at town council
meetings are only the most visible contributions Pastor Pat makes to the
community he loves. It is wrong for the courts to ban a long-held,
widely accepted practice that has been going on in legislatures at every
level in our country since its birth, and it is even more wrong to deny
community faith leaders like Pastor Pat the freedom to pray according
to the dictates of their own beliefs and consciences. There are many,
many Christians in the town of Greece, but only a few atheists. Under
the guarantee of the First Amendment, all parties have equal rights
before the law. You can’t take away the rights of Christians in favor of
preserving the rights of atheists.”
- Obama Administration Joins Conservative Groups in Urging Supreme Court to Rule in Favor of Prayer Before City Council Meetings (blackchristiannews.com)
- Legislative Prayer Gets Supreme Court Review (huffingtonpost.com)
- Supreme Court to consider religious prayer at government meetings (religionnews.com)
“Penalizing two seconds of prayer while allowing two seconds of waving at Mom or shaking hands can mean only one thing: religious expression has been penalized, and that’s not constitutional,” said Senior Counsel David Cortman. “All sorts of activity are routinely allowed at athletic events, but when something is religious, suddenly it’s a problem for the NCHSAA.”
“The explanation that this student was penalized for delaying the match and not because he prayed doesn’t make sense,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Other wrestlers take two seconds to wave or shake hands, and those things are never penalized. This appears to be another example of the lack of tolerance for expressions of religious faith.”
A referee associated with the NCHSAA gave Wake Forest-Rolesville High School wrestler Nicholas Fant a warning for allegedly stalling a match when he jogged to the center of the mat and dropped to one knee for two seconds of prayer before the match began. Fant, a junior wrestler in the 220-pound weight class, arose even before the referee finished relaying the call. The warning later contributed to Fant losing a point.
The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains that “Fant’s kneeling for a two-second prayer before the commencement of his match was obviously not some sort of delay tactic, but a genuine expression of religious devotion that has been commonly practiced by athletes for decades and which Fant engaged in all season without prior incident. Indeed, if Fant had stopped for a short handshake with the referee, expression of good luck to his opponent, quick wave to his parents, or even knelt to tie his shoe, it is inconceivable that the NCHSAA referee would have issued a ‘stalling’ warning. The only plausible reason the NCHSAA referee issued such a warning here is because Fant’s action was religious…in nature.”
- Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-ko)
School district deems student’s well-wishes for classmates ‘too religious,’ case appealed to full 2nd Circuit
Monday, February 18, 2013
The Taconic Hills Central School District prohibited the 8th grade class co-president from offering the blessing, which planned to express her hope that “God would bless and keep” her classmates as they moved on to high school. School officials thought her words, as written, “sounded ‘too religious.’”
“Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas. The personal well-wishes of a student are no different just because they mention God,” said Senior Counsel David Cortman. “Public school officials have no legitimate basis to shut down personal speech just because it has a religious reference.”
The student’s brief closing remarks echoed Numbers 6:24-26 and read, “As we say our goodbyes and leave middle school behind, I say to you, may the Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”
“Silencing religious voices in public schools tells students that faith is something to be ashamed of,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The First Amendment does not allow public schools to exclude students of faith from fully participating in important events, like graduation, by requiring them to put a lid on their expressions of faith.”
Co-counsel David Gibbs, one of nearly 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, originally filed the case, A.M. v. Taconic Hills Central School District, in 2010.
The petition for rehearing en banc filed last week seeks to overturn the 2nd Circuit panel’s ruling, which approved the censorship of the student. The petition argues that the school district is violating the student’s freedom of speech, which the First Amendment protects. It also argues against the panel’s notion that a religious blessing has no “secular analogue” by pointing out that “everyone who has ever browsed the racks of a Hallmark store knows that both secular and religious expressions of good will abound in our society.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys explain in the petition that the “Supreme Court established long ago that religious principles do not ‘taint’ expressions of good will ‘in a way that other foundations for thought or viewpoints do not.’” They note that, contrary to the school district’s suggestion, mere concerns about violating the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause do not provide “a ‘get-out-of-jail free card’” that enables school districts to do whatever they like.
- Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-ko)
- Supreme Court asked to toss ruling that treats church buildings like toxic dumps (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- Court Rules That Administrators Were Right to Remove Bible Verse from Student’s Graduation Speech (patheos.com)
- Miss. bills could lead to prayer in schools (sfgate.com)
Alliance Defending Freedom files friend-of-the-court brief in defense of Wis. school district
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Attorney sound bite: David Cortman
“Church buildings should not be treated like toxic warehouses simply because they normally house religious activities. That has never been the intent of the First Amendment,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman. “On the contrary, as the judges who dissented on the 7th Circuit’s opinion said, this opinion clearly exhibits an unconstitutional hostility toward religion. The government isn’t being neutral toward religion when it treats it worse.”
Fearing a cramped, wooden-benched, and un-air conditioned gymnasium would ruin their big day, high school seniors in the Elmbrook School District looked for an alternative venue in which to hold their graduation exercises. They asked to move to the nearby Elmbrook Church building because it could easily accommodate all of their guests (even those with disabilities) and offered amenities like cushioned seating, free parking, and temperature control. The rental price of the church was also less expensive than holding the graduation ceremony in the school’s antiquated gym.
District officials agreed and rented the church for graduation ceremonies until the completion of a public school facility that offered similar creature comforts. After that, graduations were held on school grounds. Some offended current and former students and their parents, represented by attorneys with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, filed suit.
The district court ruled that renting Elmbrook Church to obtain “an adequate, convenient, cost-effective graduation venue” was constitutional. A panel of the 7th Circuit agreed based, in part, on the district’s “utter lack of any religious purpose…and the overwhelming evidence that the District desired to make use only of the Church’s material amenities.” A full panel of the 7th Circuit later reversed that decision on appeal.
The Alliance Defending Freedom brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on. Jan. 18 in Elmbrook School District v. Doe explains that the full 7th Circuit’s decision “mandates government hostility towards religion, precludes government neutrality amongst sects, and puts the First Amendment rights of religious students at risk. It also severely compromises public schools’ ability to rent private venues for secular purposes and threatens to derail valuable educational programs that depend upon religious neutrality for survival. Given the magnitude of the Seventh Circuit’s legal errors and the significance of their real-world impact, this Court should grant review to vindicate the Establishment Clause’s true intent…. The Seventh Circuit’s en banc opinion takes the District’s practical solution to a real-world problem and manufactures a constitutional morass.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
- School petitions high court over graduation flap (lacrossetribune.com)
- School Petitions High Court over Graduation Flap (wsaw.com)
- FRC Submits SCOTUS Brief On Behalf of 49 Members of Congress in Public Prayer Case (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
January 08, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Family Research Council‘s (FRC) Ken Klukowski, J.D., has submitted an amicus brief on behalf of 49 Members of Congress supporting the Alliance Defending Freedom’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Town of Greece v. Galloway.
In Galloway, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the use of public prayer before town meetings in the town of Greece was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. The Second Circuit court ruled this despite the town’s highly inclusive policy that allowed even practicing Wiccans and atheists to offer civic prayers.
Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, authored the amicus brief on behalf of the Members of Congress. In the brief, he compared prayer before town meetings to the legislative prayers before the U.S. House of Representatives, and noted:
“In this Court’s sole examination of legislative prayer in Marsh v. Chambers, the Court determined the constitutionality of legislative prayer as practiced in Nebraska and nationwide primarily by analyzing Congress’ legislative prayer practice. The Court looked approvingly to legislative prayer dating to the Founding, in the Continental Congress, Constitutional Convention, and First Congress that drafted the Establishment Clause.
“While no written prayers from the First Congress survive, other contemporaneous public prayers suggest the sort of content found in early legislative prayers. Similar prayers are offered in Congress today. If the Second Circuit’s rule were correct, then Congress would have been violating the Constitution for more than two centuries.”
Tony Perkins , president of the Family Research Council, made the following comments:
“Once again Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is trying to reinterpret the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty into a declaration against religion. The Founders understood that religion is good for society, and defended ‘the free exercise thereof.’ Family Research Council is honored that 49 Members of Congress, including the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, have chosen FRC to present their arguments to the nation’s highest Court. We hope the Supreme Court will reject the freedom-threatening Second Circuit opinion in this case, and reverse it.”
- US Supreme Court asked to weigh in on strange ruling against NY town’s prayer policy (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- Atheist Group Pressures New Members of Congress Not to Join Prayer Caucus (foxnewsinsider.com)
Paul and Rob Schenck are twin brothers and co-founders of the National Pro-Life Center and
in the Nation‘s Capital, both located across the street from the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Rev. Paul Schenck is a Roman Catholic priest and Rev. Rob Schenck is an evangelical Protestant minister.
- Judge Napolitano on Justice John Roberts’s Decision: I Don’t Think He Made the Constitutional Decision (foxnewsinsider.com)
- Conservative Republicans Turn On Former Hero, Chief Justice John Roberts (thinkprogress.org)
- Is Chief Justice John Roberts someone to be scorned, or is he a genius? (coralvillecourier.typepad.com)
- 12 Really Nice Things Conservative Republicans Said About Chief Justice John Roberts (thinkprogress.org)
”Like many Americans, I am shocked that the Supreme Court total upheld Obamacare’s mandate as a tax. Called the Affordable Care Act, it is anything but affordable for American citizens and businesses. I am deeply troubled that the Obama administration did not sell this legislation to the American people as a tax and promised it would not raise taxes, yet defended the law to the Supreme Court as a tax instead of activity under the “commerce clause“. We now need to work to repeal this 2,700 page law that was crammed through Congress without reading and seriously focus on federal, state, local, and private initiatives that will bring the cost of health care down to make it affordable and available for everyone before it bankrupts our country and Americans. I will read through the decision and provide more extensive comments.”
- Trent Franks Backs Martha McSally in 2nd District Conservative leader calls McSally “exact kind of principled fighter we need in Congress” (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- Michael Reagan Endorses Martha McSally (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- Obamacare in the Balance: Will the Court Ruling Really Matter? (dailyfinance.com)
ADF attorney sound bite: Brian Raum
attorneys are part of the legal defense team for ProtectMarriage.com, the banner organization for the official proponents and campaign committee of Proposition 8. The ProtectMarriage.com legal team appealed to the full 9th Circuit in February.
“Marriage is a universal good that has been honored by diverse cultures and faiths for the entire history of Western Civilization,” said ADF Senior Counsel Brian Raum. “The Protectmarriage.com legal team looks forward to standing before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the people’s right to preserve the fundamental building block of civilization, especially since the dissent accompanying today’s decision strongly supports our arguments. The democratic process and the most important human institution–marriage–shouldn’t be overthrown based on the demands of Hollywood activists.”
On Feb. 7, two judges on a three-judge 9th Circuit panel in Perry v. Brown agreed with a federal district judge’s decision that California’s marriage amendment–Article I, Section 7.5 of the state constitution–is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution.
“The Supreme Court has made it perfectly clear that marriage is constitutional as a matter of state public policy,” explained lead counsel Charles J. Cooper with the Cooper & Kirk law firm. “We’re pleased to petition the Court to hear this case. The lower court opinions were little more than an attack on the character and judgment of millions of Californians, and those decisions essentially ignored all relevant Supreme Court and appellate court precedent. We are hopeful and confident that the Supreme Court will review the 9th Circuit’s decision.”
A strong dissent accompanied the full 9th Circuit’s decision not to review the case. It states, “Based on a two-judge majority’s gross misapplication of Romer v. Evans…, we have now declared that animus must have been the only conceivable motivation for a sovereign State to have remained committed to a definition of marriage that has existed for millennia…. Even worse, we have overruled the will of seven million California Proposition 8 voters based on a reading of Romer that would be unrecognizable to the Justices who joined it, to those who dissented from it, and to the judges from sister circuits who have since interpreted it. We should not have so roundly trumped California’s democratic process without at least discussing this unparalleled decision as an en banc court.”
The 9th Circuit’s decision is on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court has a chance to weigh in on whether to review the case.
- Pronunciation guide: Raum (RAHM’)
- What’s next for California’s gay marriage ban (mercurynews.com)
- Judges open door for Supreme Court showdown over same-sex marriage (cnn.com)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Family Research Council, along with three U.S. Senators and 17 U.S. Representatives, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States supporting the petition for certiorari in the case Mt. Soledad Memorial Association v. Trunk. FRC ‘s brief argues that this case reveals the serious flaws in the “endorsement of religion” test that the Supreme Court adopted in 1989, and uses to determine whether memorials or pieces of art on government property violate the Constitution.
Despite the fact that this is a national veteran’s memorial created by an act of Congress, the Obama/Holder Justice Department delayed and requested deadline extensions from the Supreme Court saying that they had not determined whether case was worth taking to the high court. After public pressure created by an op-ed published by the Director of FRC‘s Center for Religious Liberty,
, in the Washington Examiner, the Justice Department reversed course and this past Monday asked the Court to take the case.
Klukowski co-authored FRC ‘s amicus brief with distinguished constitutional law professor Nelson Lund of George Mason University School of Law. Klukowski made the following comments about the brief:
“This Mt. Soledad case is just the latest travesty in a long line of disturbing instances of federal courts striking down widely-accepted and longstanding expressions of faith in public life.
“But these tragic results are the predictable consequence of the profoundly wrong-headed endorsement test that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor invented out of thin air in the 1980s. These absurd results will continue until the Supreme Court overrules the endorsement test and returns to the historical understanding of the First Amendment, and we hope the Court takes this case as the opportunity to do so.”
- American Civil Rights Union Urges Supreme Court to Adopt ‘Coercion Test’ (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- FRC Calls Obama Administration’s Defense of the National Day of Prayer Inadequate (prnewswire.com)
ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 24, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — The Thomas More Law Center announced today that it has appealed a controversial decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeal was filed in the case of Bradley Johnson v. Poway Unified School District late last week.
For the past twenty-five years, Bradley Johnson, a high school math teacher at the Poway School District located in California had been displaying red, white and blue banners in his classroom that contained patriotic phrases such as: “In God We Trust,” “One Nation Under God,” and “God Bless America.”
He displayed the banners pursuant to a 30-year school district policy that permitted teachers to maintain classroom displays of non-curricular messages that reflected their personal opinions and values. In effect, the school district designated classroom walls as forum for the expression of the teacher’s private opinions and viewpoints.
However, in 2007 school officials ordered Johnson to remove his banners because they promoted a “Judeo-Christian” viewpoint.
In an outrageous case of double standard, school officials allowed other teachers to display non-Christian religious displays in their classrooms. These displays included a 40-foot string of Tibetan prayer flags with images of Buddha hung across a classroom, a poster with Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi’s “7 Social Sins;” a poster of Muslim leader Malcolm X; a poster of the Buddhist leader Dali Lama; and a poster containing the lyrics of John Lennon’s anti-religion song “Imagine,” which begins, Imagine there’s no Heaven.
As a result, the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which defends the religious liberty of Christians, filed a federal lawsuit against the school district on behalf of Johnson.
On February 25, 2010, Federal District Judge Robert T. Benitez agreed with the Thomas More Law Center. He ruled that “Johnson was simply exercising his free speech rights on subjects that were otherwise permitted in the limited public forum created by Defendants” and that there was an “ongoing violation of his First Amendment free speech rights.”
However, the Poway School District appealed the ruling and a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Benitez’s decision ruling that the school district was justified in removing banners that mentioned God, while leaving untouched the Tibetan Prayer flags and the images of Buddha.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, commented, “This case is a prime example of how public schools across our nation are cleansing our classrooms of our Christian heritage while promoting atheism and other non-Christian religions under the guise of cultural diversity.”
Continued Thompson, “The Ninth Circuit Court’s rationale in allowing the Tibetan Prayer Flags and references to other religions while outlawing America’s patriotic slogans that mention God is unconvincing. Brad Johnson was simply exercising his free speech rights in a forum created by the school district to inform students of the religious foundations of our nation.” Read Ninth Circuit Court opinion here.
Attempts to get a rehearing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals failed, and so the Law Center pursued its only remaining option — a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (appeal) to the United States Supreme Court. Read Petition to Supreme Court here.
The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, a strong national defense, and an independent and sovereign United States of America. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization. You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website www.thomasmore.org.
- Santorum Suggests Banishing Ninth Circuit Court Judges To Guam (thinkprogress.org)