Category Archives: Church and State
Texas Attorney General Releases Statement Supporting Justice of the Peace in Dispute with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
March 23, 2017) Montgomery County, Texas includes many of the suburbs north of the City of Houston in the Southeast part of the state. A Justice of the Peace there, Wayne Mack has a guest chaplain program. These volunteers offer support and counsel at the scene of death investigations. These volunteers are also called upon to lead a brief prayer at the beginning of Judge Mack’s court proceedings.
Last year Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick asked the Attorney General for a legal opinion on Judge Mack’s practices. It is worth noting that Lt. Governor Patrick has always enjoyed a large amount of support from Texas’ Pro Family/Christian Conservative movement. So it is likely that he requested the opinion to grant Judge Mack a degree of legal cover, not to stop the practices. In August of last year AG Paxton released opinion KP-0109. In this six page opinion AG Paxton held that Judge Mack’s actions were in line with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece V. Galloway, and other precedents, and therefore were not in violation of the state of federal constitutions.
On this past Tuesday March 21st. The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit against Judge Mack seeking to end his use of chaplains. Paxton responded the following day with an official statement saying
“Judge Mack is fully complying with the Constitution by adhering to the model for opening prayers the Supreme Court endorsed just a few years ago,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The Freedom from Religion Foundation’s quest to expunge any vestige of religion from public life flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s holdings. I am confident our courts will follow years of precedents and not indulge a litigious group’s plea to rewrite the Constitution.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the NBA announced it will move the 2017 NBA All-Star Game to New Orleans, Louisiana. The game was originally scheduled to be hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina, but the NBA moved the game out of Charlotte in protest over passage of North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which provides common sense protections for bathroom privacy and against government overreach.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement:
“I commend North Carolina Governor McCrory for his political courage and moral clarity in not caving in to the NBA’s threats to move the All-Star game. He stared down the giant of the NBA and stood strong against government discrimination of private entities and for the principles of protecting privacy and safety in government buildings.
“My home state of Louisiana, like North Carolina, is one of 32 states in the U.S. that does not force private businesses to allow men in women’s showers, locker rooms, and restrooms. On the other hand, in New Orleans—the same as in Charlotte—the NBA will be free to divide the restrooms at its own event on the basis of self-professed ‘gender identity’ instead of objective biological sex, if it wishes to do so. Only politics—not the well-being of transgender persons or anyone else—motivated this disruptive and punitive move.
“The hypocrisy of the NBA over North Carolina’s HB 2 law is utterly stunning. The NBA is willing to turn a blind eye and play games in countries, like the People’s Republic of China, that regularly oppress their own citizens.
“The NBA should focus on basketball, not on redefining what it means to be male or female,” concluded Perkins.
SAN FRANCISCO, April 26, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — Thomas More Society attorneys filed an appeal last week with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for undercover journalist David Daleiden, arguing for reversal of a preliminary injunction that bars Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress from publishing undercover videos from the 2014 and 2015 annual meetings of the National Abortion Federation (“NAF”). Daleiden’s appeal assails the lower court’s decree as a blatantly unconstitutional “prior restraint” on free speech, based on repeated Supreme Court precedents that condemn such gag orders, most notably the famous Pentagon Papers case in which the Justices refused the federal government’s plea to stop publication of top secret files discussing the Vietnam war which had been leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post. The appeal brief also argues that release of undercover video of significant (if not paramount) public interest should not be suppressed, in order to protect the public’s right to know – a critical element of our professed democratic self-governance as an open and free society. Indeed, the United States Congress, numerous state legislators, and criminal investigators have subpoenaed and relied on Daleiden’s video releases to instigate hearings, new legal and regulatory initiatives, defunding measures, and also possible civil and criminal enforcement actions against the abortion industry. Congress itself had subpoenaed the suppressed videos and the lower court upheld that subpoena, which in turn led to a public hearing by the House Select Committee on Infant Lives, held last week.
This prejudicial censorship targeted at civilian investigator Daleiden threatens undercover journalism at large, explained Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, a national non-profit law firm. “The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is working in tandem with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers and promoters to suppress David Daleiden’s First Amendment rights and to shut down the resulting investigations focused on the abortion groups’ involvement in baby parts trafficking,” stated Brejcha.
The Society’s appeal, filed with California-based co-counsel, comes on the heels of the preliminary injunction entered by District Judge William H. Orrick of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. NAF had sought entry of this censorship in response to Daleiden’s public release of a series of videos exposing illegal and unsavory practices by Planned Parenthood and other abortion industry participants. NAF’s principal claim in its lawsuit, filed last summer, is that Daleiden and CMP violated the federal Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), a 1970 federal law designed to combat organized crime.
About the RICO claims, Brejcha said, “These are totally inapposite charges in this scenario – charges that have been decisively rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. Equally as other investigative journalists for so-called mainstream news media, such as CBS’s Sixty Minutes, regularly resort to undercover journalism tactics to ferret out hidden crime, citizen journalists like David Daleiden have every right to penetrate the criminal underworld to bring to light and open to public scrutiny evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing.”
Find additional background on the case at the following links:
- Thomas More Society Attorneys Defend Citizen Journalist Daleiden in Abusive Raid and Seizure (April 7, 2016)
- Planned Parenthood Files New Federal “RICO” (Racketeering) Lawsuit against David Daleiden (January 20, 2016)
- National Abortion Federation Lawsuit against David Daleiden Threatens Undercover Journalism at Large (December 17, 2015)
- Thomas More Society Defends David Daleiden as He Uncovers Abortion Industry’s Sale of Fetal Body Parts (August 27, 2015)
The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.
The Georgia Governor’s Office announced yesterday that Gov. Deal was vetoing the Free Exercise Protection Act. The act was passed by the Georgia legislature in response to concerns by Christians in Georgia that they were too often being denied the right to exercise their faith in public.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council reacted with the following statement,
TEMECULA, Calif., Feb. 10, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — Today, Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship filed a complaint in federal court against the County of Riverside, California, based on the United States Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person’s Act of 2000.
Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship, commonly known as “Calvary Wine Country,” is located in the region of California known as the Temecula Wine Country.
Calvary Wine Country opened its doors in 1996 when churches were once allowed to locate in the 17,900 acre Wine Country region – an area equal to 28 square miles. However, soon after Calvary Wine Country was approved, the County banned churches from the Temecula Wine Country, leaving Calvary Wine Country as a nonconforming use. Now, Calvary’s ability to expand its facilities for its flourishing congregation in the Wine Country is uncertain at best.
Calvary Wine Country plans to remain in the Wine Country and to build a larger sanctuary on its 28 acre adjacent property. However, the county’s zoning ordinances still ban churches and Calvary Wine Country is the only church in the Temecula Wine Country. Meanwhile, the County permits special occasion facilities, wineries, hotels, resorts, restaurants, and many other tourist related uses in the Wine Country.
Calvary’s pastor Clark Van Wick said, “It’s a tragedy to see our religious liberty eroded in this country where men and women have fought and died to protect our liberty. It’s un-American to see churches outlawed like we’re seeing here in the neighborhood I’ve lived in for 27 years.”
“This is a classic case for the federal religious land use law that protects churches and requires that zoning authorities treat religious assemblies on equal terms to other nonreligious assemblies,” said Robert Tyler, Managing Partner of Tyler & Bursch, LLP and counsel for Calvary Wine Country. He further commented, “Calvary Wine Country has long desired to just be a good neighbor, to work cooperatively with the county and to provide a place of worship for the thousands of residents that live in the Wine Country.”
Unfortunately, Calvary Wine Country has been the target of litigation by a “loose” organization named Protect Wine Country. Calvary Wine Country has had to fight a neighboring vintner, a special interest group, and other politically influential wineries just to continue its right to exist on its own property.
Robert Tyler commented, “It is ironic that Father Junipero Sera, the ‘Father of California Wine,’ planted the first known vineyard in California at the San Diego Mission de Alcala and vineyards graced the California Missions for many years. Today, however, Riverside County has determined that a church is no longer compatible with vineyards and has banned all religious assemblies from the Temecula Wine Country.”
Calvary Wine Country is represented by Advocates for Faith & Freedom in association with Tyler & Bursch, LLP. Robert Tyler filed one of the first lawsuits under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 on behalf of the Elsinore Christian Center located in Lake Elsinore, California. That suit resulted in a successful resolution wherein the City paid more than $1.6 million in settlement. Robert’s firm, Tyler & Bursch, LLP, has become one of the nation’s premier firms for handling religious land use cases on behalf of churches.
Advocates for Faith & Freedom is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts. You can visit our website at www.faith-freedom.com.
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A copy of the Complaint can be found here.