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Mario Diaz, Esq.

The Scalia-Like Judge

By | LBB, News and Events | No Comments

Time waits for no one. One year ago today, the great Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away.  His absence in the Court has been noticeable, and yet, his legacy continues to influence our judicial system in very significant ways.

It is a great testimony to his legacy that, as we look for his replacement at the Supreme Court, the highest compliment we can pay is to say we want someone that is “Scalia-like.”

This was the promise President Donald Trump made during the campaign trail that got him so much support from the conservative base.

Now he has followed through in that promise by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Gorsuch espouses the same type of commitment to the text of the Constitution and the limited role of a judge.  They both approach the judicial role with a certain humility that gives deference to the other branches of government and allows for “We the People” to struggle through the difficult issues and policies we want to adopt.

This is good for our judiciary and vital for a healthy constitutional republic as ours.

Judge Gorsuch has shown great respect for Justice Scalia throughout his career.  He spoke very movingly at his announcement at the White House, saying, “Justice Scalia was a lion of the law. Agree or disagree with him, all of his colleagues on the bench shared his wisdom and his humor. And like them, I miss him.”

It was a powerful moment, considering also that the widow of Justice Scalia was present for the solemn occasion.

It would be worth your time to watch his full speech at Cave Western Reserve University School of Law, titled “Of Lions and Bears, Judges and Legislators: Some Reflections on the Legacy of Justice Scalia.”

Judge Gorsuch’s embrace of Justice Scalia is a great testimony to his judicial acumen, and we can only hope that it helps to promulgate the idea.  A Supreme Court, indeed a judicial branch, full of Scalia-like judges might just be the thing that can help us return to the founding principles that established our nation as the freest in history.

A Time to Celebrate

By | News and Events, Sessions | No Comments

You prayed, made calls, sent letters, wrote blog posts, op-eds and many emails.  Now it’s time to celebrate!

Senator Sessions was just confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney General by a 52-47 vote in the Senate.  Check out Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) press release on the exciting news!  She said:

Americans deserve an Attorney General who will enforce the rule of law regardless of their political or personal opinions, and that is exactly what newly confirmed Attorney General Sessions has promised.

Go ahead, take a moment.  It is good to see a good man like Sen. Jeff Session, sorry, actually, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (sounds good doesn’t it?) overcome the unprecedented smear campaign from the left we witnessed and come out victorious.

This is just the latest example of what we can do when we raise our voices and work together.

We rejoice not only for his personal victory but also because this is a victory for all Americans.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) is in desperate need of a leader that refuses to put politics ahead of the law.

Politics have ruled for the last eight years of the Obama Administration.  Still today, former Attorney General Eric Holder is plotting to undermine the Trump Administration’s DOJ.

AG Sessions’ task will not be easy, so he will continue to need our prayers going forward.

But for now, we take a moment and simply smile.

Confident of Gorsuch on Life

By | LBB, Legal, News and Events, Planned Parenthood, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

Look, I know the pro-life issue is an emotional one. The sanctity of human life and the intrinsic value of every human being as created in the image of God demand no less of us, so I would not expect anything less. But in assessing a judge’s record, we must be conscious of what we are looking for in making that assessment.

We do not need a judge who promises to overturn Roe v. Wade. That hideous case has been the focus of pro-lifers’ ire ever since it was rendered, because of the enormous impact it has had (almost 60 million lives lost now), but the fact is that it is just one part of the pro-life work.

The anti-slavery movement was a pro-life movement. Efforts against embryonic stem cell experimentation are part of the pro-life cause. In recent years, a troublesome pro-euthanasia movement has awakened, and that is something we will continue to fight vigorously.

Certainly, the fight for the value of every human life will continue and perhaps intensify when Roe is finally overturned.

So what we must look for in a judge is someone committed to the law and the Constitution as written — committed to our country’s founding principle that we are “endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Those principles will guard life in all areas. Read More

Sessions Wins Cloture Vote

By | Legal, News and Events, Sessions | No Comments

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) is one step closer to becoming the 84th Attorney General of the United States.  Today, the Senate voted 52 to 47 to invoke cloture and end the debate on his confirmation.  A 30-hour discussion period will follow, after which the final vote is expected Wednesday night.

This is great news for Concerned Women for America (CWA); we feel Sen. Jeff Sessions is just the type of leader the Department of Justice needs, especially after eight years of politicization under the Obama Administration and former Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.

Please keep Sen. Sessions and the Senate in your prayers as they continue to consider his nomination.

I also ask you to pray for Sen. Sessions’ replacement.  Once Sen. Sessions is confirmed and sworn in (probably on Thursday), Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley (R) will appoint a replacement to his Senate seat.  With the increase in irrational partisanship in Washington, let us pray Sen. Sessions’ replacement is as dedicated to the constitutional principles that guard our liberty as he was.

Sen. Session’s 20 years of service will be a hard act to follow, but we are praying that God will raise a man or woman “for such a time as this.”

More to come, so stay tuned.

Gorsuch in Little Sisters of the Poor

By | LBB, News and Events | No Comments

I’ve already highlighted for you Judge Neil Gorsuch’s admirable judicial instincts and philosophy as he concurred in the Hobby Lobby religious liberty case.

Another example of his clear thinking in this area of the law comes to us through a wonderful dissent he joined in the Little Sisters of the Poor case.  Written by Judge Harris Hartz and joined by Judge Gorsuch and three other judges, the dissent took a strong stance for our constitutional rights to religious freedom, emphasizing that “[I]t is not the job of the judiciary to tell people what their religious beliefs are.”

But that is what the majority did.  While it did not doubt the sincerity of the Little Sisters of the Poor, it concluded they didn’t really object to signing a form to facilitate the distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients it considered sinful, it was the actual distribution of them, so it wasn’t really an imposition on their religious liberty.

Judge Gorsuch, joining Judge Hartz in dissent, disagreed, calling the majority’s view “a dangerous approach to religious liberty.”  They said:

The opinion of the panel majority is clearly and gravely wrong — on an issue that has little to do with contraception and a great deal to do with religious liberty. When a law demands that a person do something the person considers sinful, and the penalty for refusal is a large financial penalty, then the law imposes a substantial burden on that person’s free exercise of religion.

That much was clear.  But the majority called the objection a mere derivative of a core belief.  The dissent raised the troubling concern with the view with one simple question, “Could we really tolerate letting courts examine the reasoning behind a religious practice or belief and decide what is core and what is derivative?”

The clear answer is “no.”  And, not only does common sense dictate this (which it does), but Supreme Court precedent demands it, too (which is the more important question for a judge, whatever his personal beliefs).  The dissent again:

The Supreme Court has refused to examine the reasonableness of a sincere religious belief — in particular, the reasonableness of where the believer draws the line between sinful and acceptable — at least since Thomas v. Review Board of Indiana Employment Security Division, 450 U.S. 707, 715 (1981), and it emphatically reaffirmed that position in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751, 2778 (2014).

Still, the majority, compelled by strong feelings no doubt, ruled against denying a rehearing of the Little Sisters of the Poor case.

The dissent, though, was not fazed by the majority’s opinion refusal to adhere by clear precedent, concluding, “Fortunately, the doctrine of the panel majority will not long survive. It is contrary to all precedent concerning the free exercise of religion.”

They (including Judge Gorsuch) were, of course, ultimately proven right by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gorsuch in Hobby Lobby

By | Gorsuch, LBB, Legal, News and Events | No Comments

Reading through President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch’s decisions is a pleasure for those of us who love the Constitution and the rule of law.  Here is a good example.

Before the Supreme Court ever heard the Hobby Lobby case, Judge Gorsuch took a stab at it in his time at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

If you remember, after ramming through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, with not a single Republican vote in support, using every dirty, political trick in the book (and even inventing new ones), the Obama Administration insisted in unnecessarily forcing Christian businesses to violate their conscience and pay for contraceptives and abortifacients, even if to do so would be against their deeply held religious beliefs.

The Green family of Hobby Lobby and many other Christian businesses objected to this violation of their religious freedom and sued under the Religious Freedom Restoration act (RFRA).

In the case of a constitutionalist, like Judge Gorsuch, the case was a simple one.  And it was most certainly not about their personal religious views or policy preferences.  Here is how he put it, concurring in judgment in favor of the Greens.

In many ways this case is the tale of two statutes. The ACA compels the Greens to act. RFRA says they need not. We are asked to decide which legislative direction controls. The tie-breaker is found not in our own opinions about good policy but in the laws Congress enacted. Congress structured RFRA to override other legal mandates, including its own statutes, if and when they encroach on religious liberty. (Emphasis mine)

Simple.  Clear.  Beautifully put.  A judge that keeps his personal feelings about the issues of the day out of the judicial process and follows the law and the Constitution as written instead is a judge that can be impartial in the most important moments in our history when the nation is having particularly heated debates about the best policies the country should enact.

That type of judge brings stability to the courts and makes our nation stronger by protecting our freedoms.  It’s the type of judge Justice Scalia was, and we’re thrilled that he will be replaced by someone committed to the same principle.

Guess Who Voted to Confirm Gorsuch in 2006?

By | LBB, Legal, News and Events | No Comments

As we engage on the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and we start seeing the left struggle to make the case against yet another decent, well-qualified, mainstream nominee, I will be posting regularly with daily insights into the happenings here in the nation’s capital.

I hope you’ve had a chance to read our press release on Gorsuch and some initial thoughts on the announcement.  Gorsuch is a solid, conservative choice who should be confirmed swiftly and unanimously, as Scalia was back in 1986.

But we live in different times now, and the left is already launching politically motivated attacks at this stellar nominee.  One Democratic super pac produced a 78-page dossier, calling him “too extreme for the Supreme Court.”

We are far removed from even 2006 when this collection of “right-wing extremists,” who are apparently “not sensitive to civil rights,” not committed to “core constitutional principles,” and who want to “roll back women’s progress,” (note: this is what they say about everyone) voted for the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals:

 

Barack Obama (D-Illinois)

Joe Biden (D-Delaware)

John Kerry (D-Massachusetts)

Hillary Clinton (D-New York)

 

Chuck Schumer (D-New York)

Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)

Dianne Feinstein (D-California)

Richard Durbin (D-Illinois)

Bill Nelson (D-Florida)

Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey)

Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)

Patty Murray (D-Washington)

Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island)

Tom Carper (D-Delaware)

Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan)

Maria Cantwell (D-Washington)

Senators in the latter part of the list are still serving today.

Thoughts on the Gorsuch Announcement

By | Legal, News and Events | No Comments

A few quick thoughts on tonight’s announcement of Judge Neil Gorsuch being nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

1. This is an impressive nominee.

As we studied the 21 names on President Donald Trump’s nomination short list, Judge Gorsuch shone for his impressive academic credentials, his meticulous writing style and his commitment to the Constitution as written, in full rejection of the liberal manipulation of the so-called “living, breathing,” document.

His involvement in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases against the Obamacare contraceptive mandate shine bright on his resume.  In discussing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), he emphasized that the law “doesn’t just apply to protect popular religious beliefs: it does perhaps its most important work in protecting unpopular religious beliefs, vindicating this nation’s long-held aspiration to serve as a refuge of religious tolerance.”

The opinion shows a deep understanding, not only of RFRA but of the Constitution and our country’s foundations.

In today’s climate of increasing hostility towards religious liberty, Judge Gorsuch’s strong sense of the law would be an important guard for our liberties, as was Justice Scalia for so many years.


2. President Trump Shined, Too

President Trump promised someone in the mold of Scalia and he delivered; there is no question about that.  He was proud to have done that, so yes, he gloated a bit.  He said, “I am a man of my word.  I will do as I say … Today, I’m keeping another promise to the American People by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court …”

It’s okay, he earned it.

Then came the most moving part of the whole proceeding when he paused to recognized the widow of Justice Antonin Scalia who was in the audience for the occasion.  “Also with us tonight is Maureen Scalia,” he said, “a woman loved by her husband and deeply respected by all.  I’m so happy she is with us.”  A heartfelt applause from the audience followed.  I appreciated the President’s thoughtfulness as I saw her choke up as she received the acknowledgment from the crowd.

Then he quickly moved to allow Judge Gorsuch, who was accompanied by his wife, speak (that is he didn’t bore us with a long speech of his own) “Judge Gosuch, the podium, sir, is yours,” He spoke less than ten minutes.

3. Judge Gorsuch Humble Remarks Said a Lot About Him

His words on Justice Scalia were comforting for those of us who appreciated the late justice and who believe his judicial philosophy must endure for our liberties to be safeguarded against today’s attacks.  Judge Gorsuch said:

The towering judges that have served in this particular seat of the Supreme Court, including Antonin Scalia and Robert Jackson, are much in my mind at this moment.  Justice Scalia was a lion of the law.  Disagree or agree with him, all of his colleagues on the bench shared his wisdom and humor.  Like them, I miss him.

I’ll have more thoughts on Judge Gorsuch’s record and accomplishment in the days to come.  Concerned Women for America (CWA) is committed to ensuring a fair process, even in today’s extraordinarily hostile environment, so stay plugged in here to ConcernedWomen.org for the latest and to see what you can do to help confirm this Scalia-like judge to the Supreme Court.

Penny Nance on Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Choice for the Supreme Court

By | LBB, Legal, News and Events | No Comments

Statement by Concerned Women for America President & CEO Penny Nance on a press conference call alongside Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life Committee, and the Ethics & Public Policy Center, the night of President Trump’s announcement of Judge Neil Gorsuch as his choice for the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is a great night for those of us who love the Constitution and who, like John Adams, believe in “a government of laws and not men,” because President Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch — someone who, like Scalia, has demonstrated a consistent commitment to the Constitution as written and a willingness to show the judicial restraint necessary to follow through on that commitment.

That’s what we need in a justice of the Supreme Court, someone who embraces the limited role that he has been nominated for, instead of someone looking to impose their personal policy preferences through judicial decrees.

Everyone should support a judge like this.

Judge Gorsuch has been praised for his keen legal intellect and compelling writing style, which many compare to Scalia, but I’d like to also emphasize his distinguished record in the area of religious liberty.

His involvement in both the Hobby Lobby case and the Little Sisters of the Poor case (that was so important to the women I represent) was exemplary.  His opinions leave no doubt that he has a clear, strong, and honest constitutional foundation that drives his judicial philosophy.  And that’s all we can ask for.

We commend President Trump for keeping his word.  This appointment was a big reason why conservative women supported him overwhelmingly, and we are pleased to see him follow through on his commitment to them.

Now it’s time for the Senate to do its part.  I hope we do not see the same type of partisan bickering that has overtaken many in Congress who can’t seem to accept the results of the election. Read More

A Quick Look at Neil Gorsuch

By | Legal, News and Events | No Comments

Name: Neil Gorsuch

Age: 49 (born August 29, 1967)

School: Columbia University, Harvard Law School, Ph.D. in law from University College at Oxford University (Marshall Scholarship).

Clerkships: Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and, Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy at the Supreme Court.

Career before judgeship: Associate, then partner at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel., then Principal Deputy to the Associate Attorney General, Robert McCallum, at the U.S. Department of Justice

Current Appointment: United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, appointed by President George W. Bush.

Judicial Philosophy:  Similar to Scalia, he is a constitutionalist, who believes the Constitution should be interpreted as written and rejects the liberal proposition of a “living, breathing document.” 

On Life: In his book entitled The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, judge Gorsuch argued for laws against euthanasia based on the philosophy “that all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

On Religious Liberty:  Gorsuch shines most in this area, ruling both in favor of Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor.  He has also dissented or joined several opinions that criticized Supreme Court doctrines that limit religious expression in public spaces, like the Ten Commandment displays (Summum v. Pleasant Grove City, American Atheists Inc. v. Davenport, Green v. Haskell County Board of Commissioners).