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Mario Diaz, Esq.

No Freedom Without Prayer

By | Case Vault, Legal, News and Events, SCOTUS | No Comments

We are a nation born of the radical idea that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” That is why liberty and freedom flourished in our nation against all odds. That fundamental appeal to the authority of our Creator, above and beyond earthly governments, levels the playing field among selfish human interests.

 

It is a plea to a higher authority above raw human power, and it necessarily affirms every person’s intrinsic, equal value. It stands squarely against the inevitable attempts of our broken nature to establish one class of individuals above another. These attempts have existed throughout time. They were undoubtedly palpable at the nation’s founding. We still have them today. And they will continue.

 

Eternal vigilance is a prerequisite for sustained freedom in this world.

 

The recent religious liberty win in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District is an excellent example of the efforts needed to preserve liberty in America in the coming years. Increased hostility toward Christ and His teachings is leading our culture to some bizarre conclusions that will devastate our future if they are allowed to take root.

 

At the same time that our culture insists on promoting the early sexualization of our children in schools, with drag queens promoted as the best role models, here, in this case, a Christian coach had to fight all the way to the Supreme Court to defend his unalienable right to pray silently after school football games. He is apparently not the type of role model our kids need.

 

Drag queens, fantastic role models; humble, praying, Christian coaches, horrible-no-good-intolerable role models, according to today’s woke school officials.

 

Like Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority to uphold Coach Kennedy’s First Amendment rights, pointed out, in the system’s view, “the only acceptable government role models for students are those who eschew any visible religious expression.”

 

Thankfully, the United States Supreme Court has stopped the targeting of our Christian faith for now. However, the attitude that persisted in this injustice for almost seven years against Coach Kennedy still dominates our public educational institutions. And our federal courts, let’s not forget that. The targeting of Coach Kennedy was approved by both the district and the appellate courts.

 

We have so distorted the Constitution throughout the years that public officials actually believed, and again, the lower courts went right along, “not only that it may prohibit teachers from engaging in any demonstrative religious activity, but that it must do so in order to conform to the Constitution.”

 

This is, of course, absurd given our nation’s founding, but anti-Christian forces have used the so-called “separation of church and state” extra-constitutional mantra so often for so long that this misconception of the First Amendment in schools is widespread. Here the Court helps clarify that this misunderstanding of law cannot shield school officials from their intolerant practices. “[T]he only meaningful justification the government offered for its reprisal rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech,” the Court wrote. “The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”

 

Religious speech is speech. It should be afforded all the constitutional protections traditionally applied to any other speech. Instead, for years, it has been particularly targeted because it is religious. This boggles the mind when one considers that, if anything, religious expressions were singled out in the Constitution as perhaps worthy of heightened protection. As the Court wrote:

 

In the name of protecting religious liberty, the District would have us suppress it. Rather than respect the First Amendment’s double protection for religious expression, it would have us preference secular activity. Not only could schools fire teachers for praying quietly over their lunch, for wearing a yarmulke to school, or for offering a midday prayer during a break before practice. Under the District’s rule, a school would be required to do so.

 

That double protection the Court references was also a crucial part of the opinion because, for years, some have tried to pit the free exercise and the establishment clause against each other, but instead, “the Clauses have ‘complimentary’ purposes, not warring ones where one Clause is always sure to prevail over the others.”

 

The school district here thought it needed to choose between the two. The Court explained: “[T]the District effectively created its own ‘vise between the Establishment Clause on one side and the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses on the other,’ placed itself in the middle, and then chose its preferred way out of its self-imposed trap.”

 

The school officials were simply mistaken, as they are so often. “And in no world may a government entity’s concerns about phantom constitutional violations justify actual violations of an individual’s First Amendment rights.” This should have been apparent, especially for the judges reviewing the cases. “We are aware of no historically sound understanding of the Establishment Clause that begins to ‘mak[e] it necessary for government to be hostile to religion’ in this way,” the Court wrote. There is none. The courts below did not cite one either.

 

Instead, they relied on the infamous Lemon test, which “called for an examination of a law’s purposes, effects, and potential for entanglement with religion.” The test has long been criticized for fundamentally distorting the original meaning of the First Amendment.

 

Concerned Women for America (CWA) has long joined that chorus of criticism, asking the Court to abandon it. As the Court held, “the ‘shortcomings’ associated with this ‘ambitiou[s],’ abstract, and ahistorical approach to the Establishment Clause became so ‘apparent’ that this Court long ago abandoned Lemon and its endorsement test offshoot.”

 

Lemon is dead. Justice Gorsuch’s straightforward treatment leaves no doubt for lower courts. “In place of Lemon and the endorsement test, this Court has instructed that the Establishment Clause must be interpreted by ‘reference to historical practices and understandings.'”

 

Under that standard, it is clear that “in this case Mr. Kennedy’s private religious exercise did not come close to crossing any line one might imagine separating protected private expression from impermissible government coercion.”

 

Of course, some will still find offense at any public expression of faith—especially the Christian faith. But “[o]ffense. . . does not equate to coercion,” and the Court puts that “hecklers veto” to rest masterfully.

 

Naturally, Mr. Kennedy’s proposal to pray quietly by himself on the field would have meant some people would have seen his religious exercise. Those close at hand might have heard him too. But learning how to tolerate speech or prayer of all kinds is “part of learning how to live in a pluralistic society,” a trait of character essential to “a tolerant citizenry.”

 

Ordinarily, the Court would spend some time describing the different standards of review, but this case was so clear that the Court said, “it does not matter which standard we apply. The District cannot sustain its burden under any of them.”

 

This is a strong opinion that we hope can help lower courts and even school officials better understand the constitutional burdens they bear when dealing with sincere religious exercises going forward. They would be wise to train their instincts towards accommodation.

 

As the Court concluded, “Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic—whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head.” Well said.

SCOTUS

Super-Duper Supreme Court Term

By | Case Vault, Legal, SCOTUS | No Comments

Remember when some tried to sell Roe as “super-duper” precedent? Well, it didn’t work. Roe is gone (all praise be to God!), but we have been indeed left with something “super-duper”—this Supreme Court term. It was just superb.

 

It all starts with Dobbs, of course (and that would be more than enough to celebrate), but it went beyond that, and I wanted to take a moment and celebrate with you each victory by presenting to you a short summary of the term’s most amazing top 5 wins!

 

  • Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization— The Court declared unequivocally that the United States Constitution does not and has never conferred a right to abortion. Therefore, the Court spent much time discussing the grave errors in the Roe and Casey framework before formally overruling them and returning the authority to states to be free to protect unborn life in the best way they see fit.

 

  • Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson— Just before the Dobbs case was argued, the Court heard a challenge to the Texas Heartbeat Act. The state law prohibits most abortions after a heartbeat can be detected through an ultrasound, but it has no state law enforcement mechanism, only private enforcement action. The pro-abortion side wanted the Supreme Court to intervene to stop the law, but the Court correctly refused to intervene. The practical result was that almost 8,000 babies were saved in the first three months after the law went into effect.

 

  • Shurtleff v. City of Boston— A unanimous Court here agreed that the First Amendment rights of Harold Shurtleff, the director of Camp Constitution, were violated by the city of Boston when it refused to allow him to fly the Christian flag at a public pole that the city had made available for private groups to fly different kind of flags indiscriminately.

 

  • Carson v. Makin— The Court held Maine’s “nonsectarian” requirement for generally available tuition assistance payments to parents who lived in a district that did not operate a secondary school of their own violated the parent’s First Amendment free speech rights. Parents are free then to use the money to send their kids to any school they want, treating all schools, secular or religious, equally, instead of targeting religious schools for discrimination.

  • Finally, Kennedy v. Bremerton School District— the Coach Kennedy case, as most of you know it. Coach Kennedy was unjustly fired for silently praying at midfield after football games. The Supreme Court has now made official the fact that he was fired, not only unjustly but unconstitutionally. What a sweet victory for this man and his family, who have fought for almost seven years to protect our religious liberty rights. The Court held that both the free exercise and free speech clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual’s right to engage in a personal religious observance. The Court said, “The Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.”

 

Can we stop and thank God for His goodness, mercy, and grace? All of these are part of just one Supreme Court term. We can expect more! The Constitutional imbalance we have been living (and suffering) under is slowly being straightened back to a more faithful and impartial application of justice. We are sure to reap the blessings of these actions for decades to come.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving that Roe is No More

By | Dobbs, Legal, News and Events, Sanctity of Life, SCOTUS | No Comments

As the deer pants for the water,

So we have longed to see

Your righteousness restored, oh Lord

With the demise of abortion on demand in our land.

 

This was a seemingly impossible task,

The world told us.

“Abortion is our right,”

They screamed, as millions of babies died.

 

For fifty years Roe hung

Like an evil dark cloud of judgment

While many mocked You and Your Word

As approving of such barbarity.

 

But we, the remnant, had faith in You,

In justice and truth.

We drank the tears of repentance for our nation

And prayed diligently, without ceasing.

 

We hoped in God alone,

Therefore, we know our redemption

Was secured. Those who trust in You

Are never disappointed!

 

Thank You, Father!

Thank You, Jesus, the Son!

Thank You Holy Spirit, for guiding us!

All glory to You.

 

As hard as we have worked,

To see this day of joyful deliverance,

We know it was not our efforts,

But the Lord’s grace. Amen!

 

Grace, grace!

God’s grace!

That grace that pardons and cleanses within,

Grace that is greater than all our sins.

 

Even the great sin of abortion

Melts away— as far as the East is from the West

Your grace removes our transgression

And gives us hope for the future.

 

Now, we pray peace in our land, Lord.

Calm the hearts not set on you,

Let not the Enemy use and abuse

Any more women in the cause of death.

 

Help us to care for all mothers

And their children, born and unborn.

Help us to trust and pray, even more,

Until the day of Your return.

 

Amen.

Justice Restored—Roe Overturned

By | Dobbs, Legal, News and Events, Sanctity of Life, SCOTUS | No Comments

“Down goes Roe.” You could almost hear it from inside the U.S. Supreme Court (in that iconic Howard Cosell voice). And just as Cosell said of George Forman, the pro-life movement “is as poised as can be.” Justice demanded an end to Roe. Justice, we got.

 

In a stunning 6-3 masterclass opinion delivered by Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Barrett, with Chief Justice Roberts concurring in judgment (but saying he would not go so far as to overturn Roe and Casey), the Court simply holds: “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

 

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.

 

“The critical question is whether the Constitution, properly understood, confers a right to obtain an abortion,” the Court wrote. First, the Court acknowledges the obvious, “The Constitution makes no express reference to a right to obtain an abortion,” and turns at once to the many theories that have been offered throughout the years to manipulate the constitutional text and read a right to abortion into the Constitution. “Roe held that the abortion right is part of a right to privacy that springs from the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments,” the Court explains. Casey shifted that and “grounded its decision solely on the theory that the right to obtain an abortion is part of the ‘liberty’ protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.”  Still, others tried the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

 

It is refreshing to see the Court refuse to play the usual pro-abortion games in law and instead conclude, “regulations and prohibitions of abortion are governed by the same standard of review as other health and safety measures.” …

 

Please, click here to read the rest of this column as featured on American Thinker.

Grasping at Straws on Dobbs

By | Dobbs, LBB, Legal, News and Events, Sanctity of Life, Substack | No Comments

The boorish left is having a full-blown meltdown over the leaked opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and its impending official release by the United States Supreme Court. Justice Samuel Alito’s unassailable, monumental takedown of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey’s complete lack of constitutional underpinning has them panicked.

 

It is certainly not the result they want. That is the reason for all the screeching, weeping, and gnashing of teeth we have seen in front of the Supreme Court and at the constitutionalist justices’ homes in clear violation of federal law. But the worst part about it is that Roe’s legal reasoning is such a dud that all they are left with is trying to manipulate what they see as the internal soap opera at the Court. Their target, as usual, is Chief Justice Roberts, who they hope can somehow swindle other justices into keeping Roe alive.

 

Politico’s Senior Legal Affairs Reporter Josh Gerstein’s latest “What a Roberts compromise on abortion could look like” is the latest not-so-subtle attempt at this. “It’s a longshot,” says the tagline on the piece, “but court watchers are closely eyeing the chief justice for middle ground on Roe.”

 

Gerstein acknowledges no one wants this middle ground. The pro-abortion side emphatically rejected it at oral arguments. Still, they can dream. Here is how he summarized the feeble argument of this dream opinion: “The central organizing principle for a Roberts opinion is likely to be one he has articulated many times: that the court shouldn’t issue a sweeping decision when a more modest one would do.” …

 

 

Click here to read the rest of Mario’s exclusive Substack column. And be sure to subscribe below to never miss one of his posts again!

The Right Kind of Victims

By | Dobbs, LBB, Legal, News and Events, SCOTUS, Substack | No Comments

The establishment media portrays the radical left as caring for “victims” in many contexts, but the reality is that they are laser-focused not on defending but on victimizing the right kind of people. For them, pro-life, pro-family, conservative Americans are the right kind of victims. Violence against them is understandable and even desirable.

 

But worse than merely the media portrayal is the fact that the federal government, under the Biden-Harris Administration, is entirely controlled by the radical left. They, too, ascribe to this warped philosophy. That is why the spectacle of January 6 is worthy of a multi-million-dollar investigation and media focus. In contrast, the attempted assassination of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice must be buried. One goes after the right kind of people. According to the left, both the January 6 investigation and the attempted assassination against Justice Brett Kavanaugh are going against those who deserve to be punished.

 

Attacks on abortion clinics in the past were intolerable and taken seriously. The FBI and DOJ were quickly mobilized. The full resources of the federal government were invested in protecting those injured. They were the wrong kind of victims…

 

Click here to read the rest of Mario’s exclusive Substack column. And be sure to subscribe below to never miss one of his posts again!

Female Athletes Are Being Victimized to Pander to the Personal Fantasies of a Few

By | LBB, Legal, News and Events, Sexual Exploitation, Women's Sports | No Comments

Women athletes are in danger of losing their rights to the desires of men who feel they are women.

 

The anti-science effort to erase the physical differences between men and women is regressive and dangerous. Women are being victimized in the name of an AstroTurf diversity that discriminates against all who do not conform to the personal fantasies of a few.

 

The effort has consequences that go well beyond women’s athletics. In April, a male Rikers inmate claiming to be a woman was sentenced to seven years for raping a female prisoner in the women’s section of the jail. Concerned Women for America, the organization I represent — a Christian, conservative organization — is supporting a lawsuit by the liberal feminist organization Women’s Liberation Front to fight for women’s rights on this front.

 

We are also witnessing the pernicious promotion of transgender ideology in public schools, which ignores the sadpractical reality of the harmful long-term effects of life-altering surgical procedures on all young people, but on young women in particular.

 

But legally speaking, the women’s sports aspect of this battle, which has the backing of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, should be preventing the injustices we are witnessing…

 

Read the rest of this op-ed as featured exclusively on The Western Journal.

You Can’t Undo the Supreme Court Leak

By | LBB, Legal | No Comments

The United States Supreme Court has stayed relatively quiet following the shameful news of the leaked Dobbs draft opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts issued a statement condemning the leak and calling for an investigation, but we have heard nothing else since.

 

As you know, Concerned Women for America (CWA), though encouraged by the content of the opinion, refuse to engage in any public analysis of its content, believing the ethical breach by someone at the Court, presumably a liberal clerk, worthy of the utmost contempt.

 

In a recent interview, Justice Clarence Thomas tried to put words to the magnitude of the breach, and I think you must be aware of his wise words. He was interviewed by his former law clerk John Yoo at an event in Dallas. He said:

 

“[T]he institution that I’m a part of if someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone in you would say that, ‘Oh, that’s impossible. No one would ever do that.’ There was such a belief in the rule of law, belief in the court, a belief in what we were doing, that that was verboten. It was beyond anyone’s understanding, or at least anyone’s imagination that someone would do that. And look where we are, where now that trust or that belief is gone forever. When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder. It’s like kind of an infidelity that you can explain it, but you can’t undo it.”

 

The Supreme Court will never be the same. We must reckon with that reality. We don’t even know the extent of this breach yet. Help me pray that the person responsible is exposed convincingly so that they can be severely punished. That would help tremendously. We expected this would be quickly resolved, given how tight things are kept within the Court, but nothing has been announced.

 

The warning is broader than the Court. Justice Thomas said:

 

“I think we are in danger of destroying the institutions that are required for a free society. You can’t have a civil society, a free society, without a stable legal system. You can’t have one without stability and things like property or interpretation and impartial judiciary. And I’ve been in this business long enough to know just how fragile it is.”

 

Most Americans can see that. Both the Court and the Country are in a fragile state. We must proceed with caution and urgency. We need courage. Justice Thomas spoke about that too. “I think a lot of people lack courage,” he said, “like they know what is right, and they’re scared to death of doing it.” He is right, of course. We need help from above, no doubt.

Question the Mules

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

Question the mules. That’s the only reasonable response to the evidence presented by Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie, 2000 Mules. The documentary offers concerning evidence of election fraud in the 2020 election that should be investigated. Whatever your views on former President Donald Trump or President Joe Biden, they are not the focus of the investigation.

 

It is uncontroverted that states bent and amended election rules when faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. Mail-in and absentee ballots were greatly expanded with little time for proper implementation. Hundreds of drop-off boxes were added to ensure everyone had access to them while maintaining social distancing, but many went unmonitored. That’s where D’Souza’s documentary raises some critical questions and gives us an urgent cautionary tale for future elections. We must do better.

 

How secure were these drop boxes? Do we have a way to monitor them? How do we stop bad actors from abusing the system? No one needs to be depositing multiple ballots at 2:00 a.m.

 

The film does not answer all the questions. For example, the organizations from which these mules were allegedly getting ballots are generically referenced but not mentioned by name. But the evidence presented of people depositing several ballots at a time using gloves and taking pictures so as to document that they had deposited them is seriously suspicious and should be quickly investigated.

 

The attorneys general in the states involved should follow up with an investigation. True the Vote (TTV), the organization that provided the information to D’Souza, has the names of the individuals and organizations involved, and they are willing to cooperate with law enforcement. So why wouldn’t every state want to follow up and either clear the record or catch and expose the perpetrators as a strong deterrent for future elections?

 

Conspiracies are not good for our democracy, and ignoring the legitimate evidence presented in the documentary will only fuel those. On the other hand, an investigation would serve to tamper speculations and give confidence to voters, whatever the outcome, by answering some basic questions about what happened and punishing any bad actors.

 

The crux of the investigation is the identification of 2,000 individuals who deposited multiple ballots while visiting an average of 20-30 drop boxes and stopping by left-leaning non-profit organizations in between those visits. These are identified as the mules. TTV used commercial cell phone tracking data to identify and track these individuals. The evidence becomes compelling when they are able to obtain footage of some individuals depositing multiple ballots at locations that kept surveillance on some drop boxes.

 

Not all locations were on camera, though, which has raised some questions. Though it is not unreasonable to think they were doing the same at other sites, you are left wishing there was more on tape. The fact that some locations that were supposed to be monitored somehow were not also raises concerns. Again, the evidence is compelling enough for law enforcement to go and ask the questions at the very least. If nothing wrong was done, they should be able to confirm it.

 

The documentary features one person who says they believe they were involved in paying “mules” for this work, which is not legal in any state. But she cannot corroborate it completely because she can only say she assumes she was handing out checks. She also says she had been approached about her own ballot. It is conceivable that others may come forward if an investigation is started.

 

Contact your state attorney general and express your desire to see a full investigation into the matter.

 

The documentary is certainly a must watch for anyone interested in the topic. But ultimately, my prayer is that you are left inspired, not frustrated, to become part of the solution and get involved in the election process in your state. Sunshine is the best policy when it comes to our election procedures.

 

If you would like to know more about how you can do that, click here to connect with our She Prays She Votes 2022 effort.

 

 

 

Steady as the Enemy Panics on Abortion

By | Dobbs, Legal, News and Events, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

Let darkness squelch and screech at the loss of the sacrifices they value. The violent among them will stir up the multitudes to fulfill their vision and protest that the innocent are no longer as expendable. The undiscerning mob is sure to follow whichever way the wind blows, tossed to and fro — used, abused, and ultimately discarded.

 

They shall fail. The end of Roe is yet to be at the appointed time.

 

Remember how we have gotten to this point. Our almost 50 years of struggle against the evil of abortion centered not on legislation or legal battles but on prayer.

 

He who is able to give life and give it more abundantly told us that, as He reminded us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John. 10:10). Darkness has its nature. It will act according to it. The desperation and hopelessness they feel will make them do irrational things.

 

But the people of God shall stand firm and take action (Daniel 11:32). Prayer is action.

 

Therefore, pray.

 

Concerned Women for America (CWA) is making our Dobbs prayer guide available to you through this link.

 

Scripture tells us that we are “able to stand against the schemes of the devil” by putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). We stand:

 

    1. Having fastened on the belt of truth,
    2. Having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 
    3. As shoes for our feet, we put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace,
    4. We take up the shield of faith, with which we can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one,
    5. We put on the helmet of salvation,
    6. And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The promised result is that we will “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

Steady, then. We know where our hope is laid.

 

The leaked opinion is indeed promising—inspiring even. It states simple truths as it lays out Roe’s unethical, unconstitutional foundations. But we cannot reward the malicious tactics that have been used to release it to the public. So, we will wait until the official word from the Court, and then we will celebrate with thanksgiving to God, shining a light that darkness may flee.

 

The statement from CWA CEO and President Penny Nance, following the breaking news, laid out this righteous vision:

 

“The betrayal of trust we have witnessed today at the United States Supreme Court by what is reportedly the malicious leak of a private draft of the Court’s Dobbs opinion is outrageous.  

“This appears to be another attempt by the Left to intimidate the justices to uphold a law that is clearly unconstitutional. On the contrary, these tactics should only embolden the Court to stand firm on law and principle. Chief Justice John Roberts must take charge of his court and issue this decision as soon as possible, sending a clear message that the Court will never be intimidated.

 

“The hundreds of thousands of members of Concerned Women for America remain prayerful and cautiously optimistic as we work to provide loving alternatives to the violent ending of a human life through abortion.”

Amen.

Boston Violates First Amendment by Targeting Christian Flag

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

All nine justices of the United States Supreme Court agree in Shurtleff v. City of Boston. The city violated the First Amendment rights of Harold Shurtleff, the director of Camp Constitution, by refusing to allow him to fly the Christian Flag at a public pole where the city allowed private groups to fly their flags indiscriminately.

 

“The most salient feature of this case is that Boston neither actively controlled these flag raisings nor shaped the messages the flags sent,” wrote Justice Stephen Breyer in his majority opinion as the Court concluded what Boston was engaging in was not government speech. “Boston told the public that it sought ‘to accommodate all applicants’ who wished to hold events at Boston’s ‘public forums.’” Except for those pesky Christians.

 

Thankfully, the Court 9-0 (though using different rationales) declared, “Boston’s refusal to let petitioners fly their flag violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.” The Court correctly stated, “When the government does not speak for itself, it may not exclude private speech based on “‘religious viewpoint’; doing so ‘constitutes impermissible viewpoint discrimination.’”

 

Breyer’s majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. They were also three concurring opinions. One by Justice Kavanaugh, a second by Justice Alito joined by Thomas and Gorsuch, and a third by Justice Gorsuch joined by Justice Thomas.

 

Justice Kavanaugh, concurring, made clear this case only got to the Supreme Court “because of a government official’s mistaken understanding of the Establishment Clause.” We should also add that many judges share the mistaken view, also. But as Kavanaugh writes, “Under the Constitution, a government may not treat religious persons, religious organizations, or religious speech as second-class.”

 

Justice Alito’s concurrence agrees with the Court’s ultimate conclusion but disagrees with the majority’s analysis. And with good reason. Justice Alito rightly points out that some of the “tests” the majority uses to answer the question here, like “the extent to which the government has actively shaped or controlled expression,” can actually be used by bad actors to discriminate against those with whom it disagrees. But that, too, would be an impermissible violation of the First Amendment.

 

Justice Alito smartly advocates for a more precise and robust definition of government speech, which, after all, is the only organism restricted by the First Amendment. “Government speech,” he writes, “is thus the purposeful communication of a governmentally determined message by a person exercising a power to speak for a government.” Furthermore, after establishing that government speech is at issue, “the government must establish it did not rely on a means that abridges the speech of persons acting in a private capacity.” This is the type of clear definitional guidelines that will help judges around the country administer justice in a much fairer way. Let us hope Justice Alito’s test finds wide acceptance in the years to come.

 

Finally, Justice Gorsuch writes a concurring masterpiece on what is known as the Lemon test. This is an approach that Concerned Women for America  has asked the Court to overturn on many occasions. As he wrote, “Lemon ignored the original meaning of the Establishment Clause, it disregarded mountains of precedent, and it substituted a serious constitutional inquiry with a guessing game.”

 

The historical discussion especially is worthwhile in Gorsuch’s concurrence; I commend it to you. Here is a taste (citations omitted):

 

As a close look at these hallmarks and our history reveals, “[n]o one at the time of the founding is recorded as arguing that the use of religious symbols in public contexts was a form of religious establishment.” For most of its existence, this country had an “unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life.” In fact and as we have seen, it appears that, until Lemon, this Court had never held the display of a religious symbol to constitute an establishment of religion. The simple truth is that no historically sensitive understanding of the Establishment Clause can be reconciled with a rule requiring governments to “roa[m] the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine.” Our Constitution was not designed to erase religion from American life; it was designed to ensure “respect and tolerance.”

 

It is a critical discussion that accentuates his clear thinking on religious liberty issues.

 

This is a great win that envisions even greater protections for religious freedom for decades to come—a great development for all Americans regardless of religious belief.

 

Prayer at the Supreme Court

By | News and Events, SCOTUS, Uncategorized | No Comments

One of the great evangelists of the Nineteenth Century, Dwight L. Moody, famously said, “The Christian on his knees sees more than the philosopher on tiptoe.” The reality of those words came to life for us this week as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kennedy v. Bremerton School Dist., where the government punished a Washington State high school football coach for the sole fact that he took a knee at midfield to say a brief, personal, private prayer after football games. For that, Coach Joe Kennedy was fired.

With everything going on in the world, can you imagine our government is concerned with one coach praying privately at midfield after football games? Think of how desperate our youth are for good role models. Think of how many men need father figures to teach them the life skills needed to be good citizens.

Think of how many objectionable things public schools are not only allowing but encouraging inside public classrooms. Yet, a fleeting, private prayer is beyond the pale, apparently.

CWA General Counsel Mario Diaz and CWA Director of Government Relations Alexandra McPhee with Coach Kennedy and his wife.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) has stood firmly in support of Coach Kennedy and our constitutionally protected religious freedoms throughout the years, and we were proud to lift our voice in support today as we prayed in front of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., while arguments where being heard inside the courtroom.

We are thankful that Paul Clement, the veteran constitutional appellate advocate, presented Coach Kennedy’s case on behalf of First Liberty. He was superb.

Much of the argument centered on government “coercion,” as if the government were, through the coach, forcing students to pray. But this complete fiction by the state is impossible to reconcile with the facts as presented. Clement exposed the point using an analogy:

[T]hink about what happens when a player gets injured on the field. I mean, it’s common practice at all levels of the game, public school, private school, you take a knee. The coach takes a knee. The players take a knee. Many of them presumably are praying for the player’s health. Some of them are not. Some of them are –have their own religious traditions. But none of that is coercion, not in a real sense, and none of it violates the Establishment Clause.  

It really is that simple. Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked about a similar hypothetical pressing on the limits of government control, “[T]he question is, how far does that go? The coach does the sign of the cross right before the game. Is that –could a school fire the coach for the sign of the cross right before the game?” The answer was revealing. Richard Katskee of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who argued the case for the school district, said candidly that “if the coach is doing it while not making himself the center of attention at the center of the field, it’s perfectly fine.” Justice Kavanaugh expressed his frustration with such a frivolous argument. “I don’t know how we could write an opinion that would draw a line based on not making yourself the center of attention as the head coach of a game.”

In rebuttal, Clement drove home some of the facts of the case that make the school district’s religious retaliation very dangerous. Coach Kennedy was reprimanded for his conduct (his prayer) in two specific games where, to the surprise of many listening to the arguments, no one (no player) joined him in that prayer. If that was supposed to be a form of coercion, it was not very effective.

The other side tried to argue the case should be sent back to the lower court, yet again delaying what should be a resounding defeat. Clement appealed to the Court with a powerful example:

[M]y client has already waited six years to get his job back. And if you imagine the parallel for this is a race case where the lower courts, both lower courts, said the sole reason the government acted was because of race. But yet, we think it’s okay because there’s this compelling interest. If this Court took that case up and said there’s nothing to the compelling interest, it wouldn’t send it back down to see if there was some other reason when the courts had already found the sole basis for the action was on the basis of race. Here the record is clear, two courts that didn’t agree with much of what we said, said the sole basis for the government’s reactions –actions here were religion. That is not something that should stand.

It shouldn’t. Let us pray that the Supreme Court vindicates Coach Kennedy and protects religious freedoms for all Americans, regardless of faith. A decision is expected by the end of the Court’s term in June.

Reason Demands an End to Roe

By | Dobbs, LBB, Legal, News and Events, Sanctity of Life, Substack | No Comments

A young wife and her husband were enthusiastically awaiting the birth of their first baby. It was a girl. They had already done a big baby shower with family and friends; they had bought all the furniture and decorated the room— a beautiful retreat of yellow and pink. They had faithfully kept every doctor’s appointment and attended all the classes, learning everything about what to expect when you’re expecting. They had even named her: Mary Beth.

But at 28 weeks (7 months), mom confesses she was not ready. She is just too young and not mentally and emotionally prepared to be responsible for another human being. So instead, she wants to have an abortion.

Dad earnestly pleads with her to no avail. “It’s my body,” came the answer.

“Is an abortion even legal so far along in a pregnancy,” he thought? Yes, one quick Google search informed him that there are no limits even for late-term abortions in their home state of New Jersey. He quickly found a clinic’s website offering the service and explaining a third-trimester abortion procedure, but he could not bear to finish reading the short description. He even explored legal options but has no recourse.

So, on a day they were supposed to go to another doctor’s visit and see their baby girl on the latest sonogram, mom will instead drive to an abortion clinic to “terminate her pregnancy.”

Such is the state of abortion policy in our nation. It is part of the wretched legacy of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that invented a constitutional right to abortion…

Click here to read the rest of Mario’s exclusive Substack column. And be sure to subscribe below to never miss one of his posts again!

Catastrophic Day 2 for Ketanji Brown Jackson

By | Breyer, Judicial Nominations, Legal, News and Events, SCOTUS, Vacancy | No Comments

Early in the second day, the focus of the hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson’s (KBJ) nomination to the United States Supreme Court was on a concerning pattern that has emerged where KBJ has given low sentences to defendants in possession of child pornography. Having given ample room for KBJ to explain her thought processes in these cases, we can say the explanations we heard were simply unsatisfactory.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), who had given KBJ the specific cases he was interested in, drilled down on one particular case that illustrates the problem. The clip is long, but it is eye-opening, I commend it to you in its entirety:

It is troubling, no doubt. Again, she was given time to prepare to answer questions about those specific cases, so to try to obfuscate the issue with a lack of record is not reasonable. The concern is compounded by the fact that Democrats have denied the Republicans’ requests to release the records from KBJ’s time in the Sentencing Commission.

Even Judiciary Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) seemed to agree with Sen. Hawley that the case was unacceptable and suggests it is Congress fault. He suggests that they need to pass a law to prevent judges like KBJ from enacting sentences like she did in that case. Watch:

Her performance devolved from there. She could not answer Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) when he asked her when does life begin, even though her advocacy for pro-abortion groups is well established. How can someone who doesn’t know when life begins fairly decide when life can be terminated?

The issue was explored further by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) who got some incredible confessions out of KBJ as she tried to distance herself from the language she approved of in a brief she cowrote calling pro-life advocates a “hostile, noisy crowd of ‘in-your-face’ protesters.” She apparently didn’t really mean it. She was just “lawyering,” you know. Take a look at this troubling exchange. Take special note of her admission that the Constitution says nothing about abortion, even as she apparently supports the Court in making up such rights by judicial fiat.

But the lowest point of the evening came when Sen. Blackburn tried to address the issue of gender with KBJ. The nominee could not even provide a definition of what is a woman. Apparently, one needs to be a biologist to define the term. Take a look for yourself:

How is a justice supposed to stand up for women’s rights if she cannot even tell you what a woman is? Her non-answer is revealing.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) has been at the hearings, monitoring closely every second. We have given her a fair hearing. But the bottom line after day two is that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson simply cannot be trusted. Therefore, how could she be entrusted with a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court in the land? There are still a couple more days of hearings, but the damage she has done today seems too much for anyone to overcome.

Stay tuned.

Ketanji Brown Jackson – Judge or Policy Maker?

By | Breyer, Judicial Nominations, LBB, Legal, News and Events, SCOTUS, Vacancy | No Comments

The first day of the hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s (KBJ) nomination to the United States Supreme Court is over. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee got an opportunity to make opening remarks, and then we heard the opening statement from KBJ.

In his opening remarks, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) set up the hearings well by addressing why nomination hearings have become so controversial. Judicial activists taking on the role of legislators has much to do with it. Here is the clip:

This is the central question to assess in looking at this nomination. Will she be the type of justice that sees her role as one who brings “progress” to the law, pushing legal interpretation beyond the text of the law and the Constitution in order to implement policies that they personally believe are important.

Roe v. Wade is the classic example of the justices reaching beyond the text of the Constitution in order to implement changes they personally deem important. KBJ’s support for abortion “rights” is alarming, and it is one area that we hope we can hear more about during the hearings. Note the difference. The support of the policy is not the issue. The use of legal interpretation as a way to promote social or cultural change is the crux of the matter.

The Court is primed to hear some crucial cases in the coming years in which this type of judicial philosophy will be crucial to the protection of our liberties. We were grateful for Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) for bringing up some the issues of parental rights and women’s rights during her opening remarks. Here’s that important clip:

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) also raised some important questions regarding KBJ’s work as a trial judge deeply involved with sentencing matters. He listed several concerning cases related to the very sensitive issue of child pornography. As Sen. Hawley ended his opening remarks, we look forward to hearing the nominee’s explanation in the next few days.

Finally, we were glad Sen. Cruz heard our request for some accountability on the incredible injustice done to Justice Kavanaugh and the numerous blatant violations of Senate procedures committed for purely partisan reasons. This fact should never escape conservative senators’ minds going forward until some accountability is implemented.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) is at the hearings right now meticulously monitoring this nomination and will have updates for you throughout the week as we get into the question and answers portion of the hearings which we hope will help to shed more light on the concerns about the type of justice KBJ would be.

Conservatives Should Demand Respect on KBJ Nomination

By | Breyer, Judicial Nominations, Legal, News and Events, SCOTUS, Vacancy | No Comments

“I’m going to remember this,” he vowed.

During the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, Sen. Lindsey Graham galvanized conservatives everywhere when he stood up against the injustices being committed against “a good man.” He spoke for millions of Americans who were outraged by the unjustified antics they were witnessing in the Senate Judiciary Committee when he called the hearings “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”

Conservatives want that fire back as the Senate considers Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court — not only from Graham but from all conservative senators.

Are they going to put up with the same malicious shenanigans by liberal radicals with this nomination? Some Democrats have already started to accuse GOP senators of racism before the hearings have even started. Conservatives should not put up with it. Not after Kavanaugh…

Click here to read Mario’s op-ed as featured exclusively on The Western Journal.

 

An Uninspiring State of the Union

By | News and Events | No Comments

President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address described another world, not the one you and I are experiencing. The best of it was on Russia’s unjust invasion of Ukraine, where everyone wanted to stand in support of the Ukrainian people. But even there, he positioned himself as if he had been tougher than we all know he has been. He said nothing about the fact that we are still buying oil from Russia. He said nothing about increasing oil production at home.

And it was all downhill from there. At times the President seemed to be still fighting the ghost of the past Administration. He was even booed for it at one point.

In his fantasy, the economy is booming. He will give money to everyone without raising taxes for the middle class. Noting that Americans are tired of the nonsensical and arbitrary COVID restrictions the Biden Administration was pushing, all of a sudden no one needed masks in Congress for this address. Just days before the State of the Union, the Centers for Disease Control changed its tune. Science!

After the Democrat-supported defunding the police movement was universally rejected by most Americans, now President Biden wants everyone to believe the Democrats have always been for funding the police.

He will do something about the border; you are apparently to ignore your lying eyes.

It all felt like make-believe. Even the centerpiece of his Administration, abortion and promotion of LGBTQ+ interests, only merited passing lines. Not at all reflective of his practical agenda. His radical base will not be happy.

It is good news for those of us fighting for liberty and freedom. The polls are showing the president’s agenda is not popular. It is entirely outside the mainstream. So, they presented some fantasy agenda that bears no resemblance to what every day Americans are living.

He concluded by yelling that he was going to “save democracy.”

Okay.

It felt flat, though the President surely spoke like he thought he was saying something momentous. In a word, it was uninspiring.

A Frank Response

Governor Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa) delivered the response and brought a dose of reality to the night. She said, “We shouldn’t ignore what happened in the runup to Putin’s invasion. Waiving sanctions on Russian pipelines while eliminating oil production here at home. Focusing on political correctness, rather than military readiness.”

She pleaded for a robust, confident American foreign policy but transitioned to the situation at home, saying, “We cannot project strength abroad if we’re weak at home.”

“The President and Democrats in Congress have spent the last year either ignoring the issues facing Americans or making them worse. They were warned that spending would lead to soaring inflation. They were told that their anti-energy policies would send gas prices to new heights. But they plowed ahead anyway.”

She spoke for millions of moms when she said:

Americans are tired of a political class that’s trying to remake this country into a place where an elite few tell everyone else what they can and cannot say—what they can and cannot believe. They are tired of people pretending the way to end racism is by categorizing everybody by their race. They are tired of politicians who tell parents they should sit down, be silent, and let government control their kid’s education and future.

And she exposed the hypocrisy that has plagued the ruling class during the pandemic, saying Americans are “tired of the theater — where politicians do one thing when the cameras are rolling and another when they believe you can’t see them. Where governors and mayors enforce mandates but don’t follow them. Where elected leaders tell their citizens to stay home while they sneak off to Florida for sun and fun — where they demand that your child wear a mask, but they go out maskless.”

Reynolds’ statement brought the realism Americans deserve at such a crucial point in our history. It was hopeful in that it showed that at least some elected officials are listening to parents’ concerns.

Even though it also reminded us that the night really marked only the first year of President Biden’s term.

God help us.

 

Leftists viciously malign Clarence Thomas

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

Justice Clarence Thomas has done well for himself.  He is in no need of defense by anybody.  His life and work are inspiring by any measure.  But the despicable, racially motivated, coordinated media attacks against him and his family are so unfair that even a slight appreciation of justice would compel a reasonable person to speak.

His professionalism and honor play a part, too, so that reasonable observers can appreciate that in shining a light on the praiseworthy work of the good justice and the nefarious motives of his critics, one speaks for him who “cannot speak for himself,” given the seriousness with which he takes the oath he took.

What pushed me over the edge to add my voice to those decrying the media smear machine against Justice Thomas and his family was a loathsome sentence written by a Washington Post “reporter” that described Justice Thomas as “the Black justice whose rulings often resemble the thinking of White conservatives.”  It’s been a week, and I cannot shake it.

Can you imagine the deep prejudice that’s required among not one, but a group of writers and editors to publish a sentence like that in a “respectable” newspaper?  They can try to correct it all they want, but the animus that produced such a vile sentiment is alive and well at the Post.

Click here to read Mario’s op-ed as exclusively featured on American Thinker.

No Shortcuts on Supreme Court Nomination

By | Breyer, Legal, SCOTUS, Vacancy | No Comments

President Joe Biden has announced Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his pick to replace Justice Stephen Breyer at the United States Supreme Court. I will have more for you on Judge Jackson’s record in the coming weeks, but right now it is crucial for us to keep our senators accountable for their essential constitutional role of “advice and consent.” There should be no shortcuts allowed for President Biden’s nominee.  

All senators should ensure they can have a private, in-person meeting with Judge Jackson to get a sense of her judicial philosophy, her character, and judicial temperament. It is not enough to examine the record on paper. This private meeting allows the senator to assess the nominee at a deeper level, without the theatrics and remarks prepared for the cameras.

President  Biden has said, “The people that I would appoint to the Court are people who have a view of the Constitution as a living document.” This is deeply disturbing. The judicial philosophy that believes the Constitution is a living document that changes with the times creates judicial activists who also believe unelected judges are the ones who get to choose these arbitrary constitutional changes. It is the judicial philosophy of personal policy preferences.

Does Judge Jackson ascribe to that judicial philosophy? Presumably, she does because President Biden selected her. So, senators should get that answer face to face and assess her judicial philosophy beyond the coached answer they are likely to get in the hearings.

President Biden has said that he wants someone with “an expansive view of the Constitution.” Does Judge Jackson share that progressive view that essentially destroys the Constitution by making it malleable to the latest political trends?

Is she committed to a particular policy position on abortion? Again, President Biden has said plainly that he does have a litmus test on abortion.

Unlike conservative nominees who are always asked to be faithful to the text of the Constitution as written, President Biden wants commitment on particular issues, so Judge Jackson should answer those questions. It is up to senators to ask those critical questions.

They must ask about her overwhelming support from radical leftist groups.

The current political climate will demand strategic engagement from you and me on this nomination because senators tend to be pragmatic. They could, seeing the numbers in the Senate, relegate this nomination to the backburner allowing the nominee to sail through, without proper vetting, thinking others are doing their due diligence. Do not allow them to do that. Demand that they be active participants in the vetting process of this nominee every step of the way.

Full Senate engagement is needed to stand up for our values beyond just senators on the judiciary committee. No stone should be left unturned.

The Constitutional standard must be defended beyond political and pragmatic calculations.