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Mario Diaz, Esq.

Judges by the Numbers

By | Legal, News and Events | No Comments

As the U.S. Senate gets ready to go on its August recess, we must highlight once again one of its most successful efforts: the confirmation of judges. Just this week, the Senate confirmed more than double (15) the nominees it did last summer (7). This year the Senate has confirmed 61 judges: 13 judges to the circuit court, 46 district court judges and two to the Court of International Trade (CIT).

Great credit goes to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) whose focus on judicial nominations has remained consistent throughout President Donald Trump’s time in office. Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has also shined, even after following one of the most successful Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The Judiciary Committee has reported 88 judges to the floor in his short time as chairman.

Here are the overall numbers which are most impressive of all. Since President Trump took office, the Senate has confirmed a total of 146 judges. They break down as follows: two Supreme Court justices, 43 circuit court judges, 99 to the district court and two CIT.

The quality of nominees has been very high, as most readers will know. President Trump has committed himself to the nomination of judges who are in the mold of Justice Clarence Thomas and the late, great Antonin Scalia. Judges who will follow the Constitution and laws as written, instead of re-defining terms to reach the conclusions they personally prefer. This approach is essential to the preservation of liberty, and we are grateful to the president for this commitment.

This success has been possible because of several reforms in the judicial confirmation process. There is no more filibustering of judicial nominees, the blue slip process (which required home state senators to return a blue slip before the nomination can move forward) has been greatly adjusted also for circuit court nominees, and the amount of time that can be consumed on each nominees has been tampered, too.

But it is worth noting that things will get tougher going forward because the blue slip process for district court nominees is in full force still. This means that both senators from a state must after the president nominates someone to the district court must “return the blue slip” before the nomination can move forward. This is meant to encourage compromise between the White House and the state where the nomination is being made.

Practically, this means that where there are two liberal senators, the President will have to be more strategic in order to get the vacancy filled with a constitutionalist. Traditionally, some bargaining will be required here where, for example, if there are four vacancies, the president will name three nominees and the home state senators will get to name the other. This has the potential of allowing some less than desirable nominees getting through.

We must, therefore, remain diligent in our monitoring of nominees. We have already identified some troubling ones that we have been able to stop, but much discernment will be required going forward.

Let us continue to pray for the President, the Senate and the CWA legal team as we continue to engage in this important area.

Click here to read additional posts from Mario Diaz, Esq.

For America (Day 106)

By | News and Events, Prayer | No Comments

Lord of Heaven and Earth,
With our most fervent plea
We approach Your throne of grace
On behalf of the faithful in this land.

We recognized it is for freedom that You have set us free;
And we seek to honor You in that freedom
By showing much restraint and deference
To You and Your Holy Word.

Forgive us our trespasses and help us
Not to lean on our own understanding.
We desperately need Your wisdom;
We long for revival in our land.

Father, as evil increases—
That foolish boldness to live loudly against Your statutes
And Your people—we pray for mercy.
We know not what we do, oh Lord!

As a new “political season” slowly approaches,
How we need Your eternal perspective!
Do not let our short-sighted emotions govern
The state of our hearts or the words of our mouths.

Help us to love; to love enough
To speak truth and give grace,
To stand firm and turn the other cheek,
To have courage, fearing only You.

Do not let the enemy’s lies stand unchallenged.
Help us to be light in the darkness,
To never lose our saltiness.
Help us through much struggle to persevere.

And help us to rest—
Rest in Your unsearchable ways,
Which are always right and good; perfect!
In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen.


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

Use Your Voice – Episode 12, Abortion and Eugenics

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

In this episode, Mario Diaz, Esq., Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) General Counsel, discusses a recent Supreme Court decision where Justice Clarence Thomas exposes the clear connection between abortion and eugenics. He said, “abortion is an act rife with the potential for eugenic manipulation.” The case is Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and you won’t want to miss our discussion of its potential impact and what it means for the protection of the unborn.

For more on this case, read Mario’s op-ed “Clarence Thomas Speaks the Truth for SCOTUS on Abortion” as featured on American Thinker.

For America (Day 105) – National Day of Prayer

By | Prayer | No Comments

On this National Day of Prayer, Lord
We call upon You—hasten to our aid!
In Your mercy, listen to our plea;
Let our prayers be as a sweet aroma to You.

For we lift Your Name above all;
“In God we trust,” we still proclaim, today,
Recognizing You as the One true King
And rejecting the call of the age to forget You.

Protect us from evil, Father;
Help us to love one another
As You have loved us from the beginning.
Give us servant sprits for our neighbors.

Set a guard over our mouths,
Help us tame it and restrain it
With Your love and compassion.
Keep our heart from self-centeredness.

Help us embrace Your loving correction, as a people.
Give us understanding to appreciate the kindness
Of a friend’s rebuke—may we not refuse it in our pride;
Give us humble hearts.

Give us wisdom, Lord;
Our eyes are towards You—
Our refuge and strength,
Our courage and defense.

Keep us from leaning on our own understanding,
The strength of our armies, or the size of our coffers.
Let those who seek our destruction fall into their own traps,
For we trust in You, our Lord and King.

Let the world forever associate us with You.
The One true God.
Our Creator, our Redeemer,
Our Savior …

In Whose Name we pray,
Amen.

Watch the 2019 Livestream | May 2nd, 7:30-9:30pm EST


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. You can follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

Thoughts on the Bizarre “Easter Worshippers” Episode

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

The Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka targeted Christians. Among the sites targeted were St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, and Zion Church in the city of Batticaloa. More than 300 died and hundreds more were injured. Naturally, the entire world condemned the terrorists who engaged in these suicide bombings, and millions sent words of encouragement to those affected.

One rather bizarre group of iterations on Twitter cause many to wonder if a coordinated effort to minimize the victim’s religious affiliation was underway. A group of prominent Democrat leaders decided to use the Euphemism “Easter Worshipers” to refer to the Christian victims.

 

I confess it is hard to conclude there was no coordination, though the motives are not entirely clear.

Former President Barack Obama tweeted: “The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity. On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal, we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka.”

Why not say Christians? Why the hesitation? “Easter worshippers” is not a commonly used term so it seemed strange.

But then Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted using the term (spelled the same way) to send her condolences: “On this holy weekend for many faiths, we must stand united against hatred and violence. I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks on Easter worshippers and travelers in Sri Lanka.” Others followed suit.

Many took offense. Christians worship Christ, not Easter, they were quick to point out. I am not unsympathetic. Words matter. Jesus was called “The Word” (John 1:1). Of course, the Bible is known as “The Word of God” (Hebrews 4:12). And the schemes of Satan have always involved semantic deception— “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

At a time when Christians are being persecuted all around the world in historic numbers, we need leaders (especially Christian leaders!) to be clear in their support for their brothers and sisters around the world. They are being targeted because of their faith and so their faith should not be minimized in any way.

According to Open Doors, every month, on average: “345 Christians are killed for faith-related reasons, 105 Churches and Christian buildings are burned or attacked, and 219 Christians are detained without trial, arrested, sentenced, and imprisoned.”

At one level, if this was an attempt to obfuscate the issue on the part of this group of Democrats, the attempt should be rightfully condemned.  But at another level, from the beginning in the first century A.D. those who followed Jesus have been described in many ways, almost always in an attempt to disparage our faith. In fact, the very term Christian was given to the disciples at Antioch (Acts 11:26) in a seemingly condescending way. Before that, they were known as people of ‘the way” (Acts 9:2; 11:26) or of “the book,” as identified in the Quran (5:77-80). These weird “Easter worshippers.”

I have a sense of pride then in standing with the brothers and sisters in Christ, whatever the world may want to call us. Even when done maliciously, to undermine us, “Blessed are [we] when people insult [us], persecute [us], and falsely say all kinds of evil against [us] because of [Jesus]” (Matthew 5:11).

So, I am a Christian. Count me in among those “of the book” or “of the way,” the “Easter worshippers,” speaking about the “unknown god” (Acts 17:23) and the crucified Christ, risen back to life (yes, in His physical body!) and sitting at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:32-33). He is the hope of the world, and I will gladly suffer this and more to share that hope with you.


Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

For America (Day 104)

By | News and Events, Prayer | No Comments

Lord, we give You thanks
For the marvelous works
You have performed since the beginning.
They will forever be proclaimed!

Thank You for Your faithfulness
And patience for man in his hopeless estate.
You have shown great favor to us
In this land, and we praise You.

Those who recognize Your graceful hand
Upon those who never deserved it
Can plainly see Your mercy has been
Upon us throughout our history.

But now, we see much turmoil around the world.
Protect us and guide us through it all.
Remember Your promises and Your people.
And help us remember Your sacrificial love.

Hear the petitions of our hearts and
Answer us, according to Your will.
Help us to trust Your statutes;
Deliver us from evil.

You are holy! Enthroned in majesty.
You care for us and You are for us.
Be not far from us, Lord,
Act according to Your Sovereign grace.

Give wisdom to our leaders,
Help them fear You above all else.
Give them ears to hear and eyes to see,
Whatever is true and good and noble, lovely and admirable.

Help them to focus on these things,
To walk by the Spirit and not by sight.
To do what is right, above what is
Merely politically expedient.

Rise up a generation of the righteous among us.
Give us revival!
May a new song be heard in our Land;
A Song of the Lamb who died to set us free.

Amen.


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

For America (Day 103) – A Prayer Against Post-Modern Anti-Woman Efforts

By | News and Events, Prayer | No Comments

Father, Maker, and Designer of all
Seen and unseen things,
You created us in our mother’s womb
With purpose and longings.

You designed us to fit together
So that two may become one,
In a miraculous display
Of Your love and the pursuit of Your people.

Nothing can erase the works of Your hands.
Nothing can delete what is true.
Who can separate us from Your Love?
Not even death could contain it. Selah

In the beginning, all was good,
Except that man should be alone.
Creation was not complete without a woman.
Then, and only then, was it done. You rested.

Forgive us, then, for devaluing
Your most precious creation.
Turn our society from its foolish efforts
To erase what was essential to Your design.

We remember Jesus’ radical love for women,
And we ask that the same spirit may rest in us,
That we may remember their intrinsic and unique
Value in all of creation – no other creature compares.

We pray against efforts to erase womanhood
In misguided attempts to erase the beauty and diversity of Your design,
To impose draconian, monochrome rules that
Put our daughters, sisters, and mothers under peril.

Give us loving words to communicate
The allure and potency of nature.
Give us the courage to speak authentically
And compassionately in all things.

In the holy name of Christ, we pray,
Amen.


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

Senate Rule Change on Nominations Unfortunately Necessary

By | LBB, News and Events | No Comments

The U.S. Senate has now officially moved to limit the amount of post-cloture debate time for sub-Cabinet executive nominees and judicial nominees other than the circuit and Supreme Court level. Debate time will be limited to two hours as opposed to the usual thirty. The move was (unfortunately) desperately needed after the unprecedented and unnecessary obstruction campaign that Democrats have launched against President Trump’s nominees.

There are a total of 152 vacancies in the federal judiciary (88 considered a judicial emergency) and 68 nominees pending in the Senate. Forty-seven of those are simply awaiting floor votes. Forty-one of those have waited more than a year. Four of those have waited more than 500 days.

It is not that senators have raised specific, substantive objections to these nominees. The Democrats have simply taken the position of treating virtually every nominee as hostile merely to slow down the process as much as possible, even though they might even vote to confirm them in the end.

Under normal circumstances, unobjectionable nominees would be passed by a voice vote, requiring no time to end the debate.  But President Trump has faced 57 votes to end debate on judicial nominees during his first two years in office, far more than under previous presidents. President Barack Obama had only faced two at the same point in his presidency. President George W. Bush had seven at that point, President Clinton merely one.

It is not only judicial nominations, either.  John Ryder was confirmed earlier this year to the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). He lingered for more than a year, awaiting a floor vote for some nine months, only to be confirmed with a simple voice vote. There is nothing fair about such a process. One of the things liberals forget in their petty fights against President Trump is the fact that they are harming the lives of these nominees who have families and are being put through this unfair process for no reason of their own making. Emotional sentiments against the president should not be allowed to control the nominations process.

This rule change then essentially restores a fairer procedure where nominations who are not objectionable are able to be confirmed at a sensible pace. There is nothing radical or extreme about that. There is no court-packing scheme in play here, despite what you might hear in the mainstream media.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is actually following a precedent already established by former Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).  Following the Reid model, Leader McConnell made a point of order to establish the new rule, which was ultimately upheld by a simple majority vote (51-48). This procedure establishes a new precedent while avoiding a formal rule change which would require a supermajority to end a filibuster.

The rule change will speed up the confirmation of lower-court nominees considerably. To further illustrate the point, the Senate has just confirmed three district-court judges to this point in 2019. That is simply unacceptable. It was time for this change. It is time for the Senate to get to work.

“Until Justice Rolls Down Like Dollars”— the SPLC Exposed

By | Legal, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has once again been exposed for what it is, “a high profitable scam,” according to one former employee who wrote for the New Yorker in a recent, explosive op-ed. Recall that the SPLC is a hateful racket that smears Christian conservatives as racists. Remember when they smeared Dr. Ben Carson for having a Biblical, historical view of marriage?

The SPLC was key in that horrible shooting attack at the Family Research Council that injured their building’s security guard, Leo Johnson. After the incident, the FBI released a video of the terrorist’s interrogation where he confessed to using the center’s “Extremist” list map to find out where the councils’ offices were located.

Still, the SPLC’s smear campaigns were highly profitable for the group, so it continued to expand its list of “hate groups” with Christian organizations. For years, we have struggled to tell the world about this fraud of a group, making some strides. At one point, they were used as an official resource by the Department of Justice (DOJ), and they were removed from that position, thanks to the light that was shone on them. But many in the media showed little interest, since they were useful politically. These recent revelations might change all that.

“The Law Center had a way of turning idealists into cynics,” wrote Bob Moser, the former SPLC writer.  He joined the SPLC thinking it was a justice-seeking small organization and discovered it was all a façade. He recounts one employee referring to their offices as “the Poverty Palace.” Allegations of racial discrimination came from within while they accused everyone else of discriminating.  Sexual harassment allegations also loomed which eventually led to the firing of Morris Dees, one of SPLC’s co-founders.

Of Dees, he recalls one exposé that showed him to be one “who viewed civil-rights work mainly as a marketing tool for bilking gullible Northern liberals. … Co-workers stealthily passed along these articles to me,” he says.

When the news of Dees broke, he notes another former SPLC employee said, “It could be racial, sexual, financial — that place was a virtual buffet of injustices.”

But that’s on the inside. On the outside, they’re bringing in the money by accusing others, most prominently President Trump, of the things they are practicing. He writes, “Donald Trump’s presidency opened up a gusher of donations; after raising fifty million dollars in 2016, the center took in a hundred and thirty-two million dollars in 2017 …”

He concludes, “We were part of the con, and we knew it.” Tagline: “The S.P.L.C. — making hate pay …”

But friends, the reality is that, even after all of this (after all those facts) the SPLC continues its hateful work today as it did yesterday, aided by its multi-million-dollar endowment. Next week, hundreds of journalists will refer to Christian organizations smeared by the SPLC as “hate groups.” George Clooney, who donated a million dollars to them recently, and Apple, who chipped in another, and hundreds of other liberals seeking to advance their radical causes will continue to support them and ignore their putrid foundation, because they help them smear their opponents.

This is why we must be diligent to expose them at every turn. When you see a journalist quoting their stats or their “hate group” classification, write to them and let them know that they are discrediting themselves by using the SPLC.

If you see it on television or radio, call the station. It must become common knowledge that the SPLC is a racket and a hate group itself. But that can only happen through you and me. The media must be made to care; it won’t volunteer. Let us speak in unison, and we may yet see justice roll down like waters, as Martin Luther King, Jr., dreamed.

Your Voice Made a Difference— Neomi Rao to the D.C. Circuit

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

Neomi Rao, President Trump’s nominee to be a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, often recognized as the second-highest court in the land, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week by a vote of 53-46. No Republican senator opposed Rao.

This is a major victory and a testament to your voice and influence on Capitol Hill. Rao came under attack in the waning days of her nomination. But thanks to your voice, we have a conservative woman with excellent credentials and a trustworthy judicial philosophy at the D.C. Circuit. CWA leaders from across the country, and especially in key states, were quickly mobilized to express our support for Rao and to help explain her record and address any concerns Senators might have. Because of your efforts, she is now a federal appellate court judge.

Rao will fill the seat left vacant by Justice Brett Kavanaugh at the D.C. Circuit where she will handle numerous cases involving federal agencies, which is her area of expertise— administrative law. She comes to the bench after serving in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where she worked on deregulation efforts that have untangled businesses to invest in our economy and give rise to the current favorable economic numbers we are witnessing. As an associate professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, Rao also founded the school’s Center for the Study of the Administrative State.

These experiences, along with her solid judicial philosophy, will make her a major stabilizing influence at this important federal appellate court. During her hearing, Rao stated consistently that judges do not create law, but rather interpret and apply the Constitution, law, and precedents as they exist. She has publicly criticized activist judges who try to go “beyond the law to reach a particular result” they desire, rather than ruling as the law demands.

She is the type of judge we are in desperate need of, and we are glad to have played a role in her confirmation.


Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

 

For America (Day 102)

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

O let us taste and see that You are good, Lord;
Help us to trust in You and the promises
You have given to us through Your Word.
Blessed is He who puts his hopes in them.

Help us to know You and understand You, increasingly so;
Help us to fear You in Your holy love.
Teach us to love as You do
Keep us from becoming “noisy gongs” or “clanging cymbals.”

May all our works be covered in love and humility;
Directed by discernment and a desire to serve those in need.
You have prospered us, and we are grateful
For all we have, big and small.

We confess our sins before You,
Our joyless bouts and unforgiving hearts.
We are in desperate need
Of Your mind and heart-altering touch.

Help us to wield the sword of truth in love.
Help us to expose the darkness and bring joy.
In You there is life and peace and hope.
Help us to live and move in You.

Merciful Father, be near us;
Bring us ever closer to Your holy presence
And remind us of who we are in You –
Who we are becoming through Your sanctification.

Give us food for the hungry,
A calming word for those in distress,
A loving hand for those who are hurt,
And hearts who empathize with all.

Give us boldness to speak against
Injustice and unrighteousness and evil.
Give us hearts inclined to prayer
That in our weakness, we may stand strong.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

 


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

Sixth Circuit Greenlights Ohio Law Prohibiting Public Funding of Abortion Clinics

By | Case Vault, Legal, Planned Parenthood, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Hodges

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision from the Southern District of Ohio at Cincinnati invalidating an Ohio law barring the public funding of abortion clinics. This is good news. The law has now been upheld and can go into full effect.

The court said the state’s condition for receiving public health funds “does not violate the Constitution because the [clinics] do not have a due process right to perform abortions.” I know that seems obvious, but this is exactly what Planned Parenthood has tried to argue for many years. They claim not only that women have a constitutional right to abortion but also that they, as the providers of this “holy” right, have a constitutional right to provide abortions. The court appropriately and emphatically rejected that claim. The court’s sound reasoning now opens the door for the will of the majority of Ohioans to be carried out. The citizens of Ohio, along with the majority of the rest of the country, do not want their tax dollars to subsidize abortion providers.

In 2016 Ohio passed a law prohibiting funds from being used to “(1) Perform nontherapeutic abortions; (2) Promote nontherapeutic abortions; (3) Contract with any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions; (4) Become or continue to be an affiliate of any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions.”

Ohio made clear the purpose of the law is, (1) to “Promote childbirth over abortion” which the Supreme Court has already said is constitutionally permissible (“[A] State is permitted to enact persuasive measures which favor childbirth over abortion, even if those measures do not further a health interest.” Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 886 (1992)), (2) “to avoid ‘muddl[ing]’ that message by using abortion providers as the face of the state healthcare programs” (there are thousands of quality health care options for women besides Planned Parenthood – in Ohio, one study found 280 federally qualified health clinics and rural health clinics, compared to just 28 Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinics), and (3) “to avoid entangling program funding and abortion funding” (public funding inevitably helps Planned Parenthood be the number one abortion provider in the country, performing more than 300,000 abortions a year – more than 27,000 a month, more than 900 a day).

Planned Parenthood, having become synonymous with abortion, promptly sued Ohio, “claiming that the law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments by conditioning government funding on giving up their rights to provide abortions and to advocate for them.” The district court and a panel of the Sixth Circuit agreed and permanently enjoined the State from enforcing the law.

Thankfully, the Sixth Circuit en banc (before the full court) now reverses those misguided opinions and correctly applies the law, including applicable precedent, to this case. Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing for the court, reminds us that, “The United States Constitution does not contain an Unconstitutional Conditions Clause.” Writing clearly and concisely, he says, “Governments generally may do what they wish with public funds,” citing Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173, 192–94 (1991). He continues, “What makes a condition unconstitutional turns not on a freestanding prohibition against restricting public funds but on a pre-existing obligation not to violate constitutional rights.” In other words, the government cannot deny a clinic’s funding on a reason that violates the clinic’s constitutional rights.

But the constitutional right at issue here “prohibits a State from imposing an ‘undue burden’ on a woman’s access to an abortion before fetal viability. Casey, 505 U.S. at 877 (plurality).” It has nothing to do with a clinic’s right to perform abortions. “The Supreme Court has never identified a freestanding right to perform abortions.”

Therefore, since there is no constitutional right, there can be no constitutional violation of that right. It is that simple.

A woman may bring a claim, as the dissent envisions, saying this law places an undue burden on her constitutional right to obtain an abortion, but this is hard to imagine, given the facts of this case where the clinics have all publicly expressed their commitment to abortion with or without this law. Ruling for Planned Parenthood in this case, “would create a constitutional right for providers to offer abortion services and, in doing so, move the law perilously close to requiring States to subsidize abortions. Case law rejects both possibilities.”

Bottom line, “so long as the subsidy program does not otherwise violate a constitutional right of the regulated entity, the State may choose to subsidize what it wishes — whether abortion services or adoption services, whether stores that sell guns or stores that don’t.”

Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

Time for the FCC to Take Parent’s Concerns Seriously

By | LBB, News and Events, Sanctity of Life, Sexual Exploitation | No Comments

In a recent Public Notice, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Media Bureau sought comments on “the accuracy of the television content rating system, known as the TV Parental Guidelines, and the ability of the governing body for TV ratings, the TV Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board, to oversee the rating system and address public concerns.”

We thank those of you who took the time to write comments in response to our post. It is important for the commission to hear from you personally.

Your voice will also be heard as a supporter of Concerned Women for America (CWA). We submitted an official comment on your behalf, asking the FCC to “put American families

first.” In it, we argue the current rating system benefits the big entertainment conglomerates to the detriment of families and, especially, children.

An effort that was presented as aiming to benefit the public has in fact developed, unsurprisingly, into a system benefiting those who control it, the entertainment industry. Television is more dangerous for families today than it was before this system was devised.

You ask, “Are programs with violent, sexual, or other content that may be inappropriate for children being rated accurately?” No, they are not. Graphic sexual scenes, adult topics, violence, and profanity are routinely rated as appropriate for children. TV-14 and TV-PG ratings are routinely abused to peddle violent, lewd, and salacious content, to the horror of parents who are helpless once their children are exposed to the material without proper warning. This is, of course, an ideal business model which gives advertisers a much larger audience, but it is most certainly not in the best interest of families.

A major breakdown in the implementation of the rating system is the unaccountability of the industry-proposed and self-governing Oversight Monitoring Board (OMB). Here, too, we raise serious concerns on your behalf.

This is a darkly covered body overwhelmingly composed of industry members who even get to choose the very few advocates for families that are part of it. Transparency, which should be at the core of such a body, is virtually non-existent. There is no record of their meetings, when and how often they meet, what is discussed — everything is secret. How can the public feel any assurance that their complaints are being handled appropriately when the people they are complaining about get to judge themselves in secret with virtually no accountability?

The entertainment industry has been masterful in keeping this body under a deep cloud. Most parents do not have any idea that OMB even exists, let alone who is a member of it. They are completely unaccountable. How can we allow this to continue? CWA supporters can’t believe it when we inform them that not even a representative of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is part of this mysterious group. And since no press is allowed in the meetings either, can there be any doubt that the public is systematically and intentionally being kept in the dark on this process?

We conclude by urging the FCC to intervene.

It is time the FCC takes the concerns of parents in this area seriously and exercises the considerable power Congress has granted it to act in the best interest of the public. The entertainment industry has been granted the chance it wanted to do the right thing by families and come up with a process that could empower citizens with the information they need to make the best decisions for their families. But it has taken advantage of the public, betraying our trust, and it is time for the FCC to intervene.

For America (Day 101) – A Prayer Against Late-Term Abortion

By | News and Events, Prayer | No Comments

To You, oh Lord, we lift up our souls.
For You are good — ready to forgive
Those who call upon Your Name.
And so, we call upon Thee, Yahweh.

Arise Lord, against the evil that drives
The recent push for late-term abortion in our land.
Arise! Speak Lord, and it shall be done;
Raise up an army of salt and light in our midst.

Forgive us our silence and our apathy,
Cleanse us from all wickedness inside us
And help us to put these babies being slaughtered
Ahead of our selfish ambitions.

Teach us to love women in crisis pregnancies,
And the life You have created within them.
Teach us to love our enemies enough
To stand squarely against them in all truth.

Give us boldness to speak,
As the disciples before us;
Help us embrace ridicule and scorn,
For Your Name’s sake.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted
For righteousness’ sake,”[a] Christ said,
“Blessed those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.”[b]

Fill us with Your justice for the unborn;
Open the eyes of our countrymen, and help us win
Against this great evil — this great injustice.
We are helpless without You.

Amen.


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

Hostility Towards Religion on Display at the Supreme Court in Maryland Cross Case

By | Blog, Maryland, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

This week the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association. The case deals with a 93-year-old World War I memorial shaped like a cross that was erected to honor fallen soldiers. The memorial stood for 80-plus years without challenge, but now it offends the American Humanist Association (AHA), so they sued the state of Maryland and have gotten all the way to the Supreme Court to have it removed.

There are reasons for optimism. The arguments in favor of allowing the cross to stand were powerfully presented by Neal K. Katyal, representing the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission; Michael Carvin, representing the American Legion which erected the monument in the first place; and Jeffrey Wall, Acting-Solicitor General of the U.S.

Mr. Katyal, who previously worked at the solicitor general’s office under Justice Kagan’s leadership in the Obama years, focused on the uniqueness of the cross. He argued (1) it was built 93 years ago, (2) it has at its center the American Legion’s symbol and at its base the memorial words, “Valor, Endurance, Courage, Devotion,” (3) there are no other religious symbols or words associated with it, and (4) it is situated in the city’s Veterans Memorial Park, alongside other war memorials. He also highlighted that the Court has never adopted a view that the mere fact that some people disagree with something would create an Establishment Clause violation. When Justice Sotomayor pointed to some briefs of deeply religious people who regarded “secularizing the cross” as blasphemy, he replied, “I don’t think we let those objectors dictate that.”

Mr. Carvin was more expansive in his defense of religious liberty. He argued, as did our brief, against the use of the unworkable Lemon Test, which has been largely abandoned by the Court. He argued instead that the Court should adopt the coercion test it used in Town of Greece v. Galloway, “which prohibits tangible interference with religious liberty, as well as proselytizing.” Under such a test, “all symbolic, including sectarian, symbols would be presumptively valid except in the rare circumstances where they’ve been misused to proselytize.” When questioned, it was also important that he reminded the Court that, “all symbols are sectarian, and if you ban sectarian symbols, then you are necessarily banning all religious symbols, which evinces hostility and is in stark tension with the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clause.”

Acting-Solicitor General Wall also argued for adhering to Town of Greece. He explained that under that test there is a much higher standard than, “are you offended or excluded? … Are you trying to force people into the pews, are you denigrating another faith?”

But what stood out most at oral arguments was the palpable hostility towards religion, and indeed Christianity in particular, from the American Humanist Association’s (AHA) counsel Monica Miller. “We’re talking about the government being the speaker and essentially giving you the message, as the non-Christian in your community, that you are a lesser citizen,” she explained. She argued the monument would, “contribute to the idea that non-Christians are inferior.” One is left puzzled by such characterizations. How can anyone take a WWI memorial display in this manner? To a reasonable observer, this is a symbol that honors the sacrifice of these men giving their lives for their fellow men. But to the AHA it says only that “Christians have valor, Christians have courage, Christians have devotion, Christians have endurance …”

The size is also a problem for them. Miss Miller seemed to argue for a sort of “loudness test,” where a display that is “not as loud” would be okay. But as Justice Gorsuch quickly pointed out, the Court would have to get into “having to dictate taste with respect to displays.” He said, “We have a Ten Commandments display just above you, which may be too loud for many.”

Miss Miller acknowledged that the Ten Commandments, “it’s basically shorthand for law itself.” But she draws the line at the cross, somehow. It apparently cannot have a dual meaning of sacrifice, aside from the desire of Christians to proselytize.

The hostility, again, seemed aimed at Christianity in particular. Chief Justice Roberts asked at one point about Native American totems with their “spiritual and religious significance.” Would they need to be torn down? The answer was, “no.” No problem there. She tried to argue this based on the fact that the Court did not find a violation in a similar case because the community was predominantly Christian, but the Chief went on to ask her in the context of a predominantly Native American community. She was unwilling to say that it would be a violation.

Clearly, there is some animosity towards the nation’s Christian heritage that undergirds the AHA’s argument.

At one point, Chief Justice Roberts pointed out that people process these displays in different ways. And the fact that some Jewish people object doesn’t mean all object. He reminded her that “one of the major fundraisers of [the cross] was a Jewish individual. So, he was obviously observing it or anticipating it in a different way.” Miss Miller’s hostility, again, was stark. She said, “Well, Your Honor, I think that we cannot take one person’s example, again, someone who is probably one of maybe the only Jewish people in that county at a time when there was an active Klan burning crosses, burning Jewish buildings or Jewish, you know, businesses at the time when atheists couldn’t run for office, Jews had to swear that they believed in an afterlife in order to qualify, I mean …” At this bizarre comment, there was a bit of a commotion. Justice Kagan was heard saying, “Why does it even matter?”
But Miss Miller was undeterred. Justice Alito reminded her that, “There were 12 African-American soldiers among the 49,” who are honored at the memorial. Yet she dismissed that, speculating that those who placed the names didn’t even know who was honored there. At one point she claimed, “there [are] bushes obscuring the plaque.”

Some might miss it, but the implications of the AHA’s arguments are horrendous. To attribute some malicious, bigoted, Christian discrimination to this memorial without any proof of such hideous intent is unwarranted and reprehensible.

We hope the Court renders a decision that upholds this memorial and others similar to it and sends a clear message for the protection of religious liberty in our nation. The lower courts are in desperate need of guidance on this area of the law. We need a decision that will be helpful in future cases, not just in the protection of this cross.

Miss Miller was blunt in asking the Court to limit its decision and leave every other display to be attacked and litigated by themselves. If the Court heeds her call, it will leave states to continue to be harassed for honorable displays that should be celebrated and respected, instead of smeared and litigated. The Court should not play along. It should stand for religious liberty and our country’s rich religious liberty heritage.

A Compassionate State of the Union

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

This was a beautiful speech tonight by President Donald J. Trump. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a compassionate speech from beginning to end. It was the total opposite of everything the mainstream media says President Trump represents. If you did not watch it, you should take the time to see it for yourself. Do not believe the pundits. They have lied to us. Blatantly so.

They twist and turn the words and attribute malicious intent where there is none. They are on the hunt for “factchecks” and constantly present him in the worst light possible. We must resist these manipulations. Listen to President Trump. Listen to this speech and judge for yourself.

 

From the very beginning of the speech, he celebrated the 75th year of the Allied liberation of Europe in World War II. “On D-day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the skies, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea to save our civilization from tyranny,” he said as he presented Private First-Class Joseph Riley, Staff Sergeant Erving Walker, and Sergeant Hartman Zeitcheck. “Gentlemen, we salute you,” he said, and America saluted with him. He also saluted Buzz Aldrin, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the planting of the American flag on the moon. Another kind gesture, celebrating the best of America.

When he celebrated the great economic numbers, his focus was on those he is always being pinged against. He spoke compassionately:

Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps … Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low. More people are working now than at any time in the history of our country.

When he spoke about judicial nominations, he spoke with a unifying tone: “We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad. This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate, in some cases years and years waiting …” And, again, he showed compassion for the nominees as individuals with families pointing out the unfairness of what the process has become.

He then went deeper:

In the last Congress, both parties came together to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, a sweeping new farm bill, historic V.A. Reforms, and after four decades of rejection, we passed a V.A. Accountability, so we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans. And just weeks ago, all parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform.

President Donald J. Trump has led on all these issues. What do you think would have been said of President Barack Obama if these historic efforts had happened under his watch? This is a decidedly compassionate president, and Americans are not being allowed to see this side of President Trump. It is time we wake up and allow the true man –the full man, warts and all, but with this compassionate side, too—instead of this malicious caricature we are constantly fed.

President Trump was visibly moved as he spoke of Alice Johnson and Matthew Charles who were helped by the criminal justice reforms. Alice had become a minister in prison and has dedicated her life to helping others choose a better path. Matthew became a law clerk. These are stories of redemption and grace and compassion.

He spoke with compassion (as he has done in the past, I should note) about illegal immigration. Again, if we just take a moment to listen to the president and stop listening to the predators living off of his every tweet, it is almost shocking to see. He said, “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” Will that make the headlines tomorrow?

The president added:

Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate, it is actually very cruel. One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country. Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide-open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery. Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. The savage gang MS-13 now operates in at least 20 different American states, and they almost all come through our southern border. Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York city.

Friends, none of this is racist. I say that as a Hispanic myself. The president speaks with a compassionate tone. And perhaps he doesn’t always, but the rush to paint him as the next Hitler is simply grotesque, and Americans of all political persuasions should reject that type of character assassination. At some point, we must demand that our lawmakers engage the president on the struggle to come up with innovative ideas to address America’s problems. He puts forth a compelling, compassionate case, and to simply make fun of him in general simply should not cut it.

But the most powerful part of the speech came when he addressed the sanctity of human life. He first spoke about his support for paid family leave, “I am also proud to be the first president to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave — so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.” And then contrasted that parent-child bond with the atrocious late-term abortion laws we have seen in several states like New York and Virginia. His next words were:

There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days. Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth. To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb. Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth — all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.

This was a historic moment for the fight to stand for those who cannot speak for themselves, unborn babies. We must give thanks to God for a president willing to stand in the gap, when so many have wavered because of political considerations, and speak truth. He should be celebrated for his courageous stance for life.

He spoke compassionately about the people of Venezuela: “We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.”

President Trump had strong words against the socialist policies that continue to creep into our country. He said, “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.”

I was glad to remind my twitter followers that by standing against socialism, we stand in favor of religious liberty. History bears witness to the abuses against the church and the freedom of all peoples to worship God as they see fit, under socialist regimes.  That is one reason why President Trump showed his compassion for the American people as he said, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

There was much more. He spoke of health care and fighting AIDS and cancer, again using powerful examples of the lives for which he is fighting.

He finished with these powerful words, invoking our motto (still), “In God We Trust”:

This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots. This is our future — our fate — and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness. No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together. We must keep America first in our hearts. We must keep freedom alive in our souls. And we must always keep faith in America’s destiny — that one nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world! Thank you. God bless you, God bless America.

So, I will forever remember this State of the Union Address as the compassionate one. I’ll tell my children and my children’s children that it was delivered in 2019 by President Donald J. Trump. I’ll tell them I count myself privileged to have watched it.

Mario Diaz, Esq. is CWA’s general counsel. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiazesq.

Conservatives Support Rao

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

Neomi Rao, President Donald J. Trump’s nominee to take over the seat left vacant by Justice Brett Kavanaugh at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has come under unfair attack by the left for some conservative writings in her college days.  But as the Wall Street Journal noted:

The real motive for destroying Ms. Rao is maintaining progressive control of the D.C. Circuit to rubber stamp the left’s agenda on climate change, health care and more. Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid packed the court during the Obama years, but Ms. Rao replacing Justice Kavanaugh won’t alter the composition of the court.

Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) sent a letter of support to the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying:

As the largest public policy organization for women in the nation, CWALAC supporters around the country are excited to see a woman of such caliber excelling at the top levels of the legal field. We strongly ask you to rise above the hyper-partisanship of the day and give Prof. Rao the serious consideration she deserves. After examining her record, we are confident that any reasonable observer would conclude she is more than qualified to serve in this position. We ask you to vote for her confirmation.

CWALAC also joined a coalition letter with other conservative organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Americans who are tired of the Senate’s recent mistreatment of nominees. It reads in part:

Prof. Rao’s career should be celebrated and honored, not caricatured and maligned for political purposes. We owe a great debt of gratitude for her contribution to the legal and public policy fields. We hope this committee will treat her with the seriousness and respect she deserves.

Prof. Rao’s hearing was just today and she, once again, showed why she is considered one of the top legal minds in our country. She rose above partisan attacks and showed the judicial restraint that will make her a stellar member of the D.C. Court.

In a statement following the hearings, Penny Nance, CEO & President of Concerned Women for America, said:

Extreme liberals in the U.S. Senate once again tried to bully Professor Rao, despite her sterling credentials to sit on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, perhaps the most important court in the country besides the U.S. Supreme Court. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee fully supports Neomi Rao’s nomination and calls on Senate liberals to stop the religious litmus tests, gridlock, and bullying tactics and confirm her; she will make an outstanding addition to the federal bench.