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Mario Diaz, Esq.

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.

Fifth Circuit: Planned Parenthood Undercover Videos Authentic and Not Deceptively Edited

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

CWA President & CEO Penny Nance talks with CMP Founder David Daleiden at the 2019 March for Life

After being exposed for their unscrupulous attempts to sell baby body parts for profit, Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation, tried to discredit the evidence in a massive PR campaign. They claim the videos which clearly showed they sought to benefit from the sale of aborted baby hearts, brains, lungs, etc. were “deceptively edited.”

This blatant lie was so flagrantly promoted by the liberal mainstream media that many Americans, including some judges, took it as fact.

Thankfully, we still have independent-minded judges who refuse to adjudicate based on popular beliefs, choosing instead to follow the law as written, even in difficult cases. Such was the case with a panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals who took a look at the evidence in Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas v. Smith.

The panel found a district court who had fully sided with Planned Parenthood’s characterization of the video evidence based on their word alone had abused its discretion. The Fifth Circuit panel composed of Judges Edith Jones, E. Grady Jolly, and Catharina Haynes, said, “The district court stated, inaccurately, that the CMP video had not been authenticated and suggested that it may have been edited” (Emphasis mine). The appellate panel was not just acting on emotion or personal preference by writing this, there was no evidence, aside from Planned Parenthood’s word, to sustain the district court’s characterization of the videos. The court notes:

In fact, the record reflects that [the Texas Health and Human Services Commission Office of Inspector General (OIG)] had submitted a report from a forensic firm concluding that the video was authentic and not deceptively edited. And the plaintiffs did not identify any particular omission or addition in the video footage. (Emphasis mine)

This simple statement of truth has sent shockwaves around the country. And we shouldn’t be surprised. Just as darkness cannot withstand the light, lies crumble at the sight of truth. The court’s acknowledgment is also great vindication for David Daleiden, the founder of The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), who produced the groundbreaking undercover videos exposing the dubious, unethical, immoral, and potentially criminal enterprise.

Daleiden said in a statement: “CMP’s undercover video series caught Planned Parenthood’s top leaders openly admitting to selling baby body parts for profit in violation of federal law. Tonight, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vindicated our citizen journalism work by debunking Planned Parenthood’s smear that the videos were ‘heavily edited’ or ‘doctored.’”

The Texas case dealt with the state’s efforts to terminate its Medicaid provider agreement with Planned Parenthood after their unethical behavior was revealed by the CMP videos. Federal law allows states to terminate a Medical provider agreement when, as in this case, there is evidence of a program violation. The Court explained that, “A ‘program violation’ includes any violation of federal law, state law, or the Texas Medicaid program policies.”

Federal law makes it a crime “to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce” (42 U.S.C. 289g-2). Not only that, it also requires “no alteration of the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy [be] made solely for the purposes of obtaining the tissue” (42 U.S.C. 289g-1(b)(2)). This is exactly what we see in the forensically-authenticated CMP videos.

The court noted several statements where the videos clearly show Planned Parenthood was willing and able to change the abortion procedure to obtain “intact specimens.” Quoting their representative:

Yeah. So she knows what’s involved in modifying what we need to do to get you the specimens that are intact because she’s done it. … And she was doing those here.

Note Planned Parenthood not only admits it is willing to alter its abortion procedures for this purpose in the future, but it alleges they have done it in the past, also. There are numerous statements of this nature. The lower court dismissed all those statements because it wholeheartedly took Planned Parenthood’s word that they didn’t mean any of it. The appellate panel said, “The district court credited [Planned Parenthood’s] self-justifying explanations.”

It would be like a court believing an abuser because he shows up in court and says he didn’t do anything, while dismissing outright all the bruises and testimony from the victim. The district court’s decision was not based on facts but preference. One can see that when the appellate court notes the lower court actually concluded there was no “evidence, or even a scintilla of evidence,” for Texas’ conclusions about Planned Parenthood. Whatever you think of their decision, any reasonable observer can see that the videos are something – gosh, are the millions of people troubled by them just uneducated troglodytes?

It is that type of extreme, unmeasured action by a judge which shows they are not approaching a case and the evidence in good faith. The appellate court, on the other hand, approached the case with the evenhandedness that is at the heart of ensuring a just outcome. It identifies the case as a case of “judicial review of an agency action.” And accordingly, it gives proper deference to the state agency on its determinations. It noted, “despite being litigated with the trappings of the abortion debate, this is fundamentally a statutory construction case, not an abortion case.”

This is the model of judicial restraint that should be paramount in our judicial system. The court gives deference to the state agency in making its determination based on legitimate evidence of misconduct.

Planned Parenthood argued that Texas could not even make a determination on them because “OIG has insufficient expertise to determine the qualifications of abortion providers.” Unbelievably, the lower court had gone along with Planned Parenthood in that argument too.

Fortunately, the appellate panel gave a proper smackdown to that inane notion:

We reject this argument. OIG is the agency that the state of Texas has empowered to investigate and penalize Medicaid program violations. The agency is in the business of saying when providers are qualified and when they are not. That the Chief Medical Officer is a surgeon—and not himself an abortion provider— does not mean that he deserves no deference when deciding whether a provider has failed to meet the medical and ethical standards the state requires. It is even odder to claim that federal judges, who have no experience in the regulations and ethics applicable to Medicaid or medical practice, much less in regard to harvesting fetal organs for research, should claim superior expertise. (Emphasis mine)

The appellate court ultimately vacated the preliminary injunction imposed by the district court. It remanded the case back to limit the review to the agency record, taking a serious look at the evidence in the videos and not merely at Planned Parenthood’s self-serving explanations after the fact. It also asked the lower court to review the case under the proper arbitrary-and-capricious standard. Here’s hoping they follow through on their application of the law this time, regardless of the political pressures that come with any case even remotely associated with Planned Parenthood.

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

There is a Darkness Growing in New York

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

By now you have probably seen the video (below) of the New York State Senate cheering the “Reproductive Health Act” which would effectively allow abortions up to just before birth. It is heartbreaking. This is not just the sentiment of a few legislators either. It is a direct reflection of the majority of the people of New York. Their elected officials consistently reflect the condition of their hearts. Recall that New York City discovered in 2012 that more African American babies were killed by abortion (31,328) than born (24,758). From that experience, they’ve emerged with a desire to expand abortions.

I first came across the video with a comment from Benjamin Watson, the NFL player who is a courageous voice for life in our day. He commented, “It is a sad and evil day when the murder of our most innocent and vulnerable is celebrated with such overwhelming exuberance. We SHOULD be supporting and encouraging the building of families which are fundamental to any society. By not doing so, we invite consequences untold.”

 

He captured well in just a tweet what I felt as my heart broke for the people of New York. I pray that God may have mercy on them, that they may feel the evil that has taken hold of their hearts and minds, so they might turn and repent from their ways.

The worst of consequences for New York would be to be left to their own devices and continue to think of themselves as the best of the best. To continue to be blinded by the big billboards and the lights, its celebrities, and big sporting events. Underneath the glamour, there is a deep sadness to this city. A spiritual sadness. People who can barely make it each day. They are crying out for help only to hear the reflection of their own voices on the busy bodies walking pass them.

I pray for the New York Church. I pray that they might shine brightly in the middle of increasing darkness. I pray this news presents a moment of self-reflection. I pray they cry out in unison for God’s discipline, for that would be a great mercy. Like a loving father, the Lord disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6). There are those whom God gives up to follow their own appetites, “to do what ought not to be done,” says the Apostle Paul (Romans 1:28). This is the worst of scenarios.

Those of us outside the state must also be diligent to stand up and raise our voices for these children who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8). To speak of the people of New York is in many ways to speak of us, wherever we are in America. Paul warned not only those who practice these evil deeds but of those who “give approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). Let us never be accused of approval because of our silence. May we never be seen as those who would sacrifice justice and mercy for the unborn on the altar of personal comfort.

Let us resolve to speak ever more boldly for the unborn in New York and wherever we are. Let us recommit our efforts to support women in crisis pregnancy and to love each person at every stage of life for their intrinsic value, as created in the image of God.

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

For America (Day 100)

By | News and Events, Prayer | No Comments

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace,
You deserve all praise and honor;
In You all things hold together.

Therefore, to You we lift our voices.
As a country and a people in desperate need
Of Your intervention and restoration.
Incline Your ears to our supplications, Lord.

We are sinners crumbling under the weight of our sin.
Have mercy on us and come to our rescue.
Let the light of Your Son, our Savior, shine in the hearts
Of many in our land — let revival arise!

For we know that despite all our efforts
What we need is a change of heart, a new heart.
And what can we ultimately do to bring this about
But to speak truth and let Your Holy Spirit move?

Let us see truth, therefore,
Clearly and magnificently.
Help us open our eyes to see beyond
The lies of this present world.

Help us focus on the new one to come
The one You promised through Your Son.
Oh Lord, we trust only in Your Love
Refocus us. Consecrate us. To You.

Help us walk with integrity in the light.
Help us to love each other, as You command.
Help us believe Your promises
And to walk confidently in them.

Help us to speak boldly, proclaiming Your name,
Defeating the enemy’s lies at every turn,
Suffering the consequences of being Yours,
Bearing our cross daily until You come.

In Christ’s name we pray these things,
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.

Supreme Court Punts on Important Religious Liberty Case

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

It is difficult to find words that can adequately sound the alarm of the religious liberty threats we face as a nation. We are getting weaker by the moment on the protection of our “first freedom,” and the opposition gets bolder with every half-hearted attempt, whether by courts or opportunistic politicians, to take the middle ground where none exists.

The recent denial of cert. (judicial review) in the case of Coach Kennedy (Kennedy v. Bremerton School District), who was fired for daring to pray privately after high school football games, is a prime example of how anemic we have become. Concerned Women for America (CWA) submitted a brief in support of Coach Kennedy alongside other religious liberty organizations. The reasons the Supreme Court’s conservative majority gave for declining to hear the case are unpersuasive and should be a warning of trouble ahead for us all.

In a disappointing statement by Justice Samuel Alito, who was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, they try to save face by reminding us that the “denial of certiorari does not signify that the Court necessarily agrees with the decision (much less the opinion) below.”

He is right. It does not mean that. It certainly does not mean they disagree with the decision either, or they would have vacated it. What they say is that, “In this case important unresolved factual questions would make it very difficult if not impossible at this stage to decide the free speech question that the petition asks us to review.”

What are these important “unresolved factual questions”? Well, the statement notes that Coach Kennedy was given two reasons for being fired: (1) that he neglected his responsibility to supervise his players while he was praying, and (2) that his actions would lead a reasonable observer to think the district was endorsing a religion. These reasons were given in writing. There is no factual question about them. Still, the statement of Justices Alito joined by Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh, claims, “the court should have made a specific finding as to what petitioner was likely to be able to show regarding the reason or reasons for his loss of employment.”

For that reason, they actually concur in the denial. This is mindboggling. They criticize the district court for converging the two reasons together, but the district court is not wrong. The only reason he was fired is because he was praying.  Surely the justices do not think he would be fired if he goes to the restroom after the game, “leaving the kids unsupervised.” Coach Kennedy was fired because he dared say a private prayer in a way that could be seen publicly. He is Daniel praying in his chambers while being seen through the window. And our laws today in the year 2019 in America allow him to be thrown in the lion’s den of unemployment.

The justices’ statement does show some apprehension to this incredible injustice.  Alito writes, “While I thus concur in the denial of the present petition, the Ninth Circuit’s understanding of the free speech rights of public-school teachers is troubling and may justify review in the future.”

Oh good; Coach Kennedy might just need to spend another decade fighting this case in order to see justice. Listen to what they acknowledge:

According to the Ninth Circuit, public school teachers and coaches may be fired if they engage in any expression that the school does not like while they are on duty, and the Ninth Circuit appears to regard teachers and coaches as being on duty at all times from the moment they report for work to the moment they depart, provided that they are within the eyesight of students.

Exactly. Then, why in the world would they concur with denying judicial review? Why not take the case and undo the damage done by the Ninth Circuit? Send a clear message in support of religious freedom. The statement continues: “What is perhaps most troubling about the Ninth Circuit’s opinion is language that can be understood to mean that a coach’s duty to serve as a good role model requires the coach to refrain from any manifestation of religious faith — even when the coach is plainly not on duty.” Again, such blatant hostility towards religion is prohibited by the Constitution, which is why it is a shame the Court elected to punt on this case.

And it gets even worse. Alito again,

[T]he Court criticized him for “his media appearances and prayer in the BHS bleachers (while wearing BHS apparel and surrounded by others).” This conduct, in the opinion of the Ninth Circuit, “signal[ed] his intent to send a message to students and parents about appropriate behavior and what he values as a coach.” But when petitioner prayed in the bleachers, he had been suspended. He was attending a game like any other fan. The suggestion that even while off duty, a teacher or coach cannot engage in any outward manifestation of religious faith is remarkable. (Internal citations omitted)

These blatant violations of Coach Kennedy’s constitutional rights more than warrant the Supreme Court’s attention.  At a time when hostility towards Christian beliefs continues to rise in our country, it is unfortunate not to have enough votes at the Supreme Court to give a hearing to such an important case.

We are grateful the statement signals that this case is not over, “While the petition now before us is based solely on the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, petitioner still has live claims under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” But people of faith all over America are rightly pondering if they will be the next victim of our lack of courage in protecting religious freedom. What will it take for us to wake up and fight for religious freedom with the resolve it warrants?

CWALAC Submits Title IX Comments

By | Education, LBB, News and Events, Sexual Exploitation | No Comments

Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee submitted these comments in support of new Title IX regulations that will promote justice in cases of sexual harassment in an educational setting.

Click here to submit your comments of support. The deadline is midnight on Monday, January 28, 2919.

Pro-Life is Pro-Science

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

Today is the March for Life! As I sit across from my eldest daughter (11) on our way to the march in downtown Washington, D.C., I can’t help but think about this year’s theme: “Unique from Day One.” I see this in Mia.

I have four kids. They’re all incredible. But Mia is unique. She’s kind and good-hearted. She is loud and yet shy. In many ways, she is like her mother. In other ways like me. She is her. Each of my children is unique. This is an inescapable reality.

The connection between us is also unique. As every parent out there knows, our children’s connection with mother and father is very different. Each beautiful in its own right. This, too, is a reality.

That connection starts from day one, at conception. As most woman who have been pregnant would testify, there is a connection (a deep relationship) that starts while the baby is inside the womb. It is a majestic mystery that is undeniable, whatever the pro-choice propaganda tells us.

Exploiters know the power of this connection between mother and child is so explosive, it is dangerous. I always remember the words of Frederick Douglass in his autobiography, “An American Slave.” He wrote:

My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant — before I knew her as my mother. It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age. Frequently, before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor. For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child’s affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child. This is the inevitable result.

As Frederick Douglass notes, slaveholders knew this “natural affection” between mother and child was more powerful than slavery. They were right to fear it.

It is why pro-abortion advocates today hate laws requiring that they offer women a sonogram of the baby in the womb before having an abortion. This is dangerous to their business. Better to “part children from their mothers” before she can lay eyes on the baby. But they cannot deny reality. Being pro-life is being pro-science. Only mothers have abortions. That mother/unborn-child relationship, though in its infancy, has already commenced, and the separation will have inevitable consequences.

It is no wonder many women suffer greatly after an abortion, even when they cannot make the connection to the traumatic event. Consider that:

  • Women who have an abortion are three times more likely than women of child-bearing age in the general population to commit suicide.
  • The increased risk percentage of women who have an abortion compared to women in the general population of having at least one mental health issue: 81 percent.
  • Teen girls are up to 10x more likely to attempt suicide than their counterparts who have not had an abortion.
  • Teen girls who have had an abortion are up to 4x more likely to successfully commit suicide when compared to older women who have had an abortion.
  • About 45 percent of women who have had an abortion report having suicidal feelings immediately following their procedure.
  • 1995 data suggests that the rate of deliberate self-harm is 70% higher after abortion than after childbirth.
  • The British Journal of Psychiatry found an 81% increased risk of mental trauma after abortion.
  • Two out of three women who have a late abortion (after 12 weeks) suffer from the clinical definition of PTSD.
  • Women who have had an abortion are 34 percent more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.
  • The increased risk of alcohol abuse in women who have had an abortion is 110 percent.

These and many other scientific facts led the U.S. Supreme Court to finally admit in the Gonzalez v. Carhart partial-birth abortion decision that:

“It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-developing brain of her unborn child. …”

Indeed, it is self-evident. Just like we knew slavery was an unspeakable evil, even after Dred Scott said it was “legal,” so we know today that abortion is a similar evil that must end, even 46 years after Roe.

 


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

Losing Wager: “Big Marijuana’s” Legalization Crusade Endangers Our Future

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

Wherever you stand on the current trend towards legalization of marijuana in our country, it is evident that we need more information, not less, both on the effects of marijuana use itself (especially its long-term use) and also on the desired and unintended consequences of the different policies being adopted around the country.

This should be a point of agreement. The more research and evidence we have, the better we will be able to assess the pros and cons of any policy which should lead us to make better decisions.

This report takes a look at the evidence and concludes, after careful review, that, regardless of its popularity, the trend toward legalization is harmful to our nation’s future. It goes against the available scientific evidence, and it is, therefore, not good policy.