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Legal

CWA Files Brief on Important Religious Liberty Case

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

Aloha Bed & Breakfast v. Cervelli

Phyllis Young operates the “Aloha Bed & Breakfast” out of her home, renting about three rooms to guests in Hawaii. The house is a four-bedroom house that is not sectioned off. Guests are treated as part of the family during their stay.

For these reasons, as a Christian, Phyllis applies the same rules to guests that she would to family members. She does not facilitate sexual relationships outside of marriage as defined by her Christian beliefs. This means that she would not rent one room to unmarried couples or those in a same-sex relationship.

When two women in a same-sex relationship sought to rent a room with her, Phyllis declined, and they filed a complaint with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, representing Phyllis, argued that Hawaii’s public accommodation law, which makes sexual orientation discrimination unlawful, did not apply in this situation because of the nature of the business (renting only three rooms in her primary residence).

The Constitution also protects the free exercise of religion so that Phyllis should have the right not to promote behavior that her faith teaches is immoral. She should be able to conduct her small business in a way that can respect her deeply held religious beliefs.

As we have seen in other cases, the lower courts have ordered Phyllis to violate her Christian beliefs if she wants to make a living. This is a plain violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Americans should be able to operate a business according to their deeply held religious beliefs and without being compelled to endorse a government-approved view that contradicts those.

That is why Concerned Women for Americas has joined a brief asking the United States Supreme Court to take the case and reverse the lower court’s decision penalizing Mrs. Young for refusing to condone that which is contrary to her faith. In it, we argue:

Mrs. Young, the homeowner, acted out of her religious conviction that renting a single room to other than a married husband and wife would engage her in facilitating and endorsing immoral sexual conduct. She not only held a sincere belief to that effect, well buttressed by Biblical teaching, but her action in refusing quarter to the unmarried and same-sex cohabitants was conduct protected by the First Amendment’s prohibition of state interference with her free exercise of religion and with its similar prohibition of interference with her freedom of assembly, which incorporates the right not to associate with those engaging in behavior with which one disagrees.

The brief was filed alongside the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, the National Legal Foundation, and the Pacific Justice Institute sending a strong message to the Court of the importance of the religious liberty interests and concerns at play.

Please continue to pray for this case and the justices as they consider this case in the coming weeks.

Women and The Kavanaugh Effect

By | Legal, News and Events | No Comments

Forget about a blue or red wave. What we saw in the Senate races last night was the Kavanaugh Effect. After the fundamentally unjust treatment of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his nomination to the Supreme Court, most Americans have sent a clear signal through the midterms that this sort of abuse of power will not be tolerated. And conservative women led that effort.

As of this writing, three Democrat incumbents have lost their Senate seat: Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, and Joe Donnelly in Indiana. Each loss is directly related to their Kavanaugh “no” vote.

We know this because Concerned Women for America (CWA) state leaders in all three states led efforts to get them to do the right thing and warned them of the importance of their vote for conservative women.

In an August 7, Kansas City Star op-ed Bev Ehlen, CWA of Missouri state director, wrote:

Concerned Women for America of Missouri, the organization I lead, was proud to stand with Gorsuch, and we were terribly disappointed that Sen. Claire McCaskill decided to stand against him. … The good news is that McCaskill will get a second chance to do right by Missourians with the recent retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Will she listen to Missouri, or will she continue to do what her party in Washington dictates? If she listens to Missouri, she will vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. …

Bev was one of CWA’s most active leaders during the Kavanaugh nomination and throughout the elections. CWA Legislative Action Committee’s (CWALAC) “Women for Kavanaugh” bus tour visited the state and ran billboards. CWA of Missouri members contacted McCaskill’s office all throughout the nomination, and Bev even came for the hearings and visited the senator’s Washington, D.C., office. McCaskill did not heed the call of conservative women. She voted to oppose Justice Kavanaugh, and conservative women held her accountable. She lost her re-election bid.

The same script played out in North Dakota. As Real Clear Politics highlighted, CWA of North Dakota state director Linda Thorson delivered a similar message to both of her senators, emphasizing how vital it was for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s reelection bid. She said, “They should reject political partisanship once again and vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, especially, who is in a toss-up fight against Rep. Kevin Cramer, would benefit from rejecting the political machinations of her party’s leadership in Washington and stand with the people of North Dakota.”

North Dakota was, once again, an energetic stop in CWALAC’s “Women for Kavanaugh” bus tour. CWA of North Dakota members called and wrote emails asking Sen. Heitkamp to do the right thing and vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. She did not. And she is now the former senator from North Dakota.

In Indiana, NPR told the story after joining our bus tour in Indianapolis:

On a sunny afternoon last week in Indianapolis, a bus bearing a giant picture of Kavanaugh’s face pulled up in front of the state Capitol. After climbing off the bus, Janae Stracke, national field director with Concerned Women for America, told local activists she wants them to put pressure on Donnelly to support Kavanaugh, whom she calls “the next great justice.”…

Concerned Women for America is working with local activists like Susie Moore, a volunteer who is asking friends and neighbors to call or write Donnelly’s office and ask him to vote in favor of Kavanaugh. Moore said she’s opposed to abortion rights and concerned about what she sees as an erosion of religious freedom. She said the well-being of “future generations” is at stake in this fight.

But Sen. Joe Donnelly lost, so you know he did not listen to the voice of conservative women.

That is not all. Former Republican Governor Rick Scott in Florida is also set to take out incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson, who also voted against Justice Kavanaugh, ignoring the voice of thousands of conservative women who called for an end to the mob mentality that was destroying an honest man’s reputation without due process. CWA of Florida state director Terri Johannessen noted how the energy among conservative women increased exponentially following the Kavanaugh hearings.

Scott, on the other hand, capitalized on the opportunity, saying, “Judge Kavanaugh has been a fair and brilliant judge, one of our nation’s very best. He should be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.” The margin was small, which is why there will be a recount (as mandated by state law), but all indications are that Nelson also will lose his re-election bid to the Kavanaugh Effect.

One Democrat incumbent did listen to the voice of conservative women asking him to stand up to the mob mentality that was plaguing the Senate during the Kavanaugh hearings. His name is Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia – “coincidentally” another stop for the Women for Kavanaugh Bus Tour.

He voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. He won.

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

Election Night Recap: Judges, Judges, Judges

By | LBB, News and Events | No Comments

The one thing that doesn’t change one bit after the tonight’s election results is that the great work that President Donald J. Trump is doing to confirm constitutional judges at every level of the federal courts will continue for the next two years.

This is great news. The foundation that President Trump and the Republican leadership in the Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), are building will pay dividends for our Republic for many years, even decades after the President is out of office.

President Trump broke the record for appellate judges confirmed in the first two years of the presidency with 29. He also confirmed 53 district level judges and, of course, two excellent Supreme Court Justices.

The new senate will elect new leadership, which might mean a new Chairman in the Senate Judiciary Committee. If Sen. Grassley decides to step down from that role (I certainly hope he doesn’t!), the post is expected to go to Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) who was one of the big heroes in defense of Justice Kavanaugh, so we can expect the same type of commitment to the confirmation of judges going forward.

It is worth noticing that the Kavanaugh effect was also palpable tonight.  Some of the biggest surprises of the night were losses directly related to the injustice committed against now Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  Both Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) and Heidi Hietkamp (D-North Dakota) voted against Justice Kavanaugh, ignoring the majority of people in their state who wanted them to support due process, instead of succumbing to the radicals calling for a presumption of guilt. They paid a heavy price.

As of this writing, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), who also voted against Kavanaugh, is also in trouble, although the race is too close to call at the moment.

On the other hand, Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) who ultimately voted to confirm Kavanaugh, despite of the pressure radical liberals inflicted on him, won big.

The message is clear. The voters rejected the mob mentality that tried to destroy an honorable man in the name of political power.

This is very good news for our political discourse going forward.

On the other hand, the Democrats are expected to regain control of the House of Representatives, as of this writing (10:53pm). This was expected, given the historical precedent of mid-term elections.

They will be pushed, no doubt, by the radical left to spend considerable time on an agenda to investigate and derail President Trump. We must be prepared to stand up against such an approach. And insist that they attend instead to the people’s business.

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

Election Day

By | LBB, News and Events | No Comments

What does this day mean
For those who trust in You anyway?
The year is twenty eighteen
Still, You are King as yesterday.

Tomorrow too shall fall in line;
The world’s ideas will, in the end, collapse.
But those who remain in You, the Vine
Know no, “what if,” “maybe” or “perhaps”.

We enter confidently the booth.
They never lose who trust in You–
The Door, the Way, the Light, the Truth.
Blessed is He who makes all things new.

For we were once lost, bitter and afraid;
Looked for our identity in politics.
Yet, none of it our hearts persuade
Until we faced that blessed crucifix.

A lovely passion then springs forth,
A love for God and neighbor.
We know ourselves, we know our North,
Chains broken, we freely labor.

To spread the Good News of the Savior,
His life, His death, His resurrection to promote
With every word blurt out and our behavior–
Whether we eat, write, work, and yes, vote.

That is what this day is all about.
Another opportunity to preserve
The wisdom some try to blot out,
But we are committed to conserve.

To the glory of the One true God
Who created all that’s seen and not
Who comforts us with staff and rod,
Our sinful lives with His Son’s bought.

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

Christian Bakers Still Fighting for Freedom at the Supreme Court

By | LBB, News and Events | No Comments

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case was a great win for liberty. But Colorado’s blatant hostility towards people of faith was so egregious that it made the case somewhat easy and, therefore, narrow in scope.  The fundamental question of whether the Constitution protects the right to operate a business according to one’s faith is still somewhat unanswered by the Supreme Court.

That is why this week, Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon, have appealed the $135,000 penalty for “emotional damages” imposed on them for refusing to create a cake for a same-sex wedding. They have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, asking them to take the case and address head on the issue behind these cases: the government’s insistence that it can compel citizens, under threat of law, to create goods with a message contrary to their religious beliefs.

The state is forcing Christian businesses to choose between their faith and their livelihoods. But the Constitution stands squarely against that. It expressly protects expression, regardless of how popular the view is at any given moment. And that is all that has changed with regards to same-sex marriage. Christian beliefs have not changed. What has changed is cultural acceptance of it. And now they want to punish people of faith for believing what they have always believed.

Government is not remaining neutral, as it must, on questions of faith, but it is showing a dangerous hostility towards religion that goes to the heart of constitutional protections.

Jack Phillip of Masterpiece Cakeshop is the prime example of this. Even after his win at the Supreme Court, he has been forced now to sue the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for their continued crusade against him. After his win at the Supreme Court, the Commission ruled again that he was in violation of the states “non-discrimination law” for refusing to create a custom-made cake for a woman celebrating her gender transition.

Jack and other Christians like him are the targets of a well-funded, coordinated attack against religious freedom from pro-LGBT groups. The Catholic News Agency recently catalogued some of the money being spent to demonize people of faith who refuse to go along with the politically correct narrative of the day. It reported on the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, for example, a San Francisco-based foundation reporting half a billion dollars in its coffers, which targeted Masterpiece Cakeshop specifically.

The Haas, Jr. Fund gave $200,000 to the National Center for Lesbian Rights for a campaign to “educate the LGBT community” about the importance of the case, and $100,000 to the Equality Federation Institute for the same purpose. It gave $100,000 to the Movement Advancement Project, a key LGBT strategy and communications think tank funded by Colorado entrepreneur Tim Gill, “to develop and test ads and other tools to educate and engage the LGBT community” about the case.

Another $100,000 went to the ACLU Foundation for its LGBT & HIV Project “to coordinate a public education campaign around the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case,” while $34,500 went to the Horizons Foundation to “help LGBT Leaders and organizations prepare for a unified response to the Masterpiece Supreme Court decision.”

As you can see, the battle to protect our religious liberties is very much alive, and we must stay diligent.  The other side is committed to curtailing our religious liberties no matter the cost. Please pray for these important cases and other similar ones around the country.  As you know, Concerned Women for America’s legal team will be engaged bringing the voice of conservative women before the courts, and we are already working to develop the briefs for these cases. But part of the hard work necessary to win must be done by you and me personally as we engage others to gain a proper understanding of religious freedom. A lot of money is being spent to demonize people of faith, so we cannot let up. We will not. We will remain faithful to God and His Word, until the day of His return.

Good: Atlanta to Pay $1.2 Million for Egregious Religious Liberty Violation

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

The story of Kelvin Cochran is one that should never be forgotten. The former Atlanta Fire Chief was fired because of his faith — not in some oppressive country around the world, but here in the old “US of A.”

 

 

The good news is that the city of Atlanta has now settled the case, agreeing to pay Chief Cochran $1.2 million for their egregious violation of his First Amendment rights. The district court in Georgia had found the city’s arbitrary policy to be unconstitutional, saying:

This policy would prevent an employee from writing and selling a book on golf or badminton on his own time and, without prior approval, would subject him to firing. It is unclear to the Court how such an outside employment would ever affect the City’s ability to function, and the City provides no evidence to justify it.

I want to thank those of you who have been praying for Chief Cochran and his family, made calls, and signed our petitions to stand up for religious freedom. There is no question your voice had an impact on the outcome of this case and will continue to help us defend religious liberties for years to come.

Never forget that the ideology that made this unjust firing of an excellent employee and an honest man possible is still very much alive at the highest levels of government. We must continue to be engaged and call these incidents for what they are: anti-Christian bigotry.

Just this week, a judicial nominee was attacked for being associated with the very group (the Alliance Defending Freedom [ADF])who defended Chief Cochran in this case. ADF is a Christian organization and, as you know, in the eyes of the Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC) that makes them a “hate group.”

This is a great victory for religious freedom, no doubt! We must take the time to thank God for His grace and goodness in allowing us such victories.

But we must also remain on guard, shining the light of freedom and faith at every turn. The upcoming election is yet another opportunity and also a challenge for us to engage our brothers and sisters on the importance of these issues, encouraging them to stand up for what they believe.

Here is what Tanya Ditty, state director of Concerned Women for America of Georgia, who stood hand in hand alongside Chief Cochran, had to say on the new development and the next steps that are needed to make sure this injustice does not happen again:

Former Atlanta mayor, Kasim Reed, and his administration created a hostile work environment for people of faith. Kelvin Cochran was targeted by Mr. Reed and ultimately fired for simply writing a book based upon his Judeo-Christian beliefs. Kelvin Cochran never wavered in his faith in the midst of outright religious and workplace discrimination.  Kelvin has always handled himself with dignity and honor. Justice has been served in the form of a $1.2 million settlement.   CWA of Georgia calls on the City of Atlanta to revisit its discriminatory employment policies so to ensure all its employees are able to come to work without the fear of religious discrimination or job loss.

Justice Kavanaugh Confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States

By | Blog, Legal, News and Events, Press Releases, SCOTUS | No Comments

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court 50-48.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America issued the following statement in response: 

“This confirmation journey has been unlike anything I have ever witnessed. Thank you, President Trump, for choosing such an outstanding and exemplary nominee. What we saw play out over the last month was nothing more than an outrageous display of partisanship at the cost of a good man’s reputation.

“But at the end of the day, truth and justice were victorious. I have been honored to stand alongside and represent half-a-million women who have supported Brett Kavanaugh since July 9. His record and his life of service withstood every salacious and unfounded attack.

“To the senators who endured threats for doing what is right, thank you. Thank you to Sen. Susan Collins who stood up for all women in that historic speech yesterday. To the staff on the hill who dealt with angry mobs at your desks, thank you. To Chairman Grassley, who saw the Judiciary Committee through this unprecedented charade, thank you for your strong and steady leadership. To Leader McConnell, who refused to be bullied, thank you.

“Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee showed up. Our happy warrior/activist ladies did what they do best. Across the United States, hundreds of thousands of our leaders fought unwaveringly for months. They wrote letters, held rallies, traveled to town halls, and even showed up in D.C. I am proud to stand with them.

“Justice Kavanaugh, thank you for not giving up. We are praying for you and your beautiful family. You made a choice to sacrifice yourself for the good of this nation, and the American people saw that. There is no one more qualified or worthy to sit on this esteemed bench at this time.”

For an interview with Penny Nance contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

Legal Case Against Kavanaugh Incredibly Weak

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

Rachel Mitchell, Division Chief of the Special Victims Division for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, Arizona, sent a devastating memo to Republican senators delineating her independent assessment of Dr. Christine Ford’s allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh. She concludes:

In the legal context, here is my bottom line: A “he said, she said” case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that. Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event, and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them. For the reasons discussed below, I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.

Click here to see the report in its entirety.

Leg Update: Sen. Judiciary Committee votes on Kavanaugh 11-10, What Now?

By | Blog, Legal, News and Events, SCOTUS | No Comments

During the Judiciary Committee business meeting this morning, Sen. Flake (R-Arizona) decided that a FBI investigation would be helpful “to mend the nation”. So before he voted on Kavanaugh in committee, he asked for such an investigation to be conducted.  A senator cannot make their vote contingent on anything, so this was mostly symbolic and political. Kavanaugh was reported out of committee favorably 11-10 (voted along party lines); his confirmation can now move to the Senate floor. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) very shortly after the vote echoed Flake’s call for an additional FBI investigation, essentially forcing Leader McConnell to delay the vote for said investigation.

Tomorrow at noon there was a procedural vote (motion to proceed) scheduled, but in a plot twist no one saw coming, about 7:00 p.m. Friday evening, the Senate agreed by unanimous consent request (that means no one, including democrats objected) to the motion to proceed (the one that was scheduled for tomorrow) to move to Executive Session for the consideration of Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Monday at 3:00 p.m. the Senate will convene and continue Kavanaugh’s consideration. There will be other legislation considered then as well.

The White House has now asked the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation into *existing* allegations only, and the investigation must wrap up in one week. This was the exact request from Senate Judiciary. The investigation could last two hours, or it could last all week.  There is no way to know. This is why McConnell moved forward with the motion to proceed regardless.

Chairman Grassley’s repeated remarks this week on why a FBI investigation is useless are helpful.  To summarize: it is not their job to reach conclusions or give recommendations; that is the sole job of the Senate (advice and consent); there was no federal crime committed, so they don’t have jurisdiction anyway.

After the FBI concludes their investigation, there will likely be calls for additional investigations. From day one the Democrats entire goal was to stop this with “everything they have”. There will be more calls for delay. There will very likely be more allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. The pressure on the four undecided senators will be intense (Heidi Heitkamp D-North Dakota, Joe Manchin D-West Virginia, Susan Collins R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski R-Alaska). It will all get much, much worse.  When abortion is your god and life has no value, ruining one man’s life and reputation to “save Roe” is not even an ethical question, it’s a mandate. Leader McConnell is very motivated to move forward. He knows this is important on every level. Floor debate will continue all week.  Once the FBI investigation is over, at some point next week, we will have the cloture vote (end debate), and then the final vote.

Earlier today after the Flake episode, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), one of our “gettable” democrats previously undecided, came out in opposition to Kavanaugh and intends to vote against his confirmation.

Pray for Judge Kavanaugh and please pray for Ashley Kavanaugh, too. I will never forget the look on her face yesterday. I cannot imagine having to explain to my 10 and 13 year old girls that even though half the country thinks their dad gang raped women, that is a lie made up and permeated by politicians. I would also encourage you to watch Senator Graham’s questioning of Kavanaugh yesterday if you haven’t already. It sums it up perfectly, and I found it very encouraging.