Category

Case Vault

SCOTUS Rally

The Bostock/Harris Debacle

By | Blog, Briefs, Case Vault, Legal, News and Events, Religious Liberty, SCOTUS | No Comments

One of the most disappointing things about the recent Supreme Court decision on the definition of “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the majority’s poor reasoning. The majority included Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch, along with the four liberal justices (Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan).

Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority, does not dispute that the word “sex” in federal law means male and female. He indeed says, “The parties concede that the term ‘sex’ in 1964 referred to the biological distinctions between male and female.” Still, the majority argues that because homosexuality and transgenderism relate to “sex,” employment discrimination based on transgenderism or homosexuality is prohibited under the law.

The Court ignored the fact that Congress has considered and rejected protections explicitly based on those categories.

Simply put, the majority did what it wanted to do, not what the law demanded. Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, filed a forceful dissent making the point. “There is only one word for what the Court has done today: legislation,” he wrote. Indeed.

This is extremely disappointing, especially in the case of Justice Gorsuch, because he had been up until now, a strong proponent of originalism or textualism, a legal philosophy that emphasizes sticking to the text of a statute. Unfortunately, he has shown now that he will deviate from that philosophy depending on the topic.

Justice Alito calls him out on it:

The Court attempts to pass off its decision as the inevitable product of the textualist school of statutory interpretation championed by our late colleague Justice Scalia, but no one should be fooled. The Court’s opinion is like a pirate ship. It sails under a textualist flag, but what it actually represents is a theory of statutory interpretation that Justice Scalia excoriated––the theory that courts should “update” old statutes so that they better reflect the current values of society.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh also saw the fallacy, writing in his own dissenting opinion, “Our role is not to make or amend the law. As written, Title VII does not prohibit employment discrimination because of sexual orientation.” It was a simple interpretive exercise unless a judge brings personal emotions into the mix.

One of the signs of the weakness of the majority’s argument was its dismissive attitude towards the opponents’ arguments. Despite the glaring problems with its interpretation, the majority simply declared that it was obvious that sexual orientation and gender identity were included. It was easy to see.  Justice Kavanaugh, again, showed how unserious the argument was: “Because judges interpret the law as written, not as they might wish it were written, the first 10 U. S. Courts of Appeals to consider whether Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination all said no. Some 30 federal judges considered the question. All 30 judges said no, based on the text of the statute. 30 out of 30.”

They were all merely stupid, according to the majority. Same for Congress. No one intended to include sexual orientation or gender identity in the law. They debated whether to include it or not and rejected it. But the majority says they were just too naïve to know they were actually including it in the language.

File this decision among the worse in our history, right along with Obergefell v. Hodges, Roe v. Wade, and Dred Scott v. Sandford. The consequences will be devastating for our country. It will most certainly be used as a weapon against Christian conservatives. But this does not mean we allow it to be used in this way.

We must fight to limit its impact. The Court, indeed, as it always does when it knows it is doing wrong, tells us its impact is limited. Justice Gorsuch swears it will not affect religious liberty and that it does not involve other statues (like Title IX, in the women’s sports context). We must fight to make sure that is the case.

Right now, Concerned Women for America is in the middle of a big fight in regards to Title IX. We have two complaints with the Department of Education and are working on legislative fixes that could help mitigate the damage.

This case is thrusting us into a much bigger fight that is just beginning. A battle for reality. A struggle for truth. And as you know, Truth is on our side. Do not be discouraged. In the end, we will win.

This is not a time for timidity. It is time to redouble our efforts. Strengthen our resolve and stand on the Word of God. Join us in prayer for this fight and be part of the remnant of God in our country. There is power in the unity of the body of Christ (John 17:20-23).

Penny Nance at Protect Women Protect Life rally at Supreme Court

Abortion Extremism on Display at the Supreme Court

By | Blog, Case Vault, Legal, News and Events, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

June Medical Services v. Russo oral arguments at the Supreme Court.

This week the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in an important case where abortionists are challenging a Louisiana law that requires they keep admitting privileges at nearby hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic where they perform abortions.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) was there to represent you both inside the courtroom (where the arguments were happening) and outside (where dueling rallies represented the conflict for the media). Both settings presented us with the challenge of our time— an irrational, rabid, and extremely radical pro-abortion mob that promotes abortion as the ultimate good, rejecting even the most basic of parameters of human decency.

Recently, for example, the U.S. Senate rejected the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act which simply required doctors to provide standard medical care to a baby who is born alive after a botched abortion. That’s a baby who has already been born! But it didn’t matter to the pro-abortion loyalists, who unfortunately are many in the Senate. Today’s radical, pro-abortion syndicate cannot, will not, accept anything less than the celebration of abortion for any reason up to the point of birth (and beyond, depending on the desires of the mother), paid for and promoted by you and me, the taxpayers.

This radicalism was evident at oral arguments, too. Julie Rikelman, who represented June Medical Services, could not envision any circumstance in which a law requiring admitting privileges for abortionists could be constitutional. This is significant because, under the direct precedent of the Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which (erroneously) invalidated a Texas law, the Court’s inquiry is entirely fact-based depending on the specific situation of each state where a similar medical requirement is enacted.

Chief Justice Roberts tried to establish this simple fact as a starting point for further discussion but found no common ground from Ms. Rikelman.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Counsel, do you agree that the inquiry under Hellerstedt is a factual one that has to proceed state-by-state?

MS. RIKELMAN: Your Honor, I think that facts may vary, but what we know is that the district court held a trial here and found that there were no material differences between this case and –

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: No, no, I know, but if — if the issue, the statutes are on the books in other states, and if the issues are raised there, is the same inquiry required in each case? You have to have the district court examine the availability of specific clinics and the admitting privileges of doctors so that the litigation could be — the results could be different in different states?

MS. RIKELMAN: […] the burdens of a law may vary, but a law that has no benefits and doesn’t serve any valid state interest is much more likely to impose an undue burden.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, similarly, tried several different ways to ask for any scenario where a similar law could be upheld. If the law had no effect whatsoever on providers, could it be constitutional? The counsel for the abortionists danced around the issue as much as she could, but she was ultimately pushed to admit that they could never be constitutional.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: Can I follow up on the Chief Justice’s earlier question and mine as well? Are you saying that admitting privileges laws are always unconstitutional, such that we don’t have to look at the facts in — state by state? Or are you saying that actually you do look at the facts state by state, and in some states, admitting privileges laws could be constitutional, if they impose no burdens?

MS. RIKELMAN: Your Honor, the burdens may vary, but a law that has no benefit and serves no valid state interest, which is what this Court held in Whole Woman’s Health, is much more likely to be an undue burden.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: Could an admitting privileges law of this kind ever have a valid purpose, in your view?

MS. RIKELMAN: No, Your Honor.

Abortion extremists give not an inch. They demand no limits on abortion. Even accepted medical standards must be surrendered at the altar of “choice.”

In this case, Louisiana asks this same requirement of all doctors that perform outpatient procedures in the state. But somehow, according to “Big Abortion,” abortionists must be exempt from it.

Even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was surprised by this fact as she approached the topic with Louisiana Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: What about a D&C after a miscarriage? As I understand it, these two procedures are very much alike. Are similar regulations, about 30 miles, and admitting privileges applicable to a D&C following a miscarriage?

MS. MURRILL: Under the ambulatory surgery center regs, yes. Under the office practice regs which do not regulate abortion clinics, a doctor who doesn’t have a — have a residency in the proper scope of care would have to have admitting privileges and would have to have them within a 30-mile radius of — of the clinic. So, it’s the same requirement.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: It is the same?

MS. MURRILL: Yes.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: I thought there was something in the record suggesting there was no such requirement for D&C following a miscarriage.

She thought wrong. Louisiana’s law is meant to protect women. The women of Louisiana supported it and helped pass it. According to a Knights of Columbus-Marist poll, 71 percent of women (both pro-life and pro-choice women) want doctors who perform abortions to be required to have hospital admitting privileges. But Big Abortion ignores women when it is inconvenient to their narrative.  To them, that law is simply an attack on its bottom line. Abortion profits motivate them, not women’s safety.

Let us pray the Court sees right through this conflict of interest and stands with the women of Louisiana by upholding this law. A decision is expected this summer.

SCOTUS Rally

Transgender Legislative Petition Before SCOTUS

By | Blog, Case Vault, Family Issues, Feminist / Women's Issues, Legal, News and Events, Religious Liberty, SCOTUS | No Comments

Oral Arguments in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC

“Aimee Stephens is a transgender woman,” started the argument at the United States Supreme Court in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, where Stephens is asking the Court to include “gender identity” within the definition of “sex” discrimination in federal civil rights law (specifically Title VII, the employment context in this case) . With that simple statement David Cole of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who represented Stephens, glossed over the most important fact to remember in this debate. Aimee Stephens is biologically a man. Aimee undoubtedly feels like a woman and has decided to live as a transgender woman. But the biological fact (reality) remains.

This is why, it is no violation of civil rights, to ask Aimee to use the men’s bathroom or at least to refrain from using the women’s bathroom (in many cases a single stall, private bathroom is available). Aimee is scientifically a man. If someone like Aimee wishes to enter athletic competitions, there is a place for males to compete against other male athletes. For someone like Aimee to demand to compete among female athletes is a great injustice to those who in fact are female.

This is plain for all to see. It is not bigotry.

The reality is most people empathize and even identify with the conflict between Aimee’s biology and psyche at some level. Most people in the U.S. would stand against harassment or beratement directed at Aimee. The great majority would fight against those wishing Aimee harm.

But the reality, once again, is that that is not enough for Aimee and most vocal transgender individuals. In their mind, to say they are not the sex they identify with is to discriminate against them. This is why we are seeing a push for laws that demand we refer to them as the pronoun of their choice.

Mr. Cole at oral arguments tried as hard as he could to say that that was not the issue in the case. He danced around multiple questions from Chief Justice Roberts on the issue of bathrooms, ultimately admitting to Justice Neil Gorsuch that it would be harmful to ask transgenders to follow sex-specific bathroom rules.

JUSTICE GORSUCH: “… but ultimately came to, I believe, a submission that a reasonable person in the transgender plaintiff’s position would be harmed if he or she were fired for failing to follow the bathroom rules or some sort of dress code that’s not otherwise objectionable …”

COLE: “Yeah.”

Mr. Cole’s effort to avoid the issue was so blatant, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of the most liberal voice on the Court, called him out on it.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: “Mr. Cole, let’s not avoid the difficult issue, okay? You have a transgender person who rightly is identifying as a woman and wants to use the women’s bedroom, rightly, wrongly, not a moral choice, but this is what they identify with. Their need is genuine. I’m accepting all of that –­

COLE: Yeah.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: –and they want to use the women’s bathroom. But there are other women who are made uncomfortable, and not merely uncomfortable, but who would feel intruded upon if someone who still had male characteristics walked into their bathroom. That’s why we have different bathrooms.

So, the hard question is how do we deal with that? And what in the law will guide judges in balancing those things? That’s really what I think the question is about.

Still, the ACLU attorney refused to acknowledge reality. “Well, that is –that is -­that is a question, Justice Sotomayor. It is not the question in this case.”

That is the sort of unreasonable halt to logic the Court would need to do to go along with the LGBTQ-affirming demands in this case.

Both Justice Samuel Alito and Ruth Bader Ginsburg tried to engage Mr. Cole in the discussion of women’s athletics (under Title IX). Round and round Mr. Cole went to avoid the issue, knowing, as we all do, the disastrous consequences for women if he were to win in this case. There are no consequences according to the way he argued the case. The hundreds of thousands of people expressing concerns, including Judge Gerard Lynch of the Second Circuit are just hysterically overreacting.

Judge Lynch supports LGBTQ protections but acknowledged the text of Title VII does not include sexual orientation and gender identity under the word “sex.” “Congress did no such thing,” he acknowledged painfully in his dissenting opinion on the case.

There was no such consideration on behalf of the arguing attorney, and in fact, there was no such introspection on behalf of the liberal side of the Court. Justice Sotomayor tried to hold it in for most of the argument but finally, let it out at the conclusion of arguments.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: “May I just ask, at what point does a court continue to permit invidious discrimination against groups that, where we have a difference of opinion, we believe the language of the statute is clear. I think Justice Breyer was right that Title VII, the Civil Rights Act, all of our acts were born from the desire to ensure that we treated people equally and not on the basis of invidious reasons.”

Did you notice the shift? The text of the statute means nothing really. Passion rules. It appears Judge Sotomayor is ready to make “sex” mean whatever they feel like, as long as she perceives “invidious reasons.”

Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan all seemed open to the idea of manipulating the text as needed. We can only hope they realize the consequences beyond personal passion.

Though there are forceful emotions involved in this case, and even difficult cases left unaddressed where legislation is needed, the judicial action demanded is deference to the legislative branch who has not included sexual orientation and gender identity under Title VII. And, were they to do so, would have to inevitably consider the many examples of significant harm to women’s rights that the LGBTQ-affirming side refuses to acknowledge.

John Bursch, of the Alliance Defending Freedom, who argued on behalf of Harris Funeral Homes, said it plainly, “Treating women and men equally does not mean employers have to treat men as women. That is because sex and transgender status are independent concepts.”

Noel Francisco, arguing as Solicitor General, agreed, “There’s a reason why when Congress wants to prohibit discrimination based on the traits of sexual orientation and gender identity, it lists them separately. It doesn’t define sex as including these traits.”

That should be the end of the inquiry here. This is a legislative matter, not a judicial one, and the Court should resist the temptation to engage in judicial activism, as it has done in the past with disastrous consequences.


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.