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News and Events

A Statement on Immigration by Penny Nance

By | Blog, National Sovereignty, News and Events, Press Releases | No Comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The issue of Immigration is very complicated and fraught with emotional and political landmines.  The truth is that both Democrats and Republicans have used the issue to rev up their bases and score points against each other, ignoring the human cost.

Americans are aghast at the idea of separating legitimate parents from children.  However, the answer can’t be to not enforce the law.

It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to put aside petty politics and get to work on a solution that both protects children and respects the rule of law.

It’s a false choice to suggest that we cannot keep mothers and children together.  However, it is true that there must be a statutory fix to this heartbreaking problem.

I call on Congress to stop with the finger pointing and to pass legislation immediately.

 

Trump is a Born Dealmaker — Let Him Do His Thing

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President Trump is a businessman and a deal-maker — we knew that when we elected him. His administration operates differently from any other previous presidential administration, including in diplomacy, where deals are truly an “art form.” So, it is not surprising President Trump threw protocol out the window when he met last week with Chairman Kim Jon Un, the first-ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and North Korean leader.

Those disappointed with the outcomes of the summit posit that Kim, not Trump, benefited most, suggesting the U.S. gave up more than it got, following in the footsteps of previous U.S. administrations. For example, through threatening the U.S. with armed ballistic missiles, Kim “won” a private meeting with an American president, a longtime strategic goal of his family’s regime. Further criticism says the meeting itself gave legitimacy to the dictatorship of a gross violator of human rights, and that the result of the meeting — the U.S./DRPK joint statement — is only a one-page, “unsubstantial” document which does not outline specifics of denuclearization, nor give a timeline for doing so

Valid points, but in light of previous U.S. administrations’ “flimsy” agreements and failed diplomacy with North Korea, it is important to withhold judgement and give Trump’s new approach to foreign policy a chance. In previous administrations, the U.S. has seen a bottom-up approach to diplomacy, using lower-level officials to outline a deal, only bringing the president in at the end of negotiations to sign, seal, and deliver

Instead, Trump strategically brought the prestige of the U.S. presidency to North Korea, playing to the ego of an arrogant egomaniacal president and building trust, which in turn possibly opened the door to more substantive diplomatic discussion and relationship. He even gave a brief private meeting to Kim, which Trump called “a critical gauge of whether a deal is likely.”  As Trump remarked when asked about the minimum outcome he expected from the summit: “The minimum would be a relationship — you’d start at a dialogue … as a deal person, that is important.”

In addition, he used purposeful rhetoric to lay groundwork for the meeting, sometimes smoothing Kim’s feathers, and sometimes being tough, critical, and dismissive — balancing his response in accordance with the need, but always with the ultimate objective of controlling the outcomes.

One example is when, in mid-May, Kim threatened to cancel the summit. Trump abruptly and publicly cancelled the meeting with a letter citing Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” in statements regarding the U.S.  In immediate response, Kim back-pedaled and offered the U.S. the “time and opportunities” to reconsider the meeting “at any time, at any format,” which Trump graciously accepted. However, he later warned Kim, “It’s a one-time shot” for negotiations, telling the world, “I think it’s going to work out very well” but that at the same time Kim “won’t have that opportunity again.”

“Trump the Negotiator,” for whom deals are an “art form,” is most likely in play here — the billion-dollar businessman who knows how to build lasting coalitions for maximum productivity and profit. Over the past eighteen months, his unorthodox methods have often brought concrete and prosperous results — such as record lows for unemployment, near destruction of ISIS, reduction in illegal immigration, and securing the release of three hostages from North Korea, just to name a few.

Certainly, more details and specifics to the agreement must be outlined, definitions of what constitutes denuclearization must be clarified, and mechanisms to verifiability firmly laid out. As Mike Pompeo pointed out, the summit only opens discussion and sets conditions for future productive talks.

But Trump knows negotiation and how to get results, and is possibly laying the foundation for an agreement, not just for agreement’s sake or for the illusion of progress, but for a process that will actually have the power to accomplish full U.S. objectives. That will not happen overnight or in just one meeting. As the president himself has said: “There’s a good chance it won’t work out,” but “there’s probably an even better chance it will take a period of time.”

Let’s give President Trump a chance to do what we elected him to do—make a deal, in his own way.

Dr. Shea Garrison is Senior Advisor for Foreign Affairs at Concerned Women for America.

 


Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published at Townhall.com. Click here to read it.

Don’t Miss Justice Thomas’ Important Contribution to Masterpiece Cakeshop

By | Legal, News and Events | No Comments

CWA’s General Counsel Mario Diaz with Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop.

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Clarence Thomas was part of the 7-2 majority that recently held the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Jack Phillips’ First Amendment constitutional rights of free expression in the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case. The Commission sought to punish Jack, because he refused to use his artistic talents, in violation of his religious beliefs, to create a cake for a same-sex wedding.

The majority held appropriately. But the Court did not address Jack’s second claim that the Commission’s actions violated his freedom of speech, as similarly guaranteed by the First Amendment. That claim is likely to come back before the Court at a later date in a similar case, and Justice Thomas does the legal community a great service by taking the issue head-on and giving some valuable guidance.

The Court of Appeals had concluded that Jack’s custom baking of a wedding cake, “was not expressive and was not protected speech.” It said that Jack’s conduct was not “expressive,” and that he could potentially post a disclaimer advising people he was just complying with the law. Justice Thomas disagrees on both counts.

He rightly points out that the appellate court’s reasoning, “flouts bedrock principles of our free-speech jurisprudence and would justify virtually any law that compels individuals to speak.”

He’s exactly right. If our ability to say a disclaimer is all that was needed for a law to survive a constitutional challenge, then virtually no law would ever violate the constitution. A simple disclaimer would always vindicate it.

Supreme Court precedent is on Justice Thomas’ side. “[O]ne important manifestation of the principle of free speech is that one who chooses to speak may also decide ‘what not to say,’” Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557, 573 (1995).  The Court has been clear that generally, the state “may not compel affirmance of a belief with which the speaker disagrees,” Id. Further, “this general rule, that the speaker has the right to tailor the speech, applies not only to expressions of value, opinion, or endorsement, but equally to statements of fact the speaker would rather avoid,” (Id, emphasis mine). This principle is extremely important, because Jack and millions of Americans actually dispute a fact in this case, whether a wedding is taking place at all. That, too, is protected speech under the First Amendment. In Justice Thomas’ words:

Forcing Phillips to make custom wedding cakes for same-sex marriages requires him to, at the very least, acknowledge that same-sex weddings are “weddings” and suggest that they should be celebrated — the precise message he believes his faith forbids. The First Amendment prohibits Colorado from requiring Phillips to “bear witness to [these] fact[s],” Hurley, 515 U. S., at 574, or to “affir[m] … a belief with which [he] disagrees,” id., at 573.

With that principle afresh in our minds, Justice Thomas argues compellingly that the action involved in this case, designing and making custom wedding cakes, is expressive. It is not hard to see why. The whole reason clients come to Jack for their wedding cakes is that he is an artist who creates beautiful, innovative, meaningful wedding cakes.

The Colorado Court of Appeals’ ultimate conclusion is puzzling because it actually agreed that “a wedding cake, in some circumstances, may convey a particularized message celebrating same-sex marriage,” depending on its “design” and whether it has “written inscription.” Yet, no such distinction is made when the state goes on to compel Jack.  In other words, if some designs are expressive, then he should only be compelled to make non-expressive designs.  I hope it is plain how ridiculous this distinction is in practice. Do we really want to establish, “The Great Judicial Baking Show” in our courtrooms, where judges will be in charge of deciding which custom-made wedding cakes are expressive enough and which are not?

The dissent realizes that and, therefore, abandons the Court of Appeals’ reasoning, instead putting the burden on Jack to show that his conduct is expressive. But they reject that any such evidence can be produced anyway. Justice Thomas, for his part, notices no such proof has been required in the past and, of course, there is more than enough evidence to make a determination here.  The dissent is simply interested in a particular outcome, and it works backward to fit the facts into that narrative.

Justice Thomas, on the other hand, goes through the evidence and meticulously applies the appropriate Supreme Court precedent. Even the recent decision that created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage supports Jack’s claim here.

Nor does the fact that this Court has now decided Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U. S. ___ (2015), somehow diminish Phillips’ right to free speech. “It is one thing … to conclude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray everyone who does not share [that view] as bigoted” and unentitled to express a different view.

This is the question we will continue to face going forward, and Justice Thomas’ work, in this case, is invaluable to those of us who are working to protect liberty and freedom. “[I]n future cases, the freedom of speech could be essential to preventing Obergefell from being used to ‘stamp out every vestige of dissent’ and ‘vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.’” We would do well to heed Justice Thomas’ advice.

Minnesota’s Political Apparel Ban “Incapable of Reasoned Application”

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

The United States Supreme Court released today its decision in an important First Amendment case coming from the state of Minnesota, Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. In an emphatic 7-2 opinion, the Court declared unconstitutional an ambiguous law that banned “political” apparel at polling places on Election Day.

Not having defined what exactly the law means by “political,” the interpretation and application were left to various election judges at the polls. But Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, rightly pointed out that these judges, “must be guided by objective, workable standards.” “Without them,” he said, “an election judge’s own politics may shape his views on what counts as ‘political.’”

His point was clearly illustrated at oral arguments when the state’s attorney’s arbitrary determinations were put to the test.  As the Chief Justice recounts:

A shirt declaring “All Lives Matter,” we are told, could be “perceived” as political. How about a shirt bearing the name of the National Rifle Association? Definitely out. That said, a shirt displaying a rainbow flag could be worn “unless there was an issue on the ballot” that “related somehow … to gay rights.” A shirt simply displaying the text of the Second Amendment? Prohibited. But a shirt with the text of the First Amendment? “It would be allowed.” (Citations omitted)

In this specific case, the state banned buttons that read “Please I.D. Me,” even though the voter I.D. issue was not on the ballot. The state relied only on the fact that some candidates apparently had addressed the issue at some point.  To grant such broad latitude on the state’s ability to infringe on our First Amendment rights should be troubling to anyone, regardless of political philosophy.

Chief Justice Roberts asked keenly, “Would a ‘Support Our Troops’ shirt be banned, if one of the candidates or parties had expressed a view on military funding or aid for veterans? What about a ‘#MeToo’ shirt, referencing the movement to increase awareness of sexual harassment and assault?”

He concluded, “A rule whose fair enforcement requires an election judge to maintain a mental index of the platforms and positions of every candidate and party on the ballot is not reasonable.”

And reasonableness was the fundamental question for the Court as it considered the law’s constitutionality. Supreme Court precedent had already determined that polling places are non-public forums for First Amendment considerations. The Court has recognized that historically (See Burson v. Freeman, 504 U.S. 191 (1992)), states have a considerable, even a compelling interest, in keeping voters in polling places safe and free from harassment as they undertake the solemn civic duty of casting their individual, private votes. The government, therefore, has much more flexibility in limiting speech in such specific areas.

Most states, in fact, have laws that prohibit electioneering within certain limits of voting places.  The Court has upheld them in the past. But in such instances, the law must be “reasonable in light of the purpose served by the forum,” (Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense, 473 U.S. 788, 806). In the case of polling places, the purpose is peaceful voting.

Minnesota’s law was not reasonable in light of that purpose.

The Chief Justice again: “[T]he State must be able to articulate some sensible basis for distinguishing what may come in from what must stay out. Here, the unmoored use of the term ‘political’ in Minnesota law, combined with haphazard interpretations … cause Minnesota’s restriction to fail even this forgiving test.”

The majority (Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito, and Elena Kagan) show great wisdom and discipline in this decision, ensuring that states tread lightly when they set out to impose burdens on our constitutional rights. This law was an open invitation for political abuse and manipulation, and the people of Minnesota deserve much better.

Weekly Update for June 9, 2018 from CWA’s Legislative Department

By | News and Events, Planned Parenthood, Sanctity of Life, Senate Legislative Updates | No Comments

Washington, D.C. – This week amplified the call to defund Planned Parenthood with shocking new evidence of how abortion clinics have engaged in aiding abusers and intimidating employees from not reporting client sexual abuse. Live Action’s report, Aiding Abusers:  Planned Parenthood’s Cover-up of Child Sexual Abuse, compiles court cases, reports from state health departments, testimonies from former employees, and interviews with survivors to uncover Planned Parenthood’s culture of complicity and unwritten “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.   For example, documented cases have involved girls as young as 12 and 13 years old whose perpetrators, including their own fathers, forced them to abort their pregnancies.  Planned Parenthood did not report the abuse to authorities as required by law and then sent these wounded girls out the door with their abusers.

This unconscionable track record is why the Trump Administration’s proposed Protect Life Rule includes a provision requiring any recipient of Title X family planning funds to comply with all state and local laws on reporting child sexual abuse, molestation, incest, rape, intimate partner violence and human trafficking.

On Thursday, 56 pro-life Senators called on the Trump Administration to investigate Planned Parenthood’s failure to report suspected sexual abuse of minors in their care through the Title X program.  In a letter to HHS Secretary Azar, Senators request all records of incidents of failure to report abuse, documentation of consequences, and data from the past decade of how many children below the age of consent were served and how many reports of abuse were made.

These developments further the importance for every member of CWA to go to our website’s special page, ConcernedWomen.org/ProtectLifeRule, and submit a comment supporting all provisions of the Administration’s proposed Protect Life Rule.  We have a unique opportunity to speak loudly for those who cannot speak for themselves, to protect life and those who give life, to thank this Administration for standing on the side of life and against abortion and abuse.   Please comment today!

Decisive Victory for Religious Freedom at the U.S. Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop

By | Defense of Family, Legal, News and Events | No Comments

Anti-religious liberty forces lost at the U.S. Supreme Court today in the case of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who sought to live his life in accordance with his faith and so refused to provide a custom-made wedding cake for a same-sex wedding (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission). This is why you will hear a lot of talk in the media of a narrow decision with little precedential impact. Some aim to downplay what is an important victory for freedom and religious liberty with the Court ruling 7-2 in favor of protecting the baker’s First Amendment constitutional rights.

The Court wrote, “[R]eligious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.” It doesn’t get any clearer than that. It is notable for the Court to recognize that there are actually philosophical reasons, not just religious ones, to oppose same-sex marriage. Regardless, all are protected views under the First Amendment.

Click here to read the rest of this op-ed at Townhall.com.

Click here for our press release: “Conservative Women Celebrate Freedom as the U.S. Supreme Court Decides Masterpiece Cakeshop.”

Check out our CEO & President Penny Nance’s statement in front of the Court at oral arguments:

And, some clips from our rally:


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

Conservative Women Celebrate Freedom as the U.S. Supreme Court Decides Masterpiece Cakeshop

By | Blog, News and Events, Press Releases, Religious Liberty | No Comments

Washington, D.C. – Minutes ago, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion (7-2) in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization had this to say:

“The Court is right in recognizing that it ‘is the right of all persons to exercise fundamental freedoms under the First Amendment.’ All Americans, whatever their view of same-sex marriage, should celebrate the Court’s strong stance for religious freedom.

“Those who want to promote tolerance should celebrate most of all. This is what true tolerance looks like. It was sad to see some of them stand on the wrong side of this case, trying to exercise a new form of intolerance against people of faith.

“As Justice Kennedy said during oral arguments, ‘tolerance goes both ways.’

“We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for its strong stance for religious freedom with only two justices dissenting on this important decision. We know the work is not done. Religious liberty must be protected at every turn. But today we can celebrate this strong affirmation from the highest court in the land.”

 

CWA Field: Equipping the Next Generation

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Penny Nance joined CWA of South Carolina, State Director Tonya Shellnutt in Greenville, South Carolina, this week to equip the next generation.  With over 40 women in attendance, ranging from college students to moms and grandmas, it was a wonderful and multi-generational collection of female leaders. The event focused on how each of us, no matter our age or season in life, are living our Esther moment.

Penny shared that now, more than ever, we need to be courageous and brave while speaking up with a redemptive message. Each one of us has a place in equipping the next generation regardless of our age.

CWA’s collegiate arm, Young Women for America, was introduced and received with enthusiasm. The girls attending who are currently enrolled in college were excited about getting chapters started on their own college campuses.  Every attendee received a free copy of Penny’s book, Feisty & Feminine, a Rallying Cry for Conservative Women, an empowering tool for new student leaders.

The event concluded with a wonderful time of prayer for CWA, YWA and Penny.

If you’re interested in hosting your own Feisty & Feminine Workshop, feel free to contact us!

Pompeo: Religious freedom is a Universal Human Right

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

This week, newly appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made international religious freedom “a front burner” issue for the U.S. Department of State, declaring it a “universal human right” for which the United States will fight around the world. These statements came in conjunction with the unveiling of the State Department’s 2017 International Religious Freedom Report which Pompeo deemed critical to the U.S. mission to defend religious liberty and “a testament to the United States’ historic role in preserving and advocating for religious freedom” across the globe. Furthermore, he underlined religious freedom as a fundamental right which the Founders recognized, saying:

Religious freedom is in the American blood stream. It’s what brought the pilgrims here from England. Our founders understood it as our first freedom, that is why they articulated it so clearly in the first amendment. As James Madison wrote years before he was President or Secretary of State, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.”  Religious freedom was vital to America’s beginning; defending it is critical to our future. Religious freedom is not only ours, it is a right belonging to every individual on the globe. President Trump stands with those who yearn for religious liberty; our vice president stands with them, and so do I.

The 2017 report documents religious freedom abuses and violations committed by “governments, terrorist groups, and individuals” in 200 countries and territories. For example, the report calls out North Korea for denying rights to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and estimates between 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners in North Korea who are jailed “in remote areas” and under “horrific conditions,” some for religious reasons.

Additionally, Secretary Pompeo announced that the U.S. will host the first-ever ministerial to advance religious freedom at the U.S. Department of State July 25-26. The event will affirm a shared commitment of advancing religious freedom as a universal human right and will include ministers from collaborative governments around the world, as well as representatives from international organizations, religious communities, and civil society. However, Pompeo declared that the upcoming event will be held not only to discuss important issues, but will be about “action,” and the identification of clear and effective ways to ensure religious freedom is respected for all people.

“Religious Freedom is indeed a universal human right that I will fight for” Pompeo declared, “The United States will not stand by as spectators. We will get in the ring and stand in solidarity with every individual who seeks to enjoy their most fundamental of human rights.” Concerned Women for America stands with Secretary Pompeo in the fight against religious persecution and for the right to religious liberty that we believe “is not a gift from the government, but a sacred right from Almighty God.”  Please join with CWA in prayer and support as we monitor religious persecution around the world and advocate for liberty, the fundamental right of all people.  

 

Dr. Shea Garrison, CWA Senior Advisor, Foreign Affairs

Title X Comment Period: Now Open!

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

You may remember last week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new proposed rule governing the Title X program that has the potential to make an impact on the fight against Planned Parenthood’s government funding. Today is the first day of the 60-day comment period, and now we have a unique chance to act and voice our support.

The Title X program is a voluntary grant program that was created to educate and provide family planning services. Even though the law says that abortion is not family planning, abortion giants like Planned Parenthood have used this grant program as their own personal slush fund.

But not under the Trump Administration. HHS proposed a new rule governing Title X funds. This rule, also referred to as the Protect Life Rule, proposes regulations similar to the “Reagan rules” that were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan. These new regulations require physical and financial separation between Title X recipients and abortion providers. Under these new regulations, abortion centers cannot serve as Title X family planning centers and recipients cannot refer for abortion. Additionally, grantees must comply with state/local abuse reporting requirements. This rule also repeals the Clinton-era regulations that require abortion counseling and instead makes this optional. This new regulation does not cut Title X dollars by a cent

This Protect Life Rule draws a bright line between abortion clinics and Title X dollars. By requiring physical and financial separation of Title X dollars, we can be sure that this taxpayer money is being used to help low-income women and not prop up abortion clinics.

After the comment period is closed, HHS will review the comments and issue a final ruling. This is why the comment period is so important: HHS’ final ruling is based off of what the public says. You know Planned Parenthood is out in full force; they even started accepting comments to submit before the comment period officially opened! We know that 60% of Americans want out of the abortion business and don’t want taxpayer dollars involved in abortions, so now it’s time for us to act.

For information on submitting a comment, a sample comment (you can use ours verbatim!), or more information on what exactly this rule will do if implemented, please visit ConcernedWomen.org/ProtectLifeRule.