Concerned Women for America Celebrates Justice Gorsuch

Concerned Women for America commits to continue to lift Justice Gorsuch in prayer.

 

Gorsuch a Justice

You did it. The Senate has just confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch.

 

Gorsuch Appointment Needed to Guard Our Liberties

Support judges like Gorsuch and reject the “Posners” and their “living, breathing Constitution.”

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Legal Blurb Blog

Time to Stop Punishing the Free Exercise of Religion

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Trinity Lutheran v. Comer

Today at the U.S. Supreme Court, as was the case during oral arguments, no one showed up to support the state of Missouri in the Trinity Lutheran v. Comerreligious liberty case.  Concerned Women for America (CWA) was at the courthouse steps early, anticipating a big victory for religious freedom.  And we were not disappointed.

The Court held that the state’s policy of denying religious groups an otherwise available public benefit, solely based on their religious affiliation, violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.  The Court said, “[D]enying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion.”

This is a big win for religious liberty and for all Americans, regardless of their religious views.

The facts of the case were simple.  Missouri denied Trinity Lutheran a grant to install playground surfaces made from recycled tires to promote children’s safety, solely because the school was affiliated with a church.  The school had submitted an application to compete for the grant based completely on merit and was found to be in the top 5 out of 44.  Yet, Missouri denied the application stating Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution.

The Court saw straight through the state’s policy and noted the choice they were putting before Trinity Lutheran: “It may participate in an otherwise available benefit program or remain a religious institution.”

The Court noted that Trinity Lutheran did not seek an entitlement to a subsidy but merely the opportunity to compete on the same level playing field as everyone else.  It noted: “The express discrimination against religious exercise here is not the denial of a grant, but rather the refusal to allow the Church — solely because it is a church — to compete with secular organizations for a grant.”

Chief Justice John Roberts — joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch — wrote the majority opinion which said, “It has remained a fundamental principle of this Court’s free exercise jurisprudence that laws imposing ‘special disabilities on the basis of . . . religious status’ trigger the strictest scrutiny.”

On this, the state failed miserably. The Court noted it “offer[ed] nothing more than Missouri’s preference for skating as far as possible from religious establishment concerns.”  And it concluded that, “In the face of the clear infringement on free exercise before the Court, that interest cannot qualify as compelling.”

The Court said its decision was plainly compelled by precedent which said that, “To condition the availability of benefits . . . upon [a recipient’s] willingness to . . . surrender his religiously impelled [status] effectively penalizes the free exercise of his constitutional liberties.”

It also emphasized that, “the Free Exercise Clause protects against ‘indirect coercion or penalties on the free exercise of religion, not just outright prohibitions.’”

Justices Thomas and Gorsuch wrote separate, concurring opinions expressing an even broader application of the First Amendment that should encourage defenders of religious freedom going forward.  Those who, like CWA, supported Justice Gorsuch’s strong religious liberty record, should be proud of his clear thinking.  He wrote separately because he, “worr[ies] that some might mistakenly read [a limiting footnote in the majority opinion] to suggest that only ‘playground resurfacing’ cases, or only those with some association with children’s safety or health, or perhaps some other social good we find sufficiently worthy, are governed by the Court’s opinion.”

 

But as noted above, this was not a “conservative opinion” that would give the enemies of religious freedom any reason to object.  The opinion was joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, both from the liberal wing of the Court.

 

Only Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed themselves to be so radical in their jurisprudence that they would have upheld Missouri’s hostility toward religious people.  It bears mentioning that they stand all alone in their assessment, as even the state of Missouri had reversed course, even before the case was over, and allowed the school to compete.

 

Victory for CSU Students for Life Group

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CSU campus by Spilly816 (own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Students for Life won a decided victory this past week when it reached a settlement with Colorado State University (CSU) in its fight for equal standing with other school organizations. In January Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of the Students for Life chapter at CSU after the university denied funding to the group because of the pro-life views of a potential speaker.

CSU originally denied the request for funding because the content of the speech “did not appear entirely unbiased as it addresses the topic of abortion.” School officials further stated that if the group hosted the speaker, “Folks from varying sides of the issue won’t necessarily feel affirmed in attending the event.” Evoking their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, the student organization sought to overcome the discrimination it faced from CSU and to receive the requested funding.

The settlement encouraged CSU to reevaluate and revise its unconstitutional policies concerning funding for student organizations in two ways. First, the new policies abolished CSU’s Diversity Grant program, the program through which CSU denied funds to the Students for Life chapter. Second, CSU clarified and neutralized the criteria for evaluating funding requests. This new criteria forbids discrimination based on the religious affiliation of a student group. ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer commented, “University officials shouldn’t use mandatory student fees to favor some views while shutting out others.” Additionally, the settlement recouped the cost of the speaker as well as the student fees of the Students for Life members, a total amount of $600.

Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, explained the significance of this case: “Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, commissioners, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public universities model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”

As Concerned Women for America (CWA) continues to expand its Young Women for America (YWA) college chapters, we are committed to fighting for the rights of conservative women to freely express their views.  It is a travesty that colleges and universities have been overrun by left-wing ideologies for so long that conservative students are often marginalized.  We are committed to changing that, and we are thankful for the work of other organizations like Students for Life and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Kelsey Gold, CWA’s Young Women for America Coordinator, who applauded the resolution in this case and said, “YWA has experienced the targeting of left-wing academics first hand, so we know this is a widespread problem that young conservative women continue to encounter regularly.  But we are not deterred.  We are determined to make our mark for freedom, liberty, and intellectual diversity on every campus in the U.S.  Truth is a powerful antidote that refuses to be suppressed.”

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Kyle Permann is the 2017 Antonin Scalia Legal Fellow for Concerned Women for America.

Judge Neil Gorsuch 

Similar to Scalia, he is a constitutionalist, who believes the Constitution should be interpreted as written and rejects the liberal proposition of a “living, breathing document.”  

Click here for a quick look at this well-qualified nominee.

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