Do Women Deserve the Highest Standards of Care? Not if You Ask Planned Parenthood

PLANNEDPARENT

“At Planned Parenthood, we work every day to make sure women receive the high quality health care they need in a safe, respectful environment- including abortion care. Ensuring the health and safety of our patients is central to our mission and fundamental to every person who works at Planned Parenthood.”

So said one Planned Parenthood executive in a cut-and-paste comment last year, the kind you’ll see – nearly or perfectly verbatim – from the abortion giant’s various affiliates across the country.

Indeed, another affiliate (after parroting the exact quote above) boasts of its “rigorous medical standards and guidelines” and “rigorous standards and training for staff as well as emergency plans in place, because women’s safety is our first priority.”

Admirable aspirations, signifying a commitment to patient care that transcends all other concerns and animates the very soul of the organization, right?

Hardly. This is Planned Parenthood. And today the mask slips again.

The U.S Supreme Court announced that it would hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a case out of Texas which will be the first major abortion case before the high court in nearly a decade.

At issue is a Texas law known as House Bill 2 which requires abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers. For example, hallways at abortion businesses must be wide enough to maneuver a gurney, should a women in medical distress need to be moved through the facility.

The law also includes a provision that protects women against cut-and-run abortionists by requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. As it stands, if a woman is the victim of a botched abortion or needs hospital care as a result of one of numerous potential post-abortion complications, the abortionist without admitting privileges washes his hands of the patient and leaves her to seek care with another medical staff in another medical facility which receives the woman sight unseen and unfamiliar with necessary details of her progress to this urgent state. A knowledge gap like this can be a matter of life and death.

ADF, along with several pro-life allies, filed a brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit explaining that the “focus of the constitutionality [of the law] is on the treatment of women . . . . Texas, as many other States, has clearly recognized the risks associated with both surgical and medication abortions and has taken steps to regulate these abortions to minimize these known and potential risks and to protect women’s health and safety. Texas now is (and should continue to be) permitted to do so.”

In its opinion, the Fifth Circuit agreed, writing that the evidence demonstrates that “the State truly intends that women only receive an abortion in facilities that can provide the highest quality of care and safety—the stated legitimate purpose of H.B. 2.”

You’d think that Planned Parenthood, for all its talk of “women’s safety” and “rigorous medical standards,” would be the sponsors of this law and vigorous advocates of its affirmation in federal court.

Again, this is Planned Parenthood. Instead of celebrating the Texas legislature’s common sense move to make sure that women seeking abortions aren’t entering another Kermit Gosnell house of horrors, Planned Parenthood and its allies pressed play on its favorite talking points mix tape: “Cut off access”…“hurt women”…“#undueburden”…“attack”…“draconian law” (not sure they know what “draconian” means)…“forcing these women to carry their pregnancies to term against their will”… and so on.

Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion-industrial complex have insisted, all the way up to the Supreme Court, that abortionists should not be held to the same standards as everyone else . . . and that the women who enter their doors don’t really deserve the highest level of care.

Let’s hope that when the Supreme Court hears the case in the spring and decides it by the beginning of summer it rules that states can protect women, even over the protests of the abortion industry.

Planned Parenthood, for its millions in marketing and meticulous corporate message control, is having a harder time passing itself off as the tender-hearted, indispensable women’s health champion. Its opposition to a common sense law that says all women deserve the highest standard of safety and care (even in an abortion clinic where no one is truly safe and cared-for) and that holds abortion businesses to the same standards as other medical clinics again exposes the irreconcilability of Planned Parenthood’s words and actions.

Courtesy of http://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/blog-details/allianceedge/2015/11/16/do-women-deserve-the-highest-standards-of-care-not-if-you-ask-planned-parenthood

 

40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags

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Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition

For evangelicals who lament last Friday’s Supreme Court decision, it’s been a hard few days. We aren’t asking for emotional pity, nor do I suspect many people are eager to give us any. Our pain is not sacred. Making legal and theological decisions based on what makes people feel better is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. Nevertheless, it still hurts.

There are many reasons for our lamentation, from fear that religious liberties will be taken away to worries about social ostracism and cultural marginalization. But of all the things that grieve us, perhaps what’s been most difficult is seeing some of our friends, some of our family members, and some of the folks we’ve sat next to in church giving their hearty “Amen” to a practice we still think is a sin and a decision we think is bad for our country. It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor. We thought the rainbow was God’s sign (Gen. 9:8-17).

If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?

3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?

9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?

11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?

12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America  that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?

13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangements that puts children with a mom and a dad?

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

18. How would you define marriage?

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?

21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?

23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?

24. If not, why not?

25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?

26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?

27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?

28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?

29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?

30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?

31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?

34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?

35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?

36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?

37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?

38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?

39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?

40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?

Food for thought, I hope. At the very least, something to chew on before swallowing everything the world and Facebook put on our plate.

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/07/01/40-questions-for-christians-now-waving-rainbow-flags/

Christians Must Stand Their Ground, ‘Disobey’ Unjust Laws Limiting Religious Freedom, Says Matt Staver in Kick-Off to 4-Day Future Conference

Supreme Court

As the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision looms this month, Liberty Counsel Chairman Matt Staver and subpoenaed Houston pastor Steven Riggle asserted Sunday that Christians and churches across the country need to unite, stand their ground and defy “unjust” laws that restrict religious freedoms.

While speaking on the opening night of the four-day Future Conference hosted at the Skyline Church in San Diego, which is headed by pastor Jim Garlow, Staver told the audience in a video speech that the pending Supreme Court ruling could lead to the constitutionalization of same-sex marriage and would also be an “unprecedented threat” to American history and religious freedoms.

Staver, whose Liberty Institute advocates for numerous Christians persecuted by the government for upholding their faith, further explained that if same-sex marriage is ruled constitutional, it will not be something that Christians will simply be able to ignore.

Staver argued that civil authorities will force people and businesses to choose between “compromising” their biblical convictions of marriage being between one man and one woman or having to face the prosecutorial wrath of civil authorities.

The Supreme Court has historically made a few bad rulings that time and justice have been able to realize and overcome, and a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage would be yet another biasly-flawed Supreme Court ruling, Staver contended.

Despite the fact that multiple cases across the nation have arisen where Christian business owners have been prosecuted, threatened and fined for refusing to service same-sex weddings, Staver said Christians should not be coerced into folding their biblical beliefs in order to comply with the rule of law, especially when such a law contradicts God’s natural rule of a “higher law.”

“Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham Jail, said there are two different kinds of laws. There is a just law and an unjust law,” Staver explained. “An unjust law is an earthly law that is in direct collision and conflict with the higher law. [MLK] said that we must disobey them. We can not give them the respect of the rule of law because our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not give respect to a lawless decision.”

Staver stressed that people must take a stand for their religious freedoms because judges and lawmakers are trying to stomp on them.

“We have policies at Liberty Counsel as a baseline for churches to adopt. But understand that these are not full proof. There are ideologues, whether on the bench or in legislative bodies, that really don’t care about your religious freedom, the First Amendment and these inalienable rights of conscience and they will override those liberties with this radical agenda,” Staver said.

“What should a pastor, what should people do?” Starver asked. “I believe we shouldn’t be intimidated. I believe that we should not change a single thing that we do. I believe we need to stand the ground on which God has given us. Stand your ground is my message to you. Don’t be intimidated by what’s coming.”

Staver also advised that Christians across the country need to unite on the same cause and speak out any time one of their brothers and sisters is persecuted by the government simply because they acted in accordance with their faith. Staver detailed his point by adapting a famous quote by anti-Nazi theologen Martin Niemӧller to modern-day society.

“First they came for the adoption ministry but I did not speak out because I did not do adoptions. Then, they came for the wedding photographer but I did not speak up because I did not do photographic weddings. Then, they came for the baker and I did not speak up because I was not a baker. Then, they came for the florist but I said nothing because I was not a florist. Then, they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me,” Staver said.

“This is not a call for lone believers to fall on their swords,” staver continued. “It is a call for us to speak for each other and stand together and even to suffer together. Like Esther facing the unjust laws of the Persian Empire, we must pray, then we must stiffen our spines. May God help us remain faithful, whatever the cost.”

iggle, who was one of five Houston-area pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, last fall because of his opposition to the city’s transgender bathroom ordinance, told the conference that it’s imperative for each individual evangelical movement across the country to unite as one super movement against the attack on religious freedom.

“It seems to me that we better find a way to take all of the voices and merge them together instead of a shout coming from here and here and over there,” Riggle, who pastors Houston’s Grace Community Church, stated. “I have been asked to sign three letters in one week all with them going here and going there. What would happen if 100 million people signed one letter. When are we going to figure this out?”

Although there has been no shortage of petitions and joint letters signed by evangelical leaders against same-sex marriage, Riggle compared those individual letters and petitions to the equivalent of a group of people trying to take down one bear by using nothing but small sticks and switches, instead of one giant stick to knock the bear out.

“I think we need to walk softly and carry a big stick,” Riggle asserted. “What I mean by that is until we unite our forces, we will continue to lose because it seems to me like we have whole lot of people walking around carrying switches.”

“Can you imagine 30 people surrounding the bear and everyone of them having a switch and all of them switching the bear and he may eat you if you do that,” Riggle continued. “If you figure that if all of you put your forces together and you get a big stick … and you put everybody together and you go out after the bear with [the big stick] and on your stick is ‘the lord is my strength.’ Walk softly and carry a big stick.”

Riggle also advised Christians not to back down in the face of government coercion. He insists that Christians need to be prepared to “run to the battle,” just as David did in his battle against Goliath.

“When you hear the threats and intimidation, don’t hide. Like David, run to the battle, don’t disappear. … When the giant shouts, shout back. … How do you shout back, shout back in the voting booth … shout back by running for office.”

Staver concluded by saying that a pro-gay Supreme Court ruling will create “impossible odds” for Christians that will force God to intervene, just as He did when he protected Daniel from the lions’ den.

“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church because moments like this when there is an unprecedented clash, there is impossible odds that God will intervene for his people,” Staver said.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christians-must-stand-their-ground-disobey-unjust-laws-limiting-religious-freedom-says-matt-staver-in-kick-off-to-3-day-future-conference-140381/#kDfSPVUV2iI8RkA6.99

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Arizona’s Appeal for 20-Week Abortion Ban

pro-life-marchersThe Supreme Court declined Monday to hear Arizona’s appeal against a lower court’s ruling that determined its ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy was unconstitutional. The lower court’s ruling thus remains and the state’s ban on abortion after 20 weeks has been struck down.

The Supreme Court justices declined to provide a reason as to why they won’t be reviewing the case. In May 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Arizona’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy violated the legal precedents set by Roe v. Wade in 1973, and was therefore unconstitutional.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the 20-week abortion ban into law in 2012. The law has been considered to be one of the strictest pieces of pro-life legislation in the country, only allowing abortions after 20 weeks in the case of medical emergencies. Those who opposed the legislation argued it was stricter than other states with similar laws because the method for determining a gestation period barred abortions two weeks earlier than other states with 20-week abortion bans.

The governor’s spokesperson, Andrew Wilder, released a statement Monday decrying the high court’s decision to not hear the case, calling it “a clear infringement on the authority of states to implement critical life-affirming laws.”

“Governor Brewer will continue to fight to protect Arizona women, families and our most vulnerable population: unborn children.”

The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political action committee, also released a statement defending the state’s 20-week abortion ban and the highly debated argument that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation. “Arizona legislators, led by pro-life State Rep. Kimberly Yee, were acting on the will of the people when they enacted this compassionate, common sense legislation to protect babies at 20 weeks,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in the statement.

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“Twenty weeks is more than halfway through pregnancy and the point at which babies have all their organs, hear and respond to their mother’s voices, and can even feel pain. A growing number of Americans simply reject the horror of late abortion and believe a reasonable line should be drawn. The 9th Circuit Court clearly erred. The law should reflect our natural recoil from this type of brutality.”

Pro-abortion groups heralded the Supreme Court’s decision, but also criticized the growing number of strict, anti-abortion bills being passed in states. “The Supreme Court soundly declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s sound decision that Arizona’s abortion ban is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing precedent,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

“… But women should not be forced to run to court, year after year, in state after state, to protect their constitutional rights and access to critical health care,” Northup continued, adding that women’s rights must not be “legislated away by politicians who are hell-bent on restricting access to the full range of reproductive health care.”

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments regarding the 2007 Massachusetts law that blocks pro-life protests within 35 feet of an abortion clinic. Those opposing the “Buffer Zone” law argue it violates their constitutional rights to free speech. A U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit previously upheld the state law, and those who support the law argue it ensures public safety for women seeking an abortion and abortion clinic employees.

Dana Cody, an attorney and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, told MassLive.com that the law specifically targets those who oppose abortion. Her pro-life group has filed an amicus brief opposing the law. “It’s content-based discrimination,” Cody said. “This is about limiting opposition to abortion in a public forum.”

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/news/supreme-court-refuses-to-hear-arizonas-appeal-for-20-week-abortion-ban-11257

Supreme Court May Be Tiring of Atheist Activist Newdow

By: Ken Klukowski 
Op-Ed Contributor
 
Atheist activist Michael Newdow, a controversial lawyer who once received significant media attention, may have worn out his welcome at the U.S. Supreme Court this week.Although many lawyers who argue before the Supreme Court only do so once, a select group of perhaps 20 elite lawyers repeatedly appear before the court. The court often welcomes cases offered by these top-shelf attorneys, knowing that the justices will read polished briefs and hear well-reasoned arguments, which assist the court in reaching the correct result.

Newdow’s name appears in petitions before the court so often that you might mistake him for one of these appellate powerhouses. Newdow is best known for convincing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because it mentions “one nation under God.” This case became Newdow’s debut before the Supreme Court in 2004, where the court dismissed his case because he lacked standing.

Since then, Newdow has brought a series of lawsuits, trying to challenge every aspect of expressions of faith in public settings or events nationwide. If he loses in the lower courts, he appeals, until finally he petitions the Supreme Court to take the case.

This week, the court rejected Newdow’s latest gambit in his crusade to completely secularize society. It arose from the 9th Circuit’s decision in Newdow’s recent case arguing that it violates the Establishment Clause to print our national motto “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency.

This case, Newdow v. Lefevre, was argued before the 9th Circuit back in 2007, and was decided in March 2010 after an extraordinarily long wait. The appellate court noted that Newdow has now formed his own “church,” the First Amendmist Church of the True Science (“FACTS” for short). He argues that it violates the teaching of his “church” to use money bearing the national motto.

This proved too much even for the most liberal appeals court in America. The 9th Circuit had upheld the constitutionality of the national motto in 1970, where the court held, “It is quite obvious that the national motto … has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.” Reasoning that the 1970 case had not been overruled during the intervening 40 years, the court dismissed Newdow’s case.

Newdow petitioned the Supreme Court to take the Lefevre case, and on March 7 the court rejected his request. For the time being, “In God We Trust” on our money is safe from the courts (though perhaps not from the other two branches of our government).

But this is not the last the court will hear from Newdow. For example, he filed a lawsuit shortly after the 2008 election seeking an order forbidding Chief Justice John Roberts from concluding Barack Obama’s presidential oath with, “so help me God.” The D.C. Circuit federal appeals court dismissed this case for lack of standing in 2010.

Once again, Newdow has petitioned the Supreme Court. And also this week, on March 9 the court extended the deadline another month for the Justice Department to oppose Newdow’s petition.

So the justices have dealt with Newdow twice in just one week. In a couple months, they’ll decide again in that next case, Newdow v. Roberts, whether to invite the unrelenting lawyer from California back into the courtroom.

He should hope they refuse him. Otherwise, some of the first words he’ll have to hear would be the court marshal’s proclamation: “God save the United States and this honorable court.”

Examiner contributor Ken Klukowski is a research fellow with Liberty University School of Law and director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/2011/03/supreme-court-may-be-tiring-atheist-activist-newdow##ixzz1GQvWICar

Justices Revisit Tax Credits for Religious Schools

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday returned to a subject that produced a major and closely divided decision eight years ago: how far may the government go in aiding religious schools?

In 2002, in a 5-to-4 ruling, the court upheld a school voucher system in Cleveland that parents used almost exclusively to pay for religious schools.

Four new justices have joined the court since then, but there was nothing in Wednesday’s arguments to suggest that the issue has become any less polarizing.

The program at issue on Wednesday gives Arizona taxpayers a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit of up to $500 for donations to private “student tuition organizations.” The contributors may not designate their dependents as beneficiaries. The organizations are permitted to limit the scholarships they offer to schools of a given religion, and many do.

The program was challenged by Arizona taxpayers who said it effectively used state money to finance religious education and so violated the First Amendment’s prohibition on the official establishment of religion.

The program was novel and complicated enough that the court’s decision on the merits might not be particularly consequential. But a threshold question, about whether the challengers have legal standing to sue, could give rise to an important ruling.

As a general matter, plaintiffs who merely object to how the government spends their taxes do not have standing. But the Supreme Court made an exception for religious spending in 1968 in Flast v. Cohen.

Arizona, supported by the Obama administration, said the exception should not apply where tax credits rather than direct government spending were at issue.

“If you placed an electronic tag to track and monitor each cent that the respondent plaintiffs pay in tax, not a cent, not a fraction of a cent, would go in any religious school’s coffers,” said Neal K. Katyal, the acting United States solicitor general.

“Flast recognized a special solicitude for taxpayers when money is taken out of their pocket and used to fund religion against their conscience,” Mr. Katyal said. But that is as far as the exception should go, he said.

That approach, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, could amount to an end to many challenges to religious spending. “Flast is gone,” he said. “There is nothing more to Flast, because it just happened that nobody had thought of this system at the time of Flast.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who was until recently solicitor general, or S.G., asked whether Mr. Katyal’s position on the standing question meant that the court had been without authority to decide at least six other cases “but somehow nobody on the court recognized that fact, nor did the S.G. recognize that fact?”

Mr. Katyal said it was not unusual for the court to wait to decide a question until it was “teed up and presented to the court.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked him whether anyone, in light of his position, had standing to challenge the Arizona program.

“The way this scheme is set up,” Mr. Katyal said, “our answer is no.”

Paula S. Bickett, representing Arizona, said the state program did not violate the First Amendment “because it’s a neutral law that results in scholarship programs of private choice.”

But Paul Bender, representing the challengers in the case, Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, No. 09-987, said the dollar-for-dollar nature of the tax credit meant that the scholarship money effectively came from the state.

The difference between the Cleveland voucher system in the 2002 decision, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, and the Arizona program, Mr. Bender said, was that “religion was not involved in the distribution of the money to the parents.”

A version of this article appeared in print on November 4, 2010, on page A17 of the New York edition.

Courtesy of http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/04/us/04scotus.html?_r=1&ref=us

Chief Justice Roberts: Kagan Asked Court to ‘Embrace Theory of First Amendment That Would Allow Censorship Not Only of Radio and Television Broadcasts, But Pamphlets and Posters

(CNSNews.com) – Solicitor General Elena Kagan, nominated Monday to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Barack Obama, told that court in September that Congress could constitutionally prohibit corporations from engaging in political speech such as publishing pamphlets that advocate the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office.

Kagan’s argument that the government could prohibit political speech by corporations was rejected by a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in that case, and in a scathing concurrence Chief Justice John Roberts took direct aim at Kagan’s argument that the government could ban political pamphlets.

“The Government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech. It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concern,” wrote Roberts. “Its theory, if accepted, would empower the Government to prohibit newspapers from running editorials or opinion pieces supporting or opposing candidates for office, so long as the newspapers were owned by corporations—as the major ones are. First Amendment rights could be confined to individuals, subverting the vibrant public discourse that is at the foundation of our democracy.”
 
Justice Kennedy described the law Kagan had defended as an illegitimate attempt to use “censorship to control thought.”
 
“When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought,” Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”
 
In March 2009, six months before Kagan told the court that the government could bar corporations from publishing political pamphlets, her deputy solicitor general, Malcolm Stewart, had gone further, telling the court the Constitution authorized Congress to prohibit corporations from publishing full-length books that included passages advocating the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office.
Kagan’s September statement that the government could ban pamphlets was meant to be a retreat from Stewart’s earlier position.

Stewart and Kagan both presented oral arguments to the court in the Citizens United case because the court took the unusual step of ordering the litigants to make their arguments twice. This was because the court decided after the initial round of oral arguments that it wanted to consider broader issues in the case than originally contemplated and perhaps roll back some of the recent precedents it had established on government regulation of political speech.

The immediate issue was whether Citizens United, a conservative non-profit corporation, could distribute a documentary—”Hillary: The Movie”—via Video On Demand, during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary season. The Federal Election Commission said it could not do so because the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA, also known as the McCain-Feingold law) prohibited corporations from broadcasting “electioneering communications” within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election. “Electioneering communications” were defined as communications that mentioned the name of a candidate for federal office.

The case also examined a broader provision of campaign finance law, known as 441b, which prohibited corporations from spending any of their general treasury funds on speech that expressly advocated the election or defeat of a candidate. As the law stood, if a corporation wanted to express its views on political campaigns it had to start a separate Political Action Committee (PAC) and raise funds from contributors to do so.

The First Amendment to the Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

In the first round of oral argument in Citizens United, which took place on March 24, five days after Kagan took office as solicitor general, Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia all questioned Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm L. Stewart, probing to discover where the Obama administration believed the First Amendment drew the line on government prohibitions on political speech.

Roberts asked Stewart if the government could prohibit a corporation from publishing a 500-page book that said at the end people should “vote for X.” Stewart said such a book could in fact be prohibited under federal election law because it was “express advocacy.” Then Roberts said he wanted to know what the administration’s position was on the constitutionality of that provision.

“Yes, our position would be that the corporation could be required to use PAC funds rather than general treasury funds [to publish the book],” said Stewart.

“And if they didn’t, you could ban it?” asked Roberts.

“If they didn’t, we could prohibit the publication of the book using the corporate treasury funds,” said Stewart.
 
When the court heard oral arguments in the case again on Sept. 9, 2009, Kagan personally made the case for the administration. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked Kagan if the administration stood by its position that the government could ban books.

“May I ask you one question that was highlighted in the prior argument, and that was if Congress could say no TV and radio ads, could it also say no newspaper ads, no campaign biographies?” asked Ginsburg. “Last time the answer was, yes, Congress could, but it didn’t. Is that–is that still the government’s answer?”

Kagan told Ginsburg that the administration had changed its position. It now believed that although the law itself allowed the government to ban corporations from publishing books, it believed that if the government actually tried to do so a litigant would have a good case challenging that prohibition in court.

“The government’s answer has changed, Justice Ginsburg,” said Kagan. “It is still true that BCRA [section] 203, which is the only statute involved in this case, does not apply to books or anything other than broadcast. 441b does, on its face, apply to other media. And we took what the Court–what the Court’s–the Court’s own reaction to some of those other hypotheticals very seriously. We went back, we considered the matter carefully, and the government’s view is that although 441b does cover full-length books, that there would be quite good as-applied challenge to any attempt to apply 441b in that context.”

Chief Justice Roberts, however, wanted to pin Kagan down on how far she believed the government could go in banning speech by corporations. He specifically asked her if the government could ban a pamphlet published by a corporation. She indicated the government could do that.

“If you say that you are not going to apply it to a book, what about a pamphlet?” asked Roberts.

“I think a pamphlet would be different,” said Kagan. “A pamphlet is pretty classic electioneering, so there is no attempt to say that 441b only applies to video and not to print.”

When President Obama announced Monday that he was nominating Kagan to the Court, he said that the Citizens United case was the first that she had argued before the court as solicitor general, and her decision to do so had been indicator of her “commitment to protect our fundamental rights.”

“I think it says a great deal about her commitment to protect our fundamental rights, because in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens,” said Obama