Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Posts Tagged ‘Thomas More Law Center’

Federal Judge: Teacher Who Punished Student for Expressing Catholic Belief Against Homosexuality Violated Student’s First Amendment Rights

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on June 20, 2013

news_img_3584ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center today announces a victory in their lawsuit against teacher Johnson McDowell of Howell High School in Howell, Michigan. Federal District Judge Patrick J. Duggan of the Eastern District of Michigan issued his opinion yesterday.

The Court declared the teacher’s actions in punishing Daniel Glowacki for expressing his beliefs against homosexuality violated “Daniel’s First Amendment rights.” In its findings of fact—the Court described how the teacher initiated a discussion about homosexuality. The teacher wore a purple t-shirt and was promoting the homosexual agenda. In response, the Plaintiff, 16 year-old Daniel Glowacki stated that homosexuality was against his Catholic beliefs. The teacher, admittedly, became angry and threw Daniel out of class because he disagreed with Daniel’s beliefs.

The teacher in the lawsuit tried to blame Daniel and claimed he caused a disturbance in the teacher’s classroom. The teacher’s claims were wholly unsupported by all of the other evidence in the case, including affidavits of students in the classroom and the teacher’s own earlier statements. The teacher also tried to argue that Daniel’s religious statement was tantamount to “bullying.” The Court dismissed that claim as well, holding that Daniel’s speech could not be silenced because the teacher did not like Daniel’s religious beliefs and viewpoint.

The Court’s opinion echoed the longstanding legal precedent that “students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969).

The teacher argued that Daniel’s speech that his religion did not approve of homosexuality was a bullying statement. However, Judge Duggan, citing several cases, disagreed (citations and quotations omitted).

While the Court certainly recognizes that schools are empowered to regulate speech to prevent students from invading the rights of other students, people do not have a legal right to prevent criticism of their beliefs or for that matter their way of life. Relatedly, a listeners’ reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. While a student or perhaps several students may have been upset or offended by Daniel’s remarks, Tinker straight-forwardly tells us that, in order for school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, they must be able to show that this action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Simply put, the law does not establish a generalized hurt feelings defense to a high school’s violation of the First Amendment rights of its students.

Thomas More Law Center attorney, Erin Mersino was the lead counsel in the lawsuit. It is expected that the teacher will appeal the decision.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commenting on the favorable court decision, stated:

“The purpose of our lawsuit was to protect students’ constitutional rights to free speech, defend religious liberty, and stop public schools from becoming indoctrination centers for the homosexual agenda.”

The Thomas More Law Center originally filed its federal lawsuit back on December 14, 2012 against the teacher, Johnson McDowell, and the Howell Public School District. The claims against the School District were dismissed, and the Court held that the teacher alone was the responsible party.

The ACLU appeared in the case as amicus and supported Daniel’s position against the teacher.

Courtesy of http://www.thomasmore.org/

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News, Religious Freedom, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

City of Frankenmuth Rejects Demand to Remove 55 Foot Frankenmuth American Bicentennial Cross

Posted by faithandthelaw on October 8, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI – The City of Frankenmuth, Michigan formally rejected a demand by Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU)  to remove a 55 foot steel American Bicentennial Cross on city-owned land.  In a July letter, AU claimed the Cross on public land unlawfully endorses and promotes Christianity, and asked Frankenmuth to remove the cross or face “a significant risk of litigation.”

The Thomas More Law Center, a national non-profit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was asked by Frankenmuth officials to defend their Cross.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, in a letter on Friday, responded on behalf of the City, “The cross was raised up by a grateful community. And this community will fight to keep it.”

The purpose of the cross was not to promote, endorse or coerce anyone to convert to Christianity,” Thompson wrote.

The Cross was erected as a part of Frankenmuth’s celebrations of the American Revolution Bicentennial 1776-1976.  It was constructed and erected with private funds raised by the Frankenmuth Area Bicentennial Commission.  The Cross was erected not only to memorialize the sacrifices made by our Founding Fathers in 1776, but also to memorialize Frankenmuth’s unique history and the sacrifices made by the original 15 settlers who arrived in the Frankenmuth area in 1845.  These settlers left their homes in the province of Middle Franconia, Bavaria to establish a religious community for the conversion of the Chippewa Indians who lived in the area.

Click here to read entire four page letter.

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Hot Legal News, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

George Washington Turning Over in his Grave as Pentagon Celebrates Sodomy

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on June 15, 2012

On March 14, 1778, George Washington, then Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, approved the sentencing of LT Enslin on attempted sodomy of another soldier.  General Washington called it an infamous crime to be viewed “with Abhorrence and Detestation”.  He ordered Enslin “to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning by all the Drummers and Fifers in the Army never to return.”

Morality in the military is changing.

This week, Pentagon officials announced they will participate in June’s Gay Pride month and host a first-ever event honoring gay and lesbian troops.  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta feels it is important to recognize the service of gays in the armed forces. Details of the Pentagon event have not been released.

Since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), homosexual activists have accelerated advances of their homosexual agenda within the Armed Forces, including recognition of gay marriages, performance of marriages in military chapels, and gay pride celebrations at U.S Military academies.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “We will continue our fight to overturn the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and are ready to represent those chaplains who refuse to perform same-sex marriages on religious grounds.  This new law will ultimately destroy unit cohesion and morale, reduce the number of heterosexual volunteers, and considerably degrade the ability of the military to defend our nation, their first responsibility.”

Since November 2010, the Thomas More Law Center has submitted 41 Freedom of Information Act requests to all branches of the Armed Forces, including the Inspector General’s Office, to assist in overturning the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Allowing open homosexuality in the Armed Forces had nothing to do with enhancing the combat effectiveness of our military, and everything to do with pandering to the homosexual lobby.  To accomplish this political objective, Pentagon officials utilized rigged military opinion polls, leaks of false information and muzzling of combat commanders who opposed the repeal.

In its findings supporting the 1993 Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law, Congress affirmed:

  • there is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces;
  • military life is fundamentally different from civilian life;
  • the prohibition against homosexual conduct is a long-standing element of military law;
  • the presence of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards or morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.

Concluded Thompson, “Those findings have not changed, but the law has.  Our military men and women, our sons and daughters, should not be subjected to an involuntary social experiment which will damage our national security. That’s why we will continue our efforts to oppose this immoral law.”

Courtesy of Thomas More Law Center: Copyright © 2012 Thomas More Law Center, All rights reserved.

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

President ‘forcing radical homosexual agenda’ on soldiers during time of war

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 27, 2010

By Chelsea Schilling
© 2010 WorldNetDaily


President Obama (White House photo)

 

While President Obama and Congress seek to ram through an amendment to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy – with votes coming as soon as this week – several groups are blasting the president for forcing a “radical” homosexual agenda on the military during a time of war.

A vote adding the repeal amendment to the 2011 defense authorization bill is scheduled for May 27 in both the Senate and the House.

According to the Thomas More Law Center, senators are being deluged with phone calls and letters to force their vote to repeal the military’s ban.

Lawmakers had been slow to proceed after Defense Secretary Robert Gates requested that they wait until the completion of a Pentagon study in December. In a strongly worded letter dated April 30, Gates wrote that the Defense Department must be given an opportunity to evaluate the possible impact of repealing the ban before Congress acts.

“Our military must be afforded the opportunity to inform us of their concerns, insights and suggestions if we are to carry out this change successfully,” Gates wrote.

He added that repealing the policy before completion of the review “would send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence, their views, concerns and perspectives do not matter on an issue with such a direct impact and consequence for them and their families.”

But homosexual advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, stepped up the pressure following concerns that Democrats may lose seats in Congress during the November election.

Elaine Donnelly, former member of the Pentagon’s Defense advisory Committee on Women in the Services, is president of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy organization that specializes in military issues.

“This high-handed White House ploy fools no one,” Donnelly said. “Any vote for a ‘repeal deal’ with ‘delayed implementation’ would be an irresponsible abnegation of Congress’ authority, surrendering the military to the control of political appointees doing the president’s bidding.”

She warned that voting for the amendment would be the same as a vote for H.R.1283, or the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, legislation that would also repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. She said that legislation, spearheaded by Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., would impose a radical lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered agenda on the military, during a time of war.

Donnelly said moving forward with the repeal would defy advice from Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

“The men and women of our military still have not been heard,” she said. “Contrary to some well-spun misinformation, it is not true that ‘top Pentagon brass’ have advocated repeal of the 1993 law. Adm. Mike Mullen has expressed a personal opinion favoring repeal, but he is out of step with the other military service chiefs, who have gone on record expressing serious reservations about the consequences of repealing the 1993 law …”

The 1993 federal statute at issue, debated and adopted by Congress, states that open homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military. The law was overwhelming passed by bipartisan, veto-proof majorities in both houses, after extensive hearings and debate.

Noting reports that the White House has already cut a “repeal deal” for homosexuals in the military, Donnelly said, “Our brave men and women should not have to pay the price just so President Obama can deliver on his campaign promises to ‘LGBT Left’ groups. It is even more absurd to suggest that President Obama and compliant Pentagon officials can simply sign a paper assuring that the LGBT Law would not have a ‘negative impact’ on our military.”

//

  //

 

As WND reported, Richard Thompson, chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, previously warned that the Obama administration has been working on enabling homosexuals to live their lifestyle openly as members of the U.S. military by Memorial Day. 

“The purpose of our military is to prepare for and prevail in combat,” Thompson said today. “The Supreme Court has long recognized the difference between military and civilian life, and has given great deference to the requirements of our military. There is no constitutional right to serve in our armed forces, and homosexual groups should not be allowed to foist their political and social agendas at the expense of national security, and the destruction of unit cohesion, which is so essential to the combat effectiveness of our armed forces.” 

Thompson explained earlier that Obama has been “supported by a multi-million dollar campaign by national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender advocacy groups” and would alter the policy soon. 

He warned, “Once the law is repealed, LGBT operatives will infiltrate the military, and backed by a brigade of ACLU lawyers, will push the homosexual agenda to the point of paralyzing the primary purpose of the military – winning wars. Because of ‘zero tolerance’ for anyone who disagrees with the repeal, thousands of current military personnel, especially those in the mid-career ranks, will leave.” 

Now as advocacy groups that supported Obama in 2008 demand payback, more than 1,150 distinguished retired flag and general officers, including 51 four-star generals and admirals, are urging retention of the ban. 

Thomas More said the officers cited the impact on “morale, discipline, unit cohesion and overall readiness.” 

In February, Army and Air Force chiefs of staff testified before Congress, warning that a move to repeal the policy would be ill-timed.. 

“I do have serious concerns about the impact of repeal of the law on a force that’s fully engaged in two wars and has been for eight-and-a-half years,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We just don’t know the impacts on readiness and military effectiveness.” 

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told Congress: “This is not the time to perturb the force that is, at the moment, stretched by demands in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere without careful deliberation.” 

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., the third-ranking House Republican, promised unified GOP opposition to lifting the ban, the Associated Press reported. 

“The American people don’t want the American military to be used to advance a liberal political agenda. And House Republicans will stand on that principle,” Pence said, urging Democrats to hold off until the Pentagon completes a review of its impact on the armed forces. 

If passed, the repeal is expected to take effect after the Pentagon assessment is released. 

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued a statement calling the agreement “a back-room deal that disregards the views of our troops and uses the military to advance the political agenda of a radical special interest group.” 

“This rushed deal is a tacit admission that after the November election, the Democrats are likely to lose a working liberal majority,” he said. “They want to get what they can now, and also far enough away from the election that it won’t be prominent in the mind of voters.” 

Perkins added, “President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Levin know that the American people oppose forcing the military to embrace homosexuality just to pay off political supporters. We call on Congress to protect the military, listen to our troops and the American people by rejecting this outrageous deal that politicizes the military at the expense of our national security.” 

Courtesy of http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=158289

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Thomas More Law Center Asks Court to Stop Enforcement of the Individual Mandate of Health Care

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 7, 2010

ANN ARBOR, MI – In an effort to expedite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the newly enacted health care reform act, today, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a motion in Federal District Court for a preliminary injunction, requesting the court to enjoin the enforcement of the individual mandate provision of the law.  [Click here to read Motion & Brief].

Moments after the health care bill was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, TMLC filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of itself and four Michigan residents who object to being forced by the federal government to purchase health care or face a federal penalty.  The basis for the lawsuit and the motion is that Congress exceeded its authority under the Constitution by mandating that private citizens purchase health care coverage or face a penalty. 

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for TMLC, commented, “If Congress can use the Commerce Clause to force people to purchase insurance based on the mere fact that they exist or face federal penalties, then there is no limit to the power of Congress.  Our case is about the constitutional limits of our federal government.  No one is arguing the health care system is in need of reform.  What we are saying, however, is Congress cannot trash our Constitution in the process.”

As the Congressional Budget Office noted as early as August 1994, “A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action.  The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.”  As stated in the papers filed this morning in federal court, “The Health Care Reform Act represents an unprecedented encroachment on the liberty of all Americans . . . by imposing unprecedented governmental mandates that restrict their personal and economic freedoms in violation of the Constitution.”

The lawsuit and this motion are being handled by Robert Muise, TMLC Senior Trial Counsel, and David Yerushalmi, an associated private attorney with law offices in New York, Washington D.C., and Arizona.  Under local rules of the court, the government will have 21 days to respond.

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.  It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America.  The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities.  It does not charge for its services.  The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.  You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at .www.thomasmore.org

Posted in Hot Legal News | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thomas More Law Center Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Review School Policy Banning Christmas Music

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 31, 2010

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, yesterday filed a petition in the United States Supreme Court, requesting the Court review the constitutionality of a New Jersey school district policy that banned the performance of traditional Christmas music in the district’s public schools.  [Click here to read petition]

The challenged policy banned the performance of Christmas music, including simple instrumentals, during year-end holiday concerts; it forced the high school brass ensemble to “eliminate” “traditional carols” from its “repertoire”; and it banned the Martin Luther King (MLK) Gospel Choir, a student organization, from performing at the high school holiday assembly for the student body because the choir sang religious songs.  The new policy went so far as to remove from any “printed programs for any Holiday concert” any “graphics which refer to the holidays, such as Christmas Trees and dreidels.” 

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, commented, “This anti-religious policy is yet another example of the militant hostility that many public schools have towards Christians and Christmas.  These school districts have embarked on a program to eradicate any reference to Christianity because that religion is a major stumbling block to their political indoctrination of our children. 

Since at least 1960, Christmas music had been a part of the Christmas holiday traditions in the New Jersey school district.  In fact, a year before the new policy was enacted in 2004, the school district held a December holiday concert that included such traditional religious songs as “Joy to the World, ” “O’Come All Ye Faithful, ” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, ” and “Silent Night.”  Under the new policy, these traditional Christmas songs are now banned.

As a result of this ban on Christmas, in December 2004, TMLC filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Michael Stratechuk and his two children, who were students in the New Jersey school district when the policy was enacted in 2004.  A federal district court judge in New Jersey found that the policy was constitutional, and his decision was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  In their decision, the Third Circuit stated,

“Certainly, those of us who were educated in the public schools remember holiday celebrations replete with Christmas carols, and possibly even Chanukah songs, to which no objection had been raised.  Since then, the governing principles have been examined and defined with more particularity.  Many decisions about how to best create an inclusive environment in public schools, such as those at issue here, are left to the sound discretion of the school authorities.  We see no constitutional violation in Policy 2270 or its application in this case.  We will therefore affirm the decision of the District Court.”
The Supreme Court petition was drafted by TMLC Senior Trial Counsel Robert Muise.  In the petition filed with the Court yesterday, Muise argued:

“Christmas is a national holiday, and religious music in the public schools is one of the rich traditions of this season.  The Third Circuit’s opinion, if left unchecked, will ensure the demise of this tradition, and it will embolden those who use the Establishment Clause as a blunt instrument against religion to continue to do so.  Consequently, this case is about much more than holiday music.  It is about halting the proliferation of government policies and practices that disfavor religion.  A decision with such potentially broad and troubling implications merits review by this Court.”

Thompson echoed the concern: “Traditional Christmas music has long echoed in the halls and auditoriums of our Nation’s public schools, reflecting our national celebration of this holiday season.  Unfortunately, our recent history has not been so favorable to this holiday and its traditions.  Even the word ‘Christmas’ itself is becoming a forbidden expression—a casualty to the forces of political correctness that consider it enlightened, if not outright fashionable, to remove all traces of religion from the public domain.  If we do not stop these policies now, it is likely that they will continue to spread across our Nation like an anti-Christian virus.  This is an important case; it will likely decide the fate of one of our most cherished traditions.”

Muise added, “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s flawed Establishment Clause jurisprudence has promoted—and in many respects, encouraged—anti-Christian policy decisions by school boards all across the country, including the one challenged here.  This case presents an opportunity for the Court to abandon its much maligned jurisprudence in favor of one that respects our Nation’s religious heritage and traditions.”

The New Jersey school district policy at issue in this case was featured in a book, The War On Christmas, by former Fox News anchor, John Gibson.

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Hot Legal News, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Islamic Groups Lose Lawfare Attempt in Texas Supreme Court

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 8, 2010

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Texas Supreme Court dealt another blow to Islamic organizations which use lawsuits as a form of “legal jihad” to silence public discussion of Islamic terrorist threats.  On Friday, January 15, 2010, the Texas Supreme Court denied a petition for review of a Second District Court of Appeals opinion which dismissed the defamation lawsuit brought by seven Dallas-area Islamic organizations against internet journalist Joe Kaufman.

On his radio show, Mahdi Bray, head of the Muslim American Freedom Foundation, the political arm of Muslim American Society – Dallas, exhorted his radio audience of the need of Muslims to lawyer up and fund additional lawsuits.  The case against Kaufman was used as the example.  In fact, for the last several years, Muslim groups in the U.S. have engaged in the tactic referred to as Islamist Lawfare which uses our American laws and legal system to silence critics and promote the Islamic agenda in America.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan acted as lead counsel for Kaufman, at no charge.  The Law Center was assisted by Texas attorney Thomas S. Brandon, Jr. who acted as local counsel, and Los Angeles, CA attorneys William Becker, Jr. and Manuel S. Klausner.  The Law Center’s attorney, Brandon Bolling, later moved to a for-profit law firm.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “It is gratifying to see a courageous citizen like Joe Kaufman withstand the legal intimidation of a well-financed lawsuit aimed at shutting down his right to speak out against the threats of radical Islam.” 

On July 25, 2009, the Texas Second District Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that as an internet journalist Kaufman had the same procedural protections under the Texas law given to traditional electronic and print media, including the right to a pretrial appeal. [Read opinion]  Accordingly, Kaufman had the same right to appeal the lower court’s denial of his motion to dismiss the frivolous libel claim before a time-consuming and expensive trial.  Most parties have to wait until after a trial before they can appeal an unfavorable lower court ruling.

As a full-time investigative reporter, Kaufman has written extensively on Radical Islamic terrorism in America.  He was sued because of his September 28, 2007 article titled “Fanatic Muslim Family Day” published by Front Page Magazine, a major online news website.  Kaufman’s article exposed the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Islamic Association of Northern Texas (IANT) ties to the radical terrorist group Hamas.

Kaufman’s article called ICNA a radical Muslim organization with ties to Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.  According to Kaufman, ICNA is an umbrella organization for South Asian-oriented mosques and Islamic centers in the United States created as an American arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) of Pakistan.

Significantly, neither ICNA nor IANT, which were mentioned in Kaufman’s article, sued Kaufman.  It is speculated they were afraid of being subjected to pretrial discovery depositions.  On the other hand, none of the seven plaintiffs that sued Kaufman were even mentioned in his article.          

The seven Islamic organizations that sued Kaufman are the Islamic Society of Arlington, Texas, Islamic Center of Irving, DFW Islamic Educational Center, Inc., Dar Elsalam Islamic Center, Al Hedayah Islamic Center, Islamic Association of Tarrant County, and Muslim American Society of Dallas.  All are affiliated with CAIR, one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the successful federal prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation.

This is the third straight loss for the Islamic groups in this case. After the ruling in favor of Kaufman on June 25, 2009, they asked for a reconsideration of the decision through what is known as an en banc opinion (appeal to the whole court, not just a panel of the court). The court denied that request.  Last week the Texas Supreme Court also denied their request for review.  However, plaintiffs can still file a petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court.    

Courtesy of thomasmore.org at http://www.thomasmore.org/qry/page.taf?id=19

Posted in Hot Legal News | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

First Court Challenge to Federal Hate Crimes Act Filed by Three Pastors and a Pro-Family Advocate

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 8, 2010

Religious - Holy Bible & FlagANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor Michigan, this morning filed a federal lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., challenging the constitutionality of the recently-enacted federal Hate Crimes Act.  The Act criminalizes so-called “bias” crimes motivated by a person’s “actual or perceived” “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” and thus elevates those engaged in certain deviant sexual behaviors to a special, protected class of persons under federal law.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, on behalf of Pastor Levon Yuille, Pastor Rene Ouellette, Pastor James Combs, and Gary Glenn, the president of the American Family Association of Michigan (AFA-Michigan). [Read Complaint].

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, and a former county prosecutor, commented, “There is no legitimate law enforcement need for this federal law.  Of the 1.38 million violent crimes reported in the U.S. by the FBI in 2008, only 243 were considered as motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.   Moreover, Eric Holder himself testified at a Senate hearing that the states are doing a fine job in this area.”

Thompson continued, “This is part of the list of political payoffs to homosexual advocacy groups for support of Barack Obama in the last presidential election.  The sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.  It elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”

“Christians are taught to love the sinner, but hate the sin. In fact, the greatest threat of violence to ‘homosexuals’ comes not from Christians but from other ‘homosexuals,’ according to statistics compiled by their own advocacy groups,” said Thompson.  

The Hate Crimes Act, cited as the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act,” was dubbed by its critics as the “Pedophile Protection Act,” after an amendment to explicitly prohibit pedophilia from protection under the act was defeated by a majority of Democrats.  The Act itself is poorly written, based on erroneous facts and internally incoherent principles.

Pastor Yuille is the Pastor of The Bible Church, which is located in Michigan.  He is also the National Director of the National Black Pro-Life Congress and the host of Joshua’s Trail, a radio talk show that airs in Michigan and can be heard in parts of Canada.  Pastor Yuille is often warned by his Canadian listeners that he will prosecuted under the new U.S. hate crimes law for his public ministry similar to how ministers and other religious persons in Canada are being silenced by that country’s “hate crimes” legislation.  As an African-American, Pastor Yuille finds it offensive to equate the so-called “civil rights” struggle of persons who engage in homosexual behavior with the real civil rights struggle of African-Americans. 

Pastor Ouellette is the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Bridgeport, Michigan, which has approximately 7,000 members.  He is the author of five books as well as many pamphlets and Bible tracts.  Pastor Ouellette travels across the country preaching God’s Word, which includes the Biblical teaching on homosexuality.

And Pastor Combs is the lead Pastor of Faith Church, The Point Church, The Rock Church, and The River Church, all of which are located in Michigan.  Pastor Combs pastors approximately 10,000 church members.  He too preaches the Biblical teaching on homosexuality as part of his public ministry.

The lawsuit alleges that this new provision of the federal hate crimes law violates the plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment, and it violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.  The lawsuit also alleges that Congress lacked authority to enact the legislation under the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. 

The lawsuit expresses concern that the Hate Crimes Act “provides law enforcement with authorization and justification to conduct federal investigative and other federal law enforcement actions against Plaintiffs and others deemed to be opponents of homosexual activism, the homosexual lifestyle, and the homosexual agenda,” thereby expanding “the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other federal law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies.”

Consequently, the new hate crimes law “subjects Plaintiffs to increased government scrutiny, questioning, investigation, surveillance, and intimidation on account of their strong, public opposition to homosexual activism, the homosexual lifestyle, and the homosexual agenda, thereby causing a tangible and concrete deterrent, inhibitory, and chilling effect on Plaintiffs’ activities and their rights to freedom of speech, expressive association, and the free exercise of religion” in violation of the United States Constitution. 

Robert Muise, Senior Trial Counsel for TMLC who is handling the case, observed, “This new federal law promotes two Orwellian concepts.  It creates a special class of persons who are ‘more equal than others’ based on nothing more than deviant, sexual behavior.  And it creates ‘thought crimes’ by criminalizing certain ideas, beliefs, and opinions, and the involvement of such ideas, beliefs, and opinions in a crime will make it deserving of federal prosecution.  Consequently, government officials are claiming the power to decide which thoughts are criminal under federal law and which are not.”
Under a related federal criminal statute, anyone who “aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures” the commission of an offense under the new hate crimes law is liable as if the person committed the violent crime. 

All of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit take a strong public stand against the homosexual agenda, which seeks to normalize disordered sexual behavior that is contrary to Biblical teaching.  As president of AFA-Michigan, Gary Glenn is often publicly described and listed as an “enemy” of those who promote “gay rights” and other aspects of the homosexual agenda.  In 2006, for example, The Advocate, a “gay-rights” periodical, described Glenn as “[a] relentless foe of gay rights in every context.” 

It is a favored tactic of homosexual activists to accuse pastors and other Christians of responsibility for violent acts on account of their public opposition to homosexual behavior.
The former director of policy for the Triangle Foundation, a Michigan-based homosexual lobby group that supported the new federal law, publicly stated, “We personally believe that the AFA may support the murder of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.” 

The former executive director of the Triangle Foundation publicly stated the following regarding “hate crimes”: “The vocal anti-gay activists should be held accountable as accessories to these crimes because, many times, it is their rhetoric that led the perpetrators to believe that their crimes are OK. . . .  If a criminal borrows a gun and then uses it to kill someone, the law considers the gun owner an accessory to the crime.  So, too, are the people who own the words that incite violence.”

Thompson commented further, “Indeed, in many other jurisdictions, so-called ‘hate crimes’ legislation is being used to prosecute and jail pastors and priests for giving sermons or homilies that reflect the Christian view toward homosexuality.  That’s why it was critical for us to file this lawsuit.  This anti-Christian agenda must be stopped now.”  

In 2007, when Congress was considering similar hate crimes legislation, a motion was made before the Committee on Rules in the House of Representatives to clarify that the printing, distribution, or public reading of the Bible was not prohibited by any provision of the proposed bill.  The motion was defeated. 

In addition to the First and Fifth Amendment claims, the lawsuit also claims that Congress lacked the authority under the Constitution to enact the hate crimes law because it is “legislation that purports to suppress violent crime and vindicate its victims,” and “[t]here is no better example of the police power, which the Founders denied Congress and reposed in the States, than the suppression of violent crime and the vindication of its victims.” 

The lawsuit notes that the link between the activity punished by this new law and interstate commerce “is so attenuated that it places no real limit on Congress’ power to regulate.”  Moreover, as the lawsuit points out, reports by the FBI in 2007 and 2008 indicate that only a fraction of 1% of all violent crimes committed in the United States each year are “bias” motivated on account of the victim’s sexual orientation. 

In fact, Eric Holder, a supporter of the new federal law, was asked by Senator Orrin Hatch in a hearing whether there was any evidence of a trend that “hate crimes” were going unpunished at the State level.  Holder stated without reservation that there was no such evidence and that, in fact, States were, by and large, doing a fine job in this area.  Consequently, as the lawsuit alleges, there is no national problem associated with “bias” motivated crimes on account of the victim’s “sexual orientation” to warrant federal involvement. 

Even in the  liberally-controlled Congress, to garner enough votes for passage,  the politically-divisive “hate crimes” law had to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, even though the law is non-germane and non-related to defense.  Senator John McCain stated in the Senate Congressional Record, “It is indeed, unfortunate, that we are using the brave men and women in uniform as leverage to pass hate crimes legislation.”

As Congressman Todd Akin noted, special prosecutions for so-called “hate crimes” are inherently divisive.  Congressman Akin stated in the House Congressional Record, “[This new hate crimes law] increases hatred in America. . . .  The law violates the most basic principle of law.  Lady Justice is always supposed to have a blindfold across her face because, regardless of who you are when you appear before Lady Justice, . . . Lady Justice does not notice.  [The new hate crimes law] violates that basic principle.  It creates animosity by elevating one group over another group; thus, it creates hatred.”

Through this lawsuit, the plaintiffs seek judicial reassurance by way of declaratory and injunctive relief that they can freely participate in their speech and related religious activities without being investigated or prosecuted by the government or becoming part of official records because of their Christian beliefs.
The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.  It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America.  The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities.  It does not charge for its services.  The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.  You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

Courtesy of thomasmore.org at http://www.thomasmore.org/qry/page.taf?id=19

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Hot Legal News | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »