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U.S. Supreme Court

“A Judge’s Judge”

That’s how President Trump described Judge Brett Kavanaugh when he proudly announced his nomination for the United States Supreme Court.

Within minutes, realizing this big win for constitutional conservatives, Democrats ran to their stages and microphones, sounding the alarm to their pro-abortion base that this will be the fight of their lifetimes and they

vowed to oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything they have.

Abortion activists like Naral Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, viciously bellowed her opposition to this well-known and respected jurist saying Judge Kavanaugh would use the court “as a tool to eradicate women’s right” to make the most fundamental decisions about their bodies.

In his remarks during his nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump noted, “What matters is not a judge’s political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require. I am pleased to say that I have found, without doubt, such a person.”

At a time when so many judges either do not understand or do not respect the limit of the court, Judge Kavanaugh’s acceptance speech brought hope to all Americans who respect our Constitution. He said, “A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law,” Kavanaugh said. “A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s current Religious Land Use case, Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship v. County of Riverside, is a clear case of government overreach and the outcome will rely on Constitutional jurisprudence.  In California’s 9th Circuit, the country’s most overturned court in the nation, that might be unlikely. With Judge Kavanaugh confirmed, it will be a comfort to know that the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority will seek to rule in accordance with the Constitution, not their personal ideology.

We encourage every Christian to call your two U.S. Senators and ask for a swift confirmation for Judge Kavanaugh.

Your Prayers Were Heard…All the Way to the U.S. Supreme Court!

There’s so much good to report!

At Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing about free speech, life, and religious liberty, the question was whether a law passed in California could force pro-life clinics and crisis pregnancy centers to advertise for the state’s free abortion program… in up to 13 languages, no less!

Although a lawsuit to stop the statute was struck down by the Ninth Circuit, you may recall back in October 2017, Tyler & Bursch’s pro bono attorneys, with funding from Advocates for Faith & Freedom, prevailed against this law on Free Speech grounds in Riverside County Superior Court in Scharpen Foundation v. Kamala Harris.

Still, California’s Attorney General persisted on defending this discriminatory law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where non-profit legal defense law firms from across the country took the lead.  Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s research and amicus brief played a significant role in its opposition and was mentioned by three Justices at Tuesday’s hearing.

According to the Daily Signal, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked whether an unlicensed center ran a billboard that read “Choose Life,” would it have to include the disclosure in the same font and in multiple languages? Wouldn’t that be an undue burden?”

A Courthouse News Service article quoted both Justice Alito and Justice Gorsuch.  “If you have a law that’s neutral on its face, but… when you apply all the exemptions, what you’re left with is a very strange pattern, and, gee, it turns out that just about the only clinics that are covered by this [law] are pro-life clinics,” Alito said. “Do you think it’s possible to infer intentional discrimination in that situation?”

While Justice Neil Gorsuch commented that the California law required pregnancy centers to “do the state’s job” at a significant cost to what Advocates for Faith & Freedom’sresearch set out to prove, are mostly nonprofit, pro-life facilities. “Well, but if you’re trying to educate a class of persons about their rights, it’s pretty unusual to force a private speaker to do that for you under the First Amendment,” Gorsuch said.

Commenting right after leaving the Supreme Court hearing with our client, Scott Scharpen, Tyler & Bursch attorney, Robert Tyler was optimistic, saying, “Based on the arguments, it certainly appears that victory is awaiting!”

Unlike Planned Parenthood, non-profit crisis pregnancy centers exist to support women who face difficult or unplanned pregnancies and receive no money or support from the government.  It was apparent the Justices recognized the state’s majority pro-abortion lawmakers targeted these groups.

It was only through your prayers and financial support that Advocates was able to contribute the research and provide the pro bono legal services that we feel certain made a big difference in this case!

Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His
unfailing love from me. ~ Psalm 66:20 
(NLT)

Judicial Whirlwind is a Positive Sign for 2018 and Beyond…

Whew!! 2017 has been a whirlwind of activity with President Trump winding down his inaugural year in office. Lost behind many of the sensational headlines and storylines has been a record-setting year of judicial appointments that will help to shape our culture not only in 2018 and into the 2020 mid-terms, but also for years to come. The future looks bright for those of us who embrace our God-ordained religious freedoms.

Making good on one of his central campaign promises, President Trump has already seen 12 of his federal appeals court nominations, a record for first-year presidential appointments. The previous record was 11 by Presidents Kennedy and Nixon. The conservative nominees all solidly embrace the U.S. Constitution; no revisionists among them. In addition to their conservative philosophies, many of Trump’s appointments are young enough that their influence will be entrenched in American law for decades to come!

But even though the president has been operating at a record pace, there is still a tremendous backlog of judicial vacancies.

Many of Trump’s nominations are being held up by Democrats who are trying to obstruct his presidential prerogative to appoint judges. Such is the case in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court, which governs the western

U.S. The 9th Circuit, the most liberal—and overturned appellate court in the country—has four vacancies (three of which have been vacant a year, the fourth for two years) with two more coming in 2018. The vacancies include a seat in California, as well as Arizona, Hawaii, and Oregon.

Despite the desperate need to fill those seats, Trump’s nomination to fill the Oregon seat has been stalled by politics. The highly qualified nominee, Ryan Bounds, has been awaiting confirmation for three months while Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley try to use procedural grounds to block the appointment.

In addition to the appeals court, federal district courts in California (the central and southern divisions), have seven existing vacancies, with one more coming Dec. 31. Nominees have yet to be named to those positions. We believe the make-up of the nation’s district courts is absolutely critical because they hear roughly 60,000 cases annually. In addition, nominees to the appellate court are often culled from the ranks of the district courts.

Although there are no current vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court—thanks to Neil Gorsuch’s April confirmation—most experts anticipate that Trump may have the opportunity to appoint at least two justices with the long rumored-retirements of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal, and Anthony Kennedy, a moderate who frequently casts the tie-breaking vote.

The judicial composition of these courts is particularly crucial in California where the legislature is overwhelmingly liberal. Often the only recourse we have in protecting religious liberties is through the court system, which has systematically eroded to the left. As a result, the greatest legacy of the Trump Administration could be his efforts to remake the courts.

As we head into 2018 with a watchful eye toward promising judicial appointments, Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s attorneys are diligently working on several court cases that have significant ramifications for religious freedom:

The Scharpen Foundation v. Kamala Harris against CA AB775 
In October, Advocates’ attorneys successfully argued before a Riverside County Superior Court Judge that California’s Reproductive FACT Act infringes on constitutional free speech by compelling pregnancy care centers to engage in speech that is contrary to their spiritual beliefs. The state will likely appeal.

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear this sister case to Scharpen.  We are working closely with NIFLA’S lead counsel because of valuable research we uncovered during our preparations on the Sharpen suit. That information will likely influence the High Court.

Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship v. Riverside County 
Our client maintains the city of Temecula violated federal law (RLUIPA) by denying the church’s permit to expand its existing facility on its own land within the wine country. Earlier this month we filed our notice of appeal to the 9th Circuit.

We have also supported several other high profile lawsuits by filing Amicus Briefs:
Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
Colorado baker Jack Phillips is being sued for discrimination for refusing to decorate a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on December 5. Our brief is filed on behalf of a notable constitutional law school professor.
Arlene’s Flowers v.  State of Washington 
Similarly, flower shop owner Barronelle Stutzman declined to create floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex wedding.  Stutzman lost her case in Washington. Our brief is filed on behalf of a notable constitutional law school professor.
California, et al. v. Hargan, et al.  
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is challenging to overturn President Trump’s executive order partially removingObama-era mandate that all insurance policies cover contraceptives. Trump’s order exempts employers who object on religious grounds.  Our brief is filed on behalf of American Center for Law and Justice.

When you consider your year-end or year-round charitable giving, please remember Advocates for Faith & Freedom with a tax-deductible donation.

While we remain grateful that your faithful prayers continue to encourage us through these court battles, without your financial generosity, we would not be able to continue to work on pro bono cases that uphold our Christian beliefs.

Happy New Year & God bless you,

Robert Tyler
General Counsel

Another Case Involving Compelled Speech…This Time in the U.S. Supreme Court

 Yesterday, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission–the well-known case between a same-sex couple and a Colorado bakery owner–was heard in the U. S. Supreme Court.

In her first case before the High Court, Kristen Waggoner, Senior Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom defended the Colorado baker’s constitutional right not to be forced by the government to create a custom-designed cake in celebration of a same-sex marriage–that promoting this sentiment through his creative work violates his traditional Christian faith.

This case not only affects religious libertiesit effects all freedom of expression!

As Advocates for Faith & Freedom learned in our victory in the Scharpen case against California’s Reproductive FACT Act, the freedom NOT TO be forced to speak should be just as protected by our government as the freedom TO be allowed to speak.

“The Supreme Court has never compelled artistic expression, and doing so here would lead to less civility, diversity, and freedom for everyone, no matter their views on marriage,” said Waggoner.

And many Americans seem to agree, because while Advocates for Faith & Freedom and other religious organizations filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Jack Phillips’ religious liberties, several others who actually support same-sex marriage realize the danger of a government that forces speech and also filed briefs in support of Phillips’ right to decline the customer’s order.

‘My bakery, my family, my life, the work I get to do, is a gift from God and I want to honor Him in everything I do,” says Phillips.

However, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is arguing that Phillips’ refusal to decorate the wedding cake demonstrated sex discrimination and intolerance–and since, with many of the cases before the high court these days, the decision may come down to the opinion of one moderate judge–all ears were on the questions and comments of Justice Kennedy.

Comments like this from 81-year-old Kennedy give us hope for a ruling in favor of fairness and equality:  “It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs.  

“My hope is that the court will use this case as an opportunity to say, ‘We’re protecting the liberty of both sides,” said Waggoner.

We pray that the High Court heard the oral arguments for freedom of expression with clarity and validity. We also pray that the arguments were received by the justices without bias and through His wisdom.

Advocates for Faith & Freedom would like to thank all our supporters for their ongoing prayers and tax-deductible donations which allow our attorneys to continue their pro bono work defending life and religious liberty cases like Jack Phillips’ in the courts!

Outstanding Supreme Court Pick

President Donald Trump has made good on a campaign promise to Evangelical Christians when he announced on Jan. 31st that Judge Neil Gorsuch is his choice to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many conservative court watchers see Judge Neil Gorsuch, who serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, as a solid replacement for the late Antonin Scalia Read More

A “Legalcy” of Conservatism

in Advocates in Action, Blog, U.S. Supreme Court 0 Comments

Last week America said goodbye to one of its most influential—and provocative—conservative legal voices with the sudden passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. He was 79 when he died of what authorities are calling natural causes while on a trip to Texas.

Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Scalia was known as a staunch defender of the U.S. Constitution, earning him the label Read More

Victory for Hobby Lobby

in Blog, U.S. Supreme Court 0 Comments

Hobby Lobby Wins!liberty

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage in conflict with their beliefs. The decision was issued in a 5-4 ruling Monday morning. The enormous forty-nine page majority opinion was written by Justice Alito, with Justice Kennedy writing a four page concurrence. Justice Ginsburg was joined in her dissent by Justice Sotomayor, with Justices Breyer and Kagan each filing their own dissenting opinions. Read More

US Supreme Court Upholds Prayer

This week, the United States Supreme Court issued a great ruling in favor of religious liberty. The court ruled that legislative bodies may begin their meetings with prayer, even if the prayer is Christian in nature or directed toward a specific deity.Prayer

In the 5-4 decision, Justice Kennedy wrote, “Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government.” Read More

How Hobby Lobby and Others are Taking a Stand for Religious Liberty

Yesterday, March 25, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases challenging the religious liberty issues at stake with the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare): Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. andConestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.

          What are these important cases about?
Religious Liberty in the Courts
Obamacare requires that businesses provide health care for their employees, and that health care must include coverage for all contraceptives, at no cost to the employees. Read More