On Tuesday, a federal appeals court dismissed the three-year long lawsuit of a Florida-based atheist group against the City of Lakeland, which was being accused of violating the U.S. Constitution's Establishment Clause by conducting prayers at the beginning of its City Commission meetings.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined Tuesday that the city and its mayor, Gow Fields, had not violated the Constitution, as argued by the Atheists of Florida organization, due to a 2010 policy implemented by the city which allows speakers of various denominations to deliver the opening prayer at the meetings.
"The selection procedures of the invocational speakers invited to deliver an invocation at Lakeland City Commission's meetings pursuant to policies and practices initiated informally in March 2010, which were codified with the passage of Resolution 4848 in August 2010, do not support the AOF's contention that Lakeland attempted to exploit the prayer opportunity to proselytize or advance or disparage any one faith or belief," Judge Arthur Alarcon of the Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel. more >>
Earlier this week, an Alabama federal judge dismissed the lawsuit of a major Catholic television network regarding the Obama administration's contraception mandate, determining that the rules of the mandate have not been finalized yet, and therefore the court could not make a proper judgment on the case.
Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of the U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Ala., ruled Monday that although the Eternal World Television Network [EWTN] has standing it its lawsuit because there exists a "real prospect of harm from a concrete regulatory mandate," she determined that she could not review the lawsuit because the Obama administration has promised to amend the mandate, and therefore it is not yet "ripe" for review.
"In this case, common sense weighs in favor of withholding judicial review until the new regulations are created and finalized. At that point, if EWTN still has objections, it may then file suit," Blackburn wrote in her opinion, according to AL.com. more >>
As the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this week in two cases involving gay marriage, some "friend of the court" briefs are asking the court to consider social science studies that supposedly confirm there is no difference in the well-being of children raised by gay couples and children raised by a mother and a father. Those studies, though, may be deeply flawed in their methodology and the conclusions drawn from their data.
"I think ... that there's substance to the point that sociological information is new. We have five years of information to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more," Justice Anthony Kennedy said during Tuesday's oral arguments for the case questioning the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, which denied same-sex couples the right to marry.
Kennedy could have been thinking about an amicus brief filed by Professor's Leon Kass and Harvey Mansfield. There is no scientific basis to make any conclusions about what gay marriage would do for children raised by gay parents or do for society at large, Kass and Mansfield argued. They, therefore, urged the justices to rule based upon the law, not science. more >>
I was recently confronted with what some believe is a shift in public opinion on the issue of traditional marriage. The 75 Republican operatives who signed on to a Supreme Court brief calling for a federal ban on state traditional marriage laws were used as the latest example. It is difficult enough to stand against advocates on the Left but it is downright painful to have to stand up to people you thought were on your side. In some cases, it feels like a betrayal.
Why am I surprised? Because the marriage issue does not break down neatly along party lines; this is not a Republican or Democrat issue. For instance, according to Associated Press exit polls in 2008, 70 percent of African-Americans who voted for Barack Obama as president in California also voted for Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. More than half of Hispanics, a group much coveted by both parties, also came down firmly on the side of traditional marriage.
The marriage issue is one of the most difficult issues to address for most people, including Concerned Women for America (CWA). It is emotional and deeply personal. It is much easier to advocate for issues like victims of sex trafficking, the sanctity of life, and the protection of victims of rape, fiscal restraint, or education. I personally find them much more rewarding. But CWA has always stood for truth, no matter who it offends, and we will continue to do so for marriage, no matter what happens at the Supreme Court. Same-sex marriage is not our only concern on the issue of marriage. High rates of divorce, unwed childbearing, and cohabitation are just a few issues devastating American families and children. We should rebuild and restore marriage, not redefine it. If we redefine marriage, then where will it end? We have already seen Hollywood embrace the idea of polygamy, a la Sister Wives. And abroad in Brazil, trio same-sex unions are legally recognized. more >>
The U.S. Supreme Court appears more likely to overturn part of the Defense of Marriage Act after oral arguments in a case challenging the law's constitutionality.
The Court is "80% likely to strike down" DOMA because Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is expected to be the swing vote in the case, "suggests it violated states' rights," Scotusblog tweeted after Wednesday's oral arguments.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin agreed. more >>
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments Wednesday for a case challenging the constitutionality of the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal laws.
In the case, United States vs. Windsor, Edith Windsor sued the federal government, claiming that DOMA violated her constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law. Windsor married her same-sex partner, Thea Spyer, in Canada. When Spyer passed away, she left her estate to Windsor, who then had to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes. She would not have had to pay those taxes if the federal government recognized her marriage.
Since President Barack Obama will no longer defend DOMA in court, the law will be defended by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which was appointed by the House of Representatives. It will argue that no right to marriage for same-sex couples can be found in the Constitution. more >>