Lawyers from Americans United for Separation of Church and State are warning public officials in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. that extensive preparation at taxpayers' expense for Pope Francis' visit later this month is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Quoting an appeals court ruling, such aid is the type of "specific evil" the First Amendment "was designed to prevent," the group said.
The organization, which advocates for a strict separation view of the religious freedom clauses of the First Amendment, sent a letter to the mayors of the respective cities and the heads of the Secret Service, National Park Service and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority on Monday "to provide guidance on the constitutional limitations on governmental support of and involvement with the papal visit."
"Specifically, government bodies must not provide any aid to a Pope's religious activities that goes beyond the provision of services — such as police, safety, and security — that are regularly given for comparable public events of a similar size," states the letter, which was signed by the group's legal director Alex Luchenitser and legal fellow John McGinnis. more >>
It's that time again when adults take off to celebrate Labor Day, and kids head back to the adventures a new school year. But for millions of children worldwide the adventures of a new school year remain but a dream. Sadly, these children will never learn to read or write. They will not acquire computer skills. They will not experience singing in chorus, going on field trips, or playing at recess. Their classrooms will be sweatshops, farm fields, and battlefields. Their days will be filled with long, dirty, dangerous work. And the lessons they will learn are that life is cruel and unfair.
According to the International Labor Organization's latest report "Global child labor trends 2008 to 2012," approximately 168 million children aged 5-17 were involved in child labor — that is, labor not in legal accordance with ILO Conventions — in 2012.
Following the nationwide Planned Parenthood protests two Saturdays ago, I looked over as many photos of the events as I could find. Most images were from protesters themselves, published on social media. Some were from friends of mine; most were not.
Each of the protests pictured — from east coast to west coast, north to south, and cities in between — had this in common: they were attended overwhelmingly by White people. A rough estimate would be 95 percent. It might be low.
The Whiteness was glaring. A friend noted the same disparity at the Nashville protest even though the clinic sits in a predominantly Black residential area. (Even the photos in Mollie Hemingway's piece at The Federalist, clearly attempting to show diversity in the protesters, are predominantly White folks.) more >>
Even after a Monday rejection from the U.S. Supreme Court, a county clerk in Kentucky will still not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, calling the matter "a Heaven or Hell decision."
Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who refuses to grant licenses to gay couples over her religious objections, was denied an appeal in her legal action by the U.S. Supreme Court.
When same-sex couple David Ermold and David Moore went to Davis' office Tuesday for a marriage license, Davis turned them away. (Video of the confrontation was posted at The New York Times.) When Davis is asked what authority she has to deny the couple a marriage license, she replied, "under God's authority." more >>
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a statue of Jesus Christ located on a mountaintop memorial to World War II veterans is constitutional.
In a Monday decision, the judges upheld a district court ruling that allowed for "Big Mountain Jesus" to remain at Flathead National Forest near Kalispell, Montana.
The judges concluded that while the 60-year-old statue did have a religious appearance, the display has some purposes that are secular in nature. more >>
Democratic presidential candidates Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders believe that the Democratic party leadership has created a debate schedule that is "rigged" to help Democratic frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton win the party's nomination.
While making a speech at the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting in Minneapolis last Friday, O'Malley, the 52-year-old former Maryland governor and former Baltimore mayor, lambasted party leadership in front of DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., for scheduling "four debates and four debates only" before the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1 of next year.
Although the DNC has scheduled six official debates total during the 2016 primary election season, the same amount that the party scheduled in 2004 and 2008, the party has cracked down on unofficial debates. According to the Wall Street Journal, there were 10 unofficial Democratic debates before the Iowa Caucuses in 2008, but the 2016 Democratic candidates have yet to participate in a single debate. more >>