"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

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, who died nearly a year ago. One of Gorsuch’s highest profile rulings was in favor of Hobby Lobby, which successfully sued the Obama neil-gorsuchadministration over its birth control mandate for health care coverage.

“I thank God that if confirmed, this administration will have delivered on one of its most critical campaign promises—to appoint a judge in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and the original intent of its framers,” Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said in a statement.

Southern California pastor, Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship, also praised the pick.

“Judge Gorsuch will have big shoes to fill in replacing the late and revered Justice Antonin Scalia,” Laurie said. “As Jefferson so eloquently reminded us, the God who gave us life gave us liberty. So, I pray Judge Gorsuch never forgets to value each and every American as our Maker does.”

The Supreme Court announcement was Trump’s third major pro-life action since his inauguration. During his first week in office, Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which bans federal funding for any foreign non-governmental organization that offers referrals for abortions. The Trump administration also signaled its strong support for human life by sending Vice President Mike Pence to speak at the Jan. 27th March for Life in Washington D.C. Vice President Pence was the highest ranking federal official to ever attend the annual prolife march.

Victory for Hobby Lobby

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.

The major question in the case was whether a corporation would have protection under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). According to the Supreme Court, yes they do. The Court held that closely held corporations are "persons" for purposes of RFRA. This means that RFRA gives protection not only to individuals, but also to closely held corporations. A closely held corporation is a private corporation with limited shareholders, usually family members or other close associates. RFRA is a federal statute that only applies to actions of the federal government and does not apply to the state.

“This case will have a substantial and beneficial impact upon a current case we are defending where a private corporation in California is being sued by former employer for alleged religious discrimination.” Robert Tyler, General Counsel, said “We have been awaiting this decision and are looking forward to applying this decision to protect religious freedom in the future.”

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.”

This case concerned the city of Greece, NY, and its City Council meetings, which begin with a prayer. Most often, that prayer is a Christian one. The opposition argued that these prayers violated the First Amendment, which prohibits the establishment of a specific religion, because they did not seek out a more diverse group of prayer leaders. The majority ruled that the City Council prayers did not violate this law, because the Council did not coerce all attendees to participate in the prayer, and they did not offer any benefits to those who did participate.

We celebrate this victory for prayer, handed down by the highest Court in our Nation!

Join our discussion on Facebook and Twitter, and let us know what you think of this decision.

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.

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties have stated that they don’t have a problem covering most forms of birth control for their employees, but their religious beliefs do not support the use of emergency contraceptives meant for use after conception because they believe that the result of these emergency contraceptives is an abortion.

The question that these companies are presenting to the court is – do for-profit businesses have the right to exercise the religious beliefs of their owners in the workplace?   At issue in the Hobby Lobby case is whether a federal law passed in 1993 called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects Hobby Lobby from being forced to pay for emergency contraception.

At issue in the Conestoga case is whether the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the company from being forced to pay for emergency contraception.

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties are joined by at least 45 other for-profit companies that have brought cases to trial regarding the contraception mandate of Obamacare.  In addition, there are separate cases right now that focus on the rights of religiously-affiliated organizations and the mandate.

It will likely be a few months before we hear a decision from the Supreme Court in these cases.  In the meantime,please pray for the companies as they continue to stand up for religious liberty.

A Case at the Supreme Court

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case regarding compulsory prayer before governmental meetings. supreme_court_building The town of Greece, NY, decreed in 1999 that all town board meetings would begin with prayer.  The vast majority of clergy asked to lead the prayer are from Christian churches, which some say violates their First Amendment right to freedom of religion, since individuals have vastly different belief systems.

In addition, when the clergy accept the invitation to pray before the meetings, they are then acting on behalf of the government.  Some argue that this crosses the line between “separation of church and state.”

What do you think?  Do you think that compulsory prayer before governmental meetings should be done away with?  Do you think the town should have to simply provide prayer in a more inclusive way, honoring different belief systems?  Or, do you think they should be allowed to continue in the way they’ve conducted business for the past 10+ years?  Join the discussion on Facebook and let us know!

U.S. Supreme Court Puts a Stop to Students’ Rights Case

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in our case of student versus teacher.  Our client, Chad Farnan, was a sophomore in a high school Advanced Placement European History class, when he had to endure almost daily statements from his teacher that Chad argued were an unconstitutional attack on Christianity and religion, including the statement: “When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth.” A district court decided that one of the teacher’s statements was unconstitutional, as it expressed "an unequivocal belief that creationism is 'superstitious nonsense.’"  Both parties appealed this case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned the district court’s decision and declared that the teacher involved had qualified immunity – meaning that, since there was no clear precedent of a teacher being held liable for his or her statements expressing disapproval of religion, this teacher could not have known that his statements would be unconstitutional.

We then appealed this case to the U.S. Supreme Court, in hopes that they would reconsider the case and provide a final decision in this landmark, precedent-setting case.  However, they have decided not to hear our appeal.

We are disappointed that the highest Court in our nation will not hear this important case, and we agree with Douglas Laycock, a constitutional scholar at the University of Virginia School of Law, who was quoted last year in the Orange County Register:

"They can't hold the teacher liable because the law was not clearly settled. Because they can't hold him liable, the law will never become clear on what teachers can say in class."

Please join us in prayer as we continue to work in defense of the religious and individual freedoms of our students!

This information is provided by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a non-profit religious law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts!  To help us in our ongoing battle for religious freedom, click here to donate to Advocates.

Victory in Supreme Court Church Case

In January, the freedom of religious institutions to choose their staff and ministers who best reflect the beliefs and values they hold dear was supported by the highest court in our country – the United States Supreme Court.

A teacher at a school run by the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church in Michigan was fired, and she told the school that she had consulted with an attorney and planned to fight back about her job termination.  However, the case went before the Supreme Court, who ruled that the teacher’s case would not move forward.

In the court’s decision, Chief Justice John Roberts asserted that the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment ensure that the government will not have a say in whom a religious organization hires or fires.  In his opinion, Roberts said:

“The Establishment Clause prevents the government from appointing ministers,” and the “Free Exercise Clause prevents it from interfering with the freedom of religious groups to select their own. ” 

Advocates celebrates the decision of the high court, which solidifies the liberties of churches and religious organizations to make decisions that will best serve their congregations and constituents – without fear of governmental interference. 

We have defended countless churches and religious institutions from unconstitutional intrusion by the government into their affairs.  If you, your church, or your religious organization encounter discrimination or violation of your religious freedoms, we are here to help!

This information is provided by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a non-profit religious law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts!  To help us in our ongoing battle for religious freedom, click here to donate to Advocates.