On Monday, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an important Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court’s four liberal Justices in the decision despite the fact that he ruled opposite in a near-identical case just four years ago.
The Court’s decision in June Medical Services v. Russo represents a significant blow to states’ rights and women’s safety. The Louisiana law in question was enacted to protect women from the abortion industry and its barbaric history of botched abortions by requiring abortion providers – like doctors at all free-standing clinics – to be able to admit and treat patients at nearby hospitals if emergencies arise. This common-sense bill was sponsored by Democratic State Representative Katrina Jackson; it received overwhelming bipartisan support for the Louisiana House and Senate; and it was signed into law by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal.
Though Chief Justice Roberts recently warned the Court against “second-guessing” the actions of “politically accountable officials of the States” (see South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom), he took the unfortunate step of not only “second-guessing” but overturning the actions of Louisiana’s duly elected Legislature and Executive. And just as troubling, he joined the Court’s liberal wing in prioritizing the abortion industry’s business interests over women’s health and safety.
Why should an abortion provider be held to lesser medical standards than other physicians?
Why should an abortion clinic be held to lesser facility standards than other clinics?
Why should abortion be the exception to quality standards of medical care?
Why should women be subjected to dangerous, medically substandard care?
All states have a compelling interest to regulate abortion providers and clinics in order to protect woman. We all know that the abortion industry consistently places profits over patients, and this week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an opportunity to terminate this conflict of interest – one which lines abortion providers’ pockets while forcing women to shoulder all risks of an abortion, even if abortion providers violate basic standards of care.
In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito opined: “Today’s decision claims new victims. The divided majority cannot agree on what the abortion right requires, but it nevertheless strikes down a Louisiana law, Act 620, that the legislature enacted for the asserted purpose of protecting women’s health.”
We agree with Justice Alito. This week, the Court did not simply create winners and losers – it claimed new victims. Women deserve better, not lesser standards of care. Women deserve fewer risks, not more. And lest we forget the other victims of abortion – children deserve life, not death.
Thus, we continue the fight. Are you with us?
If so, I want to personally invite you to support our efforts in New Mexico today by becoming a monthly Ministry Partner. Your recurring monthly gift of $25, $50, $100, or more will directly fund our grassroots work to impact public policy and mobilize Christians for civic engagement. Or, if you prefer, you can also make a one-time gift of $100, $250, or $500 by clicking here.
With every setback comes an opportunity, and with your support and participation, we are well on our way to fostering a state and nation where life is cherished!
President & Executive Director
There hasn’t been much good news from the Supreme Court lately, but today we’re happy to share a good opinion from our nation’s high Court. Today, five of the Court’s nine justices decided that parents should be free to choose the best education for their children—and that includes education in private, faith-based schools.
The Court’s decision today is a win for parents, for religious freedom, and most importantly—for children. We believe that children win when their parents can choose the best education for each child, and that no government should place limitations on a child’s future because of her zip code or her family’s income.
And, today’s decision is a beautiful story of how families and godly values advance when we—the family of believers—unleash our citizenship to see government work for the people.
Please let me share that story with you. I believe it’s an important one for every believer who cares about this country to know.
In 2015, good legislators in the state of Montana passed into law a tax-credit scholarship program designed to help low-income families, especially single mothers, send their children to the best schools for them—including private faith-based schools. The law was written by our friends at Montana Family Foundation.
Then things started to go wrong. The Montana Department of Revenue issued a rule saying that children receiving the scholarships could not use them at faith-based schools. So, three mothers who believed their children would be better off at faith-based schools filed a lawsuit. Sadly, the Montana Supreme Court issued an opinion in 2018, stating that it believed Montana’s Constitution allows the state government to discriminate against faith-based schools based on a provision historically used to prohibit government funds from going to faith-based schools (also known as a “Blaine Amendment”), and it struck down Montana’s good scholarship program.
What’s worse is that many states have “Blaine Amendments” in their Constitutions, and these Amendments were discriminatory in nature from their very beginning. They started out in the 1870’s as a way to keep Catholic influence out of the largely Protestant public schools during a time of high anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant bias in America. Obviously, the Blaine Amendments are old dinosaurs in the law based on interdenominational conflicts that need to go extinct.
As the conflict over Montana’s scholarship program reached the Supreme Court, the Montana Family Foundation, which represents family values in the state, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case defending the law on behalf of Montana’s families.
Family Policy Alliance and the state family policy councils also worked to gather state lawmakers to file another friend-of-the-court brief in the case to show the Supreme Court that good lawmakers in other states also want to advance options for education choice for families. In fact, many lawmakers who are alumni of Family Policy Foundation’s Statesmen Academy signed onto this brief!
And now today, the Supreme Court declared that families in Montana should be free to choose the education that best suits their children—including in faith-based schools, that the old Blaine Amendment used to invalidate the scholarship program is bigoted and discriminatory, and that faith-based schools can’t be disqualified from a school choice program just because they are faith-based.
President Trump, who supports school choice for children as a civil rights issue, also issued a statement today in support of the Court’s decision, saying “no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school.”
Today’s decision is a celebration of how children are the real winners when believers work to elect state lawmakers who support their values, those state lawmakers pass good laws, citizens and lawmakers join together to defend those good laws, the nation’s high Court applies our constitutional religious freedom protections correctly, and our President supports the values we hold dear.
This is a win for biblical citizenship in action, for your faithful partnership in supporting the mission of Family Policy Alliance to advance your values in both public policy and elections, and—most importantly—for children who deserve the best foundation we can give them as they seek out God’s calling on their lives.
For our children,
Vice President of Strategy
As you know, Family Policy Alliance works to pass pro-life laws throughout the nation. But often those victories are blocked in the courts. That’s why your prayers are urgently needed this week.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Louisiana abortion case, June Medical Services v. Russo.
At stake, on the surface of this case, is whether state governments can regulate the safety of abortion clinics. That issue alone is critical, as the nation saw with the infamous Philadelphia abortionist, Kermit Gosnell, who treated women as merely commodities to be exploited.
The need for abortion safety regulations was manifest in Louisiana as well, from abortion clinics failing to sterilize medical instruments between procedures to a failure to report statutory rapes, and much more.
But this case has potential to go beyond the vital safety issues. It could, depending on how the justices rule, open a door to greater protections for preborn babies, as challenges to other pro-life laws make their way toward the Court.
Please pray for clarity and effective communication for those presenting the pro-life arguments to the Court. And pray that the justices will be moved to protect the victims of the abortion industry – both the women and the babies.
The Family Policy Alliance Team
Family Policy Alliance is proud to work alongside Texas Values, one of our 40 state-based allies.
In the only case of its kind, and in a major victory for Texas Values and Houston taxpayers, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the City of Houston’s request to review whether Houston taxpayers may challenge the city’s policy of providing spousal benefits to the homosexual partners of city employees.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Houston taxpayers Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks may proceed with their lawsuit challenging the city’s policy, and the high court’s action leaves the state supreme court’s ruling in place.
2017 will go down in history as quite a year. We experienced the first year of the Trump presidency; the largest mass shooting in American history in Las Vegas; revelations of sexual assault bringing down leaders in sports, media, and politics; increasing tensions with North Korea; destructive hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; and even a total solar eclipse. In Kansas, 2017 brought us near the end of Governor Brownback’s tenure, major shifts in the legislature leading to historic tax increases and the end of the run for the core Royals’ 2015 World Series team…the fate of the Chiefs remains to be determined.
Here are three things to look for in 2018:
- Decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop. Colorado baker Jack Phillips’ case is widely considered to be the most important decision on free speech in decades. It will have far-reaching implications for people of faith and their right to express their beliefs through their work. The decision is likely to be announced in late June.
- 2018 Elections. The 2018 election cycle was supposed to be an opportunity for Republicans to pick up seats in the U.S. Senate, but special elections in Virginia and Alabama suggest otherwise. House Republicans may be in an even tougher spot. Kansas will host several key elections, including competitive races in the 2nd and 3rd congressional districts and for Governor. No party has retained the governorship for more than 8 consecutive years in more than 50 years.
- Legislative Battles in Kansas. With elections looming, the Kansas legislature will be fighting over high-profile issues like the Kansas Supreme Court decision on abortion, demands for more money for public schools, and Medicaid expansion. Of course, Family Policy Alliance of Kansas has our own legislative agenda, highlighted by a bill to ensure protections for faith-based adoption and foster care providers.
Thank you for partnering with us in 2017. I’m excited to continue working together to advance life, family, and religious freedom in 2018!
President & Executive Director
Could you lose everything simply for standing up for your faith?
In today’s America, yes you could. That’s why concerned Christians are eagerly watching the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case to determine how the Supreme Court will treat Jack Phillips, a Christian baker who is under attack for his conviction to not use his God-given talents to assist in a God-defying gay marriage.
A win would be a tremendous blessing for Jack, artists like him everywhere, and for Christians hoping the Supreme Court upholds rights of conscience. We are thankful for Jack, and for the faithful attorneys who defend him.
But, here’s the sad truth: a win for Jack will ultimately do little to reverse what is happening in our culture.
Consider a recent PEW poll that says only 32% of Americans believe in God’s design of marriage- one man and one woman. Among Millennials, support for gay marriage has reached 75%. Just go into any church youth group, and you will be stunned at the responses you get when you ask the kids about their views on homosexuality and transgenderism.
So how do we have hope in these times?
First, we fix our eyes on the Lord who calls us to be faithful, promises a reward for that faithfulness, and also warns us not to be surprised by the hostility in this, our temporary home. Second, we work to network, leverage, and empower God’s Church and the Christian business community – groups that have grown silent, frustrated, and isolated. Third, we work to elect good and godly leaders who will pass good legislation and have boldness to speak out into culture.
That’s what we do!
In order to have a Georgia where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished, we have to embrace this multi-faceted approach. With religious freedom battles raging here in Atlanta, and Amazon rumored to be coming to Atlanta under assurances the First Amendment rights will not be protected for everyone here in the state, the time is now to act with extreme urgency.
This week, I’m praying for Jack and all those like him who place Christ over their business. I’m praying for our allies at Alliance Defending Freedom and all who have worked to bring this matter before the Supreme Court. I’m also praying for our culture, that we may one day, once again, have a nation and a Georgia where the Jacks of the world never have to fear, never are threatened, and never spend a day in Court. I ask you to join me in these prayers, to pray for our work in identifying the next leaders of our state, and to consider supporting those efforts.
Hopefully and earnestly praying,
President and Executive Director
Photo courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom
By Autumn Leva, Director of Policy & Communications
Jack is a small business owner from Colorado. He’s a cake artist who has loved art all his life. And, he’s a Christian who wants to live out his faith in the way he runs his business—and every aspect of his life. You could be Jack. I could be Jack.
Today, Jack is at the Supreme Court defending his freedom and faith, and the decision in his case will likely be the most anticipated Court ruling in the summer of 2018—similar to the ruling on Obamacare in 2012, the Hobby Lobby religious freedom case in 2014, and the decision on same-sex marriage in the Obergefell case in 2015.
Jack has been defending these rights ever since he told a same-sex couple he couldn’t design their wedding cake. The couple filed a complaint against him with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, forcing Jack to defend his faith, freedom, art and family business in a long legal battle.
But, what most people don’t know about this case is why Jack is in Court in the first place.
Here are the top 3 reasons:
- Colorado’s Legislators Passed a Bad Law.
The law putting at risk Jack’s religious and artistic freedom was passed by Colorado legislators in 2008. Simply put, the law adds the classifications of “Sexual Orientation” and “Gender Identity” to the state’s civil rights code, giving those classifications the same level of protection as race, disability, and national origin. This is often called a “SOGI” law.
When Colorado legislators were debating this law, they received lots of warnings from groups like Focus on the Family and Family Policy Alliance (under its former name, Focus on the Family Action) that the law would harm freedom for all Coloradans. But, the majority of Colorado legislators and then-Governor Ritter decided to sacrifice religious and artistic freedom for the sake of a progressive agenda—harming family businesses like Jack’s.
- Colorado’s Liberal Civil Rights Commission Failed to Protect Religious & Artistic Freedom.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission determined that Jack’s decision to follow his conscience by not designing a same-sex wedding cake was unlawful, even though a person’s “religion” is a protected classification in Colorado, freedom of religion and expression are protected in the Colorado Constitution, and freedom of religion and expression are protected in the United States Constitution.
The liberal Commission ordered Jack to design all wedding cakes (or stop designing them altogether, losing 40% of his business), to educate his staff that living by his beliefs was wrong, and to report to the state government every time he declined a business order for a cake.
Does this seem outrageous to you? The Colorado Civil Rights Commissions, like similar bodies in most states, is made up of members who aren’t even elected by you –the voters—yet they have the power to pick and choose which civil rights to protect (or fail to protect), to require business owners to “educate” their employees on how living out their faith is wrong, and to dictate even which cake orders to fill.
- Colorado’s Legislators Didn’t Protect Jack.
Colorado legislators could’ve passed a law to protect Jack—and other business owners and artists in the state like him. They’ve had an opportunity every year since the SOGI law passed in 2008 to clarify that religious and artistic freedom are protected in Colorado.
In fact, that’s what they should be doing, rather than standing by while family businesses are harmed in the state. The legislative body is charged with making laws—not the judiciary. Using their law-making power (and taxpayer resources) to protect freedom should be lawmakers’ top priority.
Instead, Jack was forced to turn to the courts to protect his freedom through a long legal process where nine Justices, primarily Justice Kennedy, will decide how he can run his business in his state.
And here’s why Jack’s story matters to every family:
Maybe you’re thinking: Yes, I could be Jack, but my state would never do what Colorado did.
Check out our map below.
- States in blue are states with laws already in effect similar to the law that harmed Jack.
- States in red are states where liberal activists would love to pass a SOGI law and claim a victory in 2018. In fact, in many of those states, a SOGI bill like the one that harmed Jack was introduced at the Capitol this year!
In other words, if you live in a state marked in blue or red, you or your loved ones could face a situation similar to Jack’s because of your faith.
And what about Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission with unelected members who aren’t accountable to the public? Yes, most states have a similar administrative body, and they almost always lean liberal—meaning they’ll tend to favor a liberal agenda over protecting religious and artistic freedoms.
With liberal activists fighting hard to influence state lawmakers and administrative bodies like Civil Rights Commissions, families in most states may see their lawmakers passing bad laws or failing to protect freedom and families.
So what can we do about it together?
My team and I at Family Policy Alliance don’t believe you, me, Jack, or anyone else should have to go to court to protect their freedoms. The first stop for protecting freedom should always be with the people we elect to represent us and pass good laws—whether at the local school board level, in the state government, or at the U.S. Capitol in D.C.
So, we invite you to partner with us as we work with our state allies in 2018 to (1) advocate for legislators to pass good laws that protect freedom for people like you, me and Jack when most state legislatures get back to business in January; and (2) elect the right people who will pass good laws that protect freedom in November.
You can help in two ways right now.
- Know your state & work together!
We work hard to know what’s going on in each state that will impact freedom and your family. We’re making more maps like the one above to help you know where your state is at on each issue, and we work with our local ally in your state. But, we can’t send you special alerts about your state and if your legislators are trying to pass a SOGI law like the one that harmed Jack without knowing your district. Please take a moment to enter your zip code. And, passing laws that protect freedom and holding legislators accountable for the laws they pass needs the help of the whole Body of Christ. Please encourage your friends in your state (or in other states) to know their own state & enter their zip codes as well.
- Prepare for 2018!
As we prepare for 2018, please support Family Policy Alliance with a year-end gift! Your partnership will equip families to understand each state’s laws and hold each state’s lawmakers accountable for protecting freedom. Thank you in advance!
Last week, I wrote about our daughter’s 18th birthday, a landmark event in her life. However, this week we celebrated another birthday – mine. This year, I turned a number greater than 50 – and that’s all I’m going to say about that. However, when you get to my age, you often reflect on the many changes that have happened since you were born.
Aside from the more common life changes (school, marriage, children, etc.), I got thinking about some key court decisions regarding religious freedom, family and life issues – Rulings that have happened just in my lifetime.
Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973. The Supreme Court struck down voluntary school prayer in 1985. Christian groups on campus were told by the courts in 2010 that they could no longer specify that their leaders to be Christian. The Vermont Supreme Court took the first step toward legalizing same-sex marriage in 1999, followed by Massachusetts in 2004, and the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. And the list goes on.
There have been wins along the way, as well. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Christian student clubs meeting at public schools. And just three years ago in the Hobby Lobby case, the high court said closely held businesses could reflect the Christian beliefs of their owners and not be forced to include abortion-causing drugs in employee health-care plans under Obamacare.
These decisions, along with many others, have shaped our country for better or worse, but they also underscore that what happens in the policy and judicial area impacts all of us.
So, what does this mean for you and your duty to exercise biblical citizenship? First, we all need to be informed. Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota takes that responsibility seriously, and we are committed to keeping you informed on landmark policy issues as they arise.
Second, we need to be involved as individuals. When it’s time to vote, we need to make God-honoring decisions in the polling booth. Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota has resources that can help in making these critical choices. In addition to voting, we also need to stay in touch with our lawmakers here in North Dakota and in Congress to make sure our voice is heard on important issues.
Finally, we need to work together as a movement to effect change. Creating a movement of like-minded Christians that exercise our faith in the public arena is a key component of what we at Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota are striving to achieve.
Won’t you consider helping us accomplish these critical goals? We must do this together to be successful! Thank you for your commitment to shape our country and state into one based on Christian principles.
Family Policy Alliance is proud to work alongside David Fowler and Family Action Council of Tennessee, one of our 40 state-based allies.
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled on a decision you may not have even heard about. Without even analyzing the law at hand, the Court decided that two lesbian women could both be considered “mothers” for a child. Thankfully, Justice Gorsuch, who was newly appointed to the Court by President Trump, as well as conservative Justices Thomas and Alito, disagreed with this decision. Check out this article from our allies in Tennessee to learn more about the Court’s arrogant and flawed decision.
READ MORE at Family Action Council of Tennessee
Trinity Lutheran Child Learning Center simply wanted to make its facility safer for the children who use it. That’s why the center applied for a state grant to get recycled tire products to resurface the playground.
But the state of Missouri rejected the Columbia school’s application, saying it would violate the separation of church and state.
Now the case has made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where arguments were heard Wednesday.
“The safety of children on Christian pre-school playgrounds is not less important than the safety of children on other playgrounds,” said Joel Oster, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom. “Providing grants for recycled tires to create a safe environment for children is not a government promotion of any religious doctrine. In fact, both the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution prohibit this type of hostility to religion.”
Annette Kiehne is director of the Child Learning Center.
“We aren’t asking for special treatment,” she said on the steps of the Supreme Court after the hearing. “We are just asking to not be treated worse than everyone else. Whether you are a Jewish, Muslim, or Christian kid, or not religious at all, when you fall down on a playground, it hurts just as much at a religious preschool as it does at a non-religious one. We trust and pray that the Supreme Court will consider that carefully, and rule in favor of the safety of children everywhere.”
One of the key issues concerns the future of something called Blaine Amendments. These 19th century laws were designed to discriminate against Catholic schools and prevent money from going to them. Today that’s resulted in all Christian schools facing hurdles that other private schools do not.
“Family Policy Alliance believes that parents should be free to send their children to the school where they have the best chance of success,” said Policy Director Autumn Leva. “Blaine Amendments pose a serious barrier to that freedom. We will continue to work with our state-based allies to ensure that school funding is structured so that families are best able to send their children to the right school for them.”