Whose Fault Is the Gaza Bloodshed? A Liberal Host and a Conservative Journalist Are Surprisingly In-Sync on the Answer.

It’s the question that brought a conservative journalist and a far-left TV host to agreement: who is to blame for the civilian deaths in Gaza?

“I see on the news every night lots of reports, and it’s very sad, we all feel horrible about them, of Palestinian civilians who are dying, including children,” said Bill Maher on his HBO show “Real Time” on Friday. ”Nobody seems to ask, ‘Whose fault is that mostly?’”

Maher laid the blame at the feet of Hamas.

“I feel terrible for a Palestinian child who dies,” Maher said, “but if it’s your father, your brother, your uncle who’s firing those rockets into Israel, who’s fault is it really? Do you really expect the Israelis not to retaliate?”

“I don’t think you can understand the conflict without reading Hamas’ charter,” chimed in Daily Caller senior editor Jamie Weinstein. “[The charter] calls for not only the destruction of Israel, but the murder of Jews generally.”

At multiple points, the audience cheered suggestions that Hamas was in the wrong, including when one panelist quoted conservative Charles Krauthammer’s piece which noted that the Israelis use missiles to protect their civilians, while Hamas uses civilians to protect their missiles.

“If the Hamas people had the opportunity, they would kill the maximum number of Israelis, which would be all [of them], and Israel has the opportunity to kill way more [Palestinians] and they do not,” Maher said.

“There’s no question that if Hamas, as you said, could, they would wipe Israel off the map,” Weinstein agreed.

Maher took things a step further, saying that the Israelis consistently triumph over Muslim adversaries because of a Jewish belief in science.

“Jews have, I think, 155 Nobel Prizes, Muslims have two,” he said. “That seems like kind of a big advantage for team Hebrew.”

US Border Crisis: Caring for Children Is Top Priority, Says Faith Leader Who Met With Obama, Perry in Dallas

One faith-based leader who met with President Barack Obama and Governor Rick Perry in Dallas Wednesday says the 10-person private meeting among local officials and faith leaders was productive in homing in on solutions that will meet the state’s most immediate needs in dealing with the border crisis.

Despite appeals from members of his own party to accept Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s invitation to tour the U.S,-Mexico border where the humanitarian and national security crisis is unfolding, Obama declined, opting instead to meet in Dallas before attending one of three Democratic fundraisers in the state.

“The purpose of the meeting was to find solutions in dealing with the border crisis in Texas,” Chris Liebrum, director of disaster recovery for the Texas Baptist Convention told The Christian Post Wednesday night.

“Our message and focus is on the children,” Liebrum added. “We need to care for the children who are here now — that was my message to the president. We have a big immigration problem that needs to be solved; and it’s the lack of a good immigration policy as to why this crisis, this disaster, has come about.”

Following Wednesday’s meeting, Obama held a brief news conference and suggested that there wouldn’t have been a border crisis had the House passed immigration reform last year.

“Why aren’t we passing comprehensive immigration reform which would put an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents and give us a lot of additional authorities to deal with some of these problems?” Obama asked. “That should’ve been done a year ago; it should’ve been done two years ago. It’s gotten caught up in politics.”

Obama emphasized, many times, that he’s asking Gov. Perry to pressure the “Texas delegation” and other border-state Republicans in Congress to approve $3.7 billion in supplemental emergency funding to help resolve the border crisis.

Perry, however, asserted on Fox News’ “Hannity” that less than 2 percent of those funds would go toward border security; and he continues to ask the president for 1,000 National Guard troops to patrol the border temporarily until 3,000 new Border Patrol agents are trained.

Perry testified before members of the U.S. Homeland Security Committee last Thursday in McAllen and explained that Texas only has seven Border Patrol agents per mile for its 1,200-mile border with Mexico; unlike California, New Mexico and Arizona, which have 17 agents per mile patrolling their southern border.

While politicians continue to debate solutions for resolving the border crisis, Liebrum told CP that the federal government has the responsibility to take care of the physical needs of the children who’ve entered the country illegally.

“The federal government has the responsibility, through a private contractor, to take care of the physical needs of these children — food, clothing, shelter, security, medical, all of that will be contracted out,” he said. “What they will want from nonprofits and NGOs is help with other activities.”

The terminology that the government is using regarding assistance faith-based organizations are providing is “socialization resources,” according to Liebrum, who said this includes sports and other physical activities, and non-sectarian, ecumenical services.

Christian nonprofit volunteers won’t be proselytizing to the children, Liebrum asserted, adding that many of the children “come from religious backgrounds.”

“Some of the shelters are being told that they’re responding to those kinds of (religious) activities,” he continued. “There can be other things, too, that faith-based organizations can do, depending on what the contractor needs.”

When asked by CP if the faith-based communities represented at the meeting had formed a consensus on whether or not the children should be deported or allowed to stay in the U.S., he said they had not.

Other issues discussed in the meeting dealt with solutions to “shortcut the processing of the children, because it’s taking too long,” Liebrum said.

“There was a discussion about how to handle children who have physical and medical needs. And suggestions about what we could do in these countries to keep them from coming — in a positive way. Instead of spending billions of dollars here, what could happen if we spent that kind of money and created an atmosphere that would keep them from coming, in the sense that they would have what they need there. Those are some of the discussion points. But a lot of it was about the problem at hand in Texas and what we do now,” Liebrum explained.

Liebrum added that the meeting was cordial; and while there were political differences among the group, “they were dealt with by both parties with great respect.” He also noted that Obama and Perry had the opportunity to meet privately for 15 minutes and talk in a separate room before meeting with faith leaders and local officials.

Those who attend the border crisis meeting at Love Field Airport in Dallas include: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings; Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (R-Texas); Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen; Chris Liebrum of the Baptist General Convention; Arne Nelson of Catholic Charities; Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia; Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins; Texas Health and Human Services Director Kyle Janek; Texas Public Safety Director Steven McCraw; and the director of Baptist Child and Family services who has contracted with the shelter at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Gov. Perry has requested the following actions from President Obama:

Visit the Texas-Mexico border to witness firsthand the impact of the border crisis;

Deploy an additional 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border to immediately enhance border security operations;

Direct the Federal Aviation Administration to allow the National Guard to utilize Predator drones along the Texas-Mexico border for identifying and tracking human and drug trafficking;

Medically screen all illegal immigrants to ensure their health and the health of our citizens;

Direct the Centers for Disease Control or another appropriate federal agency outside the Department of Homeland Security to conduct, in conjunction with the Texas Department of State Health Services inspections of facilities in which illegal immigrants, including UACs, are being housed to ensure accepted international and national emergency sheltering standards are met;

Modify or rescind policies that serve as a magnet to encourage illegal immigration, including:

DHS Catch and Release policies by which DHS issues an illegal immigrant an NTA before an immigration judge and releases them. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 33 percent of those released on their own recognizance failed to appear in FY 2013.

Deportation policies and procedures that prohibit UACs from countries other than Mexico and Canada from being immediately repatriated back to their country of origin. After DHS processes these UACs, they are issued an NTA and delivered to a sponsor or relative in the United States, regardless of the relative’s immigration status.

Birthright citizenship is flatly unconstitutional

Because the current policy is that any child who is born here, even to an illegal alien, is automatically a citizen of the United States, pregnant illegal aliens by the thousands commit criminal trespass in order to give birth on U.S. soil. There is also a bustling business in birth tourism, where pregnant foreigners on tourist visas are hosted by a growing hospitality industry devoted to their comfort until the day of delivery – and U.S. citizenship – arrives.

All this has led to calls to amend our Constitution to bring this misguided and misdirected practice to an end.

But we do not need to amend the Constitution to fix this problem; a correct reading of the Constitution indicates that such children born on our soil are specifically excluded from citizenship.

The clause at issue is found in the 14th Amendment, which reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United Statesand subject to the jurisdiction thereofare citizens of the United States…”

A plain reading clearly indicates that birthright citizenship is granted only to those who are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States when they are born on American soil. Illegal aliens and their children, by definition, are not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. That’s why they can be deported. Their children are no more subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. than their parents are, and as little entitled to citizenship.

The “jurisdiction” clause was added to the 14th Amendment only after a lengthy debate. According to NumbersUSA, Sen. Jacob Howard of Michigan proposed the amendment because he wanted to make it clear that the simple accident of birth on U.S. soil was not in fact enough to confer citizenship.

Sen. Howard said the jurisdiction requirement is “simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already,” an apparent reference to the Civil Rights Act of 1866, about which more in a moment.

In his debate, Sen. Howard said, “[T]his will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States…”

The logic is inescapable. If the children of foreign diplomats, who are in this country legally, are not U.S. citizens by birth, how is it possible that children of illegal aliens could be?

The only Democrat to participate in the debate was Sen. Reverdy Johnson of Maryland. In debate, he said this about the meaning of this particular clause: “[A]ll persons born in the United Statesand not subject to some foreign Power– for that, no doubt, is the meaning of the committee who have brought the matter before — shall be considered as citizens of the United States.”

The 14th Amendment was passed in order to elevate the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to constitutionally protected status and insulate it from legal challenge. The CRA of 1866 has a virtually identical clause in it, which reads, “[A]ll persons born in the United Statesand not subject to any foreign power,excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.”

This makes it particularly clear, for the children of those in Indian tribes were born on U.S. soil, but were not considered citizens under the Civil Rights Act of 1866 because they were subject to a foreign power, the sovereign Indian nation to which they belonged.

As George Beck writes, “‘[T]ribal’ Indians were purposefully excluded from citizenship. The drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment clearly defined ‘tribal’ Indians as ‘Indians not taxed,’ as not ‘subject to the jurisdiction’ of the United States.”

Ken Kuklowski puts it this way, “[T]he Civil Rights Act’s parallel language, ‘and not subject to any foreign power,’ instead shows the Jurisdiction Clause excludes all citizens of any foreign country. The Citizenship Clause was intended to overrule the most infamous Supreme Court case in American history—the 1857Dred Scottcase—and ensure free blacks born in America could not be denied citizenship. It was never designed to make a citizen of every child born to a foreigner.”

Since 1795, aliens have been required to renounce allegiance to any foreign power and declare allegiance to the U.S. Constitution to become a naturalized citizen. They are required to do so because such allegiance was never assumed or taken for granted for an alien born on American soil. For instance, our family has a framed copy of my great-grandfather’s renunciation of his allegiance to the Czar of Russia hanging on the wall of our living room. It was a prerequisite to his being granted full citizenship in the United States.

Anyone born here, on U.S. soil, whose parents owed allegiance to some foreign power, were not considered citizens of the U.S. by birth and should not be today.

American Pastors Network: Supreme Court Decision Upholds Constitutional Rights for Christian Business

PHILADELPHIA—The American Pastors Network (APN, www.americanpastorsnetwork.net) says that today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., upholds and protects Christian business owners and their Constitutional rights. It’s a critical ruling upholding the Rule of Law and will help to protect the security of religious liberties in America, and Hobby Lobby should be commended for its commitment to the fight.

“Today’s court decision is an encouraging step forward as it reaffirms the God-given and Constitutionally protected right to religious liberty in America” said Sam Rohrer, President of APN as well as the Pennsylvania Pastors Network (PPN, www.papastors.net). “Two-hundred-and-twenty-five years ago, the signors of the U.S. Constitution envisioned a country where people of faith could practice their religion free of government oppression. Today, the Court has upheld this vision, and we thank Hobby Lobby for standing in the gap in this landmark case and important fight.”

The 5-4 decision finds that Christian owners of closely held corporations do not have to comply with the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act and will, therefore, not be forced to provide their employees with birth control coverage that goes against their deeply held religious convictions. Faith-based businesses, religious schools and churches are exempt under the mandate, but the mandate did not consider secular businesses that are owned by Christians whose religious beliefs may go against the mandate.

The decision hits especially close to home for PPN, as today’s decision applies to a similar case involving Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Lancaster County, Pa.-based cabinet maker owned by the pro-life Mennonite Hahn family. Conestoga Wood Specialties has provided its 1,000 employees generous health benefits, including preventive care coverage that goes beyond what the law requires. But because they are pro-life, they exclude coverage for contraception that may act as an abortifacient.

“Our nation’s first Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Jay, once said, ‘Every member of the State ought diligently to read and to study the constitution of his country…. By knowing their rights, they will sooner perceive when they are violated and be the better prepared to defend and assert them,’” Rohrer continued. “Thankfully, many Americans have read and understand our Constitution and the freedoms it protects. We are thankful the Supreme Court today upheld their oath to defend the United States Constitution and the religious liberty guaranteed to all Americans.”

Hobby Lobby is a large craft store chain owned by the Christians David Green and his family. The Greens, who had no moral objection to providing 16 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptives required under the HHS mandate and do so at no additional cost to employees under their self-insured health plan, took issue with four of the covered methods that were considered abortion-inducing drugs.

The timeline of the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., case was a nearly two-year effort to protect the religious rights of Christian business owners:

  • September 2012: Hobby Lobby files suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma over the federal mandate to provide four specific potentially life-terminating drugs and devices. The request was denied.
  • November 2012: The business appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit for emergency relief from the federal mandate.
  • December 2012: That court also denies emergency relief.
  • February 2013: Nine U.S. Senators and two Representatives, along with the Oklahoma Attorney General and 11 other influential groups file Friend-Of-The-Court Briefs supporting Hobby Lobby’s legal challenge to the federal mandate.
  • March 2013: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit grants Hobby Lobby a full court hearing of its case.
  • June 2013: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit overturns the lower court’s denial of the injunction and orders the federal government to halt enforcement of the federal mandate against Hobby Lobby. The Appeals Court remands the case back to the District Court in Oklahoma, which grants a preliminary injunction against the federal mandate in July, meaning, in essence, that Hobby Lobby would not have to comply with the mandate because of the owners’ religious convictions.
  • Fall 2013: The U.S. government appeals the ruling and takes the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hobby Lobby, even though it was the victor at this point, files a brief with the Supreme Court, agreeing with the federal government that the highest court in the land should hear its case as it raises important questions about the right to religious freedom.
  • November 2013: The Supreme Court agrees to take up Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
  • March 2014: Oral arguments are heard on whether the government has the power to force family business owners to act against their faith based solely on their companies’ form of organization.


Over 60 Nigerian Girls Escape Boko Haram Captors

More than 60 girls and women kidnapped by armed men from Nigeria’s Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram a fortnight ago have managed to escape, officials said. However, over 200 other girls who were abducted separately about two months ago are still captive.

A local official from the Chibok area of the northeast state of Borno told The Associated Press Monday that he can confirm that the women and girls escaped Thursday and Friday. He said he had sent his representatives to talk to some of the girls.

The victims were kidnapped during a raid on Kummabza village in the Damboa district of Borno state on June 22, as the terror group supposedly sought to pressure the government to secure the release of its militant fighters.

“Over 60 women were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists,” a local vigilante leader, Aji Khalil, told Agence France Presse earlier. “They were forcefully taken away by Boko Haram terrorists. Four villagers who tried to escape were shot dead on the spot.”

Another vigilante leader, identified as Abbas Gava, in Borno state’s capital of Maiduguri told the AP on Sunday that he heard from other vigilantes in the area that 63 women and girls managed to escape while the armed men from Boko Haram were attacking military barracks and police headquarters in Damboa.

Earlier, on the night of April 14-15, Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped more than 250 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok.

Police later said 53 of those abducted managed to escape. Sarah Lawan, a 19-year-old student who was able to escape, earlier said that most girls made no attempt to run away as the gunmen had threatened to shoot them. “I am pained that my other colleagues could not summon the courage to run away with me,” she said. “Now I cry each time I come across their parents and see how they weep when they see me.”

It is believed that many of the girls and women abducted are Christian.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau had threatened to sell the girls “in the market.”

“I abducted your girls,” Shekau said in a 57-minute video obtained by the AFP earlier. “I abducted a girl at a western education school and you are disturbed. I said western education should end. Western education should end. Girls, you should go and get married. I will repeat this: western education should fold up. I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. I will marry off a woman at the age of 12. I will marry off a girl at the age of nine.”

The government of President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticized for its slow and inadequate response.

Boko Haram is designated as a foreign terrorist organization in the United States and the European Union.

The terror outfit was formed by an Islamic cleric, Mohammad Yusuf, about a decade ago to fight Western education, which he claimed was behind moral and political corruption in the country. Yusuf was from the Salafi movement, which has promoted jihadist terrorism in several countries.

Thousands of people have died in attacks since Boko Haram’s insurrection began in 2009.

Boko Haram has also killed numerous Christians and attacked several churches. It is apparently seeking to create an Islamic state in the Muslim-majority northern Nigeria. It is believed that it gained technical sophistication and weaponry with help from groups like al-Shabaab in southern Somalia and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali.

Hillary Clinton Thinks Hobby Lobby Decision Was a Misogynist Plot Against Women

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that the Supreme Court’s Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby decision makes the United States akin to extremist authoritarian and theocratic nations that restrict women’s rights.

When asked Monday about the Court’s decision, Clinton, who may run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, said, “it is a disturbing trend that you see in a lot of societies that are very unstable, anti-democratic, and frankly prone to extremism, where women and women’s bodies are used as the defining and unifying issue to bring together people, men, to get them to behave in ways that are disadvantageous to women but which prop up them because of their religion, their sect, their tribe, whatever.”

“Way over the top,” responded Kirsten Powers Tuesday after hearing a clip of Clinton’s remarks on Fox News’ “Special Report.”

Powers, a Fox News contributor and a columnist for The Daily Beast and USA Today, is a conservative Democrat who used to work in the administration of Hillary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Powers added that she is personally conflicted about the Hobby Lobby case because of the competing values at stake, but Clinton’s remarks were extreme.

“Listen,” she said, “we do not live in Saudi Arabia or Congo. This is what she’s basically talking about — societies that are truly discriminatory against women.”

Powers added that she believes contraception is “extremely important for women” and supports government provision of contraception, “but to try to turn this into some misogynist plot against women, I think, is going too far. That’s not what is going on here.”

Not Here! Protesters Force Re-Routing of Buses Carrying Illegal Aliens

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Homeland Security buses carrying migrant children and families were rerouted Tuesday to a facility in San Diego after American flag-waving protesters blocked the group from reaching a suburban processing center.

The standoff in Murrieta came after Mayor Alan Long urged residents to complain to elected officials about the plan to transfer the Central American migrants to California to ease overcrowding of facilities along the Texas-Mexico border.

Many protesters held U.S. flags, while others held signs reading “stop illegal immigration,” and “illegals out!”

“We can’t start taking care of others if we can’t take care of our own,” protester Nancy Greyson, 60, of Murrieta, told the Desert Sun newspaper.

Many of the immigrants were detained while fleeing violence and extortion from gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

After the buses were blocked, federal authorities rerouted the vehicles to a freeway and then to a customs and border facility in San Diego within view of the Mexico border.

The three buses were trailed by a half-dozen news crews during the two-hour trip. People near the San Diego facility were surprised by the caravan.

Juan Silva, 27, a welder in Chula Vista, said he thought officials were transporting drug traffickers. Then he heard the buses were carrying migrant families.

“I don’t think people in that town should be against little kids,” he said about the protesters in Murrieta. “We’re not talking about rapists. We’re talking about human beings. How would they feel if it was their kids?”

After the migrants are processed, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will decide who can be released while awaiting deportation proceedings.

Earlier in the day, a chartered plane landed in San Diego with 136 migrants on board, according to a federal Department of Homeland Security official who was not authorized to be named when speaking on the issue.

It was the first flight planned for California under the federal government’s effort to ease the crunch in the Rio Grande Valley and deal with the flood of Central American children and families fleeing to the United States.

The government is also planning to fly migrants to Texas cities and another site in California, and it has already taken some migrants to Arizona.

More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been detained after crossing the Texas-Mexico border since October in what President Barack Obama has called a humanitarian crisis. Many of the migrants are under the impression that they will receive leniency from U.S. authorities.

Another flight was expected to take 140 migrants to a facility in El Centro, California, on Wednesday, said Lombardo Amaya, president of the El Centro chapter of the Border Patrol union. The Border Patrol would not confirm that arrival date.

Hobby Lobby Wins! Supreme Court Rules Christian-Owned Businesses Can Reject Birth-Control Mandate

In a landmark religious freedom case the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties, stating that corporations can refuse to provide certain drugs that may abort a fetus on the basis of religious objection.

In a five to four decision, the highest court in the land ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to privately owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties.

The decision was narrowed to only the contraceptive mandate and is not necessarily applicable to all insurance mandates, like blood transfusions or vaccinations.

In September 2012 Hobby Lobby owners the Green family filed a lawsuit against HHS in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma regarding the mandate.

While the Greens were willing to provide most of the mandated contraceptives, they opposed the provision that they must provide “morning after” and “week after” pills, which are considered abortion-inducing and thus in opposition to the Greens’ pro-life views.

Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that “our Founders gave us the religious freedoms that we have today and as a business we have the right to live according to those freedoms.”

“The government is saying we have to provide prescriptions that are abortive and that violate our conscience, because we believe that life begins at conception and it’s something that we have no desire to fully fund, which is what the mandate requires,” said Green.

“We know that some of the freedoms in the First Amendment are available to for-profit companies…But, for some reason, the government says that in the religious freedoms that a for-profit company does not have those rights. I don’t know where they see that.”

Last July, the District Court granted Hobby Lobby its preliminary injunction, leading the federal government to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In October, Hobby Lobby also filed an appeal with the highest court in the land, arguing that they should address the questions raised in their lawsuit.

By late November, the Court agreed to hear the case along with a similar appeal by Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation and scheduled oral arguments for March.

In November 2009, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green purchased his family’s first biblical artifact. Today Green devotes much of his time to what has become known as The Green Collection, among the world’s newest and largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts. The collection of more than 40,000 biblical antiquities features this copy of the first printed English Bible in America, the Aitken Bible, a personal favorite of Green’s.

Oral arguments brought two large protests outside of the Supreme Court building, with supporters and opponents of Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit demonstrating in wintry precipitation.

Barbara Green, a member of the family heading Hobby Lobby, said in a statement read before those gathered outside the Supreme Court building that she was “encouraged” by the arguments.

“We were encouraged by today’s argument. We are thankful that the Supreme Court took our case and we prayerfully await the Justices’ decision,” said Green.

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga were two of dozens of entities that had sued the federal government over the HHS mandate.

Several similar lawsuits arguing that the mandate violates religious conscience remain in the lower courts and will likely be affected by the decision.

Protesters pray at the steps of the Supreme Court as arguments begin today to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide coverage for contraception as part of an employee’s health care, in Washington March 25, 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court convened on Tuesday to consider whether business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law requiring employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control.

Supreme Court Unanimously Rules Pro-Lifers Have Free Speech at Abortion Clinics

In a unanimous decision today, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts buffer zone law prohibiting pro-life free speech outside abortion clinics. The decision is a huge victory for pro-life sidewalk counselors who provide women with abortion alternatives. The decision strikes down a Massachusetts law that created a 35-foot “buffer zone” restricting pro-life advocates from speaking with people entering abortion facilities.

Saying the abortion buffer zone is “inconsistent with the First Amendment,” the Supreme Court ruled that that the buffer zone violated the First Amendment because it “restricts access to ‘public way[s]’ and ‘sidewalk[s],’ places that have traditionally been open for speech activities.”

Masschusetts Citizens for Life reacted to the decision in an email to LifeNews:

Massachusetts Citizens for Life welcomes the Supreme Court unanimous decision, McCullen v. Coakley, which strikes down the Massachusetts so-called Buffer Zone as a violation of the First Amendment. The court reiterates tradition in this country that the sidewalk is the vehicle for free speech. There are already laws on the books which prohibit blocking entrances, harassing people, etc.​The McCullen decision makes it clear that more restrictive laws may be written only if the current laws are not working – something that the state of Massachusetts failed to prove.

Mark Rienzi, professor of constitutional law at Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law and lead counsel in McCullen v. Coakley, told LifeNews, “Americans have the freedom to talk to whomever they please on public sidewalks. That includes peaceful pro-lifers like Eleanor McCullen, who just wants to offer information and help to women who would like it. The Supreme Court has affirmed a critical freedom that has been an essential part of American life since the nation’s founding.”

Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, told LifeNews:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling in McCullen v. Coakley is wonderful news for all Americans because it upholds our crucial First Amendment rights of free speech but perhaps no more important than for women considering abortion because it frees sidewalk counselors at abortion facilities to be able to offer compassionate and caring alternatives.

“While the ruling is great news for the free speech of anti-abortion advocates, this isn’t about us. This is about giving women the opportunity to be informed of all of their options and isn’t that what the pro-abortion movement is all about? If Planned Parenthood and their allies truly favored choice and not their pocketbooks, they would be elated at this decision as well. Because if abortion is right and harms no one, then why not give the woman a chance at choosing life by presenting her options she may not even know about? Sidewsupremecourt8alk counselors can’t stop women from having abortions, but they can offer information, resources, and just a listening ear to those young women who feel desperate and alone.

“Because of this ruling striking down the buffer zone and upholding our constitutional rights, pro-life students across the nation will continue to be that compassionate lifeline for women in their most desperate hour, helping her to choose life for both her and her child.”

Americans United for Life legal counsel Bill Saunders previously wrote at LifeNews about the scope and magnitude of the case:

For years, the government in Massachusetts has been treating public sidewalks as private property of the abortion clinic, with criminal penalties for anyone that offers life-affirming alternatives. But among the decisions to be issued by the U.S. Supreme Court by the end of June is a case challenging that restrictive Massachusetts law, McCullen v. Coakley. Hopefully, the Court will go further and reverse a 2000 decision, Hill v. Colorado, which has been the basis of restrictions on pro-life free speech ever since.

In 2007, Massachusetts enacted a law that prohibits anyone to “enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk adjacent” to a stand-alone abortion facility, but it does not equally apply to all persons. The “no entry zone” is actually a “no pro-life speech” zone, as the Massachusetts government explicitly exempts employees or agents of the abortion facilityacting within their scope of employment.

Americans United for Life has been actively involved opposing this anti-American, anti-speech law, twice filing an amicus brief on behalf of 40 Days for Life. In 2009, we filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case (on petition for cert). This past fall, we filed again, urging the Court to overturn the law.

US Supreme CourtThe AUL brief explains how the Massachusetts law violates the First Amendment freedom of speech rights of 40 Days for Life by establishing a no pro-life speech zone, where no alternatives to abortion may be offered. Contrary to the First Amendment and Supreme Court precedent, it forces pro-life speakers to either shout (from 35 feet away) or be silent, effectively foreclosing speech by those who engage in personal, direct, peaceful communication.

An abortion clinic employee, under the law, is allowed to approach women on the public sidewalk and say anything. However, our client, 40 Days for Life, cannot on that same public sidewalk offer, “I can help you” or even stand and pray without facing criminal penalties.

Even if a woman consents to listen or wants to hear what 40 Days has to say on that public sidewalk, that communication is not allowed by the draconian Massachusetts law.

Such blatant viewpoint discrimination should be held unconstitutional, even under the standards of the Supreme Court’s 2000 decision, Hill v. Colorado. Important to the Court’s finding in Hill that the “no approach” Colorado statute was “viewpoint neutral” was that it applied to “all” speakers: “That is the level of neutrality that the Constitution demands.” The Massachusetts statute clearly does not meet that test.

But the Court in McCullen has the opportunity to do more than merely correctly apply Hill; it has the opportunity to correct the strained reasoning of the majority in Hill that upheld the Colorado statute.

In Hill, Justice Kennedy poignantly opened his dissent, writing that “[t]he Court’s holding contradicts more than a half century of well-established First Amendment principles. For the first time, the Court approves a law which bars a private citizen from passing a message, in a peaceful manner and on a profound moral issue, to a fellow citizen on a public sidewalk.” He continued, “If from this time forward the Court repeats its grave errors of analysis, we shall have no longer the proud tradition of free and open discourse in a public forum.”

It is time to reverse Hill. Let us hope the Supreme Court will do so, thereby restoring the free speech rights of pro-life Americans not only in Massachusetts but throughout the land.

Austin ruling favors pro-life pregnancy centers

Two legal groups in Texas are applauding a federal judge’s decision to throw out an ordinance in the state capital that unconstitutionally targeted pro-life pregnancy centers.

In 2012 the Austin City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring pregnancy resource centers – which don’t offer abortions or refer women to abortion providers – to post signs announcing exactly that. It didn’t take long after that for a pro-life pregnancy center to file suit in federal court against the city council.

Attorney Jeff Mateer of Liberty Institute summarizes the issue. “The city of Austin had passed an ordinance that compelled pregnancy resource centers, and only pro-life pregnancy centers, to post a false and misleading sign about the services that they did not perform,” he says – specifically, abortion and contraceptives.

Yet abortion clinics weren’t required under the ordinance to post signs detailing what services they don’t provide.

But after legal arguments and two years of waiting, Mateer says: “We got a great decision from the federal district court down in Austin, Texas, which declared unconstitutional Austin’s ordinance that severely restricted the free speech and religious liberty rights of pregnancy resource centers.”

Attorney Stephen Casey of the Texas Center for Defense of Life further explains the ruling.

“The judge said it’s unconstitutionally void because it’s too vague and it would lend itself towards arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement,” he tells OneNewsNow. “And what we’ve seen in this case, as in all the other cases across the country, that these are very targeted attacks on pregnancy resource centers. So there is no doubt in my mind that it would have been used in a discriminatory manner.”

The pro-life legal group believes Austin would be wasting money to appeal the judge’s decision.

“One of the city council members, Mike Martinez, said that he hopes that it will go further, but that’s going to take a vote of the city council,” Casey adds. “I would hope that they would recognize that this lawsuit as it is right now stands to use a considerable amount of taxpayer funds on an ordinance that they already knew was unconstitutional before they even passed it.”

Furthermore, courts have struck down as unconstitutional – at least in part – ordinances in New York City and Baltimore, and a similar law has been challenged in San Francisco.