Circuit Court Upholds Arkansas Law
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a law prohibiting the State of Arkansas and its public entities from doing business with companies that boycott Israel. In 2017 the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 710. The law generally prohibits public entities in Arkansas from contracting with or investing in businesses that boycott Israel.
The law applies to state government, state agencies, state boards and commissions, political subdivisions of the state, public retirement systems and public colleges and universities. As a result of the law, any state contract valued over $1,000 must contain a clause stating that the contractor will not boycott Israel. Following Act 710’s passage, Arkansas Times and the ACLU sued, arguing that the law places an unconstitutional condition on government contracts and compels speech.
U.S. District Judge Brian Miller in Little Rock dismissed the lawsuit, but the case was appealed to the Eighth Circuit. On Thursday, June 23, the circuit court upheld the law as constitutional. The decision said the law did not violate the First Amendment, noting that, “(Act 710) does not ban Arkansas Times from publicly criticizing Israel, or even protesting the statute itself. It only prohibits economic decisions that discriminate against Israel.” (familycouncil.org)
Supreme Court Supports Coach’s Right to Pray on Field
The U.S. Supreme Court delivered what most religious liberty advocates declared an important victory in ruling on June 27 that the post-game, midfield prayer of a high school football coach did not violate the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion.
In a 6-3 opinion, the justices decided the Bremerton (Wash.) School District violated the First Amendment rights of Joseph Kennedy by removing him as a coach because of its concerns his practice infringed on the Establishment Clause. In doing so, the majority acknowledged it no longer abides by a more than 50-year-old standard in church-state cases known as the Lemon test.
“[A] government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance doubly protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment,” Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the court’s opinion. “And the only meaningful justification the government offered for its reprisal rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech.
“The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”
Joining Gorsuch in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion that was endorsed by Associate Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. (baptistpress.com)
Republicans Race to Stop Gender Experimentation on Minors
Five years ago, Chloe decided she was transgender. Last year, at the ripe old age of 16, she abandoned the flirtation with transgender ideology and embraced her natural sex. In the intervening four years, she had both her breasts removed. “I was failed by the system,” she now says. “I literally lost organs.”
If a new bill becomes law, teens like Chloe will soon be able to sue the doctors who performed permanent, life-altering surgeries on them while they were underage.
Senator Tom Cotton (R/Ark.) and Rep. Jim Banks (R/Ind.) have introduced legislation giving teens up to 30 years to file suit against those who performed gender-transition on them before the age of 18. The Protecting Minors from Medical Malpractice Act allows minor victims to sue for “any physical, psychological, emotional or physiological harms” caused by any gender-transition “procedure, related treatment or the aftereffects” of those actions. That category includes dosing minors with puberty blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and performing gender-obliterating “top” or “bottom” surgeries.
The bill also extends the private right of action to a minor’s legal guardian, including his or her parent. But it would only apply to surgeries performed after it became law. The minors going under the knife “cannot even provide informed consent” for these procedures, argued Cotton. “Any doctor who performs these irresponsible procedures on kids should pay.” (washingtonstand.com)
High Court Upholds Second Amendment
Liberal states cannot require Americans to show “some special need” to exercise their constitutional right to carry guns in public for their own protection, the Supreme Court ruled on June 23. Instead, the court ruled that the Constitution recognizes each citizen’s right to self-defense in public places.
The 6-3 ruling struck down a New York state gun regulation that forced citizens to prove they had a “proper cause” before obtaining a concealed carry license. New Yorkers Brandon Koch and Robert Nash brought the case after the state denied their applications, even though they fulfilled all other legal stipulations because they could not show they had a specific threat to their lives.
The 63-page ruling, authored by Justice Clarence Thomas on his 74th birthday, affirms that the Constitution respects American citizens’ right to self-defense in public.
“The Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” wrote Thomas in the plurality opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.
“The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right,’” which requires Americans to provide a justification to exercise it. “That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”
At least half a dozen other states, with approximately one-quarter of the nation’s population, have “two-step” gun permit laws on the books similar to the New York statute, which legislators passed during the Progressive era. The ruling may affect as many as eight other states and the District of Columbia, which have a “may issue” stance on concealed carry permits.
In addition to joining the 6-3 opinion, Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett each filed separate concurrences, and Chief Justice John Roberts joined Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s concurrence. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent on behalf of the court’s liberal bloc, which cited numerous mass shootings. (washingtonstand.com)
SCOTUS Strikes Down Law Excluding Religious Schools
Religious equality and school choice scored a victory at the Supreme Court on June 21, as justices ruled that excluding faith-based schools from a state’s private school voucher program “violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.” The court’s conservative-leaning bloc ruled 6-3 that state officials cannot restrict parents’ use of state funds to secular schools.
“The state pays tuition for certain students at private schools — so long as the schools are not religious. That is discrimination against religion,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the 6-3 opinion.
Fewer than half of all school districts in Maine, the nation’s most rural state with 68% of its schools in rural areas, have established public high schools. Parents in remote areas may use vouchers provided by Maine’s Town Tuitioning Program, created in 1873, at the private school of their choice. But since 1981, the state has denied funds to “sectarian” (religious) schools.
The justices agreed that any program given to all people must be available to people of faith. “Maine’s ‘nonsectarian’ requirement for its otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” wrote Roberts. “The program operates to identify and exclude otherwise eligible schools on the basis of their religious exercise.”
The reasoning follows a previous Supreme Court ruling that held a “state need not subsidize private education. But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious” (Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, 2020). In 2002, the Supreme Court upheld Cleveland’s school choice program in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, even though 96% of parents chose to send their children to religious schools. Since the state funds parents, whose choice allows the money to flow to Christian schools, the program does not violate the First Amendment, they ruled. (washingtonstand.com)
Swimming Federation Tells Men to Stay in Their Lanes
The governing body of international swimming, FINA, decided to interrupt the global parade with a stunning rebuke of every rainbow the sports world is flying. Starting June 20, biological men will be banned from competing against women at federation events, the group announced, unless they’ve transitioned before age 12 when the changes are less likely to give them a competitive edge. “We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete,” FINA agreed, “but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events…”
In a landslide vote, 71.5% of FINA’s members threw their support behind the “gender inclusion policy,” which tries to inject some common sense into a sport rocked by Lia Thomas. Association president Husain Al-Musallam didn’t mince words, saying straight-forwardly that the organization heard from experts across the scientific, medical, legal and human rights fields. By the time the working group presented their findings, the consensus was overwhelming.
Almost 20 states have come to that same conclusion, racing to stop the wave of transgender turmoil from destroying their level playing fields. And as the entire sports community tries to grapple with this brave new world, expect more drastic measures like FINA’s. (washingtonstand.com)