Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hooray for our side

Acting supremely

We hear a lot of bad news. Setbacks for justice. Loss of religious freedoms and rights. Here's some good news, from the anti-ACLU. (Thank the ACLJ by joining or donating here.)

No Free Pass for Atheists
A church-state separationist organization sued, in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation (U.S. No. 06-157), challenging the use of tax-payer dollars regarding the President's faith-based initiatives. The Supreme Court, agreeing with the ACLJ's friend-of-the-court brief, ruled that the separationists had no legal standing to bring the suit. A victory indeed!

Stepping Away from Censorship
A majority of the Supreme Court Justices also agreed with the ACLJ in two consolidated free-speech cases, FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (No. 06-969) and McCain v. Wisconsin Right to Life (No. 06-970). The ACLJ had filed an amicus brief urging the high court to remove the prohibition of grassroots lobbying organizations from taking part in issue advertising 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election. The Court agreed with us that a pro-life group should have been permitted to air advertising in the final months leading up to a 2004 election. It represents a First Amendment victory for those who want to express their views on issues that matter most prior to an election.

Conscience Goes to Court
A pharmacist who refused, as a matter of conscience, to sell ''Plan B'' and other abortion-related drugs was suspended by his employer, Wal-Mart. The pharmacist sued - in Ethan Vandersand v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Wal-Mart asked a U.S. District Court to dismiss the suit, and the ACLJ urged the court to say no. The court has now ruled that the lawsuit can go forward.

And the next phase of this battle is already underway. Now the defendant pharmacies are taking a new approach, arguing that if a pharmacist is exempt from filling a prescription for the morning-after pill or some other abortifacient, then their religion will be favored, violating the Constitution. This is a distorted and confused application of the Establishment Clause - and we'll say so in court.

Bible Ban Lifted
A Washington State school district has reversed its policy prohibiting the Bible from being read in the Honors English Class during a ''Reading for Pleasure Program.'' We were honored to lend our legal expertise in this matter. We are looking at a situation in Missouri where a school principal says students can't take the Bible out of their backpacks on the school bus.

United Nations Recognition
The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), the ACLJ affiliate based in Strasbourg, France, has received special consultative status by the unanimous vote of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. This move recognizes the global nature of the ACLJ's religious liberty and human rights work, which already spans more than 35 countries.

The Battle Continues for Religious Liberties
* After a series of meetings in one Tennessee town, city officials took actions designed and intended to block and impede Teen Challenge - one of the world's most successful drug rehab programs - from acquiring the appropriate permit to conduct its religious activities and to provide therapeutic services to disabled individuals on the property. Our office in Nashville, led by Senior Counsel Larry Crain, has filed a federal cause of action on behalf of Teen Challenge.

* The ACLJ is representing a Florida pastor who has been sued because of the content of a sermon - just one example of a growing trend across the country.

* At the same time, the ACLJ is representing a large church in the Midwest concerning very similar issues.

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