Law


There has been an outpouring of outrage over the subpoenas issued by the city of Houston to several local pastors for sermons and private communications with their churches. Late today, the city decided to plead incompetence, ignorance, illiteracy, or a combination of all three,according to the Houston Chronicle:

Amid outrage from religious groups, Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney David Feldman on Wednesday appeared to back off a subpoena request for the sermons of certain ministers opposed to the city’s equal rights ordinance, with Parker calling it overly broad.

The subpoenas, handed down to five pastors and religious leaders last month, came to light this week when attorneys for the group of pastors filed a motion to quash the request. Though Feldman stood behind the subpoena in an interview Tuesday, he and Parker said during the Mayor’s weekly press conference Wednesday that the wording was problematic.

Feldman is monitoring the case, he said, but had not seen the subpoena written by outside counsel working pro-bono for the city until this week. Parker said she also did not know about the request until this week.

Have to wonder: does the city of Houston, the fourth largest in the United States, normally farm out sensitive city legal business to outside lawyers, and then not bother to read what’s been submitted in its name by them?

“There’s no question the wording was overly broad,” she said. “But I also think there was some misinterpretation on the other side.”

Umm, that would be no:

YOU ARE COMMANDED to appear and produce and permit inspection and copying of the documents identified in the attached “Exhibit A” at the offices of SUSMAN GODFREY LLP, 1000 Louisiana Street, Suite 5100, Houston Texas 77002, on October 10,2014 by 5PM.

EXHIBIT A TO SUBPOENA ON PASTOR STEVE RIGGLE

3. “Document” and “documents,” mean all documents and tangible things, in the broadest sense allowed by Rule 192.3(b) and comment 2 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, and include, but are not limited to, any writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, phonograph records, tape recordings, notes, diaries, calendars, checkbooks, books, papers, accounts, electronic or videotape recordings, and any computer-generated, computer-stored, or electronically-stored matter that constitute or contain matters relevant to the subject matter of this lawsuit. The terms include, but are not limited to, emails, instant messages, text messages, or other responsive data or information that exists in electronic or magnetic form, and such responsive data should be produced pursuant to Rule 196.4 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

4. “Communications” means every direct or indirect disclosure, receipt, transfer, or exchange of information, inquiry or opinion, however made, whether oral, visual, in writing or otherwise, including without limitation any conversation or discussion by means of letter, note, package, invoice, statement, notice, memorandum, inter-office correspondence, telephone, telegraph, email, telex, telecopies, text message, instant message, cable communicating data processors, or some other electronic or other medium.

10. You are to produce all documents, as defined above, that are in Your possession, control or custody or in the possession, control or custody of any attorney for You. Without limiting the term “control,” a document is deemed to be within Your control if You have ownership, possession or custody of the document, or the right to secure the document or copy thereof from any person or public or private entity having physical possession thereof.

11. All duplicates or copies of documents are to be provided to the extent they have handwriting, additions, or deletions of any kind different from the original document being produced.

II. REQUESTED DOCUMENTS

1. All documents or communications to, from, CCing, BCCing, or forwarded to you, or otherwise in your possession, relating or referring to any of the following in connection in any way with HERO, the Petition:
a. Plaintiffs,
b. Annise Parker or the Mayor’s office,
c. Anna Russell or the City Secretary’s office,
d. David Feldman or the City Attorney’s office,
e. HERO or any drafts of HERO,
f. the Petition, or any drafts of the Petition, including any discussions relating to the language included at the top of the Petition,
g. the legal requirements for petitions under Texas, Houston municipal, or any other law,
h. Petition signers,
i. Petition Circulators,
j. affidavits filled out by Petition Circulators, including the notarization of the affidavits,
k. the payment of Petition Circulators,
l. funding of the Petition or petition drives,
m. the topics of equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity,
n. language relating to restroom access,
o. language related to restroom access being or having been removed from a version of HERO, including any communications related to the removal of that language,
p. any discussion about whether or how HERO does or does not impact restroom access.
2. All communications to or from Plaintiffs.
3. All communications with the City regarding HERO or the Petition.
4. All communications with members of your congregation regarding HERO or the Petition.
5. All communications with Joe La Rue or anyone else at the “Alliance Defending Freedom” regarding HERO or the Petition.
6. All drafts of the Petition.
7. All lists of Petition Circulators.
8. All communications to or from Petition Circulators.
9. Any documents relating to the payment of Petition Circulators, including but not limited to:
10 a. budgets related to the payment of Petition Circulators,
b. check stubs or check registers reflecting payments to Petition Circulators,
c. copies of checks made out to Petition Circulators,
d. tax forms relating to the payment of Petition circulators,
e. documents explaining calculation of payment to Petition Circulators,
f. documents referencing incentives given to Petition Circulators for obtaining
certain numbers of signatures or completing a certain number of pages.
10. Any documents relating to funding and funding sources of the Petition and Petition-related activities.
11. All training materials prepared for Petition Circulators or anyone else involved in the collection of any signatures for the Petition.
12. All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.
13. All documents, studies, information, communications, or other data relied on in connection with the Petition to check, confirm, or ensure the truthfulness and accuracy of the statements made in the Petition, including but not limited to the statements in the Petition (or in any training materials prepared for Petition Circulators or anyone else involved in the collection of any signatures for the Petition) that “Biological males ARE IN FACT allowed to enter women’s restrooms in Houston under Mayor Annise Parker’s “Equal Rights Ordinance”, thereby threatening the physical and emotional safety of our women and children!” and that “Her ERO creates UNequal Rights for a tiny group of people by taking away rights of safety and privacy for the vast majority of our women and children!”) (emphasis in original).
14. All documents, studies, information, communications, or other data that you believe support or demonstrate the truthfulness and accuracy of the statements made in the Petition, including but not limited to the statements in the Petition (or in any training materials prepared for Petition Circulators or anyone else involved in the collection of any signatures for the Petition) that “Biological males ARE IN FACT allowed to enter women’s restrooms in
Houston under Mayor Annise Parker’s “Equal Rights Ordinance”, thereby threatening the physical and emotional safety of our women and children!” and that “Her ERO creates UNequal Rights for a tiny group of people by taking away rights of safety and privacy for the vast majority of our women and children!”) (emphasis in original).
15. All communications with Pastor Dave Welch or anyone else at or associated with the Houston Area Pastor Council referring or relating to HERO, restroom access in connection with HERO, the Petition, or this litigation.
16. All documents or communications reflecting or relating to the validity of signatures on the Petition or the validity of any Petition Pages, including but not limited to correspondence, notes, spreadsheets, or other documents regarding:
a. the validity of signatures,
b. the registered-voter status of any signatories,
c. the number of valid signatures,
d. the validity of Petition pages,
e. the validity of Circulator Oaths.
17. Your updated resume or curriculum vitae.

I’m no lawyer, but I can read English, and there’s no question that the city is looking to collect material from non-plaintiffs that it can then use in court to smear those who supported the petition (the purpose of which would have been to put repeal of the ordinance before city voters).

“Let me just say that one word in a very long legal document which I know nothing about and would never have read and I’m vilified coast to coast,” Parker said. “It’s a normal day at the office for me.”

Sorry, Mayor. The law firm acts in the name of the city you govern, you own it.

The intent, Feldman said, was simply to get all communications between pastors about the signature gathering instructions, a key part of a lawsuit opponents have brought against the city. Critics filed suit after Feldman announced they had failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum, claiming the city attorney illegally inserted himself in the signature verification process.

That’s a blatant lie. The communications sought were not just about “signature gathering instructions.” They were, instead, an attempt to gather materials that would expose what the mayor and her cronies abviously consider to be the Neanderthal, homophobic attitudes of people who supported the petition. If that was not the case, why ask for stuff like “All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity,” or “all documents and communications…[dealing with] the topics of equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity”? Those items are not about the petition gathering process, but about the petitioners’ motivations for opposing the ordinance.

Feldman said the city would clarify what it is looking for in its response to the pastors’ motion.

“I wouldn’t have worded it that way myself,” Feldman said of the request. “It’s unfortunate that it has been construed as some effort to infringe upon religious beliefs.”

Translation: “Curses, foiled again! &$@* Christians!”

Remember Åke Green, the Swedish pastor who was threatened with jail time for preaching a sermon against homosexual behavior back in 2004? No one has ever confused Houston with Sweden, but as the city seeks to defend in court its Equal Rights Ordinance (which, among other things, gave mentally ill men carte blanche to use women’s bathrooms), it is demanding that several prominent Houston pastors turn over sermons to city attorneys for some unknown purpose. The Alliance Defending Freedom is on the case, and released the following press release yesterday:

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed a motion in a Texas court to stop an attempt by the city of Houston to subpoena sermons and other communications belonging to several area pastors in a lawsuit in which the pastors are not even involved.

City officials are upset over a voter lawsuit filed after the city council rejected valid petitions to repeal a law that allows members of the opposite sex into each other’s restrooms. ADF attorneys say the city is illegitimately demanding that the pastors, who are not party to the lawsuit, turn over their constitutionally protected sermons and other communications simply so the city can see if the pastors have ever opposed or criticized the city.

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “In this case, they have embarked upon a witch-hunt, and we are asking the court to put a stop to it.”

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions. Political and social commentary is not a crime; it is protected by the First Amendment.”

In June, the Houston City Council passed its “bathroom bill,” which sparked a citizen initiative to have the council either repeal the bill or place it on the ballot for voters to decide. The public submitted more than three times the legally required number of valid signatures, which the city secretary, who is entrusted by law to examine and certify petitions, certified as sufficient. The mayor and city attorney defied the law and rejected the certification.

After the initiative supporters filed a lawsuit, Woodfill v. Parker, over the matter, the city’s attorneys subpoenaed a number of area pastors, demanding to see what they preach from the pulpit and to examine their communications with their church members and others concerning the city council’s actions.

The ADF brief accompanying the motion filed in the District Court of Harris County to quash the subpoena “discovery requests” explains that they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious,” irrelevant to the lawsuit, and will have a profoundly negative effect on free speech and the electoral process should they be allowed to move forward.

“The message is clear: oppose the decisions of city government, and drown in unwarranted, burdensome discovery requests,” the brief states. “These requests, if allowed, will have a chilling effect on future citizens who might consider circulating referendum petitions because they are dissatisfied with ordinances passed by the City Council. Not only will the Nonparty Pastors be harmed if these discovery requests are allowed, but the People will suffer as well. The referendum process will become toxic and the People will be deprived of an important check on city government provided them by the Charter.”

This is so brazenly unconstitutional that I can’t believe any court will honor the request. But just the fact that there are government officials who think that this is a proper thing to do does not bode well for religious freedom in a country that is becoming more and more hostile to traditional faith, or indeed any form of religious expression that does not march in lockstep with the Zeitgeist.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued one of its non-rulings that gives a boost to one side of a controversy. In this case, they have left in place the decisions from seven courts regarding gay marriage. According to SCOTUSblog:

This morning the Court issued additional orders from its September 29 Conference. Most notably, the Court denied review of all seven of the petitions arising from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage.  This means that the lower-court decisions striking down bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia should go into effect shortly, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states and any other state with similar bans in those circuits.

The Supreme Court had issued the first round of orders from the September 29 Conference last Thursday, adding eleven new cases to its docket for the new Term.  Many people had anticipated that one or more of the same-sex marriage petitions might be on that list, but the Court did not act on any of them at the time.  Last month Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had suggested that the Court might not step into the controversy at this point, because there was no disagreement among the lower courts on that issue.  Today her prediction proved true, with the Court denying review (without any comment) of the seven petitions:  Bogan v. Baskin (Indiana); Walker v. Wolf (Wisconsin); Herbert v. Kitchen(Utah); McQuigg v. Bostic (Virginia); Rainey v. Bostic (Virginia); Schaefer v. Bostic(Virginia); and Smith v. Bishop (Oklahoma).

This is standard Supreme Court procedure when there is no disagreement between lower courts, but they have got to know that this is also an unusual situation, in that refusing to adjudicate these cases means that facts on the grounds (i.e., same-sex marriages) will shortly be created that will make untangling the mess that much more difficult when a dissenting judicial voice finally makes its way up the ladder. Of course, they are probably also assuming that the appeals courts will reverse any recalcitrant district judges, such as the one inLouisiana who recently refused to go along with the new sexual orthodoxy.

Time to face facts, folks. Short of an inconceivable constitutional amendment, we have lost the battle to stop gay marriage. It’s now time to start focusing on dealing as much as society and the law will allow with the inevitable cultural consequences.

In the United States Senate this week, Democrats declared open season on pregnant women.

A hearing was held on Senate bill 1696, which has the Orwellian title, “Women’s Health Protection Act.” Introduced in November by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the bill has 35 co-sponsors (listed below) who apparently believe that women considering whether to have an abortion deserve less protection than a pet ferret with a tummy ache. The bill would essentially strip states of the power to regulate the practice of abortion within their jurisdictions, and give a license to kill to the Kermit Gosnells of the world.

Rather than write about the hearing, which was full of campaign sound bites and other claptrap, I thought I’d take a look at the bill. I’m no A.S. Haley (though I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express once), but this is a layman’s reaction to some of the actual language, as opposed to the propaganda about “women’s health.” (Matthew Clark, Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the American Center for Law and Justice, does something similar at Red State.)

The bill opens with “findings,” which are usually evidence-based reasons for why the bill is needed, but in this case nothing more than ideologically-based assertions:

(1) Access to safe, legal abortion services is essential to women’s health and central to women’s ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States.

See what I mean? The first half of that sentence is debatable, given that 97% of abortions are elective and have nothing to do with preserving the health much less life of the mother, and the second is meaningless rhetoric.

(4) Since 2010, there has been an equally dramatic increase in the number of laws and regulations singling out abortion that threaten women’s health and their ability to access safe abortion services by interfering with health care professionals’ ability to provide such services. Congressional action is now necessary to put an end to these restrictions. In addition, there has been a dramatic increase in the passage of laws that blatantly violate the constitutional protections afforded women, such as bans on abortions prior to viability.

No specifics are mentioned because this bill isn’t meant to deal with a specific objectionable form of state regulation. It’s supposed to deal with all regulation. Like all nine “findings,” it present no argument, much less evidence, but simply asserts what apparently everyone is supposed to know is true. How any given regulation “interferes with health care professionals ability” to provide “safe abortion services” is irrelevant.

(5) Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States. That safety is furthered by regulations that are based on science and are generally applicable to the medical profession or to medically comparable procedures.

As the editors of National Review Online pointed out in an excellent editorial yesterday, there is no “comparable” medical procedure to abortion. This is “something recognized by the Supreme Court, which describes the act as ‘unique’ and ‘inherently different’ from other surgeries. And, of course, it is: Abortion is in almost no instance a therapeutic procedure — its usual motive is simply the termination of an inconvenient human life.” Blumenthal and his comrades think, I’m sure, that abortion is comparable to a cholecystectomy, since both involved the removal of tissue from the body. In addition to the obvious moral difference between an unborn child and a gall bladder, one might also note that it is unethical for a doctor to remove a healthy organ without medical reason, while abortion is almost always the killing of a healthy person with a separate genetic identity from his or her mother for no medical reason. In other words, abortion is not “comparable” to other medical procedures, and must be regulated for the unique surgical operation that it is.

(7) These restrictions harm women’s health by reducing access not only to abortion services but also to the other essential health care services offered by the providers targeted by the restrictions, including contraceptive services, which reduce unintended pregnancies and thus abortions, and screenings for cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections. These harms fall especially heavily on low-income women, women of color, and women living in rural and other medically underserved areas.

It’s safe to say that this wouldn’t be a Democrat-sponsored bill if it didn’t include a racial component, and it includes that without any evidence for its assertion. This is also obviously the “Planned Parenthood Endangered Abortion Mill Finding,” since the threats to PP’s baby-killing business are pretty much the only thing referenced in that first sentence. The typical gynecologist or obstetrician who ceased to perform abortions wouldn’t shutter his office, whereas Planned Parenthood does when its primary money-making operation gets regulated in a way that PP considers “burdensome.”

(8) The cumulative effect of these numerous restrictions has been widely varying access to abortion services such that a woman’s ability to exercise her constitutional rights is dependent on the State in which she lives.

Again, no argument, just assertion, probably because the argument is embarrassing in its stupidity and implications. The argument essentially is that if abortion clinics are not as prevalent as Starbucks shops, women will have to travel to get one, and that will make it difficult for some because they don’t have the money or means of transportation, etc. This is a theory of constitutional rights no one has even contemplated in any other area of life because it is so inane. By this reckoning, if I don’t have the money to buy a newspaper, my right to freedom of the press is abridged. Just because you have a right to something doesn’t mean the government has to clear away any and all obstacles (including financial ones) to your exercising that right, especially if–as is supposedly the case with restrictions on gun ownership, beloved by these same senators despite the Second Amendment–they are obstacles that have to do with legitimate public safety concerns.

Those are some of the problems just with the findings. It gets worse.

Congressional bills usually include a section of definitions of terms, and normally it isn’t a big deal. It is here:

(2) Abortion provider.—The term “abortion provider’’ means a health care professional who performs abortions.

(4) Health care professional.—The term “health care professional’’ means a licensed medical professional (including physicians, certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants) who is competent to perform abortions based on clinical training.

In other words, this bill recognizes a host of people besides MDs as abortionists. Midwives, nurses, and PAs, according to the sponsors, should operate with the same freedom to perform surgery as medical doctors. These senators are people who are normally outraged at the idea that a person without a four-year degree in education would be allowed to teach children, but they are perfectly comfortable with certified nurse midwives performing potentially life-threatening surgery. (For just one example, California–as pro-choice a state as there is–does not allow CNMs to practice medicine or perform surgery.) This bill would effectively eliminate the safeguards against unqualified people working in health care from performing abortions, thus endangering women.

Section 4 is where the real mischief comes in:

SEC. 4. PROHIBITED MEASURES AND ACTIONS.

(a) General Prohibitions.—The following limitations or requirements are unlawful and shall not be imposed or applied by any government because they single out the provision of abortion services
for restrictions that are more burdensome than those restrictions imposed on medically comparable procedures, they do not significantly advance women’s health or the safety of abortion services, and they make abortion services more difficult to access:
(1) A requirement that a medical professional perform specific tests or follow specific medical procedures in connection with the provision of an abortion, unless generally required for the provision of medically comparable procedures.

As noted above, there are no “medically comparable procedures” to abortion, so this is already problematic. Even to the extent that there are, however, there are grave difficulties. For one example, in most places only doctors with surgical licenses are allowed to perform surgery (though other medical personnel may assist), while this bill opens the floodgates to others. For another, this bill prohibits states from requiring specific tests unless they are “generally required for the provision of medically comparable procedures.” What other “comparable” procedure might require an ultrasound on a fetus, pray tell?

(2) A limitation on an abortion provider’s ability to delegate tasks, other than a limitation generally applicable to providers of medically comparable procedures.

In other words, states may not prohibit a physician’s assistant from delegating the task of removing the body parts of a dismembered fetus from a woman’s womb after the fetus has been pulled apart to a nurse’s assistant, if doing so is not prohibited in “medically comparable procedures,” of which there are none (and therefore no prohibitions!).

(5) A requirement or limitation concerning the physical plant, equipment, staffing, or hospital transfer arrangements of facilities where abortions are performed, or the credentials or hospital privileges or status of personnel at such facilities, that is not imposed on facilities or the personnel of facilities where medically comparable procedures are performed.

This is a real joke. Until recently, abortion clinics have been the least-regulated, least-supervised of all medical facilities. After the Gosnell horror was exposed, some states (including Pennsylvania) decided that enough was enough, and that abortuaries had to be brought up to the same standards and supervised with the same rigor as others. Abortionists, they also decided, needed to have the same standards applied to them that other surgeons had (hospital admitting privileges, for instance). This provision would go back to the status quo ante, and free the Gosnells of the profession from any worry that the state was going to stick its nose into their dirty business.

(6) A requirement that, prior to obtaining an abortion, a woman make one or more medically unnecessary visits to the provider of abortion services or to any individual or entity that does not provide abortion services.

The termite in the floorboards here is the expression “medically unnecessary.” What does that mean? I take it to mean pretty much any visit that doesn’t involved the actual abortion. In other words, any state requirement that a woman be enabled to make a fully-informed decision is prohibited. Consider this: what other surgery does a person undergo without any prior consultation, without being fully informed about the risks and possible side effects, on the day they decide to have it done the same way you would go to a dentist and say, “clean my teeth”? That’s what Blumenthal and Company want women dealing with tremendous emotional distress and possible pressure from a man to do.

(b) Other Prohibited Measures or Actions.—
(1) In general.—A measure or action that restricts the provision of abortion services or the facilities that provide abortion services that is similar to any of the prohibited limitations or requirements described in subsection (a) shall be unlawful if such measure or action singles out abortion services or make abortions services more difficult to access and does not significantly advance women’s health or the safety of abortion services.

This is the “just in case we forgot anything, that’s also outlawed” section. If a state does anything, no matter how much sense it makes medically or scientifically, that causes an abortion clinic to close, or places any financial burden on its owner or operator, or in any infringes on women’s ability to get an abortion any time, anywhere, or for any reason, the feds forbid it. (The part from “and does not significantly…” is the legislative equivalent of Charlie Brown’s teacher talking, since the sponsors know that lots of federal judges will say that there’s no such thing as a restriction that does either of those things.)

(2) Prima facie case.—To make a prima facie showing that a measure or action is unlawful under paragraph (1) a plaintiff shall demonstrate that the measure or action involved—
(A) singles out the provision of abortion services or facilities in which abortion services are performed;
or
(B) impedes women’s access to abortion services based on one or more of the factors described in paragraph (3).

In other words, if a state regulation mentions abortion or abortion clinics, it is assumed that it is prohibited by the bill. It is also assumed that it is prohibited if it does any of the following:

(3) Factors.—Factors for a court to consider in determining whether a measure or action impedes access to abortion services for purposes of paragraph (2)(B) include the following:
(A) Whether the measure or action interferes with an abortion provider’s ability to provide care and render services in accordance with her or his good-faith medical judgment.
(B) Whether the measure or action is reasonably likely to delay some women in accessing abortion services.
(C) Whether the measure or action is reasonably likely to directly or indirectly increase the cost of providing abortion services or the cost for obtaining abortion services (including costs associated with travel, childcare, or time off work).
(D) Whether the measure or action requires, or is reasonably likely to have the effect of necessitating, a trip to the offices of the abortion provider that would not otherwise be required.
(E) Whether the measure or action is reasonably likely to result in a decrease in the availability of abortion services in the State.
(F) Whether the measure or action imposes criminal or civil penalties that are not imposed on other health care professionals for comparable conduct or failure to act or that are harsher than penalties imposed on other health care professionals for comparable conduct or failure to act.
(G) The cumulative impact of the measure or action combined with other new or existing requirements or restrictions.

That’s a lot of legalese to swallow, but I can translate: “Any state regulation that impedes a woman from obtaining an abortion under any circumstances or for any reason is prohibited by this act.”

But even that is not enough for these abortion worshipers:

(c) Other Prohibitions.—The following restrictions on the performance of abortion are unlawful and shall not be imposed or applied by any government:
(1) A prohibition or ban on abortion prior to fetal viability.

Ah, yes, “fetal viability.” There’s one definition included in this bill that I didn’t mention above, because it’s needed here:

(7) Viability.—The term “viability’’ means the point in a pregnancy at which, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care professional, based on the particular facts of the case before her or him, there is a reasonable likelihood of sustained fetal survival outside the uterus with or without artificial support.

What this definition does is sever the question of when a baby can survive from any scientific basis, and places it squarely in the hands of the abortionist, who has a financial stake in the decision. “Fetal viability,” them is whenever the abortionist says it is, which renders the ability of a state to prohibit abortion after fetal viability moot, in violation, ironically enough, of Roe v. Wade.

(2) A prohibition on abortion after fetal viability when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating physician, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant woman’s life or health.

As we have seen for over forty years now, this translates to, “if a health professional thinks a woman might lose a night’s sleep over being pregnant, we can go ahead and kill the kid.”

(3) A restriction that limits a pregnant woman’s ability to obtain an immediate abortion when a health care professional believes, based on her or his good-faith medical judgment, that delay would pose a risk to the woman’s health.

Nothing that stands in the way of immediate gratification will do.

(4) A measure or action that prohibits or restricts a woman from obtaining an abortion prior to fetal viability based on her reasons or perceived reasons or that requires a woman to state her reasons before obtaining an abortion prior to fetal viability.

And at this point of overkill they are just repeating themselves to make sure that every state and every court understands what they are saying:

WE WILL NOT PUT UP WITH ANY OBSTACLE TO THE SECULAR SACRAMENT AT ALL!!! DO WE MAKE OURSELVES CLEAR???

*************************

This bill has no chance whatsoever of passage. It would be buried in the House of Representatives, and might well not even make it out of the Senate. But I still think the time and effort that have gone into it tell us something about its sponsors and their supporters in the pro-abortion movement.

1) The Senate sponsors of this bill must know that it has no chance of becoming law. That being the case, one must conclude that this is about politics, and above all about perpetuating the meme about the Republican “war on women.” There are a couple of problems with that. First, there is no polling that says that more than around a quarter of Americans support completely unregulated, unrestricted abortion. Most Americans either would ban it altogether or put a variety of restrictions on it. The kind of restrictions that this bill is specifically aimed at are overwhelmingly supported by Americans. Yet the supporters, knowing that most voters aren’t single-issue types, are wagering that by throwing red meat at their fanatically pro-abortion base, they can energize them enough to make an electoral difference.

2) The pro-abortion movement, despite its occasional tactical retreats, has never wavered from its ultimate goal of having abortion not only universally available, but socially acceptable. They know that when something becomes a matter of total indifference to government, it becomes a matter of social acceptability among the population. After all, if abortion is too trivial for the state to regulate, how important can it be? As that mindset grows, getting an abortion will become no more consequential than having your nails done. The idea that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” is anathema to the pro-aborts, who will only be happy when everyone accepts its moral legitimacy, so that they can feel good about being moral monsters.

3) This bill, then, means that Senate Democrats (and, I would contend, the vast majority of House Democrats as well) have thrown in their lot with the Molech cult. They, too, believe that the will and moral convictions of the American people are of no consequence. They, too, believe that abortion should be treated as an inconsequential matter deserving of social acceptance. They, too, believe that abortion should be as easy to obtain as a hair dye job, and easier than breast augmentation or an appendectomy. They, too, want to put women in danger so as to satisfy their bloodlust. And they also think that doing so will protect their phony-baloney jobs.

It’s time we sent them a message: “You see that flash of light in the corner of your eye? That’s your career dissipation light. It just went into high gear.”

Here’s who should get that message:

Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Tammy Baldwin (D-IL)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Edward Markey (D-MA)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

Shaheen, Merkley, Franken, and Coons are running for re-election this year. They should be made to own this and explain why they are in favor of unrestricted, unregulated abortion. In addition, those running in all of the other Senate races should be questioned on whether they would support this legislative abortion and why.

The U.S. Senate refused to stop debate and vote on a bill to overturn the Hobby Lobby decision today, and the usual suspects went ballistic. Apparently the Dark Ages are returning, with women being kept barefoot and pregnant, dogs and cats living together, and mass hysteria on the left. Representative of the reaction is this piece of drivel from the head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

“It’s disgraceful that some members of the U.S. Senate would rather protect Religious Right zealots than millions of American workers,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Religion should never be used as an excuse for denying essential medicine to anyone, but some misguided senators apparently don’t get that.”

Yeah, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to protect conservative Christians, what with our having repealed the First Amendment and all….Wait, we haven’t? Dang, apparently ol’ Barry has discovered time travel, and zapped forward to a time when he and his anti-religious liberty lobby have gotten their way, and only approved religious groups have any rights.

One might ask lawyer Lynn just when this came to be defined as “medicine”:

One might also asked who in these United States has been denied access to any form of contraception. Seems to me that up until we entered the Gilded Age of Obamacare, most Americans bought their own “medicine,” and those that couldn’t afford it could get it for free from Planned Parenthood. Finally, one might ask when birth control became “essential” to anyone, given that there’s an even more fool-proof way of preventing pregnancy.

Of course, in the space/time dimension inhabited by Barry Lynn, the most important inalienable right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution is the right to sex without consequences any time, any place, any way, and as often as desired, all with your boss–the guy your sex life isn’s supposed to be any of his business–footing the bill. Freedom of religion? You’re kidding, right?

 

The contraception mandate was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court today. According to the Daily Caller:

“We are encouraged by the arguments today. The justices seemed deeply skeptical of the government’s arguments that Americans who open a closely held family business give up their right to religious freedom and can be subject to the mandates that they do,” Lori Windham, counsel for Hobby Lobby with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said after oral agreements. “The Green family has long operated Hobby Lobby consistently with its religious beliefs and religious principles. They hope to be able [to continue] doing so.”

“The choice that the government has forced on us is out of step with the history of our great nation founded on religious freedom.  We believe that no American should lose their religious freedom just because they open a family business,” Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby added on the steps of the Supreme Court. “We were encouraged by today’s arguments, we are thankful that the Supreme Court has heard our case, and we prayerfully await the justices’ decision.”

Also outside the Court this morning, two of the high priestesses of the cult of Molech managed to demonstrate that they haven’t got a clue what this case is about, what the reality of contraception availability in America is, or that they give a hoot in hell about any religion other than that of their demon:

“What the court heard today is that if it were to find for the plaintiffs in this case it would be the first time the court of this country had proactively extinguished the rights of any Americans. This is about all women,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro Choice America.

“Our bodies are not our bosses’ business,” she added.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards also weighed in, saying the case showed “the importance of having women on the Supreme Court.”

“I was so proud to be there as a woman who cares about women’s health to have the justices talk about the fact that what’s at stake in this case is whether millions of women and their right to preventive care, including birth control, is trumped by a handful of CEOs who have their own personal opinions about birth control,” Richards said, adding that she is optimistic the court will rule in favor of the government’s mandate.

It is fortunate for their cause that the lawyers for the government aren’t so stupid as to try this kind of propagandistic nonsense on the justices. The Supremes are not the low-information voters or college freshman/faculty lounge lizards that lap this kind of drivel up. It is unfortunate for the cause of religious freedom that those lawyers are smarter than this, because it means that we’re all going to have to wait it out until June to see if the First Amendment is still operative for those who don’t subscribe to the culture of death.

Any readers here planning on applying for a job with the Ferndale (Michigan) School District? Don’t bother:

The contract ran from 2011 to 2012 but was extended to 2017. The teachers belong to the Ferndale Education Association, a division of theMichigan Education Association.

Regarding promotion to a vacant position, it states on page 22:

Should there be two (2) or more of these applicants with equal qualifications for the position and one (1) or more of these applicants with equal qualifications is a current employee, the current employee with the greatest seniority shall be assigned. Special consideration shall be given to women and/or minority defined as: Native American, Asian American, Latino, African American and those of the non-Christian faith. However, in all appointments to vacant positions, the Board’s decision shall be final.

Earlier in the contract is a “no discrimination clause” that states no employee can be discriminated against based on their religion. [Emphasis in original.]

Michigan Capitol Confidential found this, and Ed Morrissey of Hot Air brought it to a much bigger audience. This is where diversity-mongering has gotten us–open, explicit discrimination against Christians.

Two specific problems with this: first, it is a blatant violation of the First Amendment’s so-called “Establishment Clause,” one so egregious it makes one wonder whether anyone connected to either the school board or the teachers’ union has ever so much as glanced at a copy of the Constitution. Second, it is a violation of who-knows-how-many civil rights and employments laws, because it necessarily involves asking questions specifically forbidden by those laws such as “what religious beliefs to you hold?” or “what church do you attend?” Once again, this is wrong on so many counts that only someone who has been hermetically sealed away from any contact with American culture over the last fifty years would not know how illegal this is. And only a teachers’ union representative or a union-compliant school board would not instantly recognize how genuinely un-American this is.

Next Page »