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Roger Severino tapped to lead OCR

Becker's Hospital Review

March 27, 2017

Roger Severino, JD, was named director of HHS' Office for Civil Rights. An OCR spokesperson confirmed Mr. Severino's new leadership role on March 24, according to GovInfoSecurity.com. OCR, which oversees HIPAA and health information privacy rights, also posted Mr. Severino's biography and title to the OCR website. Mr. Severino previously worked at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative political think tank in Washington, D.C. At The Heritage Foundation, he served as director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in the Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity.

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Filed under: Religious freedomBecket LawHeritage Foundation

Becket Law's Hannah Smith testifies in Senate hearings on SCOTUS nominee Gorsuch

C-SPAN: Hannah Smith testimony

March 24, 2017

"Overall, he was part of a unanimous decision in almost 90 percent of the time, and when he actually authored the religious liberty decision for the court, he produced a unanimous decision every single time. This is a striking record of coalition-building in an area of jurisprudence that can be quite contentious." Watch video

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomBecket Law

Judge Neil Gorsuch: The Case for Confirmation

FRC commentary by Chris Gacek and Travis Weber

March 21, 2017

During the presidential campaign, President Trump produced a list of 21 potential nominees for Justice Scalia's vacant seat on the Supreme Court. We are pleased that he nominated a great candidate off that list -- Judge Neil Gorsuch. Upon confirmation, Judge Gorsuch will be faced with a host of pressing legal issues, and it is important to understand how he will rule and why. This issue analysis generally discusses the type of justices who should sit on our highest court, and explains why Judge Gorsuch is qualified for that role and should be confirmed. (.pdf file)

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomFamily Research Council

Neil Gorsuch Will Strengthen the Fight Against Abortion

TIME op-ed by Jeanne Mancini

March 20, 2017

Gorsuch recently said, "Judges should be in the business of declaring what the law is using the traditional tools of interpretation, rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views, always with an eye on the outcome, and engaged perhaps in some Benthamite calculation of pleasures and pains along the way." This point is especially popular with the large majority of American people. According to a January poll from Marist, eight out of ten Americans want a Supreme Court justice who will interpret the Constitution as it was originally written.By recognizing in both Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Little Sisters v. Burwell that the Affordable Care Act's mandate is oppressive to many consciences, and by showing that even a stillborn baby's rights deserve protection in Pino v. United States, Gorsuch consistently affirms that, as an originalist, he would have all rights to life in mind as a Justice.

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Filed under: CourtsAbortionConscience freedom

What is Neil Gorsuch's religion? It's complicated

CNN

March 20, 2017

He was raised Catholic but now worships with his wife and two daughters at St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado. Like the city, the congregation is politically liberal. It bars guns from its campus and installed solar panels; it condemns harsh rhetoric about Muslims and welcomes gays and lesbians. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, said, "Would I be happier if he were going to a more traditional Episcopal Church? Yeah, I'd be happier for him. But I'm more concerned with his views on the Constitution than where he goes to church." Gorsuch himself drew on natural law while writing his 2006 book "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia." In it, he argued that "all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong." "It is impossible to come away from this rather remarkable book with any conclusion other than that this is a man who has a very high regard for the sanctity and the dignity of human life," said Timothy Goeglein, vice president for external relations for the evangelical ministry Focus on the Family. 

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomSouthern Baptist Convention

Samuel Alito: We must 'evangelize our fellow Americans' on religious freedom

Washington Examiner

March 16, 2017

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told a Catholic legal group that the United States' dedication to religious liberty is being put to the test. Alito told the Catholic lawyers and judges on Wednesday, "A wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs," according to the Associated Press. "We are likely to see pitched battles in courts and Congress, state legislatures and town halls," Alito said in New Jersey, according to the AP. "But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. It is up to all of us to evangelize our fellow Americans about the issue of religious freedom." Alito, a Catholic, reportedly also read from his dissent in the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage case and said he predicted those who opposed the high court's decision would be cast as bigots.

 

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedom

Catholic school defends right to choose its principal

Becket Law

March 7, 2017

St. Anthony School and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York went to a Manhattan court today to defend their right to choose a school principal without government interference, against a lawyer who says protecting Catholic schools may aid "potential jihadists." "Talk about shameless. This blatantly anti-Catholic lawsuit is nothing but a scheme to take money away from needy New York schoolkids and put it in an attorney's pockets," said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at Becket, the non-profit religious liberty law firm, who argued the case for St. Anthony's and the Archdiocese. "Not only are these attacks uncalled-for, they are ignorant. The Supreme Court has already said that the Church, not the State, should pick religious leaders."

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomBecket Law

"Fairness for All": Evangelicals Explore Truce on LGBT and Religious Rights

Christianity Today

March 6, 2017

In recent months, the CCCU and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) have discreetly led the charge to get evangelical institutions to think through potential legal options to safeguard their Christian distinctives as they look ahead to 2017. They met with more than 200 leaders in 9 cities to discuss Fairness for All, an approach that would bring together religious liberty defenders and LGBT activists to lay out federal legislation to secure rights for both. Still, several prominent religious liberty advocates-including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention-that opposed the Utah compromise model aren't on board with Fairness for All either. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Bristow noted the ERLC's "longstanding policy that we do not support elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to a protected class." Wilson warned against comparing potential Fairness for All legislation to existing policies that have led to high-profile "bakers and bathrooms" cases, most of which were enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage and without input from both sides. "To look at these older data points and rules only shows us that legislation did not take into account religious freedom," she said. "They weren't Fairness for All. They were sexual orientation and gender identity antidiscrimination statutes that did not answer the hardest questions." (orig. pub. 12/8/16)

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Filed under: Religious freedomHomosexualitySouthern Baptist Convention

Over 150 conservative leaders urge Trump to sign order protecting religious liberty

LifeNews by Claire Chretien

March 2, 2017

More than 150 conservative leaders are urging President Trump to sign an executive order "protecting the practical exercise of religious freedom." The letter, sent yesterday, is from the Council for National Policy, currently led by the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. It began by thanking Trump for "beginning to reverse" the "devastating trend" of Obama-era policies hurting religious freedom. The Council for National Policy members asked Trump to issue "an executive order to prevent federal discrimination against [Americans] for acting in accordance with their beliefs." Examples of such ongoing discrimination include Christian adoption agencies having to shut down and the Little Sisters of the Poor being forced to participate in the provision of contraception. Federal grantees "face the prospect of the government forcing them to violate their faith or give up their role serving the disadvantaged and poor around the world," the letter explains.

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Filed under: Religious freedomAdoptionEducation

Bakers Who Lost Their Bakery For Not Making Same-Sex Wedding Cake Have Day in Court

First Liberty

March 2, 2017

Today, the Oregon Court of Appeals heard the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein, a couple who lost their bakery for running their business according to their religious beliefs. During the oral arguments, the Kleins' attorneys argued that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) violated the Kleins' constitutional rights to religious freedom, free speech, and due process. "The government should never force someone to violate their conscience or their beliefs," Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty Institute, says. "In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs. We hope the court will uphold the Kleins' rights to free speech and religious liberty."

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Filed under: CourtsMarriageFirst Liberty

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