Tag Archives: First Amendment

Owen Strachan: California Pushes Seeks to Shame Religious Expression

Those who call for personal change—like Christian ministers—are now being told they need to change.

In California, the State Senate continues to push a resolution that condemns religious leaders and counselors who teach the historic positions of their respective faiths.

Such teaching, we’re told, is “harmful” towards those drawn to alternative lifestyles—including those different views on sex and gender.

But: The call to personal transformation is found at the very root of Christian theology—and Christianity is not alone in promoting the idea that people are flawed and in need of personal transformation.

America has long recognized the value of such perspectives. But today, First Amendment-protected religious liberty is under fire. Ironically, those who encourage others to change spiritually are now being told they need to change.

People are free to disagree with the message of the minister.

They ought not try to silence that minister.

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David Davenport: Let Him Bake Cake

You may remember the baker Jack Phillips in Colorado. As a Christian, Philips felt he could not in good conscience decorate cakes celebrating events that did not square with his beliefs.  The Colorado Civil Rights Commission opposed him and, finally, the US Supreme Court said the Commission had acted prejudicially.

But within weeks of the Court’s decision, the Civil Rights Commission brought another case against Phillips for declining to customize a cake celebrating a gender transition.  One Commissioner took to Twitter calling him a “hater.”

Finally, after six and a half years, the Commission has decided to withdraw its complaint and let him bake cakes in peace.  Perhaps the change from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to Brett Kavanaugh was a reality check.

First Amendment religious rights and Fourteenth Amendment civil rights are sometimes in tension, but religious rights must not be put down by government agencies.

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Davenport: The Grinch That Ate Christmas


This is David Davenport of the Hoover Institution for Townhall.com.

It happens every year.  People who do not understand the First Amendment of the Constitution launch legal attacks on Christmas.

This year’s Grinch award goes to an elementary school principal in Nebraska who banned Santas on worksheets, Christmas trees in classrooms, an elf on the shelf, making ornaments, reindeer and, yes, “red/green items” since those are Christmas colors.  My favorite was her ban on candy canes because they are shaped like a J for Jesus and the red is for the blood of Christ and the white for the resurrection.  Who knew?

Following expressions of outrage from parents and teachers, the school district reversed the anti-Christmas policy.  Strike another blow for Christmas and the First Amendment.

Yes, the First Amendment says government may not respect the establishment of religion, but that still leaves plenty of room for you—and your children—to enjoy a Merry Christmas, even at school.

I’m David Davenport.

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Jerry Bowyer: A Banner Session for the First Amendment


SCOTUS 2018 is shaping up as the “free speech” session of the court.

Masterpiece Cake ruling upheld the free speech rights of a cake decorator who did not want to decorate a cake celebrating a same-sex marriage.

The court sent a case back to a lower court involving a florist who did not want to create a floral display doing the same thing. Then there was the NIFLA decision—regarding the pro-life crisis pregnancy centers—where the court overturned a California law which compelled them to essentially advertise for abortion.

In Justice Kennedy’s opinion, the law forced them to “convey a message contrary to their deepest convictions.”

Each one of these cases was litigated by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has emerged as the most important First Amendment group in the nation.

It’s a banner session for the First Amendment.

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A Terrifying Chapter in Austin and a First Amendment Battle at the Supreme Court

Townhall Review — March 24, 2018

Mike Gallagher talks about the Austin, TX bombing as well as this week’s shooting incident at a Great Mills, Maryland school that was minimized by a fast-acting, courageous officer. Veteran FBI profiler James Fitzgerald, goes inside the mind of the Austin bomber, just like he did with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who he helped stop. Michael Medved invites ADF President Michael Farris to share the latest on an important Supreme Court case with huge First Amendment implications. Julianne Benzel sits in with Dennis Prager to share about how her suggestion of having students protest abortion backfired. Larry Elder turns to Jesse Lee Peterson, a South Los Angeles community leader, author and radio host to talk about Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, and his recent racial taunts against whites and Jews. Hugh Hewitt invites Jon Erwin, producer of “I Can Only Imagine” to share about his experience making the faith-based movie.

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David Davenport: Balancing Religious Rights With Health Care

Compromise

This is David Davenport of the Hoover Institution for Townhall.com.

Public policy is full of difficult dilemmas, tough cases where there are strong interests on both sides.  Such dilemmas are not usually solved as much as they are managed.

That’s why two federal departments recently expanded the rights of religious employers.  During the Obama years, the federal government had required religious employers to provide birth control coverage in their health insurance plans even when contrary to their religious beliefs.  And the government had limited the rights of religious employers to hire or favor people who shared their beliefs.

This action properly swings the pendulum back in favor of religious rights, which are protected by the First Amendment.  Civil rights are also constitutionally protected, which is what creates the tension.  In the end, both rights are powerful, but neither is absolute.

A liberal president pushes too far in one direction and a conservative administration appropriately pushes back.  Ultimately, the Supreme Court may well have to decide how to manage this difficult dilemma.

I’m David Davenport.

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David Davenport: Not All Free Speech Is Constitutionally Protected

Compromise

NFL players kneeling to protest the national anthem isn’t going away. Two owners say their players must stand; now the Commissioner wants a rule requiring all NFL players to stand. Vice President Pence famously walked out on the protest.

But here’s one thing you should know that many don’t: Even though the phrase free speech is thrown around, the players have no constitutionally protected right to protest the anthem.

The First Amendment prohibits the government from limiting free speech, not a football team. In fact, sports teams are businesses and their leagues may regulate all kinds of things, from tucking in your shirt to what patches you wear. If there is any legal angle here, it is a matter of labor negotiations between the players’ union and management or the League. But it’s not a matter of constitutional law under the First Amendment.

Sadly our society knows so little about the Constitution, but this teachable moment is about free speech.

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