Calling it the “most significant religious liberty decision in two decades,” the New York Times announced the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the “ministerial exception” whereby churches and other religious organizations are exempt from governmental interference in their hiring and firing practices. In a unanimous 9-0 decision on January 11, the Court said that churches have an overriding “interest ... in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.”
The case started when a teacher at a Lutheran school in Redford, Michigan, was fired for threatening to sue the school over an alleged discrimination violation. Cheryl Perich was diagnosed with narcolepsy and took a leave of absence. When she tried to return, she learned that the school had hired someone else to take her place. When she threatened a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, she was fired for violating the church’s doctrine by pursuing litigation rather than trying to resolve the situation internally.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) got involved and filed suit against the school. When the court ruled in favor of the school, the EEOC appealed. The appeals court reversed the decision, and the school took the case to the Supreme Court. At issue were core First Amendment rights: the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, to wit: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is under fire after news reports surfaced showing that his company, Bain Capital, benefited from multiple federal bailouts amounting to well over $50 million. The top-tier Republican candidate has flip-flopped on the issue of whether or not taxpayers should be forced to bail out private firms, but critics have seized on his controversial work at Bain to attack his candidacy from all angles.
The scandal over Romney’s federal bailouts first surged to prominence after a former strategist for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy publicly released an unaired campaign ad — made nearly a decade ago when Romney was running for the Massachusetts Senate seat — exposing a $10-million federal bailout of Bain & Co. while Romney was at the helm. The attack ad, citing a 1994 report in the Boston Globe, noted that Romney worked with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) to bamboozle the American people out of money under the guise of “debt forgiveness.”
“Mitt Romney says he saved Bain & Company, but he didn’t tell you that on the day he took over, he had his predecessor fire hundreds of employees, or that the way the company was rescued was with a federal bailout of $10 million,” notes the narrator in Sen. Kennedy’s unreleased ad as pictures of newspaper articles fill the screen. “He and others made $4 million in this deal which cost ordinary people $10 million.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on Tuesday unanimously upheld a lower court ruling enjoining the enforcement of an amendment to the Oklahoma state constitution that barred state courts from taking Sharia law into consideration when deciding cases. Although the measure received overwhelming support from the citizens of the Sooner State, it was immediately challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The exit polls following the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary showed something remarkable that somehow missed the evening news: Paul consistently won the votes of the young, the disaffected, the independent, as well as discouraged Democrats. CNN’s exit polls in New Hampshire showed Paul winning almost half the voters aged 18-29 (compared to Romney’s 26 percent), and splitting the vote with Romney in the 30-to-39 age bracket. Paul also won 35 percent of unmarried voters, 40 percent of those who had never voted in a primary before, one-third of the independent vote, and nearly half of those with no religious affiliation. He also took a third of those who characterized themselves as “somewhat liberal” in their outlook.
Will a northern plains state axe the property tax? This June, residents of North Dakota will vote on a primary ballot measure which, if approved by voters, would eliminate local property taxes, retroactive as of January 1, 2012. There could be no better place than the Flickertail State — which has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and a thriving energy-based economy — to attempt this unprecedented experiment in government by the people.
While diverging from Ron Paul on a number of political issues, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says he is not ready to see the liberty-minded Texas Congressman withdraw from the GOP presidential race. "I really don’t want Ron Paul to drop out until whoever our front-runner is is collecting some of the ideas that he’s talking about," DeMint said when the Daily Caller asked him whether it was time for other GOP contenders to relinquish their campaigns and support former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who took first place in both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
As Minnesota voters gear up to vote on a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, the Catholic Church’s archbishop for Minneapolis and St. Paul has ordered priests in his diocese to show their support for the amendment effort — and the church’s stand on the institution of marriage, which they promised to defend when they were ordained — or remain silent.
According to the Progressive Catholic Voice, a blog that supports same-sex marriage, the letter from Archbishop John Niensedt was addressed to the priests and deacons of the archdiocese and was originally published in the Archdiocesan Updates newsletter.
In the epistle to his fellow priests, Niensedt, who has been a vocal supporter of the marriage amendment, wrote, “I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that in this movement to protect and defend the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman we are faced with one of the greatest challenges of our times.” He warned that the goal of those who oppose passage of the marriage amendment “is not just to secure certain benefits for a particular minority, but, I believe, to eliminate the need for marriage altogether.”
In what some legal analysts consider the most significant decision covering religious freedom in the last 20 years, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled January 11 that a religious organization has the right to fire an employee under the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s “ministerial exception” clause.
Moments after placing a strong second in the New Hampshire primary, Ron Paul sent a message to all the other Republican presidential candidates who have never been Governor of Massachusetts: Get out of the race so I can beat Mitt Romney. In a statement, Paul’s national campaign chairman Jesse Benton asserted that Paul’s strong finish in the Granite State, and his “top-tier showing in Iowa,” demonstrate that “he is the sole Republican candidate who can take on and defeat both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.”
Newt Gingrich’s campaign, now in a free fall after dismal results in New Hampshire and Iowa, is unloading what’s left of his arsenal on the victor in those two races — Mitt Romney. Gingrich calls Romney a “Massachusetts moderate” and is warning voters that he is looking to “European Socialist ideas” to rescue America from the current economic quagmire.
Of course, sour grapes might account for Gingrich’s charges, but regardless of the motivation behind these accusations, it behooves Republicans to analyze the allegations and see if there is any truth behind the bitterness.
There’s a lot about Mitt Romney that doesn’t appeal to advocates of limited government within the GOP. He is the man who signed the individual mandate into law, he’s wishy-washy on his commitment to reform Social Security, and he’s a champion of ethanol subsidies. These are not the hallmarks of a candidate keen on attracting conservatives, true constitutional conservatives.
Regardless of his policy positions and his record as Governor, Mitt Romney is winning. Perhaps there is a prevalent spirit among Republican voters that anybody would be better than President Obama. That theory might be based on the correct premise that President Obama is systematically usurping powers not given him by the Constitution and then employing those unlawfully gotten powers to convert the United States of America into a socialist democracy based on the European model. In that case, Mitt Romney is no different from Barack Obama.