IOF Weekly — Seismic Shift Coming to the U.S. Supreme Court
Dear Friend:The US Supreme Court is about to undergo a seismic shift in favor of conservatives with the announcement this week by Justice Anthony Kennedy that he is retiring from the Court at the end of July. The importance of this development cannot be overstated. Kennedy was a reliable pro-abortion and pro-gay jurist, often the swing vote on critical cases. Kennedy authored the ruling that overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act and followed that up the next term by authoring the Obergefelldecision imposing same-sex ‘marriage’ on the nation. In 1992, the Supreme Court was on the verge of overturning the grisly Roe v Wade decision authorizing abortion on demand, when at the last moment Kennedy changed his mind after extensive lobbying from liberals on the Court. Tens of millions of unborn children perished as a result of his decision.
Kennedy’s retirement gives President Donald Trump his second opportunity to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court. He has pledged to begin his work immediately, reasserting his promise to select someone from a list of 25 candidates he published as a candidate for president. Senate President Mitch McConnell has pledged to have a confirmation vote this fall, before the midterm elections.
Meanwhile, even with Kennedy on the Supreme Court, social conservatives won several important victories in key cases as the court term wound down. These include a key win for Christian florist Barronelle Stutzman who was punished by the state of Washington for declining to participate in a same-sex ‘wedding’ ceremony, and a major victory for pro-life pregnancy centers that were being forced by the state of California to display materials promoting abortion. These rulings are covered in more detail later in this newsletter.
Next week, America celebrates its 242nd Independence Day and our Doug Clark writes poignantly and powerfully about the unique genius of the American Founding.
The tragic deaths by suicide of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have prompted tremendous discussion about what can be done to help people who may be suicidal. The role of the family in providing support is a key factor, another reason to encourage and promote the natural family. Please take a look at the important research brief from our international journal of research and policy, The Natural Family, discussed in this newsletter.
By E. Douglas Clark
Director of UN and International Policy
Fireworks have become a worldwide phenomenon, and whether you are watching them in Beijing, Barcelona, or Buenos Aires, you need not know anything about the celebration itself to appreciate the dazzling display of color and light against the night sky. But if you miss the reason for America’s Fourth of July pyrotechnics, you miss her very soul, the indispensable and universal truths on which she was founded.
It began on July 4, 1776, when, against all odds, the courageous Continental Congress delegates declared their independence from the most powerful empire on earth. To their everlasting credit, they spoke in universal terms of “self-evident” truths that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” And while “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions,” they boldly pledged to each other “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” with “a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.”
For them it was not rhetoric but reality, and as they laid their lives on the line, Divine Providence did not fail them. Showered with praise after leading American forces to victory through the long and arduous war, General Washington refused to take credit. As he told citizens of New York City, “The illustrious and happy event, on which you are pleased to congratulate and welcome me to this City, demands all our gratitude; while the favorable sentiments you have thought proper to express of my conduct, entitles you to my warmest acknowledgements. Disposed, at every suitable opportunity, to acknowledge publicly our infinite obligations to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, for rescuing our Country from the brink of destruction; I cannot fail at this time to ascribe all the honor of our late successes to the same glorious Being.”
In so saying, Washington was exercising the very freedom that had been paramount among the rights he had risked everything to defend, as he proceeded to explain: “The establishment of Civil & Religious Liberty, was the motive which induced me to the Field, the object is attained, and it now remains to be my earnest wish and prayer that the Citizens of the United States would make a wise and virtuous use of the blessings placed before them.”
Sensing the potential worldwide impact of America’s establishment of liberty, Thomas Jefferson later wrote, “We feel that we are acting under obligations not confined to the limits of our own society. It is impossible not to be sensible that we are acting for all mankind.” Nearly two centuries later, Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act in which, as noted by Princeton Professor Robert P. George, “it recognized that religious liberty and the freedom of conscience are in the front rank of the essential human rights whose protection, in every country, merits the solicitude of the United States in its foreign policy.”
Professor George continued, “As the Declaration of Independence teaches us, prior to any laws made by men are the immutable standards of justice—standards by which we judge whether the laws are just and can rightfully command our obedience. These standards, of the equal dignity of all human persons, of their equal freedom, and of the accountability of government to the people, apply not just to our own laws but to those of other nations as well. As the United Nations recognized in its 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, religious freedom is an essential principle of justice, in all nations and in all ages. Our Congress said the same in the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. All of us have a duty, in conscience, to work for the religious freedom of all men and women everywhere.”
IOF President Brian Brown has urged us all to courageously stand up and speak up for religious freedom at this critical time. Inscribed on the entrance to the National Archives are these words: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Never have we needed greater vigilance to protect the precious freedom celebrated by our Fourth of July fireworks.
Christian Florist Wins Supreme Court Victory
In another major ruling in support of religious freedom, the case of Christian florist Barronelle Stuzman was granted review by the US Supreme Court, the judgement against her by the state of Washington vacated and the case remanded to the state to be reconsidered in light of the Supreme Court’s pro-religious freedom ruling a week earlier in the Masterpiece Cakeshop/Jack Phillips case. In that ruling, the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the state of Colorado finding that Phillips was guilty of discrimination for declining to design and produce a custom cake for a same-sex ‘wedding.’ The Supreme Court said that the state gave short shrift to Phillips’ religious liberty rights and even exhibited hostility to religious beliefs. Phillips was represented by Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom, the same legal representatives for Barronelle Stutzman. Waggoner said, “Barronelle, like Jack, serves all customers but declines to create custom art that expresses messages or celebrates events in conflict with her deeply held religious beliefs. The Washington attorney general’s efforts to punish her because he dislikes her beliefs about marriage are as impermissible as Colorado’s attempt to punish Jack.”
Pro-life Pregnancy Centers Win Big At US Supreme Court
The US Supreme Court has ruled in favor of pro-life pregnancy centers in California which had been targeted by a law forcing them to promote the availability of abortions. In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the nation’s highest court found that California’s law amounted to compelled speech, forcing pro-life clinics to deliver a message that is in direct opposition to their very purpose for existing, which is to provide women with alternatives to abortion.
Registration Open For WCF World Congress of Families XII in Moldova
A new website has been created to help facilitate registration to attend the upcoming World Congress of Families XII conference in Chisinau, Moldova, September 13-16, 2018.
Thousands of pro-family supporters and activists are expected to descend on Moldova to participate in this important World Congress. Moldova, under the leadership of President Igor Dodon is a staunchly pro-family nation that reveres marriage and life and promotes traditional family values. It’s a beautiful country with rich cultural traditions. President Dodon and his team have been closely involved in working with us to design and conduct the Congress.
We look forward to seeing all our friends and supporters at WCF XII in Moldova. Basic registration for the Congress is free, but various supplemental packages are available for purchase. Please go to the WCF XII website by accessing the link below for more information.
In the wake of the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade in the past few weeks, multiple media outlets have focused on the tragedy of suicide in the U.S. and what might be done to alleviate such suffering. The answer, according to the Chicago Tribune? “Predicting if someone will attempt to take his or her own life is only slightly better than chance and has not significantly improved during the last five decades.” That is, it is almost impossible to predict whether someone will attempt suicide—oft-cited characteristics such as depression or mental illness are not really that good as indicators, experts say. The elusiveness of determining if someone is likely to attempt suicide makes prevention difficult, although there are some promising research trends. But something this story only touches on bears further examination. Nadine Kaslow, professor at Emory University School of Medicine, tells the Tribune, “We do know that strong social support protects people from attempting suicide or dying by suicide.” And other new research indicates that such “strong social support”—particularly the family—actually goes a long way to protecting whole neighborhoods of people.