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Trump To Exempt Little Sisters Of The Poor From Abortifacient Mandate

 writes: A draft of a new rule protecting religious adherents was leaked to the press earlier today. The 125-page ruling, if issued and finalized, would temporarily protect the Little Sisters of the Poor and other groups from an Obama-era Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring religious adherents to choose between crippling fines and violating their consciences.

The Supreme Court unanimously overturned lower court rulings against the Little Sisters of the Poor in May 2016, ordering the government not to fine the Little Sisters and telling the lower courts to get the government to accommodate religious beliefs. This interim rule would fulfill that Supreme Court ruling.

The Little Sisters of the Poor are a religious order that serves the elderly poor. The Obama administration’s rule required them to provide abortifacients and birth control in violation of their religious beliefs or be fined up to $70 million each year. In their five-year battle over the rule, they have repeatedly won court victories against this requirement. Courts routinely found the mandate, which the Obama administration kept revising, to be an onerous and unnecessary restriction on religious liberty.

“At long last the United States government acknowledges that people can get contraceptives without forcing nuns to provide them,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel with Becket, a civil liberties firm representing the Little Sisters. “That is sensible, fair, and in keeping with the Supreme Court’s order and the president’s promise to the Little Sisters and other religious groups serving the poor.”

The Little Sisters of the Poor were just one of many groups seeking relief from the mandate that violated religious liberty. Read the rest of this entry »

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DUE PROCESS: Texas Student Commits Suicide After Title IX Kangaroo Court 

A male student accused of sexual harassment committed suicide after campus officials denied him due process.

 reports: If every other egregious example of a male student denied due process after being accused of sexual misconduct gets ignored – this one should not be.

A male student who was accused of sexual harassment committed suicide just days after the University of Texas at Arlington ignored its own policies in order to punish him. The accused student’s father, a lawyer acting as the administrator of his son’s estate, is now suing the school for violating his son’s Title IX rights.

College administrators, as well as members of the media and legislators, would do well to remember the name Thomas Klocke. Klocke, a straight male, was accused by a gay male student of writing anti-gay slurs on his computer during a class. Klocke vehemently denied the accusation, and administrators who investigated the incident acknowledged there was no evidence to support the accuser’s claims, yet Klocke was still punished.

The accusing student, who is being sued by Klocke’s father for defamation, claims that in May 2016, Klocke made a comment during a class about “privilege,” and then proceeded to open his laptop and type “gays should die” into his web browser’s search bar. The accuser (who is not being named because Watchdog was unable to contact him for comment) claims he typed into his own browser search bar, “I’m gay.”

The accuser next claimed that Klocke feigned a yawn and said under his breath: “Well, then you’re a faggot.” The accuser says he told Klocke he should leave the class, to which Klocke allegedly responded: “You should consider killing yourself.”

The accuser claims he was made so uncomfortable by the exchange that he waited until the end of class and spoke to the professor, who allegedly told him to contact student support services. There is no documentation to suggest the professor was interviewed in the course of the investigation in order to corroborate the accuser’s claims. The attorney for Klocke’s father, Kenneth Chaiken, told Watchdog the professor never provided a witness statement, suggesting he was never asked what he saw that day.

Not following procedure

Klocke insisted that what happened in that mid-May class in 2016 was completely different than what the accuser claimed. Klocke said his accuser made unwelcome sexual advances toward him. Klocke rejected the advances, telling his eventual accuser that he was straight. The lawsuit suggests that this rejection led the accuser to make up his story, possibly out of fear that he himself could be accused of sexual misconduct.

Instead of seeking support services, the accuser reached out to Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Heather Snow, with whom he had a friendly relationship. The accuser was close enough to Snow to refer to her by her first name at times, and Snow quickly became the accuser’s advocate, helping him to draft a complaint against Klocke and conducting the disciplinary procedure without following the school’s Title IX policies.

The lawsuit alleges that UTA’s Title IX coordinator was not informed of the allegation, even though Snow suggested it constituted sexual harassment. This is a violation of UTA’s policies regarding sexual misconduct, which state complaints “should be made to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinators.” Snow was neither.

Further, UTA’s Title IX policies state that the Title IX coordinator is responsible for overseeing the investigation and assigning an investigator. The investigator must then produce a report based on facts gathered and present it to the Title IX coordinator and deputy coordinator before any hearing.

Klocke received no hearing, even though he contradicted his accuser’s claims. Had Snow properly reported the complaint to the Title IX coordinator, Klocke would have received necessary protections from the school. By doing things on her own terms, Snow was able to deny Klocke his rights as stated in UTA policy.

Snow took control of the disciplinary procedure that involved a complaint she wrote herself. She enlisted the help of UTA’s associate director of academic integrity, Daniel Moore, and had him tell Klocke he was immediately prohibited from attending the class where the incident was alleged to have occurred. Klocke was completing the course as part of a short, pre-summer semester in order to graduate that summer.

When Klocke was informed that an accusation had been lodged against him, he was not told the name of his accuser. Klocke was also informed that he could not contact anyone in the class, directly or indirectly, effectively denying him any ability to find witnesses to corroborate his story.

His accuser was able to remain in the class and find witnesses. He found only one, who didn’t corroborate his account but did say he overheard someone say “you should leave.” This could have been said by either Klocke or his accuser in either of their stories.

Klocke told Moore he needed to attend the class and asked for more information about the accusation against him. Moore ignored this request but sent Klocke a “summons letter” on May 20. The lawsuit alleges Moore never informed Klocke that this was a Title IX investigation (as Moore usually handled academic issues) or Klocke’s rights under Title IX.

Moore also never told Klocke that he would not be allowed a hearing. He was never informed that Snow – who was not an impartial party – was running the show, even helping Moore determine a punishment. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Defending Shakespeare & ‘Call of Duty’ in the Gun Debate: Penn Jillette’s 2013 Scolding of ‘Blame-Society’ Arguments

Ed Morrissey writes:

…Why is this clip going viral this weekend, three years later? Probably because it encapsulates the debate over gun violence to this day. Gun violence is still declining, but the media just seizes on each incident more and more in order to fuel the “epidemic” narrative. No one wants to blame the perpetrators, but instead find ways to climb aboard their political hobby horses in order to demand action against … well, fill in the blank: guns, video games, society, politicians, and apparently Aspies, too. The ignorant just keep making ridiculous assertions to suit their own political purposes, and they get lots of people cheering them on — something that’s not limited to the debate over gun violence, either. Read the rest of this entry »


Tom Nichols: ‘You, Too, Will Love Big Brother’: The New Totalitarians Are Here

Obama Big brother

Totalitarians want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining – even if it takes bludgeoning every last citizen who disagrees

 writes: There’s a basic difference in the traditions of political science between “authoritarians” and “totalitaritarians.” People throw both of these words around, but as is so often the big-brother-halfcase, they’re using words they may not always understand. They have real meaning, however, and the difference between them is important.

Simply put, authoritarians merely want obedience, while totalitarians, whose rule is rooted in an ideology, want obedience and conversion. Authoritarians are a dime a dozen; totalitarians are rare.  The authoritarians are the guys in charge who want to stay in charge, and don’t much care about you, or what you’re doing, so long as you stay out of their way. They are the jefe and his thugs in a brutal regime that want you to shut up, go to work, and look the other way when your loudmouthed neighbor gets his lights punched out by goons in black jackets. Live or die. It’s all the same to the regime.

Totalitarians are a different breed. These are the people who have a plan, who think they see the future more clearly than you or who are convinced they grasp reality in a way that you do not. They don’t serve themselves—or, they don’t serve themselves exclusively—they serve History, or The People, or The Idea, or some other ideological totem that justifies their actions.

[Read the full text here, at The Federalist]

They want obedience, of course. But even more, they want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining. And the only way to achieve that is to create a new society of people who share those beliefs, even if it means bludgeoning every last citizen into enlightenment. That’s what makes totalitarians different and more dangerous: they are “totalistic” in the sense that they demand a complete reorientation of the individual to the State and its ideological ends. Every person who harbors a secret objection, or even so much as a doubt, is a danger to the future of the whole project, and so the regime compels its subjects not only to obey but to believe.

Authoritarians merely want obedience, while totalitarians, whose rule is rooted in an ideology, want obedience and conversion.
ObamaOrwell

This is what George Orwell understood so well in his landmark novel “1984.” His dystopian state doesn’t really care about quotidian obedience; it already knows how to get that. What it demands, and will get by any means, is a belief in the Party’s rectitude and in its leader, Big Brother.

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If torturing the daylights out of people until they denounce even their loved ones is what it takes, so be it. That’s why the ending of the novel is so terrifying: after the two rebellious lovers of the story are broken and made to turn on each other, the wrecks left by the State are left to sit before the Leader’s face on a screen with only one emotion still alive in the husks of their bodies: they finally, truly love Big Brother.

Read the rest of this entry »


Does Japan’s Conservative Shinto Religion Support Gay Marriage?

Shinto_worships_at_Cock_Festival_of_Hanazono_Shrine_in_Japan

TOKYO — John Matthews writes: In January 1999, a Shinto priest unofficially married two men in a shrine in Kawasaki, an industrial city near Tokyo. Literally “the way of the gods,” Shinto is officially the state religion of Japan, but it does not influence modern Japanese life the way that Christianity dominates in the United States. Rather, it’s more a matter of a shared culture — of ritual practices and belief in spirits — against which some people define themselves.

The ceremony took place at Kanamara Shrine, best known for its annual Festival of the Steel Phallus, during which participants pray for easy childbirth or protection from sexually transmitted diseases. Hirohiko Nakamura, the priest who performed the rites, told local media then that this was probably the first time a wedding ceremony had been held for two men in Japan. “This may become a call to seriously think about the diversity of sex,” he said.

shinto-ceremony

“In Shinto, it says make many children, expand humanity, and be prosperous. And yet, it’s not explicitly written anywhere that homosexuality is wrong or a sin.”

— Hisae Nakamura

Fast-forward 16 years. On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, overturning decades of often active and religiously motivated government discrimination against a minority of Americans. In Japan, gay marriage remains illegal — except for in one district, or ward, in Tokyo, which began recognizing same-sex marriages in March. A month earlier, conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been arguing for revising Japan’s Constitution to allow a more assertive military, said that 41xdqF8bMlL._SL250_reforming the Japanese Constitution to allow for gay marriage would be difficult.

[Check out Louis Crompton‘s 2003 book “Homosexuality and Civilization” at Amazon.com]

Across Japan, opinions about gay rights diverge. Technically, homosexuality is legal, Kazuyuki Minami, a lawyer in Osaka, reminded a journalist from the Associated Press, “but the atmosphere is such that most people feel homosexuals should not exist.” Reuters, citing a mid-2013 poll by the research firm Ipsos, reported that while 60 or 70 percent of people in most Western nations say they know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, only 5 percent of Japanese do. Kanae Doi, the Japan director for the advocacy organization Human Rights Watch, told Foreign Policy that while many Japanese are not opposed to homosexuality, “they don’t really see it.”

[Read the full text here, at Foreign Policy]

And while Shinto doesn’t have a clear stance on homosexuality, it “advocates that it’s not natural,” as one Shinto priest told me in Tokyo’s prominent Meiji Shrine in early June, a few weeks before the Supreme Court ruling. The Association of Shinto Shrines, the administrative body that oversees Japan’s estimated 80,000 shrines and 20,000 priests, tend to be conservative on social issues, the priest said. Read the rest of this entry »


Tensions Build as Supreme Court Readies Blockbuster Rulings

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) –  Lawrence Hurley reports: Tensions are building inside and outside the white marble facade of the U.S. Supreme Court building as the nine justices prepare to issue major rulings on gay marriage and President Barack Obama’s healthcare law by the end of the month.

Of the 11 cases left to decide, the biggest are a challenge by gay couples to state laws banning same-sex marriage and a conservative challenge to subsidies provided under the Obamacare law to help low- and middle-income people buy health insurance that could lead to millions of people losing medical coverage.

Many legal experts predict the court will legalize gay marriage nationwide by finding that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal treatment under the law and due process prohibit states from banning same-sex nuptials.

The four liberal justices are expected to support same-sex marriage, and conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, the expected swing vote, has a history of backing gay rights.

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In three key decisions since 1996, Kennedy has broadened the court’s view of equality for gays. The most recent was a 2013 case in which the court struck down a federal law denying benefits to married same-sex couples.

During oral arguments in the gay marriage case on April 28, Kennedy posed tough questions to lawyers from both sides but stressed the nobility and dignity of same-sex couples.

The healthcare decision is tougher to call. Chief Justice John Roberts, the swing vote when the court upheld Obamacare in 2012, said little during the March 4 oral argument to indicate how he will vote. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE: Christian Printer Who Was Punished By the Government for Refusing to Print Gay Pride T-Shirts Just Scored a Major Victory

Hands-On

 reports: A Christian printer who was previously found guilty of discrimination for refusing to print T-shirts for a gay pride parade won big on Monday after a court ruled that he can decline to print messages that run in opposition to his religious views.

“In America, we don’t force people to express messages that are contrary to their convictions. America should not be a place where people who identify as homosexual are forced to promote groups like theWestboro Baptists and where printers with sincere religious convictions are forced to promote the message of the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization.”

— Adamson‘s co-counsel Bryan Beauman of Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC

The Fayette County Circuit Court’s ruling overturned a previous decision by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, finding that Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands On Originals, a printing company in Lexington, Kentucky, was within his rights when he declined to make shirts for the Lexington Pride Parade, according to a press release from Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm.

“The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way.” 

— Jim Campbell, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom

The court found that Adamson did not violate the law in citing his religious convictions as the reason for the refusal, and that his decision was based on his personal freedom not to be forced or coerced to print messages that contradict his views.

[VIDEO]

“The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way,” Jim Campbell, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement.

He added, “In short, [Hands On Originals’] declination to print the shirts was based upon the message of [Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington] and the Pride Festival and not on the sexual orientation of its representatives or members.”

As TheBlaze previously reported, Adamson’s case began when he refused service to the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington and the organization subsequently filed a complaint against Hands on Originals in March 2012, alleging that he had discriminated based on sexual orientation.

But Adamson and his attorneys consistently argued that Hands on Originals is a Christian business and that the views presented on the T-shirts — which advertised a gay pride festival — violated his religious beliefs; these arguments were initially dismissed. Read the rest of this entry »


Unfree Speech on Campus

 censored-hand-over

A new study shows too many colleges still behave like censors

Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky famously postulated that the test of a free society is the ability to express opinions in the town square without fear of reprisal. Most American colleges wouldn’t pass that test, according to a new report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Fire).

“The foundation reports that 55% of the 437 colleges it surveyed this year maintain ‘severely restrictive’ policies that ‘clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech.’ They include 61 private schools and 180 public colleges. Incredibly, this represents progress from Fire’s survey seven years ago when 75% of colleges maintained restrictive free speech codes.”

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough for First Amendment advocates this year was a Virginia law that bars “free-speech zones” on public campuses. As Fire explains, free-speech zones are a common tool that administrators use to restrict demonstrations to remote areas of campus. Colorado Mesa University shut_up_zip_it_t_shirts_tshirt-rf25624acd3ce42aa9ddf6f71a39d8dcb_804gy_324limits free speech to “the concrete patio adjacent to the west door of the University Center.”

“The University of West Alabama bans ‘cyberbullying,’ which can include sending ‘harsh text messages or emails.’ Would that include scathing evaluations that professors email to students?”

Such restrictions are unconstitutional, and many public colleges have lifted their quarantines after being threatened with lawsuits. In January a University of Hawaii administrator tried to stop students from handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution outside the campus’s free-speech zone. After students sued, the university revised its policies to allow free speech in “all areas generally available to students and the community.”

Meantime, campus speech police continue to stretch the bounds of what they prosecute under the banner of threats and intimidation. Read the rest of this entry »


Conservative Professor Who Was Denied Promotion Wins First Amendment Lawsuit

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This is good news. Not surprising, I read about this when it the lawsuit first emerged, and was impressed by how solid Adams’ case is, his rights clearly violated, in a provable way. Which is not always very easy to demonstrate, and helps explain why there aren’t more cases like this.

The Daily Caller‘s Robby Soave reports:

First Amendment enthusiasts are thrilled that Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, won his lawsuit against administrators who denied him a promotion because of his conservative, Christian views.

“To be able to speak freely without retaliation is a principle that should be a reality on campus and the jurors reassured that.”

— Travis Barham, attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom

Adams joined the university in 1993. He was an atheist at the time. By the year 2000, he had converted to Christianity and become an outspoken political conservative. He eventually wrote columns for Townhall.com.

In 2006, he was denied a promotion. Administrators were retaliating against him for his conservative views, he claimed.

The jury agreed.

Read the rest of this entry »