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Archive for April 2018

Senate Confirms Becket’s Former General Counsel Kyle Duncan for Fifth Circuit Judgeship

A Message from Becket’s Executive Director
April 24, 2018

I couldn’t wait to tell you the news: Becket’s former General Counsel, Kyle Duncan, was just confirmed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by the Senate with a 50-47 vote. This is a great day for our country and religious liberty!

I am including the press release with more information below. Kyle led the Becket team to great victories in his tenure. We applaud this as a sign of the importance of religious liberty for all!

Montse

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Subject: BREAKING: Senate Confirms Becket’s Former General Counsel Kyle Duncan for Fifth Circuit Judgeship

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 24, 2018

Senate confirms Becket’s former General Counsel Kyle Duncan for Fifth Circuit Judgeship

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Becket proudly congratulates Kyle Duncan, Becket’s former general counsel, on his confirmation today by the United States Senate to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Kyle’s colleagues and opposing counsel of all persuasions have praised his qualifications in knowledge, experience, and integrity, for appointment to the federal bench. The following statement can be attributed to Becket President Mark Rienzi:

“That sound you just heard was the stained glass ceiling shattering. Not only has our country gained a great jurist, but Kyle’s confirmation is proof positive that defending religious liberty for people of all faiths is a core part of our country’s long tradition of public service.”

Kyle served as Louisiana’s first solicitor general from 2008-2012, and then as general counsel of Becket from 2012-2014. Under his leadership, Becket won a number of decisive victories for religious liberty for people of all faiths, including the Hobby Lobby case.

Other highlights of Becket’s work under Kyle’s leadership included securing kosher meals for Jewish prisoners, winning a Sikh woman her right to work for the federal government without violating her faith, and helping an Amish community preserve its centuries-old building practices.

“At Becket, Kyle was a steadfast defender of religious liberty for people of all faiths and was known for his intelligence and evenhandedness. His generosity and respect for others has made him a great advocate and will make him a fair and respected judge. We applaud his confirmation,” added Rienzi.

Kyle will be sworn in later this year.

Gratefully,

Montse Alvarado
Executive Director

The Becket Fund Is 7-0 in 2018!

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

A Message from Becket’s Executive Director
April 18, 2018
Dear Friends,

We’re 7-0 and counting since the first of the year.

We are especially proud of our victory against FEMA’s longstanding practice of discrimination against houses of worship in need of disaster relief. When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston last year, countless churches and synagogues opened their doors to those who lost everything and had nowhere to go. And yet houses of worship damaged in the storm were denied any aid from the federal government. The only reason? Religion.

Becket filed lawsuits on behalf of three churches and two synagogues that were hard-hit by the storm. That litigation went all the way to the Supreme Court and ended when FEMA announced that it would change its policy. FEMA admitted what Becket had made clear all along: helping zoos, stamp clubs, and homeless shelters, but not churches, synagogues, and mosques, violates the Constitution.

Thanks to Becket, FEMA’s policy of religious discrimination is no more.

What’s happening at Becket:  

A woman’s right to free speech. The Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, a small religious non-profit that serves at-risk women and their babies, won a huge victory against the city of Baltimore when a federal appeals court agreed with Becket that the Center does not have to post signs about abortion on their doors.

Two-way tolerance. In a landmark decision, a federal court agreed with Becket that refusing to accommodate North Carolina Magistrate Gayle Myrick’s religious beliefs violated civil rights laws. Magistrate Myrick and coworkers arranged a simple schedule swap so that every same-sex couple could get a courthouse wedding, but Myrick would not have to perform them in violation of her religious beliefs. The government rejected this swap despite approving similar swaps for things like childcare snafus and fishing trips. Myrick’s victory demonstrates that LGBT rights and religious liberty don’t have to be at odds (watch Gayle’s story here).

A lesson on religious liberty. The Christian group Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) was kicked off campus at the University of Iowa after refusing the school’s demand that it “revise” its faith charter and submit an “acceptable plan” for choosing leaders. With Becket’s help, BLinC sued the University, and the court agreed: the school must allow BLinC back on campus and treat them like all other groups allowed to set member and leadership qualifications.

Becket in the News:

Protecting pregnancy centers. Nancy Cecconi, board member and nurse of Becket client Support Circle Pregnancy Centers, wrote in the Washington Examiner about her pregnancy center’s struggle against local laws that would force them to advertise for abortion and discriminate against them in online advertising platforms (learn more about Support Circle’s story here).

Campus Christians fight back. The Washington Times covered our successful intervention on behalf of the 75-year-old chapter of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and its battle with administrators at Wayne State University who tried to shut the group down because of their Christian beliefs.

Preserve hope for kids. Melissa Buck argued in The Hill that the ACLU’s lawsuit against the Michigan Catholic adoption agency where she and her husband adopted four children is about scoring political points at the expense of neglected and abused children in Michigan’s foster care system.

Podcast junkies, rejoice! The Federalist plugged our new podcast, Stream of Conscience, and wrote, “It will become your newest podcast addiction.”

What Becket is Reading:

Aid for all. In an editorial, the Chicago Tribune sided with Becket on FEMA, writing that houses of worship “should be eligible for broad-based assistance aimed at helping communities recover from natural disasters.”

The proof’s in the pudding. In NRO’s Bench Memos, Mark Rienzi set the record straight on the case of NIFLA v. Becerra and pointed out that the government hasn’t offered a single example to prove its argument that pregnancy centers engage in “false advertising.”

School choice and secularism. Seth Lipsky praised the “freedom of parents to choose a religious education as a good thing” in the New York Post.