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July 2018

Archive for July 2018

The Wins Are Bigger In Texas And SCOTUS Winds Down Its Term

Fri, Jul 20, 2018 11:49 am
Montse Alvarado info@becketlaw.org
A Message from Becket’s Executive Director
July 20, 2018
Dear Friends,

I write to you on the heels of a remarkable victory. On July 15, after several all-nighters and under intense time pressure, our attorneys won permanent protection for the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops against the outrageous demands of an abortion group.

In June, the abortion group, Whole Woman’s Health, sued the State of Texas, seeking the right to dispose of aborted human remains in landfills or sewers, rather than by burial or cremation. Seeking to care for unborn children and needy mothers, the Texas Bishops offered to help the State by providing free burial in any Catholic cemetery.

The abortion group then tried to use its lawsuit to punish the Bishops by forcing them to hand over sensitive internal communications about religious doctrine. In a swift back-and-forth, the trial judge ordered the Bishops to hand over their conversations; Becket filed an emergency appeal in the Fifth Circuit. This week, the Court gave the Bishops permanent protection, saying that the order had violated the Bishops’ rights by imposing a “‘Hobson’s choice’ of retreating from the public square or defending its position.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court wound down its term by upholding free speech in three major cases. NIFLA protected pro-life organizations’ right to speak freely about abortion. Masterpiece affirmed a Colorado cake baker’s right to step aside from promoting same-sex marriage in violation of his religious beliefs. Janus protected public-sector workers from being forced to pay for speech by unions they oppose. These cases were different needles with the same thread. All stood up against government-imposed speech—and won.

Finally, there was Justice Kennedy’s retirement announcement. We are following Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation process with great interest and are optimistic that the Court will move to take religious liberty and free speech cases even more seriously in the future.

What’s happening at Becket:

SCOTUS to Baltimore: You (still) can’t control private speech. Back in January, we won a major victory at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for a pro-life pregnancy center. The City of Baltimore then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to force the pregnancy center to display government signs about abortion. In June, the Supreme Court denied the City’s appeal, reminding the City that, no, the government cannot dictate pro-life pregnancy centers’ speech.

Churches can choose their leaders. We continue to build on our unanimous 2012 victory in Hosanna-Tabor, affirming the right of churches to choose their leaders. On July 12, Becket represented Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church in federal appellate court, defending the church’s right to remove a pastor who had failed in his leadership and stewardship of the church. We expect a decision within the year.

#KidsRightsNotFights. In one of Becket’s cases defending faith-based foster care, the ACLU has sued the State of Michigan for partnering with Catholic foster and adoption agencies, putting hundreds of vulnerable children at risk of never finding permanent homes. On July 12, Becket represented St. Vincent Catholic Charities, Shamber Flore, and the Buck family in district court to defend faith-based agencies and the vital work they do in placing children in loving homes.

Can’t get enough of the Little Sisters? Neither can we. That’s why we’re telling the behind-the-scenes story, complete with Sister Constance’s take, on our podcast. Listen here.

Becket in the news:

Profile of a Lion of the Law. The Wall Street Journal writes that Leonard Leo, Becket’s 2017 Canterbury Medalist, is “indispensable” to President Trump when it comes to advice on judicial appointments.

The end doesn’t justify the means. Becket’s Diana Verm explains why a “good” ruling decided in the wrong way—in this case, for the “In God We Trust” motto—can have damaging repercussions on religious liberty.

They’re onto us. The New York Times has finally caught on that Becket defends religious liberty for all—and why it’s a winning strategy.

What Becket is reading:

Why liberals can get behind Kavanaugh. Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar takes to the New York Times to explain why President Trump’s Supreme Court pick is “a superb nominee.”

How to keep up with 140 (and counting) state bills. Deseret News has compiled an outstanding, clear, and thorough list of 140 bills related to religious liberty across the country. See the list here, easily sortable by state or topic (adoption, campus, health care, and more).

The Hobby Lobby facts speak for themselves. An exchange on Twitter exposed a New Republic writer’s ignorance about our Supreme Court victory in Hobby Lobby and the Green family’s beliefs about contraceptives—and how the truth gives her “some thinking to do.” The Washington Examiner writes it up.

Not a half-baked decision. Commentary Magazine writes on Justice Kennedy’s Supreme Court career and how it led to the majority opinion in the Masterpiece case.


Montse Alvarado
Executive Director