The election aftermath has become top of mind the last few weeks. So much so that many have missed a number of major developments – all legal victories! Four very recent court rulings, including from the U.S. Supreme Court, have strengthened religious freedom, parental rights, and the protection of the preborn.
STATES CAN’T UNFAIRLY RESTRICT WORSHIP
On the eve of Thanksgiving, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned New York State’s strict attendance limits on religious services. The 5-4 ruling blocked NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s edict limiting worship gatherings to 10-20 people during the pandemic. Although states have the authority to determine detailed emergency measures, those measures must be generally applied. The Supreme Court found NY singled out religious groups for more severe restrictions.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a concurring opinion saying, “At the flick of a pen, they (governors) have asserted the right to privilege restaurants, marijuana dispensaries, and casinos over churches, mosques, and temples. In far too many places, for far too long, our first freedom has fallen on deaf ears.”
Justice Amy Coney Barrett made the difference in the outcome by ruling with Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD LOSES FUNDING
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Texas and Louisiana can cut Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding. The states had maintained the abortion giant was unqualified to be a provider due to, in part, evidence showing Planned Parenthood sold aborted baby body parts for profit. The court, in a 11-5 ruling reversed a lower court decision, saying, “Medicaid beneficiaries have an ‘absolute right’ … to receive services from a provider whom the State has determined is ‘qualified,’ but beneficiaries have no right under the statute to challenge a State’s determination that a provider is unqualified.”
The ruling is a major victory for pro-life advocates, and a major blow to Planned Parenthood, which recently chose to continue performing abortions over receiving federal funds in a separate program.
TN ABORTION BAN UPHELD
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled Tennessee’s ban on abortions based on Down syndrome, race, or gender can, in fact, go into effect. The “reasons ban” is part of a larger pro-life law that includes banning abortions after 6 weeks. This ruling would allow Tennessee to enforce the “reasons ban” portion of the law, while the remainder of the law makes its way through the courts.
Unfortunately, immediately after the ruling, pro-abortion activists filed another challenge to the “reasons ban” based on the claim it violates the pre-viability “rights” to abortion. No word yet from the court on that claim.
FREE SPEECH, RELIGIOUS RIGHTS UPHELD
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Florida ban on counseling minors with unwanted sexual attraction. The court held the ban violated therapists’ First Amendment right by limiting their speech. The court wrote, “The First Amendment has no carve out for controversial speech. We hold that the challenged ordinances violate the First Amendment because they are content-based regulations of speech…”
The ban on so-called “conversion therapy” prohibited therapists from counseling minors seeking help with unwanted same-sex attraction through common talk-therapy. The ruling secures the therapists’ freedom of speech, as well as their sincerely held religious beliefs conflicting with same-sex marriage. It also protects the rights of parents to direct the wellbeing of their minor children.
The ruling could have a chilling affect on counseling bans passed in many states throughout the country, rightfully restoring the free speech and religious rights of parents, children, and therapists.
WHAT ABOUT ARIZONA?
Center for Arizona Policy will be looking at how we can use these victories to bolster or pass state laws that protect the preborn and parental and religious freedoms. Precedents set in other states lay the groundwork for commonsense laws elsewhere, including Arizona.
We monitor these important cases so we can be strategic in advocating for Arizona families in the coming year.
In 2021, CAP will be driving the conversation by Speaking Boldly in all media platforms on key issues like life and religious freedom, expanding our reach by monitoring school boards and local governments to stand against radical sex education curriculums and to secure religious freedom and parents’ rights, and finally mobilizing the grassroots by recruiting activists statewide to undergird our efforts!
You can join the CAP team in these efforts right now in two significant ways:
- Pray for us as we move ahead into 2021. The challenges AND opportunities abound! We are going on offense and speaking boldly for life, marriage and family, and religious freedom.
- Make a year-end, tax-deductible contribution in support of this mission right now by clicking here.
- CAP is looking for interns for the 2021 legislative session. Find out more here.
- A district judge upheld religious freedom in Colorado. Two churches there won their case against the Governor’s COVID restrictions on worship. Read about it here.
- MATFORCE’S Merilee Fowler explains why the passing of Prop 207 makes telling kids the truth about marijuana almost impossible.
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