It's the 10th Anniversary weekend of the September 11th attacks, and it's no surprise that would be the top story on this edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature at www.meetinghouseonline.info. Also, this week had a couple of notable court cases, including 2 rulings from the same Federal court on the health care law, one of which was brought by a Christian university. The other notable court action was a hearing concerning the marriage amendment from California.
3 - 4th Circuit rules against Christian university's health care reform lawsuit
Following the passage of the massive new Federal health care law, a number of lawsuits were filed, including the action of 26 state attorneys general and other parties, protesting the requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance. Recently, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in that case that the so-called "individual mandate" was unconstitutional. A panel of the 6th Circuit came to the opposite conclusion on the mandate. And, this week, a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit basically came to a "no decision", ruling that the Attorney General of Virginia did not have the right to bring the case against the health care law and the mandate, because he had not been personally harmed by its enactment. The court, therefore, turned back the state's challenge.
And, that same court, in another ruling, determined that the mandate for employers to provide health insurance for its employees was a "tax", and since legal proceedings cannot be brought against a tax until it is in effect, the plaintiffs, Liberty University, would have to wait until the taxes were levied. When it comes down to it, in neither instance did the court rule on the constitutional merits of the respective cases, rather they were rejected because 1) the Virginia AG, they said, wasn't eligible to argue the case and 2) the tax couldn't be challenged until collected.
Here is a press release from the attorneys for Liberty University, legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel.
All indications are that one or more of these cases, and perhaps a combination thereof, will be eventually settled at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Administration is still intent on implementing this health care law that presents a number of concerns and is quite unpopular, according to survey data. Businesses and corporations are unsure on the economic effect, and Christian leaders have expressed concern about the provision to fund abortion using tax dollars and the structure, which would ration health care and perhaps deny the proper care to the most vulnerable in society.
2 - California Supreme Court holds hearing on marriage amendment
The long legal saga surrounding Proposition 8, the California amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman, continued this week in the California Supreme Court - a body that had temporarily conjured up a "right" to gay marriage in the months prior to the amendment's passage. This time, the Court held a hearing, including its newest member, Goodwin Liu, who had been thwarted in his bid to become a member of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, due to his legal philosophy being regarded as radical, including his support for legalizing gay marriage. The purpose of the hearing was to determine who would represent proponents of Proposition 8 before the 9th Circuit, which was considering a ruling made by a lower Federal court judge that the amendment was unconstitutional, thereby creating a "right" to gay marriage. Typically, the legal team of the state where an amendment is passed would defend a constitutional amendment, but the former Governor and former Attorney General (now Governor) of California refused to do that.
So, the question at hand is whether or not the Protect Marriage group in California has "standing", or eligibility, to defend Proposition 8, which it was instrumental in helping to pass. Once the state "standing" issue is settled, it's back to the 9th Circuit, who will determine if Protect Marriage can legally represent the proponents on a Federal level. The next step, assuming that the group could continue its defense of Prop. 8, would be a ruling by the appeals court on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.
Here's a report from CitizenLink.
Bruce Hausknecht, Judicial Analyst for CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, came on Friday's edition of The Meeting House and discussed both the Proposition 8 hearing and the 4th Circuit rulings.
The battle over Proposition 8 is critical, since it represents potentially another step in the legitimization of gay marriage across America. The redefinition of traditional marriage has the potential to further erode our social fabric and bring greater instability for children, as this "faux" marriage cannot provide the structure that research shows is best for the raising of children.
1 - Christians honor the fallen on 9-11
I believe it is impossible to separate God's presence from the tragic events of September 11, 2001. I mean that in the sense that He did not cause 9-11, but He made Himself very real to people in the aftermath. In the moments and days following the terrorist attacks, so many turned to faith and looked to God to provide comfort for their troubled hearts. For example, members of Congress gathered on the Capitol steps in Washington to sing "God Bless America" and dignitaries assembled in the National Cathedral for a service where President Bush and Billy Graham invoked the need for spiritual strength in these times.
And, so now, as people across the country commemorate the events of that infamous day in history, it is no surprise that the name of God and His presence are invoked once more. Even though some 62,000 signatures were collected by the Family Research Council and others requesting that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg allow clergy in the dedication service for the new 9-11 Memorial at Ground Zero, the mayor did not reconsider his decision. Nevertheless, President Obama, former President Bush, and former Mayor Giuliani invoked the name of God in their comments - the President reading from Psalm 46, the former President reading a prayer from Abraham Lincoln, and the former mayor reciting from the book of Ecclesiastes.
Here is the report on the New York City events, from The Christian Post.
And, Christians, churches, and Christian organizations marked the occasion in a variety of ways. A special ceremony on September 10th in New York City was scheduled to begin at St. Paul's Chapel, followed by a walk to Ground Zero. On the evening of September 11th, Anne Graham Lotz, whose father had so eloquently shared from his heart and provided perspective and comfort in that National Cathedral service almost 10 years ago (click here to read text), had organized a special event called, "A Wake-Up Call for God's People", emphasizing repentance and revival. The event was heard on radio nationwide, and was simulcast into various locations, including a host of churches, as well as into homes via the Internet.
Times of crisis give us the opportunity as Christians to minister the love and hope that can only come from Jesus Christ. 9-11 not only was an occasion through which we could point people to the saving grace of God, but it served as a reminder that we live in desperate times for our nations, and it's vital that we turn to God, who I believe established our nation, and will sustain it, if His people turn to Him.
Here is a conversation aired last week on The Meeting House with Dr. Joe Savage, Director of the University of Mobile's Center for Leadership and the Twelve23 Movement. Dr. Savage has written a book called, "We Forgot! The 7 Unlearned Lessons of 9-11".