Sunday, January 05, 2014

The 3 - January 5, 2014

In this week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, the spotlight shines on California, where the count of signatures calling for a voter referendum on the co-ed bathroom bill that was passed in 2013 continues - a favorable court ruling this week provides that signatures from 2 counties will be counted, after being blocked by the Secretary of State.   Also, news out of California involves a teenager who has been declared "brain-dead", but her parents believe otherwise - she's been greenlighted to be moved out of an Oakland hospital.  And, with the HHS contraception mandate set to go into effect this past Wednesday, there were multiple court actions temporarily blocking the mandate for certain groups, including one ruling by a Supreme Court justice.

3 - California co-ed bathroom bill on hold, receives favorable court ruling in petition signature count

It has been stated that if you want to see what the rest of America might look like morally in a few years, just look to California.   And, when Governor Jerry Brown signed a co-ed bathroom bill earlier in 2013, he set off a moral firestorm, which has resulted in the original bill being on the verge of being placed on a referendum ballot later this year.  The group organizing the petition drive, Privacy for All Students, which had to collect a minimum of just north of 504,000 signatures in 90 days, is accusing the Secretary of State's office of stonewalling the petition count and misinforming the public by saying that the bill went into effect this past Wednesday, January 1st.

The group went to court against the Secretary's office, and according to its website,, in a strongly worded tentative ruling, a Sacramento Superior Court judge directed the California Secretary of State to count petitions submitted in two northern California counties for the referendum effort

The Secretary of State had refused to count signatures timely submitted in Tulare and Mono counties. Problems had resulted from the statutory filing deadline falling on a Sunday in the middle of a three day weekend.  Privacy For All Students arranged for courier delivery before the Sunday deadline in both counties. While each of the counties reported the signatures to State elections officials, the Secretary of State refused to count any of the signatures submitted in these counties.

The opinion, delivered by Judge Allen Sumner, concluded that PFAS actually had until Tuesday, November 12 to file the petitions, due to the weekend and the Monday holiday.

Karen England, a spokesperson for PFAS, said, “The process of collecting 504,760 valid signatures in 90 days is tough enough. But the Secretary of State seemed determined to shorten the time we were given wherever possible...We have slowly realized that the Secretary of State is not an unbiased referee in this process but an advocate for the co-ed bathroom law.”

Nearly 620,000 signatures presented in support of the referendum are being validated in a joint process by the counties and the State.   Presentation of those signatures in November suspended the implementation of the law. However, officials at the office of the Secretary of State are erroneously advising that the law became effective on January 1.  PFAS is advising school personnel that the law was suspended based on the presentation of the signatures and that the law will only go into effect if the signatures are determined to be inadequate or the voters approve the law on the November ballot.

2 - Parents attempt to intervene on behalf of teenager declared "brain-dead"

Jahi McMath is a 13-year old girl in California who was left in an incapacitated state in the aftermath of a tonsillectomy in December.  Even though she has been declared "brain-dead" by medical professionals, her mother and family insist that she is still alive, and so far, have received positive court orders to continue life support for the girl. reports that after a protracted legal battle, Children’s Hospital Oakland on Friday reached an agreement with Jahi’s family to allow a medical team to enter the hospital to perform the procedures necessary to move her to a medical facility that will continue her care and treatment.

The family in the case also claims that the hospital has been starving Jahi for three weeks, a charge which the hospital denies.
The San Francisco Chronicle is quoted in the piece as saying:
Under the agreement, Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, is “wholly and exclusively responsible for Jahi McMath the moment custody is transferred in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit and acknowledge(s) that she understands that the transfer and subsequent transport could pact the condition of the body, including causing cardiac arrest.”
The agreement was supervised by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo, who refused the family’s request to require doctors from the hospital or an outside physician to insert a feeding tube and a tracheostomy tube on Jahi.  

The family insists that Jahi is alive and that there is hope for recovery because her heart continues to beat and she remains on a ventilator, which will be kept on as she is moved. reports that pediatrician Dr. Paul A. Byrne told a local television station he does not believe that brain death is “true death” and said, with “proper nutrition and care,” McMath can have meaningful recovery to the degree that she would not meet the “brain death” criteria.

1 - Enforcement of HHS contraception mandate put on hold for some organizations 

With the approach of the Jan. 1, 2014 effective date for non-profit religious organizations to comply with the mandate that employers provide free contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans, three circuit courts and a Supreme Court Justice on Tuesday ruled on motions for injunctions pending appeals by non-profits who had lost at the district court level.

According to the Religion Clause website, here are those instances:
The 7th Circuit denied Notre Dame University's emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal, but ordered expedited briefing and oral argument.
The 10th Circuit denied Little Sisters of the Poor's emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal.  However late in the evening, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement, and ordered a response by the federal government by 10:00 a.m. on Friday.
Also, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 2-1 vote, granted emergency motions for injunctions pending appeal filed by Priests for Life and by various plaintiffs  in the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington case (Thomas Aquinas College was exempted).   The court ordered the two cases combined for appeal.

In the case that went before Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, the Department of Justice, in its response, according to CitizenLink, argued that the Little Sisters of the Poor could be exempted from the mandate if they sign a government form that delegates the action to a third party. Refusing to do so could result in steep fines.  Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, is quoted as saying, “Unfortunately, the federal government has started the new year the same way that it ended the old one: trying to bully nuns into violating their religious beliefs."  Rienzi said that the DOJ's brief " devoted to trying to keep the Court out of the issue, which would leave hundreds of religious organizations subject to massive fines for following their religion.”

No comments: