Sunday, April 09, 2017

The 3 - April 9, 2017

On this week's edition of The 3, highlighting stories of relevance to the Christian community, find out about one of the Trump administration's latest pro-life moves.  Also, there's a disturbing ruling out of a Federal appeals court that provides protection from Federal discrimination laws based on sexual orientation.  And, the first nominee by President Trump to the U.S. Supreme Court has been confirmed.

3 - Trump administration changes policy on U.N. population control initiative

This week, the Trump administration made another pro-life decision, announcing that it would no longer use U.S. taxpayer dollars to contribute to China's population control policy through the United Nations.  The Susan B. Anthony List website announced that the administration had invoked the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which "gives the President the authority to determine whether an organization should be de-funded because it 'supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.'"

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser is quoted as saying, “The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has a long history of supporting China’s oppressive population control activities, including forced abortions,” adding, “We should all be able to agree that forced abortions are a horrific violation of human rights. It is sickening to think of our tax dollars supporting such abuse of women and children. We commend President Trump for standing up for women and protecting taxpayers from funding forced abortions.”

The SBA website stated that according to a determination by the U.S. State Department, "UNFPA put together their program in 'close consultation with the [Chinese] Government' and calls for implementation through government agencies. Specifically, 'the NHFPC, which is responsible for implementing and enforcing China’s program of forced abortion and involuntary sterilization, appears in [the current UNFPA China program] as a UNFPA partner in anticipated family planning-related outcomes.'  Even though China has modified its one-child policy to allow two children, there are still a variety of coercive elements, according to the SBA List.

2 - U.S. circuit court issues ruling classifying "sexual orientation" as protected

In a shocking Federal court decision that runs counter to rulings in other circuits, as Mandi Ancalle, General Counsel for Government Affairs for the Family Research Council pointed out on The Meeting House this past Friday, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to make "sexual orientation" a protected class under Federal discrimination laws, broadly interpreting the word "sex" to include orientation.

The Family Research Council website pointed out:
For years, liberals have tried to pass legislation making "sexual orientation" a protected category under the Civil Rights Act -- first with ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) and then with the "Equality Act." The House and Senate rejected them every time. They recognized, as we do, that sexual orientation wasn't on the minds of legislators 53 years ago when it was trying to weed out prejudice -- and more importantly, it wasn't in the text of the law that passed! No bother, liberals said. We'll just rewrite the policy through our activist courts.
And Tuesday, the 7th Circuit was more than willing to comply. "For many years," Chief Judge Diane Wood admitted, "the courts of appeals of this country understood the prohibition against sex discrimination to exclude discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation." So by her own admission, there's absolutely no justification for rewriting the law. Still, she goes on, it's the court's responsibility to take a "fresh look" at its position. And in doing so, she writes, "we conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination."
So, while the chief judge was advocating for a "fresh look," dissenting judge Diane Sykes said, "We are not authorized to infuse the text with a new or unconventional meaning or to update it to respond to changed social, economic, or political conditions."  Sykes showed a proper understanding of the separation of powers when she wrote: "The Constitution assigns the power to make and amend statutory law to the elected representatives of the people. However welcome today's decision might be as a policy matter, it comes at a great cost to representative self-government."

Since now you have Federal circuits that have issued conflicting rulings on this matter, it has perhaps increased the probability that the matter will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, the newest member of which has been confirmed.

1 - Gorsuch confirmation well-received by a number of Christian organizations

On Friday, Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was confirmed as the newest Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.  The confirmation process was not without its expected drama, as the Senate allowed debate to be ended by a vote of 51 Senators, rather than the 60 that had customarily been the threshold for votes concerning judicial nominations - that was ended for judges on all Federal levels, except for the Supreme Court, several years ago.

Gorsuch had attracted the support of a number of Christian pro-life and pro-family organizations. Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life, appeared on Friday's edition of The Meeting House program on Faith Radio.  MFL issued a congratulatory statement, saying, in part:
...We were pleased to support Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, as were our grassroots activists from across America who sent thousands of messages to their Senators in support of his nomination. We thank Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for remaining steadfast throughout this process and President Trump for keeping his promise to the American people in nominating a pro-life Justice to the Supreme Court. November exit polls showed that 1 in 5 Americans prioritized the Supreme Court nomination when casting their vote, and with a majority of 57% of those voters casting a vote for Donald Trump, it is clear that the majority of American voters wanted a strict constructionist.
Mancini had written an op-ed piece that appeared in TIME Magazine in March.  In it, she wrote, as referenced on the March for Life website:
Whether recognizing the HHS Mandate as oppressive to the many consciences it violates in both Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Little Sisters v. Burwell, or affirming that even a stillborn baby’s rights deserve protection in Pino v. United States, Judge Gorsuch consistently affirms that, as an originalist, respect for all life is of the utmost priority.
As it was pointed out in a Religion News Service piece regarding his involvement in two cases involving religious liberty and the sanctity of life:
In both cases, religious organizations — a Catholic order of nuns and the evangelical owners of a craft store chain — sought exemptions from providing birth control under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. “All of us face the problem of complicity,” he wrote in support of Hobby Lobby. Government should not force those with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to comply with “conduct their religion teaches them to be gravely wrong.”
That article also referenced what the latest Justice on the high court had written in a book
“All human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong,” he wrote. “The law … doesn’t just apply to protect popular religious beliefs: it does perhaps its most important work in protecting unpopular religious beliefs, vindicating this nation’s long-held aspiration to serve as a refuge of religious tolerance.”

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