This may be the closest we get to seeing the Supreme Court on T.V., or at least one justice asking questions of advocates who happen to be decorated felt fitted over someone’s hand. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has taped an appearance on Sesame Street, interacting with Muppets who bring their cases to her. And she does a pretty good job for someone who is not a professional actor (no snide comments, please!). For example, Goldilocks and the Baby Bear (a bearrister?) bring their dispute before Justice Sotomayor, in which she expounds upon the important mens rea issue in the case, as she fashions an appropriate remedy to make the plaintiff whole. Next week – Justice Stephen Breyer appears on The Simpsons as the long lost twin brother of Mr. Burns.
Katherine Kersten has written a provocative essay about the intense bias against hiring conservative and pro-life professors as college and university professors. She focuses on the case against the University of Iowa Law School involved Teresa Wagner, a qualified individual who sought to teach at the school that had a lopsided ratio of only one registered Republican among the 50 faculty members. The law school refused to hire Ms. Wagner, in spite of her obvious qualification for the job. Why would the law school reject a qualified candidate? Because she was conservative and pro-life. Kersten writes, ”Wagner had committed one unforgivable sin: She is pro-life, and actually once worked for the National Right to Life Committee in Washington, D.C.” The University of Iowa instead chose a candidate right out of law school rather than add another conservative to its faculty.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in its recent ruling in favor of Ms. Wagner, stating that her lawsuit could proceed to trial on her claims that the University of Iowa violated the First Amendment by refusing to hire her. The Eighth Circuit’s opinion states: ”No more direct assault on academic freedom can be imagined than for the school authorities to [refuse to hire] a teacher because of his or her philosophical, political, or ideological beliefs.”
Wagner’s lawyer, quoted in a New York Times article, said “It’s gotten to the point where the law school’s diversity efforts are to eliminate everyone from the mainstream,” he said. “They espouse cultural diversity, but won’t consider the conservative viewpoint.”
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom has been fighting for academic freedom for conservative, Christian and pro-life faculty members who are frequently denied hiring and tenure because of their beliefs in such cases as Mike Adams’ lawsuit against the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
If you have been censored or punished because of your faith give us a call at 1-800-TellADF or Tell us your story of injustice. We are here for you!
Speak Up for LIFE! Envision… a World Without Abortion! RSVP to watch the nation’s largest pro-life conference LIVE online on 1/22/2012 at http://adf.am/SFLArsvp
The 2012 Students for Life National Pro-Life Conference is little more than a week away, and ADF is excited to once again partner with Students for Life to hold the biggest pro-life student conference anywhere. I went for the first time last year, and I was blown away by the quality of the speakers and their presentations. Those attending will learn from many experienced experts about many aspects of the pro-life movement. Dr. John Bruchalski is one I am looking forward to hearing from. Former Governor Mike Huckabee will speak and introduce a new movie, called ”The Gift of Life.”
Also, I found the mere fact that so many pro-life young people are gathered in one place to be one of the most encouraging things I saw last year at the conference. We are not alone, and everyone draws energy and encouragement from the fact that there are so many of us working together for life.
And they served great pizza, too. Pizza and pro-lifers – who could ask for anything more! See you Sunday!
Don’t forget to RSVP to watch the nation’s largest pro-life conference LIVE online on 1/22/2012 at http://adf.am/SFLArsvp. Stay informed! Envision… a World Without Abortion!
When I read about Penn State and Nebraska football players and coaches praying for the victims of the repulsive child abuse at Penn State in the middle of the field before the game started last Saturday, I wondered whether some extremists would object that the opening prayer violated the Establishment Clause (I will refrain from the obvious comments about college football being a state religion, prayer or no prayer).
Interestingly, I cannot find (yet!) any blog posts or op-ed pieces criticizing this alleged “breach of the wall of separation of church and state.” Even though the event had coaches paid by state universities leading football players in prayer at a state-sponsored football game, in a state-funded facility, no one is (yet!) filing a lawsuit because they were offended by being subjected to watching others pray at the game. Now, the public relations instincts of those advocating “strict separtation” probably realize that they would look like uncompassionate whiners if they criticize what the football players and coaches did, so they are keeping their mouths shut.
However, one atheist blogger did complain that they prayed at all, and I think his remarks reveal the deeper issues at work when people react to a great tragedy with collective public prayer and the related Establishment Clause issues. Hemant Mehta, a self-identified atheist, wrote in his blog post that praying to God was a waste of time because it didn’t do anything:
Why bother with the prayer in the first place? What purpose did it serve other than to let a bunch of people who feel helpless pretend like they’re doing something that’s making a difference?
Elsewhere in his post he repeats this theme by criticizing the footballers’ actions as a “moment of silence” rather than a forceful vocal objection to child abuse: We have too much silence about child abuse, he argues. This was not a “moment of silence,” either figuratively or literally. The football players prayed out loud. Maybe Mr. Mehta was making a rhetorical point to contrast the “silence” of those who knew about the child abuse with the need to voice vociferious opposition to it. Good point, but don’t distort the facts to do so.
And I think the event showed people ”shouting” against child abuse. It is highly unusual for the players of the competing teams at a major college football game to gather for any reason at midfield before the game starts. That act alone, even if they had all merely stood there silently, sends a loud message that we collectively shattered and brokenhearted over this great evil, and do not want it to happen again. There was nothing silent about it, and Mr. Mehta creates a phoney “either pray to God or actually speak out against child abuse” dichotomy.
The reason the football players prayed collectivley was because people strive to give meaning to evil events. Before they can work to make something redemptive come out of a great tragedy, they need hope that it is even possible. That is why they seek God for answers. Many people believe what the Bible teaches that God works evil events to result in good outcomes. Even if Mr. Mehta disagrees and believes prayer is a vain act because there is no God, he comes across insensitive to the people trying to work through their emotions as they are shaken by this horrible series of revelations of what happened at Penn State’s football program.
These kinds of events why people have public prayer and shows why I doubt the Founding Fathers intended to prohibit it with the Establishment Clause. What happened at Penn State’s game last Saturday reminds us that many people turn collectively for help from God when they face a common tragedy or a great challenge. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on the first day of the Normany invasion on D-Day in 1944, went on the radio to lead the nation in prayer, asking God’s help as allied military forces “set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.”
It is important that the government vigiliant protect the rights of people who don’t want to pray in these events. Government coercion to participate in prayer or in other activities that violate their conscience, violates the Constitution. However, I have seen no coercion forcing the football players to pray.
It would be an extreme and warped application of the Establishment Clause if the village atheist of Happy Valley or a group of strict separationists would have been able to convince a federal court and stop the prayer time by the players and coaches of the Nittany Lions and the Cornhuskers simply because they were offended. And to all the young boys who suffered at Penn State, we grieve for you and pray that we can find effective ways to not allow it to happen to others.
Influential columnist George F. Will wrote a column last week criticizing Vanderbilt University’s decision to force student-led religious groups on campus to accept nonbelievers as members in order to stay meeting on campus. His insightful opinions piece explains why the Constitution forbids such actions by public universities, and why it is unwise for private universities, like Vanderbilt, to pursue such ill-conceived policies:
Illustrating an intellectual confusion common on campuses, Vanderbilt University says: To ensure “diversity of thought and opinion” we require certain student groups, including five religious ones, to conform to the university’s policy that forbids the groups from protecting their characteristics that contribute to diversity.
Although a private university is under no obligation to obey the Constitution ( because the Constitution restrains only governmental power), Vanderbilt should take a lead in building diversity in the marketplace of ideas by allowing religious groups to require that their members and officers to agree with the beliefs and advocacy of the organization. That is what most other campus groups regularly do at Vanderbilt and elsewhere. Why should only religious groups be forced to accept people who disagree with the group’s beliefs?
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