Looking for Religious Right? Follow the Yellow Legal Pad
cyncooper printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Nov 25, 2005 at 11:12:29 AM EST
Another big day for the American Center for Law and Justice is at hand. ACLJ is the religious right legal advocacy organization started by Christian Coalition's Pat Robertson.  On November 30, ACLJ has a role in two cases at the U.S. Supreme Court.  Jay Sekulow, ACLJ's Chief Counsel, represents anti-abortion protestors from Operation Rescue in one case.  ACLJ also filed a brief in another case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of New Hampshire, an abortion case that could virtually undo Roe v. Wade, as I described in an article on Women's eNews. Add ACLJ to the legal mobilization described by Michelle Goldberg and you quickly have a picture of a powerful prong of the religious right that is increasingly using its well-funded legal advocacy to advance the goals of dominionism.
ACLJ, based in Virginia Beach, had income of $14.5 million to its main 501c3, according to 2003-2004 IRS reports, although it now ranges at $30 million annual budget in total, according to Time magazine.  Either way, it's a bundle, and the legal advocacy is as important to a religious right takeover as the naming of the next Supreme Court justice.  

The Ayotte case, widely underreported, is one example of how Christian fundamentalist legal groups are pushing the boundaries of the law.  The anti-abortion movement has been very deliberate and particularly clever at framing issues to take to the courts.  Judges, after all, can only decide the "cases and controversies" that come before them; lawyers like those at ACLJ put the cases in front of the judges.  

Anti-abortion legal activists scrutinize the existing law to find wormholes and get their right-wing allies in legislatures to put the drafted language into motion. The Frontline show, The Last Abortion Clinic, did a tremendous job of showing how this works.  Anti-abortion legal groups don't care that under existing law, proposals might be blatantly unconstitutional. They simply hope to get them before a court that will see things their way and offer a reinterpretation. And if it is the Supreme Court and there are new conservative justices on it, the jackpot is at hand.  

Ayotte is one example of such an anti-abortion initiative. Two lower courts rejected it, so it is somewhat worrying that four justices of the Supreme Court even agreed to take the case. The damage it can do to Roe v. Wade, with the twist of legal rules that is proposed by anti-abortion forces and the Bush administration, is incredible, if difficult to understand except by those steeped in legal procedure. But if Ayotte goes the wrong way, it won't matter whether the next justice supports Roe or not - Roe will be a memory already. It won't be necessary to overturn it and send it back to the states; the states that want to make abortion impossible or inaccessible will have all the firepower they need. I'll explain why.

The case arose about a parental notification law in New Hampshire. But that's not what is important.  The issues - those "cases and controversies" -- before the Supreme Court are not about parental notification per se, but two other issues.

One issue is about the legal standard for when anti-abortion laws can be challenged as unconstitutional. Packed with right-wing ideologues, state legislatures pass hundreds of anti-abortion laws. Many never take effect because they are challenged in court and found to be unconstitutional first. But what if they can't be challenged in federal court before they take effect? That's what the court is considering.

The practical result over the next two or three years is that states could go wild enacting all of the willy-nilly anti-abortion restrictions that the religious right can dream up, and they would go into effect. Then what? Clinics might close rather than deal with the laws.  Doctors might refuse to do abortions, or be forced to risk arrest. Women might be denied an abortion. Only these dramatic events will allow the law to be challenged in court as unconstitutional, sometimes with emergency medical considerations underway at the same time.

Legally, it's an issue of allowing a "facial challenge" to a law or an "as applied" challenge. David G. Savage in the ABA Journal called it a "broad change," reporting that it will require anti-abortion restrictions to be tested woman-by-woman.

This legal sleight-of-hand is similar to rulings that have tied the hands of litigators in challenging abstinence education, permitting it to mushroom with overt and covert religious intentions, and limiting legal challenges.

The other issue in Ayotte is whether it is okay to pass an anti-abortion restriction without an exception to protect a woman's health. The anti-abortion activists hate this so-called health exception which they consider a giant loophole to all of the restrictions and bans they want to pass - a doctor could just claim, they say, that a woman might get sick or get depressed and avoid an anti-abortion ban. ACLJ filed a brief stating that a health exception is not necessary. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the deciding vote in a 5-4 decision in 2000 that said women's health must be protected, but if a successor goes on the bench before the decision is announced, her potential vote will be nullified.  

The other case being heard by the court that day, Scheidler v. NOW consolidated with Operation Rescue v. NOW, raises the question of whether violent anti-abortion protestors are covered under anti-racketeering laws. This is the third time the case has been to the Supreme Court.

ACLJ and Sekulow represent Operation Rescue, which, under Randall Terry's reign, tried to blockade abortion clinics and stop women from entering.  Laura McGann of the
Medill News Service
described one incident:

During trial, one woman testified to being attacked by anti-abortionists in a clinic parking lot as she arrived for follow-up care after ovarian surgery. She was rushed to a hospital when the attack opened her surgical wound.

"All of a sudden, a crowd of people came running from both sides of the building ... somebody grabbed me by the back of my hair, and I fell up against the car," the woman testified in district court.

Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of ACLJ, has a long history of anti-abortion and religious right activities. He got his legal start representing Jews for Jesus, which he joined while in college. He supervised the legal department of Concerned Women for America and served on a committee of the Alliance Defense Fund. He has a daily radio broadcast on 550 stations, and frequently appears on the 700 Club. Time magazine named Sekulow one of the "25 most influential evangelicals" in 2005, writing:

Sekulow, 48, who was raised Jewish but converted to Christianity in college and now considers himself a "Messianic Jew," formed the law center with a group of other conservative litigators in 1990. Today the 700,000-member center has become, with a budget of $30 million, a powerful counterweight to the liberal American Civil Liberties Union.

Pat Robertson, a Yale law grad, understands the power in legal advocacy. In 1986, four years before founding ACLJ, he started Regent University School of Law to train a new breed of evangelical Christian lawyers. ACLJ's main office is housed at Regent. Ralph Reed was a founding member of the board. Among its original goals are "the defense of religious freedom and civil liberties under the First Amendment in an opposition to anti-religious hostility."  

Thomas P. Monaghan, a member of the board and lawyer with ACLJ (handsomely paid $208,920 annually in 2003-04, according to IRS reports) once served as general counsel for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. ACLJ's Benjamin Bull (earning $217,885 annually in 2003-04) is former general counsel of the American Family Association.

ACLJ now has affiliates in D.C. and several states, including Kentucky, Hawaii, Tennessee, Alabama, Connecticut and Texas. And there are international affiliates, as well, in London, Greece and Israel. Sekulow's bio says that "he is also Chief Counsel of the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ)."

In addition its anti-abortion advocacy, ACLJ got involved in representing the parents of Terri Schiavo, in opposing the right-to-die law in Oregon, supporting displays of the Ten Commandments, supporting prayer at public high school sporting events, supporting abstinence-only education, and opposing same sex unions in Hawaii.  

But to see the link to other right-wing ventures, there are other curious litigation entries that have nothing to do with Biblical beliefs and everything to do with being right-wing insiders. For example, ACLJ supported the Bush adminstration in legal briefs arguing that Guantanamo detainees could be held without charges and without trials.

And how does it all come together? ACLJ is now carrying on its website a Petition to Protect Military Prayer, written to President Bush:

It has come to our attention that in all branches of the military, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Christian chaplains to use the name of Jesus when praying.  We believe this suppression of religious freedom is a pervasive problem that must be dealt with and eliminated immediately.

It goes on:

(S)uch censorship of Christian beliefs is a disservice to Christian chaplains as well as the hundreds of thousands of Christian soldiers in the military who look to their chaplains for comfort, inspiration, and support, just as our military soldiers of other faiths look to their chaplains.

We respectfully request that you, as Commander and Chief, protect by Executive Order the constitutional right of military chaplains to pray according to their faith.

To see where the religious right and the Supreme Court are headed, you might just follow the yellow legal pads of ACLJ.

Thanks for walking us through the imlications of these cases.

For those unfamiliar with Regent University Law School. One aspect of this has alway stood out in my mind:  the founding dean was Herb Titus, who used the works of theoctratic theologian R.J Rushdoony in his classes. He considered them integral to what it means to be a "Christian lawyer."

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Nov 25, 2005 at 02:32:43 PM EST

Herb Titus was also on the founding board of the American Center for Law and Justice.  What else do you know about him?  Beyond the clearly interlocking nature of these groups, the way that the religious right branches out and establishes institutions to spread its philosophy always fascinates me.  Have liberals done enough to emulate that?  

by cyncooper on Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 11:17:18 AM EST
A few interesting facts.  He was, as I recall, an ACLU lawyer who had a religious conversion that turned into a political conversion.

He is a longtime leader in the Constitution Party (formerly the U.S. Taxpayers Party). He was the 1996 USTP vice presidential nominee) and unsuccessfully sought the nomination in 2000.

Among other things, he believes that Roe and other cases decided by the Courts apply only to those who appear before the court and have no wider application. Thus, Roe should not be respected by state and local authorities, abortion clinics closed and doctors prosecuted. (See Eternal Hostility)

More recently, he has been a lawyer for Roy Moore and helped author the Constitution Restoration Act (which has not been passed.)

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 12:05:42 PM EST

From your description, there is actually a great deal of similarity between Titus' idea of Roe to what is happening in Ayotte.  Although the Supreme Court could decide Ayotte in any number of ways, one direction it could go it to say that decisions on anti-abortion regulations will only apply on a case-by-case basis, that is "as applied' to the people who come before the court and to no one else.  

The Supreme Court clearly sees Ayotte as important -- possibly more so than the public or the media.  New Chief Justice John Roberts has designated it as one of two cases for which the oral arguments will be released immediately for radio broadcast.  

by cyncooper on Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 01:45:36 PM EST

says that the court is "legislating from the bench", this is often what they mean.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 03:50:05 PM EST
Liberty Counsel describes the Ayotte case just in the way that you describe Titus.  

Another religious right litigation group run by Matthew Staver, Liberty also filed a brief for the anti-abortion position.  Staver says: The Ayotte case pending before the High Court is enormously significant.

In a press release, Liberty Counsel explains its position:

(T)he broader legal issue involves an "as applied" versus a "facial" challenge to legislation. An "as applied" challenge contests the application of a law to a specific situation, and if found unconstitutional, it is unconstitutional in that specific application. If the law can be constitutionally applied to another set of facts, it remains constitutional to that set of facts. A "facial" challenge is an exception to normal litigation and can usually only occur in a limited free speech context. Even in that context, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the law is unconstitutional in every conceivable application. This is a heavy burden to prove.

Many legal challenges to abortion legislation have been preemptive, that is, facial challenges filed before the law has been applied or enforced. In 2000, the Supreme Court by a 5-4 decision in Carhart v. Stenberg struck down a law that banned partial birth abortion, and in 1992 the Court reaffirmed and strengthened Roe v. Wade by inventing the "undue burden" test in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Both Casey and Carhart were facial challenges. Following the lead of the Supreme Court, lower federal courts have not only allowed pre-enforcement challenges to abortion laws, but have also struck down abortion laws based on one, albeit remote, hypothetical application of the law that places an "undue burden" on a woman's access to abortion. Although the law may be constitutionally applied in a myriad of ways, one remote hypothetical application has been enough to doom the entire law.

by cyncooper on Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 10:40:55 AM EST

For groups on the liberal side of things, creating strategically significant institutions iin answer to the is a relatively new thing.

George Soros and a group of Democratic oriented millionaires has started an encouraging-sounding effort to think in these terms, but the religious right and thier allies are two-to-three decades ahead.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 12:34:00 PM EST

The Yellow Pad has always been my go-to for daily reliable and entertaining information. Those guys deserve a raise, to be honest. Even concrete cutting doesn't come to close to being as entertaining as they are.

by Daniel Teeseling on Thu Nov 05, 2020 at 06:51:35 PM EST

Right when you are beginning late changed once again into the Christianity religion, you may go confronting most noteworthy troubles which can change your life totally into another course. In any case, if you are associated with all supporters of Christianity, by then they may strengthen you.  more

by Abbot45558 on Tue Nov 19, 2019 at 07:33:22 AM EST

Guardians ought to sufficiently investigate the adolescent's arrangement correspondingly as they should improve a than normal undertaking in making the direction life of a youngster profitable. Guards should see the enormity of their consolidation in youngster's direction.  http://www.sentencestructure.org/grammar-and-sentence-structure-c hecker/

by Abbot45558 on Tue Nov 19, 2019 at 08:47:27 AM EST
I'm reading this comment with some chaps from https://www.commercialpaintersbrisbane.com/ and none of us fathom how this is connected to the article?

by Thomas Maxwell on Tue Feb 02, 2021 at 08:15:42 AM EST

Thank you for informing us on this situation.

by IAmRoger on Fri Oct 02, 2020 at 08:17:34 PM EST

+1 for the Yellow Legal Pad. I've been a reader for as long as I can remember and what I love about them is their substance. They're not just writing words that sound nice, but they also write with meaning, direction, and purpose. I can't help myself from reading a column everytime I'm at skip bins ipswich

by Daniel Teeseling on Mon Nov 02, 2020 at 06:58:37 PM EST
We at towing Ipswich have been long time fans of Yellow Legal Pad. I hope they last!

by Thomas Maxwell on Wed Dec 02, 2020 at 06:46:45 PM EST

The anti-abortion activists hate this so-called health exception which they consider a giant loophole to all of the restrictions and bans they want to pass - a doctor could just claim, they say, that a woman might get sick or get depressed and avoid an anti-abortion ban. ACLJ filed a brief stating that a health exception is not necessary. | Decking Contractor               

by maroso on Mon Sep 13, 2021 at 07:52:10 AM EST
thank you for sharing your thoughts https:/www.chslawncareservices.com

by pghchsservices on Fri Sep 22, 2023 at 02:59:29 PM EST

The practical result over the next two or three years is that states could go wild enacting all of the willy-nilly anti-abortion restrictions that the religious right can dream up, and they would go into effect.


by madmardigan on Mon Nov 22, 2021 at 04:54:49 AM EST

I truly love this post I will visit again to peruse your post in an exceptionally brief time and I trust you will make more posts this way.

Drywall Repair in Arlington tx

by maroso on Mon Feb 21, 2022 at 09:35:10 AM EST

The anti-abortion movement has been very deliberate and particularly clever at framing issues to take to the courts.
drywal repair in sacramento ca

by maroso on Mon Jul 17, 2023 at 06:02:37 AM EST

Either way, it's a bundle, and the legal advocacy is as important to a religious right takeover as the naming of the next Supreme Court justice.  

by madmardigan on Tue Apr 19, 2022 at 10:23:01 PM EST

Either way, it's a bundle, and the legal advocacy is as important to a religious right takeover as the naming of the next Supreme Court justice.  
Drywall Contractor in Dallas Fort Worth, Tx

by maroso on Wed Apr 27, 2022 at 12:27:06 AM EST

The anti-abortion activists hate this so-called health exception which they consider a giant loophole to all of the restrictions and bans they want to pass - a doctor could just claim, they say, that a woman might get sick or get depressed and avoid an anti-abortion ban. - austin photo booth

by madmardigan on Wed May 04, 2022 at 09:18:45 PM EST

Which amendment of the US Constitution protects the freedom of religion of inmates? eastern suburbs

by cleo96 on Thu May 12, 2022 at 10:23:37 PM EST

The idea that the United States has always been a bastion of religious freedom is reassuring--and utterly at odds with the historical record. URL: www.treeremovalmelbournearborists.com/eastern-suburbs/

by cleo96 on Thu Jun 09, 2022 at 10:01:49 AM EST

What an impressive information. Thanks for sharing social security card replacement

by Danielperez123 on Tue Jul 19, 2022 at 07:46:28 AM EST

The religious right movement began in the 1970s after Supreme Court decisions in First Amendment cases that invalidated public prayer and Bible readings bathroom renovations

by cleo96 on Thu Oct 13, 2022 at 05:47:49 AM EST

The anti-abortion movement has been very deliberate and particularly clever at framing issues to take to the courts. - porn addiction help  

by madmardigan on Sat Nov 12, 2022 at 10:12:53 AM EST

The anti-abortion movement has been very deliberate and particularly clever at framing issues to take to the courts. - porn addiction help  

by madmardigan on Sat Nov 12, 2022 at 10:13:07 AM EST

I wanted to visit and let you know how great I treasured discovering your website today. I'd consider it an honor to work at my business office and be able to operate on the tips provided on your website and also be involved in visitors' reviews like this. Should a position of guest writer become offered at your end, I highly recommend you let me know. Visit commercial cleaners site

by rickluck90 on Thu Jan 26, 2023 at 03:54:32 AM EST

Legal opponents of abortion examine the current legislation for loopholes and work with their right-wing friends in legislatures to pass the proposed legislation. See: https:/www.stpaulguttercleaner.com

by madmardigan on Tue Feb 28, 2023 at 09:04:19 AM EST

Among its original goals are "the defense of religious freedom and civil liberties under the First Amendment in an opposition to anti-religious hostility."  drywall repair contractors

by maroso on Fri Apr 28, 2023 at 11:23:30 PM EST

The practical outcome is that during the following two or three years, states might pass any anti-abortion laws the religious right can think of at random, and they would go into force. |  residential concrete driveway repair

by madmardigan on Mon Aug 14, 2023 at 11:03:51 AM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (374 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (195 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (109 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (101 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (113 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (144 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (126 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (117 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (250 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (63 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (160 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (176 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (59 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (65 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (218 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (253 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (107 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (211 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (163 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (163 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (168 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (156 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (129 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (315 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (148 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (90 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (212 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.