We so often bemoan and chafe at court rulings that seem at odds with the Constitution and an impediment to even our most basic freedoms that it’s more than appropriate to take notice – and celebrate – the victories that actually affirm our legal system. A quick snapshot of three recent court decisions that encourage our hope in God’s ability to work through (as well as in spite of) the judicial branch of our government:
- Texas, a federal judge has blocked throughout most of the nation – for now – the Obama administration’s efforts to force public schools to allow boys into girls’ locker rooms, showers, and restrooms. The judge says the federal government neglected to follow the proper legal channels in issuing its mandate (it failed to give public notice and seek public comments) and has misread the clear text of the Title IX law that the mandate, purportedly, is based on.
The judge has therefore put this latest Obama mandate on hold, pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed against it by numerous states across the country. (Alliance Defending Freedom is litigating additional lawsuits on the issue, filed against the departments of Education and Justice on behalf of school districts in Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio)
“The Obama administration cannot unilaterally disregard and redefine federal law to accomplish its political agenda of forcing girls to share locker rooms and showers with boys,” says ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “Schools have a duty to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students, and this order certainly helps them in fulfilling that duty.”
- In Michigan, a federal court ruled earlier this month in favor of a funeral home sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for enforcing a sex-specific dress code against a biologically male employee who wanted to wear a woman’s uniform while interacting with the public. The funeral home owner discharged the employee when he refused to dress in a manner sensitive to grieving family members and friends.
While the EEOC has challenged the owner’s right to enforce such a dress code, the court says the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects the freedom of business owners to maintain a dress code consistent with their sincerely held faith convictions.
“The feds shouldn’t strong-arm private business owners into violating their religious beliefs,” says ADF Legal Counsel Doug Wardlow, who argued on the owner’s behalf before the court on August 11, “and the court has affirmed that here.”
Sometimes, the court doesn’t even have to affirm a good conclusion. In Maryland, a man who’s been suing Allegany County commissioners for allowing a monument to the 10 Commandments to stand on courthouse property decided to drop his lawsuit earlier this month, for reasons of his own. (ADF attorneys and others representing the commissioners had filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit earlier this summer.)
“The emotional response of an offended passerby doesn’t automatically amount to a violation of the Establishment Clause,” says ADF Senior Counsel Brett Harvey. “Mr. Davis was right to end his quest to uproot this monument, which is virtually identical to a monument in Texas that the U.S. Supreme Court already upheld. Because the county’s monument would survive constitutional scrutiny, we are pleased that it will be able to stay.”
I started this column by citing these cases as affirmations that our legal system works. But, of course, in the end, success hinges not on the efficiency or efficacy of a system – but on the people who work within it.
These victories give us encouragement that way. No, justice does not always prevail for worthy clients, nor does it always emerge from even a well-conceived judicial code. But the wins remind us that God does give wisdom to those who sit on our courts (when they choose to receive it), and He can work in their hearts and rulings to accomplish His purposes.
It’s good to remember that, as we bring before our nation’s courts – at the local, state, and federal level – some significant legal challenges in the months and years ahead. And it’s important to remember that, as we pray for the outcome of elections that will choose those judges, in some cases, and choose those who will choose them, in others.
May the Lord give us grace and wisdom to elect those who will know – and honor – His truth and justice when He reveals it.