BLOGA Snapshot of America’s Legal Landscape, on the Eve of Election

By Alan Sears Posted on: | October 14, 2016

There's a clear and disturbing pattern emerging in our national life – a threat looming large on the legal and political landscape, and casting a long shadow over the election so near upon us.

In our democratic republic, the government is supposed to protect the natural rights of its citizens, as outlined in the Constitution. Instead, many government officials are ignoring that constitution and attacking those rights… arrogantly raising up their own idols and demanding that the people bow before them. And the price of not bowing is going up, week by week. Not everyone is paying attention.

See if you can connect the ominous dots:

  • In Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed off on a law that will force pro-life clinics and physicians to promote abortion – regardless of their religious, moral, or ethical views. Our Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed suit in federal court, challenging the law on behalf of a multiple pregnancy care centers, a pregnancy care center network, and a doctor and her medical practice.

Last spring, ADF sent the governor a letter, courteously warning him that the bill he was then considering would violate federal law and therefore place federal funding, including Medicaid reimbursements, in jeopardy. We had provided that same information to the Illinois legislature last year, as its members prepared to vote on the bill. Both warnings were ignored – political expediency beating out responsible government.

  • In Virginia, the ACLU is urging the government to force the Gloucester County School Board to revise its policies to authorize a girl to use boys’ private facilities. The ACLU is accusing the school district of violating federal law – Title IX and the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause – when in fact the ACLU itself is twisting the clear directives of both.

The Gloucester district has elected to reserve restrooms and locker rooms for members of the same biological sex, while providing individualized private facility for students uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds with their sex. The ACLU says that's not good enough, and a 4th Circuit federal judicial panel agreed with their demands, rejecting an earlier district court decision which affirmed the school district’s privacy-protecting policy.

ADF filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of nearly 9,000 concerned parents, students, grandparents, and community members, as well as more than 40 state family policy councils, all of whom support the district's privacy policy. Similar briefs have been filed by multiple states and more than 100 members of Congress, and the Supreme Court has placed a hold on the 4th Circuit's mandate pending its own decision of whether or not to review the case.

In addition to supporting the Gloucester schools, ADF has filed lawsuits to protect the privacy of  hundreds of parents and students in Illinois, Ohio, and Minnesota against the Departments of Education and Justice, charging them with deliberately misinterpreting Title IX, invoking authority they don't have to change the law's meaning, and using bullying tactics to enforce their political will on families and educators all over America.

  • In Vermont, state officials with the Board of Medical Practice and the Office of Professional Regulation have decided that state mandates related to Vermont's assisted suicide law require all health care professionals to offer doctor-prescribed death as an option to their patients – whatever the doctors' personal views on the sanctity of life.

ADF attorneys are asking a federal court to block enforcement of the state officials' directives pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by a number of those medical professionals in defense of their rights and religious freedom.

  • And, in Massachusetts, the state's (ironically named) Commission Against Discrimination and Attorney General Maura Healey have decided that the commonwealth's public accommodations law requires churches to make all of their changing rooms, shower facilities, restrooms, and other intimate areas available to people of all sexes and gender interpretations.

That doing so might conflict with the congregations' religious beliefs is of no concern to state officials… who are also demanding that the churches refrain from any religious expression (sermons, Bible readings) that might conflict with the government-dictated view of human sexuality. (ADF attorneys have now filed a lawsuit against the state officials on behalf of four churches and their pastors, defending the congregations' religious freedom.)

Each of these individual states' actions, of course, has implications for all of the others, as elected officials coast to coast watch to see what mandates against religious freedom and rights of conscience the courts will support… and how much anti-constitutional activity they’ll indulge.

But it's come to this: the federal and state governments are working more and more in sync to ignore our constitutional rights and force the social and political views of an aggressive few on all of us. If these actions stand, you, your family, your friends, your fellow church members can and eventually will be ordered by the state to endorse, support, and take part in taking the lives of others, in and out of the womb. You will be forced to allow your children to share private facilities with people of other genders… and even church will offer no refuge.

For, as Massachusetts' actions make clear, telling people of faith what they can or can't do won't be enough for long. The inevitable next step will be telling us what we can and cannot believe.

When you turn off the news in frustration… when you shrug your shoulders at what's going to happen as the result of an election whose leading candidates you find equally repellent… when you close your eyes and hope things will somehow, against all odds, turn magically around four years from now… stop, and look at what's happening, state by state, across our country.

This is the legal environment of America today. This is what's in the balance, as we vote our conscience, and pray. So pray we must, dear friends – pray earnestly, we must.

Alan Sears


Alan Sears served as founder of Alliance Defending Freedom, building on his experience as longtime leader of the organization to strengthen alliances, forge new relationships, and develop ADF resources.

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