With three cases accepted by the Supreme Court and four pending, 2014 will be a landmark year for human rights. Specifically, the right to publicly live out our faith, and the freedom to speak the truth freely will be affected by the outcome of several critical cases.
The following five cases hold major implications for the future:
- The Conestoga Wood Specialties, Hobby Lobby, and HHS Mandate Cases. The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to review a lawsuit filed by the Hahns, a Mennonite family who owns Conestoga Wood Specialties, and the Greens, the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby, that challenges the HHS Mandate requiring employers to pay for abortion pills for their employees. Alliance Defending Freedom, along with allies at the Independence Law Center and the Becket Fund, is asking the court to strike down the mandate.
- The Elane Photography Case. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in August 2013 that our clients, Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography, did not have the right to refuse to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, stating that there is a “price” to pay for their faith – and it involves “compromising” their beliefs. Our legal opponents have effectually argued that even an artist doesn't have the right to refuse to create art that they morally disagree with.
- The Town of Greece Case. Last fall, the Supreme Court heard the arguments for a case in which the Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued the Town of Greece on behalf of two residents, who claim that allowing volunteers to offer uncensored Christian prayer at the opening of town meetings is unconstitutional, even though the town allowed people of all beliefs to an opportunity to open the meetings. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the town argue that the practice of invoking divine guidance and blessings has always been constitutional.
- The Buffer Zone Case. The Massachusetts legislature created a 35-foot fixed buffer zone around abortion clinics, prohibiting anyone from entering the zone at all unless they are going to or from the clinic, or if they are passing through the zone to go somewhere else, effectively constricting the speech of peaceful pro-life advocates. Alliance Defending Freedom and allied attorneys will argue that this law is a violation of free speech before the Supreme Court January 15th.
- The Domenic Johansson Case. On the global level, Alliance Defending Freedom and Home School Legal Defense Association attorneys asked the European Court of Human Rights to free 11-year-old Domenic Johansson after Swedish authorities forcibly removed Domenic from his parents. He was abducted and placed in foster care for four years because his parents chose to home-school him, even though the officials did not have a warrant and did not charge his parents with any crime, as homeschooling was still legal in Sweden at the time. The government eventually cut off all visitations from his parents and most relatives, even refusing to allow him to attend his grandmother’s funeral.
These five cases are a small sampling of the struggles we can expect to face in the coming year. But, we are encouraged by the nation-shaping victories of 2013.
We know that God is still at work: in the hearts of justices, policy makers, and even in our opposition; breathing courage into the hearts of believers to stand up boldly, reviving His church to be a beacon of truth, and shaping us into more effective servants for his cause.
Regardless of the outcomes, we trust that God’s eternal purposes won’t be thwarted.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Thank you for your faithful support in 2013. Without your financial support, we wouldn't be able to offer families like the Hahns, Huguenins, and Johanssons our legal services free of charge. Without your prayer support, we wouldn't have the clarity, courage, and confidence to win.