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ADF attorneys file brief defending White House plan to inform groups about federal funding to help the poor

U.S. Supreme Court to hear appeal of decision that said taxpayers may sue White House for funding conference informing charities about federal assistance
Published On: 10/18/2017

WASHINGTON — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that it should dismiss a lawsuit by taxpayers challenging the constitutionality of a White House plan to fund conferences that inform faith-based and secular charitable organizations about federal funding for programs which help the poor.  The conferences also would provide information how to apply for such grants.

The taxpayers challenging the conference are members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc., an organization of atheists and agnostics.

“The taxpayers cannot go to court because they were not harmed by the White House funding these conferences.  The only people being hurt by this lawsuit are America’s poor and needy.  The White House did not violate the Establishment Clause by funding conferences to inform charities about existing federal programs to help them.  No faith-based ministry received any funding through these conferences,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence, who authored the brief with ADF Litigation Counsel Dale Schowengerdt.

“The Freedom from Religion Foundation is seeking to limit the effect of federal programs intended to help the poor by keeping the faith-based service providers in the dark about the availability of those programs,” Lorence said.

FFRF, a Madison, Wisc., based organization of atheists and agnostics, sued the White House as taxpayers claiming the expenditure on the conference violated the Establishment Clause.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that the taxpayers had “standing” to challenge the conference and allowed the case to proceed.  The brief asks the Supreme Court to enforce Article III standing requirements (which require that plaintiffs demonstrate concrete injury) in Establishment Clause cases to protect faith-based ministries from ongoing legal attacks from the ACLU, FFRF, and their allies.

A copy of the friend-of-the-court brief filed Jan. 5 in Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation on behalf of We Care America, a faith-based organization with affiliates in 28 states, can be read here.

“This case demonstrates how the ACLU and its allies, such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, warp the regular constitutional rules about who can go to court in order to push their extreme ‘separation of church and state’ view,” said Lorence.  “The court has the opportunity in this case to require the Freedom from Religion Foundation to abide by the same rules that the Constitution requires everyone else to follow when bringing their lawsuits to court.”

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. 

www.telladf.org