Category Archives: Constitution

*sigh*

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. Sell not liberty to purchase power.
Benjamin Franklin

Well, I think we’re there.

Timeline of Benghazi victim #5: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California (Sept 15, 2012)
Okay, I’m the first to admit that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is a fairly unattractive victim. He has a long history of run-ins with the law, primarily on fraud charges, including bank fraud, check-kiting, and operating businesses under various aliases.

Oh, and of course, he’s still alive, unlike Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty, the four Americans killed during the Benghazi, Libya, attack. But as he sits in jail, denied bail, Nakoula’s a victim of the Obama Administration’s refusal to admit that what happened in Benghazi had nothing to do with Nakoula’s film, Innocence of Muslims, and everything to do with a planned terrorist attack aimed at the United States, specifically on 9/11.

So in order to keep up the administration’s Potemkin façade of riot and death by video (and only video), Nakoula currently remains in jail (since September 27) on charges of violating his probation, including using the Internet without permission from his parole officer.

Before I go into the timeline, there is this bit of legal perspective from Ken from Popehat (h/t Patterico):

Based on 6 years as a federal prosecutor and 12 as a federal defense lawyer, let me say this: minor use of a computer — like uploading a video to YouTube — is not something that I would usually expect to result in arrest and a revocation proceeding; I think a warning would be more likely unless the defendant had already had warnings or the probation officer was a hardass. But if I had a client with a serious fraud conviction, and his fraud involved aliases, and he had the standard term forbidding him from using aliases during supervised release, and his probation officer found out that he was running a business, producing a movie, soliciting money, and interacting with others using an alias, I would absolutely expect him to be arrested immediately, whatever the content of the movie. Seriously. Nakoula pled guilty to using alias to scam money. Now he’s apparently been producing a film under an alias, dealing with the finances of the film under the alias, and (if his “Sam Bacile” persona is to be believed) soliciting financing under an alias. I would expect him to run into a world of hurt for that even if he were producing a “Coexist” video involving kittens.

And Patterico’s comment on that is right on the money:

The problem we have here is that the head of the federal executive has criticized this guy repeatedly. His administration pressured Google to take down his movie; his Cairo embassy called it an “abuse” of free speech; and his State Department apologized for it in a country (Pakistan) where a public official offered money for the filmmaker to be killed.

So even if the line guys are doing their jobs the way they would otherwise, the President has made them look like political hacks. Which is unfortunate on several levels.

So, now to the timeline:

  • July 1-2 – You­Tube user “sam ba­cile” up­loads a 14-minute trail­er for a movie titled Innocence of Muslims, con­sist­ing of video clips that mock the Is­lam­ic proph­et Muhammad. (Los Angeles Times)
  • September 4 – An Arabic-dubbed version of the trailer is uploaded to YouTube.
  • September 8 – The Egyptian religious television channel Al Nas airs the video and condemns it.
  • September 11 – Four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, are killed when militants attack and burn the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In Egypt, protesters scale the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tear down an American flag. Emails from the State Department Operations Center linking terrorists (not protestors) to the Libyan attack are sent to a number of government and intelligence agencies (including the White House Situation Room, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI) two hours after the attack begins. (CBS News, Sharyl Attkisson)
  • September 12President Barack Obama, in an interview with Steve Kroft of CBS 60 Minutes, says: “You’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt, and my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.” This part of the interview is not aired or reported by CBS until posted online on October 19. (Breitbart.com)
  • September 12 – President Obama condemns the film and any violence that has resulted from it. (USA Today)
  • September 12/September 13 – The U.S. government identifies and provides the media with the name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian in southern California who is on probation after his conviction for financial crimes as the key figure behind the anti-Muslim film that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Mideast. It is not immediately clear whether Nakoula is the target of a criminal investigation or part of a broader investigation into the deaths of the four Americans in Libya. (AP, Stephen Braun) Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are called to Nakoula’s Cerritos home after reports of a large group of news media gathered outside.
  • September 13 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemns Nakoula’s film while meeting with Moroccan officials. (TPM)
  • September 13– The U.S. apologizes for free speech in an online statement issued by the U.S. embassy in Cairo:

    The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. … Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

  • September 14Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, says that Nakoula’s federal probation on charges of bank fraud in 2010 is under review, but provides no details of why or when the probation review was initiated, or how long the process would take. (CNN)
  • September 14 – Bodies of the four Americans killed in Libya are returned to the U.S. for burial. At their memorial service at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Charles Woods, father of fallen Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, says that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assures him that they are going to “arrest and prosecute” the man that made the scapegoated YouTube video critical of Islam. (Breitbart.com)
  • September 15 – Nakoula is escorted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to an overnight “voluntary interview” with a probation officer, after federal officials say they are reviewing his probation. He is interviewed for about half an hour at the station shortly after 12 a.m. in his hometown of Cerritos, California. Nakoula leaves the local sheriff’s station after the federal officials are done interviewing him. (CNN and the New York Daily News)
  • September 17 – Family members of Nakoula leave their their home early Monday morning to join the filmmaker in hiding. Nakoula has not returned to his home since being interviewed by federal probation officers about his role in the creation of the film, which federal authorities claim have ignited ignited violent anti-American protests across the Muslim world. Shortly before 4 a.m., officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department escorted members of Nakoula’s family, who had their faces covered, out of the house and into police vehicles so they could rejoin Nakoula at an undisclosed location. It is the understanding of Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, that they won’t ever return to their Cerritos house, though that decision is “entirely up to the family.” (ABC News)
  • September 20 – The U.S. government airs an advertisement in Pakistan condemning Nakoula’s film and apologizing, once again, for free speech. The ad, which costs around $70,000 and airs on approximately seven different television markets in Pakistan (according to U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland), is appearing in an attempt to undercut anger against the U.S. The television ad features clips of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton during press appearances in Washington in which they condemn the video. Their words are subtitled in Urdu. “We absolutely reject its content and message,” said Clinton in the advertisement. A caption on the ad reads: “Paid Content.” Obama and Clinton did not film their statements for the ad, instead clips were taken from statements condemning the film each had made earlier. President Obama’s remarks were recorded in Washington, D.C. on September 12 and those of Secretary Clinton were from September 13 in Morocco. The ad ends with the seal of the American Embassy in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. In an email, the embassy also sent out a link to video of ordinary Americans condemning the anti-Islam film, which appeared on YouTube. (CBS News and the Jewish Press)
  • September 27 – A hearing on Nakoula’s probation violations results in charges being brought against him and denial of bail. Citing a lengthy pattern of deception, U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal says Nakoula should be held as a flight risk after officials say he violated his probation from a 2010 check fraud conviction. Authorities say he has eight probation violations, including lying to his probation officers and using aliases, and he might face new charges that carry a maximum two-year prison term. Nakoula remains behind bars until another hearing where a judge will rule if he broke the terms of his probation. Under his probation, Nakoula is banned from using computers and the Internet without supervision. Some critics have said the probation-violation probe of Nakoula is a sign that the White House is seeking to appease extremists and weakening U.S. speech freedoms. U.S. law-enforcement officials portray the investigation of Nakoula as a routine response to public information about a potential violation. (Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post)
  • October 10 – Nakoula appears before U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder in Los Angeles. He denies he violated his probation that resulted from a bank fraud conviction in 2010. Snyder schedules an evidentiary hearing for November 9, 2012 (after the presidential election). (Wikipedia)

Nakoula currently remains in jail.

From the PJ Tatler

USCCB responds to inaccurate statement of fact on HHS mandate

Whoops, guess the Catholic bishops are not too happy about Vice President Biden’s dissembling during the debate last night (although, strangely, they don’t say who said this–trying to be politically neutral? Hey, a fact’s a fact: Biden said it, he needs to own it):

Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:

“With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”

This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain “religious employers.” That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to “Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,” or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.

HHS has proposed an additional “accommodation” for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as “non-exempt.” That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation “to pay for contraception” and “to be a vehicle to get contraception.” They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.

USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.

For more details, please see USCCB’s regulatory comments filed on May 15 regarding the proposed “accommodation”: www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/comments-on-advance-notice-of-proposed-rulemaking-on-preventive-services-12-05-15.pdf

Check it out.

Protecting consciences, or what I found in my church bulletin today

From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

USCCB Nationwide Bulletin Insert June 2012
WHY CONSCIENCE IS IMPORTANT

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Americans shone the light of the Gospel on a dark history of slavery, segregation, and racial bigotry. The civil rights movement was an essentially religious movement, a call to awaken consciences.

In his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. boldly said, “The goal of America is freedom.” As a Christian pastor, he argued that to call America to the full measure of that freedom was the specific contribution Christians are obliged to make. He rooted his legal and constitutional arguments about justice in the long Christian tradition: “I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’… A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”

Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified. Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.

The church does not ask for special treatment, simply the rights of religious freedom for all citizens. Rev. King also explained that the church is neither the master nor the servant of the state, but its conscience, guide, and critic.

Catholics and many other Americans have strongly criticized the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. For the first time in our history, the federal government will force religious institutions to fund and facilitate coverage of a drug or procedure contrary to their moral teaching, and purport to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit an exemption. This is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide such coverage even when it violates our consciences.

What we ask is nothing more than the right to follow our consciences as we live out our teaching. This right is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? Without religious liberty properly understood, all Americans suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that religious Americans make every day.

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it.

What can you do to ensure the protection of conscience rights?

  • The U.S. Bishops have called us to get informed, pray and advocate. To send your message to HHS and Congress telling them to uphold religious liberty and conscience rights, go to www.usccb.org/conscience today! Thank you for joining the effort to end this unprecedented government coercion.
  • The Bishops have called for a Fortnight for Freedom – June 21-July 4. Please go to www.fortnight4freedom.org for more information on this important time of prayer and action!

N.C. catholic bishops on the Marriage Protection vote

Marriage Protection vote in North CarolinaAll but seven of N.C. counties voted overwhelmingly in favor of the marriage amendment May 8. (Source: N.C. State Board of Elections)

A quick look at those in light blue (counties that voted against the Marriage Protection amendment) and I see (starting from the far west):

  • Buncombe County: home to Asheville, the largest city in western North Carolina who delights in holding herself up as the enlightened beacon in the midst of backwoods bumpkins
  • Watagua County (northeast of Buncombe): I have no idea what’s going on here
  • Mecklenburg County (way south of Watagua): home to Charlotte, a major metropolitan area
  • Orange, Durham, Chatham, and Wake counties: well, that’s Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill–what did you expect?

From the Catholic News Herald:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With a heavy turnout at the polls, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman by a 3-to-2 margin.
From the Catholic News Herald:

In unofficial results calculated late May 8 by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, 1,303,952 people — 61.05 percent — voted for the amendment while 831,788 people — 38.95 percent — voted against it.

The amendment read, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” It enshrines the definition of traditional marriage in the state constitution, elevating it from what has been state law since 1996.

Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, who were at the Vatican May 8 for their “ad limina” visits, had both championed the amendment, which they said would prevent any arbitrary redefinition of marriage.

Marriage, they reminded Catholics, is based in natural law by God and instituted as a sacrament by Jesus Christ. It binds together a family, the fundamental building block of all societies, and provides the most stable and nurturing environment to raise children….

Ever since the amendment was put on the ballot by the Republican-led Legislature last fall, the bishops had urged Catholics to vote for it. They communicated with parishioners in print and online diocesan news media, TV and radio ads, parish bulletins and postcards, billboards and yard signs, and letters read from the pulpit during Masses the weekend before the vote.

The bishops had said the vote presented an opportunity to explain the importance and sanctity of traditional marriage in the Church and in society.

In a joint letter read at all Masses May 5-6, the bishops wrote, “We are for marriage, as we believe it is a vocation in which God calls couples to faithfully and permanently embrace a fruitful union in a mutual self-giving bond of love, according to his purposes. It is not only the union itself that is essential to these purposes, but also the life to which spouses are called to be open, the gift of children.”

Their efforts ran parallel to the campaign by Vote For Marriage NC, a nonpartisan coalition of churches, groups and individuals that organized public support for the amendment, which even at the start of the campaign last fall was considered widely popular among North Carolina voters. Each diocese also donated $50,000 to the Vote for Marriage NC campaign for its advertising blitz and voter education efforts….

Read it all.

Marriage Protection Amendment controversy leads to vandalism

FOR Marriage signs defaced in Henderson County (NC)

Unfortunately, I saw this in California as well during the Prop 8 vote in 2008–today, as then, most of the signs defaced are those supporting traditional marriage. In California, when the people voted to uphold traditional marriage, there was additional vandalism and violence from those who supported same-sex marriage, even reports of people who donated to the Prop 8 campaign being fired because of that support.

From the Hendersonville Times-News:

Board of Elections Director Beverly Cunningham said vandalized signs have never been a problem since during her time at the helm of her office. Until this year, however, when a heated controversy over the definition of marriage has led to reports of slashed and stolen signs across the county.

Several Times-News callers and letter writers have reported signs being vandalized or stolen, both those supporting and opposing North Carolina Senate Bill 512, or Amendment One.

The bill, if passed by voters May 8 in the primary election, would amend the state Constitution to say that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union valid or recognized in the state.

While she has not received any official written complaints, Cunningham said she has heard people talking about the vandalism….

The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office has received several calls concerning the destruction, vandalism and larceny of political signs, said Capt. Frank Stout.

“Most of these calls have been in reference to the vote for marriage amendment signs,” he said….

Read it all.

N.C.: Campbell University School of Law professors submit a white paper on the Marriage Amendment

On April 18, 2012, Lynn R. Buzzard, William A. Woodruff, and E. Gregory Wallace, professors at Campbell University School of Law, submitted a white paper to the North Carolina public. In “The Meaning and Potential Legal Effects of North Carolina’s Proposed Marriage Amendment,” the professors bring to light several factual inaccuracies that have been spread by those opposed to the Marriage Amendment (on the ballot this May 8).

Vote FOR Marriage NC presents a short outline summary of the facts presented by the white paper:

30-State Precedent:

  • Thirty states have passed similar amendments.
  • The intent of these amendments are clear: (1) to protect the definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and (2) prohibits the legal validity of marriage-like imitations or substitutes.
  • There is no evidence that NC’s proposed Amendment is intended to go further than the marriage amendments in every other state.

UNC’s Maxine Eichner’s Doublespeak:

  • UNC professor Maxine Eichner’s flawed analysis does not give the term “union” its proper effect in limiting the Amendment’s reach.
  • In her 27-page report, she only devotes a single sentence to the meaning of the term “union.” She also fails to footnote this single sentence.
  • Idaho’s marriage amendment, which has the exact wording as the proposed North Carolina amendment—to date—has not reported a single appellate court decision clarifying the amendment’s meaning. “Professor Eichner concedes as much when she observes that ‘Idaho courts have yet to interpret that statute.’”

The Ohio Factor and Domestic Violence:

  • “There is a significant difference between Ohio and North Carolina, and it is a difference that favors domestic violence protections in North Carolina.”
  • Unlike Ohio, North Carolina domestic violence law outlines six possible identifiers of people who are in a “personal relationship,” only one of the six possibilities includes the presence of a “current or former spouse.”
  • “The Ohio Supreme Court overruled these decisions and held that the domestic violence protections do not violate Ohio’s marriage amendment.”

Partner Benefits:

  • The Marriage Protection Amendment is very clear that it would not affect private contracts.
  • “[I]f the proposed Amendment passes, same-sex partners still may be able to receive health insurance benefits.”
  • “The proposed Amendment also does not prevent private employers from extending health insurance benefits to domestic partners, no matter how those relationships are defined.”
  • “The amendment specifically provides that it ‘does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • “The proposed Amendment does not change the ‘best interests of the child’ standard that North Carolina courts use for determining custody and visitation.”
  • “The Amendment’s plain language…does not disapprove of cohabitation or make illegal non-marital relationships; rather it bars the state from creating or recognizing a legal status for unmarried couples that resembles marriage.”
  • The second sentence of the actual ballot language clearly states: “This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”
  • This Amendment does not impact other couples or the benefits they receive.
  • It also does NOT impact domestic violence laws, interfere with existing child custody and visitation rights or invalidate trusts, wills, and end-of-life directives.
  • “Marriage provides women with protection against domestic violence and abandonment far better than any other human relationship or institution.”

N.C.: District attorneys rebut the Marriage Amendment opposition

From Vote FOR Marriage NC, district attorneys and law enforcement officials rebut allegations of domestic violence impact of the Marriage Amendment:

Today, a coalition of District Attorneys, legal professionals, and other law enforcement officials sharply rebutted claims that the pending constitutional amendment on marriage would strip citizens of domestic violence protections, as is being claimed in television ads being aired by amendment opponents. The officials say such allegations are utterly false.

I am concerned about the false and misleading claims that are being made by opponents of the Marriage Protection Amendment,” said Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger, Jr., Vice President of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys. “Citizens should have no concern that the marriage amendment will impact domestic violence prosecution, because it will not.”

Berger was joined at the press conference by Jeff Hunt, District Attorney from Prosecutorial District #29B (Henderson, Polk, and Transylvania Counties), Tom Keith, former District Attorney from Prosecutorial District #21 (Forsyth County), Raven Byrne, family law attorney in Wake County, and Paul Wright, former District and Superior Court Judge.  Additionally, a written statement was issued by over a dozen prosecutors and law enforcement officials that said, “The protections of North Carolina’s domestic violence statute (General Statutes 50B-1) do not depend on the marital status of the victim or her relationship to the abuser. The law very clearly provides identical protections to married spouses as they do to unmarried women or men who have shared a household with the abuser. We encourage citizens to read the easily understandable law for themselves.”

In addition to Berger, Hunt, Keith, Byrne, and Wright, signers of the statement from law enforcement officials included the following:

Locke Bell – District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #27A (Gaston County)
Wallace Bradsher – District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #09A (Caswell and Person Counties)
Garry Frank – District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #22B (Davidson and Davie Counties)
Jay Gaither – District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #25 (Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties)
Terry Johnson – Sheriff, Alamance County
John Snyder – Former District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #20B (Union County)
Jerry Wilson – District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #24 (Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, and Yancey Counties)
Carey Winders – Sheriff, Wayne County

“We are pleased that these leading prosecutors and law enforcement officials have stepped forward to make it clear that the Marriage Protection Amendment will have absolutely no impact on victims of domestic violence,” said Tami Fitzgerald, Chairwoman of the Vote FOR Marriage NC campaign. “But we are distressed by the wholly dishonest and false advertising campaign being waged by our opponents. There are 30 state constitutional amendments defining marriage in this country, and not one has resulted in domestic violence protections being denied to unmarried people. Our opponents have completely abandoned campaigning on the marriage issue because they know that an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians support marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Putting our existing definition of marriage into the state constitution is all the amendment does.”

Cardinal Burke explains: Catholic employers cannot provide contraceptive coverage because they would be materially and formally cooperating with sin

From Renew America, on Thomas McKenna’s interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke on EWTN’s Catholic Action Insight:

Thomas McKenna: “It is beautiful to see how the faithful have rallied behind the Hierarchy….How does your Eminence comment on the union of solidarity of our bishops?”

Cardinal Burke: “Yes, I have received emails and other communications from lay faithful who say that they are supporting their bishops 100% and they have communicated to their bishops their gratitude and assured them that they want them to continue to be courageous and not to be deceived by any kind of false accommodations which in fact continue this same kind of agenda which sadly we have witnessed for too long in our country which is totally secular and therefore is anti-life and anti-family. I admire very much the courage of the bishops. At the same time I believe they would say it along with me that they are doing no more than their duty. A bishop has to protect his flock and when any individual or government attempts to force the flock to act against conscience in one of its most fundamental precepts then the bishops have to come to defend those who are entrusted to their pastoral care. So I am deeply grateful to all of the bishops who have spoken about this and who are encouraging the members of their flock to also speak up because our government needs to understand that what is being done with this mandate is contrary first of all to the fundamental human right, the right to the free exercise of one’s conscience and at the same time contrary to the very foundation of our nation.”

Thomas McKenna: “So a Catholic employer, really getting down to it, he does not, or she does not provide this because that way they would be, in a sense, cooperating with the sin…the sin of contraception or the sin of providing a contraceptive that would abort a child, is this correct?”

Cardinal Burke: “This is correct. It is not only a matter of what we call “material cooperation” in the sense that the employer by giving this insurance benefit is materially providing for the contraception but it is also “formal cooperation” because he is knowingly and deliberately doing this, making this available to people. There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong.”…

Read it all, and check out the entire interview here.

USCCB: Our first, most cherished liberty

From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

…As Catholic bishops and American citizens, we address an urgent summons to our fellow Catholics and fellow Americans to be on guard, for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.

This has been noticed both near and far. Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about his worry that religious liberty in the United States is being weakened. He called it the “most cherished of American freedoms”—and indeed it is. All the more reason to heed the warning of the Holy Father, a friend of America and an ally in the defense of freedom, in his recent address to American bishops…

Is our most cherished freedom truly under threat? Sadly, it is. This is not a theological or legal dispute without real world consequences. Consider the following:

  • HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. The mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services has received wide attention and has been met with our vigorous and united opposition. In an unprecedented way, the federal government will both force religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching and purport to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty. These features of the “preventive services” mandate amount to an unjust law. As Archbishop-designate William Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, testified to Congress: “This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. This is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. Instead, it is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs.”…
  • Christian students on campus. In its over-100-year history, the University of California Hastings College of Law has denied student organization status to only one group, the Christian Legal Society, because it required its leaders to be Christian and to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.
  • Catholic foster care and adoption services. Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and the state of Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities out of the business of providing adoption or foster care services—by revoking their licenses, by ending their government contracts, or both—because those Charities refused to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.
  • Discrimination against small church congregations. New York City enacted a rule that barred the Bronx Household of Faith and sixty other churches from renting public schools on weekends for worship services even though non-religious groups could rent the same schools for scores of other uses. While this would not frequently affect Catholic parishes, which generally own their own buildings, it would be devastating to many smaller congregations. It is a simple case of discrimination against religious believers.
  • Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. Notwithstanding years of excellent performance by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require us to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching. Religious institutions should not be disqualified from a government contract based on religious belief, and they do not somehow lose their religious identity or liberty upon entering such contracts. And yet a federal court in Massachusetts, turning religious liberty on its head, has since declared that such a disqualification is required by the First Amendment—that the government somehow violates religious liberty by allowing Catholic organizations to participate in contracts in a manner consistent with their beliefs on contraception and abortion….

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it….

This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue….

Read it all.

Test of Fire: Election 2012

From Catholics Called to Witness:

York: To Obama, legal precedents are all about politics

From Byron York at the Washington Examiner:

In 1996 Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act by huge bipartisan votes — 342 to 67 in the House and 85 to 14 in the Senate. President Bill Clinton signed the measure into law.

Now, the Obama administration says DOMA, which permits states to refuse to recognize gay marriages from other states and also creates a federal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. In Boston on Wednesday, Stuart Delery, an attorney for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, urged the First Circuit Court of Appeals to find DOMA violates the Constitution by discriminating against gays and lesbians. “I’m not here to defend [the law] on any standard,” Delery told the court.

What was striking about Delery’s request that a federal court strike down DOMA was that just a day or two before, President Obama railed at the very notion that a federal court would strike down any law passed by Congress….

If the president was so concerned about a court overturning a duly constituted law passed by a democratically elected Congress, why was he urging a small group of unelected judges to strike down DOMA, a measure that won passage by a far greater margin than Obamacare?

The answer is, of course, that the administration is making a political argument for its positions, not a legal one. And perhaps counterproductively, the president’s decision to bring up Obamacare’s history in Congress could end up reminding the public of the tangled circumstances of its passage. Even with a huge majority in the House, Democrats barely passed the bill in the face of bipartisan opposition. And in the Senate, Obamacare succeeded as the result of a set of freakish circumstances that allowed Democrats to pass an unpopular measure into law….

*sigh* It’s always the hypocrisy that gets me. Read it all.

N.C.: Marriage matters

From Vote FOR Marriage NC:

…What is at stake with the outcome of the vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment this May?

First, of course, is which of the two irreconcilable and conflicting definitions of marriage will be the only form of marriage legally recognized in North Carolina:

  • The amendment preserves North Carolina’s historic and traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman – the same definition adopted by voters in every state to consider the question (30 of 30 states have voted to amend their state constitutions to define marriage in this way), adopted by a bi-partisan majority in Congress and signed into law by President Clinton, and adopted by virtually every society in every nation to ever live, from the ancients to current times.

Additionally, passage of the marriage amendment ensures that the people of North Carolina themselves, and not activist judges or politicians, decide how our state will define marriage in the future.

  • Without a marriage amendment in our constitution, activist judges can substitute their values for those of the people of North Carolina. This is exactly what happened in Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California. Similarly, legislators can redefine marriage without the permission of the people, as was done in New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The marriage amendment ensures that if activists want to redefine marriage in the future, they must receive the approval of voters to do so.

Marriage as the union of one man and one woman is in the public good. It serves the interests of men and women, of children, and of society itself. The marriage amendment on the May 2012 ballot gives voters the opportunity to preserve this special and timeless institution.

Read it all. And note that John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party, has offered help for those opposed to this constitutional amendment, so there will be a push from those outside of the state to defeat this.

N.C.: More on why marriage matters

Part of the reason we’re dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage is because we as a society have not valued the institution of marriage as much as we should have, especially in the past 50 years. When more and more children are being born out of wedlock, with all of the problems that causes, it’s easy to see how others may feel they can demand their own part of the marriage pie.

But as is noted here, once the definition of marriage changes, it changes irrevocably for everyone. And the persistent question, from a legal standpoint, if the sex of the participants is no longer relevant, why should the number be?

From Vote FOR Marriage NC:

…Marriage serves a vital and universal societal purpose – to channel biological drive and sexual passion that might otherwise become socially destructive into enduring family units that have the best opportunity to ensure the care and education of any children produced by that biological drive and sexual passion.  Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has said that marriage is, “fundamental to the very existence and survival of the [human] race.”  The noted British philosopher Bertrand Russell (hardly a conservative – Russell was a liberal anti-war activist and socialist) said, “But for children, there would be no need of any institution concerned with sex…It is of children alone that sexual relations become of importance of society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.”

By encouraging men and women to marry, society helps ensure that children will be known by and cared for by their biological parents. Whenever a child is born, her mother will almost always be nearby. But the same cannot always be said of her father. Men, especially, are encouraged to take responsibility for their children through the institution of marriage.  Marriage is society’s mechanism of increasing the likelihood that children will be born and raised by the two people responsible for bringing them into the world – their mother and father.

While death and divorce too often prevent it, the overwhelming body of social science evidence establishes that children do best when raised by their married mother and father. Simply stated, children need both a mother and a father. No matter one’s view of homosexual “marriage,” it is undeniable that every child born into a same-sex relationship is intentionally denied the love and affection of one of her biological parents.

David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values and a self-described liberal Democrat, said of marriage, “[M]arriage is a gift that society bestows on its next generation. Marriage (and only marriage) unites the three core dimensions of parenthood – biological, social and legal – into one pro-child form: the married couple. Marriage says to a child: The man and woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born, there is a recognized mother and father, accountable to the child and to each other.”

Fundamentally, same-sex marriage advocates propose to shift the marriage paradigm away from what definition of marriage is best for society – especially for children – and squarely onto the desires of the individual adults who seek to marry. Under a definition of marriage that is genderless, the interests of children – and therefore society’s intrinsic interest in marriage – is eliminated entirely. Only the wishes of the two adults in question matter.

When a court or a legislature adopts a genderless definition of marriage, legal experts warn (and actual experience from other states and countries confirms) that there will be profound consequences for society. Those people who refuse to accept this redefinition of marriage will be punished by the law. Churches and religious organizations can lose their tax exemptions and be forced to abandon their core moral principles or face punishment. Individuals, small businesses and groups will be subjected to lawsuits and regulatory action if they refuse to condone the “new” understanding of marriage. Perhaps most profoundly, children at a very young age will be taught in school that marriage is between any two adults, no matter what they have been taught at home, in church or in their ethnic traditions. Under the law, those who believe otherwise will be treated as the legal and moral equivalent of bigots. [To learn more about the consequences of redefining marriage, click here.]…

Check it out.

N.C.: The threat to marriage, part deux

From Vote FOR Marriage NC:

…Perhaps most importantly, shifting the focus of our marriage laws away from the interests of children and society as a whole, and onto the desires of the adults involved in a same-sex relationship will result in the most profound long-term consequences. Such a paradigm shift says to children that mothers and fathers don’t matter (especially fathers) – any two “parents” will do. It proclaims the false notion that a man can be a mother and a woman can be a father – that men and women are exactly the same in rearing children. And it undermines the marriage culture by making marriage a meaningless political gesture, rather than a child-affirming social construct.

When marriage ceases to have its historic meaning and understanding, over time fewer and fewer people will marry. We will have an inevitable increase in children born out of wedlock, an increase in fatherlessness, a resulting increase in female and child poverty, and a higher incidence of all the documented social ills associated with children being raised in a home without their married biological parents….

Check it out.

N.C.: The threat to marriage

Some good points from Vote FOR Marriage NC:

Contrary to what some people think, same-sex ‘marriage’ would not exist in the law alongside traditional marriage; as if it were a different expression of the same marriage institution they have always known. Marriage will be redefined for everyone. Our historic understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman would be replaced by a new paradigm for  marriage as the union of two adults, regardless of gender.

This new, redefined version of marriage as a genderless institution would be the only legally recognized definition of marriage in North Carolina. Such a radical change in the definition of marriage will produce a host of societal conflicts that government, exercising its broad enforcement powers, will have to resolve. Citizens, small businesses and religious organizations whose own beliefs, traditions, morals or ethnic upbringing are at odds with the new definition of marriage will find themselves subjected to legal consequences if they  do not act according to the new legal orthodoxy.

Legal experts on both sides of the marriage debate agree that the issue has profound impacts on society. Scholars from some of the nation’s most respected law schools have written that the issue implicates a host of issues, ranging from religious liberty, to individual expression of faith, to education and the professions.

For example, these legal scholars predict “a sea of change in American law,” and foretell an “immense” volume of litigation against individuals, small businesses and religious organizations.

Those who do not agree with this new definition of marriage as a genderless institution existing for the benefit of adults will be treated under the law just like racists and bigots, and will be punished for their beliefs.

This is already occurring…

Read it all.

N.C.: Primary ballot will list Marriage Amendment as “Constitutional Amendment,” not “Amendment One”

From Vote FOR Marriage NC, info on how the “marriage amendment” will look on the May 8 ballot:

RALEIGH, N.C.- On Monday [March 26], the State Board of Elections stated that the May primary ballot will list the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman as “Constitutional Amendment,” not “Amendment One” as opponents of the amendment have falsely reported. Deputy Director Johnnie McLean informed a constituent on Monday that, “The constitutional amendment will appear exactly as it is on the sample ballot. It is unclear who has named it ‘Amendment One’ but it was not the General Assembly nor the Board of Elections.”

“For months, opponents to the marriage amendment have identified the amendment as ‘Amendment One,’ which will only confuse voters on Election Day because those words will not appear on the ballot,” said Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Vote FOR Marriage NC. “Those who have adopted the incorrect term ‘Amendment One’ seek to distract voters from the real issue at hand. Unfortunately, the media has also disseminated this false term. Make no mistake: There is only one ballot question on the primary ballot, and that proposed amendment gives voters the chance to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman in the state constitution. Our campaign is working diligently to keep voters informed on the facts.”

Vote FOR Marriage NC is the referendum committee working to pass the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage between one man and one woman on May 8th. The campaign is comprised of a multitude of policy organizations, denominations, and civic groups. Its Executive Committee consists of the Christian Action League, NC Values Coalition, a coalition of African American pastors, NC Baptists, and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

North Carolinians interested in more information about Vote FOR Marriage NC may visit the campaign’s website: www.VoteFORMarriageNC.com.

Cardinal Dolan: “‘radical,’ ‘unprecedented’ and ‘dramatically intrusive'”

From James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal:

The president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops is careful to show due respect for the president of the United States. “I was deeply honored that he would call me and discuss these things with me,” says the newly elevated Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York. But when Archbishop Dolan tells me his account of their discussions of the ObamaCare birth-control mandate, Barack Obama sounds imperious and deceitful to me….

“So you can imagine the chagrin,” Archbishop Dolan continues, “when [the president] called me at the end of January to say that the mandates remain in place and that there would be no substantive change, and that the only thing that he could offer me was that we would have until August. . . . I said, ‘Mr. President, I appreciate the call. Are you saying now that we have until August to introduce to you continual concerns that might trigger a substantive mitigation in these mandates?’ He said, ‘No, the mandates remain. We’re more or less giving you this time to find out how you’re going to be able to comply.’ I said, ‘Well, sir, we don’t need the [extra time]. I can tell you now we’re unable to comply.'”

Archbishop Dolan explains that the “accommodation” solves nothing, since most church-affiliated organizations either are self-insured or purchase coverage from Catholic insurance companies like Christian Brothers Services and Catholic Mutual Group, which also see the mandate as “morally toxic.” He argues that the mandate also infringes on the religious liberty of nonministerial organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Catholic-oriented businesses such as publishing houses, not to mention individuals, Catholic or not, who conscientiously object.

“We’ve grown hoarse saying this is not about contraception, this is about religious freedom,” he says. What rankles him the most is the government’s narrow definition of a religious institution….

“We find it completely unswallowable, both as Catholics and mostly as Americans, that a bureau of the American government would take it upon itself to define ‘ministry,'” Archbishop Dolan says. “We would find that to be—we’ve used the words ‘radical,’ ‘unprecedented’ and ‘dramatically intrusive.'”

It also amounts to penalizing the church for not discriminating in its good works: “We don’t ask people for their baptismal certificate, nor do we ask people for their U.S. passport, before we can serve them, OK? . . . We don’t serve people because they’re Catholic, we serve them because we are, and it’s a moral imperative for us to do so.”…

The archbishop sees a parallel irony in his dispute with Mr. Obama: “This is a strange turn of the table, that here a Catholic cardinal is defending religious freedom, the great proposition of the American republic, and the president of the United States seems to be saying that this is a less-than-important issue.”…

Read it all.

U.S. bishops set March 30 as day of prayer, fasting for religious liberty

From the Catholic News Herald (Diocese of Charlotte):

The U.S. bishops have urged Catholics and “all people of faith” across the nation to observe March 30 as a day of prayer and fasting for religious freedom and conscience protection.

The bishops announced the daylong observance in a statement titled “United for Religious Freedom” that was approved March 14 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee.

They asked Catholics and others to join them in “prayer and penance for our leaders and for the complete protection of our first freedom — religious liberty — which is not only protected in the laws and customs of our great nation, but rooted in the teachings of our great tradition.”

The bishops said that among current threats to religious liberty is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that forces employers, including religious ones, to provide coverage of contraception/sterilization in their health plans.

Prayer resources have been posted on the USCCB website, www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/resources-on-conscience-protection.cfm….

Read it all and check out the resources available.

Catholic entities undermine U.S. bishops’ authority

From the National Catholic Register:

Recent headlines have told the story “Catholic Hospitals, Bishops Split on Health Care” and “Catholic Bishops Fight for Authority Over U.S. Flock.”

These volatile headlines refer to the fact that some Catholic individuals and organizations publicly disagree with the U.S. Bishops about provisions of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. This opposition from within the Church makes the bishops’ effort to preserve religious freedom much more difficult, for the Obama administration and some Democrat Congressmen have been quick to use a “divide and conquer” strategy by invoking these dissident groups as if they are legitimate Catholic authorities.

The most prominent Catholic supporter of Obamacare has been the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), led by its president and CEO, Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity. Playing a supporting role for her have been the officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the conference’s lobbying arm, Network. Sister Carol declined to be interviewed for this story….

Nevertheless, Sister Carol and the other high-profile sisters who have publicly opposed the bishops’ position have been hailed by Obamacare supporters as having legitimate moral authority in the Church to counter the bishops. For example, on March 8 — International Women’s Day — Sister Carol was named by the Center for American Progress as one of “13 Religious Women to Watch in 2012 Changing the World for Good” because: “She was instrumental in garnering support for the Affordable Care Act in 2010, when CHA broke with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to publicly support the act. As a result, Keehan gave moral permission to legislators who were conflicted about supporting the bill.”

So, what gives these sisters and the CHA authority to grant “moral permission” for disagreement with the nation’s bishops?

Nothing. Neither the sisters nor the CHA hold any authority to speak for the Church on faith and morals: That authority belongs to the bishops alone, as Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., told Catholic News Service during his recent ad limina visit to the Vatican. He said that his group of Midwestern bishops also spoke with Vatican officials about the public support of the CHA and LCWR for the so-called “accommodation” in the HHS mandate. The bishops have rejected the “accommodation” because it still requires religious institutions to provide insurance that covers immoral services.

“Those efforts are really undercutting the Church and trying to divide it again by setting up two teaching authorities when there’s only one within the Church,” Archbishop Naumann said. “It’s a very serious issue, I think, particularly when religious try to insert themselves in the role of trying to be the teachers within the Church. They have important roles to play but they are not the ones to teach on these matters.”…

Read it all.