Life Advocacy Briefing

May 15, 2017

Don’t Expect Us for a Bit / President Announces Judicial Nominees
Seeking to Unmask Corruption / Pence Looking Up
Batter Up: Montana / Illinois Legislature Goes Radical on Abortion
Handmaid to Planned Parenthood? / The Latest Judicial Picks

Don’t Expect Us for a Bit

THE EDITORIAL TEAM OF LIFE ADVOCACY BRIEFING will be traveling for several days during mid-to-late May. Consequently we will not be publishing our bulletin on May 22 nor possibly on May 29, though we will be attempting to keep an eye on the news. We hope in early June to bring our readers a chock-full bulletin of “news you can use in the cause of Life.” And we hope you will find some noteworthy items in today’s edition.

President Announces Judicial Nominees

THOSE OF US WHO HAVE BEEN WONDERING when the President would get around to the daunting task of filling the hundred-plus vacancies on the federal bench were rewarded last week with news of 10 new appointments. And at first take, the news appears to be good.

Our readers will find an early analysis of the judicial-ten at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing, written by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins as a commentary for readers of his daily Washington Update. Though it is light on specifics, we find it encouraging as news which was welcomed by one of the capital’s most trusted conservative, pro-life/family leaders.

We consider judicial nominations to be among the most important actions on which our readers can weigh in as pro-life citizens. Note, for example, the fact that one of the abortion lobby’s most consistent tactics is to take our legislative victories to court, and with state legislatures stepping up their fights to “push the envelope” in protection of innocent human life, the response to their initiatives by appointed federal judges is critical to building a legal framework of protection for innocent babies and their often-vulnerable mothers. President Barack Obama knew this, and that is one of the reasons he so thoroughly salted the federal judiciary – at all levels – with life-time appointments of social liberals.

Having conservative constitutionalists on the court at various levels gives our state lawmakers a shot at getting their well-intentioned – and often well-crafted – pro-life legislation upheld for enforcement at the state and local levels, where prosecutors are most likely to be willing to act in defense of the right to life.

Here are the nominees whose names will soon be submitted to the Senate for confirmation: Judges John K. Bush of Kentucky and Joan Larsen of Michigan for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals; David Stras of Minnesota for the 8th Appellate Circuit; Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana for the 7th Circuit; Kevin Newsom of Alabama for the 11th Circuit. Also, for lower (district) federal judgeships: David Nye of Idaho, Scott L. Palk of Oklahoma, Damien M. Schiff of California, Terry F. Moorer of Alabama and Dabney L. Friedrich of Washington, DC.

According to Associated Press reporter Vivian Salama, Ms. Barrett is a Notre Dame University professor of law who once clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia; Joan Larsen, a judge on the Michigan State Supreme Court, is a former professor at University of Michigan law school and also once clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia; Mr. Stras at one time was a law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas; and Mr. Newsom is a former clerk to former Justice David Souter.

Seeking to Unmask Corruption

THE CENTER FOR MEDICAL PROGRESS (CMP) IS SEEKING to take to the US Supreme Court an appeal of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling barring delivery of unreleased investigative footage to law enforcement officials, according to a report from Operation Rescue by DeAnn Flanagan. OR’s president, Troy Newman, was a founding board member of the organization which documented Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the trafficking of aborted baby body parts.

Attorneys for CMP’s principals are preparing, reports Ms. Flanagan, to file a “certiorari petition” with the Supreme Court, asking the Court to intervene after a three-judge 9th Circuit Appellate panel “ruled that additional footage obtained through the CMP’s undercover investigations – even those recordings that contain evidence of criminal conduct committed by Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation [NAF] officials – cannot be released to law enforcement personnel.” After that three-judge refusal, the full 9th Circuit Court refused to review the unprecedented ruling.

“‘In a case of critical importance to free speech rights,’” said OR senior vice president Cheryl Sullenger, quoted by Ms. Flanagan, “‘the 9th Circuit has wrongly barred pro-life citizen journalists from reporting crimes and submitting evidence to law enforcement. Instead, the court has opted,’” she said, “‘to protect the ability of the NAF and Planned Parenthood to conceal possible criminal activity. …

“‘The rogue 9th Circuit has shown their penchant for liberal, pro-abortion judicial activism once again,’” declared Ms. Sullenger in the OR report, “‘and we look forward to the US Supreme Court once again overturning one of their grossly unconstitutional decisions.’”

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has a track record of being overturned in more than 80% of appeals from its rulings taken up by the Supreme Court. There is no guarantee, however, that the high court will accept the “certiorari” petition for appeal. A matter for earnest prayer.

Pence Looking Up

SUPPORTERS OF THE PRO-LIFE SUSAN B. ANTHONY LIST (SBA List) pro-life political action committee were treated to a special guest speaker on May 3, just before the House passed the first-step bill in the repeal/replacement of ObamaCare and defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Vice President Mike Pence keynoted the SBA List gala dinner in Washington, DC, declaring, reports, “that Congress must ‘repeal and replace Obamacare’ as part of Pres. Trump’s strategy to ‘finally defund Planned Parenthood. … When it comes to ObamaCare,’” he said, “‘I don’t have to remind anyone in this room that this is why ObamaCare has got to go. …

“‘Despite all the promises that were made,’” he said, quoted by LifeSiteNews, “‘despite the tireless work of everyone in this room to stop it so many years ago, ObamaCare has allowed taxpayer money to be used to purchase health insurance that covers abortion, among all of its other failings,’ he added.”

The vice president, who during his time in Congress championed the disqualification of Planned Parenthood from federal Title X (Ten) “family planning” funding, “told the pro-lifers that Pres. Trump remains ‘unwavering in his commitment to defend life and protect women and children,’” notes LifeSiteNews. “‘And that commitment will be on full display this week … because tomorrow, thanks to Pres. Trump’s leadership, Congress is going to vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare. And when they vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare, we will finally defund Planned Parenthood,’ he said to applause.”

Though final language for the proposal seems a long way off, the House did vote to send its “reconciliation” bill to the Senate, where it is expected to be either amended or replaced.

“‘Hope is finally shining through,’” commented Vice Pres. Pence in the LifeSiteNews report. “‘The bill before Congress actually eliminates ObamaCare’s abortion expansion, and it defunds Planned Parenthood and keeps the President’s promise to devote those resources to healthcare providers that help women without promoting abortion. … When this bill passes,’” he said, “‘it, I believe, will be one of the defining victories for Life.’”

The LifeSiteNews story concludes with this statement from the Vice President’s speech: “He called the Congressional vote [on ObamaCare repeal/Planned Parenthood defunding] a ‘pivotal moment in the life of this movement’ and in the ‘life of our nation.’”

Batter Up: Montana

THE NEXT SPECIAL ELECTION for an open Congressional seat will be in Montana on Thursday, May 25. The ballot will list three candidates: Republican Greg Gianforte, Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks. The three are seeking to succeed former pro-life Rep. Ryan Zinke (R), who is now serving in the Trump Administration as Secretary of the Interior.

Mr. Gianforte is carrying the endorsement of the Susan B. Anthony List, a powerful political action committee launched to back candidates who support the right to life. He and his wife are the principals behind a foundation (Gianforte Family Foundation) which describes itself, according to, as “established in 2006 by Greg and Susan Gianforte, in response to God’s great goodness to them. Since its creation, the foundation has become one of the top giving foundations in the state of Montana. Foundation grants,” reads the description, “focus on improving education, lifting people out of poverty, protecting the unborn and Christian outreach.”

Mr. Quist “supports keeping abortion an option,” reports Bozeman Daily Chronicle staffwriter Troy Carter. “After moving to Nashville to become a songwriter, he said,” notes Mr. Carter, “his wife became the family’s primary provider. When she became pregnant, [Mr.] Quist said, they faced a difficult decision. ‘She was the major breadwinner, and I was the starving songwriter,’ he said,” quoted in the Daily Chronicle profile. “‘Just at that time, she became pregnant with another child. This was a heavy time for us; it couldn’t have come at a worse time. We made the decision to have this child, and my daughter is now the light of my life. I don’t know what I would do without her. But on the other hand,’” said the candidate in the Chronicle report, “‘I wouldn’t want the government getting in the middle of that decision. That was a decision we needed to make personally.’” Thank God they did!

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle also published a profile of Mark Wicks, this one by staffwriter Michael Wright. “On abortion,” writes Mr. Wright, “[Mr.] Wicks said he doesn’t like the issue and that there’s no answer that satisfies everyone. ‘I’m reluctantly pro-choice,’ he said, before adding that he doesn’t like certain kinds of abortions.”

Illinois Legislature Goes Radical on Abortion

THOUGH SEVERAL NEIGHBORING STATES HAVE BEEN STIFFENING THEIR LAWS curbing abortion, the Illinois Senate last Wednesday passed HB-40, already passed by the House, to force taxpayers to underwrite elective abortions and to repeal the 1975 Illinois Abortion Act, which declares the unborn child a person and vows to stop abortion in the state in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned. The Senate vote was 33 to 22, needing 30; House passage on April 25 was by a vote of 62 to 55, needing 60.

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), who generally supports “abortion rights,” has pledged to veto the measure. A three-fifths vote in each house would be needed to override a veto. Readers who live in Illinois are urged to call the governor’s office at 1-217/782-0244 and ask him to keep his word to veto House Bill 40.

Handmaid to Planned Parenthood?

May 5, 2017, commentary by Campaign for Working Families chairman Gary Bauer, former domestic policy chief for Pres. Ronald Reagan, in his End of Day memo to supporters

            Speaking of Hillary, she was honored this week at Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary gala in New York City with the “Champion of the Century Award.” While there, Mrs. Clinton warned the pro-abortion audience that America was becoming like the horrible fictional state described in The Handmaid’s Tale.

            If you’re not familiar with The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s a book written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood in 1985 in reaction to Ronald Reagan’s election. Here’s the gist of the story: In the theocratic Republic of Gilead, a future America where the “religious right” takes power, women essentially become slaves, unable to own property, work outside the home, have money, etc.

            It was made into a movie and has just been redone for TV. The left has seized on The Handmaid’s Tale as a metaphor for Donald Trump’s election. Articles and memes are ubiquitous right now, which is why Hillary referenced it in her speech to Planned Parenthood.

            But in its zeal to demonize Christians and conservatives, the left has it entirely wrong. What The Handmaid’s Tale describes is certainly not Donald Trump’s America or the condition of women in any predominantly Christian nation.

            It does, however, perfectly describe the condition of many women today in the Islamic world who suffer under Sharia law.

            Yet in almost every article I have read, every interview I have watched, no one is willing to make that obvious comparison. Meanwhile, the left continues to make common cause with the most regressive force in the world when it comes to women’s rights – radical Islam.

The Latest Judicial Picks

May 8, 2017, Washington Update by Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council (FRC)

            Neil Gorsuch may have been Trump’s biggest contribution to the courts, but he’s far from the only one! The new Supreme Court Justice was just the opening act to what the President calls “monthly waves” of solid lower court nominees. With more than 120 openings on the bench, Pres. Trump will have plenty of ways to leave his mark on the courts – starting with the 10 stellar names he sent to the Senate today.

            Like Gorsuch, these are men and women with tremendous respect for their role and the Constitution they’ve been tapped to protect. That might explain the knee-jerk reaction from liberals who are already sounding the alarm bells. “Given the critical importance of the circuit courts,” one far-Left expert warned, “it’s incumbent upon the Senate to treat its duty to provide advice and consent very seriously.”

            Not surprisingly, the President drew from his list of potential Supreme Court picks to fill this first batch of nominees – which means they’ve not only been vetted by trusted conservative sources, but they’re also staunch originalists who understand the boundaries of the job. Once again, Pres. Trump is a man of his word, keeping his promise “to appoint strong and principled jurists to the federal bench who will enforce the Constitution’s limits on federal power and protect the liberty of all Americans.” For conservatives, it’s an important signal that his commitment didn’t end when Gorsuch’s confirmation did.

            Obviously, the Administration is all-in when it comes to balancing the courts that Barack Obama tipped with radical, agenda-driven activists. That’s a welcome change from Trump’s predecessor, who resorted to flooding the courts with liberals when he couldn’t accomplish his agenda legislatively.

            Scan the resumes of the nominees announced today, and you’ll notice they clerked for some familiar names: Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, to name a couple. “There are plenty of things about this President and this Administration that are unconventional,” Case Western University Prof. Jonathan Adler pointed out, but “thus far, the Trump Administration’s judicial nominees have been in line with what you would expect from a Republican President.”

            US Attorney General Jeff Sessions understands the urgency of undoing that damage better than anyone. “We’ve got 127 federal judge vacancies that need to be confirmed, and then we’ve got 94 United States attorneys that need to be confirmed. So we’re moving names forward … . [W]e need to get them confirmed as fast as possible.” Of those vacancies, almost half (50) are judicial emergencies, meaning that the seats have sat empty for at least a year and a half. And in most cases, these are America’s busiest benches with workloads of 500 filings or so per judge. Help is on the way, if the Senate cooperates.

            While most Americans zero in on the Supreme Court, FRC’s Mandi Ancalle underscored the importance of the lower courts, especially moving forward. “With the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch behind us, it’s fantastic to see Pres. Trump turning his attention to federal District and Circuit Court nominees. While the Supreme Court hears most high profile cases, it is these lower courts that have a more direct and frequent impact on Americans’ daily lives, and it is most often judges from these lower federal courts who are eventually nominated to serve on the bench at the High Court.”

            Pres. Trump found quality men and women for the job – now help Senators do theirs! Contact both of your Leaders [Sen. McConnell and Sen. Schumer, via the Capitol switchboard: 1-202/224-3121] and urge them to move quickly to confirm the White House’s picks [for the federal courts].