Life Advocacy Briefing

July 2, 2018

Gone for a Bit / Facing the ‘Fire Hose’
The Year’s Hottest Battle Is Joined / Who’s Coming Next?
Huge Win at Supreme Court / Quoteworthy
Quoting Sen. McConnell / Elections in News, Too / Close Call

Gone for a Bit

OUR EDITORIAL TEAM is taking a vacation trip for the next two weeks. Consequently, we expect to suspend publication of Life Advocacy Briefing until, probably, July 23. Do expect us back by then, and in the meantime, share with your family and friends a celebratory American Independence Day this Wednesday.

Facing the ‘Fire Hose’

OUR CHALLENGE TODAY IS TO CHOOSE WHERE TO BEGIN! The avalanche of news makes prioritizing a true challenge, so we plunge in and urge our readers to persist through this entire edition. To our support team and subscribers, we offer thanks for keeping us in a position to bring news you can use in the cause of Life, at such a time as this!

The Year’s Hottest Battle Is Joined

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY CAUGHT MOST OBSERVERS by surprise last Wednesday, after the Supreme Court announced its last decisions of their spring term.

First dispatching a letter to the President, he proceeded to visit the White House for a more personal notice to Pres. Trump that he was retiring as of July 31. The mid-summer date gives the President sufficient time to nominate a successor for the Senate to act on confirmation during its fall session.

The retirement and eventual replacement of the man who has come to be known as “the Court’s swing vote” has implications on many fronts, not the least of which is the sustained judicial battle over the Court’s anti-Constitutional, anti-American Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton mistakes of 45 years ago. (Interestingly, the Kennedy announcement came just hours after the Court announced its last ruling of the term, which was a right-of-disassociation ruling that reversed a previous High Court decision which has stood for about 45 years.)

Among the major issues on which Justice Kennedy swung from one camp to the other is the overall issue of abortion recriminalization. From time to time, Justice Kennedy was willing to push back on the wild-west abortion trade. He joined the Court majority in 2007, for example, in upholding federal legislation outlawing the grisly practice of partial-birth abortion. Yet he joined the Court majority also in the mixed-bag 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, wherein the Court majority, while upholding a handful of Pennsylvania laws regulating abortion, explicitly upheld the Roe v. Wade farce which continues to undermine the American way of life.

National Review editor Rich Lowry has commented on the unpredictability that characterized Justice Kennedy’s tenure, quoted last week by Calvin Freiburger. “‘In the 1992 Casey decision upholding Roe v. Wade,’” wrote Mr. Lowry in 2008, says the writer, “‘[Mr. Kennedy] waxed poetic about “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of life.” … In the 2007 Carhart decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban,’” wrote Mr. Lowry, still quoted by Mr. Freiburger, “‘he waxed again, this time about “respect for human life find[ing] an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child.”

“‘Evidently, [Justice] Kennedy goes about his job unburdened by the fact that his views on existence or on the mother-child bond have nothing whatsoever to do with the Constitution,’ [Mr.] Lowery continued,” still quoted by LifeSiteNews. “‘But so it goes, as long as the Supreme Court is divided between four liberals, four conservatives and one self-important man who can’t differentiate between his inner compass and the nation’s fundamental law.’”

His retirement now opens the way for a firmer conservative majority on the Court, provided none of the current Justices nor the next Trump appointee falls to the temptation to “emulate” Justice Kennedy.

Who’s Coming Next?

PRES. DONALD TRUMP IS EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE VERY SOON – perhaps just after Independence Day – his nominee to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, touching off what may be the most contentious political issue of this mid-term campaign year.

Of the 25 outstanding attorneys occupying Pres. Trump’s list of potential High Court nominees, none is seen as an advocate for Roe v. Wade. All have been vetted by the conservative, constitutionalist Federalist Society, the “Good Housekeeping seal of approval” for judicial appointments. 

The abortion issue will no doubt be a rallying cry for those who cannot abide the very idea that Pres. Trump has the power to nominate and that a GOP Senate Majority has the power to consent to the appointment of a fifth conservative Justice out of the nine on the Supreme Court. But the need of several Democratic Senators to win the votes of “red-state,” conservative voters in their 2018 re-election year ought to ensure that the abortion lobby will not succeed in blocking Pres. Trump’s nominee – whoever he or she is – even if the GOP’s abortion twins, Senators Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME), cannot bring themselves to vote to confirm an outstanding jurist who happens to believe the right to life is, after all, written into the Constitution as it stands. 

Those of us to whom the right to Life is a paramount Constitutional guarantee cannot assume that the next abortion-centered appeal brought to the Supreme Court will bring the appropriate judgment by the men and women in black robes, let alone the actual overturning of Roe and Doe. Nevertheless, the retirement of Justice Kennedy at this moment in the Trump Administration offers hope. And it elevates to public awareness the most critical issue in the Senate election contests, in which the Democratic Party is defending 24 seats and the GOP only nine.

Huge Win at Supreme Court

THE SUPREME COURT GOT IT RIGHT last week in one of its last announced rulings of its just completed term. The central issue was the First Amendment right of free speech; at stake was the free-speech rights of pro-life pregnancy centers. Though National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra centered on California’s oppressive law, the decision should impact also the copycat laws in Hawaii and Illinois, as well as local laws attempted in Maryland.

The Court ruled unconstitutional the law requiring pregnancy care centers to essentially advertise the opportunity California offers for reluctant mothers to have their developing babies killed.

The ruling was welcomed with a sigh of relief by pregnancy care center staffs, volunteers and supporters across the country, as well as applauded by pro-life organizations, leaders and citizens.

The one hitch: the ruling – so clearly right under the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution – came down on a 5-to-4 vote. The “liberal wing” of the US Supreme Court is so radical on any matter where the abortion cartel’s bottom line might be affected that they could not even see the clear violation by the State of California of the First Amendment rights of pregnancy centers.

On this one, thank God, Justice Kennedy got it right. Reacting to the role the “swing Justice” played in offering his 5th vote, Michael Farris, president of Alliance Defending Freedom, commented to J.C. Derrick of World magazine, “‘We respectfully disagree with those decisions where Justice Kennedy created “rights” not found in or intended by the United States Constitution. But we also praise Justice Kennedy’s insight and forceful celebration of First Amendment freedoms, his sensitivity to the danger of authoritarian government and his refreshing desire to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech to future generations.’”  Mr. Farris was the lead NIFLA attorney when the case was argued before the High Court earlier this spring.

Said NIFLA president and founder Thomas Glessner, quoted by Calvin Freiburger for, “‘The right of free speech protected in the First Amendment not only includes the right to speak but also the right to not be compelled by government to speak a message with which one disagrees and which violates one’s conscience. … The Court correctly found that the California law clearly offends this principle. We are very pleased with the Court’s decision and for what it means for the many pro-life centers that serve and empower women in California and throughout the country.’”

And Mr. Freiburger quotes a pro-life group called Catholic Vote: “‘Four Justices of the Supreme Court voted for forcing pro-abortion speech by pro-life pregnancy centers. The Supreme Court matters, folks. Elections matter. Voting matters.’”  

Justice Kennedy might have let down America with many of his “swing” decisions, but on what he knew was his way out of office, he got this one right! The shame in the Becerra ruling was two-fold: that it was necessary at all and that four of the nine Justices refused to do what was manifestly right.


Statement by National Right to Life Committee President Carol Tobias on the announcement of Justice Kennedy’s retirement, quoted from an NRLC news release: “All too often, our efforts to protect unborn children and other vulnerable humans have been overridden by judges who believe they have a right to impose their own policy preferences. We look forward to Pres. Trump nominating a jurist who shares the view that Supreme Court justices are constrained to enforce the text and original intent of Constitutional provisions, and on all other matters should defer to democratically elected lawmakers.”

Quoting Sen. McConnell

Excerpt from statement delivered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to the Senate on June 27, 2018, released by Sen. McConnell’s office: “The Senate stands ready to fulfill its Constitutional role by offering advice and consent on Pres. Trump’s nominee to fill this vacancy. We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall. … It is imperative that the President’s judicial nominations have reflected a keen understanding of the vital role that judges play in our Constitutional order. Judges must interpret the law fairly and apply it even-handedly. Judicial decisions must not flow from judges’ personal philosophies or preferences but from the honest assessment of the words and actual meaning of the law. This bedrock principle has clearly defined the President’s excellent choices to date. So we will look forward to yet another outstanding selection.”

Elections in News, Too

LAST WEEK’s SUPREME COURT NEWS eclipsed even news of the closely watched primaries in several states, but two of the primary contests stood out to us as consequential.

In New York City, a 26-year-old left-wing activist trounced 20-year Rep. Joseph Crowley, a member of the House Democratic leadership who has frequently been mentioned as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s preferred successor. Though the primary winner has been cited as a radical abortion advocate, Mr. Crowley’s own voting record suggests no change in the Life-related votes arising from that seat. But generic party polling shows a possibility – though somewhat remote – that the extremism of the Democratic nominee could result in a party change for the Queens seat in November.

Also of interest last Tuesday was the GOP party run-off victory of Gov. Henry McMaster for re-election. Many attributed his victory to a last-minute rally in his honor by the President, and that event surely aided turnout. What we found of interest was a report in late May by Andy Shain in the Charleston Post & Courier, focused on the competition among the GOP gubernatorial primary candidates over the issue of abortion, and highlighting an action by Gov. McMaster.

“Two weeks before the primary that will decide if he stays in office, Gov. Henry McMaster,” writes Mr. Shain, “pointed at a building near downtown Columbia housing what he called ‘the most extreme, the most destructive organization in this country today. … There are young children, unborn children who are being killed right now as we’re standing here, just up that hill at Planned Parenthood,’ [Mr.] McMaster said at a news conference outside a faith-based pregnancy center.”

Though holding a news conference for the purpose of alerting the public to the actual business of Planned Parenthood is unusual for a politician at any time, let alone within two weeks of an election in which he is challenged, Mr. Shain did not appear to be surprised. In fact, he noted, “Abortion has been the biggest issue in the Republican race for governor this year – over roads, schools or the economy, concerns that usually worry most South Carolinians.”

Of further interest to us is that Mr. Shain’s report outlines how close the candidates actually were to each other on the abortion issue. Minor differences were seized upon in ads and speeches and debates.

How refreshing that an election would center around which candidate is the most pure on the right to Life! Yet how fundamentally American. (Just read again, as part of your Independence Day celebration this week, the Declaration of Independence that defined the American character at our founding.)

Close Call

June 26, 2018, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            If you’re wondering how effective pregnancy care centers are, just look at how hard abortion advocates are working to shut them down! They’ve tried discrediting them, silencing them and – most recently – using the government to force PCCs into advertising for them. But thanks to five Justices on the US Supreme Court, states like California won’t be able to use the government to push around pregnancy care centers any more.

            After a long, three-year battle, the Court issued its ruling today making clear that if abortion clinics want more business, they won’t be able to bully PCCs to get it. By a 5-4 decision, they struck down the extremists’ “Reproductive FACT Act” that actually ordered these pro-life centers to promote the one thing they’re trying to discourage: Abortion!

            Under the law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2015, every pro-life center had to post information in huge 48-point font – sometimes in as many as 13 languages – about where these mothers could get a free or low-cost abortion. As if that weren’t enough, California officials decided to bleed the centers dry, fining them $500 on the first day and up to $1,000 every day if they didn’t comply.

            National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA), which is affiliated with about 1,500 PCCs in America, filed suit, saying the law forces its centers to become “abortion referral agencies.” Not to mention that most of these PCCs operate on a shoestring budget, and fines in the thousands of dollars would have totally devastated them.

            Fortunately, after today’s groundbreaking win, the only thing that’s devastated is the country’s abortion movement. Nothing, the Majority argued, could be more unconstitutional than regulating speech. Yet that’s exactly what the FACT Act does. Just as we’ve seen with bakers, florists and even therapists, liberal activists are using the government to force people to communicate a message that violates their beliefs.

            “The 9th Circuit … concluded that the notice regulates ‘professional speech,’” Justice Thomas wrote for the Majority. “But this Court has never recognized ‘professional speech’ as a separate category of speech subject to different rules. Speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by professionals. … As with other kinds of speech, regulating the content of professionals’ speech pose[s] the inherent risk that the government seeks not to advance a legitimate regulatory goal, but to suppress unpopular ideas or information.”

            Justice Anthony Kennedy tackled the topic of free speech in his concurring opinion, writing that Americans should all re-read the First Amendment as ratified to understand “the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come.” Governments, he insisted, “must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.”

            What if California had made a vegan grocer advertise for the local butcher or forced Alcoholics Anonymous to post directions to the nearest liquor store. Everyone would agree that’s ridiculous, including – fortunately – this Supreme Court.

            For attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who are celebrating its second SCOTUS victory of the month, today’s opinion had something in common with the Jack Phillips’s bakery win. “No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates their convictions, especially on deeply divisive subjects … .” This case, NIFLA vice president Anne O’Connor told reporters, “is not just about whether or not to hand out abortion information on a piece of paper or post it on the walls of our pro-life centers. It is about the right belonging to all American citizens to be free from government-compelled speech, and from being coerced into promoting a message that contradicts their values.” …