“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
– First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund believes that the First Amendment’s directive that “Congress shall make no law…” provides the clearest standard for the protection of the liberties listed therein. Judges take away from these liberties when they use “judge-empowering” tests to determine whether those liberties are more important than governmental interests. Unsurprisingly, judges frequently consider those governmental interests — essentially the judge’s idea of “the common good” — more important than the abridgement of the individual liberties the Founders desired to protect, thus erasing the jurisdictional barriers erected by the several guarantees of the First Amendment.
Below are some of the Freedoms of Speech and Press/Free Exercise of Religion matters in which CLDEF has been involved.
Today an amicus brief was filed on behalf of CLDEF in the U.S. Supreme Court defending a Christian-owned pharmacy from attack by the Washington State Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission due to that pharmacy’s refusal to stock and sell abortifacient drugs. Although the Pharmacy Commission is a government agency, its steps were largely directed by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.
Today, an amicus brief was filed on behalf of CLDEF in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting two Texas laws requiring that abortions be performed only at certain types of facilities by physicians with hospital admission privileges. The brief set out why the pro-abortion petitioners, and the Obama Administration as amicus curiae, misrepresent to the Court its own abortion jurisprudence. However, even more importantly, the brief explains why Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.
Today, an amicus brief was filed on behalf of CLDEF, the Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, the Free Speech Coalition and other nonprofits in the Ninth Circuit, attacking a new interpretation of law by the the California Attorney General. Under this new interpretation, as a per-condition to soliciting contributions in California, each charity must provide provide the Attorney General with its IRS Form 990 Schedule B which identifies the charity’s largest donors.
For many years, there have been efforts to remove the 43-foot tall memorial cross on the war memorial on top of Mount Soledad in San Diego, California, as a purported violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. CLDEF has been assisting in defending against this attack on the Mt. Soledad Cross for over a decade.
This was a First Amendment case involving an Ohio law giving the Ohio Election Commission the power to “proclaim” the alleged truth or falsity of statements during political campaigns. Taking a page out of Orwell’s novel 1984, and dubbed the “Ministry of Truth” by its critics, the law permits the government to decide what can and cannot be said about it. CLDEF’s brief argued that in the United States the people — not the government — are sovereign, and the government has no power whatsoever to decide truth and falsity. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson declared that “the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction.” This case resulted in a successful outcome in the Supreme Court, and on remand, the district court struck down the Ohio statute.
The Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, requires that certain employers provide health care to their employees, which includes birth control, including abortifacients, regardless of the beliefs of the employer. CLDEF’s amicus curiae brief argued that this requirement violates the Free Exercise Clause in that the Obamacare mandate is not a bona fide public health measure within the jurisdiction of the State, but a proselytizing measure promoting at taxpayers’ expense a promiscuous sexual lifestyle.
This case involved a challenge to Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (“NDAA”), which authorized military detention of civilians based on vague standards of providing “support” for an adversary of the United States, similar to the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. Journalist Christopher Hedges and a group of journalists and lawyers brought this challenge to the NDAA.
On April 16, 2012 an amicus brief was filed on behalf of CLDEF in the case of Christopher Hedges v. Barack Obama, et al. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in support of plaintiffs. This lawsuit challenges the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012’s illegal detention provision.
Pro-homosexual activists sought to force the public disclosure of the names of those who signed a petition to add Washington State Referendum 71 to the ballot. Proponents of Referendum 71 sought to prevent this disclosure, arguing that signing a petition is an exercise of the signers’ First Amendment rights. CLDEF filed an amicus curiae brief defending the anonymity of the petition signers, who were certain to receive harassment for their support of traditional marriage, as guaranteed by the freedom of the press. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of disclosure of the names of the petition signers.
This case involved a village ordinance that required individuals exercising their First Amendment rights by going door-to-door to first identify themselves. CLDEF’s amicus curiae brief argued in support of the anonymous speech principle found embedded in the First Amendment by the freedom of the press. The Supreme Court agreed, finding that the ordinance was unconstitutional.