Rutherford Institute: Case of Student Arrested for Disorderly Conduct for Distributing Religious Literature in a Free Speech Zone Goes Before Supreme Court

In 2016 a Georgia Gwinett College student was arrested for distributing religious literature from a designated free speech zone because someone had complained about his speech. He sued the university and the case was eventually dismissed because the College said that it had changed its free speech zone rules. The student appealed to the Supreme Court. Here is an update from the Rutherford Institute which recently filed an amicus brief in the case.

The Rutherford Institute has weighed in before the U.S. Supreme Court on a case in which campus police, citing “disorderly conduct,” prevented a college student from speaking about his Christian faith and distributing religious literature from a small free speech zone on a 260-acre campus. In an amicus brief filed in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, Rutherford Institute attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to hold officials at Georgia Gwinnett College liable for violating college student Chike Uzuegbunam’s free speech rights and ensure that campus policies adhere to the First Amendment…

“This case reminds us that there is no room for trust in the relationship between the citizenry and the government,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “Trust the government to police itself, and it will sidestep the law at every turn. The only way to ensure that government officials obey the law and respect the rights of the citizenry, as Thomas Jefferson recognized, is to bind them with ‘the chains of the Constitution.’”

Chike Uzuegbunam is a Christian and was a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, which has a 260-acre campus in Lawrenceville, Ga. Chike’s faith requires that he share his religious beliefs with others. He sought to do so in 2016 by passing out literature and speaking to students from a spacious concrete plaza near the college’s library. A campus security officer stopped him and warned that Chike could not distribute written materials there because he was not in one of two “speech zones” the college had established. Under the college’s policies, students were required to reserve times for one of the two “speech zones,” which consisted of one patio and one sidewalk that amounted to 0.0015% of total area of the campus. The policies also required students apply for a reservation at least three days in advance and gave college officials unbridled discretion to decide who could speak, when they could speak, and what materials they could give out. Although Chike properly reserved a time for sharing his faith from one of the zones, he was again stopped from speaking by a campus security officer. The officer told him that because someone had complained about his speech, he was engaged in “disorderly conduct” under college policies. Chike then brought a lawsuit against the college alleging that its policies and their application to prevent him from engaging in religious speech violated the First Amendment. After months of litigation, the college moved to dismiss the case as moot because it had changed its “speech zone” policies and the trial court granted the motion. Chike appealed, arguing his case was not moot because he was entitled to nominal damages for the interference with his First Amendment rights, but the appeals court upheld the dismissal. Chike sought and was granted review by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its amicus brief supporting Chike, The Rutherford Institute argues that dismissal of the lawsuit violates long-established court precedent affirming the right of citizens to obtain an award of nominal damages against the government officials when they violate a person’s constitutional rights. 

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, defends individuals whose constitutional rights have been violated and educates the public about threats to their freedoms.

Zero Hedge: Trump to Nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett To Supreme Court

Zero Hedge, citing the NY Times, opines on the likely nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and likely opposition to her because of her religious beliefs.

Trump’s likely nominees to replace RBG on The US Supreme Court – 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 11th Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa, and 4th Circuit Judge Allison Jones Rushing – have, according to sources who have leaked their information to The New York Times, been narrowed down to Judge Amy Coney Barrett:

President Trump has selected Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the favorite candidate of conservatives, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and will try to force Senate confirmation before Election Day in a move that would significantly alter the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court for years.

Mr. Trump plans to announce on Saturday that she is his choice, according to people close to the process who asked not to be identified disclosing the decision in advance. The president met with Judge Barrett at the White House this week and came away impressed with a jurist that leading conservatives told him would be a female Antonin Scalia, referring to the justice who died in 2016 and for whom Judge Barrett clerked.

Barrett is the most feared by liberals, some of whom concede that she hasa topnotch legal mind.”

Many have focused on Judge Barrett’s devout catholicism – and therefore the abortion debate…

“She is the perfect combination of brilliant jurist and a woman who brings the argument to the court that is potentially the contrary to the views of the sitting women justices,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion political group, who has praised Mr. Trump’s entire shortlist.

Additionally, as NYT noted earlier in the week, liberal groups have been sounding the alarm over Judge Barrett for two years because of concerns over how she might rule on abortion and the Affordable Care Act.

“Amy Coney Barrett meets Donald Trump’s two main litmus tests: She has made clear she would invalidate the A.C.A. and take health care away from millions of people and undermine a woman’s reproductive freedom,” said Nan Aron, the president of Alliance for Justice, a liberal group.

In a 2017 law review article written before she joined the appeals court, Judge Barrett was critical of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s 2012 opinion sustaining a central provision of the Affordable Care Act, saying he had betrayed the commands of textualism. “Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute,” she wrote.

The court will again hear arguments on the fate of the law in November, and Judge Barrett’s article suggested that she would give its challengers a sympathetic hearing.

However, in one of her most revealing opinions, Barrett took an expansive view of the Second Amendment – dissenting to the right of two colleagues who were appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

In the world of conservative judges, she has particularly strong credentials. Judge Barrett began clerking for Justice Antonin Scalia 22 years ago, and her fellow clerks are quick to say she was his favorite. She graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame Law School and joined the faculty in 2002, earning praise from colleagues as an astute scholar and jurist even if they did not always agree on her jurisprudential premises.

But, as a reminder, Alan Dershowitz notes that when Judge Barrett came before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for her nomination to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Senator Diane Feinstein generated considerable controversy when she said to Barrett:

“The dogma lives loudly in you.”

This was a reference to Barrett’s deep Catholic faith. Under our Constitution, Senator Feinstein’s statement crossed the line. Ours was the first Constitution in history to provide that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Although Feinstein did not explicitly impose a religious test, she suggested that personal religious views — which she called dogma — might disqualify a nominee from being confirmed.

That would clearly be unconstitutional.

But then again… when did pursuing anything ethically or legally challenged ever stop the current suite of Dem leaders from pursuing their task of ‘Never-Trump’ and ‘Never-anyone-Trump-wants’.

However, in this case, barring some unforeseen disaster, there appears little Democrats can do – despite the threats – to delay a vote on Barrett, solidifying a right-leaning shift to the court for a generation.

Daily Caller: Dems Threaten To Expand Court If R’s Vote On Supreme Ct Nominee This Year

From Daily Caller, Democrats Threaten To Pack Court If Republicans Vote On Ginsburg Replacement This Year.

  • Democrats are threatening to pack the Supreme Court if Republicans fill the vacancy left by liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday. 
  • “Congress would have to act and expanding the court would be the right place to start,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote on Twitter. 
  • Ginsburg herself pushed back against the idea of packing the court when asked about it last year. 

Prominent Democrats are threatening to expand the size of the Supreme Court to cancel out President Donald Trump’s court picks if Republicans vote on late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement this year.

Left-wing activists have been pushing Democratic politicians to endorse court-packing since Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 2018 retirement cleared the way for Justice Brett Kavanaugh to join the high court. Some congressional Democrats embraced the idea following Ginsburg’s death Friday night.

“If Sen. McConnell and @SenateGOP were to force through a nominee during the lame duck session—before a new Senate and President can take office—then the incoming Senate should immediately move to expand the Supreme Court,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote on Twitter Saturday.

“Filling the SCOTUS vacancy during a lame duck session, after the American people have voted for new leadership, is undemocratic and a clear violation of the public trust in elected officials,” added Nadler, a Democrat from New York.

“Congress would have to act and expanding the court would be the right place to start,” he said. (RELATED: Prominent Democrats Keep Destroying Norms To Go After Trump)

“If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021,” Democratic Mass. Rep. Joe Kennedy tweeted on Saturday. “It’s that simple.”

Democratic Mass. Sen. Ed Markey asserted in a tweet Friday night that if Republicans fill the Supreme Court vacancy, then “when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told his fellow Senate Democrats on Saturday that “nothing is off the table for next year” if Republicans move to fill the vacant seat, CBS News reported.

Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal echoed Schumer’s rhetoric, tweeting Saturday: “If Republicans recklessly & reprehensibly force a SCOTUS vote before the election—nothing is off the table.”

Trump promised Saturday morning to nominate a new justice “without delay.”

Conservatives on Saturday pushed back on the idea of expanding and packing the Supreme Court.

Republican Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann warned that packing the court would be “dangerous” and undermine the court as an institution.

“Court packing is a dangerous and shortsighted idea that will delegitimize our institutions — and that’s what the Dems are threatening to do if they don’t get their way,” Fleischmann wrote in a tweet.

“Packing the court would be a greater blow to norms, legitimacy, and our system of government than *anything* Trump has said or done,” National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote on Twitter.

Some liberal voices in the media have expressed support for packing the court.

“So Democrats should threaten to pack the court,” left-wing writer Jill Filopovic argued in a Washington Post op-ed Saturday. “And, if McConnell pushes through a new justice and then Joe Biden wins, they should follow through,” she added.

“One way for Democrats to make clear they will not tolerate Republicans trying to fill this seat in advance of the election would be for them to pledge that, if they take the White House and Senate in November, they will increase the size of the Supreme Court to 13 justices,” University of California, Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed Saturday.

“Democrats have no choice but to implement structural reforms to the judiciary if they hope to prevent decades of rule by the alt-right in America,” HuffPost reporter Zach Carter wrote in a June 2018 piece following Kennedy’s retirement.

“At a minimum, that will mean expanding the Supreme Court bench to 11 justices under the next Democratic president. Other reforms, including term limits to remove aging conservatives, may well be appropriate,” he added.

But Ginsburg herself rejected packing the court when asked about it last year.

“Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,” she told NPR in July 2019. “I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.”

Bloomberg Promises to Pack Supreme Court with Anti-2A Justices

Billionaire Tyrant Mike Bloomberg
Billionaire Tyrant Mike Bloomberg

In what will not come not as news to most, billionaire tyrant, candidate for US President Mike Bloomberg recently reiterated his stance against your individual Second Amendment rights by saying that when he is President he will pack the Supreme Court with justices who believe that individuals have no right to keep and bear arms. Further, he believes that people who have a desire to protect their own and others’ Second Amendment rights are “oblivious to public safety and out of step with the American people.”

…Last year, Illinois’ Bruce Rauner was one of five Republican governors who signed a “red flag” law that helps keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others. Those laws would be at risk if the Supreme Court issues a far-reaching opinion in the New York case.

As president, I will appoint judges who understand that the Second Amendment allows for common sense limits on gun ownership. I’ve spent 15 years working to build a national coalition that is capable of taking on the NRA and winning — and I’m glad to say that we now have the NRA on the ropes. That may be one reason why the NRA is hoping the court will save it.

The NRA is rolling a Trojan horse through the doors of the Supreme Court. The justices should send it packing, so that reasonable regulations and vital responsibilities can continue to coexist with Second Amendment rights.

Imprimis: Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution

This article comes from Hillsdale College’s Imprimis. This is a longer article that gets into some details of Justice Thomas’ dissenting opinions and why he feels it is important to write them in hopes that future justices may overturn wrong precedence.

Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution

Clarence Thomas is our era’s most consequential jurist, as radical as he is brave. During his almost three decades on the bench, he has been laying out a blueprint for remaking Supreme Court jurisprudence. His template is the Constitution as the Framers wrote it during that hot summer in Philadelphia 232 years ago, when they aimed to design “good government from reflection and choice,” as Alexander Hamilton put it in the first Federalist, rather than settle for a regime formed, as are most in history, by “accident and force.” In Thomas’s view, what the Framers achieved remains as modern and up-to-date—as avant-garde, even—as it was in 1787.

What the Framers envisioned was a self-governing republic. Citizens would no longer be ruled. Under laws made by their elected representatives, they would be free to work out their own happiness in their own way, in their families and local communities. But since those elected representatives are born with the same selfish impulses as everyone else—the same all-too-human nature that makes government necessary in the first place—the Framers took care to limit their powers and to hedge them with checks and balances, to prevent the servants of the sovereign people from becoming their masters. The Framers strove to avoid at all costs what they called an “elective despotism,” understanding that elections alone don’t ensure liberty.

Did they achieve their goal perfectly, even with the first ten amendments that form the Bill of Rights? No—and they recognized that. It took the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments—following a fearsome war—to end the evil of slavery that marred the Framers’ creation, but that they couldn’t abolish summarily if they wanted to get the document adopted. Thereafter, it took the Nineteenth Amendment to give women the vote, a measure that followed inexorably from the principles of the American Revolution.

During the ratification debates, one gloomy critic prophesied that if citizens ratified the Constitution, “the forms of republican government” would soon exist “in appearance only” in America, as had occurred in ancient Rome. American republicanism would indeed eventually decline, but the decline took a century to begin and unfolded with much less malice than it did at the end of the Roman Republic. Nor was it due to some defect in the Constitution, but rather to repeated undermining by the Supreme Court, the president, and the Congress.

The result today is a crisis of legitimacy, fueling the anger with which Americans now glare at one another. Half of us believe we live under the old Constitution, with its guarantee of liberty and its expectation of self-reliance. The other half believe in a “living constitution”—a regime that empowers the Supreme Court to sit as a permanent constitutional convention, issuing decrees that keep our government evolving with modernity’s changing conditions. The living constitution also permits countless supposedly expert administrative agencies, like the SEC and the EPA, to make rules like a legislature, administer them like an executive, and adjudicate and punish infractions of them like a judiciary.

To the Old Constitutionalists, this government of decrees issued by bureaucrats and judges is not democratic self-government but something more like tyranny—hard or soft, depending on whether or not you are caught in the unelected rulers’ clutches. To the Living Constitutionalists, on the other hand, government by agency experts and Ivy League-trained judges—making rules for a progressive society (to use their language) and guided by enlightened principles of social justice that favor the “disadvantaged” and other victim groups—constitutes real democracy. So today we have the Freedom Party versus the Fairness Party, with unelected bureaucrats and judges saying what fairness is…

Click here to continue reading at Imprimis.

US Supreme Court Rules 7-2 in Favor of Religious Expression

From Fox News:

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony.

The case – Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission – asked the high court to balance the religious rights of the baker against the couple’s right to equal treatment under the law. Similar disputes have popped up across the U.S.

The decision to take on the case reflected renewed energy among the court’s conservative justices, whose ranks have recently been bolstered by the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the high court.

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., declined to make a cake for the wedding celebration of two gay men in 2012. Phillips told the couple that he would make a birthday cake but could not make a cake that would promote same-sex marriage due to his religious beliefs…

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop.

“The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression,” the Court said in its decision. “While it is unexceptional that Colorado law can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other members of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy said when the Colorado Civil Rights Commission made its decision “it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.” The opinion says the Commission “violated the Free Exercise Clause, and its order must be set aside.”

In its decision, the Supreme Court did not decide whether a business has the right to refuse to serve gay and lesbian people outright.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, two of the Court’s more liberal justices, dissented.