No Freedom of Religion & Conscience in Marriage?

A state judge ruled Wednesday that Washington floral artist and grandmother Barronelle Stutzman must provide full support for wedding ceremonies that are contrary to her faith, and she must pay with personal assets as well as her business as punitive measures for her belief in marriage between one man and one woman.
(CNN)If you have not been following the case of Barronelle Stutzman, you should be. Stutzman is the Washington florist who has been sued for living out her ...


For Valentine's Day - A Title IX Shift in Protective Love

Alliance Defending Freedom posted this update on Title IV today, Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2017:

Over the weekend, the Trump administration showed signs that it was moving towards protecting student privacy in public schools. Here's what you need to know about that.
Here's how The Wall Street Journal describes the sign:
"Newly instated U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has shown an early sign of backing away from an Obama administration initiative that directs schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the sex with which they identify.  The signal came in a Friday court filing from Justice Department lawyers withdrawing a request made last year by the Obama administration. That request came in response to a judge’s ruling in a lawsuit challenging federal guidance to states on accommodating transgender students."
Here's the background: Last year, the Obama administration reinterpreted Title IX protections to include "gender identity," despite the federal law having been adopted explicitly to address inequities in education and sports based on biological sex. That led to a lawsuit filed in Texas to defend the privacy rights of students in public schools, which were placed in jeopardy. The federal government under the Obama administration, not surprisingly, defended its false reinterpretation until last week, when the new Trump administration dropped that defense in the Texas case.
ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb, Regent Law 1996, had this to say:
"This is good news for the privacy, safety, and dignity of young students across America. The Obama Administration radically distorted a federal law that was intended to equalize educational opportunities for women and misused the law to place members of the opposite sex into students’ private facilities. Today, the Trump Administration took the first steps to end that error. It is only common sense to ensure privacy for all students by keeping boys out of girls' locker rooms and vice versa, and school officials shouldn’t have to fear losing crucial federal funding when they protect all students’ privacy. Respecting the real differences between boys and girls is right, because that protects the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students."
It isn't clear at this point what this signals for cases regarding student privacy across the U.S., like the cases in Illinois and Virginia. We'll be certain to let you know how this impacts those cases, if it does.

To learn more see Trump drops Obama administration's transgender bathroom fight from the Catholic News Agency. 
Find out the truth about gender equality and authentic love - download A Christian Perspective on Gender Equality, 15 Duke J. Gender L. & Pol’y 339 (2008). Family restoration merits this positive, respectful, healthy perspective of love that balances gender, identity and protection.


Immigration, Travel and Family Security

Immigration law and authority is at the heart of foreign affairs, national security and family stability.

This week the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to reinstate President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting travelers from seven countries previously determined by former President Barak Obama to be terrorist source nations.  Read what the ABA Journal published here.  Bloomberg BNA reported the events for US Law Week here.

The decision (PDF) discussed that the “hardships and public interest in this case involves particularly sensitive and weighty concerns on both sides.”  The President of the United States generally has sweeping authority on matters of immigration, as federal law allows the president to suspend people or classes of people if he determines their entry is "detrimental" to the nation, as Obama did previously and Trump did last week.  While a 1965 update to the Immigration and Naturalization Act clarifies that those wishing to immigrate should not experience preferences or discrimination on account of their "race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence," that standard of review generally requires that an objecting petitioner (here the State of Washington) must show that the order imposes “irreparable harm” upon the petitioner.  The decision by the 9th Circuit panel, however, seems to differently apply that standard, concluding that the federal government had not demonstrated its likelihood of success on the merits, rather than requiring the State of Washington to show irreparable harm.  What was shown by the state was that foreign students and executives would be hindered and inconvenienced in travel to and from the state under the order, and additional court papers indicated that Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., would be hindered in their global businesses by the order.  No one asserted or proved the necessary standard of irreparable harm.

Families, individuals and states need all branches of government - executive, judicial and legislative - to use the rule of law in decision making.  Personal and national security depends upon it, and is important to all families.

There are myriad Challenges of Family Law and Policy in Immigration Regulation, and the US definitely needs Immigration Reform for the Best Interests of Children, but families need Human Rights Protections in a Post 9/11 World for personal security in the United States.  Families deserve that protection. 

Federal executive orders to foster that security should only be overcome by a clear showing of irreparable harm, rather than inconvenience.


We All Die

Guest blog post from 2L Jeffrey Sodoma, Wills, Trusts & Estates student:


Every single person will die.  It may be tomorrow, it may be today.  It may be 99 years from now--but it always happens to everyone.  What do we leave behind when we die?  What happens to all of our trinkets, junk, valuables, and plethora of other humdrum possessions when we depart this mortal plane?  And more importantly than the question of what we leave behind when we die--WHO do we leave behind when we die? 

For some people in this world, the answer to the question of WHO we leave behind becomes the answer to what happens to WHAT we leave behind.  The answer, for some, of WHO we leave behind is: no one.  Some people have no family or friends at the end of their lives.

Recently I read an article in The New York Times describing the lonely death of one man in New York City.  The article walks the reader through the tremendous amount of work that had to be undertaken by the City of New York to resolve estate matters of those who neglect to do so and leave no one behind.  There are certainly many more like the man profiled in this article, scattered in cities and towns all across this country. 

As a future lawyer hoping to protect individuals and families with the practice in Elder Law, is it not my duty to reach out to folks like this so that the state will not have to bear the burden of finding their next of kin?  As Christians, are we not called to reach out to the lonely among us, so that people don't have to live lives without social contact, separated from everyone they love?

We all die.  Lonely people without families or friends need my assistance, and I hope I can be a positive influence to lonely people who cross my path.