WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - JULY 1, 2020
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Law on Abortion Clinic Restrictions
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a Louisiana law requiring that individuals who perform abortions at clinics have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital is unconstitutional, as it places an undue burden on women seeking abortions. The court ruled 5-4 in the case, June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, with Chief Justice John Roberts once again casting a deciding vote by siding with the court's liberal justices. The opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, noted that the Louisiana law is "almost word-for-word identical" to a Texas law the court ruled was unconstitutional in 2016's Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Roberts had dissented in the 2016 case and said in a concurring opinion that while he still believes that the past case was wrongly decided, he was ruling with the majority in the present case due to court precedent. "The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike," Roberts wrote. "The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents." The ruling was met with fierce criticism from conservatives. In dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, "Today a majority of the Court perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction." Thomas went on to flatly state that "abortion precedents are grievously wrong and should be overruled." read more
First, It should be noted that the Supreme Court is not Constitutionally bound to adhere to previous court decisions. If that were the case, it would never have been able to overturn its 1896 ruling in favor of segregation. Fallible human justices will make erroneous decisions, and should take the opportunity to correct them when they can. Justice Thomas is correct in his dissenting opinion when he says, “The Court’s current formulation of the stare decisis standard does not comport with our judicial duty under Article III, which requires us to faithfully interpret the Constitution.” State Sen. Katrina Jackson (D), who authored the bipartisan Louisiana law requiring that abortion clinics be held to the same standards as surgical centers, said she was “disappointed” that the court threw out a law that she said would “protect women injured in abortion facilities.” Second, what will this mean for future efforts to reverse Roe v. Wade? As Marvin Olasky, the editor of WORLD Magazine, eloquently states in his brief commentary, it is a day for lament. Based on this decision, it seems as though Justice Roberts is willing to let past decisions stand, even bad ones, “absent special circumstances”. It is not certain whether he considers a reversal of Roe v. Wade to be a special circumstance, but it is clear that pro-life Christians will have to exercise persistence in our efforts to protect life. Third, we must keep in mind that politics is downstream from culture; therefore, we must also be intentional in our efforts to create a culture that values all human life. Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey shows that 47 percent of Americans say abortion is morally wrong, while 44 percent say it is morally acceptable. If Roe v. Wade is ultimately overturned, the debate over abortion will shift to the states, and our job as Christians, who value life, is still far from over. You can read the entire Supreme Court ruling here.
Pray for pro-life organizations continually fighting for life in the legislatures, in the courts, and on college campuses. Pray that they will not be discouraged, and that they will continue to work to change hearts, minds, and laws.
We encourage you to check out the Abortion Survivors Network--an organization that seeks to bring awareness to the survivors of abortion and provide support as they tell their stories, which are very powerful in opening people’s eyes to the reality of abortion. They are working to change the understanding of “choice.”
President Trump Backs Faith-Based Agencies in New Executive Order on Foster Care
President Donald Trump is unhappy about America’s foster care system, and he thinks faith-based organizations have a role to play in making it better. In an executive order released Wednesday, he calls on officials to seek out more partnerships with religiously affiliated agencies, claiming that a lack of such relationships helps explain why more than 400,000 children are currently awaiting new homes. “State and local welfare agencies often do not have robust partnerships with private community organizations, including faith-based organizations,” Trump wrote. Among other recommendations, the order instructs federal and state officials to look for new opportunities to work with nongovernmental community organizations, including those run by people of faith. It also asks government leaders to issue new guidelines on public-private partnerships and affirm that religious agencies can’t be excluded because of their beliefs. “This guidance should ... make clear that faith-based organizations are eligible for partnerships ... on an equal basis, consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution,” the executive order said. read more
First, while it seems that everyone would agree with the need for state agencies to partner with faith-based foster and adoption agencies to provide more homes for children, this is, unfortunately, a controversial issue. In order to remain consistent with the Bible’s teachings on marriage and family, many religious agencies will not place children in homes with a homosexual couple. LGBTQ advocacy groups argue that this will result in fewer homes for children, and contend that agencies should not receive government funding because of this “discrimination”. The Trump administration argues that excluding such agencies from government funds would force many to close their doors, (as has happened in the past), and amounts to religious discrimination. Faith-based organizations make up a significant amount of adoption and foster care agencies. Banning them from receiving federal funds would actually result in fewer opportunities for children to find homes. Second, faith-based agencies that decline to place children in a home with two mothers or two fathers are recognizing the conclusions of social science research--that men and women are uniquely critical to the development of a child. As Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, states, “There is no such thing as “parenting.” There is mothering, and there is fathering—children do best with both.” Anderson has done extensive research on the subject, and has published several insightful books. In trying to make the best of a painful situation in a broken world, such faith-based agencies recognize that the research stated above is concurrent with the Bible, and they should not be hindered in their efforts to place children in the best possible homes. Lastly, Trump’s executive order will hopefully place a greater spotlight on the loving act of adoption and foster care. Ryan Bomberger, the founder of the pro-life Radiance Foundation, wrote a wonderful piece on his own adoption story that we encourage you to read.
Pray that this executive order will encourage many state agencies to partner with Christian organizations, resulting in good homes for many more vulnerable children. Pray that faith-based organizations will not have to choose between following their beliefs and closing their doors.
The Colson Center for Christian Worldview created an insightful video answering the question, “Doesn’t Love Make a Family?” This can be a difficult one to answer, and we encourage you to watch the video.
'They Would Like Us to Fight a New Civil War': GOP Frustrated, Dems Block Sen. Scott's Police Reform Bill
A Republican policing reform bill hit a roadblock last week as Senate Democrats blocked it, leaving the parties to decide whether to negotiate a compromise or walk away despite public outcry over the killings of black Americans. The vote was 55-45, failing to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance. Two Democrats, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, along with Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, voted with Republicans to open the debate. Ahead of the vote, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, "My hope, my prayer, is that after this bill fails today... we can start on the path of bipartisanship." The GOP's Justice Act is seen by Republicans and Democrats as a starting point in the broader debate over how best to change policing practices as protests in cities large and small focus on law enforcement and racial injustice. It would create a national database of police use-of-force incidents, restrict police chokeholds, and set up new training procedures and commissions to study race and law enforcement. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is going after Senate Democrats who blocked his bill that offers solutions for police reform in America. "If you don't think we're right, make it better, don't walk away," Scott, one of three black senators, told his Democrat colleagues on Wednesday. "I offered Democrats the chance to offer AT LEAST 20 amendments. They walked out. #JUSTICEAct," he tweeted. The South Carolina senator said when it came down to it, it wasn't about debates or amendments. "Don't let anyone convince you this was about debates or amendments. It's about politics, and a refusal to find a solution," he tweeted. read more
At the heart of the matter, this issue is about power. Currently, the Democratic Party commands the vast majority of the African-American vote. If they were to lose even a small fraction of those votes this November, they likely wouldn’t win the White House, and could possibly lose the majority in the House of Representatives. That is why they refused to support a police reform bill authored by Republicans. It might have convinced enough African-Americans to vote with the Republican Party, and diminish the Democratic Party’s power. While playing political games with such a serious issue is shameful, it is important to remember that this is not unique to one party. All political parties consist of inherently sinful human beings, and therefore, greed, selfish ambition, and deceit will always exist and must be exposed. It underscores the need for Christians of strong integrity to step up and be leaders in our political system. James 3:16-17 warns that “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” However, God’s wisdom is “first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” Think about how you can model those principles in your political activities. Even in fighting for righteous values, we must be careful to keep our motives pure, and refrain from dishonest tactics resulting from fear. Coming back to the issue of power, remember that as Christians, we know God’s kingdom will not be stopped no matter the outcome of this election. God is ultimately the one in authority. We can engage with conviction, not fear.
Continue to pray earnestly for a revival in our country. In one of our most divided times, pray that the church will exercise grace while standing for truth, and pray that many Christians will vote.
Family Research Council called Senator Scott’s impassioned speech “a floor speech for the ages.” We encourage you to watch it here.
Supreme Court Strikes Down State Ban on Taxpayer Funding for Religious Schools
The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a ban on taxpayer funding for religious schools, in a narrow but significant win for the school choice movement. In the 5-4 ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court essentially backed a Montana tax-credit scholarship program that gave residents up to a $150 credit for donating to private scholarship organizations, helping students pay for their choice of private schools. The state's revenue department made a rule banning those tax-credit scholarships from going to religious schools before the state's supreme court later struck down the entire program. “A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious," Roberts wrote in the court's opinion. Under the program, a family receiving a scholarship originally could use it at any “qualified education provider,” which the court’s opinion noted means “any private school that meets certain accreditation, testing, and safety requirements." The Montana Department of Revenue, citing the state constitution, then changed the definition of "qualified education provider" to exclude those "owned or controlled in whole or in part by any church, religious sect, or denomination." Tuesday's ruling is a victory for school choice proponents and some conservative religious groups who had challenged the provision in court. Montana's program was similar to many across the U.S., and other states have proposed tax-credit scholarship programs but have not passed them due to confusion about their legality. read more
In Deuteronomy 6:7, parents are commanded to teach their children all the words of the law. In addition to subjects such as history, civics, and law, they were to teach their children moral laws such as the Ten Commandments. We are blessed to have many religious schools in America that teach Biblical principles alongside each school subject. However, many families are not able to afford to send their children to a religious private school. And it is private schools that often provide a higher quality education compared to many public schools. Educational freedom laws, like the Montana tax-credit scholarship program, help provide the opportunity for any family to choose the best school for their child, and the Supreme Court’s ruling will hopefully encourage similar laws in more states. Additionally, such laws would likely be a major factor in improving the lives of minority children in low-income communities, many of whom are currently stuck in low-performing schools all because of nothing more than the neighborhood they live in. Today’s ruling sets an encouraging precedent of protecting the religious freedom of families who desire to use their tax credit to send their children to religious schools, and it expands choice and opportunity for all students. You can read the entire Supreme Court ruling here.
Pray for policymakers in other states across the country to begin introducing and passing policies that protect religious liberty and private schools, and expand choice and opportunity for every student in America.
If you want to be more informed or get involved on the school choice issue and make a difference, we encourage you to visit Ed Choice. They are a fantastic organization working to advance choice in every state across the country.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.