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August 8, 2022 3:04 pm
This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes back ADF attorney Matt Sharp to discuss some of the U.S. Supreme Court’s biggest rulings for family values this past term, and what other cases are on the horizon.
Family policy matters in engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Ralston, presidency, family, and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will fold better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters. Tracy Devitt bricks. Thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters, while the big snooze out of the US Supreme Court this year was the landmark overruling of Roe V Wade, the High Court also issued many other important rulings that may affect American families. Chief among them several decisions on religious liberty will here to discuss these today is our friend, Matt Sharp, senior legal counsel with alliance defending freedom, where he directs the Center for legislative advocacy not sharp welcome back to family policy matters rugby right so the US Supreme Court considered multiple cases that ask questions related to religious freedom. This term, are you finding a pattern to the kinds of religious liberty cases, the court has been accepting yeah and I think it's a very encouraging pattern were seen coming from the court that it is increasing its protection for religious liberty and for those that seek to exercise their faith in a variety of contexts, and so we thought.
For example, in the case of Coach Kennedy. This was the high school football coach that was wanting after the football games to be able to go out and silently prayed on the field. Thank God for watching over the players for being with them and yet was censored from doing so and told that he couldn't do so because he was a school employee because he was a public employee and we saw the court step up there and protect Coach Kennedy's right to the rights to exercise his faith. There when he got free time in between his job duties and I think that's a very encouraging sign that were sitting between Coach Kennedy and some of the other cases a strong pattern of the court recognizing that religion is central to so many people's lives and that our Constitution clearly requires the government to respect that central role that religion plays for people, so Coach Kennedy case will see to that. What made the difference because obviously the prayer is a very public prayer, but you're saying that was private right. That's exactly right. There was to keep their number one this is not a situation where Coach Kennedy was forcing students or others to join his prayer. This was something he do it voluntarily. Others could or could not join.
It was entirely up to them. This was during post game free time when players could interact with other players go see family and friends and so this is just a very noncoercive private act by Coach Kennedy and I think the second thing was the recognition that because of his free time, the right to exercise religion is fully protected as everything else to the court talked about how Coach Kennedy during this time could've gone to visit with family could've made a phone call to a friend could do a lot of things and the only thing that was being censored with his ability to pray in the court said you can't do that religion has to be given as good a treatment is anything else that you allow during this time and I think that's an important recognition that religion is not a second-class right always get this wrong.
So he's always getting it wrong on one one side of the issue or the other.
It seems like we seem to go to extremes.
I think a lot of this flows from religion losing the place of prominence that it held during our nation's founding thinker used to be a deep respect, not just for religion but for the good that religion did to society.
I think they saw a religion of something that's helped promote human flourishing. That led to to charitable actions and I think we've lost that recognition of the important role that religion does. Despite there being more charities and religious organizations that ever serving people and so I think when we get a proper recognition that religion is a good for society just like we believe speech is good.
The different viewpoints are good so to his religion is a good for society. And that's why it needs to be protected. Let's talk about an education case, there was a case Carson V Macon out of Maine. What happened there.
Maine has a program whereby families that live in in rural areas where there's not a local public school actually get money to go to the nearby private school. I this is a way to accommodate the families had for again they bait they live far from high schools from cities where there may be schools. Well, the only schools that were excluded from this program were religious schools so they were telling me families. You can go to any private school you want to as long as it's not religious, and so here we saw the government taking a real hostile view towards religion, targeting it, and excluding it from being able to participate in this broad program and the court said you can't do that when the government makes a benefit available whether it school choice, funding, or anything else.
It can't single out and discriminate against religious organizations because the religious or even because they do religious things like teaching their faith to the next generation of children attending their schools and I think that's again. An important principle recognizing that religious people. Religious organizations are not second-class citizens. They have the same right to participate in public life and government programs and benefits as everyone else and that includes when they are doing explicitly religious things like educating the next generation in the doctrines of that faith, the court sold on that was that split was that unit assigned to these were actually very good cases. I think both of them had strong majorities. The Carson case. I believe with the 63 decisions that you had six of the justices strongly rolling there.
I think the Coach Kennedy case may have been the same. But again it was it was strong majorities on both of them of recognizing the importance of protecting religious exercise. This is not the first time that actually it's probably the third time that I've heard recently about people working across the aisle to come up with reasonable solutions or rulings do you sense that were coming out of this extremely highly polarized time that that we been in or is this just a surprise to you to know I think we are.
I think were starting to see how a lot of these government regulations are crossing the line and and really hurting people faith in and organizations in which they serve.
I think we saw this during cove it at the beginning of all of that there is a clampdown on churches and religious organizations over the government just went too far end and they were treating religion as a second-class right thing will look you know you need food you need jobs.
That's great, but you don't really need religion. You don't need that time of gathering, and we saw numerous court decisions rolling that back rolling back those government regulations. So now we were talking about states of emergency and in other things.
There's not this effort to target religion anymore. I think there's a recognition that we have to allow people to live out their faith to worship together to meet together with religious organizations, and I think that's an encouraging sign and people say they're doing great, much better job articulating their beliefs and in helping to show that they're just wanting that the same right to live out their beliefs and values as other people have think a great example of this is the case of Baron L.
Stutzman that the Washington state florist who for years had a gay customer that she served Rob Ingersoll knew he was gay and didn't care. But then when Rob asked her to do custom floral arrangements for his same-sex union. Baron L politely declined to explain why her faith wouldn't allow her to do that because marriage is something sacred and even offered referrals to other floors that would do a great job and I think Baron L traveling the country, including to North Carolina and sharing her stories helped people see she is a a beautiful kind woman that loves everybody and all she is asking for is the same right to live out her belief that Rob and his partner did that they were allowed to live out there beliefs about marriage is a you know of being open to same-sex couples and things like that in Baron. I was just asking for the same right that they had and I think would people understand that and they states there is room for people to live and let live for there to be true tolerance which respects and and allows other views and other ideas and beliefs to flourish and thrive. I think people see that that is possible and that we actually can find some common ground on the need to have tolerance for a variety of use, including the views of people faith. I love that you that you are crediting her with with, changing some of the way were talking about these issues because it didn't end well for her right, I mean that it was not a success story, but the Supreme Court has another shot at that question with Lori Smith. Tell us about that with Baron C. She ultimately entered into a settlement never required to use her floral design for same-sex union, but she was ready to retire and I think one of the successes of our case that it did inspire other creative professionals to stand up and sort of pick up that mantle and continue to carry it and one of those is Lori Smith. Lori is a graphic artist designer does custom websites in a variety of other things in the state of Colorado the same state in the same wall that's being used, to go after Jack Phillips Colorado Baker threatens Lori Smith in his telling her that if she wants to do websites to promote marriage custom websites for couples she has to do websites telling the stories and celebrating same-sex marriages and again Lori says she's happy to serve everyone but just doesn't want to be forced to celebrate specific events that violate her faith and although the Marine Corps did not take Baron L states it has taken. Lori states that she can be argued sometime this fall and it is directly to this question of whether sexual orientation, gender, IDP law holds that violate people's free speech that violate the religious right can be misused to go after people like Lori Smith, like Jack Phillips and others in such an encouraging sign again continuing this trend from the Supreme Court to take up cases where laws are being misused, misapplied to hurt people faith to hurt free speech, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on a case that was heard in 2021 has to do with free speech issues on college campuses talk about that a bit. Yes of this case involved a student in Georgia name is GK Burnham who was prevented by a local university policy from sharing his faith on campus.
In fact, the college, there were here assuring that viewed his speech as it is being candlelight threatening speech that it was harming others by him just simply standing out on campus sharing his faith with people walking by sharing his belief in Jesus Christ with them and so we saw this great rolling from the Supreme Court upholding his right to free speech and recognizing the University officials cannot punish and silence students for sharing their faith for sick sharing their beliefs without consequences. But so we got a great ruling for TK and ultimately the University.
The college there. Georgia Gwinnett College was held accountable for its actions to censor GK from being able to share his faith peacefully on campus. Looking forward, what are some cases the court either plans to hear, or that you see making it's their ways through lower courts that we ought to keep an eye out for sure.
So number one. I would go back to the Lori Smith at 303 creative cases can be argued as followed up with is going to be an important case to build on.
Jack Phillips went a few years ago at the Supreme Court and others like him like Baron L.
Stutzman and other creative professionals to uphold the right to live out their faith and to speak freely.
I think some other interesting issues bubbling up in the courts are one dealing with these save women sports walls these walls that say males are not eligible to compete on female teams and to preserve the integrity of female sports so nothing 18 states pass these walls, which is a great move just two years ago zero states have you falsely thought a big push estates recognizing the need for these, but unsurprisingly, the ACLU and reply, challenge these in Idaho in Indiana and Florida and other states and several of those are working their way through the courts right now including the Idaho case which is at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. And so I think within the next year or two will hopefully see the Supreme Court take up one of these cases and uphold these commonsense laws that protect fairness and women sports.
I think one other issue at flag were starting to see more and more efforts and attacks on medical rights of conscience out of telling doctors, nurses and others that they must participate in specific procedures like abortion like gender so-called gender transition procedures for sterilization on young kids that violate the conscience of medical professionals were starting to see that even come to play with the Biden administration pushing efforts to undermine conscience and federal law. As I think were starting to see some lawsuits bubbling up on that issue and again I I hope to see the Supreme Court take N and rule on the importance of protecting the medical professionals right to do no harm and practice medicine consistent with their beliefs well were just about out of time this week before we go Matt Sharp where can our listeners go to follow the cases we discussed today and all of your good work there at ADS. They can visit our website a DEF legal.org where they can learn more about our cases learn how to support the work that were doing specifically to help us pray for a lot of these cases. So again that's ADF legal.org, Matt Sharp, senior legal counsel with alliance defending freedom. Thanks so much for being with us today on family policy matters. You been listening to family policy matters.
We hope you enjoyed the program and plaintiff to do it again next week to listen to the show online insulin more about NC families work to inform, encourage and inspire families across Carolina go to our website it NC family.org that's NC family.org. Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family