The Foundation for Moral Law (“the Foundation”), an Alabama-based nonprofit corporation dedicated to religious liberty and the strict interpretation of the Constitution as intended by its Framers, applauded Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court decisions in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra and Trump v. Hawaii.
“Today is a great day for America and for the Foundation for Moral Law,” said Foundation President Kayla Moore. “The Court upheld the Constitution today in two very important cases in which we had filed amicus briefs. We are pleased that the Court rebuked California for trying to force right to life advocates to speak a ‘pro-abortion’ message and that the Court defended the President’s prerogative to keep this country safe, by certain restrictions on travel from other countries.”
NIFLA v. Becerra
In NIFLA, the Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that a California law requiring pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to provide information about how to obtain state-sponsored abortions violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion, holding that the law was unconstitutional because it regulated the content of the pro-lifers’ speech and made them speak a message with which they disagree. Justice Thomas noted that the Court sometimes allows the government to require medical providers to disclose certain information, but that is permissible only when the information is factual and noncontroversial, which was not the case here. Justice Thomas’s decision aligns with the Foundation’s amicus brief, which argued that the law was a content-based restriction on free speech and also a form of compelled speech.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurrence, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito, and Justice Gorsuch, expressing alarm that the California law appeared to target only the pro-life viewpoint and was therefore an attempt by the government to suppress a particular message with which the government disagreed. Justice Kennedy emphasized that “Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions.” Justice Kennedy’s arguments aligned with the Foundation’s argument that the law was not only a content-based regulation of speech but also targeted the speakers because of their viewpoint.
John Eidsmoe, Foundation Senior Counsel who authored the brief, said, “Of all the forms of free speech violations, forcing someone to say something controversial with which they deeply disagree is perhaps the worst. Through the course of history, people have chosen to suffer and even die rather than betray their convictions. The Supreme Court’s decision today reaffirms that freedom of speech is still alive and well in the United States.”
Matthew Clark, the Foundation attorney who submitted the Foundation’s amicus brief, added, “The Court’s decision not only upheld the right to free speech, but it also indirectly upheld the religious rights of many of these pro-life advocates who do their work because they believe life is a gift from God. The Foundation believes that also, and we are pleased that the Court’s decision today will help save innocent lives.”
Trump v. Hawaii
In Trump, the Court upheld in a 5-4 decision a proclamation by President Trump restricting travel to and from countries that pose a national security risk to the United States. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, rejecting the argument that President Trump’s proclamation was really a “Muslim ban” and reaffirming that the Court must grant great deference to the President’s decisions on national security matters.
Chief Justice Roberts’s decision reflected the Foundation’s argument that the President’s travel ban was not an Establishment Clause violation. Foundation Senior Counsel John Eidsmoe said, “The original purpose of the Establishment Clause was to prevent the government from coercing people to violate their religious beliefs. That wasn’t the purpose of the President’s proclamation. As we established in our brief, the ban applied only to certain nations that were centers for terrorism and failed to ‘vet’ terrorists. Most Muslim nations and 86% of the world’s Muslim population are not affected by the ban, which also included two non-Muslim nations (Venezuela and North Korea). This really was a national security case, not an Establishment Clause case. We are pleased that the Court agreed.”
In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas addressed the fact that the Hawaii district court issued a nation-wide injunction in this case, arguing that the constitutionality of nation-wide injunctions is “dubious.” Justice Thomas argued that judicial power is the power to settle disputes between the parties to the case, which is different than giving orders that bind the entire nation. The Foundation raised the same point in its amicus brief.
Explaining that point, Foundation attorney Matthew Clark said, “If an unelected and unaccountable federal district judge can issue an order that binds not just the parties to the case but everyone in the country, including those who live outside the district court’s jurisdiction and who have no opportunity to be heard in the case, then we no longer have a constitutional republic but a dictatorship. The Supreme Court needs to address whether nation-wide injunctions are unconstitutional, and we are glad that Justice Thomas is calling the Court’s attention to the problem.”
(Source: Christian Newswire)