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7 months ago

How Roy Moore looms over today’s Supreme Court arguments over Christian baker

 

 

Roy Moore is not in the Supreme Court chambers today as the justices weigh whether a Colorado baker had the right to say “no” to a gay couple, but the Alabama Senate candidate’s fingerprints will be on the debate, nonetheless.

The former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice’s private legal group, the Foundation for Moral Law, filed one of the nearly 100 “friend-of-the-court” briefs on behalf of organizations and individuals arguing for or against Masterpiece Cakeshop and owner Jack Phillips.

The plaintiffs argue that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated their First Amendment rights by declaring that they unlawfully discriminated against Charlie Craig and David Mullins when Phillips refused to make a custom wedding cake for them in 2012 — before same-sex marriage even was legal in the state.

It is precisely the kind of issue that prompted Moore to create the foundation, which has come under scrutiny during his run for the Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. His opponents have accused him of using the foundation as a vehicle to enrich himself and his family.

On perhaps no other issue has Moore been more outspoken than same-sex marriage, however. His uncompromising stance has won him loyal supporters, but it also has brought him fierce critics and jeopardized his career.

It was Moore’s instructions to probate judges to follow state law on same-sex marriage — rather than federal judicial orders — that led to his suspension as the state’s top justice.

The arguments in the foundation’s 28-page brief filed earlier this year mirror those of Phillips’ lawyers and many of the organizations that have weighed in on his behalf. Religious freedom and free speech together form a “hybrid right” that should be afforded the strongest of protections by the government, attorney John Eidsmoe wrote.

“Those most fundamental rights should not be abridged to accommodate a claimed state interest in protecting same-sex marriage which is not explicitly granted by any provision of the Constitution and which was first recognized by this Court only two years ago,” he wrote.

Eidsmoe also makes some arguments that the plaintiffs’ lawyers do not mention, such as that compelling Phillips to create a custom wedding cake violates the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. The amendment did not just abolish the slavery system but also outlawed “involuntary servitude.” Eidsmoe pointed to a 1988 Supreme Court case called United States v. Kizminski, which defined involuntary servitude as work “enforced by the use or threatened use of physical or legal coercion.”

Moore’s position puts him on the same side as the state of Alabama, which signed on to a separate brief with 18 other states plus Maine Gov. Paul LePage. It argued Colorado’s position is “fundamentally at odds with the freedom of expression and tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints.”

The states argued that there are “a host of alternatives for promoting the availability of customized artistic works at same-sex weddings. For example, States can create online tools publicizing those artists who will create works celebrating same-sex weddings.”

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the gay couple argue that the case has nothing to do with free speech or religious freedom. Instead, they maintain, it is about a long-established concept of “public accommodations.” No business open to the public may turn away customers on the basis of race, sex or other personal characteristics.

But Eidsmoe, in a brief quoting James Madison and making references to the Bible, noted that Phillips never refused to let a gay customer buy a product for sale in the store.

“He merely objected, because of his religious and moral convictions, to participating in the ceremony by preparing a customized wedding cake,” he wrote.

Eidsmoe’s brief argues that the Colorado Court of Appeals “twisted the newly-minted right to same-sex marriage into an imaginary right of same-sex couples to force others to promote their same-sex weddings.”

Eidsmoe outlined America’s long history of accommodating the views of religious minorities. He referenced a Supreme Court decision in which the high court ruled 8-1 in favor of a Jehovah’s Witness who was fired from his job after refusing to build tank turrets because it would violate his pacifist religious beliefs.

When considering whether a religious belief is valid, the brief argues, the court must defer to the practitioner.

“Phillips bases his beliefs and practices on the commands of God as revealed through the Holy Bible (e.g., Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26-27),” the brief states. “He believes he would sin against God if he were to provide a cake for a homosexual wedding.”

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

 

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12 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Rogers: IG report proves Mueller probe needs to be shut down

Folks across East Alabama may have recently seen the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) Report findings were released.

The IG report details the mishandling of the FBI investigation involving Hillary Clinton and her private email server.

Anyone that denies that the FBI’s Clinton investigation was rigged in her favor is delusional.

The political bias clearly shown during the investigation and the double standard of justice was rampant and deliberate.

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 This is the same crooked group at the FBI that started the investigation of President Trump that led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

So here is what we know:

Mr. Comey was FBI Director at the time the investigation was started. The IG found his actions at the FBI were insubordinate and he may currently by under investigation for leaking classified material.

Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired and is under investigation for lying to investigators.

Special Agent Peter Strzok has clearly demonstrated his hate and contempt for President Trump through his texts.  He most recently was escorted out of the FBI headquarters.

Congressional investigators now believe FBI documents may have been altered to convict Michael Flynn after the two FBI agents that interviewed him found him to be truthful.

We are also now finding out about FBI spies being planted inside the Trump campaign along with FBI abuse of the FISA warrants.

Enough is enough.

If all of this pans out, which I believe it will, there was no original basis for appointing Robert Mueller.

As I discussed during my Fox Business interview this week, the Mueller witch hunt needs to be shut down immediately.

We cannot continue to let it go on and be a distraction for the American people and Trump Administration.

Our economy is booming, unemployment rates are low and the American Dream is back – but with this nonsense continuing on the side – it is hard to focus on our goals.

The American people deserve better.

Mike Rogers is a Republican congressman from Semmes

Please sign up for my e-Newsletter by visiting my website. To stay up to date, you can also like me on Facebook at Congressman Mike D. Rogers, follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram at RepMikeRogersAL, on Tumblr and you can also subscribe to my YouTube page at MikeRogersAL03. 

14 hours ago

These are the services that are wasting Medicare dollars

Three services categorized as “low-value care” or “care that has little or no clinical benefit” drained hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare from 2011-2016, according to a report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).

The three services highlighted in the report are: early dialysis for people with functional kidneys, proton beam centers, and H.P. Acthar Gel.

Medicare spent from $500 million to $1.4 billion in 2016 alone on early-stage kidney dialysis that “is not associated with improved outcomes.”

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During that same year, Medicare spent $115 million on proton beam therapy, an external, targeted cancer treatment, that has “a lack of evidence that it offers a clinical advantage over alternative treatments” despite being “substantially” more expensive.

Medicare spending on Acthar went from $49 million to $504 million between 2011 to 2015. Acthar gel, which can be used to treat Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, has “weak evidence” of being an effective treatment. In addition to questions about its efficacy, 71 percent of physicians received payments from the manufacturer not related to research.

The report suggests tying effectiveness to coverage and payment under Medicare. Currently, “Medicare’s coverage process considers, but does not require, comparative clinical effectiveness evidence” when deciding which treatments to cover.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

16 hours ago

Military awards Alabama’s GeneCapture $1 million contract to develop portable disease detector

The Department of Defense has awarded Huntsville’s GeneCapture a $1 million, two-year contract to develop a portable device that war fighters can use to identify disease-causing germs.

The Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) contract is from the DOD’s Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense.

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GeneCapture, a resident associate company at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, has developed a “gene signature matching platform” that screens for hundreds of pathogens in less than one hour. The multi-pathogen test is conducted using a small, inexpensive disposable cartridge and can be used to test samples from humans and animals. The technique is being evaluated as a possible solution for a portable infection diagnostic device for use in forward deployed military operations.

GeneCapture is collaborating on this contract with Birmingham’s Southern Research, which will provide its expertise in infectious diseases, purifying genetic material for testing and designing clinical trials for the Food and Drug Administration.

“It has been a dream of mine to bring this technology to market so that critical diagnostic decisions can be made quickly, which will save lives,” said Krishnan Chittur, chemical engineering professor emeritus at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and co-founder of GeneCapture. The original discovery was patented by UAH and exclusively licensed to GeneCapture.

Chittur said the technology uses genetic probes to capture the “signature” of germs. An optical scan identifies which germ is present and produces a result in about 45 minutes.

“It’s a completely new technique that would have been impossible without the advances in genetics and genomics discoveries of the last decade,” he said. “That is one of the reasons we are located at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology – the research that’s happening here is cutting-edge.”

Paula Koelle, chief scientist at GeneCapture and principal investigator for the STTR Phase II contract, will lead the effort to produce the disposable cartridges and desktop analyzer for a set of pathogens selected by the DOD that present potential biological threats to the war fighter.

The resulting technology could have uses beyond the battlefield.

The portable platform could enable civilian applications, such as rapid infection diagnosis in schools, urgent care clinics, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, veterinary clinics, cruise ships and airports.

Southern Research’s proven track record supporting new platforms for detecting and preventing newly emerged and highly dangerous and infectious disease pathogens made the nonprofit the perfect partner on the project.

“The opportunity to work closely with GeneCapture is a perfect match for Southern Research,” said Art Tipton, Southern Research president and CEO. “We have a history of reaching out to the life sciences community, which benefits both our state economy and the global healthcare industry. Our infectious disease scientists will produce reference tests and accelerate the clinical testing of GeneCapture’s new platform.”

Working for the DOD drives home the sense of urgency when it comes to disease-causing germs around the world.

“GeneCapture is focused on reducing the risk we all have of being infected from emerging pathogens and global pandemics – the clock is ticking,” said GeneCapture CEO and co-founder Peggy Sammon. “The GeneCapture team is working diligently to bring an affordable, portable solution to this critical problem by connecting with disease experts around the world to incorporate their needs into this product.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

18 hours ago

SCIENTISTS: 30 years of data show the ‘godfather’ of global warming was wrong

Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Ryan Maue compared Hansen’s temperature predictions to real-world observations and found his supposedly “highly unlikely” forecast with the least amount of warming was the most accurate.

“Global surface temperature has not increased significantly since 2000, discounting the larger-than-usual El Niño of 2015-16,” Michaels and Maue wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

“Assessed by Mr. Hansen’s model, surface temperatures are behaving as if we had capped 18 years ago the carbon-dioxide emissions responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect,” the two scientists wrote. “But we didn’t. And it isn’t just Mr. Hansen who got it wrong.”

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“Models devised by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have, on average, predicted about twice as much warming as has been observed since global satellite temperature monitoring began 40 years ago,” they wrote.

Climate model accuracy has become a major source of debate as scientists realized predictions diverged greatly from observations over the last 15 years or so. Governments often rely on climate models to justify climate policies or regulations, meaning inaccurate models can yield bad policies.

Hansen laid out three global warming scenarios in 1988 at an iconic congressional hearing: a high-end one where the world warms about 1 degree Celsius by 2018, a middle-range of 0.7 degrees of warming and a low-end estimate with only a few tenths of a degree of warming. The hearing was held on a hot summer day and was organized by none other than former Democratic Rep. Al Gore of Tennessee.

Hansen wished he hadn’t been so accurate in predicting future warming, contradicting Michaels and Maue, he told the Associated Press on Monday. AP claimed Hansen’s predictions had “pretty much come true so far, more or less.”

“I don’t want to be right in that sense,” Hansen said, adding he wished “that the warning be heeded and actions be taken.”

Many other scientists the AP spoke with raved about Hansen’s predictions. Berkeley climate scientist Zeke Hausfather tweeted: “Hansen’s 1988 projections have largely been borne out.”

Hansen’s 1988 projections have largely been borne out, though he predicted modestly higher climate forcings and warming in Scenario B than what occurred. His model’s climate sensitivity (4.2C/doubling of CO2) is also on the high end of current estimates. https://t.co/gtYoK0X2f5 pic.twitter.com/a693ikoy2P

— Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) June 18, 2018

However, Michaels and Maue said Hansen’s predictions only look correct because of the strong El Nino effect, a naturally occurring warming event, that began in 2015. Global temperatures have actually come down quite a bit since El Nino subsided.

“The problem with Mr. Hansen’s models — and the U.N.’s — is that they don’t consider more-precise measures of how aerosol emissions counter warming caused by greenhouse gases,” Michaels and Maue wrote.

“Several newer climate models account for this trend and routinely project about half the warming predicted by U.N. models, placing their numbers much closer to observed temperatures,” the two wrote. “The most recent of these was published in April by Nic Lewis and Judith Curry in the Journal of Climate, a reliably mainstream journal.”

The two Cato scientists also took on Hansen’s other failed predictions, including those about the Greenland ice melt, temperatures in the U.S. Midwest, hurricanes and tornadoes.

“The list of what didn’t happen is long and tedious,” Michaels and Maue wrote.

“These corrected climate predictions raise a crucial question: Why should people world-wide pay drastic costs to cut emissions when the global temperature is acting as if those cuts have already been made?” they wrote.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

20 hours ago

Ray Perkins returns to Tuscaloosa but it’s his daughter working for Nick Saban

Ray Perkins, who caught touchdown passes from Steve Sloan, Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler, is back in Tuscaloosa where his daughter now works for Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

The man who once said he would “walk to Tuscaloosa” to follow Paul “Bear” Bryant as coach of the Crimson Tide told Alabama NewsCenter he has bought a house and moved in.

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Rachel Perkins, who studies at the university on a Bear Bryant scholarship, helps Saban in football as a recruiting student assistant.

Perkins had nice things to say about scholarships that Bryant set up for former players and their sons and daughters.

“Coach Bryant had already made a list of people from Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama and asked them to start raising money to pay for scholarships to the sons and daughters of his players,” Perkins said. “Now who else would have thought to do that?”

Alabama won two national championships and three SEC championships when Perkins played in 1964, ‘65 and ‘66. Freshman were not eligible to play on the varsity then.

Perkins was coach of the NFL’s New York Giants when he left to coach the Crimson Tide.

What does the man who played for and succeeded arguably the best coach of all time think about the coach many believe has surpassed the legend?

“I think he takes advantage of every little thing,” Perkins said of Saban.

“Here’s where I’m coming from: I’ve always been of the opinion that my job as a coach was to help the guys who play the game.”

Perkins, now 76 years old, said he enjoyed his years in football, playing and coaching the game.

He was a team captain and an All-American in 1966 and a draft choice of the Baltimore Colts, where he joined another outstanding quarterback in Johnny Unitas.

Perkins caught a 68-yard touchdown from “Johnny U” in the 1970 American Football Conference championship game as the Colts beat the Oakland Raiders to earn a berth in the Super Bowl.

Perkins had quite a career in the NFL as coach of the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, Raidersand Chargers.

He grew up in Petal, Mississippi, and most recently was head football coach at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi.

Now that he is back in Alabama, Perkins has a house in the town where he is remembered for national championships, touchdown passes and his days playing for the Bear.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)