OUR LEGAL CASES

Abortion

Gonzales v. Carhart (2006)—The Foundation argued to the United States Supreme Court that Congress has the authority under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to ban partial birth abortions in the states because the babies on whom this procedure is performed are almost outside the mother’s womb and completely alive in every meaningful sense. The Foundation also points out that a right to abortion is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution and thus the Supreme Court’s whole line of abortion decisions are illegitimate.


Acknowledging God in Law

American Atheists v. Kentucky (2010)—The Foundation, together with Col. Ron Ray and First Principles Press, filed an amicus curiae brief in the Kentucky Court of Appeals on behalf of 35 Kentucky Senators defending a Homeland Security Act that declared that “[t]he safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.” After the radical American Atheists group filed suit against the law, Judge Thomas Wingate of the Franklin Circuit Court ruled the law to be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and a violation of the Kentucky Constitution. The Foundation's brief explained that the Establishment Clause only forbids laws “respecting an establishment of religion,” not laws that simply recognize our need for God's protection. The Founding Fathers wanted to prevent an official, national denomination, but even they acknowledged God and His Divine Providence in many official acts and laws. Neither the words of the First Amendment nor their meaning have changed, and all judges ought to apply the original meaning of those words when interpreting the Constitution.

Bibles in Juries

Oliver v. Quarterman (2008)—The Foundation argued to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that a Texas jury's consultation of a Bible during its death-penalty deliberations did not violate the 6th Amendment's "impartial jury" clause, and that as a cross-section of the community at-large, a citizen jury and its members bring life experience into the jury room and should not be forced to banish the Bible or religious references from its deliberations on the weighty matters of morality, justice, and capital punishment.


Bibles in School

Roark v. South Iron R-1 School District (2008)The Foundation argued to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals that the South Iron R-1 School District's traditional policy of allowing Gideons International to distribute Bibles to students in school does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because such policies are not "law[s] respecting an establishment of religion," as those words were understood when they were adopted.


Boy Scouts

Winkler v. Rumsfeld (2005)—The Foundation argued to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that a proper interpretation of the First Amendment permits the United States Military to logistically and financially aid the Boy Scouts of America in putting on its National Jamboree; therefore, a federal district court’s ruling prohibiting the military’s assistance because members of the Boys Scouts must believe in God should be reversed.


Evolution in Public Schools

Selman v. Cobb County, Georgia (2005)—The Foundation argued to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals that placing disclaimers on public school science textbooks in Cobb County, Ga., that label evolution a “theory, not a fact” and urge students to “critically consider[]” the materials on evolution contained in the textbooks is perfectly permissible under the First Amendment and therefore a district court ruling ordering the removal of the stickers from the textbooks should be set aside. Without a rational explanation, the Eleventh Circuit rejected the Foundation’s brief in the case. We are awaiting a ruling from the Eleventh Circuit on this appeal.


Gambling

Surles v. City of Ashville, Ala. (2009)The Foundation explained to the Alabama Supreme Court the strong legal posture Alabama law maintains against lotteries and that local amendments like St. Clair County's that allow traditional “charitable bingo” must be strictly construed as an exception to the general anti-lottery rule. The Foundation urges the Alabama Supreme Court to reverse the circuit court's ruling and hold that video or machine "bingo” approved by the City of Ashville is barred by law.

Etowah Baptist Association v. Entrekin (2009)—The Foundation argued to the Alabama Supreme Court that "machine bingo" gambling approved in Etowah County, Alabama, violates the local constitutional amendment permitting traditional "bingo," defined in a contemporaneous enabling statute as a game played on "card or paper." "Machine bingo" is therefore unlawful under Alabama's constitutional prohibition on lotteries and “schemes” in the nature of a lottery, and therefore, the circuit court's ruling allowing permits for such machines should be reversed.

Barber v. Jefferson County Racing Ass’n., et al. (2006)—The Foundation argued to the Alabama Supreme Court that new video sweepstakes machines installed at the Birmingham Race Course violate Alabama’s prohibition on lotteries and “schemes” in the nature of a lottery, and therefore, the circuit court’s ruling permitting the machines to remain operational should be reversed. The Supreme Court declared the machines to be unconstitutional and quoted from the Foundation's brief in the course of setting out its reasons for so ruling.


"Hate Crimes"

Marcavage v. Rendell (2008)—The Foundation, representing several Christian evangelists charged with a "hate crime" for speaking against homosexual behavior, argued to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the Pennsylvania legislature's altering of an “agricultural crop destruction” bill into a different bill deceptively entitled as an amendment to the state's “ethnic intimidation” law—making crimes motivated by “sexual orientation,” “gender identity” and other classes subject to greater punishment—violated Article III, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution: “No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so altered or amended, on its passage through either House, as to change its original purpose.”

Result: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, ruling in favor of the Christian evangelists, agrees with the Foundation's brief in an order dated July 23, 2008, and adopts the lower court decision finding the "ethnic intimidation" law to be a violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Homosexuality

Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America (2011)The Foundation argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that the military ban on homosexuality (now repealed) is constitutional and should be left to the discretion of Congress and the Commander-In-Chief, not the judicial branch. Homosexuality is not protected by the Constitution, especially for members of the military, and homosexual activity poses a health threat to the armed forces.  The Foundation urged the appeals court to interpret the Constitution as the Framers intended instead of rewriting the Constitution to fit a radical, liberal agenda.

Ward v. Wilbanks (2010)The Foundation argued to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of a former student at Eastern Michigan University who was dismissed from a graduate counseling program because she refused to affirm the homosexual lifestyle. The Foundation explained that the University's action violated Ward's right to freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and liberty of conscience under the United States and Michigan Constitutions.

Ex parte N. B. (2009)The Foundation for Moral Law argued to the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama courts should not be forced to recognize a California court order stating that an Alabama mother, now married to a man, must allow her former lesbian lover in California visitation rights with the mother's biological child. The State of Alabama is not required by the ‘full faith and credit clause' of the U.S. Constitution to recognize something which is directly contrary to its law and public policy and to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.


Islam and Sharia Law

Awad v. Ziriax (2010)The Foundation for Moral Law argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, defending the constitutionality of Oklahoma's "Save Our State Amendment," which blocks foreign and Sharia law from being considered in Oklahoma court decisions. The Foundation explained (1) that Oklahoma may establish standards for the interpretation of its Constitution and laws, especially a legal system like Sharia that is antithetical to American law; (2) that the Save Our State Amendment would have certainly been held constitutional if it had not mentioned Sharia; but that (3) because there is doubt as to whether Sharia is religion or law (or both), it was necessary for the Oklahoma amendment to mention Sharia as part of the excluded category of law. Moreover, allowing the influence of Sharia in American courts--and there are examples of it in several states--raises greater problems of government establishment of religion as courts will be forced to pick and choose one of the many variants of Sharia law in Islam.


Keeping and Bearing Arms

McDonald v. City of Chicago, Ill. (2009)The Foundation argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois, violate the God-given, inalienable right of self-defense and the right of the people to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is a “privilege or immunity” for all U.S. citizens protected under the 14th Amendment and any state or local law that bans handguns for law-abiding citizens violates a historic and fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution.

District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)—The Foundation argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that Washington, D.C.'s ban on handguns and firearms in the home is an egregious violation of the plain words of the Second Amendment, which protects the "right of the people to keep and bear arms." The Founders understood that they had gained their independence, and that we would remain free, thanks to a citizenry that was well-armed to defend itself against enemies foreign and domestic.


Legal Standing

Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation (2007)—In a case where federal taxpayers sued federal agencies for supporting faith-based organizations equally with secular organizations, the Foundation argued to the United States Supreme Court that taxpayers should not have legal standing to sue the government for allegedly violating the Establishment Clause because (1) the Establishment Clause is a federalism provision that does not protect an individual right, and (2) taxpayers with no direct injury from the government action lack the "personal stake" in the litigation required by the Constitution to make the lawsuit a real "case or controversy" that federal courts have the authority to hear.


Marriage

Massachusetts v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (2011)—The Foundation argued to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals that the traditional definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) was constitutional. The Foundation explained that the definition of marriage was given by God when He created man and woman, a definition that has been sustained throughout the common law and American law, and that by passing DOMA Congress was supporting marriage and responsible procreation and defending traditional notions of morality. The Foundation urged the appeals court to interpret the Constitution as the Framers intended instead of rewriting the Constitution to fit a radical, liberal agenda.


Moment of Silence in Schools

Croft v. Governor of Texas (2008)—The Foundation argued to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that the Texas law requiring a 60-second moment of silence for students to “reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity” does not violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Giving students the voluntary option to pray, reflect, or simply sit there quietly is not an "establishment of religion" as that term was understood by the drafters and ratifiers of the Establishment Clause.


National Motto, "In God We Trust"

Newdow v. Congress (2006)—The Foundation argued to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that "In God We Trust" as our National Motto and on our currency does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, but is an example of the fine American tradition of acknowledging God and our Nation's dependence upon Him. Atheist Michael Newdow brought this lawsuit, but lost at the trial level—a result the Foundation hopes to see repeated on appeal.

Pledge of Allegiance

Jan Roe, et al. v. Rio Linda School District, et al. (2006) —The Foundation argued to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the language of the First Amendment does not require the removal of the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, and therefore the federal district court’s excising of those words because they acknowledge God should be reversed.

Freedom From Religion Foundation v. United States, Hanover School District (2010)In yet another challenge from atheist Michael Newdow, the Foundation argued to the First Circuit Court of Appeals that it does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment for schoolchildren in New Hampshire to be allowed to voluntarily recite the Pledge of Allegiance and recognize that we are "one nation under God."


Prison Ministry

Americans United for Separation of Church and State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries (2006) —The Foundation argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that the presence of Prison Fellowship's Biblically-based inmate rehabilitation program, InnerChange Freedom Initiative, at an Iowa prison does not violate the Establishment Clause; and that the lower court's opinion demonstrates hostility toward religion and specifically Christianity by ordering the program out for being too “overtly religious” and “pervasively sectarian.”

Public Evangelism

Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Michael Marcavage (2008)The Foundation filed this brief in the Massachusetts Appeals Court appealing a disorderly conduct conviction leveled against evangelist Michael Marcavage of Repent America for peacefully preaching the gospel with a megaphone in Salem, Mass. on Halloween night 2007. Although the Foundation obtained a dismissal of a noise ordinance violation charge, the trial court found Marcavage guilty of disorderly conduct based primarily on the potential reaction the Halloween revelers might have to his preaching.

Michael Marcavage v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2010)After Marcavage's conviction was affirmed (see attached affidavit), the Foundation filed this petition for certiorari review in the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to hear the case and the issues of free speech, religious liberty, equal protection, and due process of law.


Public Prayer

Galloway v. Town of Greece (2011)The Foundation argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit that public prayer at town board meetings in Greece, NY, was not a “law respecting an establishment of religion,” which is all the Establishment Clause prohibits.  Moreover, requiring judges and town officials to discern which prayers are “non-sectarian” versus “sectarian,” as the secular plaintiffs demanded, is a task outside the jurisdiction and expertise of the government.  Public prayer acknowledges the belief of many in towns and cities across the country that our nation relies upon Almighty God.  Prayer was not ever and is not now a violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Doe v. Indian River School District (2010)—The Foundation argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that courts should apply the text of the Establishment Clause, as it would have been understood by the people that ratified it, to determine the constitutionality of the School Board's prayer policy, rather than rely on case tests like the Lemon test and others. In this case, the Indian River School Board prayer policy is not a “law respecting an establishment of religion” and should be upheld.

Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Barack Obama (2010)—The Foundation argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that the National Day of Prayer law, 36 U.S.C. § 119, is not a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which requires that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”  Such days of national prayer are not an establishment of religion, as those words were understood by the framers; such prayers have been officially declared since the time of our first congresses and presidents; and they represent an American philosophy of government that depends on the blessings of Almighty God.

Joyner v. Forsyth County, North Carolina (2010)The Foundation argued to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that the language of the First Amendment, as understood by the Founders, does not prohibit the Board of Commissioners of Forsyth County, North Carolina from opening their meetings with prayers, including those offered in the name of Jesus. Moreover, it is not within the jurisdiction or expertise of judges to determine the content of one's prayers and whether they are too "sectarian." Finally, allowing public prayer reflects the beliefs of the majority of Americans who believe in God and the power of prayer to affect our society and government.

Pelphrey v. Cobb County, Georgia (2007)—The Foundation argued to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals that the language of the First Amendment does not prohibit Cobb County, Georgia, commissions from opening their sessions with prayers in the name of Jesus, nor does it outlaw the process the commissions use to choose clergy members who would give such prayers. The Foundation urges the Court to approve the prayers and the process based on the actual meaning of the Establishment Clause rather than according to incomplete and unhelpful judicial tests.

District of Columbia v. Ante, Katherine, and Christan Pavkovic (2007) --The Foundation successfully defended the Pavkovic family when the three of them were arrested for praying aloud in the name of Jesus from the U.S. Senate Visitors' Gallery as a Hindu man opened the Senate in prayer. The Foundation was able to secure a dismissal of the charges against the Pavkovics for their bold stand for the God in Whom America and her forefathers trust.

Hinrichs v. Bosma (2006)—The Foundation argued to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that the language of the First Amendment does not prohibit the Indiana House of Representatives from opening its daily sessions with prayers in the name of Jesus and therefore a federal district court’s ruling stopping the 188 year practice should be reversed.

Doe v. Tangipahoa Parish School Board (2005)—The Foundation argued to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that the language of the First Amendment does not prohibit the Tangipahoa Parish School Board in Louisiana to open its meeting with prayer and therefore a federal district court’s ruling stopping the practice should be reversed.

- En banc Tangipahoa Parish brief (2007)—Similar brief filed with all the members of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (en banc) after the court vacated a 3-judge panel's decision (holding that 4 specific prayers violated the Constitution) and agreed to rehear the case.


Religious Discrimination

Colorado Christian University v. Baker (2007)—The Foundation argued to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that the state of Colorado's exclusion of Colorado Christian University from receiving generally available state financial aid solely because the state designated the school as "pervasively sectarian" violates the plain meaning of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and therefore, a federal district court's decision approving of the state's religious discrimination should be reversed.


Religious Displays

ACLU of Ohio v. Judge James DeWeese (2009)The Foundation argued to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that a Richland County, Ohio Judge who displayed the Ten Commandments opposite tenets of Secular Humanism did not violate the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.

Salazar v. Buono (2009)The Foundation argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that neither a memorial cross erected decades ago by the Veterans of Foreign Wars atop Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve in Southern California, nor Congress's attempt to transfer the public property containing the cross to the VFW, is an unconstitutional "law respecting an establishment of religion" under the First Amendment.

ACLU of Kentucky v. McCreary County, Kentucky (2009)The Foundation argued to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that a display containing the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky county courthouse does not violate the words of the First Amendment because it is not a "law respecting an establishment of religion." Rather, it is a constitutional acknowledgment of the important role that God and His law have played in American history and law.

American Atheists v. Duncan (2008)—The Foundation argued to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that 12-foot steel crosses erected along Utah highways to memorialize patrol officers at the site where the trooper died or was mortally wounded did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, no matter how offended atheists traveling by the crosses may feel.

Pleasant Grove City, Utah v. Summum (2008)—The Foundation argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that the Summum religious group has no right under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to force Pleasant Grove City to install a monument to Summum's "Seven Aphorisms" in a city park where a Ten Commandments monument has stood for decades.

Weinbaum v. City of Las Cruces, New Mexico (2007)—The Foundation argued to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that 3 crosses in the official symbol of the City of Las Cruces (Spanish for "The Crosses"), New Mexico, do not violate the text of the First Amendment, and that the trial court's decision upholding the symbol, although correct, may foster hostility toward religion by focusing too much on the lack of "religious purpose" in the symbol's adoption.

Green v. Haskell County Board of Commissioners (2007)—The Foundation argued to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that a Ten Commandments monument on the lawn of the Haskell County, Oklahoma courthouse does not violate the words of the First Amendment and therefore the lower court decision approving the display should be affirmed. The brief pays considerable attention to the weakness of the U.S. Supreme Court's judicial tests in this area of the law.

Van Orden v. Perry (2005)—The Foundation argued to the United States Supreme Court that a Ten Commandments monument displayed on the Texas state capitol grounds since 1961 does not violate the words of the First Amendment and therefore a lower court decision permitting the display to remain on public property should be affirmed. The Supreme Court ruled that it was permissible to display this monument.

McCreary County, Kentucky v. ACLU of Kentucky (2005)—The Foundation argued to the United States Supreme Court that Ten Commandments displays in two Kentucky county courthouses do not violate the words of the First Amendment and therefore lower court decisions ordering their removal should be reversed. The Supreme Court ordered this display to be taken down.

Staley v. Harris County, Texas (2005)—The Foundation argued to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that an open King James Bible displayed in a monument outside of a Houston County, TX., courthouse is a constitutional acknowledgment of God on public property. The Fifth Circuit panel affirmed the district court's declaration of unconstitutionality; however, the full circuit voted to hear the case en banc. Oral arguments were heard in the case January 23, 2007.

ACLU of Nebraska v. City of Plattsmouth, NE (2004)—The Foundation argued to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that it should reverse a federal district court’s decision ordering the removal of a Ten Commandments monument that had been on display in a city park since 1966. The brief explained that such a monument does not violate the specific meaning of the First Amendment. The Eighth Circuit eventually did allow the monument to stay in the park.

Glassroth v. Moore (2003)—Chief Justice Moore’s attorneys argue in a petition to the United States Supreme Court that it should hear his case concerning a Ten Commandments monument he placed on display in the Alabama Judicial Building. A federal district court ruled that the monument had to be removed from the premises as a violation of the First Amendment. The petition argued that the monument is an “acknowledgment of God” which does not violate the First Amendment. The Supreme Court denied the petition and the monument was eventually removed from the building.


Removal from Office of Chief Justice Moore

In the Matter of Roy S. Moore, Chief Justice of Alabama (2003)—Complaint of the Judicial Inquiry Commission charging Chief Justice Moore with “bring[ing] the judicial office into disrepute” for failing to obey the federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building.

Roy S. Moore v. Judicial Inquiry Commission (2004)—The Foundation argued to the specially-appointed Supreme Court of Alabama that the Court of the Judiciary incorrectly removed him from his judicial office because he disobeyed an unlawful federal court order. The Alabama Supreme Court refused to address the issue of whether the order to remove the monument was unlawful and affirmed the Court of Judiciary’s punishment of removal from office for Chief Justice Moore.

Roy S. Moore v. Judicial Inquiry Commission of the State of Alabama (2004)—The Foundation argued in a petition to the United States Supreme Court that it should hear former Chief Justice Moore’s case concerning his removal from his judicial office because an unconstitutional religious test had been placed upon him and his position as Chief Justice had been taken without due process of law. The Supreme Court denied former Chief Justice Moore’s petition, ending his avenues of appeal concerning the loss of his position.

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