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Wyoming judge on trial for being Lutheran

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The state Supreme Court in Wyoming is considering charges that a municipal judge should banned from the judiciary permanently and fined $40,000 for following the tenets of her Lutheran faith regarding marriage.

The claims against Judge Ruth Neely, a municipal judge in the small town of Pinedale as well as a part-time circuit court magistrate, were brought by the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics.

The state agency got involved after a local reporter, upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s creation of same-sex “marriage,” asked Neely whether she was excited to perform such ceremonies.

Well, no, the judge responded, because her faith wouldn’t allow her to do that.

The dispute has caught the attention of two major defenders of religious rights, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Neely, and the Becket Fund for Religion Liberty, which took up her cause in a friend-of-the-court brief.

Oral arguments were held recently at the state’s highest court, and court officials told WND this week that a decision could come in a matter of a few weeks or months.

The issue is that Neely is not allowed to solemnize marriages in her role as a municipal judge. And while she is allowed to do so as a magistrate, it is not required of her. There is no pay for it, and magistrates can decline for personal reasons.

“Outlasting the Gay Revolution” spells out eight principles to help Americans with conservative moral values counter attacks on our freedoms of religion, speech and conscience by homosexual activists

“It takes real chutzpah for the government to come in like the Keystone Kops but still ask an innocent judge to pay the price,” Becket Fund legal counsel Daniel Blomberg said as the case developed.

“If you ask the people of Pinedale, they say that Judge Neely has served the town with fairness and integrity for decades, and that they want to keep her. This judge shouldn’t lose her job because a bunch of bureaucrats decided they don’t like Lutherans.”
The organization said Neely “faces an unprecedented lifetime ban from the judiciary and $40,000 in fines for merely stating that her Lutheran faith prevents her from personally performing same-sex marriages.”

Even “local LGBT citizens” have been calling the state agency’s prosecution “obscene and offensive,” Becket reported.

The organization also pointed out that the government’s prosecutor, Patrick Dixon “fumbled” the case.

He admitted that neither the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell “nor any other law says that Judge Neely has to perform any given marriage,” the organization said.

Dixon also admitted that several of the assertions that the government made in its briefs were wrong, conceding the state does not pay small-town judges like Neely to perform weddings and that judges can decline to personally perform them.

Blomberg noted that same-sex couples can have state marriage ceremonies performed, but “judges like Judge Neely don’t have to participate.”

ADF explained the details, including her responsibilities as a municipal judge for traffic cases, animal control issues, public intoxication cases and more.

“Judge Neely has also served as a part-time circuit court magistrate for approximately 14 years. In that capacity, she has the authority to do things like administer oaths, issue subpoenas, conduct bond hearings, issue warrants, and solemnize marriages. Although Judge Neely ‘may perform the ceremony of marriage’ as a magistrate, she has no legal obligation or duty to do so.”

The Commission on Judicial Conduct eventually alleged that “by merely communicating her religious beliefs about marriage and her inability to serve as a celebrant for same-sex marriage, Judge Neely failed to follow the law and manifested bias and prejudice.”

The commission’s website lists current members as Priscilla Dillon of Sheridan, Barbara Dilts of Cheyenne, Ray Elser of Jackson, Mary Flitner of Greybull, Donna Heinz of Torrington, Leslie Petersen of Wilson, Jay Gilbertz of Sheridan, Melvin Orchard III of Jackson, Scott Ortiz of Casper, Wendy Bartlett of Gilette, Wade Waldrip of Rawlins and Norman Young of Lander.

A WND message left with the commission director, Wendy Soto, requesting comment did not generate a response.

Court documents note the threat that the state commission’s action presents.

“In a chilling forecast, the commission leaves no doubt that if it has its way, no judge who holds Judge Neely’s religious beliefs about marriage can remain on the bench once the public learns of those beliefs. According to the commission, any judge who believes as Judge Neely does must hide the very convictions that animate her life.”

The briefs also explain that Wyoming’s constitution was framed specifically with the intention of forbidding “the state from invoking religious beliefs about marriage” to disqualify citizens from public office because of its Mormon population.

The Supreme Court, therefore, “should conclude that the framers’ intent confirms what plain language says: that the state cannot remove Judge Neely from her … position because of her religious beliefs and expression about marriage.”

Her defenders continued, “The commission’s insistence that Judge Neely has a duty to solemnize marriages serves only to highlight that it is targeting her because of her religious beliefs.”

Wyoming legal officials are not the only ones trying to restrict the exercise of religion. WND reported only weeks ago two simultaneous rulings.

The U.S. Supreme Court left standing a lower court decision that Washington state pharmacists who are Christian must violate their faith to practice their profession by dispensing abortion pills.

The second decision came from a federal judge in Mississippi with a reputation for ruling against Christians who said county clerks in the state must violate their faith to hold their office.

The Supreme Court’s move alarmed Justice Samuel Alito, who warned there was evidence that the “impetus for the adoption of the regulations was hostility to pharmacists whose religious beliefs regarding abortion and contraception are out of step with prevailing opinion in the state.”

The Mississippi ruling from Judge Carlton Reeves, who once punished a school district for allowing a voluntary prayer at an optional awards ceremony, said clerks in the state cannot cite their religious beliefs to excuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to homosexual duos.

That case already had been litigated in Kentucky, where Judge David Bunning reached the same conclusion, ordering Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to violate her faith. When she declined, Bunning abruptly jailed her with no due process.

But Kentucky’s legislature simply adopted a provision protecting clerks’ religious rights, and Davis asked that the federal case be closed.

In Mississippi, however, not even action by state lawmakers was sufficient for Reeves, who ordered not only that clerks be required to provide services that violate their faith, they must be given “formal notice” of the requirement that they violate their faith.

WND previously has documented the Big List of cases where there have been government rulings that removed religious rights from Christians.

Missouri State University, for example, dismissed a student from a counseling program for expressing opposition to counseling same-sex duos.

In Iowa, Gortz Haus Gallery and bistro owners Betty and Richard Odgaard were sued by a homosexual duo.

In Texas, David and Edie Delmore, who own a bakery, were approached by Ben Valencia and Luis Marmolejo about a cake for a “gay wedding.” They declined, referring the potential customers to other bakers. Subsequently, they claim their home has been vandalized and their son has been threatened with rape by a broken beer bottle.

One business even was attacked for answering a hypothetical question on the issue.

Family owned Memories Pizza in Indiana came into the crosshairs of homosexuals when an owner was interviewed by a local TV station in the aftermath of the adoption of the state’s religious freedom law. Responding to a reporter’s question, the owner said that while her restaurant serves “gays,” her Christian faith wouldn’t allow her to cater a “gay wedding.” The restaurant immediately became a focal point of outrage toward the law, with threats of death and destruction, causing the owners to shut down their business.

“Outlasting the Gay Revolution” spells out eight principles to help Americans with conservative moral values counter attacks on our freedoms of religion, speech and conscience by homosexual activists

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Illegal alien trying to restore Obama’s executive amnesty

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President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) is far from dead, even though it’s been blocked by a federal judge.

In fact, an illegal alien may soon help resuscitate it.

Martin Jonathan Batalla Vidal, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiary from Mexico, filed suit in federal court last week seeking to have the nationwide injunction against Obama’s executive amnesty overturned.

Daniel Horowitz, senior editor at Conservative Review, wonders how Vidal can even bring a lawsuit.

“The real question is how illegal aliens can even get standing in court to openly sue for affirmative rights against longstanding congressional statutes governing sovereignty?” Horowitz wrote in a recent column.

After Obama took executive action to expand DACA and create DAPA in November 2014, 26 states filed a lawsuit over the unilateral actions. In February 2015 U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking the administration from moving forward with its plans.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the injunction, and then the Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue, thereby leaving Judge Hanen’s decision in place.

Batalla Vidal’s lawsuit alleges Hanen’s injunction should only be valid within the 26 states that were plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Batalla Vidal lives in New York, which was not one of the plaintiff states.

According to the suit, Batalla Vidal initially received a three-year work authorization under the Obama administration’s expanded DACA. But Hanen’s injunction led to the rescinding of that three-year permit in May 2015, and it was replaced by a two-year employment authorization.

The alien is now suing for reinstatement of his three-year work permit, claiming its revocation was unlawful because Hanen’s injunction does not apply to New York residents.

Batalla Vidal is being represented by the National Immigration Law Center, a left-wing immigration advocacy group funded by George Soros and the Ford Foundation.

Horowitz knew it was too early to celebrate when the Supreme Court upheld Hanen’s decision. In his view, the federal courts had already done much harm by overturning immigration enforcement actions and granting rights to illegal aliens. These harms far outweighed any benefit conservatives may have gotten from the DAPA decision.

In fact, in his new book “Stolen Sovereignty: How to Stop Unelected Judges From Transforming America,” Horowitz shows it is Congress, not the courts or the president, that the framers of our Constitution intended to give power over immigration. He argues Congress should strip the courts of jurisdiction over immigration because the issue deals with the very sovereignty of the United States.

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The Supreme Court’s ruling on Hanen’s injunction provided Horowitz no comfort.

“To begin with, the court never addressed the DACA amnesty, and indeed, the lower courts and the Supreme Court refused to grant standing to ICE agents and states in their challenge of the 2012 amnesty,” Horowitz argued. “In fact, the Ninth Circuit has already legitimized and codified Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by forcing states to issue driver’s licenses to recipients of that executive amnesty program.”

What’s more, Horowitz pointed out the court may have been able to stop Obama from issuing work permits and Social Security cards to DAPA recipients, but no court can force the president to deport illegal aliens. In fact, deportations are at a nine-year low.

Now that an illegal alien threatens to restore DAPA, Horowitz fears the increasingly left-leaning judicial system will let him succeed.

“The scary thing is this alien will likely get standing in court and might succeed in reconstituting Obama’s executive amnesty for half the country,” Horowitz warned. “If the plaintiff is able to get a hearing before a liberal judge in the Eastern District of New York, a favorable decision would likely be upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which is full of post-constitutionalists.

“Thus, if Congress fails to stand its ground, the one benefit we’ve ever gotten from court intervention in immigration might be overturned.”

And isn’t it ironic, Horowitz mused.

“In the irony of all ironies a recipient of DACA might get standing to bring back DAPA – all because ICE agents, states and taxpayers couldn’t get standing to bring a lawsuit against Obama’s original executive amnesty.”

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Trump to Mexican president: Border wall ‘paramount’

GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump (Photo: Twitter)

GOP nominee Donald Trump (Photo: Twitter)

Just hours before a planned major speech on immigration issues on Wednesday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that a wall to enhance the security of the Mexican-U.S. border, which runs some 2,000 miles, is “paramount.”

In a meeting with the press after his quickly assembled private meeting set up at Nieto’s invitation, Trump ticked off five shared goals for the North American neighbors.

Ending illegal immigration took the No. 1 spot, and having a secure border was second.

It’s mutually beneficial, he pointed out, that the nations “recognize and respect the right of either country to build a physical barrier or wall to stop the illegal movement of people, drugs and weapons” across the border.

“This shared objective of safety is paramount to both the United States and Mexico,” he said.

He immediately was castigated, however, by a commentator on Fox News for not pinning down the payment for the wall during his first meeting with Nieto.

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State Department-linked David Tafuri said on Fox that it was a “complete capitulation” on the part of Trump, who has made border security a significant issue in his campaign. He has promised to build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it, a promise that infuriated Mexican officials to the point they were using objectionable language to deny it.

See Trump’s speech:

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Both Nieto and Trump described their private meeting and profitable.

Another goal for Trump was to dismantled the drug cartels and “end the movement of illegal drugs, weapons and funds across the border.”

It was earlier in Barack Obama’s tenure that the U.S. government allowed some 2,000 weapons to be sold to illegal purchasers and moved into Mexico to arm drug warlords. The plan had been to trace the guns and through that, reduce the violence, but the federal agents simply lost track of virtually all of the weapons, many of which remain in the drug cartel ranks today.

Last was improving NAFTA, the free trade agreement that binds the nations, because it benefits Mexico much more than the U.S., and keep manufacturing “in our hemisphere.”

Trump had said in June, ‘I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better. If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal.”

Both Nieto and Trump expressed their love for their own nations, and their dedication to protecting their citizens.

“As you know, I love the United States very much, and I want to make sure the people of the United States are protected,” Trump said.

“No one wins in either country when human smugglers and drug traffickers prey on innocent people, when cartels commit acts of violence, when illegal weapons and cash flow from the United States into Mexico or when migrants from Central America make a dangerous trek, and it is very very dangerous, into Mexico or the United States without legal authorization,” he said.

Trump, in response to questions after the prepared statement, confirmed he had discussed the wall with Nieto, but had not discussed payment.

Nieto emphasized working together on solutions to the problems that do exist, in light of the many areas where cooperation is very successful, such as the more than one million legal border crossings each day between the country.

And the estimated $200 billion in trade between the countries.

Through a translator, he said, “[We] had an open and constructive discussion. The purpose of our meeting was to get to know each other and exchange visions about bilateral trade.”

Trump praised the Mexican people as “beyond reproach.”

Nieto noted he also had invited Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Hillary for prosecution, not president! Join the sizzling campaign to put Mrs. Clinton where she really belongs

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IRS observes millions of cases of identity theft, does nothing

You probably don’t want to get call from the IRS. Except maybe when an illegal immigrant has stolen your Social Security number, in which case you probably won’t.

IRS officials knew for at least 5 years that more than a million American Social Security numbers had been stolen by illegal immigrants—but the agency never bothered to notify the identity theft victims.

That’s according to a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which pointed out that it first notified the IRS of the problem back in 2011.

From the watchdog:

The IRS’s Automated Underreporter (AUR) program identifies such discrepancies when it matches taxpayer income reported on third-party information returns (e.g., Forms W-2, Wage and Income Statement) to amounts that taxpayers report on their individual income tax returns.

TIGTA conducted this audit to evaluate the IRS’s AUR processes to identify and assist victims of identity theft. In July 2011, TIGTA reported that the IRS was in a unique position to identify cases of employment-related identity theft. TIGTA recommended that the IRS implement procedures to timely alert taxpayers when it becomes aware that their identity was stolen. However, in this review, TIGTA determined that taxpayers are still not notified.

During the period February 2011 to December 2015, the IRS identified almost 1.1 million taxpayers who were victims of employment-related identity theft. In April 2014, the IRS started a pilot initiative to begin notifying taxpayers that they may be a victim of employment-related identity theft. TIGTA’s review of the pilot notification initiative found that the IRS did not sufficiently design the pilot to include a representative sample of employment-related identity theft victims.

Further, TIGTA found that the IRS has not established an effective process to ensure that it sends the required notice to alert the SSA of earnings not associated with a victim of employment-related identity theft. TIGTA’s review of a statistically valid sample of 71 cases from the population of 1,878 Tax Year 2013 AUR cases closed as identity theft (i.e., cases that involved a discrepancy related to wages reported on the tax return) identified that the SSA has no record of receiving an IRS notice for 15 (21 percent) of the 71 cases.

According to the IRS, its biggest reason for not notifying citizens of the identity theft and going after the illegal immigrant culprits is that it would rather the criminals be taxpayers than not.

“If people … think the fact that they file with us means they’re now in jeopardy, a lot of them are going to quit filing with us,” he said.

He added, “What we can’t afford to do is have people feel, ‘If I pay my taxes to the IRS, they’re going to quickly check with immigration, they’re going to check with social security, they’re going to check with everybody,’ and even if they are here legitimately, a lot of times they’re uneasy about dealing with authority.”

 

The post IRS observes millions of cases of identity theft, does nothing appeared first on Personal Liberty®.

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Broadcast networks ignore all Obamacare failures

(NEWSBUSTERS) — The broadcast networks have refused to cover the repeated failures of ObamaCare in 2016. During the entire year, ABC World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News have yet to give the floundering program any coverage at all, while CBS Evening News only found time to cover two of the ObamaCare updates – and that only added up to 2 minutes and 18 seconds of coverage for the entire year.

To put that in perspective, these same three evening news shows managed to find 46 minutes and 49 seconds to dedicated to Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte running afoul of Brazilian police.

Here are some of the major ObamaCare developments that the networks ignored:

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Black Lives Matter vows to destroy ‘nuclear family’

(INFOWARS) — The official ‘Black Lives Matter’ website vows to destroy the nuclear family and replace it with communitarian-style collective parenting.

“We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable,” states BlackLivesMatter.com on its “guiding principles” page.

The notion of collective communities being responsible for children and not parents is an idea that has been pushed by the leftist establishment before, most notably during a piece for MSNBC by Melissa Harris-Perry in which she said the notion that kids belonging to their parents was outdated.

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Feds: We need central control over elections

The Obama administration Department of Homeland Security is eyeing a plan to declare elections “critical infrastructure,” which would allow the federal government to take over electronic voting machines and the counting process.

The plan, reportedly already in the works, could be hastened by recent news that voting machines could become the target of foreign hackers during the 2016 election.

“There’s no one federal election system. There are some 9,000 jurisdictions involved in the election process,” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told reporters earlier this month.

According to Johnson and other proponents of giving Washington central control over the electoral process at the local level, the number of jurisdictions and the different ways in which they handle the ballot process could make it difficult to target hacking attempts.

“We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid,” Johnson said, according to Washington Examiner.

“There’s a vital national interest in our election process, so I do think we need to consider whether it should be considered by my department and others critical infrastructure,” he added.

Of course, as noted by American Thinker: “A federal takeover of elections presents an enormous challenge and one big roadblock: it’s unconstitutional…

“Even if they could justify the assimilation of the election process because of national security, the bureaucratic nightmare of guarding and regulating not just the 9,000 electoral jurisdictions, but also the more than 300,000 precincts – any one of which could be a gateway for hackers – is almost certainly physically impossible.”

And we all know how well DHS has done keeping its other “critical infrastructure” in check.

Foreign hackers are attacking the U.S. power grid with regularity

The nation’s power grid is vulnerable to massive failure

DHS wasted $5.7 billion on useless government cybersecurity

Parting gift from Congressional budget hawk: A scathing report on DHS failures

So why would agency officials think DHS could handle oversight of hundreds of thousands of voting precincts when it already has huge cybersecurity issues to address elsewhere? They probably don’t. But no self-respecting Washington bureaucrat would pass up a chance to give the federal government more control over the electoral process.

The post Feds: We need central control over elections appeared first on Personal Liberty®.

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