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Congratulations To Liberty Institute's Kelly Shackelford!

We want to congratulate a dear friend of The Family Foundation and a true partner — Kelly Shackelford from the Liberty Institute in Texas, who successfully argued the Salazar v. Buono case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The court, in a 5-4 decision this week, ruled that a Cross could be displayed at a World War I memorial in a former national park (now in private hands) in California's Mojave Desert. Kelly, who heads the Texas family policy council, led the charge for the passage of the Texas Marriage Amendment, and is a true national leader. Some of you may remember that we brought Kelly to Virginia in 2006 to assist us in Marriage Amendment campaign strategy. He also was the keynote speaker at out annual Lobby Day in 2006. Way to go Kelly!

Big Week For Religious Liberty! (Or, Kaine And Stevens Cut From The Same Cloth)

Just two days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a 5-4 decision to uphold the display of a Cross on a World War I Mojave Desert memorial on what had been public property (once a national park, the land now is owned privately, yet a lower court ruled the Cross still could not be displayed.) In its majority opinion, the court stated:

The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require the eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.

The timing of the decision couldn't have been more fitting — the same day, Governor Bob McDonnell reversed the Kaine administration's discriminatory prayer policy that prohibited Virginia State Police chaplains from praying at public events according to their faith.

Religious liberty 2, ACLU 0!

This recent Supreme Court case, Salazar v. Buono, reversed the decision from a California lower court that ordered the removal of a Cross placed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in the Mojave National Preserve in 1934 as a memorial to World War I soldiers (see California Catholic Daily). The circumstances surrounding the case, however, are far from simple.

The disagreement began in 1999 when a retired National Park Service employee sued saying that the Cross on public property constituted an unconstitutional establishment of religion. A federal court agreed and ordered that the Cross be removed. The decision was appealed and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court (the nation's most left-wing court) upheld lower court's decision. However, in 2003, before the Cross could be removed, Congress intervened and transferred the land in question to a private owner in an effort to side step the controversy.

Once again the lower courts and 9th Circuit weighed in and stated that Congress' maneuver was objectionable and did not solve the problem. In the meantime, plywood was used to cover the cross to prevent "any further harm." The U.S. Supreme Court then granted cert in the case to put the confusion to rest.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and sent the case back to the lower court to be reassessed "in light of a policy of accommodation." The logical assumption is that the display of the Cross will now be allowed. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed with the majority, but additionally argued that the retired park employee did not have standing to sue since the property had been transferred to a private owner. In addition, while the court did not specifically rule on the display of a Cross on public property, it certainly hinted that it would find such a display acceptable in some circumstances.

However, the written dissent truly was tragic. Justice John Paul Stevens, soon to retire,  wrote that the Cross was an improper and intolerable government endorsement of a specific faith. Similar to Kaine's discriminatory chaplain prayer policy, this opinion is yet another example of growing anti-Christian sentiment (see Huffington Post for anti-Catholic hysterics). Simply the fact that four Supreme Court justices could buy into this "logic" of censorship is proof that we must do more to protect our freedom of conscience. The Family Foundation will continue to keep a pulse on this issue and work on efforts to further protect religious liberty.

Virginia News Stand: April 28, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations Cultural Conservatism's Comeback (Or Was It Ever Really Dead?)

Who said cultural conservatism is dead? In Virginia last week, there was bipartisan support to end taxpayer funding of elective abortion and within the last 24 hours two major blows for traditional values — and constitutional law — occurred. Yesterday, the Oklahoma Senate joined with the House there in a bipartisan vote to override Democrat Governor Brad Henry's veto of an informed consent bill which would requires women seeking abortions to see an ultrasound of her baby and receive certain information, not terribly different than a bill we have advocated for in the General Assembly the last several years. (There is always hope!) Then, earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a memorial Cross on federal land in the Mojave Desert can stay, reversing a lower court ruling.

But was cultural conservatism dead? Hard to believe that when each state that has voted on a Marriage Amendment has passed it. The truth is that there are certain truths in life and embedded in the constitution. Only when they are purposefully misinterpreted and laws misapplied to achieve agenda goals are they ever defeated. But defeat is not death. Values endure. We've seen that in the last 24 hours.

News

Gov discusses Confederacy, felons' rights, condoms (The Daily Press)

Va. ponies up millions to add Northrop (Washington Examiner)

Albemarle tea party crashes Fifth District chairman’s endorsement (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Audio

Ask The Governor (39:56) (WTOP/WTOP.com)

National News

Strict Abortion Measures Enacted in Oklahoma (New York Times)

States seek new ways to restrict abortions (USA Today)

High court supports Mojave cross in Calif. (AP/FoxNews.com)

High Court Says Mojave Desert Cross Can Remain (Wall Street Journal)

Sounding alarm on gonorrhea (Washington Times)

Poll finds Americans in an anti-incumbent mood as midterm elections near (Washington Post)

Reid: Senate to act on climate before immigration (AP/GOPUSA.com)

GOP eyes comeback for New England House seats (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Not us: Goldman execs deny wrongdoing in crisis (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Obama continues to hammer AZ immigration law (AP/GOPUSA.com)

AG: Court challenge possible on immigration law (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Analysis

How Arizona became center of immigration debate (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

How Mexico Treats Illegal Aliens (Michelle Malkin/GOPUSA.com)

Trying To Make People Like Us (Harris Sherline/GOPUSA.com)

Arizona's 21-Bottle Salute (Brent Bozell/GOPUSA.com)

The Return of 'Social Utility' (Tony Blankley/GOPUSA.com)

ACLU Vs. Veterans

So, just how far are the ACLU and their anti-Christian supporters in the courts willing to go to rid our nation of its Christian heritage? Watch this video to see:

Unreal. We actually live in a nation where judges can order a cross to be covered up! Not exactly what these veterans fought for and watched their buddies die for. Go to donttearmedown.com for more information and to sign an online petition to keep the cross.

And yet, candidates for office continue to tell us that these silly "social issues" don't matter, are divisive and don't win elections. All that matters is the almighty dollar.

Well, Obama is taking care of that too. No money and no freedom. God bless America.

(Thanks to our friends at the Free Market Foundation and the Liberty Legal Institute in Texas for letting us know about this case. Kelly Shackleford, the ED at Free Market, is a great friend and has often provided wise counsel to TFF. )