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Neil Gorsuch’s Impact On Supreme Court Religious Freedom Cases Could Be Felt Immediately

Neil Gorsuch was sworn in this past Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court’s 113th justice, and his impact on pending religious freedom cases could be felt as early as next week.

On Monday, the court could announce whether it will grant review of the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. For months, court watchers have been waiting to see whether the high court will take this case involving a Colorado baker who cited his religious beliefs as justification to discriminate against a same-sex couple by refusing to bake them a wedding cake.

Americans United Issues Statement On Senate Vote Confirming Gorsuch To Serve On Supreme Court

The U.S. Senate today voted 54-45 to confirm Neil Gorsuch for a seat on the Supreme Court.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, issued the following statement:

“Neil Gorsuch has demonstrated that he does not respect the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state, which is the foundation of religious freedom in America. I am gravely concerned he’ll vote to erode that principle and put one of our nation’s most essential liberties at risk.”

Background

States of Rebellion

Think of a bill, and the people who pass it, and you likely imagine the U.S. Con­gress. Our federal legislative body occupies significant media space and not without reason; it wields significant influence. It can respond to executive and judicial actions and shapes our political future.

But state legislatures are arguably as important as their federal equivalent. Many are also dominated by a conservative wing of the Republican Party that frequently promotes the Religious Right’s priorities. That’s reflected by a spate of recent legislation.

U.S. Senator Hammers Wall Of Separation

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) urged courts and legislators to “tear down” the wall of separation between church and state in a November opinion column for The Washington Times.

“Simply put, the idea of a rigid separation between church and state is without any basis in our history or laws,” Hatch wrote. He went on to argue that most Founding Fathers didn’t agree with Thomas Jefferson’s concept of a “wall of separation” between church and state; instead, Hatch said they favored John Adams’ view, which he characterized as a “mild and equitable establishment of religion.”

Barrier Method?

Political allies of the Religious Right, like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), are trying to convince the American public that the federal government wants to force nuns to buy birth control.

“You know, every American should know about the Little Sisters of the Poor,” Cruz said during an address at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., in 2014. “You want to talk about values? Right now the federal government is suing the Little Sisters of the Poor to try to force Catholic nuns to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.”

The Great Debate: A Report On My Visit To Liberty University

It finally happened. I was actually invited to participate in an event at Liberty University!

Although I have spoken at Pat Robertson’s Regent University on several occasions and was even a judge once at its law school’s moot court competition, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell’s creation in Lynchburg, Va., had always been an impenetrable venue for me. I assumed that the failure to have me there may have been related to a comment Falwell once made on CNN’s “Crossfire” – that he would not allow me to preach “out on the corner” near Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Left Behind

I want to do the right thing,” said Jennifer Schoenrock of Waynes­ville, Mo.

Schoenrock, a court clerk in Pulaski County, recently informed the conservative World magazine that the “right thing” is to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even if the Supreme Court makes marriage equality the law of the land this month. Couples who come in seeking licenses, she explained, “are like my kids. I can’t do it.”

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