Friday, March 01, 2013
ACLU Loses Plaintiff, and Ten Commandments Case
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has lost its six-year campaign to tear down a Ten Commandments monument at the Dixie County, Florida courthouse.
They've even lost their usual extortion money for harassing a community.
The case fell apart after the plaintiff, an anonymous North Carolina man who had planned to come to Dixie County to live in his RV, decided not to move there after all.
Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice M. Paul dismissed the case without prejudice on Feb. 13, because the plaintiff lacked standing. The ACLU could re-file if an actual resident is willing to buck the strong tide of sentiment in the county. For now, Mr. “‘Heel on Wheels” [not his actual nickname] has sunk the ship.
In February 2007, the ACLU filed a lawsuit naming “John Doe” as the plaintiff. Judge Paul ruled in 2011 that the monument was an establishment of religion, and awarded $130,000 in legal fees to the ACLU, which had tried to finger the taxpayers for $160,000. He then stayed his order, and was reversed by the 11th Circuit. When the plaintiff pulled out, it blew up the whole thing, including the ACLU’s award of legal fees.
Harry Mihet, an attorney at Liberty Counsel, which represented Dixie County, found the outcome pleasing: “We went from an order that ‘the monument goes and you have to pay $130,000 to the ACLU,’ to ‘the monument stays, and the ACLU has to pay a total of $3, 600,’” Mr. Mihet told me.
For the 75-year-old “John Doe,” the dismissal’s bright spot is that he won’t have to leave North Carolina’s barbecue country for less certain barbecue conditions in Florida. He made the decision not to move upon learning that his identity would be revealed if the case proceeded. The initial ruling had triggered a pro-monument rally of 1,500 in nearby Cross City, whose population is 1,700, according to Ocala.com. So far, the ACLU has not insisted that Cross City change its name.
Mr. “Doe” apparently figured, according to the ACLU, that his new neighbors would welcome him not with their own version of home-cooked barbecue but with something a little stronger. No word on whether the good citizens of Dixie County will countersue for defamation, claiming that “John Doe” and the ACLU have slyly caricatured them as violent half wits right out of the movie “Deliverance.”
“The ACLU got caught with its hands in the constitutional cookie jar,” Mr. Mihet said in a press release. “In getting kicked out of court, the ACLU has learned that it cannot impose its San Francisco values upon a small town in Florida, using a phantom member from North Carolina.” The five-foot-tall 12,000-pound monument was erected at the top of the courthouse steps in 2006 after Joe Anderson Jr., chairman and founder of Lake City-based road builder Anderson Columbia, purchased it for $20,000.
Joe Anderson has not only funded several other Ten Commandments monuments in Florida, but also a “revival” mobile display. It’s parked somewhere until legal threats arise, and then it takes off down the road. “He’s having some fun with the ACLU,” Mr. Mihet said.
“We’re just getting started,” Mr. Anderson, 73, told me last Friday, saying that he had several requests from other counties to erect Ten Commandment monuments. “We got a bunch of them up right now, already built, ready to go.”
After the initial ruling, Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, commented:
“Dixie County is not establishing a religion by allowing a private individual to place a monument in a location where similar monuments may be placed. Dixie County should be applauded, not sued, for fostering open and robust speech in a public forum. Rather than take advantage of the forum, the ACLU prefers to censor speech with which it disagrees.”
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 in favor of a Ten Commandments monument alongside other historical items at the Texas state capitol, the ACLU has had a tougher time ripping God’s directives out of the ground. Oklahoma just installed a set of privately-financed Ten Commandments on the state capitol grounds in November.
Hiram Saffer, director of litigation for Texas-based Liberty Institute, which will represent Oklahoma in any legal challenge, said the ACLU has not yet sued there, but is actively trying to tear down crosses such as the one atop the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego. In that case, in which Liberty Institute is representing the Memorial Association, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition to reverse a Ninth Circuit order to take down the cross. All parties are awaiting a “remedy” fashioned by the lower courts.
In King, North Carolina, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is suing to have a veterans memorial remove a Christian flag and a statue of a soldier kneeling at a comrade’s grave. How do we know it’s a grave? Because of the cross. Liberty Institute is representing the American Legion.
While the courts sort things out, wouldn’t it be interesting if Florida’s Mr. Anderson took his mobile Ten Commandment display on the road, up to North Carolina? He might run into “John Doe” and his RV.
Now, that would be a race to remember, and I wouldn’t bet against the Ten Commandments.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and Violent Bullying
Bullying is not a new phenomenon; it’s as old as man. But bullying has reached a point of near epidemic proportions, with one in four children experiencing bullying and up to 35 percent of the U.S. workforce reporting being bullied at work. Bullying is wrong, and should have no defenders.
Bullying knows no boundaries. It’s not just boys on the playground or people at work; it can even be organizations on the national stage as was revealed in a federal court room on February 6th.
What was unveiled in the court chambers was the reality that some of the nation’s biggest bullies hide behind the façade of being against bullying!
Consider the following:
In July 2011, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sued the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota, in apparent coordination with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, for discrimination based on sexual orientation related to bullying.
The Anoka-Hennepin School District is located northwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since the early 1990s, Anoka-Hennepin had witnessed an ongoing debate over the nature of its sex education curriculum. The Parents Action League (PAL), located within the school district in Champlin, was founded by concerned parents in 2010 to participate in the process of the development of bullying policies.
The SPLC said the school district’s anti-bullying policy that was neutral toward homosexuality, declaring it was neither a moral right or moral wrong, was “discriminatory” and sued the District. PAL, which opposed the SPLC’s imposition of their pro-homosexual bullying policy, was then placed on the SPLC’s national hate group list along with the Klan.
Who is the real bully?
Lest one might think this was an isolated case of bullying, in January 2013, a federal magistrate judge in Colorado called out the Southern Poverty Law Center for their tactics.
In this case Eugene Delgaudio, the president of the Public Advocate of the United States, a non-profit advocacy organization, had opposed political candidates in Colorado, who supported the redefinition of marriage, and used a photograph of two homosexual men to illustrate his opposition to the candidates. The SPLC teamed up with the two homosexual men to file suit against Delgaudio’s organization and in their public filings posted Delgaudio’s home address for the sole purpose of intimidation.
In the recent investigation of Floyd Corkins, the armed gunman who attacked the FRC headquarters, seriously wounding our colleague Leo Johnson, it was reported that Corkins was seen casing the headquarters of Delgaudio’s group in Northern Virginia. This information was apparently a factor in the order handed down by Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya.
Judge Tafoya ordered the SPLC to remove Delgaudio’s private address because it might subject Delgaudio to “politically motivated harassment, or even violence.”
The threat of violence was clearly not speculative. Judge Tafoya’s order came six months after the August 15 attack on FRC. How did Corkins choose FRC and his other targets?
According to statements of the federal prosecutor the evidence revealed the source of Corkins’ hit list was, in fact, the SPLC’s “hate map,” that listed FRC’s address.
At FRC, we hate no one. We actively affirm God’s love for everyone. We also affirm what we believe to be sound theological and sociological reasons for upholding sexual morality and preserving marriage as the institution between one man and one woman.
Is this hate? Most reasonable people would say no. Evidently the Southern Poverty Law Center disagrees, and under the guise of “anti-bullying,” the SPLC is willingly fomenting hostility and violence that is jeopardizing the lives of the people with whom they disagree, just to advance their cause.
It is time the public sees the SPLC for what they really are – bullies intent on intimidating and silencing those who oppose their anti-parent, anti-Christian policies.
Scrap 'dangerous and unnecessary' secret justice bill, hundreds of lawyers and QCs urge the British Government
Hundreds of lawyers, including some of the country’s most eminent QCs, today launch a devastating attack on Government plans for secret courts as ‘contrary to the rule of law’ and demand they are dropped.
More than 700 figures from the legal profession insist that the Government’s Justice and Security Bill is ‘dangerous and unnecessary’ and will ‘fatally undermine’ the fairness of court hearings.
The group of 702, which includes 38 QCs, says in a letter published in today’s Daily Mail that the proposals to allow a huge extension of court hearings behind closed doors will ‘erode core principles of our civil justice system’ by undermining the right to a fair trial and open justice.
They include Nicholas Vineall QC, former chairman of the Conservative Lawyers’ Association, Reverend Nicholas Mercer, a lieutenant colonel who was the Army’s most senior lawyer during the Iraq war, and Ian Macdonald QC, who resigned as a security-cleared special advocate in protest at the existing use of secret justice.
The intervention of such a significant number of lawyers is a shattering blow for the Government, which had been hoping to get the legislation through Parliament as quietly as possible following months of controversy. It is expected to return to the Commons next week.
In another setback for the Government, a group of international organisations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and similar bodies from Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Argentina, Egypt and Hungary, also expressed concerns about the Bill in a joint statement.
It warned: ‘If the UK Parliament passes this proposal into law it will be a huge setback for those of us fighting to secure truth and fairness from our own governments and within our own justice systems across the world.’
The Daily Mail has led criticism of Government plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’ (CMPs), in which cases are conducted entirely in private, in civil hearings.
Defendants or claimants will not allowed to be present, know or challenge the case against them and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate, rather than their own lawyer.
Currently, such procedures are used in tiny numbers of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Government wants to extend them across the civil courts in cases deemed to involve national security.
The legislation has been drafted in close cooperation with the security services, who have claimed other countries may stop sharing intelligence with Britain if it risks being disclosed in open court.
But critics say the proposals are simply designed to ensure potentially embarrassing cases are conducted behind closed doors.
Reverend Nicholas Mercer, one of the most prominent signatories of today’s letter, said: ‘The Justice and Security Bill has one principle aim and that is to cover up UK complicity in rendition and torture.
‘The Bill is an affront to the open justice on which this country rightly prides itself and, above all, it is an affront to human dignity. The fact that some of those individuals who are complicit in rendition and torture can not only assist in the drafting of the Bill but also vote to cover their tracks is a constitutional scandal.
‘It is little wonder that the Bill has been heavily criticised by the UN Rapporteur on Torture and condemned by the vast majority of lawyers and human rights organisations in this country.’
Michael Fordham QC, one of the country's leading public law specialists, warned the Government that if it pressed ahead judges might refuse to preside over secret courts.
‘Secret trials undermine the principles of open justice and natural justice on which the rule of law is built. By promoting the spread of secrecy, state authorities become self-immunised from proper public scrutiny, and in relation to the very types of actions which most need it,’ he said.
no to secret justice
‘Parliament is unwisely provoking the untapped power of our unwritten constitution which it could come to regret. The last word will not be Parliament's, but that of judges asked to preside over secret courts. An unwise Parliament may be about to find that it has constitutional limits, when the rule of law fights back.’
Paul Bowen QC said: ‘The extension of closed material procedures is not necessary for public protection. The state is already free to withhold evidence from disclosure under Public Interest Immunity procedures. What is not fair, or just, is evidence being shown in secret to the judge who decides the case on the basis of that evidence.
‘In those cases where disclosure of torture or other human rights abuses by the British government or its agents is sought, the public interest surely requires that to be brought into the open.’
Dinah Rose QC, a former special advocate and another signatory, said: ‘Closed material procedures are alien to British justice and will distort civil trials beyond recognition.
'What may look and sound like a trial is in fact nothing of the sort. Judges will be asked to decide cases on the basis of "secret evidence" that would not withstand legal challenge and hand down judgments in secret. This Bill is a dangerous perversion of our national legal system and will undermine constitutional rights.’
Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, said: ‘When will the coalition that once championed civil liberties listen to the condemnation of its secret courts proposals?
‘Liberty was dismissed as the reactionary human rights lobby- but now legal and international communities have joined the opposition to secret stitch-ups between government and judges, with victims, press and public shut outside. Secret justice is a complete perversion - it is no justice at all.’
key evidence on spy will be censored
Minister without portfolio Kenneth Clarke, who is in charge of the legislation, will today table further amendments supposed to address some of the concerns of critics.
They mean a judge must be satisfied that the Government has considered whether to make a claim for public interest immunity before making an application for a secret hearing as one of the tests to be met. Mr Clarke is also proposing an annual report on the operation of closed hearings and a full review after five years.
He said: ‘With these final amendments the Government has gone to extreme lengths to meet every practical legal objection that has been made about the Bill. The judge now has total discretion over whether to order a closed material procedure following an application either by the Government, the claimant, or from the court of its own motion.
‘I do not believe closed material procedures are ideal, but in the very exceptional circumstances where national security is at stake, they offer the only practical means of delivering justice where otherwise there would be none.
‘CMPs already exist in our justice system and the Government does lose in them – sometimes to the great anger of the Daily Mail’s readers.
‘This Bill is now proportionate, sensible and necessary. It resolves the highly unsatisfactory legal no-man’s land we have at the moment where national security cases can be brought, but not resolved.
‘Of course these amendments will not reassure the Bill’s hardline critics, who prefer silence to judicial decisions on allegations of kidnap and torture, and are prepared to accept that millions of pounds could go without challenge to individuals who could be terrorists.
These final amendments should now resolve all right thinking citizens that this is a sensible, worthwhile Bill which they would give their support to.
'There are few Governments in the world who would go to these lengths to ensure that we will uphold justice and the rule of law in the process of securely safeguarding the safety of our citizens and the national interest.’
British college lecturer confronts teenage bullies who punched her nine-year-old son... and SHE'S dragged to court for breaching the peace
A college lecturer landed in court after standing up to bullies who attacked her young son in the street.
Shannon Sibley, 48, was charged with a breach of the peace after her nine-year-old son was punched and had abuse hurled at him by a group of teenagers.
Miss Sibley, from Carfin, Lanarkshire, took her car out to find those responsible and confront them after her son had been reduced to tears.
The mother-of-two caught up with her son's tormentors, who had been selling sweets in her housing estate, and after a heated exchange returned home.
But she was reported to the police after a witness saw the incident on May 20 last year.
Miss Sibley, a senior lecturer in travel and tourism at Anniesland College in Glasgow, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court where she pleaded guilty to the offence.
But Sheriff David Bicket gave her an absolute discharge and told her he 'understood' the reasons for her actions after hearing the case.
Today, Tory politician Margaret Mitchell MSP blasted prosecutors for allowing the case to reach court.
She said: 'I think the sheriff has looked at all the mitigating factors and decided that there wasn't a reason to punish this woman despite the position taken by prosecutors that a crime had taken place.
'I can't help but sympathise with her and feel that the sheriff certainly came to the right decision by dealing with the case with an absolute discharge.'
Depute fiscal Fiona Kirkby told the court how the incident had unfolded.
She said: 'The accused's son, aged nine, was involved in an incident with the complainer, a young male aged 13.
'He came home and was very upset. The complainer and a group of friends had been selling sweets round houses in the area.
'After her son returned home, the accused then got into her car and arrived at the locus and confronted the complainer.
'She asked him why he assaulted her son and shouted 'How would you like to be bullied' and similar utterances.
'The accused was extremely angry. A female witness who had been buying sweets from the complainer split the confrontation up.
'The witness then tried to note Miss Sibley's registration down as she drove away at which point she opened the car window and shouted her address to the woman.
'The witness then attended to the boy who was shaken by the incident and it was reported to police.'
Defence lawyer Heather McCracken said: 'Miss Sibley's son was playing in the street outside their home with a friend.
'The complainer and a number of his friends made certain taunts and offensive remarks to the nine-year-old child who was wearing a green top.
'Miss Sibley's son was then hit and he returned home. The group who were involved in the altercation were not from the area and were selling tablets and sweets round the doors of the estate.
'She took her son in the car to find the boys who were responsible for the assault. When she confronted the boy, she was told to f*** off.
'She then felt threatened by a forward movement by the complainer and made a pushing away gesture.
'Miss Sibley is a college lecturer and holds a high up position in the education authority and has assisted children affected by poverty.
'To say this episode has had a profound effect on Miss Sibley is an understatement.'
Miss Sibley said: 'This has cost me thousands of pounds and caused great upset. I don't want to talk about it.'
Sheriff David Bicket said: 'I am satisfied that this was a one off incident and although I do not condone it I understand the explanation behind the offence. I am discharging you absolutely.'
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.