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The magazine of Alliance Defending Freedom

News & Quick Takes

Case Updates From Around The World

Washington, D.C.

ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit against the city of Washington, D.C., after students were arrested while chalking a pro-life message on a public city sidewalk.

In June, two murals reading, “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police” were created, extending the length of a city block. The Frederick Douglass Foundation and Students for Life of America sought to paint a similar mural outside a Planned Parenthood facility with the message “Black Pre-Born Lives Matter,” and the police department gave verbal permission for the project.

But when the two groups gathered to create the message, police officers informed them that they would be arrested if they painted or chalked on the public sidewalk or street. Two students proceeded to chalk, despite the warning, and were immediately arrested.

ADF is defending the groups’ First Amendment rights. “The government can’t discriminate against certain viewpoints by allowing some voices to be heard while silencing others,” says ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves

Hermiston Christian School

Hermiston, Oregon

ADF attorneys representing a private Christian K-12 school in Oregon filed a lawsuit against Gov. Katherine Brown challenging her order restricting inperson instruction in private schools.

After nearly two months of assuring Hermiston Christian School that it could provide in-person instruction to its 51 students, Brown reversed course and ordered private schools in Umatilla County to remain closed while offering a special exemption to public schools with 75 or fewer students.

After ADF filed suit, Gov. Brown retracted the public-only exception but retained orders allowing childcare facilities — including Hermiston Christian School — to supervise children while threatening criminal penalties if they instruct the children.

"Gov. Brown’s personal preference for public over private education does not permit her to discriminate against faith-based schools"

Honolulu, Hawaii

Two atheists have falsely accused two Hawaii churches represented by ADF of defrauding the government in a lawsuit filed in state court.

The lawsuit claims the churches committed fraud by paying substandard rent to the public schools in which they meet, even though the school districts themselves agree that the churches have consistently paid all agreed-upon rents. The atheists, Mitchell Kahle and Holly Huber, filed their suit under the state’s False Claims Act.

The lawsuit fails to cite a single instance in which the churches submitted a false statement to defraud the government. In fact, the churches not only paid the required rent, but also made contributions to the school by donating property improvements and volunteering their time.

Portland, Oregon

Allied Attorney Bill Becker successfully defended the free speech rights of a Portland State University graduate student who was excluded from a course after she said she wasn’t a “snowflake.”

During a Zoom discussion on the 2020 election, the student said, “I’m going to accept the results of the election no matter what, because I’m not a snowflake.” The instructor banned her from future classes unless she agreed to seek prior approval before using “derogatory” language in class.

After Becker sent a letter threatening to sue the university and the instructor for violating the student’s First Amendment speech rights, the university backed down from its unconstitutional actions.

Calvary Chapel

Dayton Valley, Nevada

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley in its lawsuit against Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s unconstitutional worship restrictions.

As the state started to reopen in late May following coronavirus lockdowns, Calvary Chapel hoped to resume in-person worship services while following a comprehensive safety plan. But Gov. Sisolak’s orders limited church gatherings to 50 people while casinos, bars, and other businesses were allowed to operate at half capacity.

The 9th Circuit’s decision makes it clear that a church cannot be treated more harshly than secular entities, according to ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman, who argued before the court on behalf of Calvary Chapel.

"There is no constitutional right to gamble, but there is one that protects attending worship services."

Church Congregation

Kaluga, Russia

ADF International has filed a case before the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of a church that is no longer allowed to meet on the property it owns.

Over the course of a 20-year legal battle, Russian authorities have consistently sought to seize the property belonging to the Word of Life Church in Kaluga, near Moscow. The church owns the land and the building, and made modifications to meet safety requirements. But authorities keep using legal requirements as a pretext to prevent the church from utilizing its building.

While the authorities could not succeed in challenging the church’s title to the property, a December 2019 court decision prohibited the use of the building. The congregation currently meets in a tent outside the property.

Warsaw, Poland

Poland’s top court has affirmed the right to life of unborn babies with disabilities. The Constitutional Tribunal of Poland ruled that abortions performed on the basis that the child may have a disability violate the right to life protected in the Polish Constitution.

ADF International intervened to highlight the clear protections that exist in international law for unborn children, including those with disabilities. It argued that screening out unborn babies based on disability violates a country’s obligations under international law.

The Polish law that was challenged “allowed medical professionals to end the life of a child who does not fit the profile of what some consider ‘healthy or desirable,’” says Robert Clarke, Deputy Director of ADF International.

"As a society, we prohibit discrimination based on disability. This should also be true for babies in the womb."