Justice Sotomayor Criticizes Colleagues

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In a recent dissent to a Supreme Court decision, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor crossed the bounds of judicial norms by accusing her fellow Supreme Court colleagues of being biased toward the Trump administration in carrying out their judicial work.

The case before the High Court, Wolf v. Cook County, deals with circumstances in which the government could deny visas or green cards to non-citizens who are looking to enter the United States.

In 2019 the Trump administration, via the Department of Homeland Security, issued a new rule to be used for the purposes of determining whether an individual could be granted legal entry into the United States.

The executive branch already had the authority to determine whether an individual who applies to enter the country is likely to become a “public charge,” i.e., a person “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.”

However, certain non-cash financial aid items, such as food stamps, housing, and health care assistance, were not previously taken into account for such purposes, but were included under the new Trump administration rule.

Prior to hearing this case, the High Court had blocked two nationwide injunctions that were issued by lower courts, resulting in the enforcement of the new rule. However, a third injunction, which was limited only to Illinois, remained in effect, barring the implementation of the new rule in that state.

The Trump administration filed an application with the High Court for an emergency stay, which requested that the Justices block the Illinois injunction that allowed Illinois to continue to exclude non-cash financial aid items from being a part of the dependency assessment.

The High Court’s decision to halt the Illinois injunction and allow the state to consider non-cash financial aid thus enabled federal authorities to enforce the new policy in Illinois.

In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor enlisted a highly unusual comparison to bolster her argument against the majority’s approach to the government’s stay applications. Drawing similarities to arguments brought by those advocating for death row inmates, Justice Sotomayor accused fellow members of the High Court of showing greater concern for President Donald Trump than for convicts facing execution.

In an apparent incrimination of five of her fellow colleagues, Justice Sotomayor alleged that they had politicized their rulings.

Justice Sotomayor had voted in the subject case, Wolf v. Cook County, along with three Democrat-appointed Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan.

As a Member of the Bar of the Supreme Court, I have had the privilege of having dozens of cases come before the High Court and found it disconcerting to read that Justice Sotomayor had written that the five Republican-appointed Justices were “putting a thumb on the scale in favor” of the Trump administration.

There is an unspoken yet palpable expectation that political opinion as it may potentially relate to a judicial ruling would be conspicuously left behind at the courthouse steps.

In addition, Justice Sotomayor was highly critical of the frequency of the relief from the High Court, in the form of stays against injunctions, which had been sought by the Trump administration.

“Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited Court resources in each,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. She went on to assert that the High Court is biased in favor of the Trump administration when it comes to these stay applications.

The notion asserted by Justice Sotomayor that the Republican-appointed justices on the High Court are politically biased does not appear to square with the records of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

In 2012, Chief Justice Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote the majority decision in favor of the Affordable Care Act, which was a clear departure from conservative ideology. And Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, both of whom were appointed by President Trump, have sided at times with the four Democrat-appointed justices in relation to several cases.

In her recent writing, Justice Sotomayor appears not to have taken into account the reason for the larger number of stay applications. The increase is due to the unprecedented use of the federal courts by opponents of the president.

In 2019, during a speech to the American Law Institute, Attorney General William Barr cited the widespread use during President Trump’s term of nationwide injunctions that affect presidential policies.

The numbers correspond with the misuse of the judiciary in an unparalleled way. During the entire 20th century, courts issued just 27 nationwide injunctions of this type; however, in the three short years that President Trump has occupied the Oval Office, activist judges have attempted to hamper his administration with 40 nationwide injunctions.

“When a nationwide injunction constrains a significant executive policy, the Justice Department has little choice but to seek emergency relief,” Attorney General Barr noted. “… the alternative is for the government to wait months or years for appeals to run their course before the executive may implement its policy at all.”

No Equal Justice, No Freedom

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Those who administer criminal justice in our country have historically sought to be consistent with the fundamental American tenet that all are “created equal.”

In recent times, though, criminal laws have been applied by powerful institutions in a manner that is dramatically unbalanced, and the contrast has been jarring.

Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone was taken into custody in a mode that has traditionally been reserved for the most dangerous criminals. Twenty-nine heavily armed agents, 17 vehicles, a helicopter, and two amphibious units were deployed to carry out a pre-dawn raid on a 67 year-old man with no prior criminal record. By the way, CNN had been tipped off, and the tactical team showed up only after cameras were in place.

Stone was aggressively prosecuted for process crimes that had arisen during the investigation. Contrast this with the case of fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who lied under oath while in his official capacity. McCabe was neither arrested nor prosecuted. Instead he was allowed to cash in on his name recognition as a CNN contributor.

It has become crystal clear to anyone who has observed these cases, as well as other high-profile prosecutions or lack thereof, that the criminal justice system has not been equally applied.

Most Americans sense that fairness requires, even demands, a single justice system be firmly in place, as opposed to a multi-tiered one. Denying the constitutional mandate for the “equal protection of the laws” is dangerous to the freedom that our nation treasures.

The guardrail, which stands between our freedom and tyrannical rule, is much thinner than we think. If lack of equality in the administration of criminal law by a government is left unchecked, what will stop that government from engaging in more serious abuses of the legal process?

The use of the criminal justice system as a means of eliminating political opposition is a practice that has been consistently used by totalitarian regimes, and those governments that are on the road to totalitarianism.

The way fully developed unequal justice would manifest itself in a tyrannical regime is via a public trial in which the guilt of the accused is pre-determined by the judicial authorities before the process ever begins, a.k.a., a “show trial.”

By holding a counterfeit trial, an undemocratic government is able to eliminate foes and, at the same time, warn others as to the consequences of dissent or opposition. The misuse of criminal law and procedure is, in fact, the ultimate propaganda.

The world is full of examples of this malevolent misuse of judicial institutions. In Soviet Russia, criminal trials were meticulously staged. If the accused did not admit guilt for fabricated crimes, he or she was deemed to be “uncooperative” and would oftentimes be summarily executed without a public show trial.

In the early 1920s, fake criminal proceedings known as “model trials” were used by communist oppressors to make an example of individuals both in Russia and the Ukraine.

In the 1930s, the cold-blooded dictator Joseph Stalin used faux criminal justice to suppress any possible criticism, opposition, or dissent via the Moscow Trials of the Great Purge. The discredited New York Times reporter Walter Duranty claimed at the time that these due process-free trials were actually fair.

During the 1950s, after the communists took control of China, the Communist Party under Mao Zedong charged thousands of people with crimes and, after show trials, many ended with a death sentence.

In 1989 the memorable Tiananmen Square student-led protests took place. The demonstrations were indelibly stamped in the minds of Americans when video footage and photographs emerged of a lone man standing in front of a column of tanks. Show trials were given to many of the protestors who were arrested and charged as communist-termed “rioters and counter-revolutionaries.”

Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazi government established a large number of “special courts” that used made-up crimes to wage pre-determined prosecutions on individuals who were perceived as hostile to the regime. Thousands of German lives were taken on the orders of the “special courts.”

These examples compel us to pursue the ideals that are reflected in our founding documents and legal traditions.

A phrase that sums up the legal foundation of fairness is engraved on the front of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. It reads “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.”

These words re-phrase the Court’s unanimous decision applying the Fourteenth Amendment, when then-Chief Justice Melville Fuller wrote that “…no State can deprive particular persons or classes of persons of equal and impartial justice under the law.”

How Trump’s Impeachment Record Can Be Wiped Clean

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An idea has been floated by Republican leaders to pass a resolution that would fundamentally alter the impeachment record of President Donald Trump.

The means that would be used to bring about the auspicious outcome is a legislative approach commonly known as expungement. When finalized, the “impeached” label would be amended in the record books, as would the “forever” characterization attached to it by the House Speaker.

More than merely a sound idea, expungement is a necessary one because of the fatally flawed process that the House of Representatives used to pursue the impeachment of the president in the first place.

The impeachment inquiry began without a vote. The hearings featured secret witness “auditions.” The evidence produced was largely inadmissible hearsay and opinion. And rules that were imposed during the process prevented the accused from mounting a defense.

The above mentioned, as well as other defects in due process, make it imperative for the GOP to re-take the House of Representatives and for the new leaders to expunge the impeachment of the president, which will thereby restore integrity to the record.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is on record as being in support of this concept.

“This is the fastest, weakest, most political impeachment in history,” McCarthy told the New York Post. “I don’t think it should stay on the books.”

In addition to McCarthy, influential GOP members of the House, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), Rep Lee Zeldin, (R-N.Y.), and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), have all voiced approval of the idea.

So has President Trump. When asked by a reporter whether he believed the House should expunge his impeachment from the congressional record, the president responded, “They should because it was a hoax. It was a total political hoax.”

Expungement of a presidential impeachment remains the subject of debate by legal scholars. In my personal legal opinion, though, it clearly can be done.

If we take a look back at the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson, we see where the precedent for an expungement was set

In 1832 President Jackson, a Democrat, ran for re-election. His opponent was National Republican Party candidate Henry Clay. Jackson won.

However, Clay’s party took control of the Senate. Under Clay’s leadership, the Senate demanded the delivery of documents from the Jackson cabinet related to a dispute over a presidential veto. After President Jackson refused to release the documents, Clay introduced a resolution to censure him, and after weeks of debate the resolution was passed.

Then in 1837 the Democrats regained the majority in the Senate. They proceeded to have President Jackson’s censure expunged from the record.

If a federal legislative body has the power to expunge a resolution that censures the president, I contend that it likewise has the ability to expunge an impeachment.

Some cable news experts have argued that if the House could expunge an impeachment, it would have done so with President Bill Clinton. Interestingly, this is precisely what Democrats tried to do.

The year was 2010. A dozen years had passed since the impeachment of President Clinton had taken place for misconduct relating to an affair with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky.

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) introduced legislation to expunge the Clinton impeachment. He was unsuccessful in his effort, and later he himself wound up in prison for bribery, money laundering, and fraud.

A Republican House can and should work to expunge from the record the impeachment of President Trump. A GOP-controlled House would not be bound by an impeachment resolution passed by a previous House.

Although it is unlikely that some of the more vocal opponents would be silenced, an investigation by a GOP-controlled House may have an effect on the way in which history would be interpreted.

House Republicans plan to investigate lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and/or his staff’s potential connections to the so-called whistleblower. There is an origin story to the manner in which the whistleblower’s information came to light and the reason why it conflicted with the actual transcript of the president’s telephone call.

The withholding of the 179-page transcript of testimony given by the eighteenth witness, a.k.a., the inspector general of the intelligence community, will be one of the first documents a future Republican House will want to see.

Supporters of President Trump and many independent voters observed how the House hearings were conducted and largely concluded that the impeachment process was unfair to the president.

Increasing public awareness of the potentiality for an expungement will have a ripple effect in the political world and may ultimately boost an already high GOP enthusiasm level, which will assist Republicans in flipping the 18 seats needed to regain control of the House.

Expungement just may be right around the 2020 corner.

Democrats Try to Undermine a Trump Acquittal

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As the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump comes to a close, Democrat resistors are having a hard time coming to grips with an impending acquittal.

Perturbed members of the opposition party have now chosen to engage in a smear campaign that characterizes the Senate proceedings as illegitimate.

Using a worn-out playbook from past attacks, some of the more spiteful Dems are trying to massage the minds of a would-be unsuspecting public that the acquittal of President Trump somehow lacks legitimacy because of a supposed deficiency of witnesses or documents.

In an appearance on Bill Maher’s HBO show on January 17, 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the following: “You are impeached forever,” punctuating her comment with the line, “No matter what the Senate does, it [impeachment] can never be erased.”

On January 30, 2020, the day before the Senate voted against subpoenaing additional witnesses or documents, Pelosi said to a reporter, “You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. You don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation and all of that.”

The very next morning, which was also prior to the pivotal Senate vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “The president’s acquittal will be meaningless, because it will be the result of a sham trial. If there are no witnesses, no documents in this trial, there will be a permanent asterisk next to the acquittal of President Trump written in permanent ink.”

Other Democrats joined in with the spin, as did most of their willing media accomplices.

Many will recall when the Democrats flooded the media with a similar set of talking points at the conclusion of the confirmation process for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Some of the more spiteful Dems contended that the process would be unfair and tainted if there was not a delay for an FBI investigation.

After the president and the GOP relented to a week-long FBI investigation, certain Democrat office-holders ran to the microphones to assert that the investigation was insufficient and the confirmation process flawed.

Once again, it really would not have mattered how the GOP senators had proceeded with the impeachment trial. If the trial did not match the outcome that the removal-oriented Democrats wanted, they would have followed up with a coordinated negative message anyway.

The Constitution grants the Senate the sole power to try all impeachments. The Speaker of the House has no real role in an impeachment trial. However, as Pelosi did when she conditioned the delivery of the Articles of Impeachment, the House speaker is attempting to exercise influence and exert control over the Senate impeachment function.

In stark contrast to the way in which the House hearings unfolded, the Senate conducted the impeachment trial process in a fair and dignified manner. While carrying out its constitutional duty, the Senate received and considered a record produced by the House of Representatives. Seventeen of the 18 witnesses from whom the House obtained testimony had their transcripts released. Noticeably absent was the transcript of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who gave testimony that is widely believed would have been helpful to the president’s case.

During the Senate trial, members of the Senate, acting as a jury, listened to more than 190 portions of testimony from 13 of the House witnesses, and additionally had access to almost 29,000 documents.

It was the House Democrats who made the decision to disallow any witnesses that would support the president’s case. It was also the House Democrats who chose not to subpoena other witnesses, because they apparently did not wish to take the time to allow the judicial branch to do its job; that is, the job of dealing with the important constitutional issue of executive privilege.

Some of the more spiteful Dems seem to enjoy projecting the image of wrapping themselves in the Constitution, while they slice it to ribbons with deceitful words and duplicitous conduct.

The Trump Doctrine in Real Time

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The mainstream news and entertainment media are once again in a frenzy trying to figure out what just happened on the world stage and how they can make the latest Trump victory look like a loss.

The president does not expect to receive accolades for his successes from those who have hated from the start. No credit given for the safe return of hostages, no singing his praises for facilitating the meet-up between North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, no congrats for making changes in trade policy that resulted in better deals for average working folks, and on and on.

But prominent among President Trump’s many accomplishments is the re-building of the United States military and the re-shaping of our foreign policy. The president’s approach to national security issues has at times been referred to as the “Trump Doctrine.” With the recent turn of events, however, it has become enshrined.

A brief explanation of terminology. The sum and substance of an administration’s foreign policy carries the label given by analysts and experts of “presidential doctrine.”

A presidential doctrine serves an important purpose; that being, to inform the public and signal to the world the manner in which foreign affairs will be conducted in accordance with a president’s worldview. It is essentially a summarization of the distinctive approach taken by the president to the nation’s relations with other nations.

The U.S. air strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes has spelled out the Trump Doctrine in a way that the president’s detractors, and thankfully America’s enemies, did not expect.

It may have come as a surprise to Bret Stephens, who wrote a biting critique of President Trump in the New York Times back in September of 2019. In his piece, he catalogued the ever increasing attacks purportedly made by Iran against the U.S. and its allies. The attacks included six on tankers, a shoot-down of a U.S. surveillance drone, the seizure of a British ship and its crew, and strikes on oil processing facilities that halted half of the Saudi’s critical oil production.

Stephens claimed in his article that the Trump administration was “bluffing” in its condemnation of Iran and characterized the administration’s position as “weakness masked in bluster.” His critique was written prior to the time Iran committed an act of war by attacking a U.S. embassy.

Two simple phrases have been used to describe President Trump’s foreign policy: “principled realism” and “America First.” The president himself has articulated these concepts in formal speeches, press conferences, verbal statements, campaign rallies, and the like. Half the country understands exactly what he is saying and enthusiastically supports him in his efforts.

The Trump Doctrine is simple and honest in its content and end goal. It embodies the notion that our country is best served by putting the interests of our own people first.

It also brings to a screeching halt a worldview that seeks multilateralism, celebrates the demise of sovereignty, and embraces the practice of appeasement.

After Iran committed an act of war by orchestrating the attack on our embassy, the targeted limited action in which the Trump administration engaged was the correct approach in dealing with the rogue state. The administration sought real deterrence yet did not seek an escalation of military conflict. It was, and remains, the only option with which we could defend ourselves while simultaneously sending the necessary message.

There is another thread that quietly winds its way through the Trump Doctrine.

The president built his field of dreams before stepping on that escalator. With fame and fortune already in hand, unlike others before him, he views his options with clearer eyes. Unclouded by concerns that produce weakness, he projects a strength that springs from a genuine love of the country.

That’s the Trump Doctrine in real time.

Why Democrats Should Fear a Senate Trial

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In the next few weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives may vote to approve articles of impeachment.

The governmental activity that the public has been witnessing over the past few weeks regarding the potential impeachment of the 45th president would be transferred over to the U.S. Senate, which unlike the House of Representatives is under Republican control.

If the Democrats actually pull off a vote to impeach the president, they just may find themselves ruing the day. The politically charged impeachment drama could play out in the following manner:

Republicans in the Senate would make the case that the House articles of impeachment are the product of a highly flawed process. They would point out that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff kicked off the hearings in a shroud of secrecy. Curiously, only information favorable to the Democrats was allowed to leak out.

Senate Republicans would also note that the chairman ran a series of closed-door depositions, a.k.a. “auditions,” followed by open televised testimony sessions that posed as committee hearings.

Much of the above mentioned was in flagrant violation of constitutional norms and is easily recognizable as an assault on due process.

GOP senators would highlight that Schiff’s rabidly partisan proceedings were devoid of fairness. Ranking Republican members on the committee were blocked from calling witnesses. Ukraine interference in the 2016 election was off the table, as were former Vice President Joe Biden, the business dealings of Biden’s son, the corrupt Ukraine energy company Biden’s son worked for, and of course, the identity and origin of the so-called whistleblower.

With the above described sham circumstances in mind, the Senate could reasonably dismiss the articles of impeachment and skip the trial altogether. But interestingly, the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have both weighed in, indicating their preferences to have a full Senate trial.

A Senate impeachment trial would involve each side having the right to call witnesses and perform cross-examinations. The House members, known as impeachment managers during the course of the trial, would present the prosecution case. The president would have the right to mount a defense with his own attorneys. The Constitution requires a two-thirds super majority to convict and remove a sitting president.

Should a Senate trial take place, it would have some unfortunate fallout for Democratic presidential candidates in that it would pull a number of them off the campaign trail at a most inopportune time. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Michael Bennet would be compelled to stop campaigning mere weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

McConnell recently alluded to this aspect of an impeachment trial, saying, “How long it goes on really just depends on how long the Senate wants to spend on it. I will say I’m pretty sure how it’s likely to end. If it were today, I don’t think there’s any question it would not lead to a removal. So the question is how long the Senate wants to take. How long do the presidential candidates want to be here on the floor of the Senate instead of Iowa and New Hampshire?”

When the Senate starts its impeachment preparation, not only do the proceedings occur in a forum in which the GOP holds a majority, key committees are also chaired by supporters of the president. The Senate Republicans will be able to bring forth evidence on issues and topics that the left and the mainstream media have routinely dismissed out of hand.

Democrats may already be experiencing high anxiety over the recent communications of GOP Senate leaders. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, requesting documents related to communications between former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and Biden.

Graham also sought documents pertaining to a meeting between Biden’s son’s business partner and former Secretary of State John Kerry. Additionally, Graham has said he will insist that the Senate call the so-called whistleblower to testify.

It is legitimate as well as relevant for the Senate to explore, as they likely would, the former vice president’s apparent role in placing pressure on the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor by the name of Viktor Shokin, who had been investigating the natural gas company, Burisma. Burisma paid huge amounts of money to Biden’s son, who by all appearances was an energy neophyte, for his membership on the company’s board of directors.

The telephone conversation between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which ostensibly prompted the impeachment inquiry, involved a reference to prosecutor Shokin, making the facts concerning Burisma and Biden highly relevant to legitimate U.S. concerns over corruption in the Ukraine.

Additionally, the Senate would likely look into Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election by calling as a witness former DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa to determine whether, with the assistance of Ukrainian officials, she was improperly engaging in opposition research on the Trump campaign.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson and Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley have already written a letter to the head of the National Archives and Records Administration, seeking to obtain records of meetings between Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives, and DNC officials.

The Johnson-Grassley letter specifically references a meeting in 2016 in which U.S. officials “brought up investigations relating to Burisma Holdings.” The letter also makes reference to officials in that meeting who asked that the Ukraine government “drop the Burisma probe and allow the FBI to take it over.”

According to the letter, White House records will indicate that Chalupa was present in “numerous meetings at the White House, including one event with then President Obama.”

Senators Johnson and Grassley have also sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray, seeking information on Chalupa. The letter states, based on reports, that “it appears that the DOJ and FBI have in their possession material relevant to our Committees’ ongoing investigation into collusive actions Chalupa and the DNC took to use foreign government sources to undermine the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.”

Should an impeachment trial take place, President Trump has indicated that he intends to bring in to testify both Schiff and the so-called whistleblower. Findings from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into election-related controversies of 2016 would also likely become available should a Senate trial occur.

A witness list that includes Schiff, Biden, Biden’s son, Burisma board member Devon Archer, Chalupa, Fusion GPS researcher Nellie Ohr, and the so-called whistleblower, among myriad others, is the stuff of Democrat nightmares.

A little something for Dems to ponder before they take that all-important vote: Be careful what you wish for.

High Court Lets Anti-Christian Ruling Stand

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The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled on a profoundly significant case involving the religious rights of all Americans, and more specifically, the rights of our nation’s schoolchildren, which are safeguarded and secured by the all-important words contained in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The High Court declined to review an appeal submitted on behalf of a public high school student and a Christian, Caleigh Wood, who refused to compromise her religious beliefs by participating in a class assignment that was overtly anti-Christian in nature.

What conflicted with young Caleigh’s deeply held tenets of faith was a Muslim conversion prayer, which was part and parcel of the curricular assignment of a required course.

“There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” This statement happens to be the Islamic conversion creed, i.e., the declaration that an individual professes when converting to the Islam faith. It is also the prayer that a practicing Muslim recites during the Muslim “call to prayer” practice.

Caleigh had enrolled in the above described course because it was a mandatory requirement that had to be completed before she would be allowed to graduate from high school.

In an attempt to abide by the school’s conditions with regard to the academic coursework and still not violate her own personal religious conscience, Caleigh offered to complete an alternative assignment.

However, the school refused to provide her any options that were non-violative of her Christian beliefs, despite the fact that the educational institution could have easily done so. Instead Caleigh was informed that if she did not participate in the Islamic conversion prayer she would be given a failing grade.

The eleventh-grade student was additionally compelled to view pro-Islamic material in the form of PowerPoint slides. One of the slides contained the following caption: “Most Muslim’s [sic] faith is stronger than the average Christian.” The lesson also included the following description regarding gender roles within the faith context: “Men are the managers of the affairs of women” and consequently “righteous women are therefore obedient.”

The approach taken within the class to the Christian faith stood in stark contrast with the one taken with regard to the Islamic faith. Islamic principles were presented under the auspices of “fact”; however, Christian principles were not afforded the same designation.

Regarding the comparison statement on strength of faith, Jack Tuttle, content specialist for the public schools in the county, testified that in his assessment the comparison reference was “inappropriate,” adding that he would have advised that it not be used in schools.

After Caleigh filed a lawsuit that pinpointed the violations of her Christian convictions, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals judge in the case proceeded to ignore legal precedent, essentially sanctioning the promotion of the religion of Islam in public schools.

However, requiring a student to say a prayer, whether contrary or not to a student’s personally held beliefs, is a blatant violation of constitutional principles and precedents.

The U.S. Supreme Court should have weighed in on the Fourth Circuit’s decision. In failing to do so, the High Court permitted a lower court to ignore precedent as well as a citizen’s concerns about having to recite a prayer of a different faith, and additionally having to write such, which was a clear violation of religious conscience. The presence of government coercion in this case is patently clear, since the religious activities in question were part of a required course and no alternative accommodations were provided.

The Fourth Circuit’s opinion flies in the face of the legal mandate that public schools must not disparage a student’s faith and/or require students to engage in prayer or religious exercises contrary to personally held religious convictions. Public schools are constitutionally bound to remain neutral in their approach to faith-related subjects.

The Supreme Court has historically provided greater constitutional protection with regard to freedom of conscience as it pertains to the nation’s younger demographic. This is partially due to the fact that public school attendance is statutorily compelled, and the school administration wields considerable power.

To this end, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the opening of legislative sessions with prayer, yet declared unconstitutional the opening of school sessions with prayer. Similarly, the High Court has upheld the legality of creche and menorah displays, while noting that it would be a different result if the displays arose in a school setting.

The High Court precedent requires lower courts to apply a heightened standard for coercion in the public school context. Unfortunately, the Fourth Circuit egregiously cast this heightened standard aside.

The refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to take up Caleigh’s case not only allows the lower court ruling to stand, but it leaves the existing double standard in place, which is likely to wreak further havoc on our cherished First Amendment.