FRC Blog

Two Important Pieces from the Washington Times

by Chris Gacek

December 2, 2008

Over the extended holiday weekend, the Washington Times published an editorial and a commentary piece that are well worth reading:

  • The Times editorial appeared on Friday, November 28, and was entitled “Judicial Imperialism.”  First, the paper discusses the worrying ramifications of the recent settlement by eHarmony, a California company, which was forced by the state of New Jersey to offer dating services to gay customers in New Jersey.  Second, the editorial discusses the dangerous and illegitimate effort to have the California Supreme Court thwart the will of the Golden State’s voters and declare its recently-passed marriage amendment unconstitutional. 
  • The commentary piece was authored by Jeffrey T. Kuhner.  His first Sunday opinion column with the Times was published on September 28th.  In Kuhner’s latest, entitled “Obama vs. Pope Benedict,” he recognizes the struggle that may erupt between Mr. Obama and the Pope should the new administration pass the Freedom of Choice Act.  He sets the stage as follows:

Mr. Obama signing the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) “would be the equivalent of a war,” a senior Vatican official told Time magazine last week. “It would be like saying, ‘We’ve heard the Catholic Church and we have no interest in their concerns.’ ”

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In the Midst of Godlessness

by Michael Leaser

December 2, 2008

Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media are releasing on DVD today their adaptation of the second installment in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian. A lesser-known story than that of its predecessor, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian brings the four Pevensie children back to a Narnia 1,300 years older, where the ruling humans have constructed a bellicose society that regards the Christ-like Aslan, if it regards him as all, as no more than a mere myth. In many respects a cautionary tale for our own society about the effects of Godlessness, Caspian also delivers an inspirational message about the effects of Godliness when our heroes and a significant portion of Narnians renew their faith in God (Aslan).

Another notable event in the film is the introduction of Reepicheep the mouse, a character whose name could be listed in any dictionary as a synonym for “valour” and “chivalry.”

Due to the book’s involved backstory, Caspian is the most difficult of the Chronicles to adapt to the screen. The need to rearrange and modify events in the book to accomplish that feat has arguably resulted in a film superior to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, for which the screenwriters adhered to the book’s structure perhaps a bit too religiously. This is forgivable, though, since Lion‘s narrative is more conducive to cinematic interpretation and less forgiving to structural alterations.

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Think You’re Smarter Than a College Kid?

by Brittany Smith

November 20, 2008

Today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) released a new study that found most Americans to be civically illiterate.

The study was conducted by giving a random sampling of more than 2500 people a 33 question test on civic literacy. Questions ranged from knowledge about the Declaration of Independence to the economy. The result of the test was that more than 1,700 people failed. The average score overall was 49 percent, which equals an “F” on the ISI scale.

Another disturbing finding of the study was that twice as many people know that Paula Abdul was a judge on American idol than they know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from the Gettysburg Address.

Many of the people polled by ISI believe that colleges should be in charge of teaching America’s heritage and history. This includes 73 percent of people in the West, 69 percent in the Midwest, 74 percent in the Northeast and 74 percent in the South. Yet even with this high expectation from the general public many of these institutions are failing to do so. The results show that the average score for college graduates who took this civic literacy exam was 57 percent. Once again, an F on the ISI scale.

Chairman of ISI’s National Civic Literacy Board, Josiah Bunting, III, said of these results; “There is an epidemic of economic, political, and historical ignorance in our country.”

So what do we do with these results? ISI is calling on elected officials, trustees, taxpayers, parents and college administrations to start reevaluating college curricula and looking at new standard of accountability. They are asking, “Do colleges require courses in American history, politics, economics and other core areas?”

David Brooks, columnist for The New York Times and a speaker for the event, said that a knowledge of American history is beginning to be left behind by liberals and conservatives alike. He went on the say that “human beings want stories and history provides that.”

For more on the study and an opportunity to test your own historical knowledge go to www.americancivicliteracy.org or visit ISI’s website at www.isi.org

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FRC brief in Irish abortion case

by Bill Saunders

November 18, 2008

Last week, FRC filed a friend of the court brief in a case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR is considering a challenge to Ireland’s laws on abortion, which restrict access to abortion unless the woman’s life is in danger. FRC was one of 3 groups invited to file an unusual “joint” brief by the ECHR, and the only pro-life group in the USA invited to do so. (The others were SPUC of the United Kingdom and the European Center for Law & Justice from Brussels.)

The case is important because the European system of jurisprudence is quite limited when it comes to social issues. In other words, though there is a European Convention of Human Rights that binds all European nations that have ratified it (including Ireland), the resolution of “social issues” is left to the laws of the individual state to decide. Thus, it should not be possible for the ECHR to create a European-wide “right” to abortion.

Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court created a right to abortion where none existed under our Constitution. Thus, just as our Court ignored the wording of the Constitution and principles of federalism to overturn the laws of all 50 states on abortion, it is conceivable the ECHR could do the same thing. In fact, pro-abortion groups have filed briefs urging it to do so. Thus, it was important for FRC - in alliance with our good friends of the Alliance Defense Fund - to file a brief urging the ECHR to stay out of these matters and to leave the resolution of the issue to the member states. Click here for the brief itself.

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The Hunt for Red Beluga

by Michael Fragoso

November 13, 2008

In a case that resembled a mix between a Tom Clancy novel and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Navy can use its active sonar when conducting drills and fleet operations off the California coast.  Environmental groups had argued that active sonar pinging could be harmful to marine mammals, and thus ought not to be permitted.  The Navy countered that such fleet operations are necessary to keep our forces up to snuff in their sub-hunting abilities in the event of a naval war. 

The short of it is that an environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, sued the Navy arguing that they failed to issue an environmental impact report for their exercises in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  A district court judge saw things the same way, and the Navy agreed to issue the report, but chafed at the sonar-use restrictions placed upon them by the court.  President Bush stepped in, directing that the Navy be exempt in this case from the NEPA because these sub-hunting exercises are necessary for national security in time of war.  Unsurprisingly, the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and upheld the lower ruling, resulting in yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, which had a comfortable 6-3 margin.

Some readers might recognize this case from the Court Jesters segment at our Values Voters Summit back in September.  (Phyllis Schlafly wrote a poem about it.)  It’s very refreshing to see that-at least for now-we have a Supreme Court willing to correct the silliness of activist judges.

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