Thomas More Law Center

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Logo of the Thomas More Law Center.
TMLC offices lobby, Domino Farms

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) is a national conservative Christian, public interest, nonprofit law center based in Ann Arbor, Michigan and active throughout the United States. Its stated goals are to defend and promote America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life while also supporting a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America.[1] The Law Center's motto is "The Sword and the Shield for People of Faith." The Law Center was characterized by Dr. D. James Kennedy as "Christianity's answer to the ACLU".[2] Similarly, the Law Center was also characterized by Bill O'Reilly as "the antidote to the ACLU."[3]

The Law Center's key issues include: Defending the religious freedom of Christians, restoring family values, defending the sanctity of human life, defending national security and confronting the threat of radical Islam.[4] The Law Center accomplishes its mission in these key areas through litigation, education, and related activities. The Thomas More Law Center has defended the free speech rights of Christians and pro-life activists, as well as defending patriotic Americans and opposing the removal of the Ten Commandments and other religious monuments from municipal and school buildings, as well as US coins and city seals.[5]

The Law Center states that its purpose is to "be the sword and shield for people of faith."[1] Thomas More Law Center attorneys maintain "the highest moral and ethical standards of our Christian faith and our legal profession." The Law Center was created "in order to counter the destructive impact of organizations like the ACLU, which seek to subvert our nation's religious heritage and national defense."[6] The Law Center also states that their work is "inspired by the recognition that the issues of the Culture War being waged across America are not being decided by our elected representatives, but by unelected judges holding life-time appointments who often rule according to their political ideology rather than existing law."[1] In reference to the Law Center's role in the Culture War conservative commentator Michael Savage stated "The Thomas More Law Center has been effectively fighting the culture war being waged against families by abortionists, pornographers, those against school prayer, those against the Ten Commandments, those against God... they are the only shield we have left in some cases."[7] Conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan echoed Dr. Savage and stated that "[T]he Thomas More Law Center, this is a cutting edge agency in the culture war for the soul of America... Christians need warriors in the courts where the culture war is being fought and the Thomas More Law Center is a crucial element on the crucial front of that culture war."[8] At any one time, the Law Center has over 100 open cases.

The Thomas More Law Center is active in many controversial social issues and cases and is widely known for its litigation of the Dover, Pennsylvania intelligent design case, defense of LtCol Jeffrey Chessani against misconduct allegations during the November 2005 Haditha incident, its defense of the free speech rights of Christians and pro-life activists, and for its federal lawsuit against the US Government regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Individual Mandate.

Attorneys from the Law Center have appeared on numerous local and national television and radio programs including The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, the Dr. Laura show, MSNBC, EWTN, the Laura Ingraham Show, The Radio Factor w/Bill O'Reilly, American Family Radio, Dennis Prager, The Savage Nation with Michael Savage; and hundreds of Christian radio networks. The Law Center's attorneys and cases have also appeared in: The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Times, The National Law Journal, National Review, World Net Daily, and many other notable publications.[9]

Founding and history[edit]

The Center was founded in 1999 by Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, and Richard Thompson, the former Oakland County, Michigan, prosecutor known for his role in the prosecution of Jack Kevorkian, who now serves as the Law Center's President and Chief Counsel. Among those who have sat on the Law Center's advisory board are: Senator Rick Santorum, former Senator and retired Rear Admiral Jeremiah Denton, former Major League Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, noted Catholic academic Charles Rice, former Fortune 500 CEO Mary Cunningham Agee, and Ambassador Alan Keyes. The Law Center's Citizens' Advisory Board also includes Jeremiah A. Denton, Rep Michele Bachmann, and Allen West.[10] The Law center is primarily financed by contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations and is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization.


The Law Center is named after St. Thomas More, an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII and Lord Chancellor.[11] More opposed the Protestant Reformation, in particular the theology of Martin Luther and William Tyndale whose books he burned. More later opposed the King's separation from the Catholic Church and refused to accept him as Supreme Head of the Church of England because it disparaged papal authority. More was tried for treason, convicted on perjured testimony and beheaded. St. Thomas More is patron saint of lawyers in the Catholic Church.

Key Issues[edit]

Restoring Family Values[edit]

The Thomas More Law Center states that "traditional marriage is under attack." and that the traditional family is "a sacred and basic unit of our society." As such, the Law Center's lawyers are committed to "protecting the true family."[12] In keeping with their stance on family values the Law Center has litigated cases related to homosexual marriage and the homosexual agenda. Additionally, the Law Center has supported DOMA, Prop 8, Don't ask, Don't tell as well as opposing sex education which promotes homosexual behavior, forceful participation in gay pride events and city ordinances which give LGBTQ individuals special rights or rights which are potentially harmful to others.[13][14]

As a part of the Thomas More Law Center's restoring family values mission, the Law Center also opposes pornography and "efforts to undermine the rights of parents to raise and educate their children."[12]

Defending the Religious Freedom of Christians[edit]

The defense of the religious freedom of Christians is one of the Thomas More Law Center's key issues. According to the Law Center, "The Christian values upon which this nation [the US] was founded are under attack" and that the religious and moral foundations of the US are being destroyed.[15] The Law Center opposes the use of the metaphor "a wall of separation between church and state", to "attack crosses, Ten Commandments monuments, Nativity displays, Christmas celebrations in public schools, the Pledge of Allegiance, our national [US] motto "In God We Trust" and prayers at public meetings.

As a part of the Law Center's work within this key issue the Thomas More Law Center has filed challenges to the contraceptive mandate on behalf of religious business owners and organizations, defended students' rights to religious speech in schools, defended Christian street preachers, and defended public displays of crosses, Nativity scenes, and Ten Commandments monuments as well as Christmas music and Christmas displays.[16] The Law Center has supported and defended individuals engaging in the Christmas Wars.

Defending the Sanctity of Human Life[edit]

The Thomas More Law Center considers defending the sanctity of human life to be a key issue of its mission. As a part of this mission The Law Center seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Law Center considers the issue to be "about affirming the intrinsic value of every human life."[17]

The Thomas More Law Center promotes and defends "state constitutional amendments that protect innocent human life, right of conscience laws for medical professionals, as well as the free speech rights of pro-life students, sidewalk counselors, and demonstrators."[17]

As a part of the Law Center's mission to defend the sanctity of human life the Law Center has supported and defended pro-life legislation, pro-life students and student groups, pro-life organization, sidewalk counselors, and demonstrators. The Law Center has defended the free speech rights of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and the freedom of expression rights of students to display photos of developing and aborted babies.[18]

Defending National Security[edit]

Under this key issue the Thomas More Law Center supports the United States Armed Forces principles of "virtue, honor, patriotism and subordination."[19]

The Law Center opposes any attempts to downsize, degrade or dismantle the Armed Forces. The Law Center also opposes the Department of Defense's actions to homosexualize the military and destroy its core values and standards of exemplary conduct." Further, the Law Center states that it also opposes "Rules of Engagement that place our troops US military in unnecessary danger." Additionally, the Law Center also opposes attempts cancel missile defense systems, the release of nuclear arsenal quantities and the shrinking of the United States Navy. The Law Center also opposes the surrender of US sovereignty to the United Nations or any other national organization.[19]

In addition, under the key issue of defending national security, the Thomas More Law Center supports the rights of states to protect their borders against illegal immigrants.[19]

As a part of the Law Center's legal work in this area, the Law Center has supported patriotic individuals and students, Arizona SB 1070, Alabama HB 56 and Don't Ask, Don't Tell.[20]

This key issue also played a role in the Law Center's defense of Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Chessani and Lt. Colonel Matthew Dooley.[20]

Confronting the Threat of Radical Islam[edit]

The Thomas More Law Center is at the "forefront of the legal battle against" the "internal threat" of Radical Islam.[21]

The Law Center's mission under this key issue has led to them opposing the use of Islamic proselytizing material in US public schools, defend pastor Terry Jones and Christian groups preaching to Muslims as well as to oppose instances of Sharia law in the United States.[22]

The Law Center's stance against Radical Islam also led the Law Center to opposed the 2008 AIG bailout due to their promotion of Sharia compliant insurance products.[23]

Notable cases involving the Thomas More Law Center[edit]

1999 - 2005[edit]

In August 2001, the Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliate Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties on behalf of three California women.[24] The lawsuit accused Planned Parenthood of misleading women about the safety of abortion. The Thomas More Law Center on behalf of the plaintiffs demanded that Planned Parenthood inform women of about the link between abortions and breast cancer. The history of the link between abortion and breast cancer is controversial, with Professor Joel Brind of Baruch College of the City University of New York writing extensively about ongoing efforts by scientists to cover-up the research that links abortions to breast cancer.[25] Some current studies do note a significant increase in the risk of breast cancer among women who have had an induced abortion.[26] A recent, comprehensive and oft cited review on the subject did note that "an interrupted pregnancy was not sufficient for [the] protective effect" against breast cancer resultant of pregnancy.[27] Although Planned Parenthood and medical experts denied any such link, a Thomas More Law Center lawyer claimed that a "preponderance of medical evidence" did establish a link.[28] Then president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer (CAB) reported that "28 out of 37 studies published since 1957 have associated this elective surgical procedure [induced abortion] with breast cancer."[24] The case was later dismissed by the judge, who said there was little likelihood the lawsuit would succeed.[29]

On September 20, 2001, 9 days after the September 11 attacks, the Center publicly offered to provide legal assistance to "American citizens who believe they have been unconstitutionally denied the right to fly the American flag or express their faith in God" amid reports of numerous incidents across the country of school children and others being ordered to remove American flags or patriotic slogans such as "God Bless America." Richard Thompson, Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said in the initial ofer that "It is an outrage and the height of insensitivity that during this time of national mourning and activation of our armed forces, some Americans are being denied the right to express support for their country by displaying our flag or expressing our faith in God. We stand ready to review and to give legal assistance in appropriate cases, to students, employees and others who have been ordered to remove their American flags or refrain from expressing their faith in God during this time of national crises. These expressions are a part of our national culture and tradition, and protected by the First Amendment."[30]

In July 2002, the Thomas More Law Center sued the Ann Arbor Public School system for violating a student's constitutional right to freedom of speech and right to equal protection, as well as the Establishment Clause.[31] The Law center won the case, with the judge ruling that the district had violated the student's rights by not allowing her to participate in a "Diversity Week" panel discussion concerning "Homosexuality and Religion"[32][33] Federal District Judge Gerald E. Rosen likened the school's statement - that the student's message describing homosexuality was “a ‘negative’ message and would ‘water down’ the ‘positive’ religious message that they wanted to convey” – namely, “that homosexual behavior and religion are compatible, and that homosexual behavior is not immoral or sinful” - to Nazi book burnings.[31][33]

Also in July 2002, the Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit against Contra Costa County's Byron Union School District on behalf of the concerned parents of 4 students.[34] The suit argued that curriculum requirements that "students pretend to be Muslims, wear robes, simulate jihads via a dice game, learn the Five Pillars of Faith and memorize verses from the Koran in classroom exercises as part of a World History and Geography class" violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.[34][35] The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the curriculum did not amount to an unconstitutional school sponsorship of a specific religion. The U.S. Supreme Court declined review of the case.[36] Since that time, the Thomas More Law Center has been involved in other cases addressing the study of Islam in US public schools.[37]

The Thomas More Law Center, in December 2002, sued New York's school district in December 2002 over a school policy which "discriminates against Christians” because it “prohibits the display of [Christian] Nativity scenes” in public schools during Christmas, while it “expressly permits and encourages” the display of the Jewish Menorah and the Islamic Star and Crescent during certain religious holidays and observances.[38][39] The school district’s written policy referenced in the lawsuit allows only “secular holiday symbols" and states that "such symbols include, but are not limited to, Christmas trees, Menorahs, and the Star and the Crescent." “Holiday displays shall not appear to promote or celebrate any single religion or holiday. Therefore, any symbol or decoration which may be used must be displayed simultaneously with other symbols or decorations reflecting different beliefs or customs.”[39] Judge Charles P. Sifton of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York rejected The Law Center's constitutional claims. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision in February 2006.[40]

In September 2003 the Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit against the Ann Arbor Public School District on behalf of 17 individuals who pay state and local taxes used to fund the Ann Arbor School District. The individuals were concerned about the Ann Arbor Public School District's use of tax-payer funds to pay for insurance benefits for district employees' same-sex domestic partners. The plaintiffs had previously sent letters to numerous officials stating,

"I [or We] write to request that you investigate and halt the use of public funds to provide so-called "domestic partnership" benefits to employees of the Ann Arbor public schools. I [or We] believe that the School District's extension of these benefits to its employees exceeds its authority and violates the state law governing marriage. I [or We] ask that you halt this illegal use of public funds at your earliest convenience."

The letters were sent by certified mail on December 15, 2000, and were received soon after. However, no action was taken by any officials.[41] The Law Center argued that the use of tax-payer funds to provide insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners was circumventing the 1996, Michigan Defense of Marriage Act which define marriage as "inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman."[42] On July 25, 2007 the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the individuals did not have the constitutional standing to sue the Ann Arbor Public School District.[41]

The Thomas More Law Center filed a similar lawsuit against Michigan State University in July 2006 after Michigan passed the Marriage Protection Amendment to the Michigan Constitution in 2004. The constitutional amendment defined the union between a man and a woman the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose." The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the amendment banning same-sex marriages also blocks Michigan governments and state universities from offering “domestic partnership” benefits for homosexual couples.[43][44][45]

On October 23, 2003, the Thomas More Law Center filed a brief in support of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's appeal to the Supreme Court to keep a display of the 10 Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court building. The brief in support of Moore, argued that the "First Amendment does not require the existence of an impenetrable wall between church and state."[46] Richard Thompson, Thomas More Law Center's chief counsel stated that not only was the court "disregarding the plain text of the Constitution, the intent of our Founding Fathers, and the history of our nation, but by its action is disregarding the very words of our Declaration of Independence, which acknowledges that we are a nation under God."[47]

The Thomas More Law Center also intervened in the Terri Schiavo case in Florida in October 2003, sending Governor Jeb Bush a legal opinion stating that "Bush could legally intervene to order a criminal investigation into whether Terri Schiavo may have been abused at some point by her husband, Michael Schiavo."[48] According to Richard Thompson, who authored and signed the legal opinion, there was ample evidence suggesting that Terri may have been the victim of domestic abuse which in turn caused her collapse and coma.[49] The letter also contended that Terri's husband Michael Schiavo had a conflict of interest concerning Terri's medical decisions.[49] The Florida legislature passed "Terri's Law," giving Bush the authority to intervene in Schiavo's case and have Terri's life-sustaining measures reconnected, however, the law was later deemed unconstitutional by Judge W. Douglas Baird, a Circuit Judge in the Florida Sixth Circuit, as unconstitutional.[50] Ultimately, Terri Schiavo's life-sustaining feeding and hydration tubes were removed on March 18, 2005 and she died on March 31, 2005.

In January 2004, the Law Center filed a lawsuit against Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas after a sculpture of a Catholic bishop with a grotesque facial expression wearing a phallus on his head that is shaped like a bishop's mitre and entitled "Holier than Thou" was placed on campus outside of the Student Union building.[51] The Law Center argued that the sculpture conveys the message of hostility toward Catholics and the Catholic religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution[52] The case was rejected by a US District Court in Kansas City "ruling that the sculpture enhanced the university’s educational experience and that, when viewed within an artistic context, would not be seen by a reasonable observer as an endorsement by the university of anti-Catholic sentiment." The decision was upheld in July 2005 by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals[53] The US Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

In 2005 the Thomas More Law Center filed an amicus curiae brief before the US Supreme Court supporting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s efforts to uphold the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. "We also request that the Supreme Court take this opportunity to reconsider and reject its ‘abortion rights’ decisions, such as Roe v. Wade," then Thomas More Law Center trial counsel Edward White said in a statement "The time has come for the Supreme Court to stop the grave injustices that have resulted from those decisions.” The US Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.[54]

LtCol Jeffrey Chessani[edit]

Jeffrey R. Chessani is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps and was the commanding officer 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines during the time of the November 19, 2005, urban combat in Haditha, Iraq, where Marines in his battalion were accused of having killed 15 civilians while pursuing insurgents. The Thomas More Law Center defended LtCol Chessani against the charge that he failed to investigate the killings, and all criminal charges against Chessani regarding this incident have been dismissed. He was also defended by the Center before an administrative Board of Inquiry wherein the Board found that there was no misconduct.

On June 17, 2008, Military Judge Colonel Steven Folsom dismissed all charges against Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Chessani on the grounds that General James Mattis, who approved the filing of charges against Chessani, was improperly influenced by an investigator probing the incident. The ruling was without prejudice, which allows the prosecution to refile.[55]

In 2008 an appeal filed on behalf of the Marine Corps claims that a judge abused his power when he dismissed dereliction of duty charges against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani in the 2005 slaying of two dozen Iraqi civilians.[56] On March 17, 2009, a military appeals court upheld the dismissal of war crimes charges against Chessani.[57]

LtCol Chessani’s commanding general, Major General Huck, reported up the chain of command, "I support our account and do not see the necessity for further investigation."

On August 28, 2009, the new general in charge of LtCol Chessani's case, Marine LtGen George Flynn, Commanding General of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, VA, decided that criminal charges were not warranted. Instead, he ordered LtCol Chessani to face an Navy administrative procedure, called a Board of Inquiry,[citation needed] which found no misconduct and recommended that he be allowed to retire without loss of rank.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said, "The government's persecution of this loyal Marine officer continues because he refused to throw his men under the bus to appease some anti-war politicians and press, and the Iraqi government. Any punishment of LtCol Chessani handed down by a Board of Inquiry would be a miscarriage of justice because he did nothing wrong, and our lawyers will mount the same vigorous defense in this administrative proceeding as they did in the criminal."[citation needed]

The dismissed misconduct allegations against LtCol Chessani were for failing to properly report and investigate the November 19, 2005, incident. However, evidence shows that LtCol Chessani immediately reported the deaths of the 15 civilian Iraqis to his superiors. And not one of his superiors hearing of the civilian deaths— including top generals— considered it unusual. Not one ordered a further investigation. Instead, they commended him for a job well done. In fact, LtCol Chessani's immediate superior told him that no investigation was needed because it was a bona fide combat action, which was consistent with the orders in effect at the time: no investigation of civilian deaths related to combat action. That order was changed in April 2006, well after the Haditha incident.[citation needed]

Intelligent design[edit]

The Thomas More Law Center gained attention as the law firm for the defendants in one of the country's first intelligent design cases, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Prior to taking on this particular case, the lawyers of the Thomas More Law Center traveled the country shopping for a school board willing to withstand a lawsuit as a test case for the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, forcing the first test case for intelligent design in the courts.[58] In a May 2000 visit to Charleston, West Virginia, Robert Muise, one of the lawyers, tried to persuade the school board to buy and use Of Pandas and People as a textbook for its science classes.[58] Muise warned the board in Charleston that it would undoubtedly be sued if the district taught intelligent design, but that the Thomas More Law Center would provide legal defense at no cost: "We'll be your shields against such attacks," he told the school board, referencing the Center's motto.[58] Muise told the board they could defend teaching intelligent design as a matter of academic freedom.[58]

In the summer of 2004, the Dover, Pennsylvania, school board, after receiving legal advice from the Discovery Institute, accepted the center's offer of advice and possible representation, as they worked to change their science curriculum.[58] On November 19, 2004, the board issued a press release stating that, starting in January 2005, each biology class would be read a statement indicating the alleged uncertainties about some aspects of Darwinian evolution, and directing the students to Of Pandas and People, of which a large number had been donated to the school by a member of the school board who purchased them using money he had given to his father, Donald Bonsell, and said they were donations solicited from his church.[59] A month later, on December 14, 2004, the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed suit on behalf of eleven Dover parents, claiming that the statement was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The Law Center defended the school district in the trial, which lasted from September 26 through November 4. The case was decided on December 20, 2005. Judge John E. Jones III delivered a 139 page decision in favor of the plaintiffs, ruling that Intelligent Design is not science but essentially religious in nature, and consequently inappropriate for a biology class. Members of the board that had originally enacted the policy were not re-elected, preventing an appeal.

Other notable cases[edit]

  • Pledge of Allegiance - The Law Center has filed several amicus briefs in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court on behalf of itself, the Catholic League and others challenging rulings which have held that recitation of the Pledge by public school children violated the Establishment Clause because it contained the phrase "Under God." The law center has also offered free legal services to several schools denied the right to permit students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.[citation needed]
  • Los Angeles County Seal - The Law Center's West Coast office filed an unsuccessful federal lawsuit against Los Angeles County officials for their decision to remove a small cross from the county seal after they were threatened with lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.[60] The Law Center also provided legal supervision[citation needed] to a ballot initiative to keep the cross on the seal, which didn't generate enough signatures for placement on the ballot.[61]
  • Mount Soledad cross - The Law Center's West Coast office attempted to intervene on behalf of the Citizens for the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial, to prevent the city of San Diego from removing a 20 ft cross from the existing Mt. Soledad war memorial. The intervention was denied, but the Law Center subsequently appealed to the United States Supreme Court, asking for a stay in destruction of the memorial, which was granted by Justice Anthony Kennedy.[citation needed]
  • American Family Association v. Michigan State University - The Thomas More Law Center has sued Michigan State University over their policy of providing health care benefits to same-sex domestic partners employed by the university, potentially in violation of Michigan’s recently enacted Defense of Marriage Act. This is the second such lawsuit the TMLC has filed, the first being against Ann Arbor Public Schools (that case was dismissed due to lack of standing by the plaintiffs).[citation needed]
  • Planned Parenthood v. American Coalition of Life Activists - The Thomas More Law Center defended the American Coalition of Life Activists, twelve activists, and an affiliated organization on the grounds of the First Amendment Right to free speech. The ACLA had created Old West "Wanted" style posters of various abortion doctors, listing their names and addresses online. The posters were described as "a hit list for terrorists" by Gloria Feldt, then president of Planned Parenthood. This assertion was furthered by the fact that three of doctors on list were murdered and several wounded, after which the murdered doctors' names on the list were crossed out and the wounded doctors' names set in gray text.[citation needed] The defense lost the case at the lower court, a ruling which was overturned on appeal, but then restored by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting en banc.[62]
  • Charter Amendment One (Gainesville, Florida) — The City Council of Gainesville, Florida, voted to enact protection for sexual preference and gender identity in January 2008. The Thomas More Law Center wrote an amendment to repeal the protection that went to popular vote on March 24, 2009, losing with 42% of the vote in favor of repeal and 58% against repeal.[63]
  • Michael Savage — American radio broadcaster Michael Savage was banned from entry into the United Kingdom as he is "considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence".[64][65][66] by the United Kingdom's Home Secretary. Savage and his lawyers from Thomas More Law Center are arguing this is a violation of several international treaties concerning political and civil rights.[67]

Notable active cases[edit]

Catholic League et al. v. City of San Francisco[edit]

The Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against the City of San Francisco on behalf of the Catholic League and two Catholic citizens after the city passed an official resolution condemning the Catholic Church's teaching which opposed adoptions by homosexual couples. The Law Center alleges that the resolution, adopted March 21, 2006, referred to the Vatican as a "foreign country" meddling in the affairs of the city and proclaimed the Church’s moral teaching and beliefs on homosexuality as "insulting to all San Franciscans", "hateful", "insulting and callous", "defamatory", "absolutely unacceptable", "insensitive", and "ignorant". The resolution made reference to the Inquisition; and it urged the Archbishop of San Francisco and Catholic Charities of San Francisco to defy Church directives.[citation needed]

The basis of the Law Center's claim was that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution does not permit government hostility toward religion. The lower court dismissed the case. The Law Center then appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals A three-judge panel affirmed the lower court decision. The Law Center's request for an en banc rehearing of the appeal by the entire panel of the Ninth Circuit Court was granted,[68] with the panel affirming the prior ruling. The Center asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, but certiorari was denied.[69]

Johnson v. Poway Unified School District[edit]

The Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against a Southern California school district on behalf of math teacher Brad Johnson who was ordered to remove several banners from his classroom because school officials claimed the banners promoted an impermissible "Judeo-Christian" viewpoint. The banners, which the teacher had been displaying for the past 25 years without a single complaint, contained slogans such as "In God We Trust", "One Nation Under God", and the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. The school district filed a motion to dismiss and in a lengthy opinion the federal judge denied the motion, ruling in the Law Center's favor. Upon the completion of discovery, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The court granted summary judgment for the plaintiff. On September 13, 2011, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the summary judgment and ruled that the school district did not violate Johnson’s free speech rights. The unanimous decision of the federal appeals court relied on U.S. Supreme Court rulings that said governments can limit the free speech rights of public employees in the workplace. <>

Kevin Murray v. U.S. Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner, et al.[edit]

The Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, challenging a portion of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 that appropriated $40 billion in taxpayer money to fund the federal government’s majority ownership interest in AIG. The lawsuit claimed that the federal government, through its ownership of AIG, engages in Sharia-based Islamic religious activities. The Law Center claimed the use of taxpayer dollars to fund Shariah-based Islamic religious activities violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.[70] While federal Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff was requested by the Department of Justice to dismiss the lawsuit in 2009,[71] he reached a summary judgment in January, 2011, noting that the religious involvement did not achieve the "excessive entanglement" required under a precedential ruling.[72] The plaintiff announced intent to appeal.

Center for Bioethical Reform, et al. v. U.S. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, et al.[edit]

The Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security after their publication of a nine-page intelligence assessment of "right-wing extremism".[73] The case is currently pending in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.[citation needed]

Gary Glenn, et al. v. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder[edit]

The Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., challenging the constitutionality of the recently enacted federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The Act addresses crimes motivated by a person's "actual or perceived" "sexual orientation" or "gender identity." The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, on behalf of Pastor Levon Yuille, Pastor Rene Ouellette, Pastor James Combs, and Gary Glenn, the president of the American Family Association of Michigan (AFA-Michigan).[citation needed]

Thomas More Law Center v. Barack Obama, et al.[edit]

The Thomas More Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against the new health care law known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Law Center is challenging its constitutionality in the Federal District Court (Eastern District of Michigan). The purpose of the lawsuit is to permanently enjoin enforcement of the new health care legislation.[citation needed] The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Law Center itself, and four individuals from the Southeastern Michigan area. None of the individuals have private health care insurance. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are: President Barack Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; Eric H. Holder, Jr., U.S. Attorney General; and Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the US Department of Treasury. All the defendants were sued in their official capacity.[citation needed] On October 7, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh dismissed two out of six of their claims,[74] upholding these provisions under Congress's interstate commerce clause powers. The others remain pending.


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