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Dr Nanny State Knows Best … or not.

I just learned of Michael Farris’ ongoing lawsuit defending the rights of a homeschool family to make difficult medical decisions on behalf of their children.  This story involves some of my favorite issues: push back against the Nanny State, “experts” who upon examination prove to be more arrogant than informed, excellent lawyering, and Grand Rapids, MI.  In his own words:

Who Makes the Really Tough Decisions: Parents? Or Doctors?

by Michael Farris
HSLDA Chairman

Who should make very difficult decisions for children? Parents or doctors?

In March of this year, 8-year-old Jacob Stieler was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a dangerous bone cancer. His parents took him to a highly-rated children’s oncology center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Jacob had surgery to remove the tumor, which was followed by several rounds of chemotherapy. The treatment was incredibly difficult, and Jacob’s mom, Erin, told me that when she looked her son in the eyes, she knew in her heart that he simply could not survive many more rounds of these drugs.

Erin and Ken, Jacob’s mom and dad, joined by hundreds of others, prayed for Jacob and his complete recovery.

After all of these rounds of chemotherapy were completed, there was a PET scan done to check on the status of the cancer. There was no evidence of cancer detected in Jacob’s body. Jacob’s family and friends rejoiced in his healing—praising God for this wonderful outcome.

But the doctors wanted to give Jacob several more rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, despite the clean PET scan. When asked why they wanted to keep giving Jacob these incredibly dangerous drugs, the doctors replied that this was “the standard of care” for his illness.

Jacob’s parents begged the doctors to make an individual diagnosis, rather than simply following unbending standards. But the doctors were steadfast. All children with this cancer needed multiple rounds of these drugs—regardless of PET scan results, the doctors contended.

Jacob’s parents did extensive study of the side effects of the five different chemotherapy drugs that the doctor wanted to administer. And they believed that the risk of the drugs was far greater than the risk of recurrent cancer, since Jacob had a clean PET scan. They said no to the doctors. No more chemotherapy treatment for now.

But the doctors would not take no for an answer. They called child protective services in Jacob’s county and asked the agency to file charges against the family for medical neglect.

After looking into the matter, both the local CPS agency and the local prosecuting attorney refused to file charges. They believed that the parents were making reasonable decisions for Jacob.

The doctors still would not take no for an answer. They called higher authorities in the state level CPS agency. The doctors had to make several calls before they finally found someone who would agree with them.

As a result of all of these calls, the local CPS agency was pressured into filing medical neglect charges against the parents.

The local prosecutor still refused to take a case against the family, so the state level CPS officials hired an independent private lawyer to serve as the prosecutor against Ken and Erin Stieler.

 A jury trial is scheduled for early January to determine if the doctors will be given the authority to take over the medical decision-making for Jacob.

When I heard about this case—and checked out the facts—I knew that I could not sit on the sidelines and watch this family be overrun and parental rights be trashed by well-meaning but overzealous doctors.

 I recently flew to Michigan and took the depositions of all three doctors who were scheduled to testify against the family.

 Jacob’s treating physician is the key.

I prepared for the depositions by obtaining copies of the official “package inserts” that the FDA requires all drug companies to give to physicians and patients. Undoubtedly, you have seen these inserts when you have picked up prescriptions for your children.

The inserts tell you several things:

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I have been on a whirlwind adventure the past few weeks, hopping around the country from one event to another.  It all started in Orlando, when I was honored to present a workshop for folks attending the CareNet annual conference.  My topic was timely in this coming election year – how can nonprofit charities exercise their First Amendment rights in light of the tax code and IRS regulations that restrict their ability to speak in the political sphere?  CareNet people are passionately pro-life and would love to see pro-life candidates elected.

Charities can participate in lobbying to a limited extent but are absolutely prohibited from supporting or opposing a particular political candidate.
Charities can engage in “issue advocacy,” but need to be wary of traps—candidates talk about issues and plan their campaigns around issues.  Frankly, I believe the restrictions are unconstitutional, but people need to be informed and either follow them or be prepared to litigate a test case.

I decided to make it fun – and easy (or at least easier) – to navigate the rules.  We all wear different “hats” as we move into different roles in our personal and professional lives.  I bought some party hats and gave them names:  “Freddie Free Speech” (individual citizen), “Charlie, President of Choo Choo Charities” (official representative of charity), and “Cathy Candidate” (candidate for political office).  Once you identify your “hat” and know WHO you are when you speak, you can jump into a series of familiar questions:  WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW.

WHO:  Are you speaking as an individual citizen (“Freddie”) with First Amendment rights, or as the representative of a charitable nonprofit (“Charlie”)?  Do you want to invite a candidate (“Cathy”) to speak at your charity’s event, or simply introduce a candidate who happens to attend?

WHAT:  Are you talking about a particular candidate, proposed or pending legislation, or giving a moral exhortation?  Many issues overlap the religious/moral and political spheres in today’s world.

WHY:  Are you trying to support or oppose a candidate – or legislation you want to see passed (or not)?  Are you teaching a Bible study or giving a moral exhortation about an issue like abortion that is also a controversial political issue?

WHEN:  Is it close to the time for an election, or a legislative vote?

WHERE:  Are you at an official function for a charity you represent, or writing in an official publication for the charity?  If so, you can’t remove your “hat.”  Are you away from your charity, speaking solely as an individual and not on behalf of the charity?  If so, you can put on your “free speech” hat.

HOW:  How is the communication financed?  How is it presented—does it appear that the charity is biased in favor or against a particular candidate?  Has the charity provided an unbiased public forum for candidates—or perhaps given a candidate some advantage it doesn’t offer to others?

This is “food for thought,” as the IRS restrictions require some time to digest.  I hope to write a short guide that is reasonably easy to navigate—with a touch of fun.

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Laws of Tyranny

Derived from the same worldview as the laws that sanctioned and recognized the institution of slavery, the ultimate form of tyranny.

~ Tea Party activist, author, and motivational speaker Frantz Kebreau comparing a 1662 slave law to current abortion legislation via his Facebook page, August 8

(Check out his wife’s updated pro-life clothing line at Life Rocks)

Hat Tip: Jill Stanek

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Outlook Negative – S&P Downgrade Full Text

“If the US Government was a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they spend $75,000 a year, & are $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand.” – Dave Ramsey

I wouldn’t invest my hard earned dollars in that family.  Apparently, S&P wouldn’t give that family the highest possible credit rating.  Shocking …

United States of America Long-Term Rating Lowered To ‘AA+’ On Political Risks And Rising Debt Burden; Outlook Negative

We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to ‘AA+’ from ‘AAA’ and affirmed the ‘A-1+’ short-term rating.

We have also removed both the short- and long-term ratings from CreditWatch negative.

The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.

More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.

Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government’s debt dynamics any time soon.

The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to ‘AA’ within the next two years if we see

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This past April, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a landmark decision upholding Arizona’s tuition tax credit program.  Opponents claimed it violated the “separation of church and state” because of the benefits that flow to religious schools—through several layers of  PRIVATE choice that allow more families to place their children in private schools.  Here’s how it works:

  • Private individuals organize “School Tuition Organizations” to manage and
    distribute scholarship funds to families who want to place their children in
    private schools.  There’s a wide variety—some of these limit scholarships to particular religious schools (Catholic, Jewish, evangelical) while others do not.
  • Taxpayers voluntarily donate to School Tuition Organizations of their choice and receive a state tax credit (up to $500)—thus directing a few of their own “tax
    dollars” according to private choice.
  • Families apply to an STO of their choice for funds, and choose from among the schools that STO has chosen to support.

The opponents – who sued to have the law declared unconstitutional – lacked legal “standing.”  NONE of their tax dollars went to any of the STOs or any of the private schools, religious or otherwise.  Thus they suffered no legal “injury.”

Like so many recent Supreme Court decisions, this one was close – 5 to 4.  Justice Kennedy is the “swing vote” who made the difference.

Congratulations, Arizona families!  You have choices about where to educate your children, without having to pay twice—first through your tax dollars that support public education, and again through tuition for your choice of private schools.

And besides the benefits to families, this important decision may help to ward off other ominous litigation—for example, challenges by non-believers to the minister’s parsonage allowance, a critical tax benefit for churches and pastors.

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“Separation of church and state” is a tiresome phrase that activists have twisted to eject religious expression from the public square—restricting religious liberty.  But sometimes church and state do need separation: When churches select the persons who will carry out its spiritual mission, the state has no business breaking and entering the sanctuary under the guise of “discrimination” or similar employment laws.  In that context, “separation” protects religious liberty.

The U.S. Supreme Court has taken a case with critical implications for churches and other religious organizations (Hosanna Tabor-Lutheran Church and School v. Perich).  Cheryl Perich taught parochial school after being trained in Lutheran theology and “called” by the church congregation as a “commissioned” minister.  She consented to internal dispute resolution procedures applicable to church clergy and accepted tax benefits that only clergy may receive.  Her duties included teaching religion, leading students in daily devotions and prayer, and leading school devotions in rotation with other teachers.  After developing narcolepsy, she took a leave of absence.  The school arranged for another teacher to complete the school year and would have worked with Perich for a smooth transition back to the classroom—but she showed up with a doctor’s note and demanded immediate reinstatement, threatening to sue.  The church congregation rescinded her call and she sued, based on the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

Normally there are two sides to every story and a disgruntled employee like Perich is entitled to her “day in court.”  But when a church selects persons integral to its spiritual mission, the First Amendment says “hands off our hiring.”  The state has no business requiring a church to retain a “ministerial employee” who no longer satisfies the criteria for its ministry.  And when a church operates a religious school, the teachers are its lifeblood, carrying out the school’s spiritual mission.

See Death of a Christian Nation, Chapter 13 – “Behind Church Doors.”

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Federal Healthcare Law: Mandate Madness

You’ve been hearing about it in the news for over a year now—since Congress rushed to enact the 2,700-page “Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act” over the strong objections of the American people.  Never before has the federal government required every American to purchase a product or service—merely for existing, rather than for voluntarily participating in an activity the government may regulate. 

Congress knew there were constitutional questions.  Congress knew that legal challenges were on the horizon.  But they rushed forward, ignoring the will of the people and the Constitution.  Just minutes after the Act was passed, the lawsuits began.  Cases are now winding their way through the federal appellate courts.  Recently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, VA, is hearing oral arguments in two cases.   Other circuits will soon weigh in.  Eventually the U.S. Supreme Court will have to weigh in.

Deborah, author of Death of a Christian Nation, has written briefs for the Fourth and Eleventh Circuits about the constitutional deficiencies in the new law.  Congress asserts power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which allows it to regulate interstate commerce.  But the decision not to purchase health insurance is inactivity—not the sort of economic or commercial activity Congress may regulate.  The federal government is a government of limited, specifically enumerated powers.  The health care law stretches the elastic too far and threatens to destroy any limits on congressional power. 

America is a land of liberty and freedom—not a land where the government compels every citizen to purchase a particular product or service.  Americans pay taxes but law-abiding citizens decide where to live, what to eat, what to wear, what to drive, what to buy.  The implications of the health care law are frightening.  It is important to care for the poor and sick, but not at the expense of basic freedoms Americans cherish.

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Life Affirming Legislation – Rights and Remedies

The U.S. House of Representative is considering some great new legislation known as the “NO TAXPAYER FUNDING OF ABORTION ACT” (H.R. 3).  Here are some important points about the proposed new law:

  • It would prohibit taxpayer funding of elective abortions as well as insurance coverage that includes elective abortion.
  • It offers conscience protections for health care providers, health care institutions, and health insurance providers.  The government would not be able to discriminate against any of these on the basis of their refusal to provide, pay for, cover, and refer for abortions.
  • These conscience protections also protect the many Americans who prefer to do business with health care providers and insurance companies that do not support abortion.
  • The law would create a legal cause of action for those whose conscience rights have been violated.

NO ONE should be compelled to act against conscience.  The abortion industry would like to coerce unwilling health care professionals and other providers into supporting their agenda—regardless of their religious, moral, or ethical convictions to the contrary.  This new law would grant permanent conscience protections and also ensure that your tax dollars are not siphoned off to fund abortions.

There is also encouraging new legislation being proposed in North Carolina:  “WOMAN’S RIGHT TO KNOW ACT.”  Any medical procedure required informed consent.  Abortion should not be an exception.  This new state law would ensure that no abortion is performed without the woman’s informed consent, and it would also create a 24-hour waiting period.

Praise God for these life affirming proposals in our federal and state legislatures!

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The High Cost of Free Speech

Sometimes it costs money to speak, particularly in the context of a campaign or heated political debate.  Candidates and their supporters must raise and spend funds in order to get their message to the people.  But what if—every time you spent a dollar—the government cut a check to your opponent?

That’s the essence of Arizona’s “Matching Funds” provision, an integral part of its state campaign finance law.  Some candidates choose to finance their own campaigns privately, while others opt for public funding.  Suppose you are a privately financed candidate.  When you—or a supporting independent group—spend money for your campaign, the government disburses an equal amount to each of your opposing publicly financed opponents.

This scheme discourages political speech, one of our core First Amendment rights in America.  It is especially unfair to independent groups formed to advocate for particular issues—pro-life groups, for example.  Justice and Freedom Fund filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court, focused on how the law burdens these groups.  Arizona’s scheme allegedly guards against political corruption—a goal not applicable to independent advocacy groups.  It also attempts to “level the playing field”—a purpose the Supreme Court has held to be unconstitutional in our free country.

On March 28, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging Arizona’s law.  Deborah Dewart, Senior Legal Counsel for Justice and Freedom Fund, was there to listen.  Based on the lively questions the Justices posed to attorneys, it looks like a victory for free speech.  Stay tuned!

Check out: for more information on Justice and Freedom Fund.

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NC Supreme Court Rejects Bar Leadership’s Ethics for Sex and Gender

I previously wrote about efforts to stop the North Carolina State Bar leadership from passing and implementing “ethics” guidelines against taking a person’s sexual orientation or “gender identity” into consideration when working as a licensed attorney in North Carolina.  See Orwellian Sexual Ethics in NC Bar.  Those efforts failed.  The legal elite in NC, in a fit of tolerance and enlightenment, passed the resolutions, though with some healthy dissent from the ranks.

If passed, this amendment would prevent attorneys from taking “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” into consideration when hiring and choosing to represent clients.  It would be unethical to note that your legal candidate Bobbie used to be Bob and is the president for the local NAMBLA chapter.  Even though this post-modern moral garbage paraded as “ethics” would trample on the Constitutional rights of Christian attorneys, even though there’s no evidence of any need for such regulation or that it would promote a legitimate public purpose, and even though this “ethics” guideline would protect “sexual orientations” that are currently felonies to practice in North Carolina, the NC Bar “leadership” passed this resolution out of committee, where it was thereafter passed by the State bar counsel and leadership.  From there, the Bar leaders sent this “ethics” resolution to the North Carolina Supreme Court for final approval, where the amendment would then have the force of law.

Praise God for sanity from the North Carolina Supreme Court Justices.  Without comment, the Court rejected the proposed amendment.  The CAL’s article on this reprinted with permission:

N.C. Supreme Court Nixes Plan by State Bar to Add ‘Sexual Orientation’ and ‘Gender Identity’ to its Preamble

By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League

 RALEIGH — The N.C. Supreme Court has nixed a plan by the State Bar Council to add controversial language to the Preamble of its Rules of Professional Conduct that would have obliged attorneys not to consider “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” when deciding whom they represent or hire.

“The High Court’s decision not to approve the change is a victory for Tar Heel attorneys’ freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Had they endorsed this misguided proposal, attorneys with Judeo-Christian beliefs would be caught in a no-win situation. Plus, the Bar would have set a bad precedent for other professional groups and given added momentum to the push to get this language introduced into state laws.”

The proposed amendment to the preamble, endorsed by the North Carolina State Bar in January, stated: “While employed or engaged in a professional capacity, a lawyer should not discriminate on the basis of a person’s race, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. This responsibility of non-discrimination does not prohibit a lawyer’s advocacy on any issue.”

Many lawyers may not have paid much attention to the suggested change and still others who support the homosexual agenda may have felt it was needed, but Anthony Biller, an intellectual property attorney from Cary, points out that the proposed amendment went well beyond homosexuality.

“By extending the ethical guideline to ‘sexual orientation’ the authors draw a circle of protection … to include all forms of sexual orientation, which includes pedophilia, polygamy, bestiality, sadomasochism, necrophilia and every other form of sexual deviancy,” Biller wrote in a Feb. 10 letter to the Supreme Court justices reminding them that many of those forms of sexual orientation are in fact felonies under North Carolina law.” Since this draft was promulgated by a committee of intelligent and experienced attorneys, one can presume this broad classification was intentional and that these few attorneys intend the Bar to impose radical social philosophy regarding human sexuality on all practicing attorneys in North Carolina.”

In urging the justices to reject the proposal, Biller wrote that “gender identity is an anathema to the Biblical concept that God intentionally created men and women unique from each other and that God chose each person’s gender.” He said the amended preamble would mean that attorneys could not refuse to associate, hire or represent based on someone’s philosophy of gender and that it would certainly protect “cross dressers, transsexuals and men who would prefer to use the ladies latrine in my office.”

Biller was far from alone in his concern over the proposal. Jere Royall, counsel for the North Carolina Family Policy Council also submitted a letter to the justices asserting that not only would the change create a protected status for behaviors that “many understand to be harmful physically, psychologically and spiritually,” but that the addition of the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” neither of which are defined in North Carolina law, “would violate the United States’ and North Carolina’s Constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and religion, whether now as part of an ‘aspirational’ statement, or later when they may be included in a different part of the rules, and become the basis for disciplinary action against the attorney.”

 The Alliance Defense Fund had weighed in on the issue as early as 2009, pointing out the problems in a very similar rules revision that was proposed but then withdrawn in July of that year by a subcommittee of the N.C. State Bar Ethics Committee. The withdrawal came after hundreds of attorneys from across the state expressed their opposition, many mailing their own letters of protest and others signing onto the ADF letter.

 Still, the Bar brought the issue back to the table and gave its approval early this year sending it on to the High Court. And even though Lawyers Weekly reported in a March 16 article that the justices’ rejection of the proposed amendment “means the issue is dead,” Biller said he wouldn’t be surprised to see it pop up again.

“I would anticipate this issue or some variation thereof resurfacing at some point in the future within the state bar, though it could be in another form, such as from another committee opining on a substantive area of law,” he said.

In his letter to the N.C. Supreme Court he called the push to amend the preamble “a transparent attempt to obtain the credibility of a state bar organization to endorse one side in a disputed political and moral debate while suppressing the other side.”

The Rev. Creech agreed and urged Christian attorneys across the state to be vigilant in their efforts to keep the North Carolina Bar from being used as a vehicle for the homosexual agenda. He also suggested that residents from all walks of life keep an eye on this and other professional groups that are embracing this radical social agenda.

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Naughty and Nice

Want to know which national retailers celebrate Christmas, and which really don’t?  For the second year in a row, Focus on the Family is sponsoring a “naughty and nice” list at their Stand for Christmas website.  You can vote and post comments at the website.  The top three Christmas family retailers: Bass Pro Shops, Cabellas, and Lands End.  The three most offensive: Gap, Banana Republic, and Best Buy.  Lane Bryant was the most negligent toward Christmas.  Being openly pro-Christmas during the Christmas season is good business.  It is also likely profitable since 72% of people prefer “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holiday.”

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Thinking about law school?

On a more serious note, see Justice Scalia’s thoughts re law school here

If still interested, look for schools and organizations with mentors who understand the intersection of Christianity and the law, both in practice and in jurisprudence.  See for example here, here and here.

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Orwellian Sexual Ethics in NC Bar

A small group of North Carolina attorneys are working to pass special regulatory protections based upon sexual orientation and “gender identity,” which would include pedophiles, transsexuals, polygamists, and anyone else based on their stated sexual orientation or gender identity.  They’re attempting to amend the code of ethics that governs licensed attorneys in NC.  These radicals within the North Carolina State Bar are advancing regulations that would make it unethical for North Carolina attorneys to take “sexual orientation or gender identity” into account when hiring or when chosing which clients to represent.  The full text of the pending amendment is as follows:

While employed or engaged in a professional capacity, a lawyer should not discriminate on the basis of a person’s race, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. This responsibility of non-discrimination does not limit a lawyer’s right to advocate on any issue.

After initial protests from attorneys, the Ethics Committee subsequently added a paragraph that these requirements “reflect the aspirational goals of the legal profession.” The NC Bar Ethics Committee approved the amendment.  NC Bar leadership is presently accepting public comment on this amendment and is scheduled to vote on it later this year.

This amendment ought to be soundly rejected.  It is based on a radical moral philosophy and it discriminates against those who adhere to Judeo-Christian views.

Some claim that this amendment is intended to protect homosexuals.  While this amendment would accomplish that, it goes far beyond that objective.  By extending the ethical guideline to “sexual orientation,” the authors draw a circle of protection well beyond homosexuality to include all forms of sexual orientation, which includes pedophilia, polygamy, bestiality, sadomasochism, necrophilia and every other form of sexual deviancy.  If this amendment was intended to protect only homosexuals, the amendment is incompetently drafted.  Since this draft was promulgated by a committee of intelligent and experienced attorneys, one can presume these few attorneys intend the Bar to impose radical social philosophy regarding human sexuality on all practicing attorneys in North Carolina.

To make sure the point is not missed regarding the scope of this amendment, the authors of the amendment tacked on “gender identity.”   “Gender identity” involves a behavioral and philosophical system, distinct from “sexual orientation” and from “gender” itself.

Gender identity (otherwise known as core gender identity) is the gender(s), or lack thereof, a person self-identifies as. It is not necessarily based on biological fact, either real or perceived, nor is it always based on sexual orientation. The gender identities one may identify as include male, female, both, somewhere in between (“third gender”), or neither.

Gender identity is most typically associated with transsexuals and is a recognized psychological disorder.  See here.  Transsexuals and cross-dressing involve issues of gender identification.

Gender identity is also part of the post-modern and critical legal theorists vocabulary where one’s gender, like assertions of truth, is portrayed as an arbitrary and subjective experiences at best, and often these theorists portray gender identification as a tool of subjugation and oppression.  It is necessary to view gender identification as a means of oppression in order to justify ethical guidelines designed to prohibit discrimination based on divergent views of gender identity. Gender identity is anathema to the Biblical concept that God intentionally created men and woman unique from each other and that God chose each person’s gender.

This radical “ethics” amendment would compel members of the bar to neutrally view the sexual choices of those we hire and those we chose to represent.  Similarly, NC attorneys could not refuse to associate, hire or represent based on someone’s philosophy of gender.  This would certainly protect cross dressers, transsexuals and men who would prefer to use the ladies latrine in my office.  Since members of the NC judiciary are licensed attorneys, its unclear what effect this regulatory requirement would have on rulings in NC involving sexual orientation and gender identity.

It’s also worth noting that there’s no exemption based on employer.  Attorneys on staff for ministries are not exempted.  I represent a number of national, Christian ministries in my private practice.  These clients would not appreciate my bringing a cross-dresser or openly homosexual attorney into their Board meetings to provide counsel.

While some members of the NC State Bar leadership apparently have radical beliefs regarding human sexuality and gender, other’s to include myself do not.  This amendment would label it unethical to discriminate with and for whom we use our professional talents, because of their sexual practices and beliefs regarding gender.  While some may disagree with my Judeo-Christian beliefs regarding human sexuality, there is not a compelling justification for labeling such beliefs unethical.  In fact, I do not believe there is any justification for imposing this such a radical moral view of human sexuality on any attorney. Ironically, many forms of “sexual orientation” that would fall within the scope of this “ethics” rules are still felonies in NC. This amendment would open the door to prosecuting attorneys if they adhere to their Judeo-Christian beliefs.  It would also stigmatize those who reject radical views of human sexuality.

It’s unclear who or what motivates this effort.  I am not aware of problems within the legal profession that these amendments would address, let alone that a majority of NC practitioners would agree should be addressed. These are highly political and disputed public policy issues.  Instead of addressing practice of law concerns in NC, this appears to be a transparent attempt to obtain the credibility of a state bar organization to endorse one side in a disputed political and moral debate while suppressing the other side.  The NC Bar should steer clear of this debate regarding human sexuality and gender identification and let it be handled in the legislature and courts of public opinion.  The State Bar should not impose an ethical obligation to conform our law practices to align with one side on these contested issues.


UPDATE March 2011: See NC SCt Rejects Bar Leadership’s Ethics for Sex and Gender

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Legal follies …

I believe that USA has the best legal system in the world, seriously, and that the rule of law is essential to preserving freedom and having efficient free markets.  I also believe the law is a calling and a blessing from God.  With that said …

Houston lawyer threatens lawsuit for losing his jacket, here

Depressed firefighters sue furniture manufacturers because their products burned too quickly when funiture store burned down, here.

“Celebrity” Lindsay Lohan sues for $100M for E-Trade’s use of Lindsay in a commercial, claiming her name as the same name recognition as “Oprah” or “Madonna.”  See here.  Two thoughts.  First, I know a number of Lindsays.  It’s a popular, nice name.  In contrast, I have never met an “Oprah” and only ever met one other person named Madonna (incidently, the Madonna I know is a truly good and decent person that is not a disgrace to the name and who was named well before the celebrity status of the name).  Second, Ms. Lohan is no Oprah or even a Madonna.  While I’m proudly un-hip when it comes to pop-culture, I think I still know who is “famous.”  I had to check IMDb to figure out which plastic face actress Ms. Lohan is.  Oh yeah, her.

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Law Student Charged with Contempt for Exposing Daughter to Christianity

Story here.  Another chapter in the book on judicial arrogance. 

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Advice on how to love a lawyer …

While there may be deficiencies in this advice, inter alia whether this analysis is based on a statistically significant sampling of people involved in relationships with legal professionals or whether the researchers used recognized, peer reviewed methodology, however, it’s still a good read.   

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Just what every lawyer wants …

Apparently, we’ll soon have the capability for 24-7 legal research at no charge to the client.  So now the client can contact you anywhere, anytime and you can research the answer, on the spot. Splendid! Technology makes life so much easier at times …

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Don Yaeger’s Sixteen Consistent Characteristics of Greatness

I had the opportunity this morning to listen to Don Yaeger talk about the attributes of “Greatness.”  It was an exceptional presentation.  If you ever have the opportunity, I recommend listening to him.  He explained, primarily through stories, how greatness is a process, not a birthright.  According to Yaeger, greatness is available to all through mental, emotional, and spiritual discipline and “nourishment.”  Yaeger uses sports for his teaching points and as a former writer for Sports Illustrated, he’s made good use of his access to the greatest sports figures of our time to compile his materials. 

He presented what he found to be “Sixteen Consistent Characteristics of Greatness” that he’s seen in great sports figures. During his presentation, he expounded upon four of the sixteen points.   His first point is that “Great” people take failure or even coming in second quite personally. In explaining, “It’s personal”, he told of how he “scored” against Michael Jordan in a one-on-one fund raiser in Vegas.  Yaeger is one of only a handful of men who have scored against Jordan in this venue, though hundreds have tried.  Yaeger is no natural athlete.  For Jordan, defeat is unacceptable and Jordan truly hated the fact Yaeger scored.  The story is hilarious and the accompanying photo shows Jordan thoroughly disgusted at himself while Yaeger looks like a little kid on Christmas morning (see photo 18).  Yaeger also repeated Coach Krzyzewski’s explanation as to how this characteristic and Duke’s 40 point tournament loss to Virginia early in Coach K’s career was the beginning of greatness for him.   

To illustrate “Inner Fire,” Yaeger told the story of 5’7” Warrick Dunn.  He was raised by a single mother, who was shot and killed in the line of duty during Dunn’s senior year of high school, days after Dunn accepted a scholarship to play for Florida State.  Dunn became responsible for raising his younger siblings.  Yaeger tells the story of how Dunn went on to become one of most successful running backs in NFL history, despite his limited stature and despite being shattered by his mother’s murder.  Yaeger accompanied Dunn to the death row facility where Dunn confronted his mother’s killer on death row, and forgave him.  There was hardly a dry eye in the place after the story of how Dunn dealt with adversity.

Yaeger also talked about the final months of Walter Payton’s life as Yaeger hastily assisted with the writing of Payton’s autobiography when Payton was diagnosed with having at best a few months left to live. Payton devoted the end of his life to promoting organ transplants. Yaeger explained how in matters big and small Payton (and Dunn) lived the “Do Unto Others” characteristic, which truly made him Great. 

Coach Wooden mentors Yaeger, and from that relationship and teachings, from a Coach who won 10 NCAA Div I basketball titles in 12 years, Yaeger explained the importance of the value of associating with others and deciding with whom you will “Rub Elbows.”  This was probably the most challenging component of the talk. 

Regarding “nourishment,” Yaeger explained the importance of starting each day with a routine that focuses upon the positive, as opposed to starting the day ingesting a steady stream of negative newscasts.  Another encouraging point for starting the day in prayer and supplication before Christ and meditating on scripture.  Faith is one of the consistent characteristics of “great” men and woman.  “Belief” in a higher power ranks 3rd on the list.

Yaeger is on the speaking circuit and has a number of published books, to include a 2009 publication with Coach Wooden.  He’s worth checking out if you have the chance.