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AG Bob Ferguson Defending Obama’s Executive Bathroom Mandates in Court

 

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is making news again. This time, he’s leading a group of twelve states in support of the Obama Administration’s use of executive fiat to prohibit schools and businesses from maintaining sex-separated facilities.

The bathroom directive mandates schools to allow students to use whichever showers, locker rooms, housing, changing facilities, and restrooms are consistent with their internal gender identity, regardless of their biological sex.

In May, officials from eleven states led by Texas filed a lawsuit against the federal government and Obama administration officials after federal officials threatened to withhold federal education funding from states and schools that refused to comply with the new directive.  An additional ten states joined together on a separate lawsuit a few months later in an effort to block the Obama Administration’s executive action, led by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, on behalf of Washington State and eleven other states and Washington, D.C., filed an amicus brief today imploring the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to deny Texas’ request for an injunction to block the administration’s directive.

Writing in support of the new federal directive that opponents say undermines federalism and infringes upon states’ rights, Ferguson condescendingly speculated that the only possible reason for the states’ opposition to the bathroom directive is their “negative attitudes, misunderstandings, or misplaced fear about transgender people.”

Ferguson also asserted that “their [the states] allegations of safety risks are unsupported hyperbole.” In fact, according to Ferguson, the federal government’s bathroom directive will “overwhelmingly benefit the public.”

Attorney General Ferguson must be unaware of the rash of numerous unsettling incidents sparked by policy changes allowing anyone into whichever facility they choose. The University of Toronto temporarily suspended its policy allowing students to use the showers that correspond with their gender identity last fall after male students were accused of recording females showering in the women’s locker room.

Earlier this month, police in Idaho arrested a man, who identifies as a transgender woman, after he took pictures of a woman changing in a Target dressing room. Other similar incidents have occurred at Target stores in North Dakota, Massachusetts, Texas, and Ohio.

Join FPIW in our fight to restore sanity to locker rooms in Washington State!

Washington AG Bob Ferguson Joins Effort to Punish Freedoms of Thought, Speech

 

After months of political posturing, the targeted attack by several attorneys general against the free speech and free association rights of public policy organizations and private companies has ended. But the fight to preserve free speech rights is not over.

In March, attorneys general from fifteen states, including Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, joined with attorneys general from the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands to punish organizations that they claim have spread misinformation about the existence and consequences of global warming.

Known as Attorneys General United For Clean Power, the group is “dedicated to coming up with creative ways to enforce laws being flouted by the fossil fuels industry and their allies in their short-sighted efforts to put profits above the interests of the American people and the integrity of our financial markets,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at the coalition’s inauguratory press conference, in which the attorneys general were joined by climate change propagandist and former Vice President Al Gore.

The group blames man-caused climate change for more violent storms and receding ice shelves in the Arctic, despite studies from reputable scientists that climate change is not causing extreme weather and that the polar ice caps have not receded since 1979, the first year NASA satellite data was collected.

“We have heard the scientists,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “There is no dispute [about global warming], but there is confusion – confusion sown by those with an interest in profiting from the confusion and creating misconceptions in the eyes of the American public.”

Shortly after the formation of the coalition, U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker served subpoenas on Exxon and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think-tank that does climate research.  It has published studies critical of climate change.

The subpoena demanded ten years of communications, research, and, perhaps most worrisomely, donor information. CEI President Kent Lassman called the subpoena a “baseless fishing expedition” and a “flagrant violation” of the First Amendment.

Thankfully, Attorney General Walker recently withdrew his subpoenas. CEI is seeking court-imposed sanctions against the attorney general.

Many are concerned that the inquisition mounted against certain political ideologies will create a chilling effect on public policy organizations. It is likely that think tanks, academics, and policymakers will think twice before conducting research and publishing studies and policy recommendations that contradict politically correct narratives.

There is little disagreement among legal scholars that research published by think tanks is constitutionally protected speech. The free exchange of ideas that is promoted by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is necessary for a constitutional republic. The use of persuasion in open public discourse allows for the best ideas to supersede bad ideas.

Despite an entire apparatus of schools and media outlets that disseminate global warming propaganda, climate alarmists are losing the debate in the public square. Less than half of Americans believe the government should be doing more to mitigate climate change, and the number of Americans who believe climate change is a serious problem is declining.

Not content with using persuasion to win arguments, Attorneys General United for Clean Power decided to use the force of law to criminalize the viewpoints of their political opponents.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is well-acquainted with using the force of law to subdue those with whom he disagrees. Ferguson has been embroiled in a legal battle with Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington florist who declined to provide her creative services for a same-sex wedding ceremony. He also filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit against an Olympia pharmacy that declined to dispense abortifacients.

“While Ferguson may be sincerely concerned about climate change, the idea of the attorney general filing lawsuits against people who have different perspectives is highly problematic,” said FPIW’s Executive Director Joseph Backholm. “We should all be concerned about the instinct of our elected officials to say there is only one, absolute, infallible position on these issues that is above critique.”

It remains to be seen what will be the next steps of Attorneys General United for Clean Power.  Though Competitive Enterprise Institute and Exxon won the first battle, the attorneys general have now paved the way for using the legal system to silence people with opposing views. That should be concerning to every American who values our fundamental rights.

States Begin Investigations of Planned Parenthood

Tuesday, Nebraska joined the list of states that have raided abortion facilities as part of an investigation into the illegal sale of abortion-harvested baby parts from Planned Parenthood and other abortion-providing facilities.

Last week, the Ohio State Senate passed a measure stripping government funding from the abortion provider.  Texas followed suit, and raided several Planned Parenthood clinics in the process, joining Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Utah, and left-leaning New Hampshire on the list of states that have already successfully stopped taxpayers dollars flowing to Planned Parenthood.  Investigations into the wrongdoing have been launched in 13 states to date, as more videos emerge showing the extent of the issue.

In a video also released Tuesday, an abortionist at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas was filmed admitting to completing a partial-birth abortion, a federally-illegal procedure in which the baby’s life is terminated only after being partially removed from the mother.

Washington State is not on the list of states investigating Planned Parenthood.  Sign our petition today to demand Attorney General Bob Ferguson launch an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s activities here in our state!

Kennewick Debates Religious Freedom, Attorney General Misrepresents It

Last night, the Kennewick City Council discussed a non-binding resolution involving religious freedom in front of a standing room only crowd.  The resolution, sponsored by Kennewick City Councilman John Trumbo, calls on Attorney General Bob Ferguson to drop his lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers and asks the legislature to protect conscience rights and religious freedom.

A similar resolution has also been introduced in the Pasco city Council by Councilman Bob Hoffman.

In advance of that committee meeting, Attorney General Bob Ferguson sent a letter to Mr. Trumbo and Mr. Hoffman that was published in the Tri-City Herald. 

That letter, the full text of which can be seen below, contains a number of statements that deserve a response. (larger light green text is excerpts from the letter)

[Barronelle Stutzman and her attorneys]  claim that Arlene’s Flowers should be allowed to serve those customers whom Ms. Stutzman’s religion approves of, and exclude those whom it does not.

It is hard to view this statement as anything other than willful dishonesty.  The Attorney General’s office has been litigating against Barronelle Stutzman for more than two years now.  In those two years, Barronelle Stutzman has repeatedly stated in depositions, in legal briefs, and in oral arguments that she was and is happy to serve people who identify as gay.  She has never denied service to someone because of their sexual orientation and she never will. She will sell flowers to gay people and even for gay weddings.  Her only objection is to providing floral services for a same-sex wedding, which would require her to be a personal participant in the wedding.

As the Supreme Court has long recognized, religious freedom is not the freedom to discriminate against others in the name of religion.

The Supreme Court has never taken this issue up.  Efforts by government to force people to be part of events they disagree with are very new because historically we have respected the rights of individuals not to be part of events they were uncomfortable with.  The New Mexico Supreme Court said that a photographer could be forced to take pictures of a same-sex wedding, but a Kentucky Court recently acknowledged that a printer has the right to decline to print t-shirts for a gay pride parade because he disagrees with that message.  This issue is far from settled, in fact it is just getting started.

Rather, [religious freedom] is the right to the freedom of worship, and to be free from discrimination because of our religion.

The First Amendment protects the “free exercise” of religion.  The version of the First Amendment which protects only the right to believe what you want and attend the church of your choice exists only in the minds of those who seek to control us, not in the Constitution.

If I go to a restaurant with my young twins to celebrate their First Communion, I should not have to worry about whether the restaurant will refuse to serve me because we are Catholic.

Of course everyone agrees with this.  However, if Mr. Ferguson and his young twins wanted the restaurant owner to cater their exorcism,  an atheist business owner should  have the right to decline to participate without fear of being sued for discrimination on the basis of religion.  After all, it is not the person requesting the service they object to, but the nature of the service requested.

Arlene’s Flowers refused to serve Mr. Freed and Mr. Ingersoll because they are gay.

As discussed above, this also is not true.  Arlene’s Flowers served Mr. Freed and Mr. Ingersoll for nine years knowing they were gay.  Arlene’s Flowers stands ready to serve them again. Arlene’s Flowers serves everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.  But there are some events they are uncomfortable being part of.

Washington State law says that if a business chooses to provide a service to heterosexual customers it must provide that service to gay and lesbian customers.

Washington State law says no such thing.  It says only that you cannot discriminate on the basis of race, religions, gender, veteran status, sexual orientation, etc… Non-discrimination laws were created to make sure that businesses did not have explicit policies stating “No Jews”, “No Mexicans”, “No Mormons” or anything of the kind.  By happily and graciously serving everyone, Arlene’s Flowers abides by both the letter and the spirit of the law.

The Attorney General’s interpretation of the law means that the wedding industry is now off-limits to those who believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.  America was created specifically in response to the environment in Europe where people had to hold a certain set of beliefs in order to have equal access to economic opportunity.

We must resist the attempts to impose a new state religion built around a specifically belief about sexuality.

The Kennewick City Council agreed to take this issue up at a future meeting.

As a result, this debate will continue in Kennewick and around the country.  It will continue because it is fundamental to who we are as a nation.  Will individuals enjoy the right of association and the free exercise of religion in the way we always have? Will we surrender those rights to a government desiring to control us in the name of tolerance?

The weakness of the Attorney General’s position is exposed by his need to repeatedly misrepresent Arlene’s Flowers position. If you have strong arguments, the truth is your friend.

Still, the outcome of this debate will not be determined by who has the greatest argument, but who has the strongest resolve.

To share your thoughts with Attorney General Ferguson about this letter or his lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers, Call his office at 360-753-6200. Be respectful, but be heard.

Contact your legislators and ask them to protect conscience rights and religious freedom. You can email your legislators here or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

 

Below is the full letter from Attorney General Ferguson. Click on the images to enlarge.

AG Letter 1AG Letter 2

Attorney General Responds to Request for Planned Parenthood Investigation

On Friday, Attorney General  Bob Ferguson acknowledged receipt of a request from forty-four state legislators calling for him to investigate whether Planned Parenthood in Washington State is selling fetal body parts in violation of state law.  A copy of a letter sent to the Attorney General can be found here.

The response was brief, stating simply that:

“We are researching your request and considering whether some action on our part is appropriate.”

AG PP Response 150807

However, the response to constituents requesting an investigation of Planned Parenthood has been more specific.

Thank you for your recent correspondence expressing concern about Planned Parenthood and a recent video related to the organization.  We understand that this topic is of concern to many.

The issues discussed in the video, and decisions regarding potential state or federal funding to the organization, are not matters over which this office has authority.  You may wish to reach out to the state and federal legislators representing your area to express your concerns.

The primary function of the Attorney General of Washington is to serve as legal counsel for state agencies, boards and commissions.  Neither the office nor its attorneys are authorized to give legal advice or legal assistance to individual citizens.  I hope that you will understand the limited role that our office plays in such matters.

Kindly,
A. Baker
Constituent Correspondence Liaison
Washington State Attorney General’s Office

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To contact the Attorney General about this issue, call him at 360-753-6200.  Please be respectful, but make sure you are heard.

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Legislators Ask Attorney General to Investigate Planned Parenthood

Last week, seven legislators sent a letter to Governor Inslee demanding that Washington State stop funding Planned Parenthood. Since then, 34 legislators have sent a letter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson requesting him to investigate whether Planned Parenthood in Washington has been selling organs from aborted babies for financial gain.  You can read the letter and see who signed it below.

If your legislators signed this letter, let them know you appreciate their efforts to investigate Planned Parenthood. If your legislators did not sign the letter, call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them here and ask them to join their colleagues in compelling the Governor and Attorney General to investigate and stop funding Planned Parenthood.

Then call Attorney General Ferguson’s office at 360-753-6200 and ask him to investigate Planned Parenthood. Be respectful, but please be heard.


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Ninth Circuit Court: WA Can Force Pharmacists to Sell Plan B

In the latest development in a case that has lasted nearly a decade, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Washington State can force a pharmacy to sell Plan B despite their moral objections to doing so.

Plan B is a drug many object to because they believe it causes an early state abortion.

In 2007, the Washington State Board of Health created new rules stating that pharmacies must stock and sell Plan B. However, Ralph’s Thriftway challenged the rule and a judge ruled that the First Amendment protected their right to refer customers rather than sell a drug they objected to on moral grounds.

In their ruling yesterday, the Court of Appeals overturned that decision.

Kevin Stormans, President of Stormans Inc, which owns Ralph’s Thriftway, pointed out the irrationality of this decision in light of the general right pharmacists have to give referrals generally. “The state allows pharmacies to refer for all kinds of reasons. In practice, it only bans religiously motivated referrals.”

Mr. Stormans continued, “With 33 pharmacies stocking the drug within five miles of our store, it is extremely disappointing that the court and the state demand that we violate our conscience or lose our family business.”

Kristen Waggoner, lead counsel in the case and Senior Vice President of Legal Services at the Alliance Defending Freedom, noted that, “This case will affect many facilities within the state, including Catholic hospitals and pharmacies, which have made clear they will not dispense these drugs.”

Washington’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, who is also suing Arlene’s Flowers because she declined to decorate for a same-sex wedding, called the decision “a major victory for the people of Washington.”

Luke Goodrich, an Attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which helped defend the pharmacists, noted that “no patient has ever been denied timely access to any drug.”

But that didn’t matter.

The Court of Appeals said it was important for states to have the power to force pharmacists to violate their beliefs because, “facilitated referrals could lead to feelings of shame in the patient that could dissuade her from obtaining emergency contraception altogether.”

The Oregon Labor Commission similarly cited hurt feelings to justify a $135,000 fine against a bakery that did not want to bake a same-sex wedding cake. In addition, Justice Kennedy’s decision redefining marriage similarly argued that acknowledging the difference between heterosexual and homosexual relationships condemns people to “live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.”

While traditionally the job of courts has been to interpret the law, the fact that the courts have appointed themselves guardians of the people’s feelings can only be a bad thing for freedom.

Attorneys for Ralph’s Thriftway have pledged to appeal the ruling. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the most frequently overturned.

What can you do in response to this decision?

  1. Contact your legislator and ask them to support legislation that allows Washingtonians to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of unreasonable government intrusion. You can reach them at the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.
  2. If you disagree with Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s belief that this decision is “a major victory for the people of Washington”, call him at 360-753-6200 and let him know.
  3. Forward this email to someone who shares your concern about the rapid loss of liberty and encourage them to do the same. We are the solution to our problems.

Remember, in politics silence is consent. Always be respectful, but don’t be silent.

This story has been edited from its original version to correctly identify the lead counsel in the case. 7/24/15 11:11 am

Dhimmitude in America?

You may not know what dhimmitude is and hopefully you never experience it.

But you’ve probably heard of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and you’re almost surely aware of what Christians are.

Dhimmitude is an Islamic system that governs non-Muslims who have been conquered through Jihad by folks like ISIS.

If you surrender to Muslim control – though not Muslim – you are referred to as dhimmi.

Sounds fun, right?

If ISIS took over the town you live in, they might move door to door and give you three options: “convert to Islam, pay the jizya, or die.”

The jizya is a tax for not being Muslim.

It doesn’t apply to everyone, but paying it is seen as proof of your subjection to the Jihadist state and its laws. In return, non-Muslim subjects are permitted to practice their faith, to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy, to be entitled to the Muslim state’s protection from outside aggression.

Acknowledging the difference, there are parallels between the way Jihadists treat those who are in dhimmitude and the way the new sexual revolution in America seeks to treat those who disagree with their (religious?) beliefs about sexuality and marriage.

Once they have political power, they are giving businesses three options “convert, pay a fine, or die” (economically, not physically).

After Arlene’s Flowers was sued for declining to decorate for a same-sex wedding, Attorney General Bob Ferguson offered to settle (demanded the jizya) for $2,000 on the condition that she would “convert,” or agree to make business decisions according to the state’s new values.

Only a few days ago, a judge in Oregon fined a bakery $135,000 because they attempted to run their business according to their Christian beliefs about sexuality rather than the government’s. When they rejected the government’s demands that they convert or pay the jizya, the government opted for what amounts to the economic death penalty.

“Nonsense,” you argue. “They broke the law. Having penalties for breaking the law isn’t exactly innovative. Nor is it jihadist.”

Fair enough.

But the left’s new found impulse to be sticklers for the letter of the law misses the larger point.

The left is proposing a regime change that fundamentally alters freedoms that have been taken for granted for in America for centuries.

Christians, Jews, Muslims and others have been not participating in same-sex “weddings” for millennia.

But under the new regime, doing what has always been done is illegal.

Your choice. Convert, pay a fine if you refuse to convert and then convert, or experience economic death.

Like the jizya, the non-discrimination law discriminates.  It protects one person’s right to decline to participate in an activity they disagree with, but denies that right to others. 

The good news is that if you accept the terms of the new regime, you will still be allowed a measure of communal autonomy, and be entitled to other benefits from the state.

Imagine a new law compelling church attendance or pork consumption on the grounds that refusing to participate is discriminatory. (Which, of course, it is. But that’s the kind of discrimination lefties still like.)

Being indignant with the atheist who objects to compulsory church attendance would be stupid since he’s simply doing what atheists have always done.

“But it’s the law,” you say, self-righteously.

“But it shouldn’t be the law, and you should know better,” he says in response.

And of course he’s right.

The way non-discrimination laws are being interpreted right now is not a modification to the building code that frustrates some builders or a change in the speed law that catches unsuspecting drivers.

It is a regime change that seeks to fundamentally alter the way Americans have always lived. It seeks to create the kind of conformity that America was created in opposition to.

America doesn’t and shouldn’t have conquered peoples. We make room for the atheists, Christians, Muslims, or Jew to be who they are, not just in their preferred place of worship, but in the rest of their life as well. We respect the right for people to be who they are, even if we think they’re silly and ignorant. We understand that we’re different and we make room for that.

Dhimmitude is for jihadists, not for Americans.

Forcing Hospitals to Perform Abortions

Debates over abortion aren’t really news these days. It’s one of those debates that never really goes away.

However, the debate is changing.

In Port Townsend, Washington, the debate is around whether the hospital that serves that community can be compelled to perform abortions.

In February, the Seattle office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to Jefferson Healthcare claiming that the East Jefferson County Hospital is out of compliance with the state Reproductive Privacy Act by not offering to abortions on the premises.

That same month, the ACLU sued Skagit Regional Health claiming that the hospital violated law by referring those seeking an abortion to the local Planned Parenthood affiliate rather than provide the abortions themselves.

These lawsuits and threats rely upon a 2013 opinion from Attorney General Bob Ferguson regarding the Reproductive Privacy Act, passed by voters in 1991. That Reproductive Privacy Act states that there is a “fundamental right to choose or refuse” birth control or abortion and prohibits the state from discriminating through “regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services or information.”

While no other Attorney General or judge has taken this position in 22 years, Mr. Ferguson declared that it is now illegal for a public hospital not to provide abortions.

There are many reasons rural hospitals might not provide abortions (or other services) that have nothing do with philosophical opposition to abortion.

Rural hospitals don’t have the same resources as urban hospitals.

There are undoubtedly many services East Jefferson County Hospital doesn’t provide and that isn’t because they hate people who need heart surgery or have Ebola.

It is common for one provider to refer patients to another provider to ensure they are cared for by the person best equipped to handle their situation.

Women will not be better served by forcing people to provide a service when they had previously decided someone else was in a better position to do so.

Those of us who have spent significant amounts of time in rural communities have all had the experience of having to travel out of the area for particularized care. It’s one of the trade-offs for not having to sit in traffic for two hours every day.

Only abortion industry advocates consider that to be a legal problem.

Still, this case illustrates how the abortion debate in Washington has changed.

Even before Roe v. Wade, Washington State has made abortion available to women at taxpayer’s expense. The abortion industry gives Washington State an A+ rating.

Washington is an abortionist’s paradise.

But they still aren’t content.

The new frontier in abortion advocacy is forcing other people to be part of their “private” decision to have an abortion.

As a result, now you can get sued for helping a woman find someone who will provide an abortion because that’s just not enough.

You should have done it yourself.

For four years in a row, the Washington State House of Representatives has passed legislation that would require every private insurance policy to cover abortion.

The State of Washington has been trying to force pharmacists in Olympia to sell Plan B, a drug they object to because they believe it causes an early term abortion, since 2007.

The harassment of a rural hospital is just the latest front in their war against choice.

It’s the new debate that doesn’t focus on whether abortion should be legal, but focuses on whether you should be free to make decisions based on the fact that you have a different view.

If you live in Jefferson County, you can contact the commissioners of the Jefferson County Public Hospital District here:

Jill Buhler
jbuhler@jeffersonhealthcare.org
Tony DeLeo adeleo@jeffersonhealthcare.org
Mmarie Dressler, RN mdressler@jeffersonhealthcare.org
Matt Ready mready@jeffersonhealthcare.org
Chuck Russell crussell@jeffersonhealthcare.org

The ACLU has also sent letters to the Whidbey General Hospital in Coupeville and Mason General Hospital in Shelton. If you live in those areas, contact your local hospital boards as well.

Feel free to call Bob Ferguson at 360-753-6200 and share your thoughts.

Be cheerful, but be heard.

LGBT Community Defends Arlene’s Flowers

Earlier this week, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Barronelle Stutzman, appeared on the Kelly File to discuss the lawsuit brought against her by Washington State’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, when she declined to decorate for a same-sex ceremony.

She has recently declined the Attorney General’s settlement offer that would have ended the litigation if she agreed to pay a $2,001 fine and agree to surrender the right to make business decisions consistent with her beliefs.

What might be surprising is the amount of support for Mrs. Stutzman from the gay community on the on the Kelly File Facebook page discussing this case.  Here is just a sample of the comments.

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The political leadership of the LGBT movement wants to convince the world that the debate over conscience rights and religious freedom is a debate between those who hate gay people and those who don’t.

In reality, its a debate between those who hate freedom and those who don’t.