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5th Circuit Upholds Direct Supervision Requirement For Muslim Inmate Worship Services

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Brown v. Scott, (5th Cir., July 5, 2019), the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision (56 pages long) written by Judge Owen held that a 1977 consent decree allowing Muslim inmates to gather for worship without direct supervision should be vacated. While Muslim inmates had met with only indirect supervision from 1977 to 2012, that arrangement was terminated after a Jehovah’s Witness inmate successfully sued arguing that the more favorable treatment of Muslim inmates violates the Establishment Clause. The termination of the special treatment for Muslim inmates, however, violated the earlier consent decree. This led prison officials to ask that the earlier decree be vacated under provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act that allow lifting of the injunction if it is no longer needed to correct an ongoing violation of rights.

Muslim inmates argued that requiring direct supervision of their services would impose a substantial burden in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The majority held, however, that it is not prison authorities that have imposed a substantial burden, but instead it is caused by a lack of Muslim volunteers from outside who will supervise services. The majority also rejected Free Exercise and Establishment Clause arguments.

The district court had concluded that Texas prison regulations favor Catholic, Jewish, Native American and Protestant inmates over Muslim inmates.  Judge Owen concluded that this does not create an Establishment Clause violation because in the prison context the more lenient Turner v. Safley test should be applied to Establishment Clause claims.

Judge King joined all of Judge Owen’s opinion except for the Establishment Clause section. She held there was an Establishment Clause violation, but that the 1977 consent decree should be vacated nevertheless because it is broader than necessary to remedy the violation.

Judge Dennis in a separate opinion dissented as to the RLUIPA issue, and would not have reached the Establishment Clause or Free Exercise claims

You can learn more about this issue here.

Custody of Nonbiological Children—Burden and Proof Issues

In the matter of R.L. v. M.A., Case No.: 2740 EDA 2018, the Pennsylvania Superior Court delved into the leading edge of family law when it ruled upon whether an individual in a same-sex relationship can be awarded custody of a child with whom she has no biological relationship.

In R.L., the appellant, M.A., entered into a romantic relationship with R.L. (appellee) in 2012. During the relationship, the parties decided to impregnate the appellant via artificial insemination using sperm from the appellee’s brother.

The couple proceeded to prepare for the birth of the child by setting up the baby’s room and purchasing typical baby supplies. R.L. was present for the baby’s birth, chose the baby’s first name, and gave the baby her own surname. Not long after the child was born, the couple broke up.

Instead of litigating, the parties entered into an informal agreement for the custody of the child. The child lived primarily with the appellant and spent every other weekend with the appellee. This arrangement lasted until 2014 when the parties informally elected to equally share custody of the child. This 50/50 arrangement lasted nearly four years until R.L. called the daycare center where the appellant worked and which the child attended. R.L. complained that the appellant was having too much contact with the child while in daycare and even inappropriately (in her opinion) removed the child from the daycare premises.

In response to the above-mentioned telephone call, the appellant unilaterally discontinued their customary 50/50 arrangement, which led to R.L. filing a complaint for custody of the child. R.L. was granted in loco parentis over the child fairly quickly, which conferred R.L. standing to have custody of the child. The matter went to trial and the trial court entered an order granting each party equal custody, alternating on a weekly basis; the appellant appealed this order to Superior Court.

On appeal, the appellant argued that the appellee did not meet the burden of clear and convincing evidence that a nonparent should have custody equal to a parent, and that the court erred in weighing the evidence presented.

In support of her argument that appellee did not meet her burden of proof, the appellant argued that 23 Pa.C.S. Section 5327 requires a trial court to apply a presumption in favor of parents over nonparents, and, as a “nonparent,” the appellant did not meet her burden to overcome the presumption in favor of the appellee. The appellant also argued that the trial court erred in considering the parties’ informal shared custody arrangement when rending its decision.

In making its ruling, the Superior Court acknowledged that “even before the proceedings start, the evidentiary scale is tipped, and tipped hard, to the biological parents’ side.” In saying that, the Superior Court also recognized that this principle does “not preclude an award of custody to the nonparent.”

Additionally, the court made it clear that the “best interests” standard is still the touchstone when entering a child custody order. Furthermore, once someone is granted in loco parentis, she need not demonstrate that the other party is unfit, but rather merely demonstrate that it is in the best interests of the child (as proven by clear and convincing evidence) to be with the nonparent party.

The Superior Court ruled that the appellant did meet her burden of clear and convincing evidence, specifically by demonstrating that the parties lived out an agreed shared custody arrangement for a number of years, indeed most of the child’s life, and only discontinued that arrangement due to the appellee being upset over the appellant’s telephone call to the daycare center, as opposed to anything directly related to custody.

The Superior Court also indicated that the appellant’s interpretation of the law is incorrect. Namely, while the scales do tip heavily toward a parent over a nonparent, there is a distinction as to whether that nonparent is seeking shared, as opposed to primary, custody. As she was only seeking shared custody, the appellant only had the burden of clear and convincing evidence to bring the scales even with the appellee. Only if the appellant were seeking primary custody would she have to tip the scales hard toward herself under the burden of clear and convincing evidence.

Ultimately, a nonparent seeking shared custody of a child has to have standing and demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that such a custody arrangement is in the best interest of a child.

This article was originally published in The Legal Intelligencer on June 27, 2019 and can be found here.

Church Sues Over Cannabis Raid

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

Redheaded Blackbelt reported yesterday:

A church called Redwood Spiritual Healing Ministry filed a lawsuit Thursday, June 27 against the County of Humboldt and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) alleging violations of its 1st Amendment right to religious freedom as well as due process violations when a multiple agency task force destroyed cannabis as well as private property during the execution of a search warrant. The case further alleges that the County of Humboldt may have withheld relevant information from a judge by having CDFW file the Affidavit for the search warrant without informing the judge that the property in question may be a church under the law.

The full text of the complaint in Redwoods Spiritual Healing Ministry v. Humboldt County, California, (CA Super. Ct., filed 6/27/2019) embedded at the end of the news report on the lawsuit.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Explosive Ivy League Study Repressed For Finding Transgender Kids May Be A Social Contagion

“Rapid-onset gender dysphoria” among teens and young adults may be a social contagion linked with having friends who identify as LGBT, an identity politics peer culture, and an increase in internet use, finds a study out this month from a Brown University professor. The study was quickly yanked from Brown’s news releases after a transgender activist feeding frenzy, and the journal it was published in is reconsidering the publication. There is a parent and researcher-driven petition to stand behind the publication of the first study to look in detail at rapid-onset gender dysphoria.

The petition includes the following graph about gender referrals in the United Kingdom. Anecdotal and news reports, as well as the rapid recent growth in transgender treatment centers, indicates a similar phenomenon inside the United States.

“[T]he parental reports in this study offer important and much-needed preliminary information about a cohort of adolescents, mostly girls, who with no prior history of dysphoria, are requesting irreversible medical interventions, including the potential to impair fertility and future sexual function,” says the petition. “In any other group of children, these grave consequences would be seen as human rights violations unless there was significant and overwhelming evidence these procedures would be beneficial long-term.”

Despite these facts on the ground, Brown issued a statement Tuesday effectively apologizing for publicizing their own professor’s research because, “Brown community members express[ed] concerns that the conclusions of the study could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.”

“The spirit of free inquiry and scholarly debate is central to academic excellence,” said the statement from Bess Marcus, the dean of Brown’s School of Public Health. “At the same time, we believe firmly that it is also incumbent on public health researchers to listen to multiple perspectives and to recognize and articulate the limitations of their work.”

Hm, I wonder if she would worry about “invalidating the perspectives of members of the alternative  health community” after a Brown researcher published a study indicating a vaccine is effective and anti-vaxxers went crazy about it on Twitter. Doubtful.

The reason trans activists went nuts is that the study reinforces what plenty of parents, public health experts, and doctors have been saying: Transgenderism looks a lot like a dangerous fad. It’s telling that their response was to demand suppressing the results. It’s also telling that Brown chose to prioritize the unreasonable demands of a tiny minority above the potential well-being of children and the process of scientific inquiry.

How This Study Came About

The study is authored by Lisa Littman, a behavior and social sciences professor at Brown, and an OB-GYN whose publications are mainly in reproductive health and abortion. Here’s the phenomenon that caused her to conduct the study to learn more:

Parents have described clusters of gender dysphoria outbreaks occurring in pre-existing friend groups with multiple or even all members of a friend group becoming gender dysphoric and transgender-identified in a pattern that seems statistically unlikely based on previous research. Parents describe a process of immersion in social media, such as ‘binge-watching’ Youtube transition videos and excessive use of Tumblr, immediately preceding their child becoming gender dysphoric. These descriptions are atypical for the presentation of gender dysphoria described in the research literature…

Littman recruited for the study by posting on the transgender-critical websites 4thWaveNow, Transgender Trend, and YouthTransCriticalProfessionals, seeking parents of adolescents who had quickly come out as transgender. She recruited 256 parents of children ages 11 to 27. They filled out a 90-question survey that took about 30-60 minutes to complete. Eighty percent of their transgender-identifying children were female, and on average the kids came out at age 15.

Littman found a number of things that make transgender narratives look terrible. For example, she explored the horrifyingly irresponsible lies anonymous internet users frequently offer to confused kids who were apparently free to browse for this information online. The below graph from the study quotes common “advice” transgender activists gave children over these kinds of forums.

It is also notable that 86 percent of the parents who took this survey said they support same-sex relationships and 88 percent “believe trans people deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else.” Similar numbers supported their kids’ decision to adopt opposite-sex hairstyles, clothes, and so forth. Of the children who told their parents they wanted to see a gender therapist, 82 percent took them.

Here’s What the Study Found

The study offers insights into how gender dysphoria seems to develop among those who declare it suddenly. Among the children studied, 59 percent identified as heterosexual prior to expressing gender dysphoria. This is a disproportionately high percent of non-heterosexual kids (41 percent), although homosexuality and especially lesbian activity is highly fluid and tends to dissipate, especially for teens and females. Eighty-seven percent of the children studied became gender dysphoric after friends did, after increasing their time online, or both.

Eighty-seven percent of the children studied became gender dysphoric after friends did, after increasing their time online, or both.

None of the young people Littman studied would have met the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for diagnosing childhood gender dysphoria, the study says. However, a very high rate, 62 percent, had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder or neurodevelopmental disability before their gender dysphoria began.

Nearly half of these children (48 percent) “experienced a traumatic or stressful event prior to the onset of their gender dysphoria,” the study says, such as parental divorce, a death in the family, a romantic breakup, rape or attempted rape, school bullying, family relocation, or a serious illness. Nearly half (45 percent) had been harming themselves before coming out trans. The parents of most of these children also reported they were bad at handling strong negative emotions.

“The majority of respondents (69.4%) answered that their child had social anxiety during adolescence; 44.3% that their child had difficulty interacting with their peers, and 43.1% that their child had a history of being isolated (not associating with their peers outside of school activities),” says the study. One parent explained that her daughter “had very high expectations that transitioning would solve their problems,” the study says. The parent wrote that the child “discontinued anti- depressant quickly, stopped seeing psychiatrist, began seeing gender therapist, stopped healthy eating. [She] stated ‘none of it’ (minding what she ate and taking her Rx) ‘mattered anymore.’ This was her cure, in her opinion.”

This makes it obvious why transgender activists do not want this information public. It suggests many gender dysphoric young people hit a rough patch in life (or several), have poor or immature coping skills, and got the message from peers, online, or both that transgenderism was a handy, simple explanation for their feelings that also offered instant social acceptance and attention.

High Correlation to Peers Who Promote LGBT Sexuality

The study includes other eye-opening information, such as case studies of several children’s stories. Here are three:

  • “A 14-year-old natal female and three of her natal female friends were taking group lessons together with a very popular coach. The coach came out as transgender, and, within one year, all four students announced they were also transgender.”
  • “A 21-year-old natal male who had been academically successful at a prestigious university seemed depressed for about six months. Since concluding that he was transgender, he went on to have a marked decline in his social functioning and has become increasingly angry and hostile to his family. He refuses to move out or look for a job. His entire family, including several members who are very supportive of the transgender community, believe that he is ‘suffering from a mental disorder which has nothing to do with gender.’”
  • “A 14-year-old natal female and three of her natal female friends are part of a larger friend group that spends much of their time talking about gender and sexuality. The three natal female friends all announced they were trans boys and chose similar masculine names. After spending time with these three friends, the 14-year-old natal female announced that she was also a trans boy.”

The study also describes links between social acceptance and even obsession with alternative sexuality as being a high risk factor for children contracting gender dysphoria:

Parents described intense group dynamics where friend groups praised and supported people who were transgender-identified and ridiculed and maligned non-transgender people. Where popularity status and activities were known, 60.7% of the [children with gender dysphoria in the study] experienced an increased popularity within their friend group when they announced a transgender-identification and 60.0% of the friend groups were known to mock people who were not transgender or LGBTIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, or asexual).

The study also may indicate that school “anti-bullying” programs typically created by LGBT activist organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign may help accelerate children identifying as transgender by pushing peers and authority figures to profusely express their support. It also may suggest that Marxist-style identity politics that brand heterosexuality as oppressive increase gender dysphoria. Perhaps this is one reason a 2013 study found that anti-bullying programs actually increase bullying.

‘They are constantly putting down straight, white people for being privileged, dumb and boring.’

“Great increase in popularity among the student body at large. Being trans is a gold star in the eyes of other teens,” wrote one parent on the study response form. Another wrote, “not so much ‘popularity’ increasing as ‘status’ … also she became untouchable in terms of bullying in school as teachers who ignored homophobic bullying …are now all at pains to be hot on the heels of any trans bullying.”

Children who contracted gender dysphoria in the study were highly likely to have peer groups with a culture of directing animosity towards people who are white, straight, and male. “They are constantly putting down straight, white people for being privileged, dumb and boring,” one study participant wrote. Another wrote: “In general, cis-gendered people are considered evil and unsupportive, regardless of their actual views on the topic. To be heterosexual, comfortable with the gender you were assigned at birth, and non-minority places you in the ‘most evil’ of categories with this group of friends.”

The peer groups of rapid-onset gender dysphoric children also routinely mocked family members and adults, the study found, alienating these distressed children from their most likely sources of help. A handful of study participants who heeded their children’s petition to be removed to a different social environment reported the children were much happier and ceased describing themselves as transgender. One of these children “expressed a strong desire to ‘…get out of the culture that if you are [heterosexual], then you are bad or oppressive or clueless.’”

Social Contagion Is a Well-Documented Human Behavior

“The results of the study support the possibility that social contagion, rather than an innate, immutable sense of incongruence between body and mind, may be at work in some of these cases,” says the open letter petitioning Brown to stand behind Littman’s work.

The petition is the work of 4thWaveNow, a networking and information website for gay-friendly parents and researchers concerned about transgender politics. As mentioned above, Littman recruited parents for her study on the site, which trans activists are ridiculously claiming is a “far-right” “hate” site. 4thWaveNow clearly leans politically liberal and strongly supports non-heterosexuality. These are parents who are righteously concerned about manipulating and mutilating children for the sake of a highly politicized narrative that has little real support beyond its ability to create a business and political industry that profits from despair.

We are allowing people to get fame and profit by lying to vulnerable people and facilitating procedures that very likely do more harm than good.

I’m a free market supporter, but I also see that markets function on desire, and not all desires are good. It’s good to desire to mother a child. It’s not good to meet that desire by renting a womb and buying the medical machinery and human parts to make one. It’s good to desire social acceptance and a strong identity. It’s not good to address that desire by pretending to be a male when you are a female, or vice versa. Believing and acting on lies hurts people, often badly.

Rather than blaming the market mechanisms by which people pursue these bad answers to their desires, it’s more appropriate to set boundaries defining what longings are good and not, and what are healthy and morally right ways to satisfy them. Markets cannot do this. This is what a society is for. And because our society is failing in this duty, through things like suppressing the research, discussion, and inquiry that facilitates it, we are allowing people to get fame and profit by lying to vulnerable people and facilitating procedures that very likely do more harm than good.

This is what we call exploitation. It’s an old human story. Social hysterias like the Dutch tulip craze, Salem witch trials, lynchings, buying stock in a mythical America where the streets were paved with gold, and countless other contagions are a persistent feature of human history. Often it is intermixed with buying and selling because where there is desire, there is exchange. People did, and still do, buy and sell human beings. Now we are also buying and selling, mixing and matching human body parts. There ought to be both social and legal limits on things like this, and far better ones than we have now.

Desire drives exchange. Thus it’s big business to create desires for products and services. In so doing, business takes on the social and especially religious function of defining, refining, and directing our desires. The answer is to take that responsibility back for ourselves, and inform our desires, and ensure our children’s desires are formed, with history, research, ethics, religion, and other products of an advanced and successful culture.

The goal should be to minimize harm as much as possible. We do that by thinking before acting, and part of that thinking is talking. Research is also thinking, in a particularly rigorous fashion. This is why trans activists try to suppress talking and thinking. That shows very clearly their true goals are not for bettering human society. It also provides even greater urgency that we refuse to heed their wild, petulant, dangerous demands.

By Joy Pullman and published in The Federalist on August 31, 2018 and can be found here.

Family Law Tip: Sole Legal Custody

I post some tips regarding family to my Linkedin page (see here) from time to time, and I thought I should start sharing them here too. Below is one of my family law tips, and you can read my articles on family law here and other posts on family law here and all are cataloged here.

 

Court Rejects Free Exercise Defense To Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Lawrence v. Treybig(TX App., June 20, 2019), a Texas state appeals court affirmed a trial court jury’s award of nominal damages and a permanent injunction against Arthur Lawrence who had been hired by a wealthy family as a basketball coach for their son, Cody Treybig, when he was nine years old. Lawrence remained in that position for six years during which time he convinced Cody of Lawrence’s paranoid religious views:

Lawrence … told Cody that Jimmy Treybig, Cody’s father, was a high-level member of an evil society called the Illuminati; that Cody’s school, his hometown of Austin, and colleges in general were full of evil Illuminati members; that the rapture was imminent; that Cody’s parents intended to have an RFID5 chip implanted into Cody’s body, which would damn him to hell; that the RFID chip would control Cody’s mind and would contain cyanide that could be used to kill him if he resisted; and that Cody’s parents and brother hated him and were evil.

In the suit against Lawrence for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the court rejected Lawrence’s free exercise defense:

Lawrence argues that the jury could not determine whether his conduct was extreme and outrageous without weighing the veracity of his religious beliefs and that the trial court therefore should have dismissed Cody’s claims. However, whether Lawrence’s views are sincerely held or whether he believed that he was helping to save Cody from damnation is irrelevant under the facts of this case, in which Lawrence’s conduct, no matter its motivation, was extreme and outrageous.

The court affirmed the award of damages of $4 and an injunction barring Lawrence from coming within 1,000 feet of Cody or contacting Cody or his family.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Check out our new look! New Website. New Logo.

My firm, the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., issues a newsletter from time to time, and, accordingly, we sent one out on June 17, 2019.  Our newsletter updates and informs our readers as to what articles we have published, what seminars we have led, what awards we have received, and what is going on with any other happening at our Firm.

In this newsletter we announce our brand new website!  Check out our new look!  New Website. New Logo.  Our new website is here.

If you wish to read our newsletter, you can do so here.  Thanks and be on the look out for our next newsletter!

Texas Governor Signs “Save Chik-fil-A” Law

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law S.B. 1978 (full text) which prohibits any governmental entity in Texas from taking adverse action against any person because of the person’s affiliation, contribution or support for a religious organization. According to KXAN News:

The bill was brought forward by Republicans after San Antonio City Council voted in March to exclude Chik-fil-A from having airport concessions in their city because of the fast-food chain’s owners’ record on LGBT issues, specifically over donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Salvation Army, and a George youth home; whose leaders advocate for marriage to be between one-man and one-woman.

The law has become known as the “Save Chik-fil-A bill.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Feds Settle Suit With Old Order Amish Woman Over Photo In Residency Application

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

According to the Indy Star, government agencies have settled a lawsuit brought by an Old Order Amish couple.  Under the settlement, the wife will be able to become a permanent U.S. resident without submitting photos of herself in the application for residency. She will also be able to cross the border without photographic identification.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Senior Community Management Sued Over Ban on Bible Study Groups and Public Prayer

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

A lawsuit was filed this week in a Virginia federal district court by a retired pastor and his wife against a senior living community where they lived.  The complaint (full text) in Hauge v. Community Realty Company, Inc., (ED VA, filed 5/21/2019), alleges that the community’s management discriminated against plaintiffs on the basis of religion by acceding to demands of other residents to bar plaintiffs’ followers from publicly saying grace before their meals, and prohibiting plaintiffs from hosting Bible Study anywhere in the living complex.  The suit contends that management’s actions violated federal and state fair housing laws.  First Liberty issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.

You can learn more about this issue here.

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