Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Challenging the Federal Law that Makes Sports Betting a Crime

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear a lawsuit challenging a sports gambling ban on December 4, a new Competitive Enterprise Institute report explains how the ban prevents states and their voters from deciding on the legalization of sports gambling for themselves and leaves consumers exposed to gambling fraud.

“The federal government has no business telling states they can’t legalize sports betting if they want to,” said Michelle Minton, CEI senior fellow and author of the report, Let States Regulate Sports Gambling within their Borders. “The Supreme Court should consider the impact this case will have on voters' ability to decide how their state ought to treat other important policy issues ranging from cannabis regulation to gun control. Since sports betting is currently a multi-billion dollar industry, keeping it illegal will only leave consumers unprotected from gambling fraud and allow criminal organizations to profit and thrive in a black market.”

The report describes the ban’s negative impact on consumers, who now have no legal protections from cheaters and swindlers. Europeans already benefit from the legalization of sports betting because sports leagues work with the gambling industry against corruption and match-fixing – safeguards that American consumers don’t have.

The report also explains how the law banning sports betting, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), diminishes government accountability, violates state sovereignty, and conflicts with the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states and its citizens powers not otherwise delegated to the federal government.

CEI, in conjunction with Pacific Legal Foundation and several other free market groups, submitted an August 2017 amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of New Jersey’s challenge to PASPA, Christie v. NCAA. The case stems from a 2011 vote by the citizens of New Jersey to repeal the state’s ban on sports betting and a subsequent lawsuit by the National Collegiate Athletics Association claiming PASPA prohibited such a repeal.

View the report, Let States Regulate Sports Gambling within their Borders

Related News:

Supreme Court agrees to hear NJ sports betting case

ISO/IEC 27035-1:2016

Congressman Yoho Statement on Richard Spencer and Antifa

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Ted S. Yoho (R-FL) released the following statement on the upcoming visit of Richard Spencer to the University of Florida and the group Antifa who will be protesting the event.

"Richard Spencer, president of a hate group misleadingly named the National Policy Institute, is coming to Gainesville, FL to speak about his support of ethnic nationalism, racial division and white supremacy on October 19, 2017. Antifa, a so-called “anti-fascist” group comprised of radical Marxists and anarchists, is calling on its supporters to come and protest Richard Spencer, advocating violence and chaos in the process.

"In our constitutional republic, both sides have a right-and what I feel is a privilege-to espouse their views as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The First Amendment gives individuals the right of free speech, peaceful assembly and protest to promote one's views. People must be serious about exercising these rights respectfully. You cannot have freedom without responsibility.

"Hate groups and groups that promote violence and anarchy have no place in our society. They simply have a self-serving agenda and feed off mob-like participation and divisiveness.

"When Richard Spencer comes to Gainesville, I want to ask that all people of differing viewpoints take responsibility for themselves and the groups they have invited to attend the event. It is estimated that this event will cost the University of Florida hundreds of thousands of dollars and Alachua County will have to mobilize hundreds of law enforcement officers, EMT's, firefighters and paramedics at a cost not yet determined but paid for by the taxpayers of the county.

"While these groups exercise their right of free speech and to peaceably assemble, I hope they will have respect for each other's rights to express their own points of view, and that all will agree to disagree peacefully. Let's hope they keep in mind the many first responders that are taking time away from their families and at great cost to Alachua County taxpayers for the protection of all parties. Let's hope these groups take responsibility for their members and that there is no violent behavior. However, if people do engage in violence, I will press state and federal prosecutors to bring charges against malefactors to the fullest extent permitted by law.

"As for me, I refuse to be anywhere near this event because Richard Spencer and Antifa’s viewpoints are both morally repugnant. I choose not to offer either of them an audience. Please join me."

====Special Offer====
Custom Bobbleheads

Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson Stands By Account of President Trump’s Condolence Call to the Widow of Sgt. La David Johnson

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson issued the following statement in response to White House allegations regarding her account of President Donald Trump’s call with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson:

“Despite President Trump’s suggestion that I have recanted my statement or misstated what he said, I stand firmly by my original account of his conversation with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson. Moreover, this account has been confirmed by family members who also witnessed Mr. Trump’s incredible lack of compassion and sensitivity.

“The Johnson family and the families of the three other soldiers who tragically lost their lives in the Niger ambush are experiencing what I am certain must feel like an unbearable loss. Rather than engage in a petty war of words with Mr. Trump, it is so much more important to embrace and support the families and honor these fallen heroes.

“This is personal for me, not political. Sgt. Johnson was a member of my community and of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project that I founded to help boys of color build successful futures. He was killed while on a mission to provide training and security assistance to West African armed forces battling vicious insurgents like Boko Haram, the group whose defeat I’ve been fighting for since it abducted nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls more than three years ago.

“The loved ones Sgt. Johnson leaves behind are my constituents and my job now is to do all that I can to help them heal. I’ll save the bully pulpit for the necessary task of uncovering the circumstances surrounding the ambush and working to help ensure that our soldiers have all of the resources and support that they need while putting their lives on the line to keep others safe.”

Related News:

Trump’s Condolence Call to Soldier’s Widow Erupts Into Vicious Battle

==Special Offer==
Find Best-Selling Books as Low as 99¢ at!
==Special Offer==

Congresswoman Condemns Racist Rap Video

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) released the following statement regarding the rap video “Happy Ending” by hip-hop performer “Hopsin”:

“This video blatantly plays on racist and sexist stereotypes about Asian women and their sexuality. Not only does this offensive song and video demean Asian people, but it ignores the fact that many women in massage parlors like those depicted in the piece are human trafficking victims. Hopsin is essentially celebrating human trafficking and lampooning those who have been forced into prostitution. I encourage all online music platforms to stop carrying this offensive song and video.”


Fuel Economy Harmonization Act Introduced in the House

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 4011, that would harmonize separate sets of fuel economy regulations at the state and federal level into one consistent standard. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, is the lead co-sponsor and similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

“The most important aspect of this bill: Affordable autos for all Americans,” said Upton. “The high cost of the current conflicting regulatory requirements automakers are facing drives up manufacturing expenses, which are then passed along to consumers. Our common-sense, bipartisan legislation would help deliver on the promise of a strong national fuel economy standard, replacing the current patchwork of federal and state laws. I continue to support one strong national standard that increases fuel economy, reduces carbon emissions, creates jobs here in Michigan, and ensures affordability and choice for all.”

Despite attempts from the Obama administration to harmonize the various fuel economy programs as fully as possible currently automakers and manufacturers still contend with two different sets of fuel economy regulations at the federal and state level. Those include the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Corporate Fuel Economy (CAFE) program and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) vehicle carbon dioxide (fuel economy) reduction program.

The Fuel Economy Harmonization Act would help deliver on the promise of creating one national fuel economy program, making it easier and less costly for manufacturers and automakers to meet the important goals of federal fuel economy programs.

==Special Offer==
At AHAVA: Free Shipping on Orders of $75+ and 3 Free Samples with Code: FREESHIP
==Special Offer==

Medicaid Reentry Act Introduced in the House

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Last week, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced H.R. 4005, the Medicaid Reentry Act, a bill that would provide states with the flexibility to restart Medicaid coverage for eligible incarcerated individuals up to 30 days prior to their release.

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY): “More Americans died of an overdose last year than were lost at the peak of the HIV/AIDS crisis. This is a national emergency that demands immediate action. As we continue to fight the spread or our nation’s deadly opioid epidemic, expanding Medicaid access to individuals preparing to transition back from incarceration to civilian life is more than a practical and overdue step. It will save lives and help countless families and communities come back from the brink and begin to heal in earnest.”

Recent research indicates that individuals who are released back into the community post-incarceration are roughly eight times more likely to die of an overdose in the first two weeks post-release compared to other times. The risk of overdose is elevated during this period due to reduced physiological tolerance for opioids among the incarcerated population, a lack of effective addiction treatment options while incarcerated and poor care transitions back into the community. Allowing states to restart Medicaid benefits prior to release will dovetail with innovative reentry programs already being implemented in communities across the country and would give individuals reentering society a fighting chance to live a healthier, drug-free life.

==Special Offer==
Take advantage of Advantage
==Special Offer==

EPA Refuses to "Settle" in Further Lawsuits

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they will enact the position outlined in Congressman Jason Smith’s taxpayer protection legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in September. The policy would prevent radical liberal groups from taking Missourians’ tax dollars and imposing burdensome government regulations.

“There was a massive loophole called ‘sue and settle’ that has been hurting Missourians for years, and I’m glad the EPA has joined me in stopping this harmful practice,” said Congressman Smith.

The wasteful “sue and settle” process occurs when a federal agency accepts a lawsuit from an outside advocacy organization and then, rather than defend itself, the agency settles the lawsuit out of court in a closed-door agreement.

“Sue and settle” agreements usually involve the U.S. taxpayer paying attorney fees for the radical organization. Between 2009 and 2012, these lawsuits resulted in more than 100 new regulations and tens of millions of tax dollars spent on compliance costs.

Under the Obama Administration, there were almost twice as many settlements as there were during both President Bush and President Clinton’s Administrations combined.

In his announcement, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, “The days of regulation through litigation are over. We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress. Additionally, gone are the days of routinely paying tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to these groups with which we swiftly settle.”

Like Smith’s legislation, the EPA’s directive removes the incentive for outside groups to sue the federal government by barring the federal government from paying the attorney’s fees in any environmental law case arising under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, or the Endangered Species Act.

Congressman Smith has a track record of success in fighting against the sue and settle practice. In March, Smith introduced the Stop Taxpayer Funded Settlements Act with seven cosponsors. This legislation was attached to the Interior Appropriations Bill and approved by a bipartisan majority. The bill passed on September 14, 2017.

“It’s wrong for Washington to leave the ‘sue and settle’ loophole open and waste Missourians hard-earned money paying attorney fees for radical environmentalist groups and other radical, left wing organizations,” said Congressman Smith. “I’m proud that my legislation to fix this problem was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and that the EPA is following suit with closing this harmful loophole.”

==Special Offer==
Buy More Save More at 1-800-PetMeds - Up to $20 off + Free Shipping (Expires December 31, 2018)
==Special Offer==

Stabilizing Individual Health Insurance Market Deal Reached

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced he and Sen. Patty Murray (R-Wash.) have reached a short-term deal to offer bipartisan legislation to stabilize the individual health insurance market and begin to lower the costs of premiums, so all Americans have access to health insurance.

“Our legislation is based on the four bipartisan hearings and other meetings that our committee held last month and engaged nearly 60 senators,” Alexander said. “According to witnesses at our hearings and according to the Congressional Budget Office, without these cost-sharing reduction payments, premiums will rise, the debt will increase by $194 billion over ten years, and up to 16 million Americans may find themselves living in counties where no company sells insurance in the individual market.”

Alexander continued: “Witnesses also testified that one way to lower costs for consumers is to give states more flexibility than the Affordable Care Act now allows to design health insurance plans give consumers more choices. We have purposely limited our proposal to these two things -- first, two years of temporary cost-sharing payments, and, second, amendments that would give states meaningful flexibility in using section 1332 innovation waiver that is already a part of the Affordable Care Act.”

“Only about six percent of Americans get their insurance in the individual market. It’s about 18 million people, but every single one of them finds their health insurance important, and every single one of them is terrified by the skyrocketing premiums and possibility that they may not able to buy insurance at all if we don't act. The best course is to take this limited bipartisan first step that to avoid the chaos that could occur during 2018 and 2019 if premiums continue to skyrocket and millions of Americans find themselves without a way to purchase health insurance.”

“Imagine yourself, a 45-year-old songwriter in Tennessee who loses her job, has three kids, and goes out into the individual market and finds out she can't buy health insurance because no company is offering it. If we do not act, this is the kind of consequence we are talking about.”

“Senator Murray and I hope that we can present this legislation to Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer, with the support of a significant number of senators. We hope that it will pass, the House of Representatives will agree to it, and the president will sign it. I have had encouraging discussions with President Trump, who called me on two different occasions encouraging me to work with Senator Murray to come to a bipartisan agreement. I'm grateful to him for that encouragement and I'm grateful to her.”

Sen. Murray has been fighting for a bipartisan path forward on health care for months. Since the start of the year, she has met with countless patients and doctors at hospitals and community health centers across Washington state to gain valuable insight, and she was pleased to invite Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to testify at a recent Senate hearing.

In her speech today on the Senate floor, Sen. Murray applauded efforts by Senators—on both sides of the aisle—to reach an agreement: “I hope [this] will set the health care discussion in Congress on a very different path than the one we’ve seen for the last seven years.”

Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Vice President Bill Hoagland and Health Policy Director Katherine Hayes made the following statement:

“We applaud the tireless efforts of Sens. Alexander and Murray to reach bipartisan agreement on a near-term insurance market stabilization proposal. Earlier this week, the administration notified insurers that the government will no longer make payments to cover the cost of cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) that insurers must provide to lower-income enrollees. Under the law, insurance companies are required to waive or reduce deductibles and co-pays for lower-income Americans enrolled in the insurance marketplaces. The payments to insurers are designed to cover those costs. Without these payments, health plans will increase premiums for all Americans, including middle-income families whose health insurance premiums have become increasingly unaffordable in some marketplaces. Likewise, many states are working to address the premium increase just two weeks before open enrollment in the marketplace begins on November 1.

“We are encouraged that these leaders have come together to address the real near-term challenges that millions of Americans, and state governments, are facing to access affordable health insurance coverage. We know this was not an easy compromise. Swift congressional action on this package could help pave the way for broader, fundamental reforms to health care in America. We believe those reforms can and should be made in a bipartisan basis, and our group of 10 is working to reach our own consensus on the parameters of legislation we believe could be advanced with broad, bipartisan support next year.

“Key components of the bipartisan compromise in the Senate include an authorization of funding for the CSR payments through health plans for years 2018 and 2019. In addition, the proposal provides flexibility to states to make health plans more affordable by offering a lower-cost ‘copper plan,’ a ‘catastrophic’ policy designed to help offset costs for those with very high medical expenses. Finally, the proposal would offer additional flexibility requested by states to pursue other options to make health insurance more affordable. These short-term proposals announced today share many similarities with proposals released by our group in September. We hope this compromise will pave the way for longer-term solutions.”

White Supremacists Target Immigration Lawyers

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- On Saturday, October 14, 2017, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) was targeted by members of a white supremacist group who attempted to hang a banner on the façade of our building in Washington, DC, decrying the Dreamer movement in the name of “Identity Evropa.” A witness confronted two trespassers, causing them to flee. With help from additional bystanders, the banner was removed and the crime was reported to the police. AILA will work with local police to review footage from external security cameras in an effort to identify those involved.

Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director, stated: “For more than 70 years, AILA and its members have fought against xenophobia and advocated for laws and policies that honor America’s proud history as a nation of immigrants. Sadly, there has been a dramatic and disturbing increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric and racially charged scapegoating and stereotyping of immigrants. Too many politicians seem willing to pander to this kind of fear and hatred and too few are willing to stand up against it. In this environment our mission and the work of our members have never been more important. This incident comes on the heels of inflammatory and derogatory statements by Attorney General Jeff Sessions towards immigrants, asylum seekers, and the attorneys that represent them. The Attorney General's remarks were irresponsible and wrong. However, AILA and its members will not be deterred or distracted from our work and our mission to stand by America’s immigrants and to advocate for fair and just immigration laws and policies, by those who peddle fear and hatred. Not today, not ever.”

Related News:

White Supremacist Group Hangs Banner Over American Immigration Lawyer's Association Downtown Office

Lawyers Targeted By White Supremacists

Broken Promises and Delayed Trade Actions Threaten U.S. Factory Jobs

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- As presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. But President Trump hasn't done so amid a trend of conflicting trade messages including delayed steel and aluminum imports investigations and the unbalanced trade deficit.

Those mixed messages took center stage Tuesday when the Treasury Department kept China on its "watch list," according to its semi-annual Report on the Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States.

The Department of the Treasury issued this Report on developments in international economic and exchange rate policies and submits it to Congress pursuant to the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, 22 U.S.C. § 5305 and Section 701 of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.

“Treasury is actively working to make sure that American workers and companies can compete on a level playing field and succeed. This Administration remains vigilant to ensure that trade is free, fair and reciprocal with our partners. We will continue to monitor foreign exchange policies for unfair currency practices which adversely impact all Americans.” stated Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin.

Treasury has established criteria specified in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (the "2015 Act") that determine whether enhanced analysis is necessary. Pursuant to the 2015 Act, Treasury has found in this Report that no major trading partner met the criteria for the current reporting period.

Similarly, based on the analysis in this Report, Treasury also concludes that no major trading partner of the United States met the standards identified in Section 3004 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 for currency manipulation in the first half of 2017. Notwithstanding, Treasury has not re-examined previous reporting periods.

Additionally, U.S. Department of the Treasury established a "Monitoring List" of major trading partners that merit close attention to their currency practices. Treasury finds that five major trading partners warrant being placed on the Monitoring List for special attention: China, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Switzerland.

The findings and recommendations of the Report are intended to combat potentially unfair currency practices and support the growth of free and fair trade. The United States cannot and will not bear the burden of an international trading system that unfairly disadvantages our exports and unfairly advantages the exports of our trading partners, whether through imbalanced macroeconomic policies or unfair trade barriers. Treasury is committed to aggressively and vigilantly monitoring and combatting unfair currency practices.

Said Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul:

"The president campaigned on China's predatory trade practices and the massive trade deficit, but when given the chance to make real change, he just delays.

"I appreciate Treasury's hat tip surrounding the massive trade deficit with China, but until that gap shrinks, it won't mean much to America's factories.

"Meanwhile, our workers are suffering. President Trump shelved the Section 232 steel and aluminum imports investigation and prompted a flood of imports.

"At least two steel mills in Pennsylvania are facing layoffs amid soaring steel imports. The Chinese government has done almost everything possible to bolster its own steel and manufacturing industries at the expense of our own, and it is becoming a make or break point for U.S. steel makers.

"American factory voters were promised a pinch-hitter. Trump will fill that position when he steps up to the plate and restores factory jobs through steel imports and trade deficit action."

Paul shared expanded remarks on China's trade practices before a House Ways and Means subcommittee on U.S. trade relations in the Asia-Pacific late last week.

New Arrivals! Enjoy Half Prices for All New Arrivals at! Time to Renew Your Wardrobe!

The Free Speech Fairness Act

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Alliance Defending Freedom recently sent a letter to congressional leaders on behalf of more than 4,000 religious leaders to inform Congress of the results of a new scientific poll showing that 91 percent of pastors want the freedom to speak freely from the pulpit without the threat of government penalties.

The LifeWay Research poll of 1,000 Protestant pastors, conducted Aug. 30 to Sept. 18, shows that 91 percent agree that “pastors should have the right to speak freely from the pulpit without the fear of being penalized by the government.” In addition, 73 percent agree that “Congress should remove the IRS’s power to penalize a church because of the content of its pastor’s sermons.” The poll has a margin of error of approximately 3.2 percent.

“America’s pastors don’t need a federal tax agency to police their sermons,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Churches and their pastors have a constitutionally protected freedom to decide for themselves what they want to say or not say. This poll demonstrates that religious leaders don’t want to be burdened by the continual threat of an IRS investigation and potential penalties based simply on what they say from the pulpit.”

“As our letter to Congress explains, the Free Speech Fairness Act would bring the law into conformity with the First Amendment and restore free speech to our nation’s churches,” Holcomb added. “It will fix the Johnson Amendment, a restriction enacted in 1954 that was never intended to affect churches but has been used to intimidate them ever since.”

The Free Speech Fairness Act allows statements to be made in the ordinary course of a 501(c)(3) organization’s regular and customary activities, so long as the organization does not incur more than minimal incremental costs. Thus, the legislation respects free speech without allowing tax-exempt organizations to purchase political ads for or against a candidate for public office. It was introduced in the House by Reps. Steve Scalise (R-LA, 1st) who is Catholic, and Jody Hice (R-GA, 10th), who is a Southern Baptist pastor, and in the Senate by Sen. James Lankford, (R-OK), who is co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus.

“For over sixty years, Section 501c(3) of the Tax Code (the ‘Johnson Amendment’) has forced churches to surrender First Amendment freedoms in exchange for a tax status and empowered federal bureaucrats to dictate what pastors may not say from their pulpits…,” the ADF letter states. “It’s time for Congress to restore a pastor’s right to free speech. The Free Speech Fairness Act does just that. This bill stops the IRS from being speech police, and allows pastors to speak—or not speak—as their conscience requires. America’s pastors have asked for this legislative fix, and you have the opportunity to restore their First Amendment freedoms by including this bill in tax reform.”

According to a Family Research Council Issue Brief, The Johnson Amendment is a tax provision that prevents 501(c)(3) organizations from participating in political campaigns on behalf of, or in opposition to, a candidate for public office. The Johnson Amendment is an unconstitutional restraint on free speech, and is a tool the IRS uses to threaten and censor the First Amendment free speech rights of churches, charities, and their leaders. The Johnson Amendment was passed in 1954 and since then, has caused great confusion and concern regarding what tax exempt organizations and their leaders may say about moral issues and political candidates, partly because of the IRS’s inconsistent enforcement of the law.

In fact, the IRS has even been inconsistent in individual cases. For example, the IRS investigated a tax exempt organization called Catholic Answers because it posted two e-letters questioning whether a presidential candidate who supported abortion should present himself for Holy Communion. Following its investigation, the IRS imposed a fine through excise taxes totaling $101.93 for publication of the two eletters, claiming they violated the Johnson Amendment. However, the IRS later reversed its assessment of the taxes and refunded the fine to Catholic Answers with interest, saying that the political activity was not “willful and flagrant.”

The Illinois Family Institute, which called for constituents to encourage their congressmen to support the Free Speech Fairness Act, stated in a press release, "Some of our best voices in the nation are being silenced when it comes to discussing the critical issues facing the country. It just so happens that every Sunday you can hear one of these voices speaking from the pulpit about salvation and the Bible and Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, too often those preachers fear wading onto ground that is deemed “political.”

Here’s the problem, though. These days almost everything is being made into a political issue – and that’s being done on purpose by those that wish to see an ever-growing government and an ever-shrinking private sector. When everything is politics, then issues like life, marriage, adoption, euthanasia (the list goes on and on) become off limits for discussion inside the church."

The FRC further reported, "For about a decade, pastors have willfully and flagrantly disobeyed the Johnson Amendment on Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a Sunday that is designated each year for challenging the Johnson Amendment, and sent their sermons to the IRS, inviting investigation. However, the IRS has not revoked a church’s tax exempt status for endorsing candidates or political positions from the pulpit.

In 1995, the IRS did revoke The Church at Pierce Creek’s tax exempt letter because the church purchased full-page advertisements in national newspapers. However, because churches are not required to apply for tax exempt status, revocation of the church’s tax exempt letter had no lasting effect on the church’s tax exempt status. Later, in 2005, All Saints Episcopal Church received a letter from the IRS after the pastor criticized President Bush and the Iraq war. But, in 2007, after two years of investigation, the IRS closed the investigation without revoking the IRS letter, but indicated it thought the church was wrong.

These investigations and letters regarding possible violations of the Johnson Amendment continue to have a chilling effect on free speech.

Moreover, organizations like Americans United for Separation of Church and State use the Johnson Amendment as a tool for threatening churches into self-censoring regarding political issues. During election seasons, these organizations send churches letters threatening to report the churches to the IRS if the Johnson Amendment is violated."

Specifically, the Free Speech Fairness Act addresses the shortcomings of the Johnson Amendment, which in 1954 was inserted into the Tax Code by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson. The Johnson Amendment prohibits nonprofits and churches from engaging in any activity that might be interpreted as participating in, or intervening in a campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, a candidate for public office, including a simple oral or written statement. During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump frequently expressed his desire to fix the Johnson Amendment.

Lankford (R-OK) introduced the Free Speech Fairness Act (S.264) on February 7, 2017, as "a bill that gives nonprofits and houses of worship the freedom to speak about government or electoral activity without the threat of retribution from the Internal Revenue Service".

“The federal government and the IRS should never have the ability to inhibit free speech,” said Lankford. “The Free Speech Fairness Act is needed to prevent government intrusion and suppression of free speech by removing a restriction on speech that has existed since 1954. The First Amendment right of free speech and right to practice any faith, or no faith, are foundational American values that must extend to everyone, whether they are a pastor, social worker or any charity employee or volunteer. People who work for a nonprofit still have constitutional rights to assembly, free speech, and free press.”

This bill applies to all entities organized and operating under section 501(c)(3) of the Tax Code. But this legislation would not turn nonprofits and churches into political action committees. The legislation is specifically crafted to maintain the prohibition against 501(c)(3) organizations contributing money to candidates or campaigns.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

Sam's Club

Trump Administration Faces Lawsuit over Transgender Military Ban

Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Trump Administration has moved to have one of four different lawsuits dismissed so far. ABC has reported that the "DOJ argues that because the policy has not been fully implemented and none of the plaintiffs 'face a current or imminent threat of injury during the interim period while the policy is being studied,' it should be dismissed."

The National Center for Transgender Equality and seven other transgender advocacy organizations have filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender service members.

Under the policy tweeted by President Trump in July and formalized in August, the Pentagon must develop a plan to begin purging transgender service members from the military by March 2018. The eight plaintiffs of Doe v. Trump allege that the ban violates their constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

NCTE argues in the brief that President Trump’s ban is the result of anti-transgender animus. Rather than being based on facts and legitimate government interests, the ban serves only to harm and disparage a vulnerable population for no reason other than who they are. The brief demonstrates that this attack on transgender people is part of a clear pattern of hostility and discrimination by the Trump administration, which has gone out of its way to dismantle civil rights protections for transgender people and promote anti-transgender bias and misinformation.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling issued the following statement:
NCTE is proud to support the plaintiffs in this case. They represent thousands of qualified service members who are set to be purged from the military simply because of who they are. President Trump’s efforts to ban transgender people from serving in the military serves no legitimate purpose. Unfortunately, this is what we have come to expect from the Discrimination Administration. The President’s decision must not stand.

Related News:
Transgender military personnel sue Trump over service ban

Five transgender members of the U.S. military including Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans sued President Donald Trump on Wednesday, challenging his ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces.