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DOJ Sides With Church in Lawsuit Against City’s Ban on Feeding the Homeless

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feeding the homeless

The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest Tuesday in a lawsuit against an Oregon city’s ordinance stopping a church from feeding the homeless more than two days a week.

St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Brookings, Oregon has been providing free lunches to homeless people and others in need since 2009. Initially, the church offered the free meals one day a week, but as the homelessness crisis worsened in the city, St. Timothy’s expanded its program. Between 2015 and 2020, the church gave meals every Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, as well as every other Monday.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered other free meal services in the city, and St. Timothy’s expanded its program to fit the need, according to the DOJ. The service grew to five or six days per week. St. Timothy’s provides over 210 hot meals every week, according to its website.

READ MORE: ‘Worst Advice Ever?’: Tennessee Senator Tells Homeless They Still Have Hope, Because, Hitler

A neighbor of the church, however, complained to the city, saying they were concerned about “public safety and the personal expenses of homeowners living next to the church.” Another neighbor objected to how the church “hand[ed] out food all day and let transients hang out there and stroll over to the park to hang out,” according to the DOJ statement.

The neighbors brought Brookings officials a “Petition to Remove Homeless from St. Timothy Church.” The petition alleged “multiple crimes” had been committed by those the church had been helping, but the only crimes cited were littering and one instance of mail being stolen. In response, the city of Brookings passed a new ordinance requiring groups providing “benevolent meal services” to get an additional permit, and limited the distribution of meals to only two days per week at most.

St. Timothy’s sued the city, saying that the ordinance ran afoul of its First Amendment rights. Church officials said their religious beliefs compelled them to feed the hungry “when the need exists,” according to the DOJ. The Rev. James Bernard Lindley, vicar of the church, said he saw the program as “acts of worship critical to my Christian faith.”

“It is my deeply held religious belief that feeding the hungry, respecting the dignity of every human being, and building community are necessary acts during our time on Earth,” Lindley wrote in a declaration as part of the lawsuit.

The DOJ’s statement of interest urges the court to dismiss Brookings’ request for summary judgement. Brookings did not demonstrate a “compelling governmental interest” to limit the meal program, nor is it the “least restrictive means of protecting the city’s identified interest,” the statement says.

“Many churches and faith-based organizations across the country are on the front lines serving the critical needs of people experiencing hunger and homelessness,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “Discriminatory zoning restrictions that burden and limit religious organizations’ use of their land violate federal antidiscrimination laws. The Justice Department is committed to enforcing federal civil rights laws to ensure that all religious groups can freely exercise their religious beliefs.”

Featured image by Elvert Barnes via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons license.

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At the White House Johnson Says Biden Must Use Executive Orders After Calling Them ‘Gimmicks’

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Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson says President Joe Biden must issue executive orders to address the southern border, just days after scoffing at claims the President was considering using his executive authority, calling those orders “election year gimmicks.”

Republicans, with the assistance of – and some say, at the direction of – Donald Trump derailed a bipartisan  border bill several weeks ago.

Although the House is still on vacation, Speaker Johnson attended his first White House meeting with President Biden on Tuesday, along with Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

The President’s goal in gathering the congressional leaders together was to find a way to avoid a government shutdown, which will come after midnight Friday if the House and Senate cannot agree and pass legislation to fund the government.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the meeting “one of the most intense” of his career.

READ MORE: Democratic Senators Now ‘Daring’ Republicans to Block IVF Protections: Report

Schumer, McConnell, and Jeffries are all united in the need to pass legislation to help Ukraine battle Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal war.

Often after these meetings participants will hold a joint press conference outside the White House but Johnson opted to speak to reporters alone.

Defiant, and in opposition to the President, Leaders Schumer, McConnell, and Jeffries, Johnson declared that the southern border must be fixed before he could support funding critical military aid to Ukraine.

Pointing to “discussion about the supplemental spending package,” referring to the military aid bill, Johnson told reporters (video below): “I was very clear with the President and all those in the room that the House is actively pursuing and investigating all the various options on that, and we will address that in a timely manner.”

READ MORE: ‘How Extremism Is Normalized’: Schlapp Furious as Critics Slam CPAC Over Report of Nazis

“But again, the first priority of the country is our border and making sure it’s secure. I believe the President can take executive authority right now today to change that. And I told him that again today in person, as I’ve said to him many times, publicly and privately over the last several weeks, it’s time for action. It is a catastrophe, and it must stop and we will get the government funded and we’ll keep working on that.”

Last week, Politico reported Johnson, in addition to his “election year gimmicks” remarks, said: “The president suddenly seems interested in trying to make a change using the legal authority that he claimed until recently didn’t exist.”

Watch Johnson below or at this link:

Watch the videos above or at this link.

 

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Democratic Senators Now ‘Daring’ Republicans to Block IVF Protections: Report

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Democratic Senators led by U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) will ask unanimous consent on Wednesday to pass legislation to protect in-vitro fertilization (IVF), after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled frozen embryos are “children.” Immediately following that ruling, some medical facilities that offer IVF services paused those practices over fear they could be prosecuted.

“I warned that red states would come for IVF, and now they have. But they aren’t going to just going to stop in Alabama,” Senator Duckworth said Tuesday during a press conference announcing the legislation, The Hill reported. “Mark my words. If we don’t act now, it will only get worse.”

Many House and Senate Republicans quickly came out to claim they support IVF after the Alabama ruling, some at the direction or urging of Donald Trump and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), despite having voted for legislation that claims human life begins at conception. Because IVF can involve discarding frozen embryos, discarding them could put fertility clinics and physicians at risk, under the Alabama ruling.

Senator Duckworth has a PhD in human services and is the first U.S. Senator to give birth while serving in office. She “had her two daughters via IVF,” Axios reports, and “says that under Alabama’s ruling, her doctor’s decision to discard her non-viable embryos with her consent would’ve potentially been considered manslaughter or murder.”

READ MORE: ‘Conspiring With Putin’: Democratic Congressman Brings the Hammer Down on Jim Jordan

Over the past two years Sen. Duckworth has supported or sponsored legislation to protect IVF and “other assisted reproductive technology (ART) services.”

On Tuesday Duckworth announced “she’ll seek unanimous consent tomorrow in Senate on her bill to protect the right to IVF nationwide,” reports CBS News’ Scott MacFarlane. “She is quite noticeably daring Republican US Senators to attempt to block it.”

CNN reports, “The Life at Conception Act – which was introduced in January 2023 by GOP Rep. Alex Mooney of West Virginia and has 125 total Republican sponsors in the House, including House Speaker Mike Johnson – defines the term ‘human being’ to include ‘all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.'”

In one of numerous examples of incongruence between their stated claims and voting record, CNN adds that “GOP Rep. Michelle Steel of California, who represents a Biden-won swing district, was one of the Republicans who came out quickly on social media to express support for IVF and share her own struggles with infertility. She also said she opposes any federal restrictions on the procedure.”

“But Steel is also a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act — which Democrats have been quick to point out. Steel’s office has not yet returned a request for comment on how she squares those two positions, nor have other House Republicans who expressed support for IVF while being co-sponsors of the House bill.”

READ MORE: ‘How Extremism Is Normalized’: Schlapp Furious as Critics Slam CPAC Over Report of Nazis

Republicans have been “scrambling to contain the fallout” after the Alabama Supreme Court ruling, Reuters reported.

“Recent polls conducted by Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway, who worked in the Trump White House, and shared with Reuters showed widespread support for IVF and fertility treatments, even among those who oppose abortion,” Reuters added. “According to Conway’s firm, 85% of all respondents and 86% of women support increasing access to fertility-related procedures and services for individuals facing challenges in conceiving, including 78% of people who consider themselves anti-abortion and 83% of evangelicals.”

In 2022, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) killed Sen. Duckworth’s legislation to protect IVF, after objecting to it being passed by unanimous consent.

Watch below or at this link.

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‘Conspiring With Putin’: Democratic Congressman Brings the Hammer Down on Jim Jordan

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U.S. Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-NY) is going after Jim Jordan, alleging the House Republican Judiciary Chair is “conspiring” with Russian President Vladimir Putin after posting a lengthy 2477 word diatribe that includes the thoroughly debunked “Burisma” claims even after the source of those claims, now-indicted former FBI source Alexander Smirnov, acknowledged it was propaganda fed to him from Kremlin officials.

“There are too many false statements in this fiction novel to address here, but it’s shocking that @Jim_Jordan continues to promote the Burisma hoax even after he learned that it was falsely peddled by Putin,” charged Congressman Goldman, an attorney and former federal prosecutor.

“Jordan is now conspiring with Putin to interfere in the Nov election,” Goldman alleged.

As NCRM reported last week, legal experts have been warning House Republicans if they continue to assert what Special Counsel David Weiss stated in a court document are false claims, including that Joe Biden and Hunter Biden each took $5 million bribes, they could be subject to conspiracy charges.

READ MORE: ‘How Extremism Is Normalized’: Schlapp Furious as Critics Slam CPAC Over Report of Nazis

The U.S. Dept. of Justice “must investigate whether and when Grassley, Comer or Jordan knew that Smirnov was spreading Russian disinformation,” Congressman Goldman, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted mobsters and Russian organized crime, declared Wednesday. “But now that it’s public, Comer and Jordan clearly will be conspiring with Putin to interfere in the election if they continue with this bogus impeachment.”

It’s not only Goldman.

Last week well-known former federal prosecutor of 30 years, Glenn Kirschner, also warned Republicans.

“I think the big question now is, what will the Republican members of Congress do now that they know that these are lies that they have been peddling as ably-assisted by Fox News? Will they continue to peddle those lies?” he told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, “I heard Congressman Daniel Goldman on this network earlier this evening, saying something that I am in agreement with. He said that if members of Congress now continue to peddle knowing lies that are a product of Russian propaganda and disinformation, they should be criminally investigated for being part and parcel of a conspiracy to defraud the United States and to interfere in our elections.”

Attorney Maurice Ross on Friday wrote: “Joe Biden and Hunter Biden should sue Comer, Jordan and Grassley for defamation. The Speech and Debate Clause should not immunize willful slander. Further, the FBI and Justice Department should prosecute them for conspiracy with Russia to engage in treason.”

Last week Congressman Goldman appeared on MSNBC to discuss how Republicans promoting Russian disinformation might be criminally exposed.

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Republicans Want to Cancel Biden State of the Union: ‘No Reason We Need to Invite Him’

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