Thomas Jefferson Goes to College: Separation of Church and State on College Campuses

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” Thomas Jefferson said that when explaining the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to a Baptist Church. His statement was rather clear and powerful. The United States was not to be run by a specific religion. As history states, we were fleeing from a country that persecuted others for having differing beliefs. The separation of church and state should not be an issue because, who would want government to be involved with worship and worship involved with government and administration? But, it is an issue. In today’s world, our cultural, social, and religious differences are thrown into a vat to create the “melting-pot” America is, but just has oil and water do not mix no matter how hard you shake the bottle, religion and law are not a perfect mix. Our society often has trouble defining when or in what circumstances does one take precedence over the other. 

The perfect case to state my point is Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010). In this case a Christian organization wanted to be established as a university recognized group but in order to maintain that status, the organization was required to abide by the university’s nondiscriminatory policies. The CLS organization has strict rules to become a member. One must provide specific written evidence stating that one believes in God, His word, His son, and that Jesus died for our sins, etc. In addition, the CLS bylaws state that they must not allow anyone who engages in shameless homosexual behavior or holds religious convictions different from those in the Statement of Faith. Martinez, a gay student at Hastings College, wanted to be a member of the Hastings CLS chapter. As the bylaws stated, CLS denied him because he was, in fact,  a male who liked other males. 

Martinez complained to the university due to his rejection that was blatantly discriminatory, and the University denied funding and affiliation for the Christian Legal Society at the Hasting Campus. The CLS immediately sought after legal help because they felt as if their First Amendment rights were being violated because the university was denying them funding due to their beliefs. The supreme court ruled 5-4, that the non-discriminatory clause in the University bylaws was neutral and reasonable, meaning that it applied in general, to everyone, and was fair. Because of this, the First Amendment rights of religious practice were not violated.

Justices Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Chief Justice Roberts had a differing opinion. Their dissentstated: “Today's decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country's institutions of higher learning.”

Ultimately, the majority ruling established a solid directive. Rules that are applied, should be neutral and reasonable.  Because the CLS chapter is at a public university, it can continue to practice its bylaws and meet its religious standards but cannot be affiliated with the university. That is not violating a right, that is drawing a line on what is appropriate and acceptable for a large institution filled with individuals from many walks of life. 

An example is the CRU organization at Auburn (oh, yeah, I go to Auburn.)

Campus Crusade for Christ is an interdenominational Christian organization. It is allowed to be university affiliated because it includes ALL people, no questions asked.

Another example is the Black Student Union at Auburn University. It was created to represent the interests and concerns of black students on Auburn’s campus and community. Although its main purpose is to highlight black students, the union welcomes all people of all races, cultures, genders, sex, etc. 

The bottom line is, to be affiliated with Auburn University, you must be inclusive and non discriminatory. But to practice what you believe, it is your right. 

In conclusion, church and state must remain separate or else we will begin to violate other constitutional rights and when other constitutional rights are broken we will lose our structure. Law will no longer have its stability and will always be subject to opinion and belief and that is a recipe for disaster. Thomas Jefferson and his constituents knew the result of mixing faith with law. They suffered the consequences, they fled a country demanding lives due to its intolerance. Our society has been so focused on building a wall, well, let’s make sure the wall between church and state remains in place and strong as ever. 

 

This article was written by Sydney Johnson, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns and President of the intern program.

Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban in a Win for National Security

 

In a narrow 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court voted to uphold President Trump’s travel ban on Muslim-majority nations. Even Trump seemed surprised by the announcement, tweeting an exclamatory “Wow!” (see here). Sticking to Trump’s campaign promises, the ban restricts nationals from five Muslim-majority countries from entering into the United States. The third of its kind, the Trump administration had made major alterations to the policy after lower courts invalidated two previous attempts. The saying, “third time’s a charm” couldn’t be stated at a more accurate time. 

Though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the ban, there was tremendous backlash from politicians and the general public alike. A majority of the opposition traces its roots to hues of discrimination against Islam - a seemingly direct violation of the First Amendment. The state of Hawaii was one of the main voices of opposition to Trump’s policy, stating that the ban exceeded the President’s authority stated in the Constitution and under immigration laws. Others argue that statements the President has previously made regarding Muslims, terrorists, and Islam reveals a personal prejudice Trump has towards the religion and an attempt to eradicate it through the travel ban. With the still fresh backlash against the court’s firm stance with the First Amendment from the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the court was quick to jump on these claims and address them head on. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, stating that the ban was "squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the INA," and that “an anxious world must know that our Government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks to preserve and protect.” 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented claiming, "It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a 'total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States' because the policy now masquerades behind a facade of national-security concerns." Though respectfully Ms. Sotomayor is advocating for the Islam religion and those seeking refuge from a place many couldn’t imagine, she is overlooking the greater good that she was sworn in to protect. Without these restrictions, the possibility of our society being threatened on domestic soil would grow with each passing day.

The travel ban remains constitutional whether or not politicians agree. To say that the travel ban is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment’s assurance of religious freedom would mean that it should ban all religions seeking to take root in the United States, not just Islam. The First Amendment does not discriminate against certain religions, though many are staking their reputations on trying to paint that picture. If this were the case, how would we select which religion is permitted and which is restricted? The Islamic religion has believers that are some of society’s most beneficial and reputable citizens. Our society probably wouldn’t function as efficiently without its great Muslim leaders. Unfortunately Islam doesget a bad reputation because of certain radical believers, and the banned countries are known hotbeds for radicalism. America is composed of diverse people groups that claim just as many diverse religious practices. The Supreme Court’s ruling of 5-4 is not a question of allowing or disallowing Muslims into the United States; it is a question of national security. 

 

This article was written by Megan Gambrill. Megan is one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns and a student at Auburn University.

Analysis: In the Wake of the North Korea Summit

President Trump has done what no other president has been able to do: secure a meeting with the leader of North Korea. President Trump has touted that denuclearization is the goal but that is a wish from an alternate universe. This meeting has come about with no real consequences for either side. From the outside, this looks like a great photo op for both President Trump and Kim Jong-Un. 

President Trump can battle back against those who shout from the rooftops that he has caused chaos around the world by meeting with the most atrocious leaders in modern times in hopes of denuclearizing his military. For Kim Jong-Un, a photo-op with the President of the United States is a great ignitor for a propaganda fueled machine that North Korea is running. Other than the great visual each leader will get, their respective goals will not be met. North Korea will not ship all of their scientists and nuclear weapons on a plane and say goodbye to the one asset that has made them a global worry. 

The first thing that should happen is a declaration that both nations recognize the Korean War is over. This is lurking tension that has plagued the Korean Peninsula and much of the region for decades now. The looming threat that North Korea will attack South Korea has previously been set aside as Kim Jong-Un finally met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, both crossing the border into each country in a strong message of unity. An agreement that would symbolically put to rest the unease would instantly make this meeting a success, even without nuclear disarmament. 

Second, an agreement to alleviate North Korea from the United States’ hostile policies in exchange for an honest commitment from North Korea to denuclearize.[1]Much of North Korea’s GDP is spent funding their military while the rest of their society suffers greatly. In fact, more than 40% of the population is believed to live below the poverty line. To put that in clear U.S Dollars, the estimated monthly income is $2 to $3. [2]

Unfortunately, what came from this was the public image benefit and a vague agreement for North Korea to commit to denuclearization in exchange for security provided by the United States. [3]Not surprisingly, many nations have expressed positive reactions. Most certainly, anytime a meeting such as this happens when, prior to, there were no channels of communication, positive reactions are warranted. To have five hours of talks with Kim Jong Un is an extraordinary feat in and of itself. [4]

It will be interesting to see how the two major political parties react. A large group of Republicans had previously chastised then President Obama for even mentioning that he would be open to discussions with North Korea, at a time where nuclear testing had caused scare around the world. Now, many of those same Republicans have hailed President Trump as the one who can unite the world and praising him for his actions that no other president could do. However, Trump said that the goal is opening up channels to discuss future possibilities and to believe that North Korea would give up what is ultimately its only bargaining chip is highly unlikely and will take time. [5]

Democrats will likely attack the hypocrisy of those now supporting President Trump but lashed out against President Obama. MSNBC believes that President Trump has now harmed relationships with allies and done so at the expense of the cruelest despot in decades. [6]It has also been said that President Trump came out a loser to this meeting and was essentially played by North Korea. [7]The belief was that this meeting didn’t even need to happen. [8]

How this affects the elections is unclear. As party politics blindly lead those who proudly flaunt their party affiliation, not much can be said. This meeting, one which should be celebrated for the mere fact of opening up communications with a despot in hopes of creating peace and ending a war that has lasted half a century, should be accepted with open arms. If any political repercussions, Democrats will likely look petty, complaining about something that no sitting president has ever accomplished. To state that Trump came out a loser is to look at the issue in a wholly wrong light and is a transparent example of party affiliation dictating the beliefs of individuals.

Since Trump stepped into office, Democrats have stated that the President of the United States is the leader of the free world and must act as such. President Trump has done that which no other so called leader of the free world has done and is acting on behalf of all nations. South Korea benefits by having the Korean War ended after over half a decade of war and threats of attack. The unrest in the entire area helps Japan, China, and other nations. The world benefits as a whole when a despotic ruler commits to disarming. North Korea citizens benefit as this opens up avenues for possible trade and an overall better quality of life by opening up to other nations. For an example, look no further than Japan in 1850 to the early 1900s, after Japan ended its isolationist policies. To suddenly limit the scope of this meeting and only evaluate the implications to one nation when the entire world is watching and will garner benefits is likely to reach some voters in a negative light. 

 

This article was written by Dallas Coleman, one of the attorneys on staff at Reid Law Firm.

 

[1]https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/heres-how-trump-can-win-big-north-korea-summit

[2]https://borgenproject.org/poverty-in-north-korea/

[3]https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/trump-kim-jong-un-meeting-summit/index.html

[4]https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/11/politics/trump-kim-summit-singapore/index.html

[5]http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/06/11/trump-to-meet-kim-jong-un-for-one-on-one-at-historic-summit.html

[6]http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/-another-blow-to-allies-trump-to-stop-war-games-1253729859995?playlist=associated

[7]http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/did-kim-get-more-out-of-summit-than-trump-1253699139776?playlist=associated

[8]http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/did-kim-get-more-out-of-summit-than-trump-1253699139776?playlist=associated

Market Freedom Could Save Lives

Every year, people in the U.S. are diagnosed with several organ diseases and dysfunctions, some fatal. These conditions are reliant on one thing; replacements. Replacements are the only long-term solution to alleviating such detrimental action to the body by parts that are quickly failing, but not everyone is so fortunate to receive “subsidized” organs. In most cases, we see that due to the high amount of new diagnoses of organ related illnesses, that there are simply not enough organs that are being donated.

Statistics show that 77 people register for an organ donation daily. To an uninformed reader, this statistic may seem low and manageable. However, there are currently over 92,000 people on organ donor waiting lists with an additional 37,000 added every month. This large number leads to a ridiculous waiting period for these precious life savers, and we continue to lose an average of 18 patients a day on these waiting lists. Excluding death, most patients are in time sensitive circumstances that are directly affecting the health of their body. Even when the “lucky” ones are fortunate to get a transplant, the surgery is usually so late that the patient will either not be saved by the transplant, or the patient will live with long term health effects because of the damage that has already been done to his body. 

What we’re missing is an incentive for people to donate. Due to the value in organs, we would see a much larger market if organs were sold rather than just donated anonymously.  Allowing donors to receive a monetary incentive would lead to a substantial increase in people receiving transplants due to the large plethora of healthy organs. This could potentially save tens of thousands of lives and would be arguably more economically beneficial for the overall spectrum of organ patients. While most would be compelled to sell their organs, some would still generously donate their organs for someone who couldn’t afford their organs, allowing those who can’t afford to pay to receive organs from a substantially less crowded waiting list. Other economic factors would be basic supply and demand economics that would show the decrease in prices of various organs.

There is also the safety component of a legal and medically approved free market system. As with most other illegal products, there is a black market for organs within the U.S. and around the world. Most of these black-market deals involve fraudulent people who are taking advantage of their client’s dire situation by selling them either nothing at all, or an organ that doesn’t meet the criteria to adequately help their client’s needs. If made legal, you would see a medically vetted system that would only allow healthy organs to be sold. This was the case in Iran, which is the only country in the world that legally allows people to sell their liver. Within a few years after the law’s implementation, waiting lists in Iran were almost completely eliminated, and there was a substantial decrease in the black market for organs.

Discussions will remain about the safety and moral implications of selling organs for profit. However, everyone is likely to agree that the current system is broken and significant reforem needs to be enacted. 

 

This article was written by Brad Robinson, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns and an incoming freshman at the University of Alabama.

New Challenges Faced by Family Lawyers

Family law is drastically changing with time. New developments in custody and divorce cases and changes in the legal profession in general present family law with a growing set of challenges. Reid Law’s Radhika Patel outlines some of the biggest issue facing family law practice today…

With an abundance of lawyers in the market, the average divorce lawyer has a harder time finding a job now than he or she would have fifty or sixty years ago. Also, significant developments in technology have forced family lawyers to adapt to new trends in sales and marketing. Family law will always be relevant due to the continually arising issues that families face, but those same lawyers must work twice as hard to keep clients in today’s market. 

Alabama law specifically states that the custody of a child in a divorce case can go to either the father or mother after consideration of character and stability of both parents and age of all children present. With many factors to help determine which parent a child should go to, the decision can be difficult for the court. However, no one factor is more relevant than another. All factors are taken into account and carry the same weight. If one particular parent is at fault for any type of misconduct, the decision can be based upon that factor. If the misconduct affected the child in any negative way, the child will usually go to the other parent. Financial earnings do not serve as a decision making factor. There is no financial requirement that needs to be met in order for either parent to receive custody of the child. A major reason it becomes difficult for the court to take a stance on child custody cases is because often the parents are both good people and are both equally capable of taking care of the child. In cases like this, the decision is made in the best interest of the child. In the state of Alabama, joint custody is preferred over sole custody. The court wants to give children the opportunity to be raised by both their parents if both are capable of raising the child. With joint custody, one parent is usually given primary custody while the other is given visitation rights. It is important to hire a lawyer when dealing with child custody because there are numerous factors that go into the decision of the court. It is advisable to seek the help of someone experienced and qualified to aid in presenting one’s side in the best way possible. 

The government cannot prevent divorce, but there are numerous ways to lower the rate of divorcees happening each year. Mike McManus, a religion columnist, has spent majority of his career in turning broken marriages into successful ones. He feels that in order to lower divorce rates, two people wanting to get married should completely evaluate each other before marriage to see if they are right for each other. McManus tells the story a graphic designer and businessman that were planning to get hitched, but before they were able to marry, with their pastor’s suggestions, they took a test with 165 questions that pertained to their personalities. After both people took the test, they broke off their engagement. This shows that even though the government cannot prevent divorce, there are ways to prevent bad marriages. The laws regarding divorce and child custody are as efficient and relevant as they can be; they side with the best interest of all parties involved. After reading about the rules and regulations involving divorce/child custody law, I do not believe there is a need to make any major changes to them. The government does the best of their ability to make sure justice is served to everyone. American law regarding divorce, interracial, and same-sex marriages has come a long way. People are given the freedom to marry who they want to and the power to separate from people they do not feel are right for them. The American government is powerful and serves in the best way possible for its citizens.  

 

This article was written by Radhika Patel, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns and a student at UAB.

            

What is it Like to Work at the Reid Law Firm?

Working at Reid Law Firm is a unique experience to say the least. It is a great experience for someone interested in law or politics to participate in solving real world problems and gain knowledge regarding their field of interest. In doing so, my fellow interns and I will leave with valuable experience that will help us in our private and professional lives. Mr. Reid is truly a selfless individual who impacted so many different people’s lives. One example would be me personally. A week before my interview with Mr. Reid, I was in a terrible car accident that left me with great damage to my neck, back, and rotator cuff, in addition to a severe concussion. All of these factors rendered me incapacitated and completely unprepared for my interview. I explained this to Mr. Reid over the phone, and he immediately expressed his sympathy and was more than happy to reschedule the interview to a more convenient time. When I arrived for the interview Mr. Reid seemed very concerned about my injuries and was very personable. He instructed me to write an assignment on the DACA predicament and provided extra time due to my recovery stages.

Another example of Mr. Reid’s good samaritan selflessness is the case of Kyle Nuss. Mr. Nuss, a 28 year-old army veteran who served our country honorably and with cystic fibrosis, has been fighting an uphill battle for survival his entire life.  Mr. Nuss’ medical bills has accrued to the hundreds of thousands of dollars due to his condition’s severity and he stays in the hospital on an average of four times per year. Kyle’s father, who shared the same first and last name as Kyle, unexpectedly died the same time Kyle was enduring one of his lengthy hospital stays. The federal government confused Kyle Nuss Sr. as Kyle Nuss Jr. and legally declared him dead without doing a thorough investigation into the matter. This action caused Kyle’s Medicaid, social security, and disability benefits to be terminated. When Mr. Reid was approached by Kyle’s family to help, he was completely heartbroken by this and immediately agreed to accept Kyle as a client for no charge whatsoever. Chris has gone above and beyond  trying to procure compensation for his client. He has contacted multiple political and media outlets to circulate Kyle’s story and started a gofundme page to help pay for Kyle’s expenses.

These actions demonstrate that being a lawyer is more than just a job, it’s a calling. I honestly believe that Chris Reid embodies the best traits of being an attorney and a servant to the people. His firm reflects this. The people I have worked with have been kind and helpful, and all seem genuine in their work, and want to help people. This attitude is a new revelation to me. The first couple of jobs I had in high school seemed to consist of people who were oblivious and neglectful of their duties, were just looking for ways to cheat, and did just the bare minimum to get by. But things are different at Reid Law Firm. The caliber of people dedicated to public service is bar none and can’t be compared to any other group. I have thoroughly enjoyed working here, and will continue to do so for as long as I can.

 

This article was written by Brad Robinson, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns.