It has been a busy news day!
- By a vote of 8 to 1, the Supreme Court today upheld the First Amendment by ruling that the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church may continue to picket the funerals of American soldiers. The decision ended a lawsuit by Albert Snyder, who sued church members for the emotional pain they caused by showing up at his son Matthew’s funeral. Our First Amendment right to free speech is the one freedom upon which all other freedoms hinge, so I must respect the court’s decision. But the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church members are appallingly shameful. Many thanks and kudos to those patriots who show up at the funerals of our servicemen and women in order to buffer grieving families from protesters. I hope these protesters acknowledge that their freedom of speech is preserved by the valiant service of those they deride. View the full AP story on Yahoo News.
- Yesterday, the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (which is chaired by Senator Bramble) passed the rushed SB288 omnibus immigration reform bill (sponsored by Senator Bramble). Read the full story at the Daily Herald website. Among other contortions, this bill asks the governor to petition the federal government for a waiver to allow a state-run guest worker program for illegal immigrants residing in Utah — that is, Utah will ask the federal government for permission to break federal law. And if we don’t get permission? The bill will go into effect anyway. Does it bother anyone else that those who are making the law are breaking the law?
- The Provo City Council has nixed its discussion of a proposed truancy ordinance that would allow police to stop, question and detain children who are off school grounds during school hours. Read the full story at the Daily Herald website. It was even suggested that any child outside of school should carry a pass from their school or parent at all times. The proposal prompted home schoolers to picket the council. According to news reports, Provo has 210 cases of truancy that warrant court action. When one considers the many thousands of students attending Utah County schools this number seems very small indeed, and certainly does not warrant inconveniencing the thousands for the sake of a couple of hundred. A more efficient, surgical approach would be wiser – one that focuses on having the police work with the schools and parents directly on known truancy problems.
- Check out HB354, Insurance Amendments Relating to Abortion (sponsored by Rep Wimmer), which passed its House committee hearing yesterday. This bill is another states’ rights shot across the bow of SS Obamacare. HB354 provides the necessary steps for Utah to block an optional provision in the Affordable Care Act passed last year; that act allowed tax-funded health insurance exchanges to cover abortions — but states are allowed to opt out of that provision. This bill provides the steps for Utah to block health insurance exchanges from covering abortions except in cases of rape, incest or if the health of the mother is in question — providing a way for Utah to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortions. See the Daily Herald article regarding three abortion bills on the move in the Legislature.