SELECTED SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE (SLI) CASES AND ACTIVITIES
- Ex parte State of Alabama ex rel. Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program - In 2015, efforts to establish same-sex marriage were taking place in many jurisdictions, including the State of Alabama. Anticipating the potential for overturning Alabama’s Marriage Statute and the Alabama Constitution provision establishing marriage as between one man and one woman, a petition for writ of mandamus was filed with the Alabama Supreme Court to instruct state officials that marriage is only between one man and one woman. That court ruled in a detailed historically based opinion the constitutionality of the statute and the constitutional provision. However, subsequent to that, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex marriage is legal, thereby overturning all state laws and overruling the Alabama Supreme Court opinion.
- Alabama - Religious Freedom Amendment - In 1997, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act Unconstitutional. The high court declared the "protection" provided by the act was more appropriately left to individual states. In the 1998 Regular Session, the Alabama Legislature passed an Alabama Constitutional Amendment written by SLI. SLI worked with legislators and diverse groups to get the bill passed providing legal opinions and when necessary, providing testimony. The bill was voted on by citizens in November, 1998. The purpose of the law was to protect churches and citizens from state regulation of religious activities. SLI has used it in several situations.
- Chandler v. Siegelman - An SLI attorney represented Governor James in a similar case. The U. S. Supreme Court recently upheld the Court of Appeals decision recognizing student-initiated religious speech in public schools.
- Public School Prayer - SLI has handled many phone calls for help and guidance from parents and public school teachers and officials. Numerous letters have been written and conferences held with school officials. We are demanding all public schools respect students' religious rights. An example of our efforts is that after SLI demands, the Dothan High School Show Choir was allowed to perform two religious songs in their 1997 Christmas program after initially being forced to remove them under pressure from school officials. The choir was to sing ten songs: eight secular, two religious. School officials demanded that the religious songs be removed. Several students and parents thought their rights were being violated and called SLI. SLI contacted the school board and threatened to file suit in order to protect the students' religious and free speech rights.
- Judge Roy Moore Appeal - SLI joined with other attorneys and Christian legal organizations to write separate Amicus Curie Briefs ("Friend of the Court Briefs") defending Judge Moore's constitutional right to display the Ten Commandments and pray in his Etowah County courtroom. The Alabama Supreme Court dismissed the case.
- United Methodist Church of Verbena v. Chilton County Board of Education - High school seniors wanted to use Verbena High School Auditorium for a Baccalaureate Service, which was denied. A lawsuit was filed and the Federal Court issued an Order requiring the county to permit the use of the school, finding the county had discriminated against the church and seniors.
- Duffy v. City of Mobile - Duffy, a street preacher in Mobile, was arrested after witnessing and proselytizing on the streets of Mobile. A city ordinance denied him that right. After attempts for an amicable resolution, the city refused. The Alabama Court of Appeals ruled the city ordinance denied too much protected speech and was held unconstitutional, restoring Duffy's right to witness and preach on the street.
- Green Track v. ALCAP - Gambling interests sued in state court, Dr. Dan Ireland, Gary Palmer and others who had opposed gambling in Alabama. In response, SLI filed a federal court lawsuit alleging violation of constitutional free speech and political rights. The federal court swiftly moved to stop the state action and unequivocally protected these important constitutional rights.
- Church of Scientology v. Watchman Fellowship, Craig Branch, et al - This was a very complex case filed in California. Scientology was seeking to stop Craig Branch and the Watchman Fellowship from exposing it as a cult. A court Order was entered favorable to Watchman. Watchman is continuing its ministry.
- Christian Schools and Home Schooling - In 1997, an SLI attorney served on the Governor's Task Force that amended Alabama law establishing the right of students who had attended Christian schools or home schools to transfer into public school without losing credit. In 2000, a lawsuit was filed by SLI to enforce this law against the Bibb County Board of Education.
- Religion in the Workplace - SLI has provided legal assistance to many employees whose religious rights have been restricted or prohibited in the workplace. This includes governmental offices, such as a sheriff's office, as well as employees of public universities.
- Pro-Life Legislation - After seven years of SLI legal support, bill drafting and testimony, two pro-life bills were passed into law, viz., the post-viability abortion ban and the partial-birth abortion ban. The former forbids abortion after the unborn child reaches viability, i.e., able to live outside the mother's womb. The latter forbids the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure at any time during pregnancy.
- Woman's Right to Know - In 2001, SLI prepared legislation on "informed consent". This SLI written provision would guarantee that women and girls seeking abortions will be provided with sufficient literature and medical information about their pregnancy and the implications of having an abortion. With this information, women will be able to understand that the "fetus" they are carrying is in reality a baby, a human being. SLI will provide legal opinions, testimony and drafting for proposed legislation.
- The Natural Death Act - For two years, lobbying groups attempted to pass legislation that would not have contained adequate safeguards for "end of life" situations. Having failed at those efforts, the "Mrs. Correan Salter" lawsuit followed (see below). For the next two years, legislative efforts were directed toward amending the Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney statutes. As a result of the SLI's position and the efforts of pro-life legislators, acceptable changes in the bills were negotiated ad Governor James signed them into law. The new "Advance Directive" law explain when and how food, water and medical support can be removed and when a "health care proxy" can be appointed or a surrogate decision made.
- In Re Correan Salter - Family members tried to remove food and water from an elderly, semi-comatose woman. She would have died from dehydration and starvation. The Baldwin County Court ruled that food and water could not be removed. SLI provided representation to Mrs. Salter. Providentially, Mrs. Salter died naturally, shortly after the case was concluded.
- Pro-Life March - The City of Birmingham denied a parade permit for the very first Pro-Life March. A federal court lawsuit resulted in a permit being issued and a march of several thousand pro-lifers.
- Abortion Clinic Protest - Sidewalk counselors and demonstrators at abortion clinics have been constantly legally harassed in Alabama. SLI has provided legal representation in all of these legal actions, including the existing one under the new federal "F.A.C.E." law that seeks to stop all effective communication outside abortion clinics.
- Houser v. Planned Parenthood - Planned Parenthood applied for $500,000 of state money for its abortion clinic. A case ultimately decided by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals denied the funding.
- Tucker & Lucero v. Alabama - Two abortionists said the state could not regulate their clinics. An SLI attorney representing the state obtained a court order, upheld on appeal, requiring their regulation.
- Auburn Gay and Lesbian Association - SLI represented the Auburn University Student Government Association when it refused to recognize a homosexual group as an approved on-campus student organization. Despite our vigorous protest, the university administration required recognition.
Note: In most SLI examples, names of individuals have been omitted.
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