1. How Parents Beat the Left in Wisconsin, By C.J. Szafir, The Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2023, Pg. A15, Opinion Despite having a new liberal majority, the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused this month to hear a challenge to the state’s school-choice programs. The lawsuit, supported by the Minocqua Brewing Co.’s progressive super PAC, would have deprived more than 60,000 students of funding. The episode carries a lesson for advocates of education freedom.  Families and school leaders were more engaged. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s brief against the lawsuit represented 22 clients, including parents and private-school leaders. Parents and students spoke out. “The new Supreme Court case will be devastating to all families . . . because it would take away opportunities from children who can’t support their education through a public school system,” Sherlean Roberts, a senior at Marquette University, told us. She attended a charter school in Milwaukee and will be the first in her family with a college degree. Wisconsin began its experiment with school choice in 1990 with a bipartisan voucher program, enrolling 341 in secular private schools in Milwaukee. The state expanded the program to include religious schools in 1998, private schools outside Milwaukee in 2011 and 2013, and special-needs students in 2016. Seventeen of the 20 highest-rated schools in Milwaukee are voucher or charter schools, according to the state’s report cards.  Brian Potts, the plaintiff’s attorney, conceded in an interview that his lawsuit would “kick out a bunch of low-income kids from schools.” School choice is part of the fabric of Wisconsin’s K-12 education system. Almost every politician has constituents for whom school choice is an animating issue, and almost every voter knows someone with a positive story about a charter or private school. School-choice advocates raised their voices and prevailed—a reminder that public policy can only be as permanent as its constituency. Mr. Szafir is CEO of the Institute for Reforming Government in Wauwatosa, Wis. https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-parents-beat-the-left-in-wisconsin-supreme-court-school-choice-fd750253__________________________________________________________ 2. Maryland 2024 referendum proposes constitutional right to abortion, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, December 27, 2023, 6:00 AM Voters in Maryland will take part in a statewide referendum next November to decide whether to make abortion access a constitutional right there. A simple majority will be required to pass the amendment when voters head to the polls on Nov. 5, 2024. The bill to propose the amendment for a referendum was passed by the state legislature with the necessary three-fifths majority in both chambers in May 2023. The vote comes as a wave of states attempt to expand abortion access by amending their constitutions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, which ended several decades of the constitutional guarantee to abortion.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256355/maryland-2024-referendum-proposes-constitutional-right-to-abortion__________________________________________________________ 3. Pope Francis: After 2,000 years the persecution of Christians continues, By Matthew Santucci, Catholic News Agency, December 26, 2023, 11:05 AM During Tuesday’s Angelus on the occasion of the feast of St. Stephen — the first Christian martyr — Pope Francis renewed his call for peace and brought attention to the persecution that Christians are facing around the world.  “Today, 2,000 years later, unfortunately we see that the persecution continues: There is persecution of Christians,” the Holy Father said to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.  “There are still those, and there are many of them, who suffer and die to bear witness to Jesus, just as there are those who are penalized at various levels for the fact of acting in a way consistent with the Gospel, and those who strive every day to be faithful, without ado, to their good duties, while the world jeers and preaches otherwise.”   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256372/pope-francis-after-2000-years-the-persecution-of-christians-continues__________________________________________________________ 4. New Yorkers will vote on making abortion an ‘equal right’ in state’s constitution, By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, December 26, 2023, 6:00 AM New Yorkers will be voting next November on a proposal to enshrine abortion rights into their state constitution. The vote comes as a wave of states attempt to expand abortion access by amending their constitutions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, which ended a U.S. constitutional right to abortion. Ohio is the most recent state to make abortion a constitutional right, with voters in the swing state overwhelmingly voting to pass an amendment in November. The official language that will be proposed to voters on New York’s Nov. 5, 2024, ballot has not yet been released.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256352/new-yorkers-will-vote-on-making-abortion-an-equal-right-in-states-constitution__________________________________________________________ 5. Supreme Court Supported Religious Freedom in 2023, This year showed us, once again, the Supreme Court is protecting America’s first freedom., By Andrea M. Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, December 27, 2023, Opinion Threats to religious freedom are becoming commonplace, especially as progressive policies brook no dissent. But there is hope. This year showed us, once again, this Supreme Court is protecting America’s first freedom. Take, for example, the Court’s unanimous ruling this summer that federal law requires covered employers to accommodate religious exercise unless doing so involves a substantial increase in the cost of doing business.  In another case decided this summer, the Court ruled the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee protects the right of artists to create consistent with their beliefs.  In addition to these two important rulings in support of religious exercise and expression, the Court agreed to hear new cases that, while not specifically addressing issues of religious freedom, most certainly could help safeguard it. In January, the Court will hear argument in Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce and Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, both involving challenges to a federal rule that requires the fishing industry to pay for the cost of observers who monitor compliance with fishery management rules. The Court will consider whether to overrule (or substantially limit) Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, which held that when a federal statute is ambiguous, courts should defer to an agency’s interpretation of that law as long as it is reasonable. Under “Chevron deference,” federal agencies can exploit vague language in statutes to justify actions that breached Congress’ original understanding of text, often to the detriment of religious Americans and faith-inspired institutions. Religious-liberty advocates have filed amicus briefs in the cases, urging the Court to overrule Chevron.  As threats to our freedoms continue, particularly under the Biden administration and like-minded state and local governments, Catholics should be prepared. But the Supreme Court this year continued its pro-religion tradition, deciding two important cases in support of religious exercise and free expression, giving us reason to be optimistic it’s a trend that will continue. Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is a legal analyst for EWTN News, and director of the Conscience Project. https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/supreme-court-supported-religious-freedom-in-2023-0019zglp__________________________________________________________

TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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