All Articles For Church and State

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Mr. Lanting, a member of Cornerstone Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. May the State of Vermont exclude same-sex couples from the benefits and protections that its laws provide to opposite-sex married couples? That is the fundamental question we address, a question that the Court well knows arouses deeply-felt religious, moral, and political beliefs…. We hold that the State is constitutionally required to extend to same-sex couples the common benefits and protections that flow from marriage under Vermont law. Whether this ultimately takes the form of inclusion within the marriage laws or a parallel “domestic partnership” system or some...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. IRS Requires Substantiation for Charitable Contributions The new law disallows a deduction for any contribution of $250 or more that is not substantiated by a written acknowledgement from the charity. IRS Revenue Procedure 90-12 (1994) The treasurers of our churches, schools, and denominational organizations should be aware of new IRS rules regarding charitable gifts effective for 1994. The new rules declare that no charitable deduction will be allowed for gifts in excess of $250 unless the taxpayer provides the IRS with a written receipt from the...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. “To obey the Establishment Claus, it was not necessary for the University to deny eligibility to student publications because of their religious viewpoint. The viewpoint discrimination inherent in the University’s regulation required public officials to discern the student newspaper’s underlying philosophic assumptions respecting religious theory and belief. That course of action was a denial of the right of free speech and… undermines the very governmental neutrality the Establishment Clause requires.” Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, U.S. Supreme Court (1995) (majority opinion) “[The student newspaper in question...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. The [Milwaukee voucher] program does not involve the state in any way with the school’s governance, curriculum, or day-to-day affairs. The state’s regulation of participating private schools, while designed to insure that the program’s educational purposes are fulfilled, does not approach the level of constitutionally impermissible involvement. Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Majority Opinion (June 10, 1998). Early this summer, the Wisconsin Supreme Court gave the school voucher movement its most significant legal victory. In a landmark 4-2 decision, Wisconsin’s highest court surprisingly ruled that the controversial...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. Those of us who wrote Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act are . . . terminally ill people who believe it is our right—not the government’s—to decide when and how our lives should end. -Geoff Sugarman, Oregon Right to Die (1994) The Oregon Death with Dignity Act, a ballot initiative ostensibly enhancing the freedom of dying patients, is in fact a frightful license for physicians to prescribe death, free from outside scrutiny and immune from possible prosecution—all in the name of a humane and dignifies death. Relief...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. We cannot accept the view that Amendment 2’s prohibition on specific legal protection does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights. To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability upon those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint. Romer v. Evans, U.S. Supreme Court (1996) (Majority opinion). The Court’s majority opinion contains grim, disapproving hints that Coloradans have been guilty of “animus” or “animosity” toward homosexuality, as though that has been established as Unamerican. But I...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. We disagree with the claim that the distinction between refusing lifesaving medical treatment and assisted suicide is “arbitrary” and “irrational.” Granted, in some cases, the line between the two may not be clear, but certainty is not required, even if it were possible. By permitting everyone to refuse unwanted medical treatment while prohibiting anyone from assisting a suicide, New York law follows a long-standing and rational distinction. Vacco v. Quill, U.S. Supreme Court (June, 1997). In the last decade or so, the U.S., Canada, Britain, and...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) gains visibility In November of 1993 President Clinton signed into law an important law insuring a significant degree of religious freedom under the First Amendment. Although the law was supported by post religious organizations, it nevertheless took two years of debate and political maneuvering before it passed both houses of Congress. The RFRA was passed lay Congress in response to the notorious 1990 Supreme Court decision in the case of Employment Division v. Smith. In that case a bitterly divided court held...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. “Because they present issues of such profound spiritual importance and because they so deeply affect individuals’ right to determine their own destiny, the abortion and right-to-die cases have given rise to a highly emotional and divisive debate. In deciding right-to-die cases, we are guided by the Supreme Court’s approach to the abortion cases…which provide powerful precedent…” “Those who believe stronly that death must come without physician assistance are free to follow that creed; be they doctors or patients. They are not free, however, to force ther...

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Mr. Lanting, a member of South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, is a practicing attorney. “Oregon’s Assisted Suicide Act withholds from terminally ill citizens the same protections from suicide the majority enjoys. In the process, it has lowered standards and reduced protections to a degree that there is little assurance that only competent terminally ill persons will voluntarily die. The majority has not accepted this situation for themselves, and there is no rational basis for imposing it on the terminally ill.”  Lee v. State of Oregon, U.S. District Court,  Aug. 3, 1995. Oregon’s Suicide Law In November of 1994, Oregon voters...

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