A ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that federal law doesn’t reach onto foreign territory has prompted attorneys for a Christian pastor to ask again that a lawsuit brought by an organization of homosexuals from Uganda be dismissed.
The decision from the Supremes was that the Alien Tort Statute cannot be used to challenge foreign conduct in courts inside the United States. The ruling came down in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, but attorneys for Pastor Scott Lively say it means a claim brought against him by an organization called Sexual Minorities Uganda should be dismissed.
“We are thankful that the Supreme Court has firmly closed the door to foreign groups and their domestic allies who seek to use American courts against American citizens and to supplant the bedrock protections of the United States Constitution with their own notions of international law,” said Horatio Mihet, senior litigation counsel for Liberty Counsel and lead attorney in Lively’s case.
“We are hopeful that today’s decision will soon lead to Mr. Lively’s exoneration and the reaffirmation of the supremacy and portability of the United States Constitution.”
Mihet had explained the heart of the case against Lively is the belief that the First Amendment free speech protections should play second fiddle to an international consensus that criticism of homosexuality is criminal.
SMUG alleged Lively criticized homosexuality and that constituted “crimes against humanity” in violation of “international law” and his speech must be punished.
The plaintiffs alleged that the Alien Tort Statute in the United States allows them to do that inside the United States.
Mihet told WND earlier that he has argued all along the lawsuit was prevented by the First Amendment, which puts the U.S. Constitution at a standing higher than international law.
The case against Lively claims that by speaking in opposition to homosexuality, he was conspiring to deprive the plaintiffs of their fundamental rights.
Mihet explained that SMUG would allow people to express an opinion against homosexuality, but they would not be allowed to take any action.
Under that precedent, he said, someone petitioning in opposition to special designations for homosexuals would become an international human rights criminal. Likewise, those who worked to support Proposition 8 in California, the state’s constitutional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, would be subject to conviction, he said.
It also would target those who are working to defeat the ENDA plan in Congress, which imposes certain special protections for homosexuals in the workplace.
“All of those become criminals overnight under this theory of liability,” Mihat said.
Lively’s attorneys have explained that SMUG’s attack goes directly to the supremacy and portability of the U.S. Constitution.
“SMUG asks this United States court to punish one of its citizens, Mr. Lively, for ‘crimes against humanity’ under an international treaty that The United States has expressly rejected,” a court filing opposing SMUG’s case explained.
“Moreover, what SMUG cavalierly and conclusorily labels as ‘crimes against humanity’ – the most heinous of crimes – is actually nothing more than civil, non-violent political discourse in the public square on a subject of great public concern, which occupies the highest run of First Amendment protection,” the brief said.
The action was prompted by Lively “sharing his biblical views on homosexuality during a 2009 visit to Uganda.”
While there may have been some actions in Uganda against homosexuals, Liberty Counsel said, “SMUG alleges no plausible connection between Mr. Lively and the actual perpetrators of those alleged violent acts, and, indeed, Mr. Lively’s name is not mentioned in single time within the many pages of the complaint that describe those six events.”
SMUG is represented by the George Soros-funded Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, which even the New York Times described as left-leaning.
“[The Alien Tort Statute] is not a blanket delegation of lawmaking to the democratically unaccountable international community,” said Mathew Staver, Liberty Counsel founder. “Like all American citizens, Rev. Lively enjoys a fundamental First Amendment right to engage in nonviolent political discourses anywhere in the world.”
The case has some significant holes, Liberty Counsel contends.
“SMUG also does not tell the court that David Kato – the murdered Ugandan activist whom SMUG makes the centerpiece of this lawsuit – was killed not by an enraged homophobe incited by Mr. Lively’s protected speech, but by a homosexual prostitute upset over a failed business transaction.
“Neither does SMUG tell the court that the confessed perpetrator of this horrible crime was tried and convicted in Ugandan courts, and is now serving a 30-year prison sentence.
“And, finally, SMUG does not tell the court that, far from inciting violence, Mr. Lively has consistently condemned acts of violence and calls to violence in the strongest possible terms, and has praised the Ugandan courts for imparting justice.”
The opinion said, “”There is no indication that the ATS was passed to make the United States a uniquely hospitable forum for the enforcement of international norms. … The ATS ensured that the United States could provide a forum for adjudicating … incidents” that took place entirely in the United States, such as a domestic assault upon a foreign official.
WND also recently reported when Ugandan newssite New Vision said President Yoweri Museveni celebrated Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain at the National Jubilee Prayers event by publicly repenting of his personal sin and the sins of the nation.
“I stand here today to close the evil past, and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness,” Museveni prayed.
“We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation. We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal,” Museveni said.
“Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict,” Museveni prayed.
The president also dedicated Uganda to God.
“We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own,” Museveni prayed.