Veterans Day Teaching in Texas Public Schools Protected by Texas State Board Of Education, Religious Liberty Prevails over Federal Gov’t in Houston

November 11, 2011

Veterans & Their Families Protected in Texas by Liberty Institute:  At Liberty Institute we were honored to win a huge religious liberty case in Houston at the VA Cemetery where “God” was being banned at military funerals, in additiona to other hostile attempts censor religious expression.  Details here http://www.libertyinstitute.org/

Teaching on Veterans Day Prevails in  Texas Public Schools!  During the Texas Social Studies & History standards battle in 2010, a misguided group of teachers recommended that Veterans Day be removed from some sections of K-12 social studies.  But they wanted to add more mentions of Mary Kay Ash and some liberal members wanted more mentions of avowed Socialist, Dolores Huerta.  This outrageous effort by some groups of teachers to remove Veterans Day from parts of our social studies standards ultimately failed, because our ELECTED State Board of Education members said NO to these changes.  Our conservative leadership by the State Board of Education members, led the way on this. Find out more at www.juststatethefacts.com

Friends, THANK YOU TO ALL OUR VETERANS TODAY!!

For our continuing work, at Liberty Institute, to protect Veterans Memorials, like the Mojave Desert Memorial & Cross and the Mt. Soledad Memorial and see www.donttearmedown.com

Also, see our State Board of Education video where we helped keep Veterans Day from being taken out of some sections of the K-12 social studies standards and some pictures from the Veterans’ Day Parade in Austin.

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U.S. Senate Candidate Forum Was A Great Success

August 1, 2011

On Saturday, Liberty Institute participated in the Tour of Texas Senate Candidate Forum in Austin.  Our own Jonathan Saenz was 1 of 3 panelists asking questions to the candidates and we were able to provide our free Texas Legislative Guides to all in attendence (download the guide at http://legislativeguide.libertyinstitute.org/). The event was held at the Capitol in the extension auditorium and was packed with conservative activists, tea party supporters, 9-12 groups, and others who where very interested in learning about the candidates.  While all candidates of both parties where invited, only Republican candidates Ted Cruz, Tom Leppert, Glenn Addison, and Lela Pitttenger participated in the event. Newly announced candidate, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, did not attend the event which clearly upset some of the grassroots activists in attendance.

The panelists did a great job of delivering hard hitting questions that the audience was cleary interested in hearing the candidates’ responses to.  Questions hit on key topics of free markets, limited government, the Constitution, social conservative values, immigration, and more.  All the candidates performed well as evidenced by the standing ovation the candidates received at the end of the forum. Check out some pictures from the forum:

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After each Forum, a straw poll of the attendees has been conducted. In a surprise, Glenn Addison lead the Austin poll with 50% support, followed by Ted Cruz in 2nd place at 33%, Lela Pittenger with 12%, and Tom Leppert with 5%. In the previous 2 forums in Houston and San Antonio, Ted Cruz had lead the staw poll.  With 2012 less than a year and a half away and the primaries closer than that, we encourage everyone to continue to be engaged in the political process, paying close attention to the candidates that are jumping into races and incumbents looking for reelection.  These candidates forums are a great way to get to know the candidates running for U.S. Senate and we encourage you to attend one in your area.

Here are the dates for the remaining forums:

Waco – August 13

Plano – October 1

Tyler – October 15

For more details and to register, visit New Revolution Now’s website here.


Liberty Institute Statement on SB 7 Passage, Planned Parenthood Funding Cut

June 27, 2011

Texas Legislature Strikes At Taxpayer Funding of Planned Parenthood:

Liberty Institute Applauds Passage of Pro-life, Fiscally Responsible Bill

AUSTIN, Texas, June 27, 2011 – Earlier today, both houses of the Texas Legislature voted to approve Senate Bill 7 (SB 7), which along with other legislation passed this session, strikes at and could effectively end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood in the state. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Rick Perry for his signature, which is expected.

In regard to the vote, Liberty Institute released the following statement:

“The passing of this legislation is a defining moment in Texas history for the pro-life and taxpayer protection movement.  Texas leaders have sent a clear message-Planned Parenthood and similar abortion groups should not use taxpayer funds to support their agenda”, said Jonathan Saenz, Liberty Institute legislative director who supported SB 7 at the Texas Capitol and has provided legal analysis and advocacy efforts to support pro-life strands of SB 7.

SB 7 prevents abortion providers and their affiliates from receiving tax dollars through the “Women’s Health Program” (estimated $34 million loss for PP).  SB 7 prioritizes other funding that PP usually goes after, to give priority of funding to community-based centers that provide comprehensive primary care to women, not just “family planning”.   Planned Parenthood does not fall into this category. SB 7 also prevents county tax dollars from being used for abortion, like Travis County Healthcare District has been doing for years with approximately $450,000.

Record Vote of Senate on SB 7: http://www.journals.senate.state.tx.us/sjrnl/821/pdf/82S106-27-F1.PDF#page=3

Record Vote of House on SB 7: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/RecordVote.aspx?LegSess=821&Bill=SB7&RcdVtNo=128&Ch=H&Dt=06/27/2011

Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal and policy group dedicated to protecting freedoms and strengthening families. Visit www.libertyinstitute.org for more.


Yes, Prayer is a Protected Right, By Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute

June 20, 2011

Last week, the Americans United for Separation of Church & State, who lost their case to censor student speech at a  high school graduation ceremony, just outside of San Antonio, had their op-ed printed in the San Antionio Express News.

Our turn. http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/Yes-prayer-a-protected-right-1431271.php

This Op-ed was written by Kelly Shackelford, lawyer and President/CEO of Liberty Institute (we represented the valedictorian, Angela Hildenbrand in this case).


Liberty Institute on Fox News this Morning

June 6, 2011

I was on Fox News this morning with Angela Hildenbrand, class valedictorian and Liberty Institute client, to discuss the Medina Valley High School Graduation.  The video of the interview is below.


Sen. Cornyn: Banning Prayer at Graduation Wrong Lesson for Class of 2011

June 3, 2011

See the full statement by U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), on the Medina Valley H.S. case in Texas. http://tinyurl.com/3ey9leg

The Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS) filed a lawsuit against Medina Valley Independent School District last week on behalf of an agnostic couple whose son threatened not to attend his graduation if there was a prayer.

Our organization, Liberty Institute, has filed a court motion to protect the right of the valedictorian of the 2011 class for Medina Valley H.S., who has been censored from praying.  Find our release here. http://www.libertylegal.org/current_cases.php?category=6&article=217

In 2007, we helped pass the School Children’s Religous Liberty Bill to help protect students from this type of censorship.


Liberty Institute Files Motion To Protect Prayer of Texas High School Valedictorian

June 2, 2011

This is an update regarding the Medina Valley issue in Texas where the Americans United for Separation of Church & State has filed a lawsuit.  Attorney General Greg Abbott has also his intent to file a brief on this issue, supporting an individual’s right to pray.

Our press release on the court motion we filed, is here. http://libertyinstitute.org/current_cases.php?category=6&article=217


New Facebook Page – Please Like Us!

May 27, 2011

Update: We have added a new Facebook Widget on the side bar.  You can now “Like” our Facebook page directly from the blog!

We have recently launched a new Liberty Institute – Texas Facebook page.  The new page will focus on our Texas legislative and legal work. Please “like” our new page to follow us on Facebook and to keep up to date on our important work to defend Faith and Family in the state of Texas.  And, please share the page with your friends!

Click here to visit the Liberty Institute – Texas Facebook page.  We have also added a link on the side of the blog.

Also, I encourage you to  “like” our main Liberty Institute Facebook page and follow all of our important work around the country at: http://www.facebook.com/AdvanceLiberty


Governor signs Sonogram Bill at Signing Ceremony; Most Significant Pro-Life Bill In Over Ten Years

May 24, 2011

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At a signing ceremony moments ago, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed the pro-life sonogram bill, HB 15, into law. Liberty Institute helped lead the charge to pass the bill, which requires health professionals to show the sonogram image of the growing baby to pregnant women seeking an abortion.

Liberty Institute attended the ceremony and released the following remarks:

“We applaud Gov. Perry and the Texas Legislature for making this life-saving bill a priority, said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of Liberty Institute.  “The sonogram bill – the most significant pro-life bill in Texas in over ten years – ensures that Texas’ outdated informed consent laws now accommodate technological advances and renewed concern for women’s health and well-being. The new law will save countless lives and guarantee women receive the most complete information possible before making such an important decision.”

“This strong pro-life legislation empowers women like never before and makes sure they will not be denied critical and important information before making such a serious decision,” said Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs and attorney for Liberty Institute. “We thank Governor Perry, Representative Sid Miller, Senator Dan Patrick, and the numerous dedicated leaders in the Texas House and Senate that have made this legislation possible.”

View Liberty Institute’s full Press Release.

The Governor also released a statement:

Gov. Rick Perry today ceremonially signed House Bill 15, which requires a woman to have a sonogram before electing to have an abortion to ensure she is fully informed before making such an impactful decision. The governor designated the measure an emergency item for the 2011 Legislative Session. He was joined by Sen. Dan Patrick and Rep. Sid Miller at the signing ceremony.

“Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy we all must work together to prevent, and I commend Rep. Miller and Sen. Patrick for their hard work on this significant legislation,” Gov. Perry said. “This important bill will ensure that every Texas woman seeking an abortion has all the facts about the life she is carrying, and understands the devastating impact of such a life-changing decision.”

View the full statement: http://governor.state.tx.us/news/press-release/16168/

Video of Governor Rick Perry signing the Sonogram Bill:

The Governor also released a statement with comments from numerous Pro-Life Groups that supported this legislation, including Liberty Institute, Concerned Women for America, Texas Alliance for Life, The Heidi Group, Texas Physicians Resource Council, Texans for Life Coalition, Justice Foundation, Operation Outcry-Silent No More, Christian Life Commission, Care Net, and Republican National Coalition for Life.

View the full statement: http://governor.state.tx.us/news/press-release/16169/


Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Candy Cane Case

May 23, 2011

Moments ago, all seventeen judges sitting on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in one of the nation’s most important cases involving free speech, Morgan v. Plano Independent School District. Known nationwide as the “candy cane” case, the case’s outcome will likely determine whether or not elementary students are too young for the First Amendment right to free speech.

“The school officials are asking the court to change the law to actually allow religious discrimination for the first time in American law; the judges were very attentive and active today, and we are hopeful they will reject this radical request from the school officials,” said Kelly Shackelford, Esq., president/CEO for Liberty Institute, which represents several students and their parents in the case.

The case involves several students who were discriminated against because their speech was religious in nature, including a young boy who was singled out and banned from handing out candy cane pens with a religious message at his class “winter” party, a little girl who was threatened for handing out tickets after school to a religious play, and an entire class of kids who were forbidden from writing “Merry Christmas” on holiday cards to American troops serving overseas. On appeal, the government officials are now arguing that elementary students are too young to have First Amendment rights.

Paul Clement, former U.S. Solicitor General under President Bush (who will also represent the U.S. House of Representatives in its effort to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act), and former Solicitor General Kenneth Starr, now president of Baylor University, joined Liberty Institute by arguing for the students.

Judge Starr stated in the argument, “This is ‘cold on the docks’ unconstitutional. We come in the spirit of Barnette v. West Virginia, that school districts have the responsibility to obey the law.”

“The big surprise today in the courtroom is that now the defendants are trying to shift their argument by throwing Plano Independent School District and their representation under the bus, and that school officials have no responsibility to know that they cannot engage in religious discrimination against student speech,” said Charles Bundren, Esq., affiliate attorney with Liberty Institute.

The arguments by the government officials are so troubling that eight groups of diverse political views have filed briefs in support of the students, including conservative groups as well as the ACLU. In fact, during today’s arguments, one of the judges asked the attorney for the school officials exactly what religious speech they couldn’t ban; his answer was, ‘I don’t know.’

Liberty Institute is a public policy and non-profit legal firm dedicated to protecting freedoms and specializes in First Amendment and Constitutional cases.

For more information and to see a video on this case, visit www.libertyinstitute.org.

Audio of the oral argument will be posted online at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/OralArgumentRecordings.aspx.

For the full press release click here.


Texas Senate Redistricting Map & Budget Issues Take Center Stage in Texas House Today

May 20, 2011

Follow along here as the Texas House takes up SB 1811, SB 1581, and SB 31 (Senate Redistricting Map).

Picture of 700+ pages of SB 1811 amendments.


Liberty Institute arguing “Candy Cane Case”: Implications for First Amendment Rights of 41 Million School Children and Parents

May 18, 2011

On Monday, May 23, all seventeen judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, will hear oral arguments in a case that will determine whether elementary school children have First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. Such en banc hearings are rare and for cases of national impact.

Morgan v. Plano Independent School District, known nationwide as the “candy cane” case, involves several students who were denied their free speech rights and who were discriminated against because their speech was religious in nature, including a young boy who was singled out and banned from handing out candy cane pens with a religious message at his class “winter” party, a little girl who was threatened for handing out tickets after school to a religious play, and an entire class of kids who were forbidden from writing “Merry Christmas” on holiday cards to American troops serving overseas. On appeal, the government officials are now arguing that elementary students are too young to have First Amendment rights.

“This case will impact every current and future elementary student in the nation,” said Kelly Shackelford, Esq., president and CEO of Liberty Institute. “Everyone who is a parent or grandparent or just cares about the future of this country should be concerned. If this court rules that elementary students have no First Amendment rights, then neither students nor their parents will have any recourse against religious discrimination, like occurred in this case. It would be a massive shift of power away from citizens and families to the government.”

Paul Clement, former U.S. Solicitor General under President Bush (who will also represent the U.S. House of Representatives in its effort to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act), and former Solicitor General Kenneth Starr, now president of Baylor University, will assist Liberty Institute in arguing for the students. Judge Starr stated, “For over a half century the courts have held that children have constitutional rights.”

The arguments by the government officials are so troubling that eight groups of diverse political views have filed briefs in support of the students, including conservative groups as well as the ACLU.

View full press release.


Join Liberty Institute at Tea Party Rallies tomorrow on Tax Day!

April 14, 2011

Tomorrow, April 15th, is Tax Day and Tea Party groups all over the state will be rallying.  It is so important now that everyday citizens continue to get involved in politics and take a stand for what’s right. The time for us to work to rein in out-of-control government spending and advocate for the principles that made our nation exceptional is now! As such, we encourage you to attend a Tea Party event in your area and connect with local activists to make a difference in your community. Liberty Institute will be participating in events tomorrow in Sugar Land and Waco.  If you’re in the Sugar Land or Waco areas, we’d love to meet you. Please stop by to hear some great speakers, to get get some great information, and to just have some fun with fellow patriots!  Here is the details of the Sugar Land and Waco events:

Fort Bend County Tea Party

American Freedom Rally

Sugar Land Town Center Square/Plaza

2711 Town Center Blvd., Sugar Land, Texas

Friday, April 15th, 6-8 pm

Waco Tea Party

3rd Annual Tax Day Tea Party

Indian Springs Park, Downtown Waco

100 South University Parks Drive, Waco, Texas

Friday, April 15th, 6-8 PM


Full Video of Texans for a Conservative Budget Press Conference

April 7, 2011

Yesterday was an important day at the Capitol as conservative groups from all over the state stood together to stand for a conservative budget.  The message was simple:

  1. Cut non-essential programs
  2. Don’t raise taxes or fees
  3. Don’t go back into the Rainy Day fund

Now that the Texas House has passed HB 1, the budget must now be debated and voted on by the Senate.  Click here to find your elected officials contact information, or you can download our Texas Legislative Guide with all of Texas’ elected officials contact information at http://legislativeguide.libertyinstitute.org/

Below find video of the entire press conference.

Part1:

Part 2:


New Texas Legislative Guides Available!

March 7, 2011

Texas Legislative Guide

At Liberty Institute, one of our main goals is to educate and empower citizens to become active and engaged participants in their government.  One of our most effective tools in helping citizens become active and engaged is our free Texas Legislative Guide. The guide is a powerful tool that informs and empowers Texans on how to contact their elected officials.  It provides a large amount of useful information,  including:

  • Federal and State Directories with contact information of your elected officials
  • District maps and committee memberships
  • An overview of the legislative process at the state and federal level
  • Information on how to write, call, or email your elected officials
  • And much more

To receive the Texas Legislative Guide for yourself or for a larger group, please contact David Walls, our Grassroots Coordinator in our Austin office, at 512-478-2220.  Guides can be picked up now at our Plano or Austin offices, or we can bulk mail larger quantities.  For use on a computer, you can also download a pdf of the guide at legislativeguide.libertyinstitute.org.

Our desire is to get these valuable resources in the hands of Texans all over our great state.  It is vitally important that we regularly communicate with our elected officials.  Government belongs to those that participate!

To help keep this vital guide free, please consider making a donation to help cover the cost of the guide here.


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