Let's find out. The law itself is fairly short, so instead of "amplify[ing] what this bill really is in the legislative process," let's go over the text together and see whether it would "protect . . . a Christian florist who denied service to a gay couple."
The central text of the law is this:
But his answers to other questions were less clear. Mr. Pence did not directly answer whether the law might protect, for example, a Christian florist who denied service to a gay couple. Asserting that the legislation was not about discrimination, he said, “The issue here is, you know, is tolerance a two-way street or not?”
There's been much national ado about a new Indiana law billed as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics say is intended to protect business owners who want to eject gay customers from their shop. Not so! Says Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who, back when it was more in vogue to openly disdain homosexuality, tried to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage. "We're going to continue to explain it to people who don't understand it," said Gov. Pence on Sunday, "and if possible, we will find a way to amplify what this bill really is in the legislative process."
The crack team at ABC's This Week pressed the governor for the law's effect on gay discrimination, and he was, unshockingly, not forthcoming about it. Says the New York Times:
A state action, or an action taken by an individual based on state action, may not substantially burden a person's right to the exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a law or policy of general applicability, unless the state or political subdivision of the state demonstrates that applying the burden to the person's exercise of religion is (1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest and (2) the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.
The law also clarifies some of its mushy wording with these definitions:
"Burden" means an action that directly or indirectly . . . compels a person to take an action that is contrary to the person's exercise of religion.
In other words: no law can force a person to do anything contrary to their religion, no matter how bizarre or anachronistic the belief, unless the law is absolutely the most important possible thing that a government can do and cannot do it in any way less restrictive to religious practice.
Now, obviously trying to apply this law is impossible. There are 19 major world religions with 270 different major subdivisions and tens of thousands of minor subdivisions. No Indiana law can force any adherent of any of them to do anything they personally consider their religion to disfavor unless the law is absolutely of the highest priority and burdening their religious belief is literally the only way to do it. Best of luck to Indiana going forward.
Now the hypothetical: would the bill protect "a Christian florist who denied service to a gay couple?" Yes, obviously it would. Lots of Christians consider having even a transient, arm's-length interaction with a gay person to be absolutely antithetical to their religious belief. The law would absolutely protect them, and would cancel in full any law that tried to force them to do otherwise. But is "tolerance a two-way street" as Gov. Pence argues? Would this law protect a gay florist who denied service to a Christian couple? No. There is, as far as I know, no secret gay religious cabal that discriminates against Christians that would gain protection to do so under this law. Such discrimination would not be a protect religious belief. Discrimination under this law is plainly a one way.
Mell Watt, Director of the Housing Finance Agency, suggested recently that we're coming to an end of HARP and federal loan modification assistance:
"when we look at more recent lending practices, there shouldn't be a need for these kinds of programs."
Yet, in-house modifications seem to be more and more common based on the growing rationale (that housing advocates have known for years): "We find more value from a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac perspective, and from a lender and borrower perspective, is if we have a borrower paying, keeping that person in the home is best for all the parties," said Robert Koller, Fannie Mae director of credit risk management.
You do have statutory rights in Minnesota when pursuing loan modification.
Attorneys at Drewes Law regularly consult with homeowners seeking relief. If you or someone you know is seeking modification assistance, please contact an attorney at Drewes Law for a free consultation.
Law school was not a good idea for lots of its graduates. I've been over and over and over this, but here's more from the Wall Street Journal:
My analyses show that employment patterns for the Class of 2010 have improved only marginally during the four and a half years since law school graduation. Unemployment still stands at 6.3%, and one fifth of the graduates still work in jobs that require no law license. The percentage of graduates working in law firms has stagnated at just 40%, while the percentage of solo practitioners has leaped. 10 These outcomes contrast markedly with those for the Class of 2000. Although a recession shadowed the early years of that class’s employment, the 2000 graduates substantially bettered their positions as they moved into their careers. That type of progress did not occur for the Class of 2010.
Is the writing on the wall for the lawyer glut? And are college seniors literate enough to read it?
The 6th Circuit just put a derailed Fair Debt Collection Practices Act class action lawsuit back on track.
The district judge in Wise v. Zwicker & Associates dismissed a suit against Zwicker, a debt collection law firm, that alleged it had illegally collected attorney's fees from countless consumers. Zwicker pointed to the original contract between Plaintiff Dawson Wise and the creditor, which stated the contract would apply Ohio law, which allows these attorney's fees, even though Wise lives in Utah. Wise argued that the court should ignore the Ohio law section of the contract because it was written and included unilaterally by the bank without any input from Wise. The 6th Circuit did not agree with Wise outright, but agreed that there were not enough facts in front of the district judge to make the decision yet.
The case has been sent back to the district judge for further review.
The Federal Trade Commission, a sentient government agency whose seal pictured here hides a visage both calm and eternal, wrote a letter early last month to its best-friend-for-life the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau relating the grand time it had enforce federal debt collection laws over the last year. The results are extremely meager.
In 2014, the FTC filed a record-breaking ten (10) lawsuits enforcing the FDCPA, which doesn't sound like much. It is not. While it won $140 million in judgments, a cool two-thirds of that is an unpayable $90 million judgment against Asset & Capital Management Group, a scam collection agency that the FTC shut down permanently in August 2013 and has been suing every since. So far it has collected $16.5 million of the $140 million total, nearly 12% of the money awarded. Sounds like the FTC could use some help with their accounts receivable.
It also banned "47 companies and individuals that engaged in serious and repeated violations of law from ever working in debt collection again." That's almost one in every state! Wowza!
Considering the FTC has just 1,131 employees as of December 2011 who oversee the federal government's entire department on anti-competitive practices and financial abuse, the fact that they could spare the time for 10 lawsuits against only the most flagrant and egregious of collectors is pretty nice.
Consider hiring more people at the FTC.
Bennett Hartz is an associate attorney at Drewes Law, PLLC who defends against debt collection and foreclosure. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of a March 5, 2015 segment on mortgage foreclosure, PBS Newshour highlighted the incredible frustration homeowners have understanding their options and enforcing their rights. The stories and emotions of the homeowners--or former homeowners--are very common.
The key takeaway: if you or someone you know is facing possible foreclosure, no matter what part of the process, seek assistance from an attorney that can help.
Jonathan Drewes and Caitlin Guilford are both attorneys at Drewes Law, PLLC, offering free consultations to assist homeowners understand their rights and options concerning Minnesota foreclosure. Call for an appointment today: 612-285-3051.
The LSAT, the law school admissions test that sticks like a dislodged brick in the cobblestone path of every prospective lawyer, just took a shot across the nose. Two law schools, The State University of New York-Buffalo and the University of Iowa College of Law, will no longer be requiring their applicants to submit an LSAT score with their application.
I've written about the dismal legal job market before. In fact, I've done it several times. That job prospects for young lawyers are dismal has trickled its way into common knowledge. Applications are way down. Schools are lowering their expectations for applicants, other schools, like Hamline University School of Law and William Mitchell College of Law, are merging to pool student bases and resources. And now some are doing away with the biggest barrier to applicants besides a college degree and 150 bucks of student loan money: the entry test.
New York-Buffalo is ranked 100th in the U.S. News Law School Ranking, so their elimination of the test is sure to get them the increase in applicants they need. But Iowa is ranked 27th, a fairly respectable spot (though comfortably behind my own Golden Gophers at #19), so their intention is a bit more mysterious.
The LSAT is an excellent test of an applicant's aptitude for law-type thinking, and its an easy screener to keep people who shouldn't be sitting for law school from incurring the debt. Why schools would cut it, other as a bald move to increase their application pool, I do not know.
If you want to go to law school, take the LSAT.
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