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Government Must Protect, Not Curtail, Beliefs of Religious Nonprofits

Rutledge: Government Must Protect, Not Curtail, Beliefs of Religious Nonprofits

Thu, Jan 21, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with 20 states to file an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the contraceptive mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, infringes upon the right of religious nonprofits. The brief was filed in Zubik v. Burwell, which has been consolidated with six other cases at the Court.

“Religious freedom was deeply rooted in and served as a guiding force for our nation’s founding,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Yet some would prefer to ignore the sincerely-held religious beliefs of nonprofits and force them to act inconsistently with those beliefs. Federal law does not allow this, but instead guarantees them the freedom to exercise their religious beliefs. Many nonprofits throughout Arkansas and across the country provide care and hope to countless individuals and communities. As Attorney General, I will not sit idly by while a political agenda from Washington D.C. assaults the faith and convictions of religious nonprofits.”

Led by Texas, Arkansas joined along with Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

In the brief, the attorneys general argue, “the states’ commitment to guarding the dignity of religious convictions is reflected in the states’ own laws. Each State constitution protects religious liberty, and some include protections that go beyond rights recognized under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. And twenty states statutorily protect religious liberty from government intrusion, as does the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The amici states thus have a substantial interest in protecting religious exercise from governmental intrusion. That interest is even more acute when religious practice is burdened not by congressional enactments, but by federal executive directives that do not pursue their ends in the manner least restrictive of religious liberty.”

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The EPA Should Withdraw the MATS Rule

Rutledge: The EPA Should Withdraw the MATS Rule

Thu, Jan 21, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) supplemental finding on costs.

“The EPA should withdraw this supplemental finding and perform a complete analysis of the costs utility consumers will have to bear,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Last summer, in Michigan v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court said that the EPA could not ignore costs when imposing MATS regulations. The agency’s supplemental findings, which are an attempt to sidestep the Court’s regulation, will affect electric utility ratepayers.”

In addition to her own comments, Rutledge also joined comments from the State of Michigan, which assert: “To weigh the Rule’s benefits and costs, the EPA must compare and balance them, not simply identify them. The EPA must revise its analysis to weigh the benefits and costs and assess whether there are any positive net benefits. Then, based on that revised evaluation the agency must determine whether regulation is ‘appropriate.’”

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332 Years in Prison for Crimes Involving Children

Rutledge: 332 Years in Prison for Those Sentenced for Crimes Involving Children

Wed, Jan 20, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the 2015 statistics from the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit.

Law enforcement officers arrested six individuals from across the State for crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children, along with assisting 24 local law enforcement agencies in getting these criminals out of cyberspace and out of our neighborhoods.

Agents also trained law enforcement officers at local and national conferences to provide instruction on digital forensic investigations.

“Agents in the Cyber Crimes Unit work diligently to find the predators and bring them to justice,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas children are put more and more at risk through rapidly changing technology. The number of cyber crimes continues to rise as these offenses have no geographic, age, race or economic boundaries.”

The unit closed 11 cases. One case led to a jury trial, while 10 entered into plea agreements, resulting in a combined 332 years behind bars for offenders.

Attorney General’s office staff members have also given over 500 community presentations with many of those focusing on Internet safety and anti-cyberbullying practices to students across Arkansas. Over 34,500 printed materials have been distributed by the office with many featuring Ellie, the eagle, to guide students through using the Internet safely, as well as the Parents Guide to Internet Safety.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s office Special Investigations Division also serves as the national Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Arkansas (NCMEC). Officers investigated 152 leads in 2015 and took information on 50 new missing children. The NCMEC Tipline is (800) THE-LOST (843-5678).

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Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear Immigration Case

Rutledge Statement on Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear Immigration Case

Tue, Jan 19, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant certiorari in the challenge to President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

“The President’s decision to use executive action to bypass Congress to expand and modify the deferred action program goes beyond the scope of the law – something the President said himself multiple times,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am confident when the Court decides this case, it will uphold the rule of law and establish important precedent with regard to presidential power.”

Arkansas joined the coalition in December 2014, at the request of then Attorney General-elect Rutledge, along with Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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Decision to Not Hear the Human Heartbeat Protection Act Case

Rutledge Statement on the United States Supreme Court’s Decision to Not Hear the Human Heartbeat Protection Act Case

Tue, Jan 19, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to grant her request for a writ of certiorari to uphold the constitutionality of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act.

“I am disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to not grant certiorari,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act was passed by the elected legislators of this State and was a reasonable way to protect the lives of more unborn children. The Court should have granted certiorari to change its current doctrine that prevents a State from prohibiting abortions until later in pregnancy. Arkansas and other states have a profound interest in defending the life of the unborn and as Attorney General, I had a duty to fully defend this statute.”

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The King Holiday is a Day of Remembrance and Active Service

Rutledge: The King Holiday is a Day of Remembrance and Active Service

Mon, Jan 18, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement today in observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked tirelessly to bring freedom and justice to all,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today, in communities across Arkansas and this nation, we will pause, reflect and celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. King. His dream of equality for citizens across this country is one that we must never forget and continue to strive to improve. The King holiday is not only a day of remembrance but also a day of active service to those who need it most – those Dr. King would have regarded with compassion just as we should. Today, and every day, let us remember Dr. King’s words: ‘the time is always right to do what is right.’”

Rutledge will attend and give remarks at the Arkansas Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission’s Interfaith Prayer Breakfast from 6:45-8:30 a.m. at the UALR Jack Stephens Center.

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