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Joe Ortwerth's
 Jeff City Update
Missouri Family E-News October 12, 2009
 
Casinos Fined for Underage Gambling
 
The Missouri Gaming Commission has fined two Missouri casinos for allowing underage gamblers.  The Commission levied a fine of $60,000 against Pinnacle Entertainment and a $25,000 fine against Ameristar Casinos. 
 
Missouri law prohibits anyone under 21 on the gambling floor.  State investigators found underage gamblers at the Pinnacle's Lumiere Place casino in St. Louis, and at the Ameristar Casino in Kansas City. 
 
Gene McNary, executive director of the Gaming Commission, says the problem of underage gambling has intensified.  He says the problem has worsened since the action by Missouri voters last November to repeal the $500 loss limit. 
 
Under the new law approved by voters, gamblers no longer have to sign up for an identification card before accessing the gambling floor.  Now, gamblers only have to present identification to a a security guard confirming their age.  State investigators say those guards are too often distracted.
 
Mark Andrews, chairman of Casino Watch, says the problem was predictable.  "There need to be changes, because the restrictions so far are not adequate.  Here we are now with it being very easy for kids to get into casinos."  As to the fines, Andrews remarked, "It's chump change.  These fines are the size of a parking ticket" for the casinos.
 
 
 
 
Anti-Porn Group Seeks Statewide Signatures
 
The nation's leading anti-pornography organization is gathering signatures in Missouri in support of legislation regulating sexually oriented businesses.  The regional office of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families is circulating the petitions. 
 
The group is seeking passage of a comprehensive bill which would restrict the location and operation of strip clubs, video arcades, and video stores which market sexually oriented entertainment or merchandise.  Legislation to crack down on sexually oriented businesses in Missouri has been considered by the General Assembly in recent years, but has failed to win final passage.
 
John Splinter, director of the St. Louis office of the National Coalition, says that the proven adverse effects of such businesses continue to be documented and upheld by the courts.   "Negative secondary effects include increased criminal activity, increased sexually transmitted diseases, increased drug trafficking, decreased property values, and general blight.  The legislation we are seeking would place constitutional time, place and manner regulations on these businesses to reduce the negative impacts on our communities."
 
You can learn more about the anti-porn petition effort by following this link:
 
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Federal Court Upholds "Under God" in Pledge of Allegiance
 
A federal judge in New Hampshire has upheld the inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling that the reference to God does not violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
 
Judge Steven McAuliffe ruled that a New Hampshire statute requiring that the Pledge of Allegiance be voluntarily recited in the state's school districts is constitutional.  Judge McAuliffe stated that the law was enacted "to enhance instruction in the nation's history, and foster a sense of patriotism...Its primary effect neither advances nor inhibits religion."
 
The state law was challenged by Michael Newdow and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, an atheist organization.   Newdow filed the suit against two New Hampshire school districts and the U.S. Congress.  The lawsuit claimed that the inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge through action of the Congress in 1954 amounted to an establishment of religion.
 
Newdow is best known for the lawsuit he filed in California on behalf of his daughter concerning the Pledge.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, famous for its outrageously liberal decisions, ruled that the Pledge violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  The U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Ninth Circuit decision, saying that Newdow did not have standing because he did not have custody of his daughter and did not have the right to bring suit on her behalf.
 
However, Judge McAuliffe concluded that the New Hampshire Pledge statute "continues the policy of teaching our country's history to the elementary and secondary pupils of this state...Patriotism, rather than support of theism over atheism or agnosticism, was the
guiding force behind the enactment of the New Hampshire Pledge statute."
 
Judge McAuliffe declared that the Pledge is "a civic patriotic statement."  His opinion states:  "The Pledge of Allegiance is not a religious prayer...and its recitation in schools does not constitute a 'religious exercise.' ...Inclusion of the words 'under God' does not convert the Pledge into a prayer...It does not address God in any way."
 
The federal judge summarized his conclusions this way:  "The Constitution prohibits the government from establishing a religion, or coercing one to support or participate in religion, a religious exercise, or prayer.  It does not mandate that government refrain from all civic, cultural, or historic references to God." 
 
Judge McAuliffe further rejected arguments that students were coerced into participating in the Pledge.  He said that the statute was clear that participation was completely voluntary.
 
Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice applauded the New Hampshire ruling.  "This is a sound, well-reasoned decision...The words 'one nation under God' simply echo the sentiments found in the Declaration of Independence and recognize the undeniable truth that our freedoms come from God...While the First Amendment affords atheists complete freedom to disbelieve, it does not compel the federal judiciary to redact religious references in every area of public life to suit atheistic sensibilities." 
 
In a related case, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal concerning a Florida Pledge of Allegiance statute.  That law requires public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day unless they have their parents' written permission excusing them.  A federal appeals court had ruled that the law was constitutional.  The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, allowing the ruling to stand.
 
 
  
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