Judge Laura Cordero of the DC Court Grossly Mishandled Case Violating Numerous Constitutional Protected Rights; Judge Jennifer Anderson Being Called to Dismiss this Case
WASHINGTON, July 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today, an online rally was organized by a Washington DC-based Capital Region Coalition for Religious Freedom, and Right To Believe, a nonprofit protecting the freedom to believe in one’s religion without undue governmental interference.
Thousands joined from around the world to call out the gross miscarriage of justice in the courts of the nation’s capital and demand reform of the broken justice system. The case in question, initiated by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification International, has been in the DC Courts for over 9 years. At the center of the case are disputes over the interpretation of teachings and governance over a non-profit DC-based corporation.
In 2018, Judge Laura Cordero of the DC Superior Court issued a summary judgment ruling, which constituted a violation of the First Amendment because it involved a secular court making decisions about the Unification movement’s theology, history, and polity amid an ongoing schism. Essentially, a judge, unrelated to the religion in question, decided which religious interpretation was right and which was wrong. However, questions such “Are we a church or a movement?”, “How many sacred texts do we have and which ones are the true teachings?”, “Who is our leader?” were never for the court to answer. But in this case, at the dismay of thousands of believers, Judge Laura Cordero did just that. In one swift stroke, she legitimized one version of the faith and dismissed the other. Can a judge decide for Christians, which denomination is the true expression of that faith or decide which version of the Bible is the legitimate expression of the truth? The same question goes for all the faiths practiced currently in the United States.
Furthermore, the way this case was handled violated several other fundamental rights granted to every citizen of the United States including the right to due process, without the defendants ever speaking with Judge Cordero or being given their “day in court.” The Constitution grants a trial by jury when facts in a case are heavily disputed. But the Judge made unilateral decisions in a case in which the facts were very highly disputed. The Court disregarded evidence of clear religious and spiritual differences in regard to what fulfills this religiously based nonprofit’s purposes. In effect, the court attempted to determine the purpose, leadership, and organization of the Unification movement. The court also tried to interpret the religious meaning of content in the nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation and decide on its own how that religious nonprofit may or may not allocate its resources.
The summary judgment ruling in this case sets a dangerous precedent that threatens religious organizations, schools, faith-based services, and nonprofits. Moreover, all board-governed non-profits based in Washington, DC are endangered by this ruling. Without precedent or basis, Judge Anderson of the DC Superior Court is contemplating not only the removal of board members in a religious nonprofit who acted according to their spiritual beliefs, but the replacement of the board with members of a third-party organization who hold diametrically opposing beliefs. In effect, the DC Superior Court is enabling a hostile takeover by a third party.
Voicing concern regarding this dangerous set of precedents and expressing indignation at the blatant religious discrimination suffered at the hands of Judge Laura Cordero of the DC Superior Court, thousands of letters were sent to the Courthouse and to the Commission for Judicial Tenure and Disabilities (CJTD). The CJTD was established in 1970 with the mission “to maintain public confidence in an independent, impartial, fair, and qualified judiciary, and to enforce the high standards of conduct judges must adhere to both on and off the bench.” Disappointingly, despite Judge Cordero’s unconstitutional support of one religious faction over another and discrimination against a religious group of tens of thousands, the CJTD moved to simply rubberstamp Judge Laura Cordero’s tenure for another 15-year term. Please note, the case in question in this article was cited in the Commission’s report to the President as an exemplar for Judge Cordero’s reappointment. However, despite being the only case described in detail in the report, almost every fact mentioned was completely erroneous calling to question the process by which facts are compiled, reports are processed, tenure is decided, and the overall accountability process of the court and sitting judges.
Ironically, a recent article issued by Reuters, points to the growing issue of judicial malpractice and lack of oversight and accountability of judges. These mishandled cases have put families, including children, in serious abusive situations that have had lifelong consequences. This case, and the decision that Judge Cordero made, has already impacted a worldwide movement of tens of thousands who support Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon and see him as the legitimate spiritual leader of the Unification movement and rightful heir to the work of the late Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon. This rally was organized to tell the DC Court and judges across the nation that “enough is enough,” push back on judicial overreach, and hold judges accountable for their actions. This case affects the faith and livelihood of thousands upon thousands of individuals in this nation and throughout the world.
Individuals at today’s rally urged Judge Anderson of the DC Superior Court to review the vast amount of evidence before her that shows that this is ultimately a religious dispute and do the proper thing: dismiss the case. Furthermore, the rally is calling to hold Judge Cordero accountable for how she mishandled this case that affected the lives and faith of tens of thousands of people around the world.
Rev. Howard Self, the President of Right To Believe, emceed today’s program. “Today we are gathered to express our grievances specifically to the DC Courts and how they have been handling a case started by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification and the Universal Peace Federation. These entities have been threatening members of the Unification movement who believe its spiritual leader is Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon. This is a religious issue at its core, and the Washington DC Courts should not become an instrument to further incite religious persecution. We ask the DC Courts to dismiss this case!”
“The First Amendment provides guarantees to every one of us in the protection of and ability to practice our faith without the encroachment of the Courts or government in how we exercise our faith,” said Capitol Region Coalition for Religious Freedom Co-Chair Bishop Dr. Paul Murray. “This rally is to let this court and the District of Columbia and nation know, that as an organized coalition of religious leaders, we are deeply concerned that this action sets a dangerous precedent and will undermine the foundational protections of religious freedom for all.”
Virtual Rallies will continue to be organized until Washington DC reopens for assemblies at the Courthouse.