ADF’s Global Initiative Champions Life, Family and Religious Liberty

By Tom McFeely | September 14, 2011

NEW YORK, September 15 (C-FAM)  Since 1994, the Alliance Defense Fund has been fighting successfully in American courts and legislatures for religious freedom, the sanctity of life and defense of marriage and the family.  Now, ADF is bringing this battle-tested legal expertise to the international arena via its recently launched Global Initiative.

ADF was founded in 1994 by attorney Alan Sears along with 35 prominent evangelical Christian leaders, including Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. The goal was to create a concentrated legal force capable of winning court cases against liberal legal behemoths like the American Civil Liberties Union.

Dubbed by one U.N. insider as “the $30-million pro-life organization nobody’s heard of,” ADF has a results-oriented approach. And the results are impressive by any standard: Since its inception, ADF has played a key role in a host of legal victories, including 38 U.S. Supreme Court cases. Overall, it has won more than 75% of its cases.

To further facilitate its goals, ADF has also trained 2,000 attorneys through its network of legal academies and provided legal fellowships to more than 1,000 law students.

ADF’s global initiative was launched last year by ADF Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull,  with the aim of obtaining the same kind of legal successes internationally. ADF senior counsel Piero Tozzi, who is also Senior Fellow with Friday Fax publisher C-FAM, plays a lead role in directing ADF-Global from ADF headquarters in Arizona. The Global Initiative is rounded out by attorney Roger Kiska in Europe and a representative in Mexico City, Sophia Martinez who is the face of ADF in Latin America.

In Europe, ADF has participated in some key recent victories in European human-rights cases, including the A.B.C. v Ireland decision affirming Ireland’s constitutional authority to ban abortion. The European office is also involved in several other pro-life/pro-family/pro-religious liberty cases currently before the European Court of Human Rights.

In Latin America, ADF recently submitted an amicus brief to the Inter-American Court of Rights on behalf of a Chilean father embroiled in a child-custody battle with his ex-wife, who ended their marriage to pursue a lesbian relationship. The Friday Fax has reported on this case here and here.

The global team has also submitted briefs in cases now before the supreme courts of Argentina and Mexico. “We can’t necessarily appear in foreign courts representing litigants, but we can submit briefs as amici,” notes Tozzi, a Catholic who served as C-FAM’s executive vice-president and general counsel prior to joining ADF last year.

Tozzi says that along with pursuing ADF’s fundamental mission of transforming the legal system through Christian witness, the global initiative also responds to the reality that American courts can be influenced profoundly by the outcome of cases elsewhere. For instance, in its 2003 decision overturning the Texas state law prohibiting sodomy, the U.S. Supreme Court cited European Court of Human Rights decisions and other foreign precedents.

Comments Tozzi, “It’s intrinsically good to be helping people in their countries fight the Culture of Death, but an additional factor is that what happens abroad impacts the U.S.”