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Thomas M. Messner, J.D.

Senior Fellow in Legal Policy

Thomas Messner, J.D., is Senior Fellow in Legal Policy at CLI where he researches and writes on issues involving life and conscience. Messner earned his law degree from Notre Dame Law School and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Grove City College in Pennsylvania. After law school, Messner clerked for Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, and practiced law in Washington, D.C. Previously Messner served as a Visiting Fellow in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, where he researched and wrote about religious liberty and other issues.


Latest Research & News

  • Federal Trial Court Strikes Down Texas Dismemberment Abortion Ban | November 30, 2017

    A federal trial court in Austin has struck down a Texas law prohibiting the practice of dismemberment abortion. The court issued its ruling one day before Thanksgiving.   The law struck down by the court, known as S.B. 8, provides that “[a] person may not intentionally perform a dismemberment abortion unless the dismemberment abortion is […]

  • Down Syndrome Bill Would Represent a Major Challenge to Both Discrimination Abortion and Roe v. Wade | November 28, 2017

    Ohio Right to Life reports that the Ohio Senate has passed S.B. 164, a bill that would prohibit abortion when the abortionist knows that the mother is seeking the abortion because the baby has Down Syndrome. According to Ohio Right to Life, two weeks earlier “the Ohio House passed an identical piece of legislation, H.B. […]

  • Supreme Court Will Hear Pregnancy Help Center Case | November 16, 2017

    The U.S. Supreme Court has granted review in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. The case involves a challenge to a California law forcing pro-life pregnancy help centers to post information about public programs that provide free or low-cost access to abortion.   This lawsuit is very important. Pregnancy help centers play […]

  • Texas Dismemberment Abortion Ban Headed to Trial | September 26, 2017

    The Texas law banning dismemberment abortions is heading to trial. A federal court in Austin, Texas has scheduled the law, known as S.B. 8, for a bench trial starting November 2, 2017.   Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed S.B. 8 on June 6, 2017.   Under S.B. 8, “A person may not intentionally perform a […]

  • Abortionist Suspended for Violating Child Rape Protection Act | September 21, 2017

    A Kansas abortionist has had his license suspended for 90 days for violating the Kansas Child Rape Protection Act. The final order suspending the license of Allen S. Palmer, D.O. to practice osteopathic medicine and surgery was issued on September 13, 2017 by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.

  • Supreme Court to Decide Whether to Hear Three Cases Involving Pregnancy Help Centers | September 19, 2017

    As early as September 25, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court could decide whether to hear three cases involving pregnancy help centers (PHCs).

  • Lozier Institute Submits Supreme Court Brief in Surrogacy Case | September 18, 2017

    In August 2017 the Charlotte Lozier Institute submitted an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief describes the risks to mothers and children from gestational surrogacy.

  • Pregnancy Help Centers Win Another Legal Victory in Struggle Against Oppressive Regulations | July 21, 2017

    Pregnancy help centers (PHCs) have won a victory in their struggle against oppressive regulations.

    At issue is a 2016 Illinois law regulating physicians and other health care personnel. Plaintiffs, including the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), challenged the law, arguing, in the words of a federal district court, that it “compels [PHCs] to tell pregnant women the names of other doctors they believe offer abortions, and compels them to tell pregnant women that abortion has ‘benefits’ and is a ‘treatment option’ for pregnancy.”

  • Oregon Lawmakers Promote Abortion, Crush Civil Liberty, and Hate on Social Justice | July 13, 2017

    Oregon lawmakers have passed a bill that would force health benefit plans offered in the state to provide coverage for abortion and voluntary sterilization.

    The bill, known as HB 3391, also would require health benefit plans to cover any contraceptive drug, device, or product approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As this Lozier paper explains, some contraceptives can also cause abortions.

  • Lozier Institute Submits Supreme Court Brief in Pregnancy Help Center Case | May 15, 2017

    Charlotte Lozier Institute submitted a “friend of the court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on April 20 in support of pregnancy help centers (PHCs). The PHCs have challenged a California law, arguing that it forces them to post contact information for a county office that refers for abortion and burdens their ability to advertise their services.

  • Baltimore Pregnancy Center Refuses to Stop Fighting, Wins another Legal Victory against Local Ordinance | October 31, 2016

    A pro-life pregnancy help center (PHC) in Baltimore has won another legal victory in its fight against a city ordinance.

  • Three Life Policies that Challenge Supreme Court Abortion Standards | May 16, 2016

    Today I’m going to talk about three legal policies involving life protections for unborn children. I’m going to explain how each of these policies could actually be upheld under current Supreme Court abortion precedent. However, at the same time, each of these policies represents a serious challenge to current Supreme Court abortion standards by forcing the Court to consider and, hopefully, uphold policies that narrow the abortion right and call into question its continued legitimacy. But first, let’s step back and consider three basic points that help us put pro-life legislative initiatives into context.

  • On Top of Everything Else, Contraception Mandates Don’t Work | March 23, 2016

    It’s hard to believe the Obama Administration is still fighting the nuns over abortion and contraception.

    The Little Sisters of the Poor object on religious grounds to the government hijacking their health insurance plan to provide contraceptives including some that can cause abortions.

    They’ve filed a lawsuit and today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case.

  • Testimony of CLI Legal Policy Fellow in Support of Ohio’s Defund Planned Parenthood Bill | November 24, 2015

    On November 17, the Ohio House Committee on Community and Family Advancement held a hearing on proposed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and reallocate over $1 million yearly in government funding to other Ohio medical health centers. Following the hearing, the Committee recommended and the Ohio House passed H.B. 294 by a vote of 62-33.

    Thomas M. Messner, J.D., Senior Fellow in Legal Policy for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, submitted the following written testimony in support of the bill

  • March for Life Wins Major Victory in Federal Court | September 2, 2015

    The national pro-life organization March for Life has won an important federal court case against the Obamacare “contraception mandate.”

    The “contraception mandate” stems from the Obamacare health care law and regulations issued by the Obama administration. The contraception mandate includes drugs that can cause abortion by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

    Earlier this week a federal district court judge ruled that March for Life should be free to offer employee health insurance coverage that does not include drugs and devices that can cause abortions.

  • Little Sisters of the Poor Ask Supreme Court to Hear Case | August 13, 2015

    The Little Sisters of the Poor are heading back to the Supreme Court in their quest to defend their religious freedom.

    The Little Sisters are represented by legal counsel including attorneys from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. According to a statement issued by the Becket Fund, “for the second time in two years, the Little Sisters of the Poor must ask the Supreme Court to protect them from the government.”

    The Little Sisters case involves the “contraception mandate” stemming from the Obamacare health care law and regulations issued by the Obama administration. The contraception mandate includes drugs that can cause abortion by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

  • Constitutional Law Scholar Urges Constitutionality of Five-Month Abortion Laws | May 11, 2015

    Professor Randy Beck is the Justice Thomas O. Marshall Chair of Constitutional Law at the University of Georgia School of Law. He has authored a new article discussing the constitutionality of five-month abortion laws. The article is not yet published in a journal but has been posted on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) with a date of March 2, 2015.

    The article is titled “Fetal Viability and Twenty-Week Abortion Statutes.” According to the abstract, the article “advances four arguments for the constitutionality of a 20-week statute, including three based on current case law or minor modifications to current case law.”

  • Faith-Based Charities Serving Vulnerable Children Should Not Be Required to Facilitate Abortion | March 12, 2015

    Federal regulations issued by the Obama Administration have raised concerns that Christian charities operating federally funded care provider facilities housing unaccompanied alien children could be required to facilitate access to abortion.

  • The Constitutional Viability of Five-Month Abortion Laws | January 19, 2015

    Five-month abortion laws restrict abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy—when an unborn child can feel pain from abortion. Opponents of five-month abortion laws argue they violate the “viability rule” created by the U.S. Supreme Court. The viability rule provides that government “may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.” In most cases viability will occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, the viability rule is unworkable, arbitrary, unjust, poorly reasoned, inadequate, and extreme. The viability rule cannot be justified, especially as applied to five-month laws. In a challenge to a five-month law it is reasonable to conclude that the Court might abandon the viability rule altogether or not apply it to five-month laws.

  • Supreme Court Ruling on Texas Abortion Regulations: What Happened and What Now? | October 16, 2014

    This Q&A-style fact sheet explains the background and implications of the Supreme Court ruling on October 14, 2014 regarding challenges to abortion-related laws enacted in Texas. It answers questions regarding which abortion provisions are at issue, whether the Supreme Court ruling deals with the constitutionality of the provisions, what the key court rulings are leading up to this ruling, and what happens next.

  • The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013: The Sweeping Impact of S. 1696 | July 1, 2014

    This Special Report outlines the sweeping impact that the “Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013” would have on current abortion-regulating legislation if passed. Introduced on November 13, 2013, S. 1696, if enacted would jeopardize or outright invalidate a wide range of both state and federal abortion-limiting laws.

  • Charlotte Lozier Institute Submits Brief in Hobby Lobby Case | April 1, 2014

    Charlotte Lozier Institute submitted a “friend of the court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of abortion-related conscience rights. The Court recently heard arguments in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood religious freedom cases and will decide those cases later this year.

  • Federal Court Upholds Arkansas Heartbeat Testing Requirement | March 20, 2014

    On Friday a federal district court in Arkansas upheld the Arkansas heartbeat testing requirement. The heartbeat testing requirement provides that abortions in Arkansas shall not be performed before testing whether the unborn child possesses a detectible heartbeat.

  • Supreme Court Will Review Abortion Drug Cases | November 26, 2013

    Today the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review two cases where the government is trying to force Christian-owned businesses to provide health care coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs.

  • Twenty-Week Bans Raise Issue of Disability Discrimination Abortion | November 24, 2013

    This paper examines how laws limiting abortion after twenty weeks can have the effect of prohibiting disability discrimination in the womb.