Thomas Porteous

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Judge G Thomas Porteous Jr (1946- ), US District Judge, Louisiana, USA (Louisiana Judicial District Court from 1984, appointed to US District Court 1994).

Well-known for his stance upholding the Constitutionís separation of church and state and his judgements in defence of First Amendment rights to free speech.

Porteous has controversially ruled in several landmark cases against the state, including one (2002) in which he ruled that the state of Louisiana was illegally using federal money to promote religion in its abstinence-only sex education programs. This judgement flew in the face of the stated policy of the administration of President George W. Bush.

He ordered the state to stop giving money to individuals or organizations that "convey religious messages or otherwise advance religion" with tax dollars. He said there was ample evidence that many of the groups participating in the Governor's Program on Abstinence were "furthering religious objectives."

Porteous has also (2002) ruled against the government, overturning a federal ban on rave paraphernalia such as glowsticks, pacifiers and dust masks, which are used at raves (electronic music concerts) where the use of Ecstasy is common, after the American Civil Liberties Union said the ban was unconstitutional.

He had previously ruled (1999) against a Louisiana law aimed at banning the late-term abortion procedure known as partial birth abortion in a procedure known as dilation and extraction.

In 2001 Judge Porteous filed for bankruptcy, which led to revelations in the press about his private life, specifically the fact that he was alleged to have had close ties with a local bail bond magnate at the center of a corruption probe, which has more recently led to his being the subject of investigation himself by federal investigators.

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