WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court sided Friday with a New Mexico church that wants to use ayahuasca tea as part of its services this Christmas.
Justices lifted a temporary stay the government had won last week.
The Bush administration contends that the hoasca tea is illegal and dangerous.
Nancy Hollander, attorney for the Brazil-based O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, told justices in a filing that hoasca is not only safe, but to members it ?is sacred and their sacramental use of hoasca connects them to God.?
The government and the church have been in a legal fight since federal agents raided a church leader's office in Santa Fe in 1999 and seized 30 gallons of hoasca tea. The tea contains DMT, a controlled substance.
The case is Ashcroft v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, A-469.
Jonathan Goldman`s comments on the new legal victory obtained by UDV in the US:
I want to give you an update on the UDV case. A lot has happened, and the rumor mill will begin flying. Here is my understanding after consulting with Roy Haber, our attorney. I hope you will find this perspective useful.
The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the the lower court's decison to allow the UDV to practice their religion, PENDING a full review of whether they will be allowed to do so permanently. There has been no order issued to grant them this permanent right. The road to that is still a long one, with minimum of a year expected until the Supreme Court rules.
The entire Circuit Court met in a configuration called en banc, meaning all the 13 justices of the court met to review the decision of a previous 3 judge Circuit Court panel, which had agreed with the lower court, granting the UDV's request to practice in the meantime. The en banc decision, a decisive 8-5 ruling, upheld the previous two rulings, granting the UDV the temporary right to practice.
The Justice Department asked Supreme Court Justice Breyer to grant a stay, meaning to put on hold, the Circuit Court's order to make the government enter into into good faith discussions with the UDV as to how the practicalities of importing their tea will be carried out. Because the order was going to go into effect the next day, Justice Breyer granted a temporary stay so that the full Supreme Court could decide what to do about granting the hold or not. The Supreme Court yesterday decided to let the Circuit Court order stand until they decide on the case, which will most likely be sometime in the next year.
It is notable and worthy of our gratitude and joy that the light of the forest will be officially allowed to shine in this country. It is a good thing for all of those who follow the path of light, whatever the permutation of that path is. We honor the steadfastness, faith and courage of our brother Jeffrey Bronfman, the leader of the UDV in this country, and the intelligence of the team of legal experts he assembled. Jeffrey will continue to have the prayers and gratitude of those of us on this sister path to the UDV. We will be celebrating with him in our hearts when he serves the first glass of sacred tea to his long waiting people in Santa Fe.
We need to be clear in our gratitude and joy that the process is by no means at an end. The issues that the Supreme Court will take up go far beyond the little case of the UDV. The sides are already lining up in a battle that will have far reaching implications and will be most interesting to watch. The Supreme Court could decide this case in many differernt ways. It is significant and beyond most people's expectaions that the UDV has won at every turn so far. Our prayers are a part of the mix of light shining on this process, and they will continue to be of use.
When the UDV secures its rights, that does not automatically transfer those rights to the Daime. In these next months, we will need to be preparing ourselves for the day of our own presentation. And while the success of the UDV so far makes our task possible, it does not guarantee us anything. Both the UDV and the government have made it emminently clear that they both consider the Daime to be a different case than that of the UDV. While that opinion is not an accurate representation of either spiritual or human law, it nevertheless sets our task before us. It is neither wise nor real for us in the Daime to think that we can avoid the necessity to present ourselves to the government and the public, riding on the coat tails of the UDV. Carefulness, patience, and groundedness are necessary and useful. Their perspectives are central to our effort. And fear has no place at our table. It is through faith that we have been guided so far and it is through faith that we will led home.
We do not have the double edged sword of the UDV's centralized structure. Our sword has different edges. We will have a wonderful opportunity to choose to find unity of purpose and harmony of action, applying what we have all been studying in these intervening years about trust and compassion to each other. I trust that we are ready on the inner planes. Those planes are where we meet in peace with our Master and our Mother. The outer planes are up to us.
In love and respect,
Ceu da Luz da Rainha
Another step on the path of recognition
in the US
Jonathan Goldman comments on the small legal victory obtained by UDV, when a federal appeals court ruled its use of the sacrament was likely to be protected under religious-freedom laws.
These are the headlines:
10th Circuit: Church likely to prevail
in dispute over hallucinogenic tea
(c) Associated Press 09.05.03
"The panel majority agreed with the U.S. District Court in New Mexico that the Brazil-based O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal church had "demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success" of winning an exemption for sacramental use of the tea, which contains a drug barred by the Controlled Substances Act."
Here goes Jonathan Goldman commentary:
Forgive me for writing in English. My Portuguese needs practice but my brain needs ease at the moment. The decision of the court does not free the Vegetal to practice in any permanent sense. That day is still many steps away. The court agreed with a lower court that during the time that a determination is made through the process of negotiation, which the judge already ordered and the Government refused, or by a final decision by a judge in what is called a full hearing (another trial), that the UDV must be allowed to practice. ( That decision can also be appealed) It is called a Temporary Restrianing Order and it commands the government to temporarily not arrest the UDV for practicing or importing Hoasca.
Someday that will actually happen and it will, be another huge step. That day may be soon, but there are decisions to be made and many behind the fence conversations that will determine when that is. It is not likely that it will be right away.
This decision is a huge step, but not nearly the final one. The government has a number of options as to how it will respond. It could agree to negotiate with the UDV. That is both the just approach and unlikely.
The government can also file an appeal with the Supreme Court, which is likely. In that case the Supreme Court will decide the same case again at some point. The final day of freedom is still some time (months, years?) away. The Supreme Court can order the UDV to wait to practice until it decides the case. That is most likely to happen, but we are praying for more miracles.
No matter what happens with the UDV, the Daime will have to make its own case in some place(s). Either in court or in negotiation with the Department of Justice or both. We will not be able to sail in the wake of the UDV, but for sure they have made the river a little wider. We are in conversations here as to how we will sail in this next period with our eye on the prize of freedom. Please pray for union and open hearts and minds for us us to listen accurately to Mestre Irineu and Padrinho Sebastiao and for courage to do what they ask with pe no chao and no fear, only faith leading us.
It is a beautiful moment in our process of liberation. With the Daime legal in Spain and now this news in the US, the light is a little firmer. There has never been a judgement against our tea anywhere, and the protection and guidance of the Masters of the Astral continues to be impeccable.
Do you know Padrinho Alfredo's hymn, number 4 in Nova Era?
Sou filho do meu Pai
E meu Pai e quem me da
Para Deus tudo esta feito
Nao precisa se avexar
Vamos seguir com calma
Que com calma Deus esta
No ceu e nos astros
Na floresta, vento, e mar
No homen na mulher
E em toda criacao
Deixo tudo acontecer
No poder de Sao Joao
Deste lado e do outro
A verdade e uma so
O meu Mestre esta seguro
Junto com a forca maior
Esta e uma clereza
Que me veio do Astral
Na Doutrina do meu Pai
O mais eu aprendo para deixar tudo acontecer no poder de Sao Joao, Juramidam, Jesus, Maria, Jose e Sao Miguel, e mais calma eu ganho. É porque eles nunca me deixam sozinho.
Um grande abraco.
Em paz, amor, justica, respeito e fraternidade.