The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who now styles himself as an Islamic scholar, said on his “Washington Watch” radio show yesterday that members of militant groups like ISIS are the real Muslims who are truly “practicing their faith.”
Islam is such a danger, Perkins explained, that Muslim-Americans should not have the same religious freedoms as other citizens.
Perkins, who was responding to a caller who worried that mosques in her hometown are harboring terrorist sleeper cells, said the vast majority of Muslims who aren’t committing acts of violence are all phony Muslims who “don’t really believe the Quran or practice it as its written.”
He warned that Islam isn’t necessarily protected under the Constitution because it “tears at the fabric of our society” and undermines “ordered liberty,” adding that Islam is “not just a religion, it’s an economic system, it’s a judicial system and it’s a military system.”
“Those things will tear and destroy the fabric of a democracy,” he said. “So we have to be very clear about our laws and restrain those things that will harm the whole. We are a nation that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, that’s the foundation of our nation, not Islam, but the Judeo-Chrsitian God.”
Perkins has previously described Islam as “evil” and said that LGBT-inclusive Christians shouldn’t have the same religious rights as conservatives because they aren’t real Christians.
H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW
Eagle Forum's Virginia Armstrong: "Government Is Constitutionally Required To Fight 'Homosexual Conduct'"
Eagle Forum’s Virginia Armstrong, the head of the group’s Court Watch Project, today makes the novel argument that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t protect the rights of LGBT people but in fact requires the government to fight “homosexual conduct” in “every legitimate way possible.”
In an article published on Eagle Forum’s website, Armstrong argues that advances in LGBT equality prove “that America is indeed in the ‘danger zone’ and is in dire need of a massive ‘straightening up process.’”
She then argues that the AIDS epidemic shows that “homosexual conduct is what is harmful to gays and lesbians to the degree that governments are not only constitutionally allowed, but constitutionally required, to fight such conduct in every legitimate way possible.”
All emphasis is Armstrong’s:
Has America bent over so far backwards in our spiritual, moral, and constitutional life that we are in danger of “breaking”? This question is central to our current series of Court Watch Briefings. The question has been precipitated by America’s Culture War and echoes the anguished cry of the Father in the famous musical production, “Fiddler on the Roof,” who felt that revolutionary changes in his world were pushing him to the “breaking point.”
We are proving that America is indeed in the “danger zone” and is in dire need of a massive “straightening up process.” Nothing more clearly demonstrates this fact than the recent same-sex marriage decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court -Perry v. Hollingsworth andWindsor v. U.S.
These statistics bring into bolder relief than ever the fatal flaws of Perry/Windsor . HIV and AIDS is a pandemic , far worse than other such health threats which have sent governments and media around the world into a veritable apoplexy, accompanied by demands for the most severe action possible to stem those threats. Yet, federal (and, now, state) judges are demanding constitutional protections for the conduct which is most responsible for the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Furthermore, Judge Vaughn Walker’s “Finding of Fact” that religious opposition to homosexual conduct “harms gays and lesbians” and is constitutionally protected is so incongruent with reality as to be laughable, if it were possible to laugh about such an adjudicative disaster. The reality, of course, is that the exact opposite is true –homosexual conduct is what is harmful to gays and lesbiansto the degree that governments are not only constitutionally allowed, but constitutionallyrequired , to fight such conduct in every legitimate way possible.This example alone illustrates how upside down is Walker’s blast that “harm to homosexuals” results from religious opposition. This falsehood converts a particularly pernicious value judgment into an adjudicative fact given great weight in pro-homosexual court decisions.One of the worst blows to reason, morality, and the Judeo-Christian worldview is the speed with which the Perry/Windsorpoison has poured through America’s legal veins…
H/T: Miranda Blue at RWW
The word “freedom” is something I don’t think most conservatives understand. While it can be subjective at times (I wouldn’t recommend yelling “bomb” in an airport, for instance) it’s not really that difficult of a concept to grasp. Especially when it comes to religion.
See, in this country, religion is meant to be a private matter. After all, isn’t that much simpler? Even those who believe that this country was founded on Christianity can’t tell me what denomination we should follow. Because the fact of the matter is, Catholics and Baptists (while both Christians) practice their faiths very differently.
“Religious freedom,” as conservatives like to call it, means that privately we’re allowed to identify with whatever religion we want to identify with. That doesn’t mean, however, that we’re allowed to discriminate against people just because we disagree with them.
Our Constitution, as subjective as it might be, presents one undeniable fact – the words Christianity, Christian, God or Jesus Christ appear within its text not even once.
But for some reason these people still seem to believe that restricting their “right” to discriminate against others based on their religion is somehow an infringement on their rights. Basically, their attempts to infringe on another person’s rights are being infringed upon and that’s ticking them off.
So to these people, I say – get the hell out. If you think a government based on theocracy would be so wonderful, by all means, go check out Iran and Saudi Arabia then come back and tell me how “free” the people of those two nations are.
Because that’s what these people seem unable to understand. The words “freedom” and “religion” are complete contradictions. Religion is about control – not freedom. You can’t say you support freedom, while trying to control people with your religion. Because that doesn’t make any damn sense.
It’s Supreme Court month again. According to the Court’s official calendar, the final day of the Supreme Court’s current term is the last day of this month — which means that, barring extraordinary circumstances, we should know how the justices intend to resolve each of the issues currently pending before them by June 30.
Among the issues facing the justices are the president’s power to fill top jobs in the face of a recalcitrant Senate, a legal attack on public sector unions, a case questioning when police can search all the data that can be accessed on a person’s cell phone, and an attempt to give employers sweeping immunity from laws they object to on religious grounds. Here are some of the most important cases to be decided this month:
On the eve of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, a case that could effectively eliminate the president’s constitutional authority to temporarily appoint government officials while the Senate is in recess, the Obama Administration’s position looked grim. In the lower courts, judges split entirely on partisan lines when they considered this issue — and there are five Republicans on the Supreme Court and only four Democrats. Yet the oral argument in Noel Canning went even worse for the administration than the partisan results in the lower courts would suggest. Clinton-appointed Justice Stephen Breyer said that he could not find anything in the Constitution that will “allow the president to overcome Senate resistance” to a nominee. Obama-appointed Justice Elena Kagan suggested that “it was the Senate’s job to decide” when it’s in recess.
Though there are two possible ways that the justices could snuff out the recess appointments power, the distinction between them is largely academic — in either event a Senate that was determined not to permit recess appointees from taking office will be able to do so. That means that the impact of this decision could be felt in 2015. If Republicans take back the Senate, and the Supreme Court cuts off his recess appointments power, President Obama will be defenseless if Senate Republicans refuse to confirm anyone that he nominates to any job.
The biggest impact of a decision against the administration, however, could be felt in 2018. The reason why President Obama made the recess appointments that triggered this lawsuit in the first place is because the National Labor Relations Board — which has sole authority to enforce much of federal labor law — was about to lose the minimum number of members it must have in order to operate. Though this impasse eventually broke in 2013 when Senate Democrats threatened to change the Senate’s rules if necessary to confirm nominees to the NLRB, the members of that board only serve five year terms. Thus, if Republicans control the Senate in 2018, they could shut down the NLRB by refusing to confirm anyone to fill its empty seats — and shut down most of the legal protections that allow unions to exist in the process.
Harassment at Women’s Health Clinics
A Massachusetts law creates a 35-foot buffer zone around the entrances to abortion clinics that no one may enter unless they have legitimate business within the clinic or are just passing through to reach another destination. This law prevents abortion protesters, ranging from the plaintiffs in McCullen v. Coakley — who claim that they “try to engage women who may be seeking abortions in close, kind, personal communication, with calm voices, caring demeanor, and eye contact” — to much more aggressive opponents of abortion from getting in the way of women seeking care within the clinic. They also make it harder for clinic workers to become victims of violence. According to one abortion rights activist, “[w]hat began as peaceful protests in the 1970s escalated to blockading clinic entrances, arsons and bombings, acid attacks, stalking and kidnapping doctors and their families, and even murdering reproductive health care staff.”
Nevertheless, it is likely that the Supreme Court will strike this Massachusetts law down. At oral argument, even Justice Kagan seemed concerned that the 35-foot buffer zone may be too large. The biggest question inMcCullen, however, isn’t whether Massachusetts’ law will survive, it is whether any similar buffer zone law will also be declared unconstitutional. In its 2000 decision in Hill v. Colorado, the Supreme Court upheld a Colorado law prohibiting anyone from “‘knowingly approach[ing]‘ within eight feet of another person, without that person’s consent, ‘for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling with such other person.’” Hill was a 6-3 decision, but two members of the Hill majority — Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — have since been replaced by the more conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. If the Roberts Court’s new majority chooses to overrule Hill they probably have the five votes necessary to do so.
Cell Phone Searches
As a general rule, the police must obtain a warrant before they can search a person’s possessions. One long-standing exception to this rule, however, is that police may make a warrantless “search incident to arrest” — that is, when a person is lawfully arrested, the police may search the person being arrested and anything they find on the person.
When this rule was developed, however, cell phones did not exist and modern-day smartphones were not even imaginable. For this reason, the justices who created this rule had no conception of a world where police could arrest someone for a minor crime — potentially something as minor as jaywalking — and then go on a fishing expedition through a person’s entire email inbox, the text messages they sent to their friends and their romantic partners, and any apps they may have downloaded onto their phone to help them manage their finances. One case currently pending before the justices, Riley v. California tees up the question of if and when the police may search the information contained on a suspect’s smartphone without obtaining a warrant. A companion case, United States v. Wurie presents the related issue of whether police may search an ordinary cell-phone’s call log without a warrant.
Public Sector Unions
Public sector unions operate under two legal restrictions: they may not require non-members to fund the union’s political activity and they must bargain on behalf of every worker in a unionized shop — even if a particular worker does not belong to the union. Thus, the union may not encourage non-members to join by bargaining for benefits that only apply to union members. To recoup the costs of bargaining on behalf of non-members, however, the union may charge those non-members what are known as “agency fees.” These agency fees are now under attack in a lawsuit known as Harris v. Quinn.
The purpose of these agency fees is to prevent non-members from free-riding off the dues paid by their co-workers who do join the union. The benefits of collective bargaining through unions are significant — according to one study, unionization raises worker wages by about 12 percent — but, without agency fees, each individual worker would have little incentive to pay for the collective bargaining services that make these high wages possible.
In a 2012 case called Knox v. SEIU, the five conservative justices indicated that they were ready to declare agency fees unconstitutional — at least when it comes to public sector unions. At oral argument, however, Justice Antonin Scalia appeared surprisingly sympathetic to the pro-union arguments. The fate of public sector unions, in other words, likely rests with Justice Scalia.
The Viability of Treaties
Bond v. United States is, if nothing else, a testament to legal conservatives’ ability to play the long game. A vengeful spouse named Carol Anne Bond, who stole toxic chemicals from her employer and used them in a failed attempt to poison her husband’s mistress, is represented by Paul Clement — the de facto Solicitor General of the Republican Party — as part of an effort to undermine the United States’ ability to comply with its own treaty obligations. Bond’s actions violated a federal law implementing the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, which makes it a crime to “receive, stockpile, retain, own, possess, use, or threaten to use” a chemical weapon. Clement argues that applying this law to his client is unconstitutional, because that would require Congress’ power to be read too expansively.
The problem with this argument is that the Court established nearly a century ago that, when the United States enters into a valid treaty, “there can be no dispute about the validity of the statute [implementing the treaty] … as a necessary and proper means to execute the powers of the Government.” Should the Court limit or overrule this previous decision, the immediate impact would be relatively small compared to what could follow later — Congress still has considerable power to make laws under its power to regulate commerce and its other constitutionally granted powers, though Clement’s has also fought to shrink these powers as well. If the justices ultimately embrace the broader conservative effort to shrink the government’s authority until it is small enough to be drowned in a bathtub, a decision in Bond’s favor could make it difficult for the United States to comply with environmental treaties and other international obligations.
Your Boss and Your Bedroom
Finally, the most watched case this term is likely to be the Hobby Lobby litigation, which raises the issue of whether religious employers can refuse to comply with a federal rule requiring their health plans to cover birth control. If the oral argument is any indication, supporters of this rule should not be optimistic. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the only member of the five justice conservative bloc who expressed sympathy for the government’s arguments, later accused Solicitor General Don Verrilli of making an argument that could enable Congress to require corporations to pay for abortions. Given that Kennedy, with one exception, has a virtually unblemished anti-abortion record since joining the Supreme Court, this is an ominous sign for the rule at issue in this case.
Nevertheless, the question of how the government loses this case is almost as important as if it loses. Clement, who argued this case on behalf of the religious employers, called for a truly sweeping rule — laws burdening a corporation’s purported religious faith must survive the “most demanding test known to constitutional law.” At times, plaintiffs invoking “religious liberty” have claimed exemptions from a wide range of laws, including laws banning race discrimination, bans on gender discrimination, the minimum wage, Social Security and most recently, laws protecting LGBT Americans. Though these aggressive kinds of religious liberty claims have historically not received a sympathetic ear from federal judges, Clement’s broad rule could give at least some of them a second life.
It’s not at all clear that the Court will give Clement what he asked for, however. Though Kennedy seemed inclined to rule in Hobby Lobby‘s favor, he also worried about what would happen to the rights of employees who might be hurt by their boss’ decision not to follow the law. This suggests that Justice Kennedy may hand a victory to Hobby Lobby without endorsing the sweeping legal immunity for businesses that object to the law on religious grounds that Clement called for in his brief. Nevertheless, however the Court decides, the issue of whether anti-gay business owners can invoke “religious liberty” to discriminate against LGBT Americans is not going away. Indeed, it’s likely that a raft of bills seeking to expand religious conservatives’ ability to ignore the law will follow the Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby, regardless of what the justices decide.
NOTE: One of the seven cases mentioned in this Think Progress article, Bond v. United States, was decided today unanimously 9-0.
Following the Republican Party’s embarrassing showing in the 2012 elections, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus put together a task force to analyze just what was wrong with the party and which eventually resulted in the release of a report that found that the GOP’s ultra-right-wing ideology was making it increasingly unappealing to voters who see the party as nothing but a bunch of “narrow-minded” and “out of touch … stuffy old men.”
Naturally, the GOP has then gone about systematically ignoring all of the recommendations made in this autopsy report, which is why an anti-gay bigot like Phil Robertson was given a prime speaking slot at last night’s Republican Leadership Conference, where he was introduced by Sarah Palin, no less.
And Robertson was every bit as insightful as one would expect, declaring that when it comes to President Obama, “we’re up against evil like I’ve never seen in my life” and telling the GOP that if it wants to win elections, the party needs to “get Godly”:
Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson kicked off the Republican Leadership Conference at the Hilton Riverside Hotel in New Orleans on Thursday with an entertaining speech in which he mixed his faith in Jesus Christ with an admonition to the GOP to return to the Bible and the fundamental principles of freedom upon which the nation was founded.
“You lose your religion, you lose your morality, you lose your freedom,” Robertson said. “You cannot be right for America if you are not right with God.”
In an event the GOP billed as an “unofficial kickoff” of the 2016 presidential campaign, Robertson drew repeated applause and more than one standing ovation by insisting, “If the country does not turn to God at a fairly rapid clip, we are going to lose the United States of America.”
Robertson jokingly suggested, “The GOP must be desperate to call a person like me.”
Looking at the outfit that is now linked with his Duck Dynasty television persona, Robertson insisted, “These clothes are the best I own.”
What Robertson did not hesitate to speak about was his strong faith in Jesus Christ.
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians. Where there is no Jesus, the love rate is always real low and the crime rate is always real high. It’s just that simple GOP. You want to turn the Republican Party around, get Godly.”
He rejected the secular society created by Supreme Court decisions he interpreted as an attack on religion.
“We threw God out of the schools. We threw God out of the courthouses,” Robertson said, in a speech that featured quotes from several Founding Fathers, including George Washington, John Adams, and James Madison.
“Separation of church and state? I’m telling you right [now] what our Founding Fathers said and it doesn’t sound like separating God Almighty from the United States of America. It’s a lie. You remove the Bible out of schools, it was said more 200 years ago, and you are going to be wasting so much time punishing criminals. Education is useless without the Bible. Take the Bible out of schools and there’s going to be an explosion of crime.”
Robertson subtly rebutted charges of prejudice, making it clear comments he made to GQ magazine regarding homosexuality derived solely from his religions conviction.
“There is only one race on this planet and that is the human race,” he insisted.
“Look at all humanity as the human race. Therefore, you do not have the right to color code anybody. We are all one family and we are all made in the image of God Almighty. The color of your skin does not determine the character of your person. In the GOP we have the libertarians, and the conservatives, and the establishment party, but you need to get off all of this divisive talk and be one party united.”
Commenting that, “You can tell a lot about a man when you hear him pray,” Robertson recalled George Washington praying at the founding of the nation.
He then transitioned to discussing Barack Obama.
“I watch what I see coming out of the White House and it is downright embarrassing. How many lies are we going to tolerate? Our Founding Fathers created the greatest republic on the face of the earth and we screwed it up in 238 years. But I’m not throwing in the towel yet on it. As was said, the surest way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Robertson railed against abortion, asking the GOP audience how a nation killing its unborn children possibly thought it could survive.
“The strength of this nation is not the Constitution,” he insisted, “but the law of God and the Ten Commandments upon which the Constitution was founded.”
h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW
"I shouldn’t talk like that, but I’ve reached an age that I can say whatever I want. Especially because it’s true," he continued.
Hatch also warned that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is in jeopardy.
"We’re in danger of losing that today because of some of these liberal courts and some of these liberal judges," he said of the law passed in 1993. "I don’t care which church you belong to or whether you don’t belong to a church. Religious freedom is what keeps us free almost more than anything else."
[H/t MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show]
More than 40 years after the Equal Rights Amendment was first passed by the U.S. Congress, an Illinois state senator is taking another crack at getting her colleagues in Springfield to adopt the provision that would enshrine in the U.S. Constitution the idea that rights can’t be abridged on account of sex.
Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said the proposed amendment is still relevant today given the ongoing debates about equal pay, abortion rights and other issues on which women are fighting for equality.
And she said it’s symbolically important to “get Illinois off the list” of 15 states that have not yet adopted the proposed amendment. The other holdouts are mostly traditionally more conservative states in the southern and western parts of the country.
"Illinois has been in the forefront of equal rights," Steans said. "I think this is some unfinished business, an opportunity to right a historic wrong."
Steans has supported proposals for the General Assembly to adopt the amendment in previous years, without success.
The amendment appeared to die in 1982 after only 35 states passed it by the deadline that Congress set after adopting it in 1972. That was three short of the 38 needed to amend the Constitution. Supporters of the amendment are now pushing a “three state solution,” arguing the 1982 deadline should not apply. If three more states pass it, the supporters will try to make the case that there is no need for the U.S. Congress to start the amendment process over.
Steans’ proposal is scheduled to get a hearing on Wednesday, she said.
On today’s episode of “WallBuilders Live,” David Barton explained that women were not given the right to vote when the Constitution was written because the Founding Fathers were trying to protect the institution of the family by giving every “family” a right to vote through the male head of the household.
Responding to a question from a listener who argued that the Founding Fathers denied women the right to vote not out of sexism but rather based on the biblical principle that a house divided against itself cannot stand, Barton said that this interpretation was exactly right because not allowing women to vote was designed “to keep the family together”:
The family was the first and fundamental unit of all government. Actually, you have individual self government first, then you have family government second, you have civil government third, and have church government fourth. Those are the four levels of government in the order they are given in the Bible.
So family government precedes civil government and you watch that as colonists came to America, they voted by families. You look at the Pilgrims, when they finally moved away from socialism and moved toward the free enterprise system, they called the families together and gave families plots of land. Private property given to the families. And so that’s the way things work.
And you have to remember back then, husband and wife, I mean the two were considered one. That is the biblical precept. That is the way they looked at them in the civil community. That is a family that is voting and so the head of the family is traditionally considered to be the husband and even biblically still continues to be so …
Now, as we’ve moved away from the family unit - you need to be independent from the family, don’t be chained down and be a mother and don’t be chained down and be a father and don’t be chained down to your parents, you know, we’ve moved into more of a family anarchy kind of thing, the ‘Modern Family’ kind of portrayal - that understanding has gone away.
Clearly, what [the listener] has asked is a brilliant question because it does reveal that the bigotry we’re told they held back then, they didn’t hold and what they did was they put the family unit higher than the government unit and they tried to work hard to keep the family together. And, as we can show in two or three hundred studies since then, the more you weaken the family, the more it hurts the entire culture and society.
So they had a strong culture, a strong society and it was based on a strong family to preceded government and they crafted their policies to protect a strong family.
h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW
“We provide armed response,” according to a Montana militia member named Jim Lordy. Lordy traveled to Nevada in order to support a local rancher for believes that he should not have to follow federal court orders. When he arrived there, he told a local reporter that “[w]e need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government.”
Lordy belongs to a militia group called Operation Mutual Aid, which provides “[d]efense of public and private property, lives, and liberty to exercise God-given rights, seen plainly in the laws of Nature, and codified in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, at the request of such parties in need of such defense,” according to a website associated with the group. Although only three militia members had arrived at the Nevada ranch by late Wednesday, when the latest reports came out, other militia groups reportedly “inundated the [rancher’s] household with calls and pledges to muster at the site.”
The Oath Keepers, a right-wing law enforcement organization that warns about the government “disarm[ing] the American people” and “blockad[ing] American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps,” also announced that it will send people to support the defiant rancher.
This conflict arises out of rancher Cliven Bundy’s many years of illegally grazing his cattle on federal lands. In 1998, a federal court ordered Bundy to cease grazing his livestock on an area of federal land known as the Bunkerville Allotment, and required him to pay the federal government $200 per day per head of cattle remaining on federal lands. Around the time it issued this order, the court also commented that “[t]he government has shown commendable restraint in allowing this trespass to continue for so long without impounding Bundy’s livestock.” Fifteen years later, Bundy continued to defy this court order.
Last October, the federal government returned to court and obtained a new order, providing that “Bundy shall remove his livestock from the former Bunkerville Allotment within 45 days of the date hereof, and that the United States is entitled to seize and remove to impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass after 45 days of the date hereof.” A third federal court order issued the same year explains that Bundy did not simply refuse to stop trespassing on federal lands — he actually expanded the range of his trespassing. According to the third order, “Bundy’s cattle have moved beyond the boundaries of the Bunkerville Allotment and are now trespassing on a broad swath of additional federal land (the “New Trespass Lands”), including public lands within the Gold Butte area that are administered by the BLM, and National Park System land within the Overton Arm and Gold Butte areas of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.” The third order also authorizes the federal government to “impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass.”
On Saturday of last week, the government hired wranglers to round up Bundy’s livestock. As of Wednesday, they’d impounded a total of 352 cattle. That’s when a tense standoff broke out between a group of Bundy’s supporters and federal rangers armed with stun guns and police dogs. In one video, a ranger tackles Bundy’s sister away from a moving vehicle (she later admitted that she was blocking the path of government trucks shortly before this incident). Another video shows rangers using a stun gun on a protester immediately after he kicks a police dog.
Bundy, for his part, claims that “our Constitution didn’t provide for anything like the federal government owning this land.” He’s wrong. The Constitution provides that “[t]he Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”
Sue Lowden wants to eliminate direct election of U.S. Senators because Harry Reid keeps getting elected.
Republicans dislike democracy because it gives Democrats a chance to win. Many conservatives now support repealing the 17th amendment to the U.S. Constitution which calls for the direct election of U.S. Senators. They have a problem with democratically electing Senators, because voters might choose a Democrat to represent them. The idea of repealing the 17th Amendment was popularized by right-wing radio talk show host Mark Levin, in his book The Liberty Amendments. GOP Senators Ted Cruz (TX), Mike Lee (UT), and Jeff Flake (AZ), have all voiced support for ending direct election of Senators. In addition, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Georgia Senate candidate Paul Broun have all backed Levin’s anti-democratic plan.
A long list of Republicans are in favor of ending direct election of U.S. Senators because voter suppression just simply is not doing enough to keep Democrats from getting elected. For this reason, in the eyes of some Republicans, elections must be done away with altogether. America should just become an aristocracy where state politicians, and not the voters, determine who should represent the people. Nevada Lt. Governor candidate and failed former U.S. Senate candidate, Sue Lowden (R) explains why democracy should be done away with. Democracy should be eliminated in her view, because voters in her state vote for Harry Reid.
In an interview transcript posted on the Douglas County (NV) Republican Central Committee’s page on March 27th, Lowden explains that if we repealed the 17th Amendment we could get rid of Harry Reid. In the interview, conducted last November, Lowden is asked whether she would support abolishing the 17th Amendment and she responds by saying:
I would absolutely support it…I don’t know why the senators wouldn’t want it shown in good faith to the American public that this would be a good idea for our country. Instead we have Harry Reid, the Harry Reid’s of our country who are there over and over again and have a tremendous amount of money to be re-elected. Yes, I think people are really fed up with bad people in government. If that’s a way to change things up in Washington, I would be all for it and do whatever we [need] to do it.
In other words, her opinion is that democratic elections for U.S. Senator are a bad idea because the people do not choose the candidate she wants to win, they vote for Harry Reid instead. Perhaps one reason Lowden is so hostile to voters choosing their Senators is because when she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, hoping to defeat Harry Reid, even three quarters of Republican voters rejected her. In that race, she was trounced by “Second amendment solutions” Sharron Angle 40 to 26 percent, with other candidates accounting for the remaining votes. Apparently, Lowden’s loopy plan of bartering chickens for health care was not well received even by her own party.
Sue Lowden simply exemplifies the level of contempt the modern Republican Party holds for the average American voter. However, rather than settling for implementing various subtle forms of voter suppression, Lowden brazenly wants to end Senate elections altogether, so that people like her have a chance to become U.S. Senator instead of leaving that choice up to voters who after all, might re-elect Harry Reid again. Fortunately, the Lt. Governor’s race in Nevada is a direct election, and voters can once again reject Lowden’s arrogance and choose a more capable public servant to represent them.
The conservative movement’s choice for president believes that whites-only lunch counters should be legal. He believes that business owners’ rights trump civil rights, that Medicare should be undermined or even destroyed, and that workers simply have too much power to demand better wages and working conditions from their employers.
I write this words today, two days after voters in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s straw poll selected Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) as their preferred candidate for president in 2016, but they could have just as easily been written in 1964 as Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater was consolidating the support he’d need to become the GOP’s presidential candidate.
Like Paul, Goldwater opposed the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters. Like Paul, Goldwater backed so-called “right to work” laws intended to undermine unions — and the higher wages those unions bring. And like Paul, Goldwater had no love of Medicare. Goldwater once mocked the idea that seniors should enjoy government-provided health insurance as akin to giving them free “vacation resorts” and “a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.” Paul supports a plan to roll back Medicare that would even make Paul Ryan blush.
The first time Republicans sought the White House with this agenda, it did not turn out too well for them. President Lyndon Johnson trounced Goldwater in one of the most devastating landslides in American history. And yet, if the CPAC straw poll is any indication, the party’s increasingly dominant conservative wing is eager for a rematch.
Out Of The Closet
The parallels between Goldwater’s ascendance and the rise of Tea Party candidates like Paul stretch beyond their similar policy prescriptions. Indeed, the Tea Party is as much at war with Republicans who might compromise their own purity as it is with Democrats who reject hardline conservative values altogether. “We need another come-to-Jesus meeting,” former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R-AK) told CPAC this past weekend. “America is counting on the GOP to get it right, and that’s why the establishment can’t blow it.”
Goldwater offered similar protests against a Republican establishment that, in his mind, had strayed too far from the conservative path. The Arizona senator slammed Republican President Dwight Eisenhower for operating a “dime store New Deal,” and he offered himself up to voters as an out and proud alternative to Republicans afraid to be seen as too conservative. Goldwater’s 1960 book The Conscience of a Conservative opened with a direct swipe at self-hating conservatives — “I have been much concerned that so many people today with Conservative instincts feel compelled to apologize for them.” And his campaign buttons and billboards appealed directly to conservative voters to come out of the closet. “In your heart,” Goldwater’s most famous campaign slogan read, “you know he’s right.”
(Johnson supporters responded with a slogan of their own: ”In your guts you know he’s nuts.”)
Conservatives like Goldwater had good reason to remain in the closet in the 1960s. The last president to serve a full term before the dawn of the Great Depression was Calvin Coolidge, a staunch conservative who once proclaimed that “[c]ollecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.” In the lead up to the Depression and for several years after it began, the Supreme Court enforced a kind of laissez faire political orthodoxy by striking down laws banning child labor, guaranteeing a minimum wage and protecting the right of workers to organize.
Then the New Deal and the massive government spending project known as “World War II” happened, and America emerged from the Depression as the wealthiest and most powerful nation that ever existed. In 1964, the year Johnson defeated Goldwater, the United States saw an eye-popping 5.8 percent growth in its gross domestic product. Conservative economic theory seemed wholly discredited by the 1960s, and the economics of the New Deal and the Great Society appeared entirely vindicated.
Nevertheless, Goldwater borrowed heavily from pre-New Deal conservatism in shaping his own views. One of the central tenets held by conservatives prior to and during the Roosevelt Administration was that liberalism is not just wrong, it is also forbidden by the Constitution. This is why the Supreme Court so blithely struck down laws benefiting workers in the lead up to the Great Depression. And it’s also why the American Liberty League, a kind of proto-Tea Party formed to oppose FDR and the New Deal, framed its objections largely in constitutional terms. As one early Liberty League supporter described the organization’s creed:
I believe in the Constitution of the United States; I believe in the division of power that it makes, and that it is the duty of every public officer to observe them [sic]. I believe in the rights of private property, the sanctity and binding power of contracts, the duty of self-help. I am opposed to confiscatory taxation, wasteful expenditure, socialized industry, and a planned economy controlled and directed by government functionaries.
Goldwater, more than any other Republican of his era, sought to revive this notion that the Constitution was a fundamentally conservative document. In announcing his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, Goldwater argued that its provisions regulating private business — the bans on whites-only lunch counters, employment discrimination, racial exclusion in hotels and similar practices — all violated the Constitution. “I find no constitutional basis for the exercise of Federal regulatory authority in … these areas,” Goldwater announced on the Senate floor. “[A]nd I believe the attempted usurpation of such power to be a grave threat to the very essence of our basic system of government.”
In a subsequent speech, Goldwater added that he also opposed the civil rights law because he thought that it violated business owners’ right of “freedom of association.” “There’s a freedom to associate and there’s a freedom not to associate,” Goldwater declared. And the right to not associate with black people was apparently part of this second “freedom.”
In reaching these views, Goldwater relied on the advice of two men who would go on to become some of the most influential constitutional thinkers in the conservative movement.
The first was a fairly obscure Arizona lawyer named William Rehnquist, who would later rise from this obscurity to become Chief Justice of the United States. The same year that Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, the Phoenix City Council enacted a similar ordinance banning many forms of discrimination by private businesses. Rehnquist was one of only three people who testified against the proposed ordinance, and he later published a letter to the editor of theArizona Republic laying out his objections. Though Rehnquist conceded that discrimination by the government itself was out of bounds — “All of us alike pay taxes to support the operation of government, and all should be treated alike by it,” the future chief justice wrote — he held very different views about the government’s power to address private racism. The ordinance, according to Rehnquist’s letter, “does away with the historic right of the owner of a drug store, lunch counter, or theatre to choose his own customers.”
Goldwater sought out Rehnquist’s advice on whether he should support the Civil Rights Act, and then he sought a second opinion from a Yale law professor named Robert Bork — the same Robert Bork that President Ronald Reagan would try and fail to put on the Supreme Court. Yet Goldwater must have known what advice Bork would have given him when he asked for it, as Bork had already laid out his views in a 1963 article published in the New Republic. The principle behind a federal ban on whites-only lunch counters, Bork argued in that piece, “is that if I find your behavior ugly by my standards, moral or aesthetic, and if you prove stubborn about adopting my view of the situation, I am justified in having the state coerce you into more righteous paths. That is itself a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”
In Your Guts Your Know He’s Nuts
After Johnson’s decisive victory over Goldwater, Republicans largely turned away from Goldwater’s hardline views. Though the party’s next presidential nominee, Richard Nixon, infamously embraced a “Southern strategy” seeking to appeal to white racists, he was careful not to go so far as to oppose LBJ’s landmark civil rights legislation. In a 1964 speech attacking what he called the “irresponsible tactics of some of the extreme civil rights leaders,” Nixon also praised the Civil Rights Act itself — predicting that “[i]f this law is effectively administered, it will be a great step forward in the struggle for equality of opportunity for all Americans.”
As Chief Justice of the United States, Rehnquist sat on three cases where one of his fellow justices — Justice Clarence Thomas — embraced a Goldwateresque view of the Constitution that would have rendered the Civil Rights Act unconstitutional. Yet Rehnquist did not join Thomas’s opinions in these three cases.
Bork also repudiated his past opposition to the Civil Rights Act during his 1973 confirmation hearings before he became Solicitor General of the United States. At these hearings, Bork reportedly “said that he had changed his mind and that his 1963 article had been a kind of thought experiment.”
Which is why Rand Paul’s 2010 statement, that the “hard part about believing in freedom” is that you must also believe in the legality of whites-only lunch counters, is so remarkable. When Paul came out against the Civil Rights Act, he did not simply come out against a widely cherished law, nor did he just take a position well to the right of the Republican Party’s explicit views. Paul embraced a view that was rejected by the very same people who were its leading proponents at the time that the Civil Rights Act became law. The CPAC attendees who embraced Paul as their candidate are effectively trying to wipe away all of this history — the defeat of Goldwater, the reputation of Goldwater’s views by the GOP, the evolution of men like Bork and Rehnquist — and relitigate the election of 1964 more than half a century after Johnson won it in a landslide.
Indeed, in reality, they are doing far more than that. When I floated the premise of this article on Twitter, Mother Jones‘ Nick Baumann pointed out to me that “Barry Goldwater and Rand Paul would disagree on the single most important social issue” — abortion.
Perhaps because Goldwater rose to prominence before Americans’ views on abortion began to polarize along partisan lines, the man who once defined conservatism went to his grave wildly out of step with his party on this contentious issue. Indeed, in a 1994 interview, Goldwater complained that “a lot of so-called conservatives … think I’ve turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion.” Abortion, according to Goldwater, is “a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the religious right. It’s not a conservative issue at all.”
Even more remarkably, Goldwater became a staunch supporter of gay rights in the twilight of his life. After retiring from the Senate, Goldwater supported allowing gay people to serve openly in the military, and he even became honorary co-chairman of a push to ban a federal ban on job discrimination against gay Americans.
In other words, thirty years after Goldwater opposed a federal ban on job discrimination on constitutional grounds, he became one of the leading proponents of a federal ban on job discrimination. Even Barry Goldwater eventually rejected Barry Goldwater’s rationale for opposing the Civil Rights Act.
And yet, Rand Paul does not. Nor does Paul share Goldwater’s views on abortion. Indeed, Paul introduced legislation that would “extend the Constitutional protection of life to the unborn from the time of conception.”
The man CPAC favored to be the next President of the United States, in other words, makes the Godfather of conservatism look like Martin Luther King. Three decades after his own presidential race, Goldwater himself understood that the views he once championed were wrong. Yet Tea Party conservatives would foist these views upon the nation regardless.
An obscure concept called the Convention of the States (COS) is gaining momentum in the Bible belt—and it’s backed by the Religious Right. It’s the brainchild of Michael Farris, founder and president of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. Far from being a noble attempt to safeguard our freedom, it’s an attempt by Farris and his cronies to rewrite the U.S. Constitution to make it more to their liking.
A little background: There are two ways to amend the Constitution. One is for two-thirds majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate to approve an amendment, which then goes to the states. If three-fours of the states say yes, the amendment is added to the Constitution.
The other mechanism has never been tried. If two-thirds of the states apply for a constitutional convention, one must be convened. Most experts on the Constitution believe that once a “con-con” has been called, it can’t be limited to just one subject. Everything would be up for discussion.
Over the years, right-wing groups have proposed con-cons to add anti-abortion, school prayer and other amendments to the Constitution.
So why does Farris want to amend the Constitution? The COS’ official website lists several suggestions, and superficially, all of them seem to be in more in line with libertarianism than the theocratic policies of the Religious Right. Among the recommended amendments: a balanced budget amendment, redefinition of the Welfare Clause and a prohibition on using international treaties and laws to govern the United States.
The site doesn’t mention religion, and yet David Barton, the noted pseudo-historian, and Rick Green, his radio co-host, publicly issued their support for a COS last week.
In an open letter to “fellow patriots” published by Glenn Beck’s website, Barton and Green wrote, “It is exciting to see such a renewed interest in basic constitutional principles. Liberty lovers across America are studying their past in order to find ways to stop our federal government’s explosive growth and sprint towards socialism.”
The letter added, “For states to refuse to use this tool would be like going into a street fight, but refusing to use one of your biggest and most effective weapons. And it is illogical to consider the use of any constitutional provision as a threat to the Constitution. It makes as much sense as violating the free-market system to save it, or breaking health care to fix it.”
It’s important to recall that Barton and Green are no fans of separation of church and state; their opposition to the concept is exactly why they spend so much time and resources constructing a dogmatic mythology that supports the notion that America is a “Christian nation.” The wall of separation is a barrier in the crusade to “Christianize” America. If a COS is convened, their legislative allies could propose—and pass—an amendment that would substantially weaken the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections, or repeal them entirely.
And for this endeavor, they have a strong ally in Farris. Farris is a champion of the Christian home-school movement, and founded Patrick Henry College, a fundamentalist Christian school that serves primarily home-schooled students. He has close ties to the Religious Right.
Farris has backed a parental rights amendment to the Constitution for years. Ostensibly, it’s intended to “protect” the right of Christian parents to home-school (a right already upheld by the courts). But it also goes further than home-schooling, and would grant parents an absolute right to school “choice” – that is to say, sectarian education at taxpayer expense.
No mention of the parental rights amendment appears on COS’s website. But given Farris’ years of advocacy for the measure, it’s likely that passing it is among his primary motivations for launching the COS effort.
I doubt that Farris & co. are burning to call a con-con so they can add a balanced-budget amendment. That’s populist rhetoric designed to disguise the true motivations for the campaign.
Instead, it’s far more likely that the COS campaign is actually about undermining church-state separation, stopping same-sex marriage, ending legal abortion and furthering other far-right obsessions. They’d love to replace the handiwork of James Madison with something cooked up by a band of Religious Right attorneys.
Farris and his backers have a long way to go. The Georgia senate recently passed the application, and nine other states are currently deliberating the measure. Still, the matter bears watching. They might talk about “reform” but remember this: The “reform” offered by Farris, Barton and Green would ultimately restrict, not protect, our liberties.
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who last week announced his support for a convention of states to amend the US Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, has launched a new campaign to promote the anti-gay amendment, called “I Stand With Judge Moore.”
Moore, who believes that marriage equality is a Satanic influence that will lead to “oppressive” government and divine punishment, told WorldNetDaily yesterday that the legalization of same-sex marriage threatens the Constitution:“It’s a travesty,” Judge Roy Moore told WND on Monday about the move toward judiciary-imposed same-sex “marriages.” “The courts are exercising wrongful authority over this country.”
He said it was no less than the U.S. Supreme Court itself which, in an earlier ruling, said, “We come nearest to illegitimacy when we deal with judge-made constitutional law with no cognizable roots in the design of the Constitution.”
“If marriage falls,” he said, “the institution of family upon which it is based falls.”
Then, he said, “We no longer have a Constitution. We have a government of individual men who have the power to decide what the Constitution means … .”
The Religious Right group Moore founded, the Foundation for Moral Law, has posted the letter and resolution, “The Marriage Preservation Amendment to the United States Constitution,” [PDF] that Moore sent to the nation’s governors pleading with them to initiate a convention of states.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
In an interview on KTTH, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann discussed the future of the conservative movement with Breitbart Editor-at-Large Ben Shapiro. She began by attacking what Shapiro called “the intelligence threats via Obamacare,”…
States can pass resolutions to call for a Convention of the States. The Georgia state senate passed a resolution on Tuesday, and movements are underway in a few other states, according to the Huffington Post.
In order to hold a national convention, 34 states must pass resolutions calling for one, and 38 states would then need to ratify any amendment proposed.
"Washington isn’t going to fix itself," he said. "We need a balanced budget amendment, we need term limits, we need the oversight capability to limit the bureaucracy in terms of its impact on the private sector. … We need to have that discussion. And I want to tell you, the country’s tuned for it."