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Posts tagged "US Constitution"

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. 

NOTE: One of the seven cases mentioned in this Think Progress article, Bond v. United States, was decided today unanimously 9-0.

h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Health 

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW

h/t: Cailtin MacNeal at TPM

h/t: John Byrne at Chicago Tribune

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW

h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

h/t: Keith Brekhus at PoliticusUSA

h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

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.

h/t: Sarah Jones at Americans United For Separation of Church and State

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

Michele Bachmann: Immigrants don’t like the GOP because we love the Constitution (via Raw Story )

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,”…

h/t: TPM

Tea Partiers, Tenthers, and the corporate sponsors who support them have come up with a variety of ways to circumvent the federal government and bypass the federal regulatory system, including efforts to hold an Article V Convention, commonly called a “Con Con,” to amend the Constitution and the Sen. Ted Cruz (R, TX)-developed plan for use of “interstate compacts” to block federal law.

In a report for the Center for American Progress, Ian Millhiser described these state’s rights efforts as a project for “seceding from the union one law at a time.”  These initiatives could result in a Balkanized confederation of states that would be no match against the power of international corporations and would allow for eliminating the regulatory system and the social safety net.

The most recent issue of The Public Eye magazine includes two extensive articles on the efforts of conservatives to shift power to the states, including Frederick Clarkson’s article on the State Policy Network’s growing influence, and my article on the growing nullification movement (co-authored by Frank Cocozzelli).

Nullification is based on a legal theory that states can block enforcement of federal laws individual states deem unconstitutional. But another route to “nullification” was popularized by Senator Cruz before he even became a senator, and promoted through Tea Party organizations and the highly-controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The Constitution, in Article I, Section 10, allows for states to form interstate compacts with the consent of Congress.  This is most commonly done to oversee shared resources, such as waterways.  One of the earliest formed and better known of these compacts is the New York – New Jersey Port Authority. But Cruz
 is claiming that interstate compacts can be expanded as a way to circumvent presidential veto power.Cruz’s idea is to use “interstate compacts” to shield states from federal laws. He developed the concept in 2010 as an alternative option for “nullifying Obamacare.” Just prior to his election as senator, Cruz worked as senior fellow with the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies at the Texas Public Policy Center, the state’s “free market” think tank and a State Policy Network member. While the concept of interstate compacts is not new, Cruz’s idea to use them as a strategy for shielding states from federal laws is uniquely original, which he freely admitted to Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard  in January 2011.


The concept was also promoted through the State Policy Network’s “Federalism in Action” program, and Cruz himself presented the idea at the 2010 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference, where it promptly became the foundation for ALEC’s “Health Care Compact ACT” model legislation for state legislators.

To date, this Healthcare Compact Act has been passed in eight states: Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The healthcare compact is promoted and tracked through an organization called the Healthcare Compact Alliance, a project of Competitive Governance Action, a 501(c)(4) co-founded by Texas businessman Leo Linbeck III and Eric O’Keefe and sharing the address of the Linbeck Group, LLC, in Houston.

The vision of shielding entire areas of state regulation from the federal government has been further enshrined by ALEC in the form of a model bill developed by their International Task Force, and approved by the ALEC board of directors.  Under the title “State Legislature United Compact,” the model bill provides validation for those who half-jokingly warn about the “United States of ALEC,” apparently giving ALEC a role in forming and running the commission that would organize the interstate compact, and ensuring that like-minded conservatives would control the topics and outcomes of a convention.

ALEC’s December 2013 States and Nation Summit in D.C. was sponsored, in part, by another Linbeck and O’Keefe nonprofit, called the Citizens for Self Governance.  Its legal name is the John Hancock Committee of the States and it’s the parent organization of the Convention of the States (one of several organizations promoting an Article V convention to amend the Constitution).  The organization was incubated prior to gaining its own nonprofit status by American Majority, an organization founded by Drew and Ned Ryun to “infuse new Tea Party blood into the political system.”

Until now, the only method used to amend the Constitution has been through a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the states. However, there is another process in Article V that allows for a convention to be called by two thirds of state legislatures.  Mark Meckler, cofounder of the Tea Party Patriots, is now president of the Citizens for Self Governance and is overseeing the group’s Article V convention efforts.

Meckler promoted the Convention of the States project in a session at ALEC’s December summit. On the Saturday following the summit, roughly 100 state legislators from 32 states met at Mt. Vernon to advance convention plans.  Ferris’ reflections on the event acknowledged that there are divisions in conservative ranks between those who want the “con-con,” and those who fear a “runaway con-con” infiltrated and overrun by liberals. Historical revisionist David Barton has just recently endorsed a Constitutional Convention, while both Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum and the John Birch Society (JBS) fall into the second category.

As noted in The Public Eye article Nullification, Neo-Confederates, and the Revenge of the Right, the JBS has become a major force behind state nullification efforts across the country.

Despite misgivings about a “runaway con-con,” there are several right-wing groups around the country working to organize a convention, but with some disagreements about how it would work.  PRA senior fellow Frederick Clarkson, Salon’s Paul Rosenberg, and I have all listened in on conference calls by one such organization that has differences of opinion with the Convention of the States on how to proceed (you can read Rosenberg’s story about it in Salon). The leader of that organization has a plan for the first amendment to be a “Sovereignty and State’s Rights Amendment,” allowing any federal law to be “countermanded” by the agreement of 30 states.

This state’s rights movement is gaining traction across the country, including among some on the political Left, but the money and organizing behind the effort is solidly conservative­—or perhaps better described as paleo-libertarian, or a combination of radical anti-government philosophies wedded to social conservatism.

h/t: Rachel Tabachnick at Political Research Associates