Posts tagged "US Constitution"

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

h/t: Adalia Woodbury at PoliticusUSA



Is Victoria Jackson asshole of the day for wanting to change the 1st Amendment to ban Islam?

Victoria Jackson believes many mosques are terrorist training camps. She named the one in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

When I asked Victoria Jackson if she believes in freedom of religion, she said,…

Gordon Klingenschmitt began the new year by emailing members of his Pray In Jesus Name Project a warning that growing victories for marriage equality are a sign that more Americans are “deceived by the devil.”

The Religious Right activist and GOP politician wrote that thanks to demonic influence, voters are now willing to “elect anti-Christian tyrants to re-define our national morality in the image of evil.”

He also told activists that “homosexual marriage causes child abuse” and “is inherently selfish and abusive to kids.”

What is the most cruel thing you can do to a child? After physical or sexual abuse, the most cruel thing you can do to a child is take away their mother. That’s how homosexual “marriage” causes child abuse, by taking away the child’s mother (or father) and telling the child “your need for a mother is less than our right for homosexual pleasure.” Gay “marriage” is inherently selfish and abusive to kids.

Let’s petition Congress to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman.

If our citizens are deceived by the devil, and we fail to discern the spirits who influence those politicians for whom we vote, then we will elect anti-Christian tyrants to re-define our national morality in the image of evil. Woe to them who call good evil, and evil good.

Homosexual “Marriage” will never be lawful and always be a sin in the eyes of the God of the Bible. There are not sufficient religious exemptions in the Hawaii bill, which will cause liability for churches, non-profits, and for-profit corporations who refuse to participate in their religious “ceremonies.”

I met several Congressmen last week in DC, and although they are discouraged, they are not ready to quit. But they must hear from us, that we still care about traditional marriage. Let’s send Congress a message today. Demand a Constitutional Marriage Amendment…

h/t: Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch

H/T: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

Right-wing radio host Bryan Fischer says First Amendment only protects Christians (via Raw Story )

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association said Tuesday that the founding fathers intended the First Amendment to only protect Christianity, not Islam or any other religions. On his radio program, called Focal Point, Fischer said the word “religion…


Inspired by reports that the African nation of Angola had outlawed the religion of Islam and begun dismantling mosques, Bryan Fischer called for similar steps to be taken in America.

Though the claims turned out to be false, Fischer said on his radio program yesterday that under the Constitution as it was originally written, individual states have the freedom and power to declare Islam to be illegal and prohibit Muslims from practicing it or building mosques.

"Angola has made Islam illegal in the country," Fischer said, “and they are dismantling mosques. Mosques are illegal and they are dismantling the mosques that already exist; they’re taking them down … And you ask yourself the question, well, can we do that here? Could we do that in the United States? Could we make Islam illegal, could we prohibit the building of mosques, and the answer is yes!”

Shut the fuck up, Mr. Islamophobe Bryan Fischer! 

From the 11.25.2013 edition of AFR’s Focal Point:

h/t: RWW