Miranda Blue's blog

Conservative Groups Urge Maximum Obstruction Of Hillary Clinton's Judicial Nominees

At a Values Voter Summit panel this weekend, top conservative legal groups promised that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, they will pressure GOP senators to obstruct her judicial nominees to the greatest extent possible, including attempting to prevent her from replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network, Phillip Jauregui of the Judicial Action Group, and David Christensen and Mandi Ancalle of the Family Research Council discussed what they would urge the president and the Senate to do in the first 100 days of the next presidency. In the case of a Clinton presidency and a Republican-controlled Senate, they promised maximum obstruction of judicial nominees.

Severino, who once called Judge Merrick Garland “the best scenario we could hope for” in an Obama Supreme Court nominee and said that “of those the president could nominate, we could do a lot worse” than Garland, predictably changed her tune once Obama actually did nominate Garland to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court. At the Values Voter Summit, Severino insisted that senators would “effectively nullify their oath to uphold the Constitution” by voting to confirm Garland.

“Say you’re in a state where there’s no chance on who’s going to win on the president’s side, it’s so important to remember how significant these senatorial races are, because the senators also had an oath to the Constitution,” she said. “They have to uphold and defend the Constitution. That means, when it comes to a vote for a nominee, so even if it is someone who is absolutely not going to uphold the Constitution as it is written, like Merrick Garland even, even if he does come to a vote—and I suspect that if he remains the nominee into the next presidency, he probably would come up for hearings and a vote at some point—our senators simply cannot be voting for someone that would effectively nullify their oath to uphold the Constitution. So I think we have to remember to remind our senators of that.”

Severino dismissed the idea of the Republican Senate confirming Garland in a lame duck session if Clinton wins the election, saying that if Clinton becomes president and renominates Garland or picks someone “more radical” for the court, GOP senators could stall proceedings and “maybe we'll have eight justices for awhile.” When asked how long she thought it would be realistic for a GOP senate to block a Clinton nominee to the court, she said, “I think the court could really function as long as it needed to with eight justices.”

She said that the “best case scenario” under a Clinton presidency would be if Clinton worked with Republicans in the Senate to pick a nominee who “did actually have a record of upholding the Constitution”; it’s unclear who she thinks such a nominee could be, since she previously called Garland the “best scenario” for a Democratic Supreme Court nominee.

Severino’s message that the Senate should obstruct just about any Hillary Clinton nominee contradicts the claims made by her group and others that they are merely blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee because the decision on who to appoint to the Supreme Court should be left to the next president. (In the words of a Judicial Crisis Network ad: “This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about your voice. You choose the next president, the next president chooses the next justice.”)

The Judicial Action Group’s Jauregui impressed upon the activists in the room that they would also have to be prepared to “fight vigorously” on nominations to the lower federal courts under the next president, including closely monitoring a President Trump’s nominations. He praised the effort of Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to prevent President Obama’s filling of judicial vacancies in their home state by refusing to turn in “blue slips” giving the go-ahead for hearings on nominees, hinting at an obstruction strategy conservative groups might urge GOP senators to use under a Clinton presidency.

Jauregui urged the current Republican Senate to vow now to keep the current rules barring filibusters of lower-court judicial nominees if they stay in power, no matter who becomes president, saying it would be “foolish to say the best” to do otherwise.

Severino agreed that it would be “just as well” to see the judicial filibuster abolished for good after Senate Democrats invoked the so-called “nuclear option” in the face of entrenched GOP obstruction in 2013. She said that eliminating the filibuster on judicial nominees would probably help conservatives in the long run.

“If you’re not using a weapon, you might as well not have it anyway,” she said. “So now I say, move on, I think we’re living in a world, unfortunately, a post-nuclear world where 51 votes is all you need for a nominee, and that in the long term may actually help in terms of getting some of these constitutionally sound judges on the court.”

FRC's Agenda For President Trump's First 100 Days: Roll Back LGBT & Reproductive Rights

At a panel at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, activists representing the event’s organizer, the Family Research Council, and other conservative groups laid out what they will press Republican lawmakers to do in the first 100 days of the next presidency.

Under a Hillary Clinton administration, the conservative activists said, Republicans in the Senate should do as much as they can to obstruct her nominees to the judicial and executive branch. If Donald Trump is elected, they had a wish list of priorities for his administration, focusing on rolling back advances to LGBT and reproductive rights that have taken place during the Obama administration.

Mandi Ancalle, the FRC’s general counsel for government affairs, reminded the audience that FRC had helped to shape the Republican Party’s ultraconservative platform at the GOP convention in Cleveland and was hopeful that a Republican president—i.e. Trump—would help to make much of it law.

Ancalle said that the FRC is “working to generate a comprehensive list” for the Trump administration of executive orders, executive guidance and administrative regulations that a President Trump should rescind soon after taking office, and of Bush-era policies that he should reinstate. She said that the group was working with contacts on Trump’s transition team to get their wish list into the GOP nominee’s hands.

Among the priorities that she said FRC is pushing for in the first 100 days of a Trump administration:

  • Rescind the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidance assuring that federally funded emergency shelters house transgender people according to the sex with which they identify.
  • Reinstate the Mexico City Policy, which bars U.S. foreign aid from going to groups that provide abortion-related services or advocate for abortion rights abroad, even when those services are not paid for by U.S. government funding. This so-called “ global gag rule” was rescinded by President Obama.
  • Reinstate a rule instituted by President George W. Bush that provided broad “conscience protections” for health care workers refusing to participate in care for religious reasons. According to the Washington Post, the rule “was widely interpreted as shielding workers who refuse to participate in a range of medical services, such as providing birth control pills, caring for gay men with AIDS and performing in-vitro fertilization for lesbians or single women.” In 2011, the Obama administration rescinded much of the Bush-era regulation but maintained conscience protections for health care providers who do not want to perform abortions. Ancalle noted that the FRC wants to make sure that new regulations allow physicians not to care for transgender patients by providing hormone therapy and other treatment.
  • Rescind President Obama’s executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination.

Although Ancalle did not explicitly name them among FRC’s first-100-days priorities, she also criticized the Department of Education’s guidance on access for transgender students in public schools; the Department of Health and Human Services' contraception mandate; the “completely lawless” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance on access for transgender people in the workplace; and President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

She also indicated that the FRC would urge a President Trump to undo the Obama administration’s work pushing LGBT and reproductive rights abroad, saying that the administration has “in some ways become a lobbying organization” and that “ambassadors that are appointed and sent overseas to represent American values have not only kind of flipped on their head what Americans stand for, what you and I stand for, but have really begun to lobby governments in attempting to accept same-sex marriage, in attempting to accept this gender identity dysphoria and attempting to push abortion acceptance and pro-abortion legislation in those different governments.”

She reminded the activists in the room that executive branch nominees—including nominees for ambassador—can be confirmed or blocked by the Senate, and urged the Senate to broadly exercise its power to block these nominees, whoever becomes president.

“It’s important that as we maintain a majority in the Senate that we’re encouraging our senators to not defer to what the president—honestly, whether it’s a Trump or a Hillary Clinton presidency—not to just defer to the president,” she said. “We’ve heard some senators say ‘elections have consequences’ and just put their stamp of approval on any secretary, on any nominee, and it’s really important that senators are out here in Washington, D.C., representing you all as you’re back at home, and representing your views on who those heads of these very authoritative departments and agencies are.”

Jerry Boykin: God Used The Iran Hostage Crisis To Bring Us Ronald Reagan

Family Research Council official Jerry Boykin was previously a lieutenant general in the Army, where in 1980 he participated in the disastrous attempt to rescue 52 Americans held hostage in Iran, which ended in failure and the deaths of eight service members.

In an interview this morning with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios at his group’s annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., Boykin explained that while the failed rescue mission was “tragic” and “the most devastating thing in my life,” it did have a “real positive” in that it “brought down Jimmy Carter” and helped lead to the election of Ronald Reagan.

Rios asked Boykin if the next president will be able to undo the “decimation” of the military under President Obama, like she said George W. Bush was able to do after Bill Clinton’s presidency.

“That’s a good example,” Boykin replied, “but you know what’s a better example, at the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, Ronald Reagan came in. Look, I was part of the failed rescue attempt in 1980 where we were trying to go into Iran and rescue 52 Americans that were being held in the embassy there. I was part of that operation. I watched eight good men die in the desert 100 miles from Iran and it was the most devastating thing in my life.”

“But you know what?” he said. “Two things that came out of that. Number one, it brought down Jimmy Carter and that was a real positive. Number two, it brought in Ronald Reagan. So even in that kind of tragic situation, there is something positive, God uses those things for good. And we brought in Ronald Reagan and his focus was to restore our military and think of what he did. I mean, he went on a determined campaign to make sure that did not happen again. And what we have today is an incredible military, particularly special operations, that is now in decline again because of the Obama administration and the next president is going to have to come in and do exactly what Ronald Reagan did.”

Boykin also warned that if Hillary Clinton were to become president, she would implement unconstitutional hate speech prohibitions.

He told Rios that at a strategic planning meeting more than a year ago, the FRC had decided to spend “50 percent of our time on religious liberty” and warned that “times are going to be even more difficult for Christians” if Clinton is elected.

He pointed to the United States’ support for a UN resolution on “religious tolerance” while Clinton was secretary of state as evidence that Clinton supports imposing blasphemy laws and speech restrictions in the U.S. In fact, Clinton worked to remove support for blasphemy laws from the resolution, although some critics say that the resolution’s wording on the subject still left too much wiggle room for governments wishing to impose speech restrictions.

Boykin told Rios that the “biggest thing that Americans need to be concerned” with a Clinton presidency “is the First Amendment.”

“You just said it, hate speech,” she said. “She has, in fact, agreed to UN Resolution 16/18 which says that if you say anything disparaging about Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, you can be taken to jail. And by the way, that’s happening in Europe right now. People are being arrested for what is considered hate speech because they are speaking out against what’s happening there, they’re speaking out against the rapes and the murders and the pillaging of the cities there and the terrorist attacks and some of them have been arrested for hate speech. That’s coming to America if Hillary Clinton is the next president.”

David Barton: Trump 'Doesn't Have To Be Deep On The Issues' Because He's a Businessman

Religious Right activist and Republican operative David Barton offered an interesting argument to Christian conservatives who are reluctant to vote for Donald Trump today, explaining in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody today that Trump “doesn’t have to be deep on the issues because he uses a CEO model, not a governmental model.”

Barton pointed to Trump’s many business failures, which he said the GOP candidate was able to bounce back from because “he keeps taking the best people and putting them over those endeavors.”

Trump provides a paradigm that Christians are not used to. We’re so used to having government leaders, we think in terms of governmental leaders. With a business leader, you do things totally different. It’s not how much he knows, it’s the people he puts around him. So Trump has lost his fortune several times, but how come he keeps rebuilding it back to a billionaire level? Because he keeps taking the best people and putting them over those endeavors. So as far as Trump’s concerned, he doesn’t have to be deep on the issues because he uses a CEO model, not a governmental model. It’s about who he chooses.

Of course, Barton's absurd rationale doesn't explain why, if Trump "keeps taking the best people" and putting them in charge of his various endeavors, he has managed to lose his fortune several times in the first place.

Andy McCarthy Wants Congress To Preemptively Impeach Clinton

Andy McCarthy, a conservative pundit who served as a national security adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, is urging Congress to preemptively impeach Hillary Clinton in order to prevent her from becoming president.

McCarthy wrote in the National Review on Tuesday that Congress could launch proceedings for “an impeachment [of Clinton] based on her abuses of power as secretary of state, which would have the constitutional effect of disqualifying her for the presidency”:

For months, I have been arguing that Hillary Clinton should be impeached. It is all well and good to prosecute a former government official for any crimes she has committed. Indeed, the Constitution expressly provides for criminal prosecution in addition to impeachment. Nevertheless, for the Framers — and, if we had common sense, for us — the imperative was to deprive a corrupt person of any further opportunity to abuse government power. Whether the official should also be convicted and sent to prison was not unimportant but, in the greater scheme of things, decidedly secondary.

Interestingly, the main pushback I received upon positing this argument was not that Mrs. Clinton is undeserving of impeachment…

No, the main objection to impeachment is the claim that, because the former secretary of state does not currently hold public office, there is nothing from which to remove her. Hence, as a non-incumbent who merely seeks the nation’s highest office — after proving herself manifestly unfit in a subordinate office — she is said to be immune from impeachment. How could she be impeached from the presidency, the question is posed, if she is not president? How could she be removed from an office she does not hold based on offenses not committed while wielding presidential power?

These questions and the non-incumbency theory behind them fundamentally misconstrue the constitutional remedy of impeachment, which is not limited to removal from power but includes disqualification from future office. Moreover, their premise is wrong: The proceeding against Clinton would not be a presidential impeachment; it would be an impeachment based on her abuses of power as secretary of state, which would have the constitutional effect of disqualifying her for the presidency.

Jerry Boykin Hopes Values Voter Summit Will Help Win Conservative Christians To Trump

Jerry Boykin, the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, which is hosting this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, said today that he hopes the event will end with conservative Christians becoming comfortable with voting for Donald Trump.

Boykin, who recently endorsed Trump, told Breitbart News this morning that “we’re going to see a lot more people become comfortable with the Trump-Pence ticket” over the weekend and that greater support for Trump is “what I’m hoping we’ll come away with.” He specifically praised Trump’s hire of Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon, who has made the outlet a platform for the racist alt-right movement, saying that Bannon “has been a great influence on Trump.”

What I think we’re going to see this weekend, we’re going to see a lot more people become comfortable with the Trump-Pence ticket. If you notice what Donald Trump has been doing recently, he has stayed on message, he has really, I think, followed a lot of good advice from the people around him, you know, one of which is your president, Steve Bannon, and I think Steve has been a great influence on Trump.

So I think we’re going to have a lot of people here that are coming in still questioning whether they’re going to support Trump and I think it’s going to be an opportunity for them to be convinced that the guy will make a much better president than Hillary and there just are no perfect candidates. So that’s what I’m hoping we’ll come away with.

Boykin also previewed a panel discussion he will be hosting on “jihad in America,” which he said will inform the audience that the U.S. government should be working with Muslims who don’t “want to be involved in jihad” but that the only people we reach out to as a nation are the very entities of the Muslim Brotherhood that want to destroy America, and we basically ignore the rest of the Muslim population.

Anti-Choice Activists With Extremist Ties Given Top Billing At Values Voter Summit

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to address the Values Voter Summit, an annual Washington, D.C., event hosted by the Family Research Council, tomorrow. In doing so, he’ll be sharing the stage not only with extreme anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim activists, but also with activists who are rooted in the radical fringes of the anti-abortion movement.

Trump will address the summit soon after David and Jason Benham take the stage. The Benhams are twin brothers who became Religious Right megastars in 2014 after HGTV cancelled a show they were set to star in following Right Wing Watch’s revelations about their extreme anti-gay, anti-choice activism.

The Benhams’ status as martyrs within the Religious Right has too often obscured the true radicalism of their activism.

The brothers’ activism is rooted in the work of their father, Flip Benham, a North Carolina preacher who took over the anti-abortion protest group Operation Rescue after the infamous Summer of Mercy, in which anti-abortion activists spent weeks laying siege to Wichita, Kansas, in 1991. Benham later changed the name of his group to Operation Save America and expanded its work to include anti-gay and anti-Muslim activism. (The group is now led by Rusty Thomas, although Benham remains involved.)

David and Jason Benham worked closely with their father and Operation Save America but also became activists in their own right. Leading one protest outside a Charlotte abortion clinic in 2013, David Benham told protesters they were standing against the “gates of hell” and the “altars of Moloch.” He has also called abortion “child sacrifice.” David and his wife lead and fund a Charlotte-based group called Cities4Life that leads sidewalk protests outside of abortion clinics and distributes “abortion pill reversal kits.” On its website, the group compares legal abortion to the Holocaust and explains why it uses graphic signs in its protests:

Women are rarely told the truth about abortion. Without the truth, Satan is free to rob, kill, and destroy. It is urgent for these women to know the truth about this hidden evil, done in secret. We must lay bare the demonic lie that an unborn baby is not a human life. When we shine the light of truth about this “legal” procedure, it wakes up the sleeper and moves them to action.

The Benhams continue to associate with the fringes of the anti-abortion movement that their father represents. This spring, for instance, it was announced that they would appear in a movie directed by Patrick Johnston, an Ohio “personhood” activist. In 2008, the Colorado Independent revealed that Johnston had ties to militia groups and once wrote a troubling essay on the website of the violent anti-abortion network Army of God attacking a pastor for criticizing Paul Hill’s murder of abortion clinic doctor John Britton and his bodyguard.

Also speaking at the Values Voter Summit will be David Daleiden, the young activist who’s undercover “sting” videos of Planned Parenthood took the anti-choice movement by storm last year.

Like the Benhams, Daleiden’s work is rooted in the fringe world of the anti-abortion “rescue” movement. Troy Newman, who runs the group now called Operation Rescue—which has been in a years-long feud with Flip Benham’s Operation Save America over its name—helped Daleiden to get his project off the ground. Newman, who moved his group to Wichita in 2002 in order to go after Dr. George Tiller, who was later assassinated, has written that the U.S. government has “abrogated its responsibility” to execute abortion providers and argued that a man who murdered an abortion provider should have been allowed to argue that the homicide was justifiable. Newman’s second-in-command at Operation Rescue is Cheryl Sullenger, who has spent time in jail for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic.

The Benhams and Daleiden have both been embraced by the “mainstream” Religious Right despite their roots in the radical fringes of the anti-choice movement. And now all three are speaking alongside the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.

Phil Robertson Links Drug Addiction To Laws on 'Perversion' And Abortion Rights

In an interview with a West Virginia radio station yesterday, “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson linked drug addiction and other social ills to the country forgetting “the God of the Bible” and instituting legal abortion and “perversion.”

Brian Sexton, a host with WVHU in Huntington, asked Robertson what he had learned from ministering to drug addicts and other troubled souls.

Robertson connected these issues with the themes of an upcoming "documentary" he’s starring in, which is directed by now-Trump campaign chief Steven Bannon.

“The documentary is what happens to any empire or culture, nation, what happens to them when they forget the God of the Bible, the God of Creation,” he said. “You forget Him and what they do is they allow men to determine what’s right and wrong instead of God, they let men decide what’s good and evil instead of God, and they allow men to decide how much your life is worth. So once that happens, you start seeing these, like in America, these court cases. I mean we’ve legislated the murder of our own children, we’ve legislated perversion, and instead of vetting our thinking through the word of God, we just decided, no, well, we know more than God.

“And now we look around and we see what we have, we’ve confined God inside these structures, everybody’s got a different sign, you know, there’s a church on every street corner, and it became so splintered and divided and the government came along and made sure, they basically said keep Him in those church buildings but do not bring Him out in public education, they ran Him out of there, saying ‘don’t bring Him into the public square.’”

He added that he is now being criticized just for quoting “a few Bible verses,” just like Jesus.

Phil Robertson: Founders Didn't Want Government To Provide Louisiana Flood Aid

Phil Robertson, the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch who will be speaking alongside Donald Trump at the Values Voter Summit this weekend, offered his thoughts on natural disasters in an interview with a West Virginia radio station yesterday, explaining that the government shouldn’t be providing relief to people affected by the devastating flooding in Louisiana because everybody should just chill out, stop whining and move to higher ground.

Brian Sexton, who was hosting “ The Tom Roten Morning Show,” asked Robertson to discuss the flooding in his home state of Louisiana, which led Robertson to embark on an extended reflection on natural disasters and how everyone always gets “bent out of shape whether it doesn’t rain or if it does rain,” when the country’s founders thought you should just deal with it on your own:

Here’s my view of disasters, whether it be hurricanes, tornados, it just rains a lot. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and say—You know, I’ve noticed something. We bellyache when it doesn’t rain because we can’t grow anything and ‘It’s a drought, it’s a drought!’ We all bellyache and then cry out. Well, when it rains, starts raining and it rains too much so you have a flood, ‘It’s a flood, it’s a flood!’ and everyone gets all bent out of shape whether it doesn’t rain or if it does rain.

So everybody is saying, running around on planet earth, seemingly saying in America at least, if it just rained just right all the time we would be happy. Here’s the deal: When it rains a lot, it’s going to flood. And if it doesn’t rain too much you have a drought. Both of them are bones to be chewed.

But it’s my studied opinion, just from observing, our founders basically said, ‘When disasters come your way, it’s unfortunate, they do happen, but you can’t expect the United States government to start pouring in and coming down there.’

What everyone needs to realize is we need to love one another enough that when you or your neighbors when they flood, we call come together, we all start cooking some meals here, looking after one another. These things, it’s the way life is. I mean, we’re not going to have the perfect temperature and the perfect amount of rainfall. So my view is, when it floods here we just move all our stuff higher and higher up the hill and if it starts coming in the house, we move it up, up, up as far as we can and then if it comes right down to it, we’re going to find ourselves another hill higher than the one we were on.

After discussing how he always picks land with potential flooding in mind and so people should never have built homes near the Gulf of Mexico in the first place, Robertson concluded: “We bring a lot of this stuff on ourselves. I don’t think the government ought to be a part of it. That’s when you ought to come together as human beings, love one another, help each other out. The waters will recede and life will go on, so let’s just keep it in proper context. It’s the way life is.”

Ohio Activists Petition To Classify Abortion As 'Aggravated Murder'

Activists in Ohio have filed a petition with Attorney General Mike DeWine seeking to put a constitutional amendment on the state’s ballot that would classify abortion as “aggravated murder.”

The proposed amendment would “prohibit abortion of all unborn human beings, without exception, and [classify] it as aggravated murder in the State of Ohio.” Its authors claim that it would not affect “genuine contraception” or “IVF procedures that respect the right to life of newly created human beings”—carefully worded qualifications that seem designed to ease public discomfort about the amendment while not actually creating exceptions.

Under Ohio law, “aggravated murder” can be punished by death or life in prison.

Cleveland.com reports that the amendment petition was submitted by Ohio activists Laura Burton, Anthony Dipane and Dustin Paulson. Although the news outlet reports that the activists are “not connected with Right to Life or other organized anti-abortion rights groups,” the language of the amendment is identical to a bill posted on the website of Abolish Abortion Ohio, a state group connected with the group Abolish Human Abortion. Dipane and Paulson are both associated with Abolish Abortion Ohio.

In a Facebook post about the proposed amendment, Paulson wrote that he and his allies were calling on legislators to ignore “the unjust rulings of an unjust Supreme Court” and “defy the higher magistrates” (i.e. the courts) on the issue:

We're calling our fellow citizens, Ohioans, Christians, to repent of their apathy and capitulation during this war on the unborn.

They've seen their neighbor left for dead and passed by on the other side.

The legislators who are sworn to uphold the Constitution, not the unjust rulings of an unjust Supreme Court, have helped to codify their murders.

Our message is simple and unchanging:

-Repent with us for failing to do for the least of these what we would most certainly have done for Christ.

-Call for, and only for, the uncompromising abolishment of abortion in our state and nation.

-Defy the higher magistrates who have become unquestionable kings in our nation, no matter the cost to state and country.

An Oklahoma bill seeking to classify abortion as first-degree murder this year was similarly pushed by the “abolitionist” group in the state. That bill foundered, but the Oklahoma legislature soon passed another bill seeking to make abortion a felony, which was vetoed by the state’s Republican governor.

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