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New Report Details Consequences of an Eight-Member Supreme Court

Today, People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) and the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) released the new report, “Material Harm to Our System of Justice: The Consequences of an Eight-Member Supreme Court.”

The report details:

  • Statements by current and former Supreme Court justices – including Scalia, Rehnquist, and Roberts – on the importance of a nine-justice Supreme Court.
  • Ramifications we’ve already seen from an eight-member Court. This includes the effects of 4-4 decisions like Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore and Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and the Supreme Court punting in Zubik v. Burwell.
  • The growing ideological divisions on the Court, making split decisions more likely.
  • Why an eight-member Court could endanger voting rights leading up to the 2016 elections.
  • How individuals and companies are impacted by an eight-member Court on a wide variety of issues including healthcare, banking, and more.

Read the report here.

Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra stated:

“The virus of dysfunction afflicting the Senate is showing symptoms at the Court, and the prospect of this blockade extending from the current Term into the next is outrageous. Former Justices have spoken on the need for a fully staffed Court, including former Chief Justice Rehnquist and even Justice Scalia in years past, as well as former Justices Stevens and O'Connor in recent weeks. As today’s report explains, an understaffed Court is hamstrung by its inability to fully perform its essential role in resolving important constitutional and legal questions for the American people.”

People For the American Way Foundation Senior Fellow Elliot Mincberg added:

“The current obstruction that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Garland is facing is unprecedented, and there are real consequences for the American people because of this obstruction. Current and former Supreme Court justices – including Scalia, Roberts, and Rehnquist – have detailed the reasons why the Court needs nine members to properly execute its duties. From 4-4 splits that fail to set national precedent to potentially blocking the Court’s ability to protect voting rights, an eight-member Supreme Court simply cannot function as it should.”

To schedule an interview with PFAW Foundation and/or CAC experts on this report, please email lepstein@pfaw.org or Pennington@theusconstitution.org.

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Young Leaders Join Members of Congress to tell Senators: #DoYourJob

Today, national youth-led and youth-serving organizations released an open letter to U.S. Senators calling for fair consideration for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

At the press conference releasing the letter today at the Supreme Court, young leaders from across the country joined members of Congress and discussed why Senator Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, needs to do his job and schedule hearings and a vote for Judge Garland instead of engaging in unprecedented partisan obstruction. Speakers also shared what’s at stake for young people in the Supreme Court vacancy fight.

The letter released today is signed by Young People For, Generation Progress, NAACP Youth and College Division, Sierra Student Coalition, the Roosevelt Institute, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Energy Action Coalition, American Constitution Society Student Chapters, the Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network, Student Debt Crisis, Advocates for Youth, and the Micah Leadership Council. Text of the letter is below.

Key remarks from Senators, Representatives, and young leaders:

Sen. Cory Booker: “It’s energizing to see so many young leaders at the front of the growing chorus of voices urging Senate leaders to do their job and provide a fair process for the consideration of Chief Judge Merrick Garland. The decisions made at the Supreme Court don’t just impact us today, they impact generations to come. That’s why it’s so important that the Senate do its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent by giving Merrick Garland a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote.”

Sen. Al Franken: “It’s been more than three months now since a vacancy opened on the U.S. Supreme Court, and during that time, we’ve seen a whole lot of partisan bickering, obstructionism, and political maneuvering. But you know what we haven’t seen: Senate Republicans doing their job as outlined by the Constitution. The President has fulfilled his duty by nominating Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the highest court in the land, and now, it’s the responsibility of us—the Senate—to fulfill our duty as well. That means we need Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, and ultimately, an up or down vote on Judge Garland’s confirmation. I was pleased to join these young American leaders today to remind Senate Republicans that it’s time to take off their political blinders. This is far too important to ignore.”

Rep. Ruben Gallego: “As a member of Congress who was elected to do my job, I take my constitutional duty seriously. Senate leadership should stop their obstructionism and take their duties seriously, too. A lengthy Supreme Court vacancy can have severe and lasting consequences. It’s time for the Senate to do their jobs and give Judge Garland a fair hearing and a timely vote.”

Rep. Linda Sánchez: “This Supreme Court vacancy is critically important for all Americans, but especially for Latinos living in the United States.  We are an especially young community with more than 14 million millennials. So our message is simple: The President has done his job, now it is time for Republican Senators to do their job.”

Oscar Conejo, Hanover, New Hampshire: “I know some senators want to wait until after the election, until the next President is elected, to choose the next Supreme Court justice. But the Senators need to do their job, not play politics with the Supreme Court. As an undocumented student, I know just how critical the decisions are that they make on important issues that affect me and my family, from education to immigration and so much more.”

Consuelo Hernandez, Tucson, Arizona: “I’m here today because I’m tired of conservatives in the Senate choosing politics over precedent and chaos over constitutional duty. On issues as wide-ranging as voting, reproductive justice, and economic justice, the day-to-day lives of young people are directly impacted by the decisions made at the Supreme Court. By choosing not to give Chief Judge Merrick Garland the fair and timely consideration afforded past nominees, conservatives are abandoning their constitutional duties and turning their backs on the constituents like me who put them in office.”

Max Levy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: “As the president of the College Dems chapter at the University of Pennsylvania, I know how important it is to work with organizations from across the political spectrum.  Even though we don’t always agree, we work hard to foster productive dialogue on our campus. Right now, some Senators are saying we shouldn’t even hold a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, and that’s just plain wrong. Dialogue is healthy for democracy. I know that's true on my  campus, and it's true for the Senate.”

Mary Marston, Concord, North Carolina: "Young people now make up the largest voting bloc in America and many are just becoming politically active. It is critical that our elected officials follow through on their constitutional commitments to keep young people engaged in the democratic process."

Zach Wahls, Iowa City, Iowa: “I see the marriage between my moms—the possibility of their marriage—as our legal system keeping up its end of the American promise to a fair hearing and due process. Because the Court was able to act, and its decision was recognized as legitimate, my parents’ marriage is recognized in all fifty states—my parents’ sacred promise is recognized to mean the same thing in Iowa as in Alabama. We got a fair hearing, and we need to make sure that America can get a fair hearing, too.”

Peter Cheun, American Constitution Society Student Chapter President at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law (Illinois): “Law students across the ideological spectrum may disagree on who their ideal Supreme Court nominee would be. But in my experience, they have been nearly unanimous in their agreement that the Senate should do its job: Give Judge Garland a fair hearing and an up or down vote.”

Max Eichenberger, American Constitution Society Student Chapter President at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law (Illinois): “When employees fail to do their jobs, it is their business and consumers that ultimately suffer. For the U.S. Senate, their business is administering our representative government, and we are all the consumers. Give Judge Garland a fair hearing and keep this shop running.”

Joelle Gamble, National Director, Network at the Roosevelt Institute: "So far, in 2016, we've seen that young people just want the political process to work the way it is supposed to. If our leaders want us to participate, they have to ensure that the political process works in the first place. They must restore our faith in democracy."

Karissa Gerhke, Sierra Student Coalition National Director: “Young people working for just, sustainable communities and the protection of the environment are not taking a back seat in this fight. We can’t and we won’t let obstructionists threaten everything we’re fighting for on our campuses and in our communities. The Senate should do its job to fill this vacancy.”

Stephen A. Green, NAACP National Youth and College Director: "Young people from across the country have courageously come together to call upon Congress to do their job or lose their job. We deserve a democracy that works for all people, give Judge Garland a fair hearing!"

Erik Lampmann, People For the American Way Foundation’s Young People For Public Affairs & Policy Manager: “Keeping the Court understaffed is simply indefensible. Until our Supreme Court is empowered to function as it was designed, we will not stop calling on Senators to “Do Your Job” and treat the Court, the Constitution, and us with respect.”

Layla Zaidane, Generation Progress Managing Director: “As a generation, Millennials have grown up amid partisan gridlock and politicians more interested in playing political games than doing their job. But the Supreme Court vacancy isn’t a game to us: from marriage equality to reproductive rights, the decisions the Court makes affect our lives, every day. Millennials overwhelmingly support a hearing and a vote on President Obama’s nominee—it’s time for the Senate to do its job and ensure a fully-functioning, fully-staffed Supreme Court.”

For follow up interviews, pictures or videos from today’s event, please email media@pfaw.org.

Open Letter to the Senate

Dear United States Senators,

We, the undersigned youth-led and youth-serving organizations, call on all U.S. senators to give fair and timely consideration to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

On issues as diverse as immigration policy, voting rights, and reproductive rights, the daily lives of young people are affected by what happens in our nation’s courts. We represent broad youth constituencies seeking to ensure that their rights are protected at the local, state, and federal level — including young immigrants, youth of color, trans* and queer youth, students, low-income youth, and differently-abled young people. We know the communities we work with are just some of the over 100 million people in this country who stand to be directly impacted by cases before the Court just this term.

A fully-functioning judiciary is essential to a flourishing democracy and critical to our ability to protect our rights and seek justice. Purposefully keeping the Supreme Court understaffed, as some senators are proposing, is indefensible.

Chief Judge Garland deserves the treatment traditionally afforded past Supreme Court nominees: prompt hearings and an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Senators who believe Chief Judge Garland should not serve on the Supreme Court are free to vote against him, but blocking the process entirely is an abdication of senators’ constitutionally-defined responsibilities and an insult to the people who elected them.

Young people are working each day to provide for themselves and their families; some are also studying for advanced degrees and vocational certificates or organizing their communities to create change. Across the country, young people are working hard at their jobs. They should be able to expect the same of their senators.

The undersigned organizations call on all senators to do their jobs and consider the President’s nominee to the nation’s highest court in a timely fashion. There are too many critical issues at stake for young people, and for all people, for ideologically motivated senators to play politics with our Supreme Court.

Respectfully,

Advocates for Youth
American Constitution Society Law Student Chapters
Energy Action Coalition
Generation Progress
Sierra Student Coalition
Student Debt Crisis
Micah Leadership Council
NAACP Youth and College Division
NARAL Pro-Choice America
Network at the Roosevelt Institute
Young Elected Officials Network
Young People For

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Supreme Court Punts in Zubik Case – and Shows Again the Crucial Importance of a Fully-Staffed Supreme Court

The Supreme Court issued a brief unsigned opinion today in the Zubik case, and vacated the conflicting opinions on whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) allows religious nonprofits to effectively take away Affordable Care Act-required contraceptive coverage from their employees. The result is to punt the issue away until the Court again has nine justices, reinforcing again why the Court must have a full complement of justices and why the Supreme Court is such a critical issue in the 2016 elections.

Before the Court in Zubik were a series of cases in which federal appeals courts had ruled that objections by religious colleges and other employers to contraceptive coverage had already been accommodated by the Administration by making clear that the coverage was to be provided by insurers and not involve any employer who expressed a religious objection, so that RFRA was not violated and coverage should continue. The more conservative justices on the Court, including Justice Kennedy, were nonetheless troubled by the claim that the religious employers were still involved in providing the coverage, at least by specifically having to provide notice to object to it. So the Court ordered supplemental briefing in the case on whether it was possible to continue to provide the coverage with no involvement by the employers, other than providing insurance that did not include contraceptive coverage.

In its opinion today, the Court vacated the decisions being considered in Zubik and directed that, on remand, the lower courts should give the government and the objecting employers the opportunity to try to resolve the issue, in light of what the Court characterized as the possibility, as expressed in the supplemental briefs, of ensuring that the coverage can be provided without involving the employers. If needed, the lower courts would then issue opinions on the issue, which could be reviewed by the Supreme Court. Interestingly, the Court also gave the same treatment to the single appellate court opinion that ruled in favor of religious employers and was not included in the Zubik case, vacating that decision as well to be reconsidered again if necessary. The Court specifically made clear that while this process is going forward, women covered by the insurance plans should “receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage," and that the “Government may not impose taxes or penalties” on the religious employers for failing to provide the formal notice of their religious objection which they had complained about in their lawsuits. In other words, no harm should occur to any of the parties while the government and the employers try to work out the problem and litigate it in the lower courts if necessary. A separate concurrence by Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg further emphasized that the decision does not resolve either way the substantive issues, including whether the religious employers do incur a “substantial burden” that triggers RFRA.

While both sides can therefore claim some temporary victory from the Court’s ruling, the clear loser is our American justice system. A crucial legal issue that clearly divides the justices on the Court concerning the application and meaning of RFRA and contraceptive rights remains unresolved. Despite the apparent optimism in the Court’s brief opinion, it seems unlikely that every  religious employer in the country will agree to any accommodation under which its employees will still get contraceptive coverage, so that the issue is very likely to remain unresolved and return to the Supreme Court again. Without nine justices on the Court, it seems clear that the Court will not be able to resolve the issue, just as it could not at present. That makes the issue of filling the current vacancy on the Court, and who will be the president that fills future vacancies on our closely divided Supreme Court, extremely crucial now and in November.

PFAW Foundation

For Earth Day, Young Elected Officials Network Releases Statement in Support of the Clean Power Plan

For Earth Day today, more than 80 members of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network – the first and only national network of young progressive leaders at every level of elected office – released the following statement in support of the Clean Power Plan and the goal of 50% clean energy by 2030:

The Young Elected Officials Network is committed to ensuring a sustainable future for our families, our communities, and our planet. Climate change is a crisis that demands a policy response and urgent action. The United States has a responsibility to cut back on its carbon emissions and secure a path toward a clean energy future. As young people, we will be forced to deal with the consequences of inaction, and as elected officials, we see how important addressing this crisis immediately is for the health, security, and prosperity of everyone we represent. Though climate change is a global issue, its effects are especially pronounced for communities of color, low-income families, and Indigenous communities. Power plants are often located near these communities and threaten those families with respiratory disease, heart attack, and premature death – along with a host of other environmental and socioeconomic impacts.

As leaders of states and municipalities across the country, we support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) which takes critical steps to addressing the unfolding climate crisis. The CPP lays out a flexible blueprint for states to achieve significant reductions in their emissions. The CPP is critical to meeting our commitments to greenhouse gas reductions made at COP21, and to being a responsible member of the international community. It is tied to our national security, our economic growth and sustainability, as well as our health and well-being.  While the Supreme Court has issued a stay on the CPP, we call for its implementation and for state and local leaders to take action to further its goals. Furthermore, during this time of transition, we call on all leaders to place environmental and economic justice at the forefront of the CPP’s design and implementation and to commit to equity for the marginalized communities who have borne—and continue to bear—the brunt of so much environmental degradation. 

We are committed to sourcing our electricity from renewable sources—not from nuclear, natural gas, or other fossil fuels—and we believe that a new energy economy built around clean power will generate jobs and prosperity for our communities. To that end, we are committed to sourcing 50 percent of the nation’s power with clean energy by the year 2030. The CPP makes this goal an entirely achievable one, and will result in cleaner, cheaper, more reliable power.

This statement was organized by the elected officials who participated in the Young Elected Officials Network’s Clean Energy & Environmental Justice Policy Academy – which launched in Denver, Colorado this February – as part of their ongoing efforts to promote environmental justice.

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In Memory of Doris Roberts, Longtime People For Friend and Supporter

The People For family was saddened to learn of the passing of Doris Roberts, a longtime friend and a committed supporter of our work.

Doris Roberts hugs founder Norman Lear at PFAW Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles, December 2011.

For many years, Roberts was an active supporter of People For, speaking at and attending events, helping to spread the word about our work, even recording robo-calls for our campaigns. She was especially passionate about fighting for LGBT equality and acted as a strong advocate in the height of the AIDS crisis and beyond.

People For founder Norman Lear tweeted yesterday that he is “forever in her debt.”

Our thoughts today are with her family and friends. Doris Roberts’ commitment to making our country a stronger, more just place was inspiring – and she will be deeply missed.
 

PFAW Foundation

Equal Pay Day Shows How Far Women Still Have to Go

This piece originally appeared on the Huffington Post

Today marks “Equal Pay Day,” the day when women’s pay finally catches up to men’s pay from last year. You’ll have to forgive me for not cheering too loudly.

Each year Equal Pay Day highlights how far we still have to go in the fight for pay equity, and it’s striking how little headway has been made on closing the gap in recent years, with progress all but stagnating in the past decade. Across the board, women continue to be paid less than their male counterparts — a fact that takes on new significance in an election year where the views of the Republican presidential candidates on the gender pay gap range from dismissive to downright hostile.

But the numbers speak for themselves: according to the latest data, women earn on average 79 cents for every dollar that men earn. When you consider a full lifetime of work, the scope of inequality becomes far more dramatic. A new report from the National Women’s Law Center on the “lifetime wage gap“ shows that across 40 years of working, based on the current figures, women lose more than $430,000. When you break down the numbers by race, it’s even more stark; African-American women lose over $877,000, and Latinas more than a million dollars. When women are making hundreds of thousands of dollars less than men over a lifetime, it affects not only women’s financial stability while working and during retirement, but also the financial stability of our families.

Not to mention that it’s spectacularly unfair.

A gender pay gap exists for women in almost all occupations, from teachers to lawyers to cooks to mail carriers, and even in the entertainment field. Demos reports that for retail salespeople, the most common occupation in the country, the gender pay disparity is “particularly stark,” with women who are working full-time earning just 68 cents for each dollar earned by their male co-workers. For women struggling financially, the earnings lost simply for being a woman can mean the difference between barely making ends meet and being forced to choose between basic necessities like food and rent.

When you look at the presidential candidates’ stances on pay equity, it’s clear that the 2016 election will be a pivotal moment for whether progress is possible in the near future. Trump claims to “love equal pay,” but says he won’t support the legislative efforts necessary to make it happen. At an event last year, he told a woman asking about the pay gap that “you’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Sen. Ted Cruz voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act and derided it as a “political show vote.” A 2014 newspaper investigation found that in Gov. John Kasich’s office, women were paid nearly $10 less per hour than men, yet on the campaign trail, Kasich blamed not discrimination, but paid leave laws, for causing the wage gap!

Despite Republicans’ dismissal of the issue, equal pay for equal work remains a goal rather than a reality for women across the country. And until we close the gap, Equal Pay Day will remain an unhappy reminder of this continuing inequality.

Kathleen Turner is an advocate and Academy Award-nominated actress, and serves on the board of People For the American Way’s affiliate, PFAW Foundation.

PFAW Foundation

Mississippi Pastor Speaks Out Against “Appalling” Right-to-Discriminate Law

On Tuesday Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law a sweeping bill that allows businesses, individuals, and organizations to cite religious or moral beliefs in order to discriminate. As the ACLU outlines, the new law is likely to have far-reaching implications for LGBT people as well as single mothers, who “could be turned away from social services like homeless shelters, denied medical care, or be fired from their jobs.” The specific beliefs “protected” include the views that marriage is between opposite-sex partners only; that sex should only occur within marriage; and that gender identification is based only on the sex a baby was assigned at birth. People with different religious beliefs on the same issues receive no such special treatment under the law.

Dr. Christopher Cockrell, a Meridian, Mississippi member of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, released the following statement:

“This is a very sad week for our state. People being turned away from shelters or denied medical care simply because of who they are is unjust and discriminatory, and it flies in the face of basic human decency. This is not a law that reflects the values of most Mississippians, including religious leaders, and it may open up a Pandora’s box for more discriminatory bills to come.

“Religious freedom should never be cited as an excuse to harm others. Targeting people who are already vulnerable for state-sanctioned discrimination can only be described as appalling.”

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Modern-Day MLK Glenn Beck Volunteers To Be Punched In The Face By Trump Supporters

Convinced that 2016 will see a repeat of the riots and assassinations of 1968 and that God has been preparing his audience for years for this moment to save America, Glenn Beck is now contemplating going to Cleveland for the Republican convention this summer, where he hopes to become this generation's Martin Luther King Jr. by allowing himself to be punched in the face by angry Donald Trump supporters.

Alarmed by longtime Trump ally Roger Stone's threat to disclose the hotel room numbers of any Republican delegates who try to "steal" the nomination from Trump at the convention, Beck declared on his radio program today that perhaps God has been preparing him and his audience to go to Cleveland and link arms around the hotels in order to protect the delegates by taking a beating.

"This may be what we have been preparing for," Beck stated. "This is maybe what I've been prepared for, this is maybe what I've been hearing, what I'm supposed to do and I haven't understood it ... I do believe that Martin Luther King was right; where there is good versus evil and it is side by side, Americans will always side with good." 

"This is about good versus evil," he said. "I'm wondering if we're supposed to go to Cleveland ourselves and I don't know yet what, ring those hotels, stand someplace arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder and be immovable and let them punch us in the face."

Supreme Court Rules that Everyone Deserves Representation

Justice Ginsburg writes for a six-justice majority, rejecting an assertion that states must count only eligible voters when drawing legislative districts.
PFAW Foundation

Glenn Beck Gets Embarrassingly Debunked By His Own Website

For years, Glenn Beck has been obsessed with George Soros, regularly portraying the liberal billionaire philanthropist as some sort of evil genius and puppet master who has been behind countless efforts to destroy America. So naturally, when right-wing media outlets began reporting that Soros-linked figures had donated money to a super PAC supporting John Kasich, Beck seized upon the news.

On his radio show last week, Beck declared that Soros was backing Kasich in an effort to foment a brokered Republican convention, all for the purpose of sowing chaos.

"I know this," Beck said, "Soros, like the imams over in Iran, like the people over in Europe that are, what is it, The Coming Insurrection people, like Occupy Wall Street, like Black Lives Matter, they all want one thing, and that is chaos."

On his television show that night, Beck even hauled out his trusty chalkboard covered with a drawing of an octopus to highlight "the tentacles of George Soros" that now reached all the way into the Kasich campaign:

But apparently nobody at Beck's website got the memo, because last night The Blaze published a piece totally debunking Beck's conspiracy theory:

Neither progressive billionaire George Soros — who has bankrolled numerous far-left initiatives and Democratic political campaigns — nor his company has spent money to support the campaign of John Kasich for president.

Still, numerous conservative news sites have pointed to campaign finance watchdog Center for Responsive Politics, which lists the Soros Fund Management company as a prominent supporter of the of Kasich super PAC New Day for America, with $200,000 in donations. In some cases, the news accounts presented Soros as backing Kasich to cause mayhem in the Republican presidential primary — to either draw votes from front-runner Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

However, the firm Soros Fund Management did not give money to the Kasich super PAC. Rather, a one-time top-ranking executive, Scott Bessent, made two separate $100,000 donations to New Day — one on Oct. 21 and second on Dec. 8, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Another close Soros associate, Stanley Druckenmiller, whom Forbes once referred to as “George Soros’s main man,” gave three separate contributions of $150,000 to the Kasich super PAC, for a total of $450,000. Druckenmiller heads the Duquesne Family Office hedge fund firm. Druckenmiller made his first donation to the Kasich super PAC on Aug. 10 and the other two in February.

...

Bessent was the chief investment officer for Soros Fund Management. A Soros Fund Management spokesman who did not provide his name told TheBlaze, said, “Scott Bessent doesn’t even work here any more, which is neither here nor there.” The spokesman angrily asserted that the firm itself did not contribute to the Kasich PAC.

David Barton: If You Tithe, God Will Bless You With A Car That Goes 200,000 Miles

On a recent episode of his "Foundation of Freedom" series, David Barton explained to Glenn Beck how, if Christians tithe properly, they will find themselves being rewarded by God with cars that don't break down as often and clothing that will last longer before wearing out.

"Everybody is supposed to pay their 10 percent to God," Barton stated. "And we don't pay that because God needs it, Deuteronomy says you're to pay the tithe, you do that to learn to be Me first. God says the reason you pay the tithe is so that you learn to put Me at the top of what you do."

"I love the example with Cain and Abel," he continued, "he said that Abel brought the first fruits of the flocks and God was pleased with that. It said that Cain, in the course of time, brought the crops to God and God wasn't pleased with what Cain did. So when you do it first thing off of the top, God can really bless that. And I've seen that. We both tithe, we know the benefits of that, suddenly your cars go 200,000 miles rather than 80,000 miles, your clothes don't wear out as fast. It's what the Bible says, [the Israelites] went for 40 years and their sandals never wore out."

Wayne LaPierre: 'We Gun Owners Are A Heck Of A Lot Smarter Than You'll Ever Be'

The NRA's Wayne LaPierre spoke at Liberty University yesterday, where he told the students gathered for convocation that American gun owners are smarter than everyone else and are perhaps some of the smartest people in all of human history.

"So many of those elites, they think they're better than us," he stated. "They somehow think they're more sophisticated. They think they're more intellectually evolved somehow than we are. Or they think they're just somehow plain smarter than we are. Well, I've got news for the elites who look down their noses at all of us and our rights: We gun owners are a heck of a lot smarter than you'll ever be. It's true."

"In all of history," he continued, "there's never been a group of citizens so engaged, so determined, so resolute and so unified in defending freedom, so politically savvy and individually prepared and responsible for protecting our families and our communities. Never have there been smarter, freer American citizens than America's one hundred million gun owners."

"Let me say that again," he emphasized, "in all of the world, some of the smartest citizens are American gun owners."

Glenn Beck: 'Superman And Batman Would Never Fight'

Though he has not seen the film yet, Glenn Beck is not a fan of the new "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" movie because Batman and Superman are heroes who would never fight each other.

"The reason why these morality plays [i.e, superhero movies] are winning right now at the box office is because they are morality plays," Beck said, "good winning over evil, the unity of the principles of America: truth, justice and the American way."

"When Batman starts to fight Superman and Captain America starts going against Iron Man, these things are going to fall apart," he warned. "They are taking 2016 values and superimposing them on 1940s values and it's going to destroy these franchises. They've got to stop."

People want to see movies in which good conquers evil, Beck explained, not movies in which the good guys are turned into bad guys.

"We have no heroes any more," he complained. "Why does Hollywood want to take our heroes and destroy them? They've already done all of the real heroes, they've destroyed those guys; now they're going to go and take on our Superman and our Batman. They're going to destroy it ... The people in Hollywood do not understand America at all. At all."

The reason Superman and Batman are fighting in this new film, Beck concluded, is in order to "reflect the turmoil that is happening here in our country, people fighting and the division between us."

'God Help Us All': Glenn Beck Says America Is Doomed And Obama Is A Communist Puppet

Glenn Beck was fired up today over the terrorist attack in Brussels, ranting on his radio program that if America elects Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, this nation will be doomed.

"I can't believe this is my country," Beck said. "History will record, they will record us exactly the way every other civilization has gone and our great-grandchildren and our grandchildren will look back on this time — I hope I'm dead before my grandchildren say, 'What were you thinking? What were you doing? What did you do?'"

"They will erase us from history in the next few generations because they will be too ashamed of us," he continued. "Our children and our grandchildren are going to learn about the Constitution, they are going to learn about what freedom really is because they will have lost it. And when they learn what life was really like in America and we threw it away, God help us all. God help us all."

Eventually, Beck began ranting about an awkward exchange between President Obama and Raúl Castro in Cuba yesterday, which Beck insisted was Castro's way of signaling to the world that Obama is a communist puppet whom he can control.

"It was the emasculation of the president," Beck stated. "It was showing, 'I have control of him' ... He was showing, 'I control this man.'"

During the exchange, Beck said, Obama's "mask came off" and revealed that he is a Marxist and "a puppet of a communist dictator."

David Barton Says Toyota's Prius Commercial Is Feeding A 'Distaste For Authority'

David Barton invited Bishop Harry Jackson on to his "WallBuilders Live" radio program today to promote his "Operation Blue Shield" effort, which seeks to bring "citizens, governments, law enforcement and first responders ... together to reduce crime."

Prior to interviewing Jackson, Barton lamented that American culture is feeding a "distaste for authority," pointing to a commercial run by Toyota during the Super Bowl featuring a group of bank robbers trying to outrun the police in a Prius.

"The distaste for authority that we're feeding in a very cultural way," he said. "If you look even at the Prius commercials that are running right now, they're humorous commercials, they're creative, but it all starts with some guys trying to rob a bank and while they were trying to rob the bank, their car got towed and so they have to jack a Prius and now the cops haven't been able to catch them. And so commercial after commercial, you've got the cops chasing these four guys in a Prius and the guys inside are just on a vacation, having fun. It all started with them robbing a bank! Now how is that a good deal? That's, again, breaking laws, rejecting authority, and so we're sending the wrong message all the way around."

Yet Again, David Barton Falsely Claims The Average Welfare Family Receives $61,000 A Year In Benefits

On his radio program last week, Glenn Beck dedicated a segment to ripping Donald Trump as a man who simply doesn't care about the truth of anything that he says, asserting that Trump is rarely called out for his lies and when, he is, neither he nor his supporters really even care about his rampant dishonesty.

"The truth doesn't matter to him," Beck said. "The truth is completely irrelevant to Donald Trump."

At the time, we thought that pretty much the same thing could be said about Beck's good pal, David Barton, who also seems to have no qualms about repeating demonstrable falsehoods over and over again because he knows that his supporters will reflexively accept anything he says while ignoring all the criticism that his work receives.

And nothing better demonstrates this very point than the most recent episode of Barton's "Foundations of Freedom" series, in which he was joined by none other than Glenn Beck and where he repeated, for the fourth time, his false claim that families on welfare receive $61,000 a year in government benefits.

"Right now, if you're on welfare in America," Barton stated, "there are 80 anti-poverty programs in America. Those 80 anti-poverty programs, spread out over the poor, the average amount that goes through those poverty programs to those who are designated to be poor,  $61,000 a year. The poor in America, right now, make more that the starting salary of a teacher in 11 states, more than the starting salary of a secretary in 39 states. If you're in Hawaii, unless you're making a salary of over $61,000 a year, there is no reason for you to get off poverty."

As we have pointed out every time we have heard Barton make this assertion, this entirely misleading claim was first put forth by the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee back in 2012 and was, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained, derived by relying on "a series of serious manipulations of the data that violate basic analytic standards and are used to produce a potentially inflammatory result."

But the simple fact that this claim is totally false is not going to stop Barton from endlessly repeating it ... nor will it stop Beck from gladly standing with him.

Glenn Beck: 'The Constitution Comes' And 'All Of A Sudden We Have Microwave Ovens'

On his radio program today, Glenn Beck reiterated his warning that people who don't vote for Ted Cruz will face eternal consequences because God gave us the Constitution ... which allowed us to create the microwave.

Once again echoing W. Cleon Skousen's book "The Five Thousand Year Leap," Beck argued that Cruz is the only presidential candidate who will defend the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which he said are sacred documents given to us by God for the purpose of protecting our God-given rights for future generations so that America would be free to create things like microwaves and airplanes.

"Just like George Washington didn't have any idea that electricity would come and television would come and we would walk on the moon and we would free Germany and we would save the Jews in Europe," Beck said, "and that our country would restore and be the leader of putting Israel back on the map. He had no idea those things were coming. But it is because of that document God allowed those things to happen."

"For 5,000 years, we had a fireplace, we had a fire pit," he continued. "The Constitution comes, all of a sudden we have microwave ovens! Nobody thought of that?"

"Leonardo da Vinci couldn't figure out that the top of the wing needed to bend. Instead, he just kept making everything perfectly flat. But after the Constitution, after men are set free, after we start dedicating ourselves to God, all of a sudden we can just figure out that little curve will give us lift to lift the airplanes? Wow, that seems pretty simple, doesn't it?"

The White Horse Prophecy: Glenn Beck Tells Utah That God Has Chosen The Mormons To Save America By Electing Ted Cruz

Back in 1843, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, supposedly delivered a message known as "The White Horse Prophecy" that declared that one day, when the U.S. Constitution was hanging by a thread, the Mormon people would rise up and save this nation.

This is how Brigham Young reportedly explained it in 1854:

Will the Constitution be destroyed? No; it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction."

In 2010, the LDS church issued an official statement that "the so-called 'White Horse Prophecy' is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine," but that didn't stop Glenn Beck from repeatedly invoking it as he campaigned for Ted Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee in Utah over the weekend.

Beck spent all last week declaring that God has spent the last 10 years preparing and sanctifying his audience to rise up at this very moment and save the republic by electing Ted Cruz as president. But when he went to Utah, Beck made it unmistakably clear to his fellow Mormons that God is using them to save America because evangelical Christians "are not listening to their God," a reference to southern evangelical Republicans who have voted for Donald Trump.

When Beck spoke at a rally for Sen. Lee's re-election in Draper on Saturday, he explicitly invoked the language of the White Horse Prophecy.

"It's something that Utah needs to hear," he said. "The body of the Priesthood is known to stand up when the Constitution hangs by a thread. I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 2000. What attracted me was not only the truth of the message, but also the people like President [Harold] Lee and President [Ezra Taft] Benson, who knew exactly who we were, knew who we were as a country. Many times, what held me through was the prophecy that the Constitution will hang by a thread and this people would remember what our founders did. It is our responsibility to stand for the Constitution!"

Beck echoed that message while campaigning for Cruz in Provo, telling the audience that he had a "special message for the people of Utah."

"I believe the Book of Mormon," he said. "I believe it to be true. I believe every word of it ... That book spells out in great detail what things look like before the Lord comes back. And He gave us that book so we can protect freedom here. He also gave us that book so we would know what to do at the time. Now you either believe that or you don't. You either believe that to be true, it's not just a book; then let the Priesthood lead! Priesthood holders, stand up and take your staff! You are the guardian at the gate."

While speaking at another Cruz rally in Salt Lake City, Beck said that it was up to the Mormons to save this nation because "the evangelicals are not listening to their God."

"Let me testify to you now," he stated. "The Book of Mormon is a book that was given to us for this time in this land and it explains exactly what it's going to look like when trouble comes ... You know what time it is, the Priesthood is supposed to rise up and restore the Constitution. Now is that time!"

"Utah has an incredible opportunity," he continued. "So many Christians have been standing up, but all throughout the South, the evangelicals are not listening to their God. Let us raise a standard in Utah. Let us do this one thing perfectly right."

Glenn Beck: Failure To Elect Ted Cruz Will Leave Us Will Blood On Our Hands

Glenn Beck told his live television audience last night that it was up to them to warn everyone they can about the dangers of not electing Ted Cruz as president, saying that those who fail to do so will have blood on their hands.

Beck said he would be out on the campaign trail for Cruz again this weekend "because that's what I can do" and that others have to do whatever they can "because we are on the Titanic, it's going down"

"Knock on every single door," Beck told them. "They don't want to come? Fine. Don't waste time. The Titanic is going down. But you knock on every single door, 'Can I tell you about the truth? Can I tell you about the truth? Can I tell you about the truth, because here's what's coming.' They don't want to hear it, up to them."

Citing the biblical prophet Ezekiel, Beck said that "religious people" will be held eternally responsible for their failure to warn others that total disaster is rapidly approaching.

"The blood of the people who could have been saved," Beck stated, "now think of this, because we're talking about the rights of all mankind; if America goes down — this isn't hyperbole any more, this isn't like a famous Reagan speech that he gave — this is real. If we go away, where is freedom? So all of the freedom that will be lost, all of lives that will be lost because we refused to pay attention, [will be] on our hands."

Gordon Klingenschmitt Praises School Board For Standing Up To Evil, Sinful, Demonically Inspired Federal Judge

On a recent "Pray In Jesus Name" program, Religious Right activist and Colorado state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt praised members of a California school board for standing up to what he said was an evil and sinful judge who had ordered them to stop using public board meetings to proselytize on behalf of Christianity.

The Chino Valley Unified School board voted 3-2 earlier this month to appeal a court ruling from U.S. District Judge Jesus Berna ordering an end to the practice of "reciting prayers, Bible readings, and proselytizing at board meetings," and Klingenschmitt voiced his support for the board's effort to resist this demonically inspired ruling.

"Even this judge, whose first name is Jesus, hates Jesus," Klingenschmitt said. "So what is going on with this judge, who is he listening to? There is an invisible demonic spirit that is whispering to him, 'Abuse your power, judge. Turn the First Amendment upside down and ban religious expression with the power of the government sword.' And that's what this judge is doing and that sin is his voluntary cooperation with the demonic spirit that is influencing him."

Klingenschmitt said that he was grateful for the decision to appeal the ruling "because we need a holy judge to overturn this evil judge."

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