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PFAW Calls Newly-Introduced “Democracy Is For People” Amendment Important Step Forward

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced an amendment to end corporate spending in our elections and permit Congress and the states to protect the political equality of all voters.  The “Democracy Is For People” Amendment would overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United V. FEC and related cases. 

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way, released the following statement:

“The Citizens United v. FEC decision opened the floodgates to big money in our elections.  This amendment would be a step toward reclaiming our democracy.  Democracy is about the voices of everyday Americans, not about which corporations or special interests can spend the most to overpower those voices. 

“As we saw in last year’s election – far and away the most expensive in history – corporate and special interest influence in our elections continues to grow.  Americans are tired of watching their democracy be hijacked and are calling for change.  This amendment is a serious, thoughtful effort that pushes the movement to restore our democracy forward.”  

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The New March Madness: CPAC's Guest List

Although forced to exclude white nationalists and an anti-Muslim extremist, this year's CPAC is still hardly an open-minded place.
PFAW

Ben Shapiro's Groundbreaking Advice for the GOP: Demonize Obama

Breitbart News Editor-At-Large Ben Shapiro is out with an innovative and pioneering game plan for Republicans: attack Democrats. Shapiro spoke to Pat Robertson today on the 700 Club where he maintained that Republicans lost the last election because they didn’t try to demonize President Obama, who “painted Mitt Romney as the worst guy since Stalin.”

That’s right, according to Shapiro, Republicans were simply too afraid to criticize Obama during the campaign.

Shapiro offers even more brilliant advice later in the interview, where he told Republicans to respond to allegations of racism by calling Democrats “racist for boiling racism down to anything with which you disagree; what that does is it demeans racism and makes racism into something that means nothing and that’s something that Republicans need to do on a more regular basis.”

He said that unlike conservatives, liberals “don’t have facts or evidence to back their positions.”

This revolutionary strategy is on display at Breitbart News, which recently ran an “exposé” on the nonexistent Friends of Hamas and cited a satirical article claiming Paul Krugman had filed for bankruptcy.

Watch:

Rep. Hultgren: Unlike 'Dangerous' Sex-Ed, Abstinence-Only Programs Have 'Incredible Success Records'

Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) appeared on Washington Watch yesterday with Family Research Council Tony Perkins to discuss his legislation that “would spend $110 million a year for the next five years on grants to abstinence programs around the country,” funding that would have otherwise gone towards comprehensive sexual education. He claimed that while the Obama administration backs “very dangerous and experimental education programs,” programs pushing abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum have “incredible success records.”

Far from having “incredible success records,” abstinence programs have a history of failure. Reports have consistently found that there is no evidence to support the claim that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs reduce premarital sex or teen pregnancy; on the other hand, studies show that comprehensive sex-ed decreases the rate of teen pregnancy and STDs.

Perkins: What you’re doing is you’re redirecting money from a program that has negative consequences and redirecting some of it into one that has proven to have positive outcomes.

Hultgren: That’s right, yes. Like you said, this has changed dramatically under President Obama and his administration and Kathleen Sebelius. Basically they see it as a slush fund that they can use however they want to and they are putting it into some very dangerous and experimental education programs for younger and younger children. What this would do is money that is already there would put it into programs that we know work. You look at the track record for abstinence education, incredible success records, kids really want to make good choices and if we give them good information it will just help them make these good choices.

DeMint: 'Secular Socialistic' Obama Orchestrating Crises for Political Gain

Former U.S. Senator and current Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint appeared on Today’s Issues with American Family Association head Tim Wildmon where he reiterated his “no compromise” mantra by arguing that President Obama and his allies are so extreme that there is no point in working with them.

When Wildmon asked if Obama even “has a conscience,” DeMint pointed to a 2008 quote by Rahm Emmanuel, whom DeMint mistakenly called “Raul Emmanuel,” about the financial crisis to suggest that Obama and his allies are deliberately creating crises in order to implement sweeping policy changes.

“What they understand on the liberal side is that the failures of their policies actually have empowered them to actually advance their policies,” DeMint told Wildmon, “A financial/economic crisis allows the president to reconfigure our whole economic and cultural system to redistribute the wealth the way he wants.”

After blaming the left for the 2008 financial crisis, DeMint argued that Obama has a “secular socialistic view” and that his “policies hurt people.” Consequently, people with a “faith and freedom view” shouldn’t even bother working with him.

Listen:

Obama Talks to Senators About Broken Judicial Confirmation Process

Republicans ended their year-long blockade of an unopposed circuit court nominee after unjustly torpedoing another with a filibuster.
PFAW

Southern Baptist Convention Poll More Bad News for Anti-Gay Activists

The Southern Baptist Convention’s polling arm LifeWay is out with a new poll revealing widespread support for gay rights, particularly among young people. According to the survey, a clear majority of Americans believe that “homosexuality is a civil rights issue like gender, race and age,” agree that same-sex marriage is “inevitable” and oppose employment discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The denomination is a fierce critic of marriage equality and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and last year passed a resolution “opposing the idea that gay rights are the same as civil rights.”

Richard Land, the denomination’s top political spokesman, has claimed that the Devil is behind homosexuality and warned that gay rights will lead to divine judgment and “paganization.” While the SBC believes it is wrong to consider gay rights a civil rights issues, Land compared his own anti-gay activism to Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of the Civil Rights Movement.

Key findings from the poll include:

  • 64 percent of those polled agreed “it is inevitable that same-sex marriage will become legal throughout the United States.”
  • “80 percent of Americans disagree that employers should be allowed to refuse employment to someone based on their sexual preference.”
  • 58 percent of respondents agreed with the question: “like age, race, and gender, homosexuality is a civil rights issue.”
  • A majority of Americans believe rental halls and landlords should not be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.
  • “More Americans do not believe homosexual behavior is a sin than those who believe it is a sin.”

The poll also found that women, young people and people with college degrees were more likely to favor gay rights.

LifeWay’s survey appears to line up with a new bipartisan analysis of exit polls which found that opposition to marriage equality is concentrated among the elderly, white evangelical Christians and people without college degrees.

Wildmon: Overturning DOMA and Prop 8 May Lead to Hate Speech Laws

During the debate over the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Religious Right groups like the American Family Association warned that the law would “criminalize negative comments concerning homosexuality” and “take away our religious freedoms.”

Of course, none of that happened, but that hasn’t stopped anti-gay activists from making the exact same false claims again and hoping more people will fall for it.

Yesterday, AFA president Tim Wildmon appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show and alleged that if the Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) then we will see “persecution against Christians” and restrictions on the freedom of speech.

Wildmon: You’re headed down the road of persecution against Christians who believe in the Bible as their standard for moral behavior. In Canada now they have different rules there where you can’t even criminalize the lifestyle itself or you’ll be charged with a hate crime. You know that’s the road we’re headed down if these laws, if DOMA is struck down, if Prop 8 is struck down, then you’re headed for control of speech, even if it’s religious speech.

Ironically, the AFA’s own legal counsel, Pat Vaughn, admitted that “the Defense of Marriage Act is probably unconstitutional.”

FrontPageMag's Infiltration of the Muslim Student Association Was a Bust

Intrepid FrontPageMag reporter Mark Tapson didn't quite find what he was looking for when he infiltrated the Muslim Student Association’s annual West Coast conference last month...but, he alleges, that's just more proof of a secret Muslim Brotherhood plot to "radicalize" college students. 

Tapson told Janet Mefferd in a radio interview Friday that far from finding anything “radical” or “damning” at the conference, “it was largely very innocuous.” He had high hopes for a workshop called “Islamatics,” for instance, but found that it was just about Islam and American politics. He even took pains to register for the conference under a “variation” of his name, only to be admitted with no questions asked.

But Tapson has a theory about why the MSA’s conference was so “innocuous.” It’s all part of Muslim Brotherhood plan, he tells Mefferd, to capture “the hearts and minds of the young.” This campus organizing and community-building, he says, “radicalizes them and it steers them toward further radicalization down the line.”

Tapson: Um, there were some lesser speakers who also got political. There was a workshop called “Islamatics,” which I expected to be more interesting than it actually was. It was basically a Washington, DC, Muslim talking about lining up Islamic ideals with the current political parties, ‘bridging the gap between their religion and their votes,’ as he put it.

Mefferd: Wow.

Tapson: But, you know, it was largely very innocuous. I mean, there was nothing beyond what I’ve already told you, really. There was very little that you’d consider radical. Highly politicized, yes, but nothing damning.

Mefferd: I think this is very true that, from what you’ve reported, that there wasn’t a lot of radical talk and it was kind of innocuous in a lot of respects, but you point out that for the Muslim Brotherhood front groups that organized this thing, it serves as a very successful recruitment and radicalization tool. Is that really, at root, the reason for the conference, or at least a primary reason for the conference, that other groups, CAIR or ISNA or, you know, whatever it is can have contact with a younger generation?

Tapson: Oh, absolutely. It’s all about the younger generation. And, politicizing and organizing that younger generation in campus groups and strengthening their sense of community as Muslims, strengthening their campus activism, that’s all, that’s a very important goal because it radicalizes them and it steers them toward further radicalization down the line. So, yeah, it's all about capturing the hearts and minds of the young.

Mefferd: Oh, wow.

 

Emerson Warns of 'Stealth Jihad' Through the Government, Media, Hollywood, Universities and Book Publishers

End Times fanatic Rick Wiles of TruNews on Friday hosted notorious anti-Muslim activist Steven Emerson to discuss how the Muslim Brotherhood is coming to power in the US and around the globe. Emerson alleged that members of Congress, specifically Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) are “in the pocket” of Islamist groups which are using “stealth jihad.”

Emerson: They’re using what I call legal insurgency, it is stealth jihad. What they are doing is legal—

Wiles: I agree, that’s what I’m saying, it’s a mental thing, they are changing the mindset of the American people, it is jihad.

Emerson: They are trying to change the mindset and they’ve already made inroads in Congress, they’ve got certain Senators in Congress like Keith Ellison, Sen. Dick Durbin and others who are in their pocket. I know this, I can prove it.

He also claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood has “penetrated virtually all institutions in the United States, wittingly or unwittingly,” including the federal government, news media, entertainment industry, book publishers and academia, as they back the group’s “ultra-fascist ideology.”

Like fellow anti-Muslim firebrand Kamal Saleem, who has maintained that he discussed plots with professors on how to recruit their students into terrorism, Emerson added that professors teach from a “radical Islamist” perspective.

Emerson: The Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated virtually all institutions in the United States, wittingly or unwittingly: the White House; the Department of Justice; Hollywood; the media; the State Department; the publishing industry.

Wiles: Why carryout terrorist acts if you can just quietly take over the country?

Emerson: That’s exactly what they said.

Wiles: And they are succeeding.

Emerson: Yes they are. They are succeeding—they’ve already been able to succeed in cutting these Faustian deals with the media where the ultra-fascist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood is totally consistent with the ultra-left-wing ideology of the media and it’s reflected on campuses in academia and student groups, it’s reflected in books and it’s also reflected in policies by the U.S. government.



Emerson: What are they teaching in academia today? Who are the professors? What are the student groups promoting? It’s a radical Islamist view of the United States and Israel, it contrives to present western civilizational values as morally equivalent to radical Islamic fundamentalist values, nothing could be further from the truth.

Marriage Equality Opponent Says 'Bigger Problem' Is No-Fault Divorce

Often lost in the debate over marriage equality is the fact that many of its leading opponents aren’t just interested in keeping the status quo on marriage. Instead, they're seeking to reverse what they see as a decline that began with laws granting greater freedom to women within marriages – specifically, the right to no-fault divorce.

In a conversation with radio host Janet Mefferd Friday, anti-gay writer Frank Turek responded to marriage equality supporters who point to divorce rates among straight couples. “You don’t make the car better by slashing another tire on it,” he said. “ You go back and repair the first tire. And I’m the first one to say that the bigger problem right now is no-fault divorce.”

Turek: I would agree with them that heterosexuals have debased it, heterosexuals have slashed one of the tires of marriage. But that’s not an argument for slashing another tire.

Mefferd: Good point, good point.

Turek: You don’t make the car better by slashing another tire on it. You go back and repair the first tire. And I’m the first one to say that the bigger problem right now is no-fault divorce.

Mefferd: Ah, yes.

Turek: But that is not an argument for same-sex marriage, in fact it’s an argument against it. Why? Because it shows you that when you liberalize marriage laws, you actually have a negative effect on society, which is what the no-fault marriage laws have done. So if you’re going to make marriage even more liberal, if you’re going to even further tear down the definition of marriage and make it totally genderless now, you’re going to have even worse results. You’re going to have even more illegitimacy, more kids that aren’t taken care of.

Now, I know the same-sex marriage advocates are going to say, ‘What, so same-sex marriage is going to do to your marriage?’ Well, it’s not going to do anything to my personal marriage, but it’s going to debase the institution of marriage into the future, make it a genderless institution, and that will hurt children and hurt the whole country.

Klayman: 'Rebellion' Necessary to Stop 'Obama's Mission to Enslave the Nation'

In whatever world Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman inhabits, President Obama has “unleashed black helicopters in our major cities to intimidate people and set up committees to determine who in its estimation is a ‘subversive’ and may have to be eliminated.”

Klayman, once again calling for armed rebellion, writes in WorldNetDaily that President Obama is trying to crush an “imminent rebellion by the informed masses” against his “mission to enslave the nation in his brand of Marxist ideology” by “removing the people’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

He dubs Obama a “modern-day disciple” of King George III and laments that he won re-election by “pitting the poor and middle class against the so-called rich, black against white, Latino against Anglo, gay against straight, and Muslim against Jew and Christian.” He concludes that if “all non-violent means” to depose Obama are exhausted, conservatives must follow the example of the Founding Fathers and stage an armed revolt.

The First Despot, King George III, raped the rich colonies with high taxes, ignored their grievances, subverted their legal system and as a final stroke seized and destroyed the colonists’ caches of guns and other means of self-defense when it became apparent that the citizens could stand no more tyranny from the Crown. Even worse, 236 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, triggering the first American Revolution, the modern-day disciple of the king, demagogue President Barack Hussein Obama, has onerously raised taxes, engaged in class warfare, pitting the poor and middle class against the so-called rich, black against white, Latino against Anglo, gay against straight, and Muslim against Jew and Christian, in order to win re-election.

To insure that Obama’s mission to enslave the nation in his brand of Marxist ideology succeeds in the face of imminent rebellion by the informed masses, his government has armed itself to the teeth, unleashed black helicopters in our major cities to intimate the people and set up committees to determine who in its estimation is a “subversive” and may have to be eliminated with drone and other strikes on American citizens on U.S. soil. [See "Obama prepares to kill 2nd American Revolution"]. And, last but not least, to this end, Obama has also issued executive actions as the first step to removing the people’s Second Amendment right to bear arms to defend themselves against “his” government and its evil designs.

With the exception of a few, like Sen. Rand Paul, no one in the Republican opposition has the will or guts to oppose Obama’s dictatorial quest to remove our freedoms and civil liberties and potentially assassinate those American citizens who resist his and the rest of the government establishment’s claim of total “sovereignty” over us.

We the People, initially using all non-violent means, must ourselves rise up! But if in the end it means following the lead of our First Founding Father, Patrick Henry, we reserve our God-given rights to defend ourselves and to restore liberty to our shores.

As in colonial times leading to the birth of a free country, we will never surrender! Instead, must be prepared to use all legally righteous means to restore the country to greatness!

Give us liberty or give us death! God did not forsake our Founding Fathers, and He will not forsake us!

White House Urges Senate to ‘Return to the Prompt Consideration of Judicial Nominees’

Chris Kang, Senior Counsel to the President, notes on the White House blog that today markes the one-year anniversary of the day Third Circuit nominee Patty Shwartz was first approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. That means that Shwartz, an experienced and respected attorney, has been waiting a full year simply for an up-or-down vote from the Senate. The ABA panel that evaluates the qualifications of judicial nominees unanimous gave her its highest possible rating. Not surprisingly for someone of her caliber, she has the strong support of Democrats and Republicans alike, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Kang writes that Shwartz’s experience is sadly not unusual in a Senate that’s been hamstrung by an obstructionist Republican minority:

Unfortunately, the delay for Judge Shwartz is not unique. Last week, my colleague wrote about Judge Robert Bacharach, who was recommended to the White House by one of his Republican home state Senators, but waited 263 days for a floor vote before being confirmed 93-0. And on Monday – after 347 days of delay -- the Senate will consider the nomination of Richard Taranto to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Overall, President Obama’s judicial nominees wait an average of 117 days on the Senate floor for a vote -- more than three times longer than President Bush’s judicial nominees, who waited an average of only 34 days. The Senate must promote the administration of justice by returning to the prompt consideration of judicial nominations. It should consider Judge Shwartz’s nomination without further delay, as well as the fifteen district court nominees awaiting votes. Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved five district court nominees. There is no reason they – and the others approved before them – should not be confirmed within 34 days.

PFAW

Rios: Female Justices 'Rudely' Interrupting Scalia, 'Speaking Inappropriately'

The topic of discussion on Sandy Rios’ American Family Radio program Wednesday was diversity among federal judicial nominees. The Washington Post published a story over the weekend detailing President Obama’s largely successful effort to appoint more women, people of color and openly LGBT people to federal judgeships. The voice of dissent in the article was that of the Committee for Justice’s Curt Levey, who told the Post that the White House was “lowering their standards” in nominating nonwhite judges. So naturally, Rios invited Levey on as a guest and explained to him why she disapproves of President Obama’s diverse judicial nominations.

In particular, Rios disapproves of Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, respectively the third and fourth women ever to sit on the high court. Sotomayor and Kagan, Rios says, have been forgetting their place and behaving “rudely,” “interrupting” and “speaking inappropriately” to, of all people, Justice Antonin Scalia.

While Levey correctly notes that “Scalia can give it out as well as take it,” he agrees with Rios that Sotomayor, the Supreme Court’s first Latina justice, “has occasionally, at least, stepped over the line.” In particular, he says Sotomayor – who he once accused of supporting “violent Puerto Rican terrorists” --  “sort of lost it” during arguments on the Voting Rights Act, when she contradicted Scalia’s stunning assertion that the law represents a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

In fact, while Scalia’s bombast provoked audible gasps in the hearing room, Sotomayor waited several minutes before calmly asking the attorney challenging the Voting Rights Act, “Do you think that the right to vote is a racial entitlement in Section 5?"

Later, Rios, with an impressive lack of self-awareness, marvels that progressive groups criticized Scalia for his remarks. “Groups on the left,” Levey responds, “shall we say, like to personalize things.”

Rios: I read an article that Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, at least this article was intimating that they are behaving in a – these are my words – sort of rudely on the bench, to Scalia and to others, interrupting, speaking inappropriately. Have you observed that? Do you know what I’m talking about and is that true?

Levey: Um, yeah. I mean, you know, Scalia can give it out as well as take it, but yeah, Sotomayor has gone over the line a number of times. Most recently in the Voting Rights Act case, which was just last week, where, you know, Scalia had the nerve to speak the truth and refer to the Voting Rights Act as “racial preferences,” which of course is what it’s become by guaranteeing that there be minority districts formed, minority congressional districts. And, you know, Sotomayor sort of lost it when Obama [sic] said that, interrupted and you know, basically made fun of Scalia’s comment. So yeah, I think they have the right to be aggressive up there, but Sotomayor has occasionally, at least, stepped over the line.

Rios: And on the Voting Rights Act and Scalia’s comments, you know, there were demonstrators at the Court last week, hundreds of them, demonstrating against Antonin Scalia. I don’t remember that happening. I don’t remember a Supreme Court justice – doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened – but I don’t remember it being a subject of public demonstrations.

Levey: No. Typically they will, you know, they’ll, protestors at the Supreme Court will focus on issues, not justices. But you know, that changed of late. There’s been in the last two years a lot of, you know, progressive groups have gone personally after Scalia and especially Thomas and his wife. But you know, we see that in so much of politics, that groups on the left like to, shall we say, personalize things.

Rios: Yeah, as like in Alinsky, yes, personalize and target, yeah, so we are seeing some very new things and actually pretty dangerous I think.

Earlier in the program, Rios and Levey lamented the fact that President Obama has had more openly LGBT people confirmed to the federal bench than all of his predecessors combined. Echoing right-wing arguments made against Romney advisor Richard Grennell, who was forced to resign last year after less than a month on the job, Rios claimed she didn’t mind that the president was appointing gay people to federal judgeships, but that they are “activists who are trying to change the law.”

Levey: You know, I don’t have any problem with him nominating gay and lesbian nominees. The problem is that they should be gay and lesbian nominees who respect the Constitution. You know, there are…

Rios: I don’t disagree, Curt, just for the record, I don’t disagree with that. It’s the activists, activists who are trying to change the law that I will have trouble sitting on the bench.

Levey: Exactly. He’s not appointing, you know, conservative or even moderate, you know, gay Americans, he’s appointing very radical gay Americans. And, you know, again, it’s not so much any individual nominee as it is the pattern here. Of the 35 or so nominees who are pending now, only six are straight white males, even though about half the legal profession is straight white males. So, do straight white males have some, you know, right to a certain number of seats? Of course not. But if you were doing it in a balanced way without any preference for minorities of various types, then you’d probably wind up with about 17 or 18 of those 35 being straight white males. The fact that there’s only six tells us that there’s a system of preferences going on.

Three Voter Empowerment Bills Introduced in the House

Members of the Task Force on Election Reform introduced three voter empowerment bills at the beginning of the 113th Congress in January. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi created The Task Force to develop electoral reform legislation under the D.A.R.E. initiative (Disclose, Amend, Reform, and Empower).

The objective of the Task Force on Election Reform is to combine the best parts of reform bills into one effective piece of legislation that will help strengthen the voices of average Americans and increase the participation of small-donor contributors in our elections.

The three bills that were introduced are:

The Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 269) was introduced by Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) along with 52 co-sponsors. Among other provisions, the bill matches small-dollar donation 5-to-1 and requires participating candidates to limit contributions to $100. The bill was referred to the House Committee on House Administration on January 15, 2013.

The Grassroots Democracy Act (H.R. 268) was introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) with 36 co-sponsors. The bill matches small contributions 10-1 for candidates who limit contributions to $100 and 5-1 for those that follow the normal contribution limit. The act also provides a $25 tax credit to help voters make small-dollar donations to the participating candidates. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Communication and Technology on January 18, 2013.

The Empowering Citizens Act (H.R. 270) was introduced by Rep. David Price (D-NC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) with 13 co-sponsors. The bill matches the first $250 of a contribution 5-to-1 and cuts the contribution limits in half to $1,250 for participating candidates. The legislation also aims to mitigate the effects of Citizens United, by providing a broader definition of coordination so that super PACs and political non-profits cannot function as arms of candidates’ campaigns. The bill was referred to the Committee on House Administration to the Committee on Ways and Means to decide which committee it belongs in on January, 15 2013.

The members of the Task Force on Election Reform are Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards, Congressman Theodore E. Deutch, Congressman John Larson, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Congressman James P. McGovern, Congressman Rush D. Holt, Congressman Adam B. Schiff, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, Congressman John A. Yarmuth, Congressman Kurt Schrader, Congressman George Miller, Congressman David E. Price, Congressman Robert A. Brady, Congresswoman Susan A. Davis, Congressman Raul M. Grijalva, Congressman Keith Ellison, Congressman John P. Sarbanes, and Congressman Rick Nolan.

All members of the Task Force on Election Reform support amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and related cases.

PFAW

The NRA vs. Judicial Nominees

Back in December, The New York Times’ Linda Greenhouse wrote a great article explaining how the National Rifle Association has worked in concert with Republican senators to oppose many of President Obama’s federal judicial nominees – usually without anything close to a legitimate reason. The NRA’s “symbiotic relationship with the Republican Party,” Greenhouse wrote, led the group to oppose judicial nominees like Sonia Sotomayor, who had next to no record on the Second Amendment, and the party to chip in when the NRA didn’t like a nominee.

It is that symbiotic relationship that succeeded in sinking the nominations of two highly qualified women to federal courts this week. Both were unquestionably qualified and well-respected in legal circles. The NRA and the Senate GOP went after both for completely unfounded reasons.

Caitlin Halligan was President Obama’s nominee to fill one of four vacancies on the hugely influential Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Never mind that she had broad bipartisan support and sterling credentials. She had once represented a client, the state of New York, in a lawsuit against gun manufacturers. Back when John Roberts was being considered for the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans said that judicial nominees shouldn’t be held responsible for positions they took as lawyers on behalf of clients. But no matter. Senate Republicans twice voted to filibuster her nomination – most recently on Wednesday – never even allowing her an up-or-down vote.

Then today, Nevada District Court nominee Elissa Cadish withdrew her nomination over one year after she had been selected by President Obama. Her story was similar. Filling out a questionnaire in 2008, Cadish stated that under then-current law, the constitutional right to bear arms didn’t apply to individual citizens. She was correct. Two months later in a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court established for the first time that the Second Amendment does contain that right. Cadish made clear that she understood, and would follow, the new Supreme Court precedent.

But no matter. The NRA targeted Cadish and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller used a little-known Senate practice to keep her from ever even getting the chance to explain her views in front of the Judiciary Committee. Under committee procedures used by Chairman Patrick Leahy as a courtesy to his colleagues, a nominee is not granted a hearing unless both of her home-state senators give permission in the form of a “blue slip.” Heller simply refused to sign the blue slip for Cadish, thus single-handedly sinking her nomination.

The flimsiness of the arguments against Cadish and Halligan, and the fact that much of the opposition took place behind the scenes (in the case of Cadish without even a public hearing), betrays the real reason the NRA and the GOP were working to keep these women off the federal bench. They just don’t want President Obama to be nominating federal judges.

 

PFAW

Harvey: 'Sexual Anarchists' Are 'Setting Up Children for Risk and Harm'

Several Religious Right activists have taken to describing LGBT rights advocates as “sexual anarchists” who encourage pedophilia. Today on her radio bulletin, Linda Harvey of Mission America claimed that “sexual anarchists are essentially destroying children’s innocence and modesty” which is effectively “setting up children for risk and harm” and making them more vulnerable for abuse. “No wonder so many children are fearful, insecure and anxious,” Harvey said.

Harvey made these claims after discussing the case of a six-year-old transgender girl in Colorado Springs who is, according to her family, facing discrimination at the local public school.

Apparently, this six-year-old child is just the sort of “sexual anarchist” that children should fear because she may “redefine what the other children understand to be normal, reality-based behavior.”

What about someone getting help for this child? We should have great compassion for him but at the same time we should not enable this delusion or allow it to redefine what the other children understand to be normal, reality-based behavior nor should this determine what others are required to put up with. Children develop a natural sense of modesty as they live infancy which is a protective factor against becoming sexually-active before maturity. It allows them an element of discernment when adults or other children may be about to breach appropriate boundaries and abuse them for instance so they will know to tell other adults they trust. These sexual anarchists are essentially destroying children’s innocence and modesty and those who wrongly believe this constitutes freedom and liberty either have lost sensitivity or are thinking only from a self-centered adult view. What they are doing is setting up children for risk and harm while telling them nothing is wrong, this should not make you uncomfortable. Well no wonder so many children are fearful, insecure and anxious; what they are being told doesn’t make sense to them.

PFAW: GOP and NRA Leadership Keep Two Qualified Women off the Bench

WASHINGTON – Today, Nevada judge Elissa Cadish withdrew her nomination to sit on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, more than one year after President Obama first nominated her to the position. Despite her sterling qualifications, Cadish was never even granted a hearing before the Judiciary Committee because Nevada Sen. Dean Heller refused to give permission for her nomination to move forward.

Earlier this week, the nomination of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Caitlin Halligan was blocked by Senate Republicans under similar circumstances. Halligan and Cadish both faced unfounded attacks from the gun lobby’s leadership, Halligan for a position she took on behalf of a client and Cadish for correctly describing the state of Second Amendment law before the Supreme Court’s District of Columbia v. Heller decision. Both have clearly stated that they understand and would follow Supreme Court precedent on gun rights.

“Senate Republicans and the gun lobby have worked hand in hand to keep these two exceptionally qualified women off the federal bench,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “Neither Cadish nor Halligan has displayed character or ethics problems let alone any sort of extreme ideology like that they were accused of. Yet Halligan was never allowed an up-or-down vote from the Senate, and Cadish never even had the opportunity to answer senators’ questions on her record before the Judiciary Committee.”

“The sinking of these two nominees shows just how far the Senate GOP and the gun lobby are willing to go, and how badly they are willing to stretch the facts, in order to keep President Obama’s nominees off the federal bench,” Baker added.

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Michael Keegan Discusses the GOP’s Reality Problem

Last night, People For the American Way president Michael Keegan joined Rev. Al Sharpton and David Brock of Media Matters to discuss Bill O’Reilly’s most recent delusional outburst and the GOP’s reality problem. Watch:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

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Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA: Valeria Carranza

This piece is the sixth in a series of guest blog posts on “Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA.” In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, we’re asking friends of PFAW to share why dumping DOMA matters to them. Be sure to check back soon for the latest post in the series.

Growing up as a gay woman in a conservative Salvadoran household was like being the protagonist in one of the telenovelas that I used to watch with my Maminena, my grandma. Thankfully, here in Maryland, being gay is no longer an obstacle to marrying the love of my life.

After a hard-fought battle, my girlfriend and I now have the right to say, “I do.”

Unlike most economic development initiatives, tax increases, and transportation projects, our ability to marry was taken to the polls and put to a vote. Marriage for same-sex couples is still treated like an earned privilege rather than a given right. While we won the right to marry in Maryland, thanks to DOMA our marriage would not be recognized under federal law.

My relationship, under this law, does not count. DOMA is a vehicle for discrimination and it hurts our families.
 
When thinking about equality, whether it’s equal protection under federal law, marriage equality or equal protection for our transgender community, two words come to mind: unconditional love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unconditional love. That is what equality means to me: unconditional love for our community, constituents, neighbors, co-workers, schoolmates, friends, family members. Because when you truly love, you don’t let discrimination and injustice take place in your community – or in your country.

The Defense of Marriage Act is just as outdated as the concept of “traditional marriage” being restricted to heterosexuals only. It’s time to dump DOMA – let unconditional love take its place.

Valeria Carranza
Alumna of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Front Line Leaders Academy

 

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