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James Robison Compares Fighting Gay Rights to Helping Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Televangelist James Robison writes on his blog that America needs to begin fighting gay rights with the same passion and resolve as those aiding the recovery of people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. He claims that shows like “The New Normal” and “Modern Family,” which prominently feature gay couples, are attempts to “redefine basic morality or totally ignore it” and have “literally destroyed the essence of family and the foundation necessary to sustain everything of value.” “This programming promotes that which destroys real relationships,” he writes, leading people to begin “accepting and approving damaging practices such as compulsive, addictive, unrestrained behavior.” He concludes that efforts to fight gay rights will require the same “time-consuming and demanding, requiring total commitment and cooperation of the American people” exhibited in the process to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Beware of those who ignore moral principles and substitute the natural for that which is unnatural, against nature along with proven historic practices such as marriage between one man and one woman. When you begin to redefine basic morality or totally ignore it, you have literally destroyed the essence of family and the foundation necessary to sustain everything of value. You see this redefining of the natural even in the propaganda of television, like the sitcoms “The New Normal” and “Modern Family,” to say nothing of the soap operas and movies that promote promiscuity and unnatural attraction as the norm. This programming promotes that which destroys real relationships.

Not for a moment am I implying that you should mock, ridicule, or make fun of people who may differ in their practices and beliefs. We must refuse, however, to redefine absolutes. Redefinition will lead to accepting and approving damaging practices such as compulsive, addictive, unrestrained behavior, totally self-serving tendencies of greed and manipulation and out-of-control debt because sound management principles and practices have been cast aside (see Romans 1).

When we address these serious issues in order to be effective in correcting our course, we’re going to have to come together and work toward the best possible solutions. And, yes, everyone is going to have to be willing to sacrifice and do whatever is necessary to rebuild from the foundation up. We cannot discard or diminish the importance of a solid foundation. That’s where we start. We restore the principled foundation and then we begin to build. The national restoration process, just as with Sandy, will be time-consuming and demanding, requiring total commitment and cooperation on the part of the American people.

Of all the people in America, the people of faith should lead the way as the example. Those of us who claim to know God in a personal way and love Him with all our heart must demonstrate the fact that we love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re not only going to help rebuild from the storm, we’re going to help rebuild our nation in the aftermath of decades of unhealthy, unprincipled decisions, policies and practices. We can do it! Just as the rebuilding is underway on the east coast, may next week – whatever the outcome of the election – find the American people more determined than ever to restore and rebuild this great nation “under God, indivisible.”

Jeffress: Obama is 'Paving the Way for the Future Reign of the Antichrist'

Leading Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress quickly moved from Romney critic to Romney booster after the former Massachusetts governor won the Republican nomination, dropping his earlier claims that electing a Mormon president will lead to God’s judgment. In a pre-election sermon, Jeffress claimed that President Obama is “paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist” and must be defeated. He attacked President Obama’s views on abortion rights and gay equality, which he says will restrict religious freedom and as a result make it “relatively easy for the Antichrist to take over without any opposition whatsoever.”

I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he’s not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes, President Obama is not the Antichrist. Nor am I saying that President Obama is not a Christian, I would never make that claim, I could not look into his heart as he cannot look into my heart. Nor am I saying the President doesn’t have some good ideas, nor am I saying that he doesn’t deserve our respect and our prayers. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.

You see when Antichrist comes, he is not going to be able to suddenly seize power and suddenly make these radical changes, he’s not going to be able to suddenly restrict speech and religious worship and commerce, why to do that suddenly would cause a revolution that would topple his reign on the earth. Yet Revelations 6 says when Antichrist comes he will take over power automatically, he’ll ride a horse that has a bow with no arrow on it, his overtaking the world will be effortlessly, it will be without any effort at all. How does that happen? The only way that’s going to happen is if there is a gradual erosion of God’s laws and our personal freedoms over a long period of time, and it will be that gradual erosion of our sense of morality, our adherence to God’s laws, that gradual erosion of our personal freedoms that will make it relatively easy for Antichrist to take over without any opposition whatsoever.

That’s why ladies and gentlemen I believe it is time for Christians to stand up and to push back against this evil that is overtaking our nation. To stand up and push back against these actions that are paving the way for the final world dictator. The best way to push back against unrighteousness is at the ballot box. This coming Tuesday we have a decision, the decision is not between Republicans and Democrats, the choice before us is the choice of righteousness or unrighteousness.

Schlafly and Allies Prepare to Blame Election Loss on Voter Fraud

Leading up to what promises to be a very close presidential election, the Right has been working hard to lay the groundwork for blaming an Obama victory on “voter fraud.” The same strategy worked wonders last time around, when, one year after President Obama’s decisive victory a full half of Republicans believed that the community organizing group ACORN had stolen the election. In-person voter fraud, as John McCain strategist Steve Schmidt admitted today, is a convenient part of “the mythology now in the Republican Party,” one that as Josh noted earlier has helped to fuel decades of voter suppression measures.

At an Eagle Forum conference in September – attended by Todd Akin, among others – two speakers addressed the issue of voter fraud: Catherine Engelbrecht, whose group True the Vote has been challenging registered voters across the country, and John Fund, a conservative columnist and author of a recent book on the issue.

Fund claimed that President Obama wants the election to go to the Supreme Court, and that in a close election, the president would use the now-defunct ACORN to change the outcome: “The election is close, and he puts his thumb on the scale of democracy, and he sends his old ACORN friends the signal, you know what’s going to happen.”

 After Engelbrecht’s speech, Schlafly joined her on stage to share news she had heard from “somebody” that in Pennsylvania, “at two o’clock in the afternoon they have no Republican observer, the Democrats just vote [for] the rest of the people who haven’t voted.”

“I think it goes on,” Engelbrecht agreed.

PFAW’s African American Ministers In Action Equality Task Force Supports Marriage Equality Ballot Measures

This week the Equal Justice Task Force of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action released a statement in support of the marriage equality ballot measures in Maryland, Maine, and Washington and opposing a discriminatory marriage amendment in Minnesota.

“At this moment in history, it is important that we stand on the side of faith, compassion, and equality instead of on the side of discrimination and oppression,” said Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of African American Religious Affairs at People For the American Way. “We’ve seen again and again that when laws prevent gay and lesbian couples from getting the protections that only marriage can provide, all families are harmed and all communities suffer. As an African American and a woman I am frightened when one group attempts to limit or restrict the rights of others. We urge voters in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington to reject discrimination and vote to strengthen and affirm all families.”

 

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'I Don't Want Everybody to Vote' – The Roots of GOP Voter Suppression

The lower the turnout tomorrow, the better Mitt Romney will do. It’s always been this way for Republicans. Anyone who doubts that needs to watch the video below. 

The media frequently reports on right-wing and GOP voter suppression efforts, but they rarely acknowledge the root cause – Republicans do better when fewer people vote. This is the driving force behind the GOP’s draconian voter ID laws and efforts to limit early voting, voter registration drives, and provisional voting.
 
The right wing and GOP have whipped up hysteria around voter fraud, which is virtually non-existent, in order to justify roadblocks to voting for millions of Americans. I’ll let Paul Weyrich explain why.
 
Weyrich is widely regarded as the “founding father of the conservative movement.” He founded ALEC and co-founded the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, Council for National Policy, and Free Congress Foundation, among others.
 
Speaking more than 30 years ago at a right-wing conference in Dallas, Weyrich set out the case for voter suppression. The right-wing and GOP are still acting on it to this day.
 
Watch:
"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

 

Reisman: Sex-Ed Turns Children into Prostitutes and 'Little Sexual Deviants'

Reisman: Sex-Ed Turns Children into Prostitutes and ‘Little Sexual Deviants’ Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber has been promoting new claims by Judith Reisman, a fellow professor at Liberty University, that the Department of Health and Human Services may be breaking the law by actively “grooming” children for sex. Wonkette published quite the takedown of Barber’s column, noting that he and Reisman both glaringly distort Alfred Kinsey’s research. Reisman spoke to Janet Mefferd about the column, where she said that the HHS along with groups like Planned Parenthood and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a group she compares to the Hitler Youth and says is part of the “pedophile movement,” are “grooming children” to embrace sexual activities that “either could kill them or maim them.” She warns that comprehensive sexual education will lead to “drug abuse, alcohol abuse and everything else,” including higher rates of venereal diseases and AIDS, by “teaching [children] sexual perversions in order to turn them into little sexual deviants.”

Mefferd: When you’re talking about these sexual educators, are you talking about people like Planned Parenthood, GLSEN, some of these groups?

Reisman: Sure, it’s all criminal activity and it’s all been to violate every rule and common sense and our prior common law, but all of this was essentially activity that involved grooming children to become either pedophiles, pederasts or to enter into other kinds of sexual activities that either could kill them or maim them or to normalize prostitution of children and by children, and all the dysfunctions that go with that which include drug abuse, alcohol abuse and everything else.



Reisman: We’re hit with all these VDs and AIDS and now we’re going to come into your classroom, says the sex educators, now we’re going to come into your classroom and we’re going to teach you more criminal stuff about AIDS under that rubric and now they’re in there trying to talk about bullying as the reason and so forth. But the major thing we’re talking about across-the-board is lowering children’s inhibitions, lowering their resistance to sex and teaching them sexual perversions in order to turn them into little sexual deviants, and that is exactly what is taking place.

Seeing that Reisman has zero credentials in the field of sexuality (she has her degrees in Communications) no one takes her seriously, save for those who agree with her calls to ban pornography and fight the scourge of “erototoxins,” it was no surprise that she lashed out at the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association during the interview.

According to Reisman, these groups all reject her claims and back comprehensive sex-ed because…you guessed it; they are run by pedophiles themselves! She alleges that these professional organizations are led by pedophiles who have “their eyes on children for sexual purposes” and as a result endorse such health programs.

Not only have pedophiles taken over the fields of psychology, psychiatry and sociology, but she also warns that gay judges have been unfairly finding in favor of sex-ed programs, and conservative lawyers (like those trained at Liberty University) need to fight the “sexual perversion” backed by LGBT legal groups and challenge their supposed legal dominance. “We’ve got to sue the pants off these guys and get them put away in jail, just like [Jerry] Sandusky and the rest of them,” Reisman said. “It’s time to bring these people down.”

It isn’t just Sandusky, it wasn’t just Kinsey; it’s all over. We’re talking about pedophiles in power and pederasts in power and they have been in power for many, many years. They’ve been in power in the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, Sociological Association, and so on, and these have always been people who have had their eyes on children for sexual purposes.



We have to get our conservative lawyers to be as nasty as some of the gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender and undecided, Lambda Defense and all those folks are. We have to go into courtrooms ready with our information at the fingertips and swinging. No judge who is homosexual or who has any other sexual perversion, that’s what it used to always be called for various good and logical reasons that only have to do with health and welfare, should ever be permitted to rule on a sexual issue because their special interests are such that they cannot be objective about the information. We’ve got to sue the pants off these guys and get them put away in jail, just like Sandusky and the rest of them. It’s time to bring these people down.

Young Elected Progressives Program 2012 Endorsees

People For's Young Elected Progressives program seeks out and supports young leaders - 35 and younger - running for office at the state and local level. These young leaders will be the backbone of the progressive movement for years to come. Among them are tomorrow's strong progressive candidates for U.S. House, Senate and maybe even the White House.

Below find a list of all the young candidates for state and local office we are supporting this year and click the links to their web sites to find out more and to support them.

Here are 19 candidates we've designated as "On the Way" -- they are in races we've identified as particularly important and could use your support. Click their image or find them under their state in the longer list below to find out more.

Mach
Stefanie Mach, AZ House
Hansen
Steve Hansen, Sacramento, CA City Council
Petterson
Brittany Petterson, CO House
Lesser
Matthew Lesser, CT House
Townsend
Bryan Townsend, DE Senate
Alvarez
John Alvarez, FL House
Kendrick
Dar'shun Kendrick, GA House
Buhl
Angie Buhl, SD Senate
Moonen
Matt Moonen, ME House
McLean
Andrew McLean, ME House
Beck
Henry Beck, ME House
Candelaria
Jacob Candelaria, NM Senate
VanMeter
Jeremy VanMeter, OH House
Fagan
Shemia Fagan, OR House
Sylianteng
Will Sylianteng, PA House
Devine
Kelly Devine, PA House
  Habib
Cyrus Habib, WA House
Frame
Noel Christina Frama, WA House
 

ARIZONA

Ed Ableser, running for state Senate in Arizona’s 23rd District – Ableser is currently serving as the 17th district’s representative, and is running in the newly formed 23rd Senate district this year.  In addition, Ableser works as a mental health counselor for the public school system in Tempe and is the Democratic Party committeeperson. As a representative, he has fought hard against public education cuts and hopes to build an equitable public education program. http://www.edableser.com/about-ed/

Stefanie Mach, running for state House in Arizona’s 10th District – After earning her master’s degree in public policy from Brown University, she started her own business consulting with non-profit organizations.  Mach will fight to improve the education system in Arizona, as well as help create a path to boost the economy and create more jobs. She has been endorsed by multiple other organizations, including Arizona’s List, a network supporting pro-choice women. http://www.stefaniemach.com/

Emily Verdugo, running for state House in Arizona’s 8th District – Verdugo previously served on the Coolidge City Council and volunteers for a variety of community service organizations, including Latino Family Initiative, the American Red Cross, and the Arizona Rural Human Services Network. Verdugo has vowed to fight for affordable and accessible healthcare and education. http://www.emilyverdugo.com/

Juan Mendez, running for election to state House in Arizona’s 26th District – Mendez serves on the City of Phoenix Human Services Advisory Committee and manages the nonprofit Community Voice Mail, an organization that provides communication tools (e.g., a local phone number and voicemail) to the poor. Mendez supports full equality for LGBT persons and will be an able progressive advocate once elected. http://www.mendezforaz.com/

CALIFORNIA

Todd Gloria, incumbent San Diego City Councilman for California’s 3rd District -- He was first elected to the council in 2008 and is a third generation resident to the San Diego district. Gloria is the chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and serves on several other committees. As a representative of the LGBT community in San Diego, he received an endorsement from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and works hard to ensure the rights of all people.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Todd-Gloria/6430579238

Ben Allen, running for reelection for president of the Santa Monica, CA School Board – Allen is an adjunct professor at UCLA. He was unanimously voted in as president by his fellow school board members. He is fighting to receive more government funding from the state and working to improve race relations between the students within the Santa Monica and Malibu-area schools. http://benallen.nationbuilder.com/about_ben

Steve Hansen, running for Sacramento, CA City Council -- Hansen previously worked with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, a non-profit focused on improving the community. With the Partnership, he spearheaded an initiative to create the Downtown Sacramento Foundation, supporting arts and cultural activities and working to reduce homelessness. More info on Hansen can be found here.

Evan Low, running for California State Assembly -- In his current role on the Campbell City Council, Low has worked to balance the budget without cutting vital services. He has extensive experience serving the community which has given him a good understanding of the issues facing local residents and small business owners. He made history by becoming Campbell’s youngest ever, first Asian American, and first openly gay councilmember. For more information on Low, click here.

Kalen Gallagher, running for a seat on the Campbell Union High School District Board -- Kalen taught 7th and 8th grade Social Studies in East San Jose, where he encouraged students to develop the skills they need to succeed and helped them achieve excellent standardized test scores. Last fall he joined an education startup that develops free technology for teachers. He is co-director of New Leaders Council, which trains civic-minded young professionals to make positive changes in their communities. Learn more about Gallagher here.

Chris Clark, running for a seat on Mountain View’s City Council – Previously serving on Mountain View’s Environmental Planning Commission and Community Healthy Awareness Council, at age 25 Clark will be one of the youngest politicians in the country if elected. Clark hopes to represent the 18-36 year old demographic group, a constituency in Mountain View that has lacked representation. http://www.electchrisclark.org/

Matt Haney, running for a seat on San Francisco’s Board of Education – Haney has a J.D. from Stanford Law School with an emphasis on education law, was a member of State Senator Joe Simitian’s education policy team, and currently serves as the Executive Director of the University of California Student Association.  Haney also serves on the SFUSD Public Education Enrichment Fund Advisory Committee, where he advises the district on where to spend funds on a variety of educational needs. http://www.haneyforschoolboard.com/

Wendy Ho, running to become an Evergreen Community College District Trustee – A San Jose native, Ho was a legislative fellow for Congressman Mike Honda and currently serves as the Advocacy & Public Policy Manager at United Silicon Valley and is on the San Jose Human Rights Commission. Ho has been dedicated to public service for over ten years. http://www.facebook.com/wendyhofortrustee

Lawrence Robinson, running for election to Roosevelt, California’s School Board – An attorney for the Democratic Caucus in Arizona’s House of Representatives, Robinson formerly worked for the Brooklyn Family Defense Project (BFDP), an organization dedicated to providing quality legal representation to low-income families. Robinson has vowed to strengthen anti-bullying measures and promote afterschool programs. http://www.robinsonforroosevelt.com/

COLORADO

Brittany Pettersen, running for state House in Colorado’s 28th District – Petterson has served as the Denver Organizing Director for New Era, a non-profit dedicated to engaging youth in government and politics. She is a strong supporter of LGBT rights as well as a woman’s right to choose. Pettersen also believes in fighting voter suppression to protect the right of every citizen to have their voice heard at the ballot box. http://brittanypettersen.com/

LeRoy Garcia, running for state House in Colorado’s 46th District – Garcia currently serves on the Pueblo City Council, representing the 3rd District. Garcia is a Marine Corps veteran and teaches at Pueblo Community College. Garcia will fight for the expansion of public education funding for both K-12 and higher education, as well as protecting the rights of every individual. http://leroygarcia.wordpress.com/

Jessica Garrow, running for a seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents -- Currently, Garrow serves as the Long Range Planner for the city of Aspen. Garrow graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder and believes in higher education’s power to positively affect communities and wants to help facilitate that process as a member of the Board of Regents. http://jessicagarrow.com/

Crisanta Duran, running for reelection to the state House in Colorado’s 5th District -- Duran has been a member of the Judiciary, Finance, State Veterans & Military Affairs and Joint Council committees while serving in the state legislature. Additionally she was recognized in a Denver Post article entitled “Women Who Broke Political Barriers.” She has proven herself to be a progressive champion and fights hard for the rights of all Coloradans. http://www.duranforcolorado.com/index.html

Dominick Moreno, running for state House in Colorado’s 32nd District – Raised in a working class family, Moreno worked hard and earned a scholarship to Georgetown University. During college Moreno worked to help others in his community, including tutoring children in low-income schools during college. He was elected the youngest city councilmember ever in Commerce City. There he earned the respect of his colleagues and was promoted to Mayor Pro Tem. Read more about Moreno here.

Jessie Ulibarri, running for state Senate in Colorado’s 21st District – Coming from a working class background, Ulibarri worked three jobs while attending college and ultimately became the first member of his family to receive a bachelor’s degree. Ulibarri has since been a grassroots activist for over a decade, advocating initiatives that help Latinos, working people, and young people. Ulibarri previously served as the ACLU of Colorado’s Public Policy Director. http://jessieforcolorado.com/

CONNECTICUT

Matthew Lesser, running for reelection to the state House in Connecticut’s 100th District – First elected in 2010, over the past two years Lesser has passed legislation to help the middle class. Lesser believes in the value of a strong public education and has fought hard for it in Connecticut. He also believes that every person is entitled to the same rights and freedoms and hopes to make this a reality in the lives of all people in Connecticut. http://www.mattlesser.com/index.php

James Albis, running for reelection to Connecticut’s state House in the 99th District – Albis serves on the Judiciary, Banks, and Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committees. He has been a strong voice for seniors in the community and has fought to improve lives of the middle class through his work as a Community Development Coordinator and legislator. https://twitter.com/RepAlbis

DELAWARE

Bryan Townsend, running for state Senate in Delaware’s 11th District – Townsend has been a volunteer with Special Olympics Delaware for the past thirteen years and is a “big brother” with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware. He hopes to greatly improve the public education system in the Newark/Bear community as well as to create jobs through construction projects. Townsend strives to fight for the voices of those in the community that are not often heard. http://bryan2012.com/

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Nicole Goines, running for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Washington, D.C. – At 18 years old, Goines is an extremely passionate and driven individual with a promising political career. Goines will ably serve the 5C-05 district upon being elected and supports a variety of progressive causes, including LGBT equality, comprehensive immigration reform, and restricting how much corporate money can be spent in elections. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicole-Goines/190470871073002

FLORIDA

Dwight Bullard, running for state Senate in Florida’s 39th District -- Bullard is the democratic ranking member in the education committee and the preK-12 education policy committee. Bullard has received numerous awards for his work – most recently, the Young Elected Officials Network’s Barbara Jordan Leadership Award. Bullard also sponsored the Florida DREAM Act, which creates a pathway for young immigrants to access education. http://www.dwightbullard.com/

Leo Cruz, running for reelection to the state Senate in Florida’s 10th District – Cruz is a progressive community organizer and an Iraqi War veteran. He is running against incumbent Sen. David Simmons, who helped write the “Stand Your Ground” law in the district where Trayvon Martin was killed. Cruz plans on working to revitalize public education in the area as well as fight for the civil rights of all Floridians. http://www.facebook.com/voteleocruz

Ricardo Rangel, running for state House in Florida’s 43rd District – Rangel is a retired Army veteran and has been active in politics for several years after he finished active duty. In 2003 he was selected as the “Florida Young Democrat of the Year” and was awarded the “Emerging Leaders Award” by the Central Brevard NAACP. www.ricardorangel.us

Andrew Gillum, running for reelection to the Tallahassee City Commission – Gillum – who is the National Director of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network – was first elected to the Tallahassee City Commission in 2003. Andrew has been a leading progressive voice, fighting for working families and small businesses, forming community partnerships, and improving youth academic, personal, and professional development. For more information on Gillum, click here and here.

John Alvarez, running for state House in Florida’s 53rd District – Alvarez is an advocate for healthcare, the environment, job creation, education, and equal rights – a platform he summarizes as “putting people first.” Alvarez is also an outspoken opponent of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and supporter of abolishing corporate personhood. Learn more here, and be sure to support Alvarez.   

Joe Saunders, running for state House in Florida’s 49th District – A native Floridian, Saunders has extensive experience serving his community. He has worked for Equality Florida, a statewide group dedicated to advocating for LGBT rights, with Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, and has served on the Orange County Democratic Party Executive Committee. If elected Saunders promises to continue his fight to end discrimination across Florida. http://www.votejoesaunders.com/

GEORGIA

Dar’shun Kendrick, running for reelection to state House in Georgia’s 93rd District -- First elected in 2010, Representative Kendrick is the only freshman to co-chair a committee, which she does for the Economic Security and Development Committee. Additionally, she serves on the Children and Youth, Interstate Cooperation and Special Rules Committees. She has recently received endorsements from Planned Parenthood and Georgia’s WIN List. http://kendrickforgeorgia.smartintuitionsmp.com/

J. Craig Gordon, running for reelection to state House in Georgia’s 162nd District – This past legislative session, Gordon served on the Economic Development and Tourism, Health and Human Services, Retirement, and Special Rules Committees. He strongly believes in re-evaluating the education system, revitalizing public education in Georgia, and fighting to ensure the rights of every Georgian. http://www.votejcraig.com/

Yasmin Neal, running for reelection to state House in Georgia’s 75th District – Elected at age 25, Neal is the youngest member of the Georgia House of Representatives. Neal is currently a police officer at the Clayton County Police Department and was a detective in the major felony unit. She is a member of affiliate PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network (YEO). She also has received endorsements from Georgia’s WIN List, Planned Parenthood, and more. http://yasminneal.com/

IDAHO

Nate Murphy, running for state House in Idaho’s 29A District – Elected to the 25th District’s school board at age 21, Murphy believes in the importance of education as both an institution and as an economic issue and hopes to improve the public education system. He also will fight for civil rights and for the creation of jobs in Idaho. http://www.natemurphy.org/

KANSAS

Sean Gatewood, running for reelection to state House in Kansas’ 50th District – Gatewood is currently the ranking member of the Children and Families Committee, while also serving on both the Taxation and Federal & State Affairs Committees. He is committed to helping improve the job market and the economy through increasing funding for public education and for clean environment jobs. http://seangatewood.com/issues.html

MASSACHUSETTS

Sean Garballey, running for reelection to state House in Massachusetts’ 23rd District – Garballey has been a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 2008, having previously served on the Arlington School Committee from 2005 to 2008. He is currently the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws as well as a member of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting and the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. http://garballey.com/

Carl Sciortino, running for reelection to state House in Massachusetts’ 34th District – A founding member of affiliate PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network for which he served as State Director for two terms,  Sciortino has also been named “Best of the New” by Boston Globe Magazine and “Legislator of the Year” by the National Association of Social Workers. He is one of the few LGBT members in the Massachusetts state legislature and has proved to be a strong defender of social and economic justice. http://www.electcarl.org/

MAINE

Henry Beck, running for reelection to state House in Maine’s 76th District – Beck just finished his first term in the Maine House of Representatives after serving on the Waterville City Council from 2006-2009. Beck is one of the strongest advocates for health insurance reform in Maine and has served on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee. Beck has also fought to improve the public education system in Maine and to prevent the layoffs of teachers. http://www.henrybeck.com/

Adam Goode, running for reelection to the state House in Maine’s 15th District – Goode currently serves on the Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services and is a member of the Worker Rights Board of Eastern Maine. He has proven to be a leader in engaging Mainers in the public decision-making process as well as in fighting for health care reform. http://penobscotdems.com/?p=316

Matt Moonen, running for state House in Maine’s 118th District – Moonen was the Political Director for Equality Maine and played a vital role in the successful passage of the 2009 marriage equality bill. Prior to working with Equality Maine, he worked for MassEquality and on the Fair Wisconsin campaign to defeat a discriminatory marriage amendment. He has also worked with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections to try and reduce the influence of big money in government. http://www.mattmoonen.com/

Andrew McLean, running for state House in Maine’s 129th District – McLean has worked as a Resident Director at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. McLean is a progressive champion and has been endorsed by The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. McLean will be a leader on education and economic opportunity for Gorham and for Maine as a whole. http://www.facebook.com/McLeanforGorham

Diane Russell, running for reelection to the state House in Maine’s 120th District – Russell serves on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and is a proven progressive champion advocating for working families and the immigrant community of Maine. She is a founding board member of the Opportunity Maine Campaign which fights to make college more affordable. http://www.dianemrussell.com/

Justin Chenette, running for state House in Maine’s 134th District – Chenette, who works as a producer at Fox 23’s “Good Day Maine” program, will be the youngest member of the state legislature if elected. Chenette served as an ambassador and public relations director for Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership from 2007-2011, earning a Presidential Service Award from President Obama in 2008 in recognition of his work. http://www.justinforsaco.com/

MICHIGAN

Rashida Tlaib, running for reelection to state House in Michigan’s 12th District – In her first term she was appointed to the House Appropriations Committee and was also named the Minority Vice Chair of Judiciary and Department of Community Health Subcommittees. She also made history by being named the first female Muslim elected to the Michigan legislature and the second ever in the country. http://rashida4rep.com/

Adam Lawrence, running for state House in Michigan’s 99th District – Lawrence serves as a community organizer and recently received his master’s degree from Central Michigan University. He hopes to greatly improve public education funding and help veterans and seniors receive benefits to which they are entitled. https://foursquare.com/votelawrence99

Brian McGrain, running for reelection to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners – Originally elected in 2008 and reelected in 2010, McGrain serves as the associate director of Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), a nonprofit organization committed to rebuilding neighborhoods. He serves on the Board’s Human Services and Finance Committees as well as on the City of Lansing’s Board of Zoning Appeals. http://brianmcgrain.com/index.html

MINNESOTA

Zachary Dorholt, running for state House in Minnesota’s 14B District – Dorholt is currently the Treasurer for the Central Minnesota Sustainability Project – a non-profit organization that promotes local sustainable food production and community building. A native Minnesotan, Dorholt was formerly the chairperson of State Representative Larry Haws’ Campaign Committee. Dorholt has been a consistent advocate for progressive ideals and will continue to advocate for them upon being elected. http://www.zacharydorholt.com/index.php?cID=1

MONTANA

Bryce Bennett, running for reelection to the state House in Montana’s 92nd District – Originally elected in 2010, Bennett currently works for Forward Montana, a non-profit organization that engages young Montanans in the political process. Bennett was appointed to the Education and State Administration Committees and is also the first openly gay man to serve in the Montana legislature. http://www.bennettforhouse.com/

NEVADA

Lucy Flores, running for reelection to the state House in Nevada’s 28th District – Flores was appointed to the Nevada Commission on Minority Affairs in 2008, serving her community ably in this position. Flores subsequently ran for state house in Nevada’s 28th District in 2010, joining a group of leaders who became the first ever Hispanic women to join the Nevada Assembly. Flores currently serves as Vice Chair of the Legislative Operations and Elections Committee and as a member of the Education, Government Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Taxation Committee. http://www.lucyflores.com/

Teresa Benitez-Thompson, running for reelection to state House in Nevada’s 27th District – First elected in 2010, Benitez-Thompson formerly worked as both an adoption and hospice social worker. During the 2011-2012 legislative session, Benitez-Thompson served on the Health and Human Services and Government Affairs committees. Benitez-Thompson is dedicated to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable, including seniors, children, the poor, and persons with disabilities. http://www.electteresa.com/

NEW MEXICO

Tim Keller, running for reelection to the state Senate in New Mexico’s 17th District – Before his election to the State Senate, he co-founded Data Digital Divide, an organization which helps land mine victims and other disadvantaged persons in Cambodia. Keller has also served on the boards of the Open Hands Foundation, Albuquerque Southeast Team for Entrepreneur Development, and several others. He has also received the New Mexico “Bipartisan Rising Star,” “40 under 40,” and “Defender of Justice” awards, among others. http://timkellerfornewmexico.com/

Jacob Candelaria, running for state Senate in New Mexico’s 26th District – Candelaria is currently the director of Equality New Mexico – a statewide advocacy organization that promotes the civil liberties of LGBT persons – and is running for a seat in New Mexico’s 46th District. A former leadership analyst for Speaker of the New Mexico House Ben Lujan and program evaluator for the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, Candelaria will be the first openly gay member of the New Mexico state legislature. Candelaria has vowed to promote LGBT rights, adequately fund education, and work toward equitable access to healthcare for all persons. http://jacobcandelaria.com/

NEW YORK

Micah Z. Kellner, running for reelection to the state House in New York’s 76th District – Kellner was first elected to the Assembly in 2007 in a special election to replace Alexander Grannis in the 65th District. Kellner is a progressive champion who has spearheaded efforts for marriage equality and worked to support the rights of persons with disabilities, reproductive rights, and fairer government funding for New York City’s public schools. http://www.micahkellner.net/

Andrew Gounardes, running for state Senate in New York’s 22nd District – Gounardes currently serves as an attorney for the Citizens Committee for New York City, a non-profit that gives grants to community groups improving their neighborhood, and as a member of Community Board 10. Gounardes hopes to help reform public education in order to provide students with access to the best education possible. He will strive to “finally reform campaign finance” and protect the integrity of our democracy. http://www.andrewgounardes.com/

NORTH CAROLINA

Danielle Adams, running for reelection as the Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor in Durham – Adams previously won 46% of the vote in a three-way race. Adams is extremely passionate about her position and hopes to move environmental and agricultural issues to the forefront of people’s minds. http://c3.thevoterguide.org/v/nccve12/race-detail.do?id=10925825

NORTH DAKOTA

Corey Mock, running for reelection to state House in North Dakota’s 42nd District – In addition to serving in the state House, Mock serves as the executive director of Third Street Clinic, a non-profit organization that provides access to healthcare for low-income residents of Grand Forks and Polk counties. Mock served on the Education and Political Subdivisions committees in the 2011-2012 legislative session. http://coreymock.com/

OHIO

Jeremy VanMeter, running for state House in Ohio’s 78th District – VanMeter has served on the board of the Berne Union Local School District and on the Fairfield County Education Service Center governing board, where he was recently named Board President. VanMeter hopes to establish public education reform and to provide the public school systems in Ohio with more funding and “elimination of wasteful spending on the for-profit charter schools.” http://jeremyvanmeter.com/

Michael Stinziano, running for reelection to the state House in Ohio’s 18th District – Stinziano is a board member for several organizations, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus, and serves as chairperson of the Columbus Bar Association’s Government Agencies Committee. He also is a member of the Insurance, Judiciary and Ethics, Public Utilities, and State Government and Elections Committees in the legislature. http://michaelstinziano.com

Nicholas Celebrezze, running for state House in Ohio’s 15th District – Celebrezze has served on the Parma City Council for the past six years and was selected to replace State Rep. Timothy DeGeeter in January. While in Columbus, he has served on the Local Government and Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committees. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicholas-J-Celebrezze-for-State-Representative/221279484599536

Ryan Jolley, running for state House in Ohio’s 19th District – Jolley was first elected to the Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education at age 18 and is currently a member of the city council as well as a member of the council’s finance committee. As a member of the House, Jolley will fight for “freedom, opportunity, and security for all Ohioans.” http://www.ryanpjolley.com/about-ryan.html

Steve Newsome, running for state House in Ohio’s 30th District – Newsome endorses an impressive array of progressive policies that will move the nation forward. Newsome has stated that if elected, he will work to close tax loopholes that corporations exploit to avoid paying their fair share and invest significantly in alternate forms of energy that will both secure energy independence for the nation and produce manufacturing jobs for Ohio.  Newsome also advocates for investing in jobs training programs for Ohioans. http://www.stevenewsome.com/home.html

OREGON

Shemia Fagan, running for reelection to the state House in Oregon’s 51st District – Fagan serves her community by working as a volunteer on a local school board and by regularly doing pro bono legal work for struggling Oregonians. Fagan has vowed to preserve K-12 funding and jobs training programs for veterans and unemployed persons. She also seeks to hold corporations accountable by protecting consumers’ rights. Fagan will continue to be a staunch advocate for progressive ideals if reelected. http://shemiafagan.com/

PENNSYLVANIA

Will Sylianteng, running for state House in Pennsylvania’s 151st District – Sylianteng currently practices law in Blue Bell, PA and has vice-chaired the Montgomery County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Committee and served on its Diversity Committee. Sylianteng has also been named a “SuperLawyer Rising Star” and “Pennsylvania Diversity Attorney of the Year.” He advocates for improving public education and investing in infrastructure to help create jobs and improve the community. http://vote-will.com/home

Bret Binder, running for state House in Pennsylvania’s 156th District – Binder serves as a small business owner of a gourmet rice pudding emporium. Binder will fight against House Bill 934, a bill that disenfranchises up to 700,000 Pennsylvanians based on lack of identification, as well as advocating to increase the importance of public education in the eyes of the Pennsylvania legislature. http://bretbinderforpa.com/index.htm

Erin Molchany, running for state House in Pennsylvania’s 22nd District – Molchany began serving her community in the Emergency Services Department of the Red Cross.  She parlayed this experience into a position at the Coro Center for Public Leadership, where she led the Emerging Leaders in Public Affairs and Women in Leadership programs. More recently, Molchany was elected vice president of the board of directors for the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation, where she served her community by promoting economic development and public safety. http://erinmolchany.com/

Sarah Speed, running for state House in Pennsylvania’s 47th District – A licensed attorney, Speed is currently the Animal Law Legislative Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and is the secretary of the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team. Speed is also a volunteer firefighter for York County. Upon election, she plans to promote the ability of women and children to access healthcare services. http://speed4pahouse.com/

Kelly Devine, running for state House in Pennsylvania’s 150th District – Devine is a former journalist who served as president of the Montgomery County Young Democrats for the past two years and currently serves on their Executive Committee. Devine has vowed to ramp up investment in infrastructure, protect the environment, and help keep college affordable. http://www.votedevine.com/

SOUTH CAROLINA

Henri Thompson, running for state Senate in South Carolina’s 12th District – Born and raised in South Carolina, Thompson was a community organizer in Baltimore and served as the associate director of community affairs at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Thompson also has experience within the political system, having served as a staff member in U.S. Representative James Clyburn’s Washington office, the only Democrat in the South Carolina Congressional delegation. http://www.henrithompson.com/

SOUTH DAKOTA

Angie Buhl, running for reelection to the state Senate in South Dakota’s 15th District -- First elected in 2010 at the age of 25, Buhl is the youngest woman ever to serve in South Dakota’s senate. Buhl has already risen to the position of chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus. She is a leader on women’s rights in South Dakota. Buhl has also served on the board of Equality South Dakota and worked with South Dakotans Against Discrimination and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. http://angiebuhl.com/

Kevin Killer, running for reelection to the state House in South Dakota’s 27th District – Killer was first elected in 2010 and has been a leader for equal rights, especially for Native Americans, while in office. This past legislative session, Killer served on both the Education and Judiciary Committees. He sponsored a bill that would allow tribal IDs to be recognized as equivalent to certain state-issued IDs. http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2012/MemberDetail.aspx?Member=138

TEXAS

Mary E. Gonzalez, running for state House in Texas’ 75th District – Gonzalez will run unopposed in the general election in November. She will become the second ever LGBT member of the Texas State House, bringing the number of state legislatures without an LGBT member down to sixteen. http://www.votemarygonzalez.com/

UTAH

Luz Robles, running for reelection to the state Senate in Utah’s 1st District – Robles currently serves on the Senate Ethics Committee, the Health and Human Services Committee, and several others. While in office, Robles has fought for the rights of all people.  During the 2011 session, she sponsored a bill that would give illegal immigrants an “accountability card,” giving them the right to work without changing their legal status. http://www.facebook.com/luz.robles.948

VERMONT

Kesha Ram, running for reelection to the state House in Vermont’s 3-4 District – First elected in 2008 at age 25, Ram is the youngest legislator serving in Vermont. Ram spent her first three years serving as the clerk of the General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee, and this year was appointed to the Ways and Means Committee. Additionally, she serves on the Joint Legislative Technology Committee. She is the Legal Director for the organization Women Helping Battered Women. http://www.kesharam.org/

VIRGINIA

Justin Wilson, running for a seat on the Alexandria City Council – Wilson, who previously served one term on the city council,  strongly supports marriage equality, supports Gay/Straight Alliance clubs in local schools, and has been a member of LGBT Democrats of America since 2003. He is a member of Alexandria’s NAACP chapter and when on the city council served on the Youth Policy Commission and Alexandria Library. http://www.justin.net/

Joel McDonald, running for Virginia Beach School Board – McDonald has dedicated himself to the field of education, having worked as a data support specialist with the Virginia Beach City Public Schools for the last six years. McDonald is currently a member of the Virginia Beach Education Association and is a pro-equality Democrat with an endorsement from the LGBT Democrats of Virginia PAC. http://votemcdonald.org/

WASHINGTON

Joe Fitzgibbon, running for reelection to the Washington House of Representatives in the 34th District – First elected in 2010 to represent Olympia, Fitzgibbon has served as vice chair of the Local Government Committee and as a member of the Transportation, Environment, and General Government Appropriations and Oversight Committee. He has taken the lead on numerous issues including “expanding access to the polls for young voters and other disenfranchised communities.” http://joefitzgibbon.com/

Cyrus Habib, running for state House in Washington’s 48th District – Habib is a disability advocate, having lost his eyesight at age 8 due to a rare form of child cancer. He serves as the Human Services Commissioner for the city of Bellevue, Washington, and formerly served on the city’s Civil Rights Commission. If elected, Habib will be the first Iranian-American member of any state legislature in the country. http://electcyrus.com/

Noel Christina Frame, running for state House in Washington’s 36b District – Frame serves as the state director for Progressive Majority in Washington, facilitating the recruitment of state and local progressives to promote a variety of worthwhile causes. She worked as the deputy campaign manager for Approve Referendum 71, a successful ballot measure that ensured the legality of LGBT domestic partnerships. She will continue to fight for equality, working families, and the environment in the state House. http://noelframe.com/

Marko Liias, running for reelection to the Washington House of Representatives in the 21st District – The son of Finnish immigrants, Liias was first elected to his current position in 2008. Liias is a member of the Education and Transportation Committees and has vowed to continue his efforts to prioritize funding for education and for transportation measures that will generate jobs. http://markoliias.com/

WISCONSIN

Mandela Barnes, running for state House in Wisconsin’s 11th District – Born and raised in Milwaukee, Barnes serves as a community organizer in his hometown and formerly served in the mayor’s office. Barnes has vowed to properly fund education, modernize transportation infrastructure, and invest in the local economy to create jobs. http://www.mandelaforwisconsin.com/index.html

WYOMING

Joseph Barbuto, running for reelection to the Wyoming House of Representatives in the 48th District – Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Barbuto worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008. He was appointed to his current position when its incumbent stepped down. Once in office, Barbuto served on the House Minority Caucus; he is currently assigned to the Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee as well as the Select Committee on School Facilities. Barbuto has been a strong force for progressive change in Wyoming. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Representative-Joseph-M-Barbuto/353062025614

Todd Akin Compares Criticism of his Remarks to Beheadings by Islamic Extremists

In late September, a month after his remarks about “legitimate rape” sent shock waves through the country, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin addressed a St. Louis conference convened by Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, one of Akin’s most ardent defenders. In his speech, Akin wasn’t at all apologetic about his claim that women are unable to become pregnant in cases of “legitimate rape.” Instead, he argued that “political correctness” had caused him to face greater backlash than Bill Clinton, “who was accused of doing something wrong, as opposed to saying something wrong.”

“It surprised me that the saying it wrong almost seems like it’s worse than the doing it wrong,” he said. Clinton, of course, was impeached. And Akin’s comments on abortion and rape are indeed reflected in his actions, such as his attempt to redefine rape and participation in militant anti-abortion rights activism.

He went on to compare criticism of his remarks to decapitation by Islamic extremists: “We see that all the time with [what] the Islamists pull out on us: we’re offended so we’re going to cut your head off.”

Later in his speech he said that the U.S. is facing conditions similar to those in 1930s Germany that aided Adolf Hitler’s rise to power: “We can’t underestimate what could happen when you continue to print money recklessly, inflate the currency and spend money we don’t have at a trillion-plus a year. The potential is pretty serious.”

Todd Akin on Rape, Dogs in Heat, and the Smell of Money

Todd Akin complained in the New York Times this week that Claire McCaskill’s campaign is “trying to make me look like some kind of a weirdo or something.” But as a former Democratic senator from Missouri might have said, McCaskill is just telling the truth about Akin, and he thinks it’s weird. 

If you needed any more evidence of Akin the weirdo (his words, not mine), consider his remarks as a state representative in opposition to riverboat gambling. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in February 1994 that Akin and his colleague Stephen Banton warned on the floor of the Missouri House that “riverboats would lead to gambling addiction, battered spouses, broken homes, organized crime, poverty, suicides and child abuse.”
 
That’s a rather thorough list, but Akin wasn’t done. Akin warned that if gambling addiction rose just 1%, “50,000 thieves will be turned loose on our streets.” “When we have the smell of money, we run after it like dogs in heat,” he continued.
 
The Post-Dispatch reporter then added this hilarious, and rather telling, detail: “[House Speaker] Griffin had to call the House to order because so many members were talking to each other while Banton and Akin were speaking.” In other words, Akin’s colleagues knew better than to take him seriously all the way back in 1994.
 
If you thought those comments were overwrought, just wait. NPR caught up with Akin in July 1998 to talk about those sinful riverboats.
 
Remarkably, Akin managed to work his favorite topic – rape – into his criticism of the gambling industry:
 
COLLISON: Gambling opponent and state legislator Todd Akin has his response already prepared.
 
AKIN: I would hope that we would send a very bad message to any industry that wants to come in and use big dollars to rape our Constitution. If we want to change it, there's a process to do that, and that of course is coming up in November.
Really, he had that response already prepared? He hoped to send a very bad message to any industry that wants to rape our Constitution. That’s just weird.
 
Akin was right about one thing though. There is a process to change things in November.

 

Kevin Swanson Blames Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina on Homosexuality, Warns San Francisco is Next

Pastor Kevin Swanson of Generations with Vision Ministry dedicated his radio show yesterday to blaming gays and lesbians for not only Hurricane Sandy but also Hurricane Katrina. Swanson, who earlier urged Chick-fil-A to produce “Miss Piggy on a bun” to mock gay rights groups and beseeched America to return to the biblical law of Pilgrim society when homosexuality was punishable by death, warned that hurricanes struck New York and New Orleans because they are among the “most pro-homosexual, pro-liberal cities in America.” He added that San Francisco should soon expect an earthquake for similar reasons. Later, Swanson claimed that abortion rights and the growth of LGBT youth clubs in schools are provoking God’s wrath and intensifying the strength of hurricanes.

Swanson: The two worst storms, material-wise, in the history of America has happened in just the last five years and here’s the interesting thing about this storm, it hit New York City and if you’re trying to think of the most pro-homosexual, liberal cities in America, you would probably say, give me the top three most pro-homosexual, pro-liberal cities in America, it would probably be?

Buehner: New York, San Francisco, New Orleans.

Swanson: Yes, exactly. Now we have two out of three. The good news is San Francisco is in a safe location; well it’s on the ocean.

Buehner: God would have to move heaven and earth, well just really earth.

Swanson: Earth. San Francisco is still okay though, everybody understand, San Francisco is still okay, hasn’t had the big earthquake yet… yet.



Swanson: The hurricanes of the last ten years are four times worse than the hurricanes of the 1990s and twelve times worse of the hurricanes of the 70s and 80s, now this is interesting because I would say that the United States has not been honoring God very much, am I out on a limb here? The United States of America is more pro-abortion than ever before, certainly is funding more abortions than ever before; the United States is far more homosexual than it was in the 1990s, I mean there are hundreds of times more high school homosexual clubs and programs, and you’ve got California bringing all their pro-homosexual indoctrination into public schools. This stuff was not happening in the 1980s and 1990s, it’s happening now, it’s been happening for the last twelve years. America is not doing well in the macro-culture, okay? There is a God in the heavens and in the past, sins like homosexuality and the shedding of innocent blood have really irritated Him.

Swanson and Buehner also explained that people shouldn’t have pity on those who lost their homes but don’t have flood insurance, advising donors to be wary of contributing to Sandy relief efforts since “a lot of times charity winds up subsidizing sin,” like the possible use of relief funds to rebuild a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Buehner: If you build a house and it’s a block in from the ocean near a place called Atlantic City, you need flood insurance, it’s called Atlantic City, you’re inviting the ocean into your door step. You get insurance for that, if you don’t have insurance for that we don’t say ‘oh I guess we’re going to have pity on you because you don’t have insurance, I’ll just rebuild your house.’ No, let us buy you food, let me buy you a meal but I’m not going to buy you a house. No, mercy is the next virtue here and Christians are to have mercy, especially on other Christians, and not on those who can work and refuse to but on those who aren’t able to provide for themselves.

Swanson: That’s why accountability here is important because a lot of times charity winds up subsidizing sin; you got to be so careful with that. It turns out your charitable contributions to some big organization winds up rebuilding casinos in Jersey City or wherever.

Buehner: Or Planned Parenthood. What if you thought you were giving money to flood relief victims and it went to go rebuild the Planned Parenthood facility?

Swanson: Exactly, we don’t want to rebuild that.

Kuhner: Obama Establishing a 'Soft Tyranny' and 'Socialist Empire'

Jeffrey Kuhner didn’t disappoint in his predictably insane Washington Times column, “Obama and the future of our republic: Re-election will result in the Socialist States of America,” where he warned that President Obama is “our version of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.” He claimed that Obama is establishing a “soft tyranny” and “socialist empire” where the government seeks to “nationalizes your body” and create “a nation of economic deadbeats and social parasites.”

President Obama must be defeated on Tuesday. Our republic hangs in the balance. A second term would enable him to achieve his seminal goal: the transformation of America into a European social democracy. The nation of our Founding Fathers will cease to exist. Our constitutional system will be replaced by a corporatist superstate based on arbitrary, centralized power and the fusion of big government, big business and big labor. His re-election would represent the final victory of the progressive movement — the creation of a liberal, socialist regime.

For nearly four years, Mr. Obama has presided over a revolution from above. His signature legislative accomplishment is Obamacare. Washington is poised to take over one-sixth of the economy. It will impose a command-and-control government-run health system marked by exploding costs, rationed care, massive tax increases and intrusive mandates. The law also does something else that is unprecedented — and ominous: It encodes the federal funding of abortion. Through an abortion “surcharge,” it compels religious citizens to violate their conscience rights by subsidizing the murder of unborn children. This represents a major step toward a soft tyranny, enlisting Christians to underwrite state-sanctioned infanticide. It threatens to abrogate basic individual liberties.

Once Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014, it will be almost impossible to repeal. Government health care will become interwoven into the fabric of society, as millions lose their employer-based coverage in exchange for public subsidies. Moreover, like in Europe, socialized medicine fundamentally alters the relationship between the state and its citizens. The government essentially nationalizes your body. State health bureaucrats decide which treatments you and your family can — and cannot — receive. In short, nationalized health care creates a society of serfs who are coerced into dependency upon a ruling class for their most important needs. It breeds the servile state.

Yet, Mr. Obama’s drive toward a statist regime has gone much deeper than health care. His nearly $1 trillion stimulus package did nothing to engender economic growth. Rather, it stimulated unprecedented government expansion, amounting to a massive electoral bribe. Every major political constituency was paid off — the public-sector unions, government bureaucrats, environmentalists, minorities, low-income earners and community organizing groups.



We are becoming a nation of economic deadbeats and social parasites. Mr. Obama has forged a new redistributionist order: Tax consumers are devouring the wealth of taxpaying producers. In the process, he is breeding an army — a vast electoral pool — of government dependents. Soon, America will hit the tipping point at which the productive classes are outnumbered — and outvoted — by the nonproductive ones. Our decline will be inexorable and inevitable.



Mr. Obama has shredded our traditional system of free enterprise, states’ rights and limited government. He has governed not like the president of a republic, but a modern-day Roman emperor who views our Constitution as a meaningless piece of paper — a document to be trampled on in his mad rush to erect a socialist empire. He is our version of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. Should he win on Nov. 6, America — sadly and tragically — risks going the way of Venezuela.

People For the American Way and Allies Issue Joint Statement Pledging to Counter Threats to Free and Fair Elections

People For the American Way joined with more than fifty organizations to express their concern about two critical threats to our democratic system: corporate influence in elections and laws and official actions that suppress the vote. Under the banner “Money Out, Voters In,” the organizations issued a joint statement pledging to fight special interest money in politics and to support the rights of all voters.

Parshall: Satan the 'Great Deceiver' is behind Marriage Equality

Conservative talk show host Janet Parshall joined Crosstalk host Vic Eliason of Voice of Christian Youth America this week to promote her book, Buyer Beware: Finding Truth in the Marketplace of Ideas. The two spent much of the time discussing Parshall’s time working for VCY America, before becoming a leader of Concerned Women for America and National Religious Broadcasters, but soon began discussing a prior Crosstalk program that blamed Hurricane Sandy on the gay community. While Parshall said she is not in the position to say whether God used the hurricane to punish New York for legalizing same-sex marriage, she did claim once again that Satan is the main culprit behind the push for LGBT rights.

Listen:

Parshall: While this gets debated in the halls of Congress and while it gets adjudicated from the high courts of this country, in the end this is a spiritual battle and we need to put on spiritual eyes and understand that the Father of Lies hates the model of marriage because it is such a profound message of Christ’s unconditional love for us, the church. So we begin to see all of these skirmishes, so battles for same-sex marriage are nothing more than the Great Deceiver himself still rattling his tail saying to a watching culture, ‘did God really say’? And the answer back from the church has to be without blush, hesitation or embarrassment: ‘yes he did, and here I stand, marriage is and always shall be one man and one woman.’

People For the American Way Expands Latino Vote Campaign, Buying More Air Time in Colorado

Washington, DC – People For the American Way today expanded its Spanish-language TV ad buy in Colorado, where Latino voters could determine the outcome of the presidential election. PFAW’s Spanish-language buy in Colorado now exceeds that of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. The ads in Colorado are part of a six-state, $1.5 million campaign to remind Latino voters of Mitt Romney's positions and the damage a Mitt Romney presidency could do.

“Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have said that this election hinges on Latino voters,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Nowhere is that more true than in Colorado. Latino voters understand that Mitt Romney is catering to the anti-Latino far right, while President Obama offers real solutions. We’re committed to reminding Latino voters of the dangers of a Romney presidency.”

Also this week, PFAW launched its fourth Spanish-language TV ad. The new ad, “Not For Us,” can be viewed here.

Keegan further explained the strategy behind PFAW’s campaign in the Huffington Post this week.

###

Video of Todd Akin’s Extortionist Friend Threatening a Doctor – Months before Akin Contributed to His Campaign

On March 11, 1993, Dr. David Gunn was shot three times in the back and killed outside his Pensacola, Florida clinic by an assassin who stepped out of a group of anti-abortion protesters. Days later, longtime Todd Akin associate Tim Dreste delivered a chilling message to St. Louis-area doctor Yogendra Shah. Dreste stood in front of his clinic with a sign that read “Dr. Shah, are you feeling under the Gunn?” – referring to the slain Florida doctor. We’ve obtained a short video recording of this infamous incident, which you can watch below. 

Dreste would later be convicted of extortion on the basis of this incident and others that followed. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones ruled in 1999 that Dreste “acted with malice…and with specific intent in threatening plaintiffs.”
 
Yet Todd Akin donated to Dreste’s long-shot campaign for the state house in October 1993, just months after Dreste threatened Dr. Shah. Very few others did so – Akin’s $200 contribution was Dreste’s 2nd largest individual contribution and made up 9% of his total donations.
 
 
Akin had known Dreste for the better part of a decade by then and would have known what he was supporting when he cut that check – the St. Louis Post-Dispatch later wrote:
Wearing a hat adorned with shotgun shells, Tim Dreste is a familiar sight among the anti-abortion protesters who regularly picket the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City.
 
Dreste was the talk of the anti-abortion and abortion-rights camps when, after the murder in 1993 of Dr. David Gunn in Florida, he carried a sign asking, "Do You Feel Under the Gunn?"
Akin and Dreste were both involved in the Pro-Life Direct Action League in the late 80s. Dreste – under orders from Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry – broke away in September 1988 and formed a more radical group, Whole Life Ministries. The following month, Akin appeared at one of the group’s events and described Dreste’s foot soldiers as “freedom fighters.” Days later, Akin was elected for the first time to public office.
 
In 1989, Akin intervened on behalf of one of Dreste’s protesters who had been convicted of assaulting a clinic worker. When Dreste launched the Life Chain of St. Louis in 1990, Akin signed on as an endorser and attended the event through the 90s and beyond. And when Dreste helped form a new militia group in 1995 – the 1st Missouri Volunteers – Akin signed on to support them as well.
 
Given what happened in 1993 and 1994, it’s both deeply revealing and disturbing that Akin continued to work with and support Dreste. In April 1994, Dreste co-founded a radical new anti-abortion group – the American Coalition of Life Activists – and met with Paul Hill. On July 30th, Paul Hill murdered Dr. John Bayard Britton, who replaced Dr. Gunn in Pensacola, as well as Britton's bodyguard.
 
Days later, Dreste appeared outside a St. Louis-area clinic with a sign reading “Abortionists 50 million, Babies 3.” He also contributed to Hill's legal fund, told a clinic worker, “I’m John Hill, you know my brother Paul,” and tried to terrorize doctors by passing out “wanted” posters outside their homes and clinics (similar posters were distributed before Gunn and Britton were murdered). Through all of this, Akin remained loyal to Dreste.
 
In December of 1994, Dreste helped launch the 1st Missouri Volunteers militia group, becoming its chaplain and captain. A couple months later, Akin appeared on fliers promoting the militia’s March 1995 rally. He didn’t attend due to “scheduling conflicts” and sent a letter of support instead, which was read aloud by a militiaman. Then on May 2nd, not even two weeks after the Oklahoma City bombing, Akin defended Dreste’s militia in the Springfield News-Leader, saying “there’s a lot of potential for good.” And their relationship didn’t end there.
 
To recap, Akin stuck with Dreste after he publicly threatened a doctor and condoned murder in 1993. And he stuck by his old protest buddy in 1995 even though the year before, Dreste:
  • co-founded a pro-violence anti-abortion group
  • met with a domestic terrorist who murdered two people three months later
  • condoned those murders and contributed to the killer’s legal fund
  • threatened doctors and clinic staff during his frequent protest appearances.
Akin sure is loyal! To be sure, Akin has tried his best to cover up his long ties to and support for Dreste. He's openly lied about his history with the 1st Missouri Volunteers, and his campaign just wants to change the subject. But the truth is slowly coming out, including his numerous arrests (four at last count!) and name switcheroo to conceal them. But if you judge a man by his actions, not his press releases, Akin has remained loyal to the bitter end.
 
He reunited early last year with the people he protested (and was arrested) with in the 80s. He’s attended virtually every Life Chain event up until this year. And as we'll show, he’s apparently still on good terms with convicted extortionist Tim Dreste.

Marjorie Dannenfelser says Obama is trying to 'Exploit Women' and do 'Exactly What the Early Suffragists Warned Against'

Marjorie Dannenfelser of the ironically named Susan B. Anthony List has dedicated her group to inserting their anti-choice agenda into the presidential and congressional races. But now as the Obama campaign is stressing the President’s pro-choice views while Mitt Romney and Republicans across the country run away from the abortion debate, Dannenfelser is singing a new tune, saying that voters don’t want to hear about abortion after all.

She spoke to Janet Mefferd yesterday to criticize Lena Denham’s web ad for the Obama campaign (where she made a joke similar to one told by Ronald Reagan) as a “very smart” campaign tactic that will backfire. Dannenfelser compared it to the Tom Wolfe novel “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” which she said is “all about the equalization of on-campus sex and how women now are the new predators and it is an unbelievable appeal to young women who are at that place and who may be confused but they want that.” “This whole ‘women’s vote’ thing is truly a way to exploit young women and any woman in childbearing years and we need to see it as that,” Dannenfelser lamented.

Mefferd chastised the Obama campaign for “treating women like they are idiots” or “brain-dead” while telling them “lies like that Planned Parenthood needs to be supported to help women’s health.” Dannenfelser even said that Obama’s outreach to women and support for reproductive rights are “exactly what the early suffragists warned against: the exploitation of women.”

Later, Dannenfelser argued that voters consistently back candidates who favor the criminalization of abortion. However, a recent CNN poll [PDF] show that just 15 percent believe it should be illegal in all cases, and a USA Today survey found that female voters who list abortion and birth control as among their top election priorities are disproportionately backing Obama. If Dannenfelser is so sure that voters are ready to abandon Obama over his support for reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood, then why is the Romney campaign now running ads in swing states moderating his position on abortion in order to appeal to pro-choice voters?

She goes on to charge that Obama “underestimates the courage and confidence and intellectual power and decision-making that women actually have” by trying to have them “be bought out with a packet of pills,” while Mefferd said Obama views women as “little sexual machines that need the government to take care of us.”

Dannenfelser: When they understand the difference in opinion they will always vote on our side. In fact every election that we have tracked since 2002 shows that when voters are—when the abortion issue is top-of-mind for them, when it is something very important for them, no matter how outspent we are they give the margin of victory to the pro-life candidate. This president is the main ally of Planned Parenthood, I mean you can’t find a better ally of Planned Parenthood than this president. They put in a billion dollars into this and the president of Planned Parenthood is on the stump in Ohio, Pennsylvania, every battleground state, they know what’s at stake, they understand that their funding is going. There is only one thing that they can’t lose at Planned Parenthood and that is the abortion business, if they lose that they’ll go under. They are not about women’s health, they know that when this is taken out of the calculation they will go under so when people understand that, they get it.



Dannenfelser: I think your point at the beginning is how much he underestimates the courage and confidence and intellectual power and decision-making that women actually have, that we could be bought out with a packet of pills, a packet of contraception, like ‘we’ll pay for your contraception, that’s the price for your vote.’ That’s actually what he’s doing right now.

Mefferd: Right as if all we are is little sexual machines that need the government to take care of us.

New PFAW Report on the Importance of the Supreme Court in the 2012 Presidential Election

This week People For the American Way released a new report on the importance of the Supreme Court in the 2012 presidential election.
PFAW

The Importance of the Supreme Court in the 2012 Presidential Election

 

Introduction

With Election Day 2012 rapidly approaching, we are at a critical turning point for the Supreme Court. The next president will most likely pick at least one and possibly two or three Supreme Court Justices, deciding the Court’s direction for decades to come. With so many cases affecting nearly every aspect of our lives being decided by slim majorities – often just one vote – the stakes for Supreme Court nominations couldn’t be higher.

This report outlines exactly what is at stake for issues ranging from civil rights, women’s rights, and workplace fairness to laws about money in politics and basic voting rights.  Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said that he wants to nominate more Supreme Court Justices like Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia – the Justices who brought us Citizens United, who slammed the courthouse door shut when Lilly Ledbetter and women Wal-Mart employees dared to fight pay discrimination, and who consistently twist the law beyond recognition to rule for corporate interests over the rights of individual Americans.

Mitt Romney has openly embraced judicial extremism by picking failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork as his judicial advisor. A bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate rejected Robert Bork when Ronald Reagan nominated him to the Supreme Court. Why? Bork thought the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unconstitutional. He promoted censorship. He rejected rights for women, minorities, and gays and lesbians. He was just too extreme for the Supreme Court. And now Mitt Romney wants Robert Bork to help him pick the next Justices of the Supreme Court.

America can’t afford this kind of judicial extremism.  For so many issues that shape our day-to-day lives, the consequences of this election will be vast.

Consumer Rights/Economic Fairness: 

The Corporate Court Could Get Worse

A Romney presidency would further undermine the already much-eroded ability of consumers to vindicate their rights in court, especially when it comes to resisting unfair and one-sided arbitration clauses in purchase, service or employment contracts. 

In the last several years, the ruling bloc on the Roberts Court has dramatically curtailed consumers’ rights to file class action suits and to bring contract unconscionability claims to court.  An even more conservative Court could also cancel the ability of consumers to sue companies in areas where Federal regulation exists but has not been read to nullify individual rights of action.

The Court has made it decidedly much harder for consumers to file class action lawsuits—and this is a serious problem.  When a corporate scheme cheats millions of customers of individually small amounts, the result can be a windfall for the company; it simply isn’t worth it for an individual to sue to collect $20 or $30.  Class action litigation allows the entire universe of cheated consumers to recoup their losses, while ensuring the company does not profit from its scheme. 

In AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, a 2011 case where such a scheme was alleged, the cell phone contract between respondents and AT&T provided for arbitration of all disputes, but did not permit class-wide arbitration.  The Ninth Circuit held this provision was unconscionable under California law and that the Federal Arbitration Act did not preempt its ruling.  

The Supreme Court overturned this decision, holding that the Federal Arbitration Act preempted California law against the enforceability of contracts found to be unconscionable.   Justice Scalia wrote the opinion in this egregious 5-4 decision, stating that "[r]equiring the availability of class-wide arbitration interferes with fundamental attributes of arbitration and thus creates a scheme inconsistent with the FAA.”   The majority created out of thin air a statutory preference for the faster and more informal method of bilateral arbitration that is so easily susceptible to exploitation by big businesses.

In his vigorous dissenting opinion, Justice Breyer pointed out that this decision makes it much harder for consumers to combat market injustices.   The ruling was seen as a major victory for corporations that not only disadvantages consumers but weakens legal protections against employment discrimination, since large employers often make new hires sign the same kinds of arbitration agreements.   As Vanderbilt law professor Brian Fitzpatrick said of the decision, "It gives companies a green light to exempt themselves from all class actions from their customers or from their employees.  Companies can basically escape from the civil justice system. And why wouldn't a company take advantage of that?"

Concepcion came just a year after another arbitration agreement defeat for consumers.  In Rent-a-Center v. Jackson, an employee disputed an agreement providing that the arbitrator, and not a court, had exclusive authority to resolve any dispute relating to the enforceability of the arbitration agreement. The employee argued that the arbitration agreement was unconscionable under state law.  The Court held that if a company’s arbitration agreement includes a clause delegating fairness challenges to the arbitrator, a court must automatically enforce that agreement and send the matter to arbitration.  

This 5-4 decision, also authored by Justice Scalia, handed a major victory to corporations seeking to evade legitimate courts through imposition of arbitration clauses.  According to Public Citizen, the holding in Rent-a-Center allows companies to “impose one-sided terms or select clearly biased arbitrators with close ties to the company, secure in the knowledge that any challenge to the fairness of arbitration will be decided by the arbitrator whose very authority comes from the challenged arbitration agreement.”  As a New York Times editorial put it, “[i]f a contract is invalid, he said, how can the arbitration clause it contains still be valid?”

As bad as these rulings have been, things can clearly get worse on the Roberts Court.  Consumer protection rulings have not all been on the side of the corporations as there have been a handful of 5-4 decisions of a pro-consumer leaning on the Roberts Court.  In Cuomo v. Clearing House, the Court held that the “visitorial powers” accorded to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency do not preempt state laws regulating banks.   In this 5-4 decision in which Justice Scalia joined the liberal justices and wrote the opinion, Scalia observed that states "have always enforced their general laws against national banks -- and have enforced their banking-related laws against national banks for at least 85 years."   If not for this surprising opinion by Justice Scalia, the states would simply not be able to uphold their own consumer protections against banks.  A Romney nominee replacing one of the moderate-to-liberal justices would have produced a devastating outcome in this case.

The Court has also produced mixed results concerning whether pharmaceutical companies must warn consumers about the potential danger their drugs pose.  In Wyeth v. Levine, the Supreme Court held in a 6-3 decision that FDA regulations governing the labeling of prescription drugs do not preempt state-law failure-to-warn claims against name brand drug manufacturers.   However, the Court held in PLIVA v. Mensing that federal law does preempt the same kind of suit against manufacturers of generic prescription drugs.   Justice Sotomayor argued that the 5-4 opinion “invents new principles of pre-emption law out of thin air to justify” its decision, and that the decision “makes little sense.”  

As a result of PLIVA, consumers of brand-name drugs “can sue manufacturers for inadequate warnings,” while “consumers of generic drugs cannot.”   Those harmed by dangerously inadequate warnings on generic-drug labels now cannot seek compensation for their injuries in state court even if the drug manufacturer knew of newly discovered health risks and failed to inform the FDA.

The Court has, of course, also been famously disappointing when it comes to economic fairness issues relating to unions.  In Knox v. SEIU, the Court crafted a new constitutional rule making it harder for public sector unions to protect workers’ rights.   In that case, a union imposed a temporary dues increase in order to raise funds to fight anti-worker initiatives placed on the California ballot without giving non-members a chance to opt out of this specific increase, as they do each year when normally setting dues.  The temporary increase came soon after the annual opt-out opportunity had come and gone.  The five conservative members of the Court ruled that when there is a special assessment or dues increase, the union cannot collect any additional dues from non-members unless they affirmatively opt in, which severely limits unions’ ability to protect workers when their rights are under attack.   It also severely weakens a major institutional supporter of progressive candidates and causes at a time when the politically-minded Roberts Court is augmenting the strength of conservative-leaning corporations.

The issue of whether an opt-in regime was required was never in the scope of questions on which the Court granted review.   Justice Sotomayor harshly condemned this action: “The majority’s refusal to abide by standard rules of appellate practice is unfair to the Circuit, which did not pass on this question, and especially to the respondent here, who suffers a loss in this Court without ever having an opportunity to address the merits of the question the Court decides.”   As a result, “Alito’s ruling struck at the heart of American unionism … [coming] close to nationalizing the right-to-work laws that 23 states have adopted.”

While the Roberts Court has thus far left treacherous terrain for consumer protection and economic rights questions, an even more conservative court would spell a one-sided disaster.  Class action suits by consumers would likely be completely barred against major corporations, as a result of their ability to craft arbitration agreements in their favor – no matter how lopsided, unfair and unconscionable.  More and more, having one’s day in court would not be a practical option for consumers and employees who find themselves victims of misconduct by large corporations.

Environmental Protection: 

A Romney Court Could Leave a Scorched Earth

A Romney presidency could turn the environmental laws of this country into roadside litter.  While the Environmental Protection Agency would be under the direct control of an environmentally reckless Administration which believes that “corporations are people,” a redefined Supreme Court would continue the erosion of our basic environmental framework laws.  Romney-nominated Justices, taking after Romney hero Robert Bork, would effectively wipe out many of the statutory and regulatory protections that safeguard our air, water, and other natural resources.

For example, the addition of one more conservative justice could remove a substantial proportion of our nation’s waters from federal environmental protection under the Clean Water Act.  In Rapanos v. United States, the plaintiffs wanted to fill their wetlands in order to build a shopping mall and condos.  Four of the more conservative justices wanted to use a very narrow reading of the law.  According to Scalia’s four-Justice plurality opinion, the phrase “the waters of the United States” includes only bodies of water that are “streams[,] … oceans, rivers, [and] lakes,” which would not include such things as wetlands.   To find otherwise would “result in a significant impingement of the States’ traditional and primary power over land and water use.” 531 U. S., at 174.“   The four more liberal justices found this cramped definition inconsistent with the law’s stated purpose of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s water.  They also concluded that regulation of wetlands by the Federal government as part of the term “waters of the United States” was perfectly valid and reasonable.

In this 4-1-4 decision, Justice Kennedy’s concurrence was more in line with the conservative approach, holding that only if a wetland or non-navigable waterway bears a “significant nexus” to a traditional navigable waterway does it fall within the power of the Clean Water Act.   Such a nexus exists where the wetland or waterbody, either by itself or in combination with other similar sites, significantly affects the physical, biological, and chemical integrity of the downstream navigable waterway.  

While Kennedy’s view did not restrict the Federal government’s ability to regulate wetlands as severely as the four other conservatives would have , the conflicting approaches have made the resulting precedent unclear and the balance a tenuous one.  According to Lawrence Hurley of Greenwire, “[l]awyers rarely agree on anything, but here's an exception: They all say the Supreme Court bungled Rapanos . . .”    As a result, the decision left wetlands regulation in a confusing “mess.”   To be sure, adding  another conservative justice would make wetlands regulation less confusing but only because it would be downright retrograde: it would mean that huge amounts of wetland would  not be covered at all under the Clean Water Act.

A Romney-inflected Court would also have a major effect on the ability of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  In Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, twelve states and several cities sued the EPA in order to establish its power to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.  The EPA had earlier found that it did not have the authority to do so.  In a 5-4 decision, the EPA was found to have “offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change.”   Therefore, [i]ts action was . . .  ‘arbitrary, capricious, … or otherwise not in accordance with law.’”

Justice Stevens, writing for the majority, found that under the Clean Air Act, the EPA could avoid having to regulate in this area “only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do.”   In contrast, Chief Justice Roberts said the court should not have found that Massachusetts or any of the other plaintiffs had standing to bring the action. The finding “has caused us to transgress ‘the proper — and properly limited — role of the courts in a democratic society,’” he said, quoting from a 1984 decision.   He also said “[t]his court’s standing jurisprudence simply recognizes that redress of grievances of the sort at issue here is the function of Congress and the chief executive, not the federal courts.”  

Roberts then argued that the alleged injury is “conjectural or hypothetical,” rather than “actual or imminent.”   He also rejected the idea that the regulations Massachusetts sought would respond to an injury that was caused by the EPA’s inaction and that the requested rules would have the ability to redress its suspected injury:

 

Petitioners are never able to trace their alleged injuries back through this complex web to the fractional amount of global emissions that might have been limited with EPA standards. In light of the bit-part domestic new motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions have played in what petitioners describe as a 150-year global phenomenon, and the myriad additional factors bearing on petitioners' alleged injury--the loss of Massachusetts coastal land--the connection is far too speculative to establish causation.

 

On the other hand, Justice Scalia conveniently used Chevron as the heart of his dissent, stating (quite ironically, given his habit of discarding administrative judgments he dislikes), that “this Court has no business substituting its own desired outcome for the reasoned judgment of the responsible agency.” In short, by replacing one of the liberal Justices with a conservative, the ability of the states to force the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases would probably vanish sooner rather than later.

We have seen an already conservative court diminish the power of Federal agencies to enforce the Endangered Species Act.  In National Association of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife, a procedural conflict between agencies arose regarding the protection of endangered species.  The Clean Water Act has specific requirements governing transfer applications, where NPDES permits may be enforced by state officials.  On the other hand, the Endangered Species Act is largely enforced through the Commerce and Interior Departments of the Federal Government.  At issue is whether the federal officials transferring authority to the state officials must also add the Endangered Species Act regulations when enforcing the CWA permits.  

In the opinion, Justice Alito found that the Endangered Species Act did not apply in this case, and that Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act does not effectively operate as a tenth criterion on which the EPA's transfer of certain permitting powers to state authorities under section 402(b) of the Clean Water Act must be conditioned.   Justice Stevens dissented, writing that the Endangered Species Act's requirements should be given precedence over other aims of federal agencies, despite the conflict between the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.

 

[The court] erroneously concludes that the ESA contains an unmentioned exception for nondiscretionary agency action and that the statute’s command to enjoin the completion of the Tellico Dam depended on the unmentioned fact that the TVA was attempting to perform a discretionary act. But both the text of the ESA and our opinion in Hill compel the contrary determination that Congress intended the ESA to apply to “all federal agencies” and to all “actions authorized, funded, or carried out by them.” Id., at 173 (emphasis deleted).

 

The resulting holding means that the provisions of the Endangered Species Act are of secondary concern when transferring enforcement to local officials, since the transfer is not considered a final agency action reviewable by the courts. 

Adding another like-minded justice would also strengthen conservatives’ determination only to enforce environmental protection when they deem it cheap enough to apply without affecting the economic interests of industry.  In Entergy Corporation v. Riverkeeper, Inc., the Court reviewed whether EPA could use a cost-benefit analysis in choosing the Best Available Technology to meet national performance standards.  In a majority opinion written by Justice Scalia, the Court ruled that the EPA could use a cost-benefit analysis in setting the national performance standards:

 

The EPA’s view that § 1326(b)’s ‘best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact’ standard permits consideration of the technology’s costs and of the relationship between those costs and the environmental benefits produced governs if it is a reasonable interpretation of the statute – not necessarily the only possible interpretation, nor even the interpretation deemed most reasonable by the courts.  Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 843-844.

 

In this 5-3 decision, Justice Breyer agreed with some aspects of the majority’s opinion, but did not believe it should be as far-reaching as the more conservative justices did, stating that “those who sponsored the legislation intended the law’s text to be read as restricting, though not forbidding, the use of cost-benefit comparisons.”   The other liberal justices believed the text of the law was misinterpreted entirely.

Many environmentalists argue that cost-benefit analysis ignores the “moral urgency” of environmental health and safety regulations, as well as being “relentlessly anti-regulatory in its design and implementation.”   The consequences of Riverkeeper are that, if an environmental statute is ambiguous as to whether cost-benefit analysis is allowed, then it will be left to the agency to make the potentially controversial determination.  

As is obvious from the precedents above, a court dominated by Romney appointees and other conservatives would do great harm to our nation’s environmental regulations, and our agencies’ powers to correct ever-more serious environmental harms.

Democracy and the Right to Vote:  Endangering the Voting Rights Act, Majority-Minority Districts, and “One Person, One Vote”

A Romney-redefined Supreme Court would almost certainly mean the downfall of Section Five of the Voting Rights Act.  Nullifying Section Five would make it easier for jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory practices to make future changes in “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, or procedure with respect to voting…”   This lifting of the key provision of the Voting Rights Act would include the practice of decennial redistricting.

In League of Latin American Citizens v. Perry (2006), the Court asked if the Texas Legislature violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act when it used 2000 Census data to redistrict for partisan advantage, resulting in districts that did not conform to the one person, one vote standard.   Texas had already redistricted using the 2000 Census data with a Legislative Redistricting Board, but Republicans wanted more districts that benefited their party.  In an effort spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay, the Legislature did the process over again in 2003 once both Houses of the Legislature gained a Republican majority.

The Court issued a fragmented set of opinions.  Relying on different rationales, none of which garnered a clear majority, seven of the Justices rejected the plaintiffs’ invitation to rule that the Texas Legislature's statewide, mid-decade, partisan redistricting violated the “one-person one-vote” rule and was therefore unconstitutional.  Only Justice Stevens (who is no longer on the Court) and Justice Breyer saw the partisan mid-decade redistricting as violating the First Amendment (by officially retaliating against voters for their political affiliation) and the Fourteenth Amendment (by intending to harm a politically disfavored group).

However, five Justices (Kennedy and the four more liberal Justices) ruled that part of the redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act by redrawing a district that was supposed to be Latino-majority in such a way as to deny Latino voters as a group the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choosing.   (This was supposed to be a new Latino-majority district to make up for redistricting most Latinos out of a different, formerly Latino-majority district.)  They found that the groups of Latinos put into the new district – some in the Austin area, others near the Mexican border – were not only separated by an enormous distance, but also had disparate needs and interests, mostly because their economic status differed considerably.  Because of both factors combined, the new district was not “compact” as required under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and thus not likely to empower Latinos in the district to elect candidates of their choice.   Rick Pildes argues this reflects an increasing “skepticism to grouping voters together based on racial or ethnic identity.”

Indeed, the Court further registered its skepticism in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder (2009).  In that case, the district attempted to seek a bailout from the Section Five preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act because it had no history of racial discrimination.   While the Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of Section Five, it agreed that the district was eligible to seek bailout under the Act.

In his opinion for the Court, Chief Justice Roberts expressed skepticism as to whether the Voting Rights Act would be held constitutional in the near future:

 

More than 40 years ago, this Court concluded that "exceptional conditions" prevailing in certain parts of the country justified extraordinary legislation otherwise unfamiliar to our federal system. Katzenbach, 383 U.S., at 334. In part due to the success of that legislation, we are now a very different Nation. Whether conditions continue to justify such legislation is a difficult constitutional question we do not answer today.

 

Thus, acting in the name of constitutional avoidance, a nearly unanimous court upheld the Voting Rights Act.  However, whether the Act will be held constitutional in the future is unknown.  But it is clear that those odds drop precipitously with the addition of more conservative justices.

In Bartlett v. Strickland (2009), the Court held in a 5-4 decision that a minority group must constitute a numerical majority of the voting-age population in an area before Section Two of the Voting Rights Act would require the creation of a legislative district to prevent dilution of that group’s votes.   When the district had been created in the previous redistricting, District 18 was a geographically compact majority-minority district.   When it came time for the district to be redrawn however, the African-American voting age population had fallen below 50 percent.  The legislators decided to split the county in order “to give African-American voters the potential to join with majority voters to elect the minority group’s candidate of choice.”

The decision resulted in turning 50% into a “magic number,” and will likely “reduce the number of majority-minority districts mandated by Section Two.”   Many were heartened by Justice Kennedy’s comments that “racial discrimination and racially polarized voting are not ancient history” and that “[m]uch remains to be done to ensure that citizens of all races have equal opportunity to share and participate in our democratic processes and traditions.”   This was a closely divided decision won on the conservative side.  Adding a more conservative jurist would likely further restrict the import of Section Two.

Restrictions at the Polls

Another hot voting rights issue involves the growing number of restrictions on voters when they go to the polls.  In Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008), the Court held that an Indiana law requiring voters to provide photo IDs did not violate the Constitution.   The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was deeply divided when it upheld the law, with the dissent characterizing the law as a thinly-veiled attempt to disenfranchise low-income Democratic Party voters.

While this was a 6-3 decision, with the generally liberal Justice Stevens joining the conservative majority, Stevens focused largely on the idea that the burden on voters obtaining the identification cards was low.  This was due in part to the fact that the identification cards were free, and in part to the availability of provisional ballots, requiring an affidavit which did not require identification: “For most voters who need them, the inconvenience of making a trip to the BMV, gathering the required documents, and posing for a photograph surely does not qualify as a substantial burden on the right to vote, or even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.”  

Conservative justices are much less likely to believe such factors are necessary in order for identification laws to be held constitutional.  In fact, conservative justices often do not even see the need for safeguards such as absentee ballots.  As Justice Scalia went to great pains to state in Crawford, “That the State accommodates some voters by permitting (not requiring) the casting of absentee or provisional ballots, is an indulgence—not a constitutional imperative that falls short of what is required.”

How Would a Romney-Bork Court Affect Latinos?

As a community, Latinos have been heavily affected by a number of Roberts Court cases relating to education, immigration and naturalization, worker’s documentation of citizenship, and redistricting in elections. 

In 2011’s Chamber of Commerce of the US v. Whiting, Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the conservative majority (or, in parts, a plurality), upholding an Arizona law imposing draconian penalties on employers for hiring undocumented aliens, evading a federal law preempting such state laws.  Specifically, the Court held that Federal law does not prevent Arizona from revoking the business licenses of state companies that knowingly hire undocumented workers (called “a death sentence for businesses”), or from requiring employers in that state to use a federal electronic system to check that their workers are authorized to work in the United States.   The Obama Administration argued that the Arizona law conflicts with Federal immigration policy, and the issue at question was whether Arizona could add to the penalties of federal law with much tougher ones of its own.

This case was decided 5-3, with Justices Sotomayor, Breyer, and Ginsburg dissenting and Justice Kagan recused.  In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor wrote “I cannot believe that Congress intended for the 50 states and countless localities to implement their own distinct enforcement and adjudication procedures for deciding whether employers have employed unauthorized aliens.”   Justice Breyer also said that the law disrupts the goals of Congress by “seriously threaten[ing] the federal act’s antidiscrimination objectives by radically skewing the relevant penalties.”

However, in Arizona v. United States (the S.B. 1070 case), Roberts and Kennedy surprisingly joined three moderates to create a 5-3 majority limiting the ability of states to adopt even more aggressive legislation designed to make life so harsh for undocumented immigrants that they flee the state.  Unlike the state laws upheld in Whiting, which regulated employers only, these directly targeted immigrants through the mechanism of criminal law. 

In Arizona v. United States, the issue was whether federal immigration laws preclude what Arizona characterized as its novel efforts at “cooperative law enforcement.”  The state law made failure to comply with federal alien-registration requirements a state misdemeanor, but this was struck down because the federal government has preempted the entire field of alien registration.  The law also made it a misdemeanor for an unauthorized alien to seek or engage in work in the state, a provision which was struck down as obstructing federal policy on hiring undocumented aliens.  It also authorized officers to arrest a person if an officer has probable cause to think  that he or she has committed any public offense “that makes the person removable from the United States.” This provision, too, was struck down as obstructing federal policy on when to arrest an undocumented alien.  The law also provided that officers should make efforts to verify a person’s immigration status during a stop, detention, or arrest ; this provision was upheld for now against a facial challenge but could be deemed unconstitutional as applied if the state engages in racial profiling.

The Court essentially held that the first three provisions were impermissible because they are preempted by federal law.   The opinion “went far toward excluding states from having their own deportation policies.”   The 5-3 decision was deemed to be close to a “rout in favor of the Obama Administration.”   However, if the immigrant status verification provision is challenged against a regime of racial and ethnic profiling, the success of such a challenge will likely depend on who replaces the next Justice to leave this closely divided Court.

An election law case has also specifically affected Latinos, but in ways that could also affect other minority groups.  In League of Latin American Citizens v. Perry (2006), five Justices (Kennedy and the four more liberal Justices) ruled that part of Texas’s redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act by redrawing a district that was supposed to be Latino-majority in such a way as to deny Latino voters as a group the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choosing.   (This was supposed to be a new Latino-majority district to make up for redistricting most Latinos out of a different, formerly Latino-majority district.)  They found that the groups of Latinos put into the new district – some in the Austin area, others near the Mexican border – were not only separated by an enormous distance, but also had disparate needs and interests, mostly because their economic status differed considerably.  Because of both factors combined, the new district was not “compact” as required under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and thus not likely to empower Latinos in the district to elect candidates of their choice.   Rick Pildes argues this reflects an increasing “skepticism to grouping voters together based on racial or ethnic identity.”

In Horne v. Flores, the Court remanded the case to determine whether Arizona’s general education funding budget supports Equal Educational Opportunities Act-compliant English Language Learner programming.   The case was brought in 1992 on the grounds that the Nogales Unified School District had failed to follow the Equal Educational Opportunities Act, which requires a State "to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs."

In January 2000, the US District Court of Appeals for the District of Arizona had cited the state for civil contempt for failing to adequately fund English Language Learner programs, in violation

of the Equal Educational Opportunities Act and subsequently rejected proposed legislation as inadequate to resolve the programs' deficiencies. The superintendent and representatives argued that increases in state funding, changes in the management of the school district, and passage of the No Child Left Behind Act sufficiently altered the foundations of the district court's original ruling to warrant relief.

The opinion held that, in evaluating the actions of the state, attention should focus on student outcomes rather than on spending and inputs to schools.   The minority argued that majority opinion risks denying schoolchildren the English language instruction they need to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation.

In Flores-Villar v. US (2010), the Court was split 4-4 on the constitutionality of a law setting standards for when certain foreign-born children of unmarried parents can automatically claim U.S. citizenship.  The law establishes minimum residency requirements for the parents before citizenship can automatically transfer to the child, but the requirement for fathers is more onerous than that for mothers.  The Ninth Circuit had ruled that the law did not violate the Equal Protection Clause.

The relevant statute provided that a foreign-born child of unmarried parents obtains citizenship automatically through a U.S. citizen mother if she resided in the U.S. for one year prior to his birth; but through a U.S. citizen father only if he had resided in the U.S. prior to the birth for ten years, five of which must be after he was 14 years old.  (The specifics of the law have since changed, but a gender disparity remains.)

Mr. Flores-Villar tried to avoid deportation by claiming citizenship.  However, his father was 16 years old when Flores-Villar was born, making it impossible for him to fulfill the requirement that five years of his residency occur after the age of 14.  If Flores-Villar had been born to a U.S. citizen mother with the same history of residency, he would automatically be a citizen today.

Justice Kagan recused herself because she had worked on the case as Solicitor General.  The Court was split 4-4, with no indication as to the positions of any particular Justice.   Only the judgment of the lower court was affirmed, with no written opinion, so the issue can reappear before the Court, with Kagan’s participation.  Depending on who nominates the next Justices, the Court may make it harder for this class of immigrants to claim U.S. citizenship.

Money in Politics:  In the Roberts Court, Corporations Are People.  In the Romney Court, They will be King.

With the 5-Justice conservative majority in the driver’s seat, the Roberts Court has already had a sweeping effect on the campaign finance laws of this country, striking down one democracy-protecting regulation after another.  Despite a history of campaign finance limits dating back to at least Teddy Roosevelt’s time, the “Corporate Court” has transformed the politics of the country by turning corporate treasuries into political slush funds and systematically rearranging the nation’s laws to benefit the rich, the powerful and the corporate.  The Court’s upending of the nation’s campaign finance regime and its electoral politics reached its peak in the Citizens United decision, and many have already come to think of this as the Citizens United era.

The offensive against campaign finance rules has involved systematic demolition of the law known as “McCain-Feingold.”  Officially titled the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002,  McCain-Feingold was created, in part, to regulate phony “issue ads” paid for by corporations in the weeks before an election.  This Act made it a federal crime for a corporation to use its general treasury funds to pay for any "electioneering communication," which McCain-Feingold defined as any broadcast that referred to a candidate for federal office and was aired within 30 days of a federal primary election or 60 days of a federal general election in the jurisdiction where that candidate was running.

In 2007’s Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, the court ruled 5-4 that ads were eligible for an "as applied" exception to the McCain-Feingold limits on issue ads close to an election unless the ad could not reasonably be interpreted as anything other than urging the “election or defeat of a candidate for federal office.”   It was said at the time that this first Roberts Court case undermining our campaign finance laws marked a “sea-change with respect to corporate speech rights [rather] than as a case upending the First Amendment’s general treatment of campaign finance regulation.”  In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts stated that these issue ads were not the equivalent to contributions to candidates, and to “equate … [the] ads with contributions [would be] to ignore their value as political speech.”

Justice Souter, on the other hand, wrote in his dissent for the 4 moderates and liberals:

 

The ban on contributions will mean nothing much, now that companies and unions can save candidates the expense of advertising directly, simply by running ‘issue ads’ without express advocacy, or by funneling the money through an independent corporation like WRTL.

 

As Richard Briffault has said, this ruling was “no mere as-applied exception but an effective gutting of the law.”   The New York Times points out that “[i]t is often hard … for the casual observer to tell the difference between [issue advocacy and express advocacy].”

In 2008’s Davis v. Federal Election Commission, the McCain-Feingold Act took another dramatic hit at the hands of the Court.  McCain-Feingold contained a provision called the “Millionaire’s Amendment,” which changed campaign contribution limits for candidates facing wealthy, self-funding opponents.  When the self-financing candidate uses more than $350,000 of his or her personal funds in his or her campaign, the individual contribution limit could triple for the non-self-financing candidate.   This provision in the law was meant to help prevent a richer candidate from winning an election simply because of his or her personal wealth.

The Court struck down the Millionaire’s Amendment by a 5-4 margin along the predictable lines.  In his opinion, Justice Alito found that there was no compelling “governmental interest in eliminating corruption or the perception of corruption” with the expenditure of personal funds.    Instead, Alito argues that the use of personal funds reduces the likelihood of corruption in the political process.   Thus, Alito states, “imposing different contribution and coordinated party expenditure limits on candidates vying for the same seat is antithetical to the First Amendment.”

In his dissent, Justice Stevens found that the provision was “a modest, sensible, and plainly constitutional attempt . . . to minimize the advantages enjoyed by wealthy candidates” compared to those who must rely on others to assist in funding their campaigns.

 

It cannot be gainsaid that the twin rationales at the heart of the Millionaire's Amendment--reducing the importance of wealth as a criterion for public office and countering the perception that seats in the United States Congress are available for purchase by the wealthiest bidder--are important Government interests.

 

The Court seems to have argued that candidates with the “natural advantage” of wealth have a “constitutional right to bar Congress” from making it easier for opponents to “mount tougher competition.”

The Court also undermined state campaign finance laws with the same perverse logic found in Davis.  In Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, an Arizona state matching funds provision was challenged on the basis that it unconstitutionally penalizes free speech.  Once matching funds were triggered in Arizona, publicly financed candidates received “one dollar for every dollar raised or spent by the privately raised candidate,” as well as those raised by any “independent groups that support[ed] the privately financed candidate.”

Arizona’s voters adopted the clean elections law in the 1990s to reduce the political corruption that was repeatedly driving the state into crisis.  Two governors had faced criminal indictment. Nearly ten percent of the Arizona legislature ended up facing civil or criminal charges after several legislators were caught on video accepting campaign contributions and bribes in exchange for legislative acts. Arizonans thus acted to reduce candidates’ dependence on wealthy campaign funders and restore integrity to their elections. 

Nevertheless, the Court held that Arizona’s law discriminated against the wealthy self-funded candidates.  According to the Court, the law “substantially burdens political speech and is not sufficiently justified by a compelling interest to survive First Amendment scrutiny.”   Chief Justice Roberts argued that the law would cause self-funded candidates as well as supportive independent expenditure groups to spend less, impairing their free speech rights.

In her dissenting opinion, Justice Kagan pointed out that the law did nothing more than add to the quantity of political speech in the campaign.  She wrote that the Act promotes the values underlying both the First Amendment and our entire Constitution by enhancing the “opportunity for free political discussion to the end that government may be responsive to the will of the people.”   Moreover, the quality of the speech market is enhanced because“[c]andidates who rely on public, rather than private, moneys are ‘beholden [to] no person and, if elected, should feel no postelection obligation toward any contributor.’”   As Justice Kagan stated, “in this case, the majority says that the prospect of more speech—responsive speech, competitive speech, the kind of speech that drives public debate—counts as a constitutional injury.” In essence, the majority found that the wealthy have not only a right to spend to the heavens in pursuit of public office but a right to freeze their cash advantage over opponents.

However, the Court had an even more devastating blow to deliver to the nation’s campaign finance structure in the infamous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.   In Citizens United, advertisements for Hillary: The Movie had run within 30 days of a primary, thus violating the McCain-Feingold restrictions on “electioneering communications.”   Instead of ruling on whether the movie was a political communication under the statute, a question that could have been easily resolved for the plaintiffs, the conservative justices ordered the case reargued to address a constitutional question not raised by the litigants – whether Section 203 of McCain-Feingold violated the First Amendment because corporations have an unlimited right to spend money in political campaigns.

True to form, the Court found the prohibition of all independent expenditures by corporations and unions violated the First Amendment's protection of free speech.   Specifically, Kennedy’s 5-4 decision held that corporations have the same First Amendment political speech rights as individuals and that they can make unlimited independent expenditures from their general corporate accounts.  Kennedy wrote, "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."  

Both the substance and the process of the ruling shocked and dismayed the more liberal justices.  Indeed, before the case was reargued but while the conservatives were nonetheless planning to “resolve” the constitutional issue no one had raised, Justice Souter originally wrote a dissent that reportedly “aired some of the Court’s dirty laundry.” According to Jeffrey Toobin, Souter “accused the Chief Justice of violating the Court’s own procedures to engineer the result he wanted.”  However, the case was reargued in the next session, and by then Souter had retired.  Justice Stevens read part of his ninety-page dissent from the bench, something “quite unusual for a dissenter to do.”  

Stevens argued that the ruling "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution." Stevens later wrote that "[a] democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold."   Additionally, Stevens disagrees with such an extreme extension of the legal fiction of corporations’  “personhood,” pointing out that corporations are not “members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.”

The Citizens United ruling has been called “the most serious threat to American democracy in a generation.”   Richard Hasen argues that it “increases the dangers of corruption in our political system and it ignores the strong tradition of American political equality.”   Indeed, Justice Stevens concluded with the following:

At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

 

The Court continued the precedent of Citizens United in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock.  Without even hearing oral arguments, the Supreme Court decided by a 5-4 vote to summarily reverse a Montana Supreme Court decision upholding a 1912 voter-approved ban on corporations’ spending of their own money on political campaigns in that state.  

Despite the fact that Montana’s highest court had found that the state had a history of profoundly corrupt corporate influence in politics, the Court held that Montana’s argument was already rejected in Citizens United.   In his dissent, Justice Breyer pointed out that in Citizens United, the Court found that “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,” but that “independent expenditures by corporations” in Bullock “did in fact lead to corruption or the appearance of corruption in Montana.”   Any illusion that one or more of the conservative Justices would have ruled differently in Citizens United had they known the impact it would have was shattered by the decision in the Montana case.  Yet the issue is bound to arise again in one form or another, and its fate will be determined by who will be nominating the next Supreme Court Justice.

Women’s Rights:  Romney and Bork Would Turn Back the Clock Further on the Roberts Court

The Roberts Court has had a bad effect on the rights of women.  In particular, the Court has set back women’s rights when it comes to equal pay and fair treatment in the workplace as well as  women’s reproductive choice.   Congress was able to reverse a critically damaging decision with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but a woman’s constitutional right to choose hangs  by a thread.  Mitt Romney’s constitutional right-hand man, Robert Bork, is a sworn enemy of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey and calls feminism a “totalitarian” movement.

Conservatives on the Court have been looking for ways to cut back on women’s rights to reproductive choice.  In Gonzales v. Carhart, for example, the Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.  The law, signed by President Bush in 2003, bans a procedure referred to as intact dilation and extraction.   The law bans a procedure “found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.” The law has no exceptions for the health of the woman, as required under precedent, including the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey opinion reinforcing the core right of a woman to choose.

In 2000, when Justice O’Connor was still serving, the Court struck down a nearly identical law, with O’Connor part of the 5-4 majority.  However, when Justice Alito replaced her, the result was quite different: In a 5-4 decision, the Court upheld the Act.   Justice Kennedy wrote that the federal ban would only be unconstitutional “if it subjected women to significant health risks.”   Kennedy argued that safe medical options are available, so the case does not infringe upon a woman’s right to choose: “[t]he Act allows…a commonly used and generally accepted method, so it does not construct a substantial obstacle to the abortion right.” Kennedy’s decision relied in part on paternalistic views of women: that women regret their choices to have abortions; and that because of women’s fragile emotional state and the mother’s bond of love for her child, the state may deprive them of the right to make an autonomous choice.

In her dissenting opinion, Justice Ginsberg found the decision “alarming.”   She particularly took issue with the absence of a health exception, citing “women who, in the judgment of their doctors, require an intact D & E because other procedures would place their health at risk.”   The Justice also called the decision “irrational,” pointing out that the decision strays far from “our earlier invocations of ‘the rule of law’ and the ‘principles of stare decisis.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists described the Court's decision as "shameful and incomprehensible."   The New England Journal of Medicine criticized the decision, writing: “[f]or the first time, the Court permits congressional judgment to replace medical judgment.”   The Center for Reproductive Rights called the decision “a sharp reversal from prior abortion jurisprudence.”

In Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the Court considered whether a person can bring a salary discrimination suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when the disparate pay is received during the 180-day statutory limitations period, but is the result of discriminatory pay decisions that occurred outside the limitations period.   Lilly Ledbetter had been given “poor evaluations because of her sex,” and as a result, “these past pay decisions continued to affect the amount of her pay throughout her employment.”   The pay difference between Ledbetter and her male counterparts was “stark,” with her pay rate at $3,727 per month, while “the lowest paid male area manager received $4,286 per month, the highest paid, $5,236.”

In a 5-4 decision, the Court gave a cramped interpretation to the statute’s 180-day requirement.  It ruled that Ledbetter could not sue her employer because the 180-day window to file her discrimination claim began to run when her employers set her salary illegally, rather than being renewed each time she got a paycheck reflecting illegal discrimination.  This meant that by the time she discovered the pay discrimination, she was plain out of luck.  Justice Alito argued that the Court was “not in a position to evaluate Ledbetter’s policy arguments,” and that it is not the job of the Court to change Title VII in order to “balance the interests of aggrieved employees.”

Justice Ginsburg read a powerful dissenting opinion from the bench in order to “criticize the majority for opinions that she said undermine women’s rights.”   Ginsburg argued that the Court should not apply the 180-day limit that way, citing the fact that pay disparities occur in small increments over time, and that employers tend to keep their reasons for pay raises confidential.   Ginsburg also argued that the Court’s “cramped interpretation of Title VII” was irreconcilable with the statute’s “broad remedial purpose.”

As a result of the Court’s decision, lower courts used the precedent to reject a wide variety of lawsuits claiming discrimination based on race, sex, age, and disability.   In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, in order to correct the Court’s decision.

In Wal-Mart v. Dukes, one and a half million current and former female employees accused Wal-Mart of employment discrimination.   In one of the largest class actions ever, the employees alleged that local managers’ broad discrimination in pay and promotion opportunities violated Title VII by discriminating against women.

The Court held in a 5-4 decision that the plaintiffs could not proceed as to any kind of class action suit because they did not have enough in common to constitute a class.  In his opinion, Justice Scalia wrote “Wal-Mart is entitled to individualized determinations of each employee's eligibility for backpay.”

The four liberals agreed with the five conservatives that the case for back pay could not proceed as a class under Federal Rule 23(b)(2).  However, the liberal justices did not agree as to whether any kind of class action suit would be barred.  Justice Ginsburg wrote that Wal-Mart’s “delegation of discretion over pay is a policy uniform throughout all stores,” and that “each individual’s unique circumstances” with discrimination “should not factor into the Rule 23(a)(2) determination.”   Without a class action determination, each employee will have to sue in much smaller classes or even on their own, making it much for difficult to obtain justice.

As bad as these developments were, things could get even worse for women if a future President Romney chooses conservative justices for the Supreme Court.  A woman’s right to choose and the ability to combat employment discrimination would be further imperiled.  For instance, we may see the Court decide whether an employee can prohibit an aggrieved employee from class action lawsuits (or any type of lawsuit) by requiring new hires to agree to settle grievances by arbitration.  In addition, anti-choice “personhood” proponents are eagerly trying to create a test case in which Roe v. Wade will be completely overruled, rather than whittled away on a case-by-case basis.  So the stakes are high for women in this election.

Workplace Fairness: Corporations would be People in the Romney Court -- Workers Not so Much

The Roberts Court has had negative consequences for workplace fairness and dignity.  It has made it much more difficult for workers to file class action suits and to escape unconscionable contracts.  It has made it more difficult to bring suits based upon age discrimination (as well as sex discrimination, as discussed above), and it has laid the groundwork for letting companies force employees into arbitration for any conflicts that arise. 

Physical Harm on the Job

The addition of another conservative justice is likely to have negative consequences for the rights of employees to hold their employers accountable for harm caused on the job.  In CSX Transportation v. McBride, the Court considered whether an injured railroad employee suing under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) has to prove that his employer’s negligence was the main cause of his injury, or only that it played some part in the injury.   Reversal of the lower court would have made it harder for injured employees to hold railroads accountable under FELA.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that under FELA, injury was proximately caused by the railroad's negligence if that negligence played any part in causing the injury.   In her opinion, Justice Ginsburg held that “a defendant railroad ‘caused or contributed to’ a railroad worker's injury ‘if [the railroad's] negligence played a part--no matter how small--in bringing about the injury.’”   In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts felt that the decision meant that “the sky’s the limit” when it comes to employees’ liability claims, stating “[w]here does ‘foreseeability of harm’ as the sole protection against limitless liability run out of steam?”  Justice Thomas voted with the four liberals on most aspects of this case.  Therefore, despite a conservative majority, the Court was able to come up with a decision allowing railroad workers to exercise the rights that Congress granted them.

Employee Rights and Arbitration Cases

In 14 Penn Plaza v. Pyett, the Court asked whether a provision in a collective-bargaining agreement requiring union members to arbitrate claims arising under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 is enforceable.   When plaintiffs believed that their job reassignments were the result of age discrimination, they sued despite a union-negotiated waiver of a right to litigate certain federal statutory claims.   The Court had ruled in 1974 that an individual’s statutory rights under federal anti-discrimination statutes (including the right to go to court) cannot be waived in union-negotiated contracts.

Nevertheless, in a 5-4 decision, Justice Thomas (joined by the other conservatives) held that the provision in the collective-bargaining agreement is enforceable as a matter of federal law: “Nothing in the law suggests a distinction between the status of arbitration agreements signed by an individual employee and those agreed to by a union representative.”   The majority believed that arbitration is an efficient and acceptable forum for addressing grievances related to employment discrimination.

In his dissent, Justice Souter stated “Congress itself has … operated on the assumption that a [collective bargaining agreement] cannot waive employees’ rights to a judicial forum to enforce antidiscrimination statutes.”  Justice Stevens added, “Notwithstanding the absence of change in any relevant statutory provision, the Court has recently retreated from, and in some cases reversed, prior decisions based on its changed view of the merits of arbitration. … It is for Congress, rather than this Court, to reassess the policy arguments favoring arbitration and revise the relevant provisions to reflect its views.”

Employee rights are also threatened from a consumer rights case.  In the AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion case discussed above, the hard-right 5-4 majority forced defrauded consumers to comply with contracts so unconscionable and unbalanced as to be illegal under state law.  The Court’s undermining of state consumer protection laws could also weaken legal protections against employment discrimination, since large  employers often use their overwhelming bargaining power to force new employees to sign the same kinds of arbitration agreements.  In essence, the Court might allow powerful companies to force employees to sign away their right to go to court – especially in a class action case – to combat illegal discrimination.

Age Discrimination

In Gross v. FBL Financial Services, an employee believed he was the victim of age discrimination when many of his responsibilities were transferred to a former subordinate in a newly created position.   The Court addressed whether a plaintiff must present direct evidence of age discrimination in order to obtain a mixed-motives jury instruction in a suit brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. (A “mixed motive” case is one where an employer makes an employment decision based on both lawful and unlawful bases.)

In a 5-4 decision split along the predictable lines, the Court held that the worker must prove that age is the key factor in an employment decision, not just that age played a role in the decision.  In his opinion, Justice Thomas stated:

We hold that a plaintiff bringing a disparate-treatment claim pursuant to the ADEA must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that age was the "but-for" cause of the challenged adverse employment action. The burden of persuasion does not shift to the employer to show that it would have taken the action regardless of age, even when a plaintiff has produced some evidence that age was one motivating factor in that decision.

 

The decision made it much harder to prove an age discrimination suit.  In his dissent, Justice Stevens pointed out that the opinion “utter[ly] disregard[s] … our precedent and Congress' intent.”   “[I]t is particularly inappropriate for the court, on its own initiative, to adopt an interpretation of the causation requirement in the ADEA that differs from the established reading of Title VII.”

Despite the setbacks on workplace fairness already imposed by the Roberts Court, a Romney presidency would likely make things worse.  Romney nominees would likely make it much easier for employers to escape liability for illegal discrimination against or actual physical harm to workers.  They would also likely strengthen the current Court’s efforts to weaken unions.

Civil Rights, Affirmative Action and School Desegregation:

A Race to the Past

A Romney Presidency could have a significant and negative impact on the Court’s approach to issues of racial discrimination and racial equity.  The Roberts Court has already made moves to push back on certain actions to promote affirmative action and school desegregation.  However, an increase in the number of conservatives on the Supreme Court could bring to a close many remedial actions to deal with past and present discrimination.

Affirmative Action

In Ricci v. DeStefano, the City of New Haven used objective examinations to determine promotions within the fire department.   When the results showed that white candidates outperformed minority candidates, the city recognized that the tests may have been flawed and, to avoid being sued under federal civil rights laws for using a flawed test with a racially disparate impact, the results were thrown out based upon the racial disparity.   The white candidates sued based upon racial discrimination.

The Court held 5-4 that the City violated Title VII by discarding the tests.   In his opinion, Justice Kennedy (joined by the other conservatives) found that an action such as New Haven’s is prohibited “unless the employer can demonstrate a strong basis in evidence that, had it not taken the action, it would have been liable under the disparate-impact statute.”

In her dissent, Justice Ginsberg states, “[i]n assessing claims of race discrimination, ‘[c]ontext matters.’”

 

In so holding, the Court pretends that "[t]he City rejected the test results solely because the higher scoring candidates were white.” Ante, at ____, 174 L. Ed. 2d, at 507. That pretension, essential to the Court's disposition, ignores substantial evidence of multiple flaws in the tests New Haven used. The Court similarly fails to acknowledge the better tests used in other cities, which have yielded less racially skewed outcomes.

 

As Sheila Foster, a law professor at Fordham, noted “this decision will change the landscape of civil rights law.”   Ricci makes it much harder for public institutions to end discriminatory practices voluntarily.

School Desegregation

In Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, two school districts voluntarily desegregated in order to achieve racial balance.  The school districts took students’ race into account in assigning certain students to particular schools in order to achieve racially integrated schools.  Parents sued the school districts, claiming the plans violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Court held that public schools may not use students’ race as the sole determining factor for assigning them to schools.   Applying “strict scrutiny,” the five conservatives agreed that the plans were not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest, but the five were split among themselves.  Four of them (the five minus Kennedy) wrote that the school districts’ goal of racial diversity was not only not compelling, it was not even legitimate.   Chief Justice Roberts (writing for the four Justices) stated that "[t]he way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."   In contrast, Kennedy wrote that the goal is compelling, but that directly looking at the race of individual students was not a sufficiently narrowly tailored way to meet that goal.  He argued that school districts could constitutionally use race as a factor without looking at the race of individual students.  Examples he gave included strategic site selection of new schools; drawing attendance zones with general recognition of the demographics of neighborhoods; allocating resources for special programs; recruiting students and faculty in a targeted fashion; and tracking enrollments, performance, and other statistics by race.

In the principal dissent, Justice Breyer called the opinion “radical,” stating that “[t]his is a decision that the court and the nation will come to regret.”   Writing for the four dissenters, he explained in detail why racial diversity in primary and secondary public schools is a compelling government interest.  Justice Stevens went so far to say “[i]t is my firm conviction that no member of the court that I joined in 1975 would have agreed with today’s decision.”

The Use of Race in Redistricting

Adding Romney-nominated far-right Justices to the Supreme Court could mean the downfall of Section Five of the Voting Rights Act.  Getting rid of Section Five would make it easier to discriminate against minority groups with changes in “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, or procedure with respect to voting…” in jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices.   This includes the practice of redistricting, which occurs at least once per decade after the US Census is released.

In League of Latin American Citizens v. Perry (2006), five Justices (Kennedy and the four more liberal Justices) ruled that part of Texas’s redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act by redrawing a district that was supposed to be Latino-majority in such a way as to deny Latino voters as a group the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choosing.   (This was supposed to be a new Latino-majority district to make up for redistricting most Latinos out of a different, formerly Latino-majority district.)  They found that the groups of Latinos put into the new district – some in the Austin area, others near the Mexican border – were not only separated by an enormous distance, but also had disparate needs and interests, mostly because their economic status differed considerably.  Because of both factors combined, the new district was not “compact” as required under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and thus not likely to empower Latinos in the district to elect candidates of their choice.   Rick Pildes argues this reflects an increasing “skepticism to grouping voters together based on racial or ethnic identity.”

LGBT Equality: Romney Justice Would Move Straight Backwards

Most recent cases implicating LGBT rights predate the Roberts Court, but five of the nine serving Justices participated in key Rehnquist Court decisions:  Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Breyer.  We can make educated predictions about how they might rule in future cases: Scalia and Thomas are instinctively hostile to claims that anti-LGBT laws violate the Constitution, while Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Breyer have demonstrated a more expansive vision of constitutional protection for members of the LGBT community.

The Court broke new ground in LGBT rights in the 1996 case of Romer v. Evans.   In 1992, Colorado voters amended the state constitution to bar state and local governments from prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (“Amendment 2”).  The measure repealed a number of existing anti-discrimination statutes, regulations, ordinances, and policies and made it exceptionally difficult for gay people to achieve civil rights protections.  The Court ruled 6-3 that Amendment 2 violated the federal Equal Protection Clause, with Justice Kennedy writing the majority opinion.  Ginsburg and Breyer joined Kennedy’s opinion, while Scalia and Thomas dissented.

The majority noted that “[h]omosexuals, by state decree, are put in a solitary class with respect to transactions and relations in both the private and governmental spheres. The amendment  withdraws from homosexuals, but no others, specific legal protection from the injuries caused by discrimination, and it forbids reinstatement of these laws and policies.”   The Court rejected the conservative line that Amendment 2 simply denied gays and lesbians access to “special rights.”  “To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability upon those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint.”

The Court did not address the question of whether classifications based on sexual orientation trigger heightened Equal Protection scrutiny (as with race and sex, for instance), because Amendment 2 failed even the low-level rational-basis scrutiny given to ordinary legislation: that it must bear a rational relation to some legitimate end, since Amendment 2 “seem[ed] inexplicable by anything except animus toward the class it affect[ed],” which is not a legitimate end.

Justice Scalia’s dissent criticized the majority for pronouncing that animosity toward homosexuality is wrong and defended the right of the majority to legislate on the basis of their moral disapproval of homosexuality.  He characterized Amendment 2 as not disfavoring gays in any substantive sense, but only denying them preferential treatment.  He called it a legitimate response against a small population that concentrated in cities, was disproportionately wealthy, had extraordinary political influence beyond their small numbers, opposed traditional morality, and had successfully brought  its quest for “social endorsement” from New York, San Francisco, LA, and Key West to major Colorado cities like Denver, Aspen, and Boulder.

Importantly, the question of the appropriate level of Equal Protection scrutiny for laws classifying on the basis of sexual orientation remains open to this day.  Most lower courts that have struck down anti-LGBT equality laws have done so using the rational basis test.  Many other courts, applying the same test, have upheld such laws.  The guidance that other courts receive from an Obama Court or a Romney Court will determine the extent to which LGBT people will be able to vindicate their basic constitutional rights in court.

The second major case directly implicating LGBT rights was Lawrence v. Texas , which struck down a state law criminalizing “deviate sexual intercourse” between people of the same sex.  Police officers who had been notified about a weapons disturbance entered John Lawrence’s home, allegedly saw him having sex with another man, and arrested them both.   They were fined $200 apiece, and they appealed.

The Supreme Court held that under the liberty interest contained in the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, adults have a constitutional right to engage in private, consensual sex with members of the same sex.  In so doing, it reversed the 1986 case of Bowers v. Hardwick, which had upheld state anti-sodomy laws as applied to same-sex relations.  Bowers had held that the 14th Amendment’s right to privacy (through the Due Process Clause) did not extend to the right to have sex with people of the same sex.   (Neither that case nor any others addressed whether such laws, either as written or as enforced, unconstitutionally targeted gays and lesbians in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.)

The Lawrence Court determined 6-3 that the Texas law violated the Constitution, with Justice Kennedy writing for five Justices (including Ginsburg and Breyer) that Bowers should be overturned.  (Justice O’Connor, who has since been replaced by Justice Alito, concurred only in the judgment.  She would not have overruled Bowers or ruled on the Due Process issue, but instead wrote that the law violated the Equal Protection Clause.)   Among the three dissenters, Scalia and Thomas are still on the Court.

Justice Kennedy wrote that the right to liberty under the Due Process Clause includes a promise that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not invade.  The Court concluded that sodomy laws’ criminal penalties and purposes have “far-reaching consequences, touching upon the most private human conduct, sexual behavior, and in the most private of places, the home.  The statutes do seek to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals. … When sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring.  The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to make this choice.”   Bowers did not recognize this liberty interest and was wrongly decided.

Just as it is for heterosexuals, sexual intimacy for gays and lesbians is a matter “involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, [which] are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.”   The majority ruled that the Texas statute furthered no legitimate state interest that could justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual; moral

condemnation, alone, is not sufficient grounds for legislation intruding upon fundamental liberty.  Therefore, the law was unconstitutional.

Scalia’s dissent (joined by Thomas) did not characterize the case as being about the human act of sexual intimacy and all that entails for fundamental liberty, but instead as about “homosexual sodomy,” the protection of which is not “deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition” (the test for whether it is a fundamental liberty interest).  He characterized the majority’s conclusion that there was no legitimate state interest in adopting the law (so that the law had no rational basis) as “out of accord with … the jurisprudence of any society we know.”   If the state cannot further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are immoral and unacceptable – the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity – then, according to Scalia, none of these other laws could survive rational basis review.  Similarly, since the majority (according to Scalia) delegitimizes morals-based laws, the dissent argues that it calls into question laws against same-sex marriage, prostitution, bigamy, obscenity, and adult incest. 

Scalia addressed marriage equality in more detail at the end of his Lawrence dissent:

 

Today's opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned.  If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is "no legitimate state interest" for purposes of proscribing that conduct; and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense of neutrality), "when sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring,;" what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising "the liberty protected by the Constitution?" Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry.

 

The Lawrence majority also suggested that laws against same-sex sexual activity should not be seen as punishing conduct rather than punishing status: “When homosexual conduct is made criminal by the law of the State, that declaration in and of itself is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres.”

Both Lawrence and Romer were decided 6-3, with Justices Kennedy and O’Connor voting with the liberals.  With Alito replacing O’Connor (and assuming Roberts, Sotomayor, and Kagan would vote the same way as the Justices they replaced), there may only be a 5-4 majority still supporting these two critically important foundations of LGBT rights.  Both could fall to an aggressively conservative Supreme Court majority empowered by a new Romney nominee.

In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, a 5-4 conservative majority (including current Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas) ruled that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) had a constitutional right to exclude gay men from leadership positions, trumping a New Jersey law prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation.  James Dale, an accomplished Scout as a youth, became an adult leader but was fired from his leadership position when the BSA discovered from a newspaper article that he was gay.

The majority opinion (written by then-Chief Justice Rehnquist) concluded that BSA’s mission – to inculcate values in young boys, using adult men as guides and examples – made it an “expressive association” subject to First Amendment protections.   BSA stated in the litigation that it teaches Scouts that homosexual conduct is not “morally straight," and that it does not want to promote “homosexual conduct” as a legitimate form of behavior.  The majority accepted this assertion as fact, concluding that opposition to “homosexual conduct” was part of the value system the BSA promoted as part of its mission.  Therefore, he wrote, its First Amendment right of expressive association would be violated by a state requirement to admit an openly gay scoutmaster: That would significantly burden BSA’s desire to not promote “homosexual conduct” as a legitimate form of behavior.  The majority ruled that the state interests in the public accommodations law did not justify such a severe intrusion.

The four dissenters (including currently serving Justices Ginsburg and Breyer) countered that the BSA, despite its claims during litigation, did not in fact hold condemnation of homosexuality as part of its core beliefs.  They analyzed BSA’s Scout Oath, Scout Law, and Scout Handbook, which require that scouts be “morally straight” and clean.”  These and other basic material do not mention homosexuality.  In addition, the organization’s rules for scoutmasters directs them “not [to] undertake to instruct Scouts, in any formalized manner, in the subject of sex and family life.  The reasons are that it is not construed to be Scouting's proper area…”

The dissent found no evidence that BSA actually taught scouts that homosexuality or homosexual conduct was contrary to being “morally straight” or “clean.”  As a result, BSA’s ban on gay members and leaders clearly did not follow from its founding principles and was not part of its expressive activities.  As a result, they wrote, the anti-discrimination law did not impose any serious burdens on BSA’s collective effort on behalf of shared goals, nor did it force BSA to communicate any message that it did not wish to endorse: The state law did not abridge their constitutional rights.

In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010) , a sharply divided Court upheld a state university’s policy of withholding official recognition from any student group that does not welcome all students regardless of status or beliefs as members or leaders.  University of California, Hastings College of the Law had denied official recognition to a conservative Christian group that required members to subscribe to its religious beliefs, including those against homosexuality.  The school’s written policy prohibited unlawful discrimination in all school-sponsored activities.  Importantly, the administration interpreted this policy to require officially recognized organizations to “accept all comers” in membership and leadership, regardless of status or beliefs.  [General requirements unrelated to status or beliefs, such as a skills requirement, were acceptable.]  Even more importantly, the parties stipulated early in the litigation that this was, indeed, the school’s policy.

Justice Ginsburg wrote for the liberals, joined in this case by Kennedy.  Under Court precedent, a state university cannot constitutionally withhold recognition on the basis of a group’s viewpoints.  However, according to Ginsburg, an “accept all comers” policy is a viewpoint-neutral approach that does not violate the First Amendment rights of the Christian Legal Society (CLS).  “CLS, it bears emphasis, seeks not parity with other organizations, but a preferential exemption from Hastings' policy. The First Amendment shields CLS against state prohibition of the organization's expressive activity, however exclusionary that activity may be. But CLS enjoys no constitutional right to state subvention of its selectivity.”

This “all-comers” policy created a limited public forum, where states have a right to preserve the property under its control for the use to which it is lawfully dedicated.  Restrictions on access to a limited public forum are permitted as long as they are reasonable and viewpoint-neutral, as the majority says was the case here.

Justice Ginsburg also rejected CLS’s assertion that it did not exclude people simply on the basis of sexual orientation (which violates the “all-comers” policy) but because of a conjunction of conduct with a belief that the conduct is not wrong.  Citing Lawrence, she wrote that the Court’s “decisions have declined to distinguish between status and conduct in this context.”

The conservative dissenters, in an opinion authored by Justice Alito, framed this as a case of a group’s being targeted by the university for its beliefs.  They argued that CLS was the only group to be denied official recognition.  They also argued that the “all comers” formulation arose for the first time during this litigation.  Therefore, they sought to ignore the stipulation of fact that said otherwise, prompting a lecture from the majority on what it means when parties stipulate to a set of facts.

The dissent also argued that even assuming the “accept all comers” policy was in play, that policy contradicts the basic purpose of the limited public forum that Hastings had created.  The purpose, they said, was to recreate on campus the broad array of organizations similar to what exists off campus.  Since the state cannot force expressive groups to accept members who disagree with the organization’s principles, having such a system on campus avoids the replication of the outside world that Hastings seeks to create.  In addition, the parties stipulated that the purpose of the limited public forum is to promote a diversity of viewpoints "among" – not “within” – registered student organizations.

In the next term, the Roberts Court is likely to hear cases reviewing the constitutionality of Proposition 8 (which was decided on very narrow grounds applicable only to California by the Ninth Circuit, but which could nevertheless be expanded to include whether a state’s denial of marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution); and the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act’s denial of federal recognition to gay and lesbian couples’ legal, state-recognized marriages.  The Court may also address in the next year or so whether – and, if so, to what extent – the Free Exercise Clause (and, on the federal level only, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) gives individuals and institutions the right to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of religion, even if there are anti-discrimination laws to the contrary.

Conclusion

As documented in this report, a great deal of damage has already been done by the Justices that Mitt Romney promises to use as his models if he is ever given the chance to fill a vacancy on our nation’s highest court.  These Justices have sought, often with success, to roll back environmental protections as well as civil rights for minorities, women, and LGBT communities.  They put even more power in the hands of corporations, twisting the law to support powerful corporate interests rather than everyday Americans. Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas – America cannot afford to elect a president who wants to nominate more Supreme Court Justices like these.  

As much damage as Romney could do to America over a four-year term, it pales in comparison to the damage his Supreme Court Justices would do over the decades of their lifetime service on the Court.  With the election rapidly approaching, the stakes for America could not be higher. The outcome of this election could shape Supreme Court decisions – and, in turn, the rights of everyday Americans – for generations to come.

Appendix: Key 5-4 Cases Roberts Court Cases

A. 5-4 Roberts Court Cases Where the Right Wing Won
Citizens United v. FEC (2010) gave corporations the ability to spend unlimited funds from their corporate treasury to affect elections.

The 5-4 right-wing majority overruled precedent and struck down prohibitions on corporations using their general treasury to finance independent expenditures or electioneering communications.  They ruled that limiting speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity was unconstitutional.  Reversing precedent, they ruled that government has no interest in countering the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form, because that unconstitutionally interferes with the marketplace of ideas.  They also rejected the relevance of an anti-corruption rationale for limiting independent expenditures including those made by corporations, saying they do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.

Davis v. Federal Election Commission (2008) helped wealthy candidates maintain a large financial advantage over their opponents.

The conservative 5-4 majority struck down the McCain-Feingold “Millionaires’ Amendment,” in which candidates who spend more than certain amounts of their own money on their campaigns might render their opponents eligible for higher limits on individual contributions and party-coordinated expenditures.  Congress acted to reduce the advantage of wealthy candidates and combat the perception that congressional seats are for sale to the highest bidder.  The Court ruled that the law effectively penalized candidates who spent large amounts of their own funds on their campaigns in violation of the First Amendment. The Court determined that the burden this places on wealthy candidates is not justified by any governmental interest in preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption, and that equalizing electoral opportunities for candidates of different personal wealth was not a permissible Congressional purpose.

Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett (2011) struck down a campaign public financing program designed to break candidates' dependence on large donors and bundlers.

After years of scandal, Arizona’s voters adopted a voluntary public financing system in the 1990s to reduce candidates’ dependence on wealthy campaign funders and restore integrity to their elections.  The law provided matching funds for publicly financed candidates when either an opposing privately-funded candidate spent more than a certain amount, or an independent group spent more than a certain amount campaigning against the publicly funded candidate.  But the 5-4 majority held that the law unconstitutionally chilled political speech by imposing a penalty for it: If you give money to a candidate or spend money opposing a candidate, the result will be strengthening the candidate who you oppose.  The dissenters argued that the law didn’t chill speech but subsidized it in a content-neutral manner.  As the dissenters wrote, the interests opposing the law “are able to convey their ideas without public financing—and they would prefer the field to themselves, so that they can speak free from response.”

Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber (2007) severely limited the ability of victims of pay discrimination to obtain compensation for the discrimination.

After working for the same company for many years, Lilly Ledbetter got an anonymous tip that for years on end she was being paid far less than were her male colleagues doing the same work due to a discriminatory evaluation.  She sued and a jury awarded her back pay, but the Court ruled that she should have filed her lawsuit within 180 days of the discriminatory evaluation. The far-right Justices rejected the view that each paycheck received that was based on a discriminatory evaluation starts a new 180-day clock running on the time to sue.  This cramped interpretation was not compatible with the law’s purpose of eliminating discrimination.  Many employees have no idea what their co-workers earn, and discriminatory pay is often hidden by employers.  Because of this decision, it is now much harder for victims of illegal pay discrimination to recover the back pay to which they are entitled, and it is much easier for companies to get away with illegal discrimination.

Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes (2011) made it harder for victims of systemic employment discrimination by large employers to file class action lawsuits.

By a 5-4 vote, the conservatives overturned a class certification in a lawsuit by up to 1.5 million women plaintiffs contending that they had suffered sex discrimination as Wal-Mart employees under a system of standardless pay and promotion decisions delegated to mostly male local management teams all over the country.  Women occupy 70% of the hourly jobs in Wal-Mart stores but only 33% of management employees; the higher one looks on the corporate ladder, the fewer women appear; and women are paid less than men in every region.  The women presented evidence that Wal-Mart has a national corporate climate infused with invidious bias against women.  Wal-Mart’s policy is to have personnel decisions made by local managers, all of whom are products of that toxic corporate climate.  Because local managers made the decisions without guidance or standards from the company, the right-wing majority concluded that there was no “common contention” uniting the women’s claims, so they cannot form a class.  This decision will make it harder to certify large class action lawsuits of any type.

Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals (2012) poked a hole in the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The FMLA requires covered employers to provide at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for employees to take care of sick family members or themselves.  Aggrieved employees can sue their employers, but when the employer is the government, they can sue only if the government entity lacks sovereign immunity.  A previous case had held that Congress constitutionally abrogated the states’ sovereign immunity for the FMLA’s provision on family-care as an exercise of its 14th Amendment authority to enforce the Equal Protection Clause, since it was designed to address discrimination against women.  However, the 5-4 conservative majority ignored the history of self-care provision and ruled that FMLA protections for sick workers needing time off to take care of themselves were not passed to remedy sex discrimination and therefore were not an exercise of congressional authority under the Fourteenth Amendment.  Therefore, aggrieved state and local government employees were stripped of their ability to sue for violations of the self-care provision of the FMLA.

Ricci v. DeStefano (2009) limited employers’ ability to diversify their workforce and avoid lawsuits for illegal discrimination.

New Haven used examinations to determine fire department promotions, which resulted in their having a racially disparate impact.  Under the tests, several white firefighters would have received a promotion, but none of the black firefighters scored high enough to be considered for the positions.  New Haven officials feared the test was flawed and would open themselves to a discrimination lawsuit.  To avoid such a lawsuit, the city threw out the test results, and the white firefighters sued.  The arch-conservative 5-4 majority ruled that New Haven had discriminated against them illegally by throwing out the test.  The Court ruled that an employer in New Haven’s position must demonstrate a strong basis in evidence that, had it not taken the action, it would have been liable under the disparate-impact statute; in this case, the majority ruled, there was no such basis.  The dissent criticized the majority for acting as if the only reason the city threw out the test results was that all the qualifying candidates were white, while ignoring real flaws with the test and the existence of better and less racially skewed tests used by other cities.

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 (2007) struck down the voluntary integration plans of two public school districts seeking to promote racial diversity.

The Roberts Court invalidated school integration plans voluntarily adopted by public school districts in Seattle, WA and Louisville, KY.  The plans, which took students’ race into account in assigning certain students to particular schools in order to achieve racially integrated schools, were struck down as violating the Equal Protection Clause.  Applying “strict scrutiny,” the five conservatives agreed that the plans were not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest, but the five were split among themselves.  Four of them (the five minus Kennedy) wrote that the school districts’ goal of racial diversity is not only not compelling, it is not even legitimate.  In contrast, Kennedy wrote that the goal is compelling, but that directly looking at the race of individual students was not a sufficiently narrowly tailored way to meet that goal.  He suggested that schools could constitutionally use race as a factor in ways that did not depend on an individual student’s race (such as by drawing attendance zones with general recognition of the racial demographics of neighborhoods).  This leaves school districts with limited ability to seek racial diversity in indirect ways, while the Court is only one vote away from declaring public school diversity an illegitimate goal.

Gross v. FBL Financial Services (2009) made it harder for a victim of illegal age discrimination to win in court.

Sometimes an employer makes a negative decision toward an employee with mixed motives, both legitimate and illegitimate.  The conservative 5-4 majority ruled that under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, an aggrieved worker must prove that age is the key factor in an employment decision, not just that age played a role in the decision.  So even if age was a motivating factor, that alone is not enough to constitute illegal age discrimination.  This is a harder standard to meet than in mixed motive cases for sex or racial discrimination filed under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, even though the relevant statutory language is the same.

Knox v. SEIU (2012) crafted a new constitutional rule on an issue not even discussed by the parties in order to de-fund public sector unions.

This case involved a public sector union in California, a state which prevents “free riders” by requiring government employees protected by a union to pay union dues.  Under a 1986 precedent, public sector unions must annually send out a notice of anticipated expenses for the upcoming year and give non-members a chance to opt out of that portion of dues that would cover political activities not directly germane to the union's duties as an agent for collective bargaining.  In this case, the question was whether a union had to send out an additional “opt-out” notice when it instituted a special mid-year dues increase to cover political activities relating to a ballot initiative.  Seven Justices agreed that this was required.  However, the five far-right Justices went much farther and addressed an issue that had never been raised and which the union therefore had never had a chance to discuss: They ruled that the opt-out system substantially impinges upon the First Amendment right of nonmembers, so when there is special assessment or dues increase, the union cannot collect any additional dues from non-members unless they affirmatively opt in.  This decision also strongly undermined the viability of the 1986 opt-out precedent and adds to the right-wing efforts to defund unions.

Arizona Christian Tuition v. Winn (2011) let states send taxpayer money to religious schools.

This case barred taxpayers from challenging tuition tax credits that funnel taxpayer money to religious schools.  States are constitutionally prohibited from directly supporting religious education, so Arizona set up a program where taxpayers get dollar-for-dollar tax credits for money they give to "school tuition organizations" (STOs), nonprofit organizations that award private school scholarships to children. Many of the STO awards actually require parents to send their children to religious schools as a condition of receipt.  So money that is owed in taxes is instead funneled to a religious STO to pay for someone's religious education.  The 5-4 majority said there is no government spending here at all, so taxpayers have no standing to challenge this money-laundering scheme under the Establishment Clause.

AT&T Mobility v. Conception (2011) empowered large corporations to cheat their customers in violation of state consumer protection laws.

AT&T allegedly scammed thousands of customers by offering a "free" second phone, then charging them for the taxes on the undiscounted price of the phone.  A California customer filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all the scam victims, most of whom likely had not even noticed the small added amount to their bill.  However, AT&T had made consumers sign a service contract where they agreed to resolve claims against the company through arbitration, rather than the courts, and not to participate in any class action.  California consumer protection law makes such contracts unenforceable, since class action lawsuits are often the most effective way to discourage and punish corporate scams that are designed to cheat large numbers of customers of small amounts of money apiece without their knowledge.  So aggrieved consumers in California should have been able to file a class action lawsuit.  But the 5-4 right-wing majority ruled that a federal law making arbitration agreements enforceable in federal courts pre-empts state consumer protections laws, so the “arbitration and no class action” provision of the contract must be enforced.

Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) upheld a federal ban on a vaguely defined abortion procedure, despite the absence of an exception in the law to protect a woman's health.

The Roberts Court upheld the federal “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act” of 2003 despite the absence of an exception for the woman’s health, and even though it had struck down a virtually identical state law in 2000 as imposing an undue burden on women seeking an abortion.  But George W. Bush’s replacement of Justice O’Connor with Justice Alito made the outcome different this time.  The Court found that the government had an interest in “protecting the integrity and ethics” of the medical profession, and this method of abortion required regulation because it implicated additional ethical and moral concerns that justify a special prohibition.  The Court said restrictions on abortion could be justified by the government’s interest in protecting a woman from the psychological consequences of having an abortion, especially by this method.  As the dissent observed, this case severely weakened Court precedents ruling that government may not place an “undue burden” on the right to abortion.

Chamber of Commerce of the US v. Whiting (2011) upheld Arizona’s “death penalty” for companies hiring undocumented immigrants.

Arizona adopted a law in 2007 punishing employers who knowingly hire undocumented aliens by suspending or revoking most of their state licenses.  The Chamber of Commerce argued that the law was preempted by the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).  IRCA prohibits the hiring of undocumented aliens and sets forth procedures employers must follow before hiring someone and the sanctions they will incur for violating the law.  It expressly preempts local and state laws creating sanctions, other than through licensing and similar laws.  The majority upheld Arizona’s law defining “licensing” so broadly as to even include a company’s articles of incorporation.  The Court also upheld Arizona's requiring employers to use the federal E-Verify database to confirm that a person is legally authorized to work, even though federal law makes its use voluntary.

Florence v. Board of Freeholders (2012) upheld strip searches for people arrested for minor infractions.

A New Jersey government database incorrectly stated that Albert Florence had failed to pay an old fine. When he was in a car that was pulled over by a state trooper, the trooper called up the (inaccurate) records and immediately handcuffed and arrested Florence. He was held in jail for seven days and strip-searched twice.  The 5-4 conservative majority said that jails are dangerous places, and courts must defer to correctional officers’ judgment as to whether a strip search is needed to prevent new inmates from putting others’ lives at risk with weapons or contraband hidden in their bodies.

Rapanos v. United States (2006) left the federal government’s ability to protect wetlands in doubt.

This ideologically split 4-4-1 decision, with Kennedy concurring in the judgment with the other four conservatives, left an unclear precedent.  At issue was the definition of “the waters of the United States,” which are protected by the Clean Water Act.  The four conservative Justices (minus Kennedy) would have adopted a restrictive reading, stripping the federal government of authority to  protect vast areas of wetlands it has long protected.  The four moderates would have deferred to the Corp of Engineers’ decades-long inclusion of wetlands adjacent to tributaries of traditionally navigable waters; these preserve the quality of the country’s waters by, among other things, providing habitat for aquatic animals, keeping excessive sediment and toxic pollutants out of adjacent waters, and reducing downstream flooding by absorbing water at times of high flow.  Kennedy adopted neither position, but was more restrictive than the moderates.  He argued a wetland must have a significant nexus to a body of water that is actually navigable or that could reasonably be so made.  While lower courts have interpreted the case different ways, the identity of the next Justice could change the balance.

B. 5-4 Roberts Court Cases Where the Right Wing Lost

Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (2007):  The Court ruled that the Clean Air Act empowered the EPA to address global warming.

The Bush-era EPA had rejected a petition that it regulate emission of greenhouse gases under the mandate of the Clean Air Act.  The EPA denied the petition, saying (1) the Clean Air Act didn’t authorize it to address global climate change, and (2) regardless, it would have been unwise to do so because the science was uncertain.  A 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are pollutants under the CAA, which gives EPA the needed authority.  Therefore, the EPA can avoid regulating only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do.  The four conservatives would have ruled that EPA has the discretion not to regulate greenhouse gases.

Caperton v. Massey Coal (2009):  The Court ruled that the Constitution can prohibit an elected state judge from presiding over a case involving someone who spent millions of dollars to get him into office.

When Brent Benjamin was running to be a WV Supreme Court justice, Massey Coal was planning to appeal an important case coming before the court.  Massey’s CEO spent $3 million to help Benjamin get elected.  His contributions were vastly more than the total amount spent by all of Benjamin’s other supporters, and they dwarfed the amount spent by the judge's campaign committee.  When it came time to hear the case, Justice Benjamin refused to recuse himself.  A 5-4 Supreme Court ruled this extreme case created such a probability of bias that it violated litigants’ Due Process rights.  Voting with the moderates, Justice Kennedy wrote:  “Just as no man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, similar fears of bias can arise when – without the consent of the other parties – a man chooses the judge in his own cause.”  The remaining four arch-conservatives found no constitutional violation and even questioned the relevance of the $3 million in independent expenditures, since Benjamin had no control over how they were spent.

Boumediene v. Bush (2008):  Prisoners at Guantánamo have the constitutional right to contest their imprisonment in federal court.

This case involving aliens at Guantánamo was a critical check to President Bush’s assertion of nearly unbridled authority under the “War on Terror.”  Under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, prisoners at Guantánamo (who Bush had designated as “enemy combatants”) could not go to federal court to contest the legality of their imprisonment (i.e., they had no habeas corpus rights).  A 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled they are not barred from seeking the writ of habeas corpus simply because they have been designated as enemy combatants or because of they are located on Guantánamo rather than  a place where the U.S. has legal sovereignty.  The government must provide the prisoners with a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that they are being held contrary to law, and the habeas court must have the power to order the conditional release of an individual unlawfully detained.  The dissenters – the conservatives minus Kennedy – wrote that aliens detained abroad by U.S. forces have no constitutional habeas rights at all.

'Prophet' Reveals Divine Encounter Ensuring Mitt Romney's Victory

Earlier this week Kyle reported that Lou Engle is discarding his pledge not to vote for any candidate who either supports abortion rights or opposes them but has exceptions for cases of rape or incest, which would include Mitt Romney. Engle explained that he can still support Romney because his friend had a “compelling dream” proving that “Romney was clearly favorable from a divine perspective.” While he did not offer details about the dream, a fellow prophet who co-authored with Engle The Call of the Elijah Revolution writes in Charisma that four years ago he was visited by God in a dream and He spoke to him about Romney and America’s future.

James Goll says God told him in a dream that “liberalism will reign for a season” but will ultimately succumb to “true conservatism.” After waking up and watching a baseball game on TV, Goll recounts that “the external voice of the Lord came to me saying, ‘When the nation has been thrown a curve ball, I will have a man prepared who comes from the state of Michigan and he will have a big mitt capable of catching whatever is thrown his way.’” According to Goll, than man is none other than Mitt Romney!

What I am about to share is to be discerned and prayed over as is the case in all revelatory experiences. It was only in recent months, after I re-listened to a recorded word given to me by a trusted prophet in January 2010, that I realized the magnitude of the word given directly to me by the Holy Spirit. This prophetic person stated that I had been given a visitation in early 2008, which was for the country and was governmental in nature. I had thought it was for then, but the Lord said it was a word for what was about to come.



I searched through my materials and realized, I did have a visitation in early 2008. It was governmental in nature and for the United States of America. (Maybe my getting it wrong and then getting it right will encourage some of the rest of you in your three-stage journey of revelation interpretation application.)

I was alone sleeping in a downstairs room in my home in Franklin, Tenn. Michal Ann was still with us at the time, though very ill with her long-fought battle with cancer. We had 'round-the-clock home caregivers with her—whether in our bedroom, at the hospital or in the rehabilitation unit. We slept the last two years of her dear life apart, as she was constantly being taken care of.

I was desperate and seeking the Lord that night in a little hideaway room down in our basement. That night the Lord gave me a vivid dream followed by a waking vision and an experience where the external audible voice of the Lord came to me.

In the dream, I saw the nation on a teeter-totter tipping back and forth going to and fro with great instability. We were going up and down and up and down and it seemed there was no relief in sight. The United States was reeling from fatigue of wars, corruption and economic uncertainty.

Then the voice of the Lord came in the dream, Liberalism will reign for a season in the land and then it will become popular for moderacy to rule, which could ultimately lead to true conservatism. It was not the word I honestly wanted to hear from the Holy Spirit at the time but it came very succinctly to me anyway. Sometimes, we have to remove our own preconceived prejudices with our tainted filters to be able perceive a clear word from the Lord.

Suddenly, I was awakened from the dream and the basement room was tangibly filled with the presence of destiny. I then saw in the seer realm a baseball game in action. A young pitcher was throwing a ball to the plate with great force and seeming agility. It was a curve ball that appears to be a strike but instead it was not a ball for the batter to swing at. Another player was squatted behind the plate with a huge catcher's mitt. He caught the off-target ball as it pounded into his glove.

Then the external voice of the Lord came to me saying, When the nation has been thrown a curve ball, I will have a man prepared who comes from the state of Michigan and he will have a big mitt capable of catching whatever is thrown his way.



But the Lord said there would be a man prepared who would come from the state of Michigan who would have a big mitt. Little did I know at that time that Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, was born in the state of Michigan. Little did I know, when I received this in 2008, that he would win his party's primary for the 2012 national elections!
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