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Michele Bachmann's 5 Wildest Predictions, including Slavery, Sharia and More

Now that Michele Bachmann has announced she’s not running for reelection, we’re beginning to wonder what Congress will be like without her and her many totally reasonable claims, like that Democratic presidents are linked to swine flu and the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation.

But while Bachmann may be retiring from Congress, her many predictions live on. Here are five of the wildest among them:

1. Obama will impose Sharia law 

As the leader of a group of House Republicans that sought an investigation into Muslim-American staffers of the Obama administration, Bachmann repeatedly warned that administration officials and President Obama himself are determined to impose Sharia law in the US and around the world and take away the freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly.

2. Obama creating slavery, reeducation camps

At a 2010 conservative summit, Bachmann maintained that the first years of the Obama administration was part of an effort to turn “our country into a nation of slaves.” Ironically, Bachmann had signed a Religious Right group’s candidate pledge which said that African-American families were better off under slavery than “after the election of the USA’s first African-American president.” She also warned that Obama will create “re-education camps for young people” by expanding AmeriCorps, an organization of which her own son is a member, and might use the Census to put people into internment camps.

3. God will repeal Obamacare 

After leading an unsuccessful prayer effort to stop Congress from passing Obamacare, she has consistently guaranteed that the law will be rescinded. If not, Bachmann has claimed that the law will “literally kill” people, institute “death panels,” deny health care to conservatives and government critics and establish school “sex clinics” with abortion services. Earlier this month she told James Dobson that “God is going to answer our prayers” and compel Obama to repeal the health care law.

4. Schools will turn kids gay

Bachmann began her political career by working in education issues, and as Religious Right activist, she naturally thought that public schools will teach kids to be gay, warning that soon “all schools will begin teaching homosexuality” and “little K-12 children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal, natural, and perhaps they should try it,” even suggesting that schools will use Elton John music in the Lion King to turn kids gay. “It’s part of Satan I think to say that this is “gay.” It’s anything but gay,” Bachmann said at a conference hosted by the far-right group EdWatch, “If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement.” 

5. God backed her presidential bid 

While on the campaign trail (and after), Bachmann invoked God as a supporter of her presidential bid, and she also called on God to put together her campaign operations. Of course, she finished last among major contenders in the Iowa caucus with just over 6,000 votes, and her campaign team was plagued by infighting and is currently under investigation for campaign violations.

VCY America Host Slams 'Disgusting' Parents Who Don't 'Protect Your Child from the Filth of Homosexuality'

Matt Trewhella of Missionaries to the Preborn hosted last week’s edition of In Focus, Voice of Christian Youth America’s flagship television show, where he attacked gays and lesbians as “filthy.” After quoting from a column by Brian Camenker from MassResistance on the supposedly detrimental effects of marriage equality in Massachusetts, Trewhella said gay marriage “totally changes the entire culture” but that most Americans “don’t care anyway.”

“Your children would be getting perverted in their minds by these filthy people,” Trewhella claimed, before turning his venom to straight people who don’t condemn gays and lesbians: “I have no respect for people who are parents, who actually have children, and have no problem with homosexuality or homosexual marriage. They are the most base people on the planet to have totally abandoned every God-given vestige to protect your child from the filth of homosexuality, to blatantly go along with it is disgusting.”

“It’s disgusting to watch, it’s disgusting to see,” Trewhella said.

Watch:

Gaffney: Obama to Blame for Rise in Military Sexual Assaults for Encouraging Gays & Women to Serve

Frank Gaffney today made the case on Sandy Rios in the Morning that the increase in the sexual assault rate in the Armed Forces is President Obama’ fault because of his efforts to encourage women and gay people to serve.

After arguing that Obama has “savaged” the military with “vigor and lethality,” he linked Obama’s “sexual experimentation” and “social warfare against the military” to cases of sexual violence: “We’re hearing a lot about sexual assaults in the military and the like, it’s not to defend that by any means but it is to say if anybody is surprised that by putting more women and for that matter homosexuals into the military you are not going to get as a result that kind of unacceptable behavior is fatuous, it’s irresponsible, it’s malfeasance.”

The President came to office pledging fundamentally to transform the United States of America and I believe he has gone after every institution of our country, perhaps none with the vigor and lethality of the United States military. He has savaged the resources that it has relied upon to do the job we asked it to do to keep us safe, he has reduced both its numbers and its power projection capability and perhaps as troubling as anything I think he has done much to reduce its stature as a one of the most revered institutions in this country. We’re hearing a lot about sexual assaults in the military and the like, it’s not to defend that by any means but it is to say if anybody is surprised that by putting more women and for that matter homosexuals into the military you are not going to get as a result that kind of unacceptable behavior is fatuous, it’s irresponsible, it’s malfeasance, is what it’s amounts to. I’m afraid that the consequences of all of these steps, whether it’s the social experimentation or social warfare against the military or whether it’s hallowing it out through the budget and other means, the effect is we’re breaking the only military we have at a time when unfortunately we’re going to likely need them more than ever.

Wolf Calls On Corbett to Drop Electoral College Bill: PFAW Press Conference

This morning, gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf became yet another in a long line of prominent Pennsylvanians of both parties to speak out against the Republican electoral college rigging proposal. At a People For the American Way press conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this morning, Wolf and Sally Lyall of the Lancaster County Democrats called on Governor Tom Corbett to denounce the electoral vote rigging scheme drummed up by State Senator Dominic Pileggi. Wolf denounced the scheme as a “bad idea,” saying:

"There is such a thing as a bad idea. This is it. It’s a bad idea because it’s not fair…it’s not democratic. But it’s also a bad idea because it’s not smart. It puts Pennsylvania at a great, great disadvantage. I urge Governor Corbett to oppose this law as the bad idea it is.”

Governor Corbett has so far refused to denounce the bill even after more than 100,000 petitions against the scheme were dropped off at his office and hundreds of volunteers went door to door successfully mobilizing Pennsylvania voters in key districts to oppose the bill. Corbett continues to kowtow to the narrow special interests and Republican Party leaders like Senator Pileggi instead of standing with the people of Pennsylvania.

“Since Governor Corbett refuses to state his position on this scheme, we can only assume he sides with state Republican leadership and against Pennsylvania voters. Instead of focusing on growing the state’s economy, he would rather push a plan to disenfranchise millions of voters, gerrymander legislative districts and make Pennsylvania irrelevant in presidential elections. That is not  the kind of leadership Pennsylvania needs,” said Randy Borntrager, political director of People For the American Way.

It’s been clear for a while now that the Republican strategy on this bill has been to say it isn’t a priority, or just entirely avoid the question, not to actually defend its merits- because they know it doesn’t have any. They know it isn’t popular, fair, or right for Pennsylvania, but that won’t stop them from trying to sneak it through. Every day that we wait for an answer from Corbett is another day that this bill threatens the rights of Pennsylvanians. But People For the American Way isn’t going to wait quietly. With our partners in Pennsylvania, we’re asking the governor to stand up and be honest about his position on this bill.

 

PFAW

1000-Day Judicial Vacancy in Georgia

Georgia's senators are keeping President Obama's 11th Circuit Court nominee from even having a committee hearing.
PFAW

Tea Party Nation: 'E.W. Jackson Represents the Future of the Conservative Movement'

According to Tea Party Nation, “the future of conservative movement” is found in a candidate who believes gay people are “sick” and “degenerate” and that Planned Parenthood is worse than the Ku Klux Klan. In an email today, the group’s president Judson Phillips said that E.W. Jackson is under criticism because his anti-gay comments “are popular in the black community” and “that shocks and offends liberals.”

Phillips compared the Virginia GOP’s candidate for Lt. Governor to Ronald Reagan and bragged that “the 2013 ticket for the Republicans in Virginia represents the victory of the Tea Party over the establishment.”

E.W. Jackson represents a threat to the left.

Immediately after E.W. Jackson was nominated, the left wing media in Virginia began pulling out comments he had made, claiming he was too radical and extreme. Jackson is pro-life. To the media, if you are not Kermit Gosnell you are too extreme.

As a minister, Jackson has blasted homosexuality (as opposed to homosexuals). Amazingly enough, his comments on that subject are popular in the black community. That shocks and offends liberals.

After E.W. Jackson was nominated, the Democrats trotted out a couple of liberal Republicans who whined that the Party was now “too extreme” with Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson leading the ticket.

A whispering campaign began that the GOP establishment was upset with Jackson’s selection and they were working on a plan to remove him.

Even the GOP establishment isn’t that dumb.

The 2013 ticket for the Republicans in Virginia represents the victory of the Tea Party over the establishment. The establishment is not happy about this but they don’t have a choice. They didn’t like Ronald Reagan either.

During the convention last Saturday when each of the candidates spoke, they all received applause. E.W. Jackson’s speech got a standing ovation and it was not just his supporters standing.

E.W. Jackson represents the future of the conservative movement.

Susan Collins’ D.C. Circuit Hypocrisy

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins signed on today as a cosponsor of a blatantly political bill meant to deny President Obama, unlike any of his predecessors, the ability to fill vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  

The D.C. Circuit is the second most influential court in the country, behind the Supreme Court. It has the final word on scores of federal laws and regulations, from consumer protections to workers’ rights to environmental protections

For more than 30 years, presidents of both parties have placed numerous judges on the D.C. Circuit:

Senate Republicans prevented President Obama from placing a single nominee on the court during his first term and the first four months of his second, despite the fact that one-third of its active judgeships were vacant. They were so eager to keep the court dominated by Republican-nominated judges that they twice filibustered President Obama’s first nominee to the court, the eminently qualified Caitlin Halligan. Yesterday, after a ten-month delay, the Senate finally confirmed an Obama nominee, Sri Srinivasan, to fill one of the court’s four vacancies. But Republicans are indicating that their cooperation will stop there.

Senate Republicans are not only vowing to block any Obama nominees to the remaining three seats on the D.C. Circuit, they are actually proposing a bill that would eliminate those three seats entirely in order to prevent President Obama from filling them. 

The bill, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley and cosponsored by every other Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, just gained its first non-committee cosponsor: Sen. Collins.

The bill’s backers claim that the D.C. Circuit doesn’t have a great enough workload to justify filling the remaining three judgeships. However, Sen. Collins’ own voting record provides a perfect refutation of that argument.

Sen. Collins and her allies object to Obama’s filling the 9th, 10th and 11th seats on the D.C. Circuit. However, when George W. Bush was president, Sen. Collins had no such reservations about the need to fill the court's vacancies. In 2006, Collins voted to confirm Bush nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the 10th seat on the D.C. Circuit. In 2005, she voted to confirm Bush nominees Janice Rogers Brown to the 10th seat on the court and Thomas Griffith to the 11th.

Following the Griffith confirmation, which Collins supported,  the D.C. Circuit’s caseload was 119 cases per active judge. If every one of the D.C. Circuit’s 11 seats were filled today --  including the three seats that Sen. Collins wants to eliminate – the court’s caseload would be slightly higher than it was then, at 120 cases per active judge. Sen. Collins evidently thinks that what was a reasonable caseload for the court under President Bush is  somehow wastefully low under President Obama.

Meanwhile, here is Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse refuting Sen. Grassley’s absurd claim that President Obama is trying to “pack” the D.C. Circuit by filling its vacancies:

PFAW

Lila Rose Equates Anti-Choice Movement with the Women's Movement and Revolutionary War

At a rally in Germantown, Maryland this week, anti-choice activist Lila Rose compared the effort to bring about “the complete end of abortion” with the abolitionist movement, the civil rights movement, the movement to end child labor, the Revolutionary War and the early women’s movement.

Who says we can’t have an America completely free, with the complete end of abortion? We can have that America. We overcame many things in our history. We’ve overcome many things, from slavery to civil rights abuses in the 20th century to child labor. We’ve overcome many things, even the Revolutionary War to have our independence won. We’ve overcome many things in this country. The women’s rights movement for suffrage. And we can overcome, to defeat the hopelessness and the lies and the despair that says that we need abortion somehow. And it’s happening.

Schlafly: Gay Rights Violate Free Speech; Feminism 'The Most Destructive Element In Our Society'

Todd Akin isn’t the only one urging the Republican Party to move even further to the right. In an interview with Policy Mic, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum says the GOP should put more of an emphasis on social issues and look to conservative firebrands Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee as their role models. She blamed Mitt Romney’s loss on a “tremendous” drop-off in white voters, even though according to exit poll data white voter turnout was about the same as the last presidential election and Romney out-performed John McCain among white voters.

Schlafly, who also revealed that she is writing a book entitled Who Killed the American Family?, called feminism “the most destructive element in our society” and claimed feminists would “really like to get rid of” all men, while insisting that the Constitution has never been a sexist document and people should “stop complaining” about a lack of female candidates for office.

She also made the absurd claim that the government didn’t play a role in fighting the Great Depression and that Mexican immigrants aren’t becoming Americans because they are too comfortable with the welfare state and not voting Republican. Schlafly called the Senate immigration reform bill “suicide for our country” and said Mexico will use it to take over US territory.

On the topic of gay rights, Schlafly said that she continues to oppose marriage equality despite having a gay son, but also seems to be under the impression that same-sex couples can already get married: “Any gay couple can get married— all they have to do is find a preacher or justice of the peace who will perform the ceremony. There’s no law against that.”

She maintained that gay rights advocates are really pushing “an interference with our free speech rights” and warned that “homosexuals are teaching their ideology in the schools, and kids are learning it.”

When asked if President Obama should be impeached, Schlafly claimed that the recent IRS controversy is far worse than Watergate, which she called “just an ordinary little break in to an office,” and added that Obama could also be impeached over his opposition to the Defense Of Marriage Act.

Sagar Jethani: Reflecting on Mitt Romney's defeat in November, Senator Lindsey Graham said "If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn't conservative enough I'm going to go nuts. We're not losing 95% of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we're not being hard-ass enough." You disagree.

Phyllis Schlafly: Lindsey Graham is one of the establishment Republicans. They picked Romney, and they have to defend him. There were many, many things wrong with the election and the campaign in 2012. One of them was that establishment Republicans really don't have a ground game. They really don't know how to relate to grassroots Americans. Romney appealed to the people who are well-to-do and traditionally Republican, but there wasn't any outreach from that. And the real block that he failed to get was the white voters — his drop-off from white voters was tremendous.



Who represents the future of the GOP?

People like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee who are not establishment candidates.

What about Marco Rubio? Wasn't he a grassroots candidate?

Originally, Marco Rubio was until he went over and joined the establishment and became their salesman for unlimited amnesty.



Republicans are often criticized for wanting to dismantle the safety nets people depend on. Do you think the government has a role to play in helping those who struggle to get by?

I grew up during the Great Depression, and didn't have any of these government handouts, and we grew up to be what was called the Greatest Generation. The idea of an enormous number of people getting food stamps? Nobody's hungry in the United States. I think we need to build more self-reliance. We need to build the nuclear family, in which the father is the provider and the mother is a mother.



You recently argued against amnesty for undocumented immigrants, saying it would be suicide for the Republican Party because they would all vote Democratic. You don't think that Hispanics resonate with Republican values?

I don't see any evidence that Hispanics resonate with Republican values. They have no experience or knowledge of the whole idea of limited government and keeping government out of our private lives. They come from a country where the government has to decide everything. I don't know where you get the idea that the Mexicans coming in resonate with Republican values. They're running an illegitimacy rate that is extremely high. I think it's the highest of any ethnic group. We welcome people who want to be Americans. And then you hear many of them talk about wanting Mexico to reclaim several of our Southwestern states, because they think Mexico should really own some of those states. Well, that's unacceptable. We don't want people like that.

What do you make of the Gang of Eight's bill on comprehensive immigration reform now making its way through Congress?

It is suicide for our country, and not just for the Republican Party.

...

According to Gallup, the number of Americans who consider gay or lesbian relationships morally acceptable has shot up from 38% in 2002 to 54% today. Is it time for conservatives to get with the program and start supporting gay rights?

No, it certainly isn't. The polls are very defective. If you look at the polls, most of them ask the question: Are you in favor of banning same-sex marriage? Now, we have no law that bans same-sex marriage. Any gay couple can get married— all they have to do is find a preacher or justice of the peace who will perform the ceremony. There's no law against that. What they are demanding is that we respect them as being OK, and that's an interference with our free speech rights. There's no obligation that we have to respect something we think is morally wrong.

Republicans oppose gay marriage by a large margin, with only about 25% supporting it. But if you break down the results by age, you find that young Republicans are much more accepting of gay marriage, with about 40% supporting it.

What you say is certainly substantially true, but I think it's a result of what they're taught in the schools. They've been teaching in the schools that homosexuality is OK for years. So the kids who have been taught that have grown up, and they've been made to believe it. The homosexuals are teaching their ideology in the schools, and kids are learning it.

Your own son, John, is gay. What do you say to those who argue that your view on gay rights prevents people like him from enjoying the same rights that heterosexual Americans possess?

In the first place, I'd say it's really none of their business. It doesn't bother me in the slightest. My son is very supportive of my work. In fact, he works for me in the Eagle Forum. He's a fine, honorable man. It does not cause any problems in our family.



You don't think feminism has done some good in raising the status of women?

The feminist movement is the most destructive element in our society. It has done nothing but damage. It has not done anything good for women, whatsoever. The worst part of it is the attitude that breeds in young women in making them think that they are the victims of the oppressive patriarchy. That is so false. If you wake up in the morning thinking you're a victim, you're probably not going to be happy or accomplish anything.

Don't women in this country still have a long way to go in terms of enjoying the same rights that men have held from the beginning?

American women are the most fortunate class of people who ever lived on the face of the earth. We should rejoice in the great, wonderful country we have. Women have always been in the Constitution. There is no sexist word in the Constitution. It is written for We, the people and every word in it is sex-neutral, like person, citizen, elector, and Senator. I don't know what they're complaining about. You can do whatever you want.

Yesterday, Chris Jankowski, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, said that it's hard to recruit women to run for office because Republicans don't value women as much as men.

What you said is ridiculous, and the guy who said it has been influenced by feminist propaganda. I can tell you why it's hard to recruit women. I have run for office. I ran twice for Congress. Women don't like to do what you have to do to get elected in the same proportion that men do. It's just plain tough: eat all those bad chicken dinners, travel all the time, expose yourself to attack by the other side all the time. And if you get elected to Congress, you may live a couple of thousand miles away from home. There will never be a large proportion of women who choose that lifestyle as compared to men. So stop complaining.

You argue that radical feminists have pushed for easier divorce laws to destroy the traditional family unit.

Of course, radical feminists push for divorce. They think men are not necessary, and they'd really like to get rid of them. The easy divorce law should be called unilateral divorce: it means one spouse can break a contract, and get out of solemn promises made in public before witnesses without the consent of the other party — without any fault on the side of the other party. That is so contrary to American constitutional law. Our Constitution is supposed to uphold the sanctity of contracts, but it doesn't.



We've seen a few scandals unfold in the past couple of weeks — the IRS targeting conservative groups, and the Justice Department secretly monitoring private communications at the Associated Press, Fox, and other news organizations. Do you agree with Steve King and Michele Bachmann that these scandals are worse than Watergate?

Well, of course the IRS scandal is much worse than Watergate. Watergate was just an ordinary little break in to an office. The harassment by the IRS, particularly of those who use Tea Party or Patriot in their titles, is just a total outrage. These groups had every right to get their status approved in a couple of weeks. Instead, they were harassed for years.



Do you agree with those on the right who say the recent scandals merit impeachment proceedings?

I think there are many reasons why Obama could be impeached, but I'm not leading that battle. I think the best way is for Congress to stand up and stop a lot of the mischief that he's doing which may be illegal. The Constitution makes it the duty of the president to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. He's got Eric Holder trying to overturn a law that was duly passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses and signed by Bill Clinton — namely, the Defense of Marriage Act. He's not taking care to see that the laws are faithfully executed. That's just one of his offenses.

Blockbuster Decisions Coming Soon from the Supreme Court . . .Will Conservative Justices Twist the Constitution to Subvert Equal Protection?

MEMO

TO: Reporters and Editors
FROM: Jamie Raskin, Senior Fellow, People for the American Way Foundation
DATE:  May 24, 2013

RE: Blockbuster Decisions Coming Soon from the Supreme Court . . .Will Conservative Justices Twist the Constitution to Subvert Equal Protection?

The Roberts Court will soon release major decisions shaping the future of voting rights protection, affirmative action in university admissions, and the rights of marriage for gay and lesbian Americans. In each case, the promotion of equal rights under law in our society is opposed by a conservative agenda that seeks to enshrine inequality in the name of “federalism,” “color-blindness,” or “social tradition.” What is at stake in these cases is whether America continues its journey towards strong and inclusive multi-racial democracy or accepts conservative arguments that undermine constitutional and social progress.   

Congressional Protection of Voting Rights versus “Federalism Costs”:

The Voting Rights Act on the Chopping Block in Shelby County v. Holder

In Shelby County v. Holder, conservatives seek to dismantle the essential machinery of modern voting rights protection, which is the pre-clearance procedure for voting changes in covered jurisdictions. This procedure is contained in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the monumental statutory achievement of Congress in the last century. Chief Justice Roberts, in a near-miss decision on the same subject in 2009, has already expressed the sentiment of his conservative colleagues that the provision now “raises serious constitutional questions.” At oral argument in Shelby County, Justice Scalia offered his view that the Voting Rights Act has become nothing more than a “racial entitlement.” Despite broad bipartisan support in Congress for the Voting rights Act, including Section 5, the conservative legal movement is mobilized for its destruction.

Section 5 obligates covered states and jurisdictions to “pre-clear” changes affecting voting with the Department of Justice or the federal district courts in Washington. This procedure affects states and counties that were the worst offenders against voting rights and has been in place for nearly a half-century. Section 2 of the Fifteenth Amendment clearly gives Congress the “power to enforce” voting rights “by appropriate legislation.” The Court has four times—in South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966), Georgia v. U.S. (1973), City of Rome v. U.S. (1980), and Lopez v. Monterey County (1999)—rejected invitations by states to declare Section 5 as outside of Congress’ powers under the 14th and 15th Amendments.  Thus, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and later Alaska (along with certain jurisdictions in California, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota) have had to prove that proposed changes in election laws do not disadvantage minority voters. While the Justice Departments and the courts routinely approve more than 99 percent of submitted plans, the VRA remains a critical stop against laws meant to disenfranchise racial minorities. Hundreds of state plans and thousands of proposed changes have been rejected under the law, preventing a backslide in the project of building a strong interracial democracy.

But the case against Section 5 today turns on neither constitutional precedent nor text nor the facts of political life on the ground, but rather on the talk-show fallacy that a nation which twice elects an African-American president simply cannot contain any states or counties where minority voters face actual barriers to participation. Backing up this non-sequitur intuition are constitutional myths: that Congress has to treat all states and counties the same and cannot distinguish among them based on their records of committing voting rights violations. and that the pre-clearance mechanism in the Voting Rights Act and its “coverage formula” impose far too high “federalism costs” on covered areas (i.e., it allegedly takes too much power from the states). All of these taking points are supposed to justify the Court’s substituting its judgment for that of Congress and to find that Section 5 is no longer a “congruent” or “proportional” remedy, under either the Fourteenth Amendment or the Fifteenth Amendment, for threats to voting rights.  But the lower courts in this case reviewed more than 15,000 pages of Congressional findings and testimony and were convinced of the continuing need for preclearance to deal with the disingenuous disenfranchising and diluting schemes in the covered areas, including voter photo ID laws, tightening restrictions on registration and at the polls, and racist gerrymanders.  

The arguments against Section 5 appeal to the racial fatigue of Supreme Court arch-conservatives, who are willing to give state legislatures, a majority of which are in conservative Republican hands today, the freedom to restrict voting rights. The pre-clearance procedures of Section 5 are the major obstacle to this goal because they mean that all of the traditional hijinks of Jim Crow politics must be submitted in advance to federal judges or DOJ civil rights lawyers for approval. Rather than placing the burden on African-Americans and other minority voters to find lawyers and make the case against repressive practices after they go into effect, the covered jurisdictions have to affirmatively show that their innovations are not discriminatory or “retrogressive” before the damage is done. As the Supreme Court put it approvingly in South Carolina v. Katzenbach, “After enduring nearly a century of systematic resistance to the Fifteenth Amendment,” Congress chose “to shift the advantage of time and inertia from the perpetrators of the evil to its victims.”

The word “federalism” does not appear in the Constitution, nor does the opaque and mysterious phrase “federalism costs,” which has become the key mantra for the conservatives.  At least four Justices—and we’ll see about Justice Anthony Kennedy—appear poised to use these malleable concepts to override the clear enforcement powers that the Constitution explicitly assigns to Congress through Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Fifteenth Amendment. Thus, the Supreme Court is on the brink of usurping Congressional power plainly granted by the Constitution by thwarting Congressional decisions to enforce the equal rights of Americans to vote and participate in the political process. 

Racial Integration, Inclusion and Diversity versus “Color-Blindness”:

Affirmative Action Walks the Plank in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

The ceaseless attack on affirmative action returns again this Term with Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a sweeping challenge to a modest use of race and ethnicity in UT’s admissions process that was adopted to correct for continuing weakness in the numbers of minority students on campus. The twist here is that most UT students are admitted through a policy guaranteeing admission to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their public high school classes. About one-fifth of the class is admitted outside of that race-neutral policy, and affirmative action plays a role in this small part of the process.   

Most people thought that the lawfulness of such a policy was settled for at least 25 years in 2003, when the Court decided Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, cases testing the constitutionality of affirmative action programs as practiced, respectively, at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Michigan’s undergraduate program. The majority upheld the Law School’s “holistic” use of race and ethnicity in the process to promote diversity in the educational experience because all consideration of applicants remained individualized and there were no quotas and no numerical targets used in the selection process. (The University of Texas modeled its law school’s affirmative action program after that upheld in Grutter in 2003.) Meanwhile, the majority invalidated the undergraduate plan because racial or ethnic minority status was quantified and treated as adding bonus points in a rigid numerical weighing system, a process that the Court said leaned towards being a quota system. While rejecting the college plan as a blunt instrument, Justice O’Connor found that the kind of diffuse and holistic use of minority status embodied in the law school program was permissible. She thought such affirmative action would be warranted for a period of what she predicted to be another quarter-century. Given that most public universities remained segregated through the 1950s and 1960s, this seemed like a sensible time-line.

The Grutter decision reaffirmed and updated Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the 1978 high Court decision which struck down numerical quotas for minority admission but approved the generalized use of race in the admissions process to promote the compelling interest in having a diverse student body. Grutter was met with relief and enthusiasm throughout American academia, in the business sector, by the armed services, and across American society.

Now, once again, conservatives hope to turn the Constitution against the project of equal rights and equal opportunities.  The key move is to claim that Equal Protection mandates absolute “color-blindness” and therefore forecloses any conscious efforts to build diversity and inclusion into the educational experience of students. But the history of the Equal Protection Clause demonstrates that its Framers clearly contemplated that government would seek to take account of the racial implications of official discrimination in the past to fashion consciously inclusionary policies going forward.   

Equal Protection of the Rights of all Citizens in Marriage versus “Social Tradition”:

United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry

Two significant cases raise the important issue of whether gay and lesbian Americans enjoy an equal right to marry and to enjoy all the rights of marriage. Here, straightforward understandings of Equal Protection clash with an extra-constitutional commitment to the “social tradition” of discrimination against gay people.

One case, United States v. Windsor, deals with the constitutionality of Section 3 of “DOMA,” the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which provides that the word “marriage” in any federal law or regulation—including the Social Security Act, the Internal Revenue code, immigration law, and more than 1,000 others—shall apply only to the “legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife.” This sweeping discrimination means that, although hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian Americans have won and exercised the right to marry in twelve states and the District of Columbia, the rights, benefits, and duties that they should receive as married people under federal law are categorically withheld from them. Under federal law, married couples who are gay are treated as legal strangers to one another and as unworthy of the rights enjoyed by other citizens.

This discrimination has dramatic consequences. The respondent in Windsor, Edith Windsor, was forced to pay $363,000 in federal taxes on the estate she inherited after her wife (and life partner of 40 years) died, since DOMA prevents same-sex spouses from inheriting marital property on a tax-free basis, a benefit that heterosexual couples take for granted. Windsor won a clean victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which found that discrimination against gay people triggers Equal Protection “intermediate scrutiny” and that Congress could not even demonstrate a valid, much less an important, interest for defining marriage at the federal level so as to exclude from its benefits thousands of married couples in the states.

The other case taken up by the Supreme Court  is Hollingsworth v. Perry, which tests the constitutionality of California’s infamous Proposition 8 ballot measure, which revoked the marriage rights that gays and lesbians had enjoyed in the state under a landmark California Supreme Court decision.  Proposition 8 was voided in a broad pro-marriage decision handed down by California United States District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, a decision that was reaffirmed on narrower grounds by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which essentially found that California had no rational basis for taking away from its gay citizens the marriage rights that it had previously granted. 

Both cases involve government refusing to recognize the equal rights of gay people, either in married couples or couples who want to get married.  With DOMA, Congress denied the same equal rights and benefits to gay married people as it offers to straight married people, and with Proposition 8, California actually revoked the marriage rights of gay people and prohibited the legislature from ever restoring those rights.  The Proposition 8 proponents even sought to use the measure to annul gays’ and lesbians’ existing marriages without their consent.  The discrimination in both cases is plain to see, all of it justified on the grounds of “traditional marriage” and “social tradition.”

The right to get married as a basic civil right has frequently been  addressed by the Supreme Court, but the Court has never addressed whether that right extends to gay and lesbian Americans, and the Court could successfully dodge the underlying issue here. 

One good possibility is that the Court will strike down DOMA as a naked Equal Protection violation, saying that states need not necessarily extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian residents but that, if states do extend equal marriage rights, the federal government may not discriminate against people who avail themselves of those rights. Pro-marriage forces expecting this result place a high burden of hope on Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has written excellent majority opinions upholding the equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans in Romer v. Evans (1996) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003). But Kennedy may instead decide purely on federalism grounds, potentially providing a fifth vote to strike down DOMA but preventing any pro-equality legal rationale from having a majority that would bind lower courts in the future.

In the California Proposition 8 case, the Court could say that states that give all of the state-law rights of marriage to gay and lesbian citizens cannot withhold from them the title of marriage; this would affect eight states in a similar situation as California. Another possibility, more remote, is that Justice Kennedy would agree to join the moderate-liberal faction in simply declaring that gay people have equal rights to marry, which would mean invalidating discriminatory  laws still on the books in the vast majority of states. Conversely, the Court might also say that there is no obligation for California to protect the right of gay and lesbian citizens to marry at all. Or, finally, it could dismiss the whole case on either standing grounds—the Attorney general of California refused to defend  Proposition 8, leaving that task to anti-marriage advocates who put the initiative on the ballot—or on the grounds that cert was improvidently granted. There are still many ways to escape the basic issue of discrimination, even though all of the momentum in the states is towards marriage equality and the rationales for discrimination have been collapsing everywhere like a giant house of cards. 

Equal Protection versus the Politics of Inequality

As we await the Supreme Court’s decisions in these cases, Americans should not miss the big picture of this constitutional moment.  In a society that disenfranchised African-Americans and other minorities for centuries and discriminated openly against racial minorities and the gay and lesbian population, we are living through giant progressive changes in political democracy and voting rights, educational opportunity, and marriage rights for all. Yet, in politics, as in physics, every action creates an equal and opposite reaction, and a huge ideological undertow has formed on today’s Supreme Court, which has replaced the values of the long-ago Warren Court with commitments to corporate power over government and government power over people. What is at stake in these cases is whether the Supreme Court will interpret the Constitution to be the instrument of equal protection for all or will twist it to make it the guarantor of inequality and injustice.

* * * * * * *
Jamie Raskin, a Senior Fellow at People for the American Way Foundation, is a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law and a State Senator in Maryland.


 

 

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett Just Can't Find ANY Latinos

Sometimes, Governors ‘say the darndest things.’  In a roundtable discussion hosted by the Al Dia Spanish language newspaper at The Union League of Pennsylvania Wednesday, PA Gov. Tom Corbett let it slip that he didn’t ‘have any’ Latinos serving in his administration.

MODERATOR: Do you have staff members that are Latino?
CORBETT: No, we do not have any staff members in there. If you can find us one, please let me know.
MODERATOR: I am sure that there are Latinos that…
CORBETT: Do any of you want to come to Harrisburg? See?!

Could Gov. Corbett really not “find” any Latino Pennsylvanians to serve on his staff? The latest numbers indicate that there are 719,000 people in Pennsylvania who identify as Latino or Hispanic according to the Pew Research Hispanic Center.  That’s just over 6% of all Pennsylvanians, and growing. 

While talking about representing all Pennsylvanians, Corbett and Pennsylvania Republicans continue to overlook the Latinos all around them. Really, Governor, you couldn’t ‘find’ any qualified Latinos to serve on your staff?  Or is it that you aren’t really looking?

PFAW

Todd Akin Lectures Republicans on How to Win

You know the Republican Party is lost when failed GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin of “legitimate rape” fame takes to the conspiracy theory website WorldNetDaily to lecture his fellow conservatives on how to win elections. Akin, who received just 39 percent of the vote against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in a state Mitt Romney won by ten points, claims that the Republican Party is struggling because it is not conservative enough. Because we all know Akin would have defeated McCaskill if only he was more conservative!

In the column, Akin links secular government to violence, warns that the Democratic Party is turning the US into the Soviet Union and calls on conservative activists to run on their strict opposition to abortion rights, which obviously paid dividends for Akin.

We here at Right Wing Watch commend Akin’s efforts and hope future right-wing candidates follow in his path of disastrous election defeats. After they lose they can always write for WorldNetDaily. Just ask Rick Santorum.

Like a patient with an injury, the Republican Party is surrounded by many advising doctors who prescribe conflicting “cures.” Because, these cures can’t all be right, we should review our history for examples so that we choose the right one.

We have all heard the group of advisers who think the cure is that the Republican Party should become less conservative and more like the Democrats. They fault imperfect candidates who aren’t moderate enough. While no candidate is perfect (including me), this cure doesn’t explain why more moderate Republican Senate candidates lost in 2012 than conservatives. Through the lens of history, we see that the GOP needs the principled identity conservatives afford, that conservatism is a winning platform, and that conservative principles are what undergird America’s freedom. The Republican Party should boldly stand on its conservative values. This is the true cure.



The conservative position is a winning platform. While some argue that Republicans must become more pragmatic to create a winning platform, history says otherwise. The conservative Republican Presidents Lincoln, Coolidge, Eisenhower and Reagan were all very popular. They had a passion and confidence from standing on principle. In contrast, Nixon, Dole, McCain and now Romney were less comfortable defending conservative positions, and were less successful. A “fire in the bones” is more convincing than dry statistics.



The recognition of a Creator is core to conservative belief. Our founders fought the biggest military power in the world because they believed, as Jefferson said, “our liberties are the gift of God.” In sharp contrast, the Democrats last year tried to kick God out of their convention! President Washington, in his Farewell Address, asserted, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports.” Ignoring Washington, our liberal courts have censored school prayer and the words “Thou shalt not kill” from classrooms. How has the loss of these conservative principles been working for us?

From painful experience, our founders understood the importance of limited government; therefore, they gave us a written constitution and the rule of law. Conservatives agree. In contrast, liberals and Democrats show a deep and abiding faith in their all-powerful government. The Soviet Union provided their citizens with food, health care, housing, education and employment, the same things the liberals are doing here in the U.S. The liberal’s blind faith ignores the lesson of the last century. A government that can give everything can also take everything. Communist governments alone killed more of their citizens than those who died in two World Wars. Big government is more deadly than war itself. America’s success has been tied to the conservative principle of limited government.

The founders, like conservatives today, placed a high value on individual life and liberty. However, they paid a terrible price for ignoring slavery. What will be the cost of ignoring the killing of over 50 million unborn Americans? Democrats support abortion and use the power of the government to force everyone else to be part of paying for it, all in the name of “choice.” Conservatives believe that abortion waters down our moral currency and cheapens life.

Finally, our founders and conservatives today stress individual responsibility. My parents’ generation labored and sacrificed to pass on a brighter future to their children. They believed in private property and hard work, and took a dim view of socialism and dependency. The Obama administration is burning over a trillion dollars a year in deficit spending on a $3.5 trillion budget. Our addiction to handouts will create poverty and dependence and leave our children in economic slavery. We must not trade our inheritance of freedom for the golden chains of dependency to the welfare state.

For these and many other reasons, the Republican Party needs to embrace conservatism. It needs to stop apologizing for the fact it stands on principle and needs to stop eating its own. It should boldly communicate that the prosperity and freedom we enjoy come from conservative principles.

D.C. Circuit Vacancies: One Down, Three to Go

Senate Republicans kept Sri Srinivasan from getting a committee hearing until ten months after his nomination, and even tried to filibuster him before allowing a unanimous vote to confirm him to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
PFAW

“Fix Our America” Takes Off in Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, California, a group of specialists in media, advertising and entertainment, joined by business people, lawyers, and civic activists have founded an organization that is running advertisements based solely on the need to amend the Constitution to fix our political campaign finance system.  The group, Fix Our America, has begun the process of running the following advertisement on airwaves in California, and is seeking to run more ads in other media markets across the country:

These advertisements are boosting the amendment dialogue in California, a state that has witnessed much grassroots amendment activity yet is still in need of deep reform.  Just days ago, Los Angeles voters approved Ballot Measure C, which called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, with 77% of the vote; last year, the California state legislature passed an amendment resolution “to restore constitutional rights and fair elections to the people”; and since the Citizens United decision came down in January 2010, over 75 California municipalities have called on Congress and the states to pass and ratify an amendment to overturn Citizens United.

California does not stand alone.  The amendment movement is well underway and gaining momentum in states across the country.  Fix Our America is yet another example of the American people joining together in protest of the fundamental threat that corporate and special interest campaign spending poses to our democratic institutions.  In the words of Fix Our America’s Declaration of Principles Statement, “Americans deserve the best. Instead, we have been saddled with a system that … leaves all of us at the mercy of those who buy legislation and policy to suit their narrow interests.”  The time has come to fix that.
 

PFAW

PFAW Statement on Confirmation of Sri Srinivasan to D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

WASHINGTON --  People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement on the Senate’s unanimous confirmation of Sri Srinivasan to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit:

“We congratulate Mr. Srinivasan on his confirmation to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“The fact that Senator Reid was forced to file cloture in order to secure an agreement with Republicans to vote on a nominee whom they enthusiastically support is a sign of how far Senate Republicans have taken their mindless obstruction.

“Unfortunately, the Senate GOP is already looking ahead to further obstruction of this critically important court, one-quarter of whose active judgeships still remain vacant. Having prevented President Obama from filling a single seat on the D.C. Circuit until today, they are now threatening to strip the three remaining vacant seats from this important court rather than allow the president to fill them. This promised obstruction is purely politically motivated and cannot be allowed to succeed.”


###

Rep. Trent Franks Compares Anti-Choice Movement to Abolition of Slavery, Ending Holocaust

Rep. Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, joined Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and anti-choice activist Lila Rose on an FRC webcast yesterday  on “exposing America’s late-term abortion industry.” Franks, who recently introduced a bill that would institute a national ban on the rare practice of abortion after 20 weeks, compared his fight against reproductive rights to the ending of the Holocaust and the abolition of slavery. “We are the ones that rushed into Eastern Europe and arrested the Holocaust, we are the ones that said no more to slavery after thousands of years, and by the grace of God,  we’re going to be the ones that say that we’re going to protect our own children,” he said.

When Perkins asked him to elaborate on the stakes of his bill, Franks answered that if it fails, “I would suggest to you that we undermine everything that America was ever dreamed of to be and we step into that Sumerian night where the light of compassion has gone out and the survival of the fittest finally prevails over man…If we turn our backs on this, I’m afraid we’ve broken the back of what America really is.”

Rethinking the IRS Mess

Amid Congressional hearings and an unending stream of pointed fingers, what is the real takeaway from the unfolding IRS mess?  United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard has the answer, arguing that our country needs to rethink the role of corporate money in our elections by passing a Constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision.

In an In These Times article Tuesday, Gerard called for such an amendment, writing that

“while every politician in Washington is cursing the carbuncle, hardly one has complained of the cancer killing the patient. Allowing unlimited, unaccounted-for corporate spending in elections is a malignancy threatening the life of the republic.”

PFAW President Michael Keegan has also spoken out about the danger of allowing the IRS misdeeds to be held up as an example of the perils of oversight writ large.

 In a Huffington Post piece last week, he noted,

“The danger of this frame is that it will discourage the IRS from fully investigating all nonprofit groups spending money to influence elections. And it will distract from the core problem behind the IRS's mess: the post-Citizens United explosion of undisclosed electoral spending.”

As both writers remind us, the IRS should never base its work on the political leanings of applicant groups.  But where our real focus should lie in this national dialogue is on how to strengthen transparency and accountability in all electoral spending.
 

PFAW

E.W. Jackson: Obama Condones Anti-Semitism and Terrorist Attacks Against Israel

Virginia Republican Lt. Governor nominee E.W. Jackson has consistently implied that President Obama is a secret Muslim, and in a 2010 American Thinker column went even further by arguing that President Obama condones anti-Semitism and terrorist attacks against Israel by Hamas.

After accusing Obama of remaining “silent” over Hamas rocket attacks against Israel in addition to Helen Thomas’ statement that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine,” Jackson writes that “given his close association with Islam and with one of Louis Farrakhan's best friends, his silence must be interpreted as consent.”

When people say "I hate to say I told you so," they rarely mean it. What they really mean is, "I was right, and I am glad to tell you so." A year ago, I wrote,

Obama apparently sees the world and Israel from a Muslim perspective. Those who think clearly about these issues must conclude that President Obama is influenced by a quiet strain of anti-Semitism picked up from elements of the black community, leftist colleagues, Muslim associations and Jeremiah Wright. For the first time in her history, Israel may find the President of the United States openly siding with her enemies. Those who believe that Israel must be protected had better be ready for the fight.

I really do hate to say "I told you so." I did not vote for Barack Obama, but I hoped he would surprise me and not be the kind of president that his background portended. Most Americans, even those who didn't vote for him, wanted to believe that he would transcend the negative forces which might have influenced his thinking. Perhaps the anti-Semitism to which he had been exposed had not gotten into his intellectual DNA. He attempted to reassure us.



In his much-hyped speech in Cairo, reaching out to the "Muslim World," Obama drew a moral equivalence between the "suffering" of the Palestinians and the Holocaust against the Jewish people. He said, "Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust." But he went on to say, "On the other hand, it is also undeniable that Palestinians ... have suffered in pursuit of a homeland."

To equate these two vastly different historical realities borders on the delusional. There is no equivalence between a systematic effort to annihilate the entire Jewish people and the problem of "dislocation" -- as Obama refers to it -- of the Palestinians. If there is any similarity at all, it is that many Palestinians, like the Nazis, want to kill all Jews.



Helen Thomas, an Obama devotee, recently said the Jews need to "get the hell out of Palestine." Obama is silent. For years, Jews in Israel could hardly sleep for fear that Hamas rockets would land in their homes. Yet when Israel takes reasonable action to search ships to prevent weapons from entering Gaza, she is condemned. Obama is silent. Reuters doctored the pictures of the recent blockade confrontation -- editing out weapons in the hands of the ship's crew -- so as to perpetuate the narrative of Israeli aggression. Obama is silent. Perhaps if he had not spent twenty years in the church of a rabid anti-Semite, President Obama's muteness would not speak so loudly. However, given his close association with Islam and with one of Louis Farrakhan's best friends, his silence must be interpreted as consent. I wish I were wrong about this president, but facts are stubborn things.

E.W. Jackson: Liberals Treated Juan Williams Like a 'Slave' Because They Blamed America for 9/11

In 2010, NPR fired analyst Juan Williams after he told a Fox News host that he was afraid of flying with people in “Muslim garb.” The episode quickly became a rallying cry for the right, including for E.W. Jackson, now the Virginia GOP’s nominee for lieutenant governor. Shortly after the episode, Jackson wrote a column for American Thinker accusing liberals of treating Williams like a “slave” who “dares to leave the plantation of liberal orthodoxy.”

This “lashing” of Williams, Jackson wrote, happened because “the far left -- which NPR represents -- does not have the same visceral reaction to the suffering inflicted on Americans on 911 because they believe we brought it on ourselves.”  A “normal response” to 9/11, Jackson writes, was displayed by passengers of a plane who were “traumatized” when a number of Muslims on their flight decided to pray before boarding, in what Jackson calls “a bizarre display calculated to disturb those who witnessed it.”

When escaped slaves were caught, they were lashed into submission. This was intended not only as a warning to that particular slave, but to the entire plantation of black servants to stay in their place.  Liberals do the psychological equivalent of this to any black person who dares to leave the plantation of liberal orthodoxy. After working over a decade for liberal National Public Radio, Juan Williams was summarily fired, publically ridiculed and told to see a psychiatrist. Liberals have a proprietary attitude toward blacks and other minorities. When anyone one of us dares contradict leftist thought, they try to punish us severely.

One of my daughters saw a group of Muslims board a plane and sit in different sections. Their behavior caused her such anxiety that she got off the plane and took another flight. My daughter is not a racist or a bigot. We are black and have Muslims in our family. Are we to believe that it is bigotry to admit that the terrorist acts of 911 actually terrorized us? Signals which remind us of that horrific day evoke anxiety, a normal human response to terrible trauma. An entire flight was traumatized when a group of Muslims decided to have open prayers in an airport just before boarding a plane. The passengers became frightened by what seemed a bizarre display calculated to disturb those who witnessed it. Were they also bigots?

Two things are at play here. First, the far left -- which NPR represents -- does not have the same visceral reaction to the suffering inflicted on Americans on 911 because they believe we brought it on ourselves. America, in their view, is imperialist, greedy and militaristic. Therefore, we do not dare ascribe fault to any group but ourselves. It is alright to say "extremists" attacked us on 911 because America has its own extremists. It is not acceptable to identify those extremists as Muslims. Liberals do not view Juan Williams' expressed "feelings" as intellectual honesty, but as proof of his own and America's bigotry. That is the warped thinking of the left.

The way he was fired demonstrates that it had nothing to do with any objective assessment of his professional conduct. A man who worked for them for ten years had become a political enemy and they meant to harm him financially, emotionally and professionally. When a slave escaped from the plantation, it wasn't merely a case of one slave being a problem. That slave became a threat to the institution of slavery and to the master's way of life. The response was brutal or the slave was sold off, i.e., fired. The attempt to break free was a personal affront to the slave master. "After all," he thought, "I've been good to my slaves. Why would they want to be free?"

[Emphases are mine]

McConnell Bobs and Weaves on Judicial Nominations

McConnell tries & fails to justify filibuster of DC Circuit nominee Srinivasan, and throws a GOP-supported 10th Circuit nominee under the bus in the process.
PFAW
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