Jay Sekulow

Religious Right Legal Leader: Of Course States Could Punish Women For Abortion

When Donald Trump said this week that, if abortion is recriminalized, women who have abortions should face “some form of punishment,” the anti-choice movement went into damage control mode and Trump quickly attempted to walk back his comments.

But not every abortion rights opponent got the memo about not touching the third rail of anti-abortion politics. Televangelist Pat Robertson, for instance, seemed genuinely perplexed by the issue, saying that while it “does seem a bit draconian” to punish women for abortion, “if somebody says abortion is murder, then what do you do to somebody who commits murder?”

Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, the Religious Right legal group founded by Robertson, similarly seemed to have not gotten the memo, explaining on his radio program yesterday that if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, of course states would be free to impose punishments on women who get abortions, especially if they view embryos and fetuses as “persons” under the law. Sekulow also hinted that he might agree with such a policy for women who use abortion for “birth control.”

While the current federal ban on “partial-birth” abortion protects women from prosecution, Sekulow explained, if Roe were overturned, states would be free to impose whatever abortion penalties they wanted.

“That’s a different question from whether you legally could have statutes, if Roe v. Wade was overturned, that criminalized the abortion activity,” he said, “including anybody that voluntarily — not coercion, not life of the mother, not rape or incest, because those would all be defenses — but could a state say if a woman voluntarily had a partial-birth abortion that that act could be criminalized, could a state say that? Sure, a state could say that. And if you believe that the child’s a person, well, I’m not so sure that that’s contradictory.”

Sekulow added that “politically we always focus on the abortion provider, not the woman” but “that’s a different question than legally” so, legally, “a state could say that anybody involved in the process is committing a crime, if you believe it’s a person.”

Sekulow’s son, Jordan, a cohost of the show, noted: “We’re talking hypotheticals here, I think it’s a long road until we get to that point where those kind of abortion laws would be potentially in place.”

“There’s a political question whether they should be,” Sekulow responded, “I think that’s a legitimate point. But the legal issue is not improbable.”

Later in the program, the Sekulows and their cohost, ACLJ government affairs director Nathanael Bennett, took a call from a listener who said that Trump’s comments were encouraging to her because while she doubted that the candidate was truly against abortion rights, the comments show “at least he’s thinking pro-life and would be willing to take that stance.”

Sekulow responded by repeating his point that Trump was not “legally incorrect” in saying there could be punishments for women if abortion becomes illegal.

“If we believe the child is a person,” he said, “in other words, the personhood of the child, that should be protected under the Constitution, that someone that knowingly, willfully and voluntarily takes the life of that person could be — not should be, could be — held culpable under criminal laws of the various states, that would not be illegal or extraconstitutional.”

“Now, I’m not saying that’s the right policy,” he added, “because a lot of us view that women are forced into coerced situations, but the reality is — and let me just drop a hypothetical, a woman’s having her third — and this happens — third partial-birth abortion, partial-birth abortion’s illegal and the state of California says, ‘You know what, anybody that participates in a partial-birth abortion, unless it’s the life of the mother, rape or incest, is a culpable criminal.’ That’s not illegal. A state could do that. I’m not saying that’s the right political decision, I’m not even saying that’s the right moral decision. I’m saying legally, was what Trump was saying legally incorrect? No, it wasn’t legally incorrect. Politically he had to take it back, but legally it was not incorrect.”

Jordan Sekulow and Bennett said that while they had seen some “positive” responses to Trump’s comments from their conservative audience members, including one who wrote in to say she had a “new respect for Donald Trump,” the comments would become a political liability for him in the general election.

Bennett said Trump’s comments had given him “some heartburn” because “we want to win hearts and minds on this.”

“You want to know why it gives you heartburn?” Sekulow demanded. “You want to know why it gives everybody heartburn? I’m going to say it and this is going to be controversial. You know why it really gives everybody heartburn? Here’s the real reason, and some of you are going to really disagree with this: because a lot of people really don’t believe the unborn child is a person.”

He then went on to suggest that he does believe that “the unborn child is a person” and thus might be open to punishments for women who use abortion as “birth control.”

“Because if you really believe,” he said, “that the unborn child’s a person — and as I’ve looked at my grandchildren’s ultrasounds — you would say, if somebody voluntarily did this for the purposes of birth control —which is generally what it is, is an inconvenience, not medically necessary, not life of the mother, not incest or rape — you think to yourself, if it’s really a person, what’s so, what’s so — but we aren’t there yet politically and we’re not there maybe even legally or morally, and that may be shame on us in one sense.

“I’m not saying it would be the right policy, by the way, to do this, because I believe politics are the art of the possible and I agree, Than, we want to win hearts and minds. But the problem is, if you really logically look at this, the fact of the matter is, if it’s a person for goodness sake, and I believe it is, the rules would be different. For any other person that somebody killed, they’d be held culpable, either as the primary person or the accessory to the crime. So this is not, it’s not craziness what’s being said here, and I think that’s why on social media you’re seeing kind of a mixed reaction.”

Just in case the audience didn’t get the point, the Sekulows returned to the point later in the program, as Jay insisted that “the kerfuffle that Donald Trump’s in” is because “he’s not familiar enough with the language or the nuance” of the anti-abortion movement, not because he’s “legally wrong.”

Jordan added that the anti-choice movement’s opposition to legal punishment for women is indeed a “policy position” and not necessarily the legal result of banning abortion. “On the legal side of it, though, you see why the reason would be, if you make something illegal then you could punish, and so ultimately that would be up to the policymakers to decide,” he said.

Ron Johnson Is Taking His SCOTUS Talking Points Straight From Right-Wing Groups

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is one of the Republican senators who is under considerable pressure in his home state to break from his party leadership and consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

So far, Johnson has toed the party line and says that he supports blocking any nominee to the Supreme Court for the remainder of Obama’s presidency. In defending this position, he has turned to a number of stock talking points cooked up by right-wing groups seeking to keep an Obama nominee off the Supreme Court.

As soon as President Obama announced his nomination of Garland, Johnson turned to the talking point that the conservative Judicial Crisis Network has been promoting since soon after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death left a vacant seat on the Supreme Court.

Johnson’s appeal to let the American people “decide” and give them a “voice” by discounting President Obama’s entire last year in office, comes straight out of the messaging that JCN started hammering in early ads urging obstruction. In JCN’s first ad, a narrator says:

It’s ‘We the People.’ Sometimes the politicians forget that. The Supreme Court has a vacancy and your vote in November is your only voice. Sen. Chuck Grassley agrees: the American people should decide. This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about your voice. You choose the next president, the next president chooses the next justice. Call Sen. Chuck Grassley. Thank him for letting the people decide.

Of course, the people already did have a voice in choosing who would pick the next Supreme Court justice when they reelected President Obama for a second four-year term in 2012.

The New York Times reported yesterday on an event in Wisconsin at which Johnson attempted to justify the Senate GOP’s obstructionism by implying that the Constitution’s requirement of “advice and consent” can mean the Senate advising the president not to make any judicial nomination at all:

“Yeah, I am hearing the drumbeat, ‘Do your job! Do your job!’ ” Mr. Johnson said, invoking the Democrats’ battle cry in their quest to get Judge Garland a hearing. “We’re doing our job,” Mr. Johnson declared, to shouts of “yes.”

“Our job as a coequal branch in the nomination process is advise and consent,” he said. “Well, President Obama — surprise — didn’t heed our advice. So now we are doing the second part of that advice and consent: We’re withholding our consent. Completely appropriate.”

This is a talking point that Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, a longtime right-wing player in judicial fights, pioneered very soon after the death of Justice Scalia, when he told televangelist Pat Robertson, “The Senate has a role in this, the Constitution says ‘advice and consent.’ The advice here is, ‘Don’t put up a nominee when you’re only going to be the president, you’re a lame duck and you’re only going to be the president for 11 months.’”

We don’t think that refusing to even consider a Supreme Court nominee is what the founders had in mind when they gave the Senate the power of “advice and consent," which is why the GOP leadership’s decision to have the Senate do absolutely nothing in response to a Supreme Court nomination is unprecedented.

According to the Times article, Johnson has also taken to saying that Garland is “hostile” to the Second Amendment:

“Judge Merrick is hostile to your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” Mr. Johnson said in Pewaukee, using the judge’s first name. “So I am doing my job to protect the Second Amendment rights of Wisconsinites.”

Johnson’s use of the word “hostile” is no accident. The phrase “hostile to the Second Amendment” is what right-wing groups have settled on to describe Garland’s utterly benign record on gun rights. That’s the exact phrase that the National Rifle Association has been using in its effort to stir up opposition to Garland’s nomination. The “hostile” term seems to have come from an opposition research package put together by the Judicial Crisis Network, which in turn seems to have borrowed the phrase from a 2007 article in the NRA’s magazine.

We outlined last week why the Second Amendment “hostility” argument is bunk.

Senate Republicans seem to have ceded not only their governing, but the very words that come out of their mouths, to right-wing obstructionist groups.

Conservative Groups Double Down On SCOTUS Obstruction

After President Obama announced his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court today, conservative groups quickly doubled down on their calls for Senate Republicans to block any person the president nominates to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Although a handful of senators are now hinting that they may be willing to at least meet with Garland — who has won praise from Republicans in the past — conservative groups have reiterated their demands that the GOP block his nomination.

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice issued a statement repeating his call for “no confirmation proceedings until after the election.” Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver similarly repeated that there should be “no Senate hearing on any Obama nominee.” Concerned Women for America announced that “President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court does not change the fact that the Senate needs to continue to do the proper thing by fulfilling its role of ‘advice and consent’” — by which CWA means blocking a nominee.

Alliance Defending Freedom’s Casey Mattox offered no criticism of Garland himself but claimed that the Obama administration is untrustworthy and so Garland’s nomination should be blocked: “The Obama administration has demonstrated it cannot be trusted to respect the rule of law, the Constitution, and the limits of its own authority. So it should be no surprise that the American people would be highly skeptical that any nominee this president puts forth would be acceptable.”

Heritage Action, which was calling for an end to most judicial and executive branch confirmations even before Scalia’s death, declared that “nothing has changed” with the nomination of Garland and that we areone liberal Justice away from seeing gun rights restricted and partial birth abortion being considered a constitutional right.”

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council similarly tried to paint Garland as a liberal, saying he is “far from being a consensus nominee,” although he offered no specifics about the “serious questions” he said there were about Garland’s “ability to serve as a constitutionalist.” Kayla Moore, who heads the Foundation for Moral Law, the group founded by her husband Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, also opted for vague and dire warnings, saying that Americans “may very well lose our rights” if Garland is confirmed.

Anti-abortion groups also doubled down on their opposition to any confirmation proceedings, while at the same time struggling to find specific reasons to oppose Garland.

Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life didn’t bother to criticize Garland at all, writing instead that this is “no time for a lame duck President to push through a judge for a lifetime appointment.” (Never mind that Obama, with nearly a year left in his second term in office, is not a lame duck president.)

The Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser wrote:

This changes nothing. We do not know this nominee but we do know Barack Obama. Anyone he nominates will join the voting bloc on the Court that consistently upholds abortion on-demand. The President should not be permitted one last opportunity to stack the Court with pro-abortion Justices.

Meanwhile, Americans United for Life dug up this one unconvincing piece of opposition research:

Consider that Judge Garland spoke at a gathering celebrating Linda Greenhouse’s book on Justice Harry Blackmun, Becoming Justice Blackmun. He described the release of the papers of the late Justice Blackmun—the author of one of the Supreme Court’s worst decisions, Roe v. Wade—as a “great gift to the country.”

Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman said his group would oppose any nominee who does not publicly “renounce Roe v. Wade”:

"Millions of lives hang in the balance of each ruling on abortion put forth by the Supreme Court. I refuse to support any nominee - Republican or Democrat - that will not renounce Roe v. Wade and commit to restoring legal protections to the pre-born," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.



"I strongly urge the members of the Judiciary Committee to hold fast to their promise, for the sake of the future of our country and the future of our posterity," said Newman. "The Senate Republican leadership cannot afford to break this important promise to their conservative, pro-life base, if they expect us to vote for any of them ever again."

Gun groups also came out swinging against Garland, with the National Rifle Association claiming that he “ does not respect our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense” and Gun Owners of America colorfully calling on the Senate to “bury this nomination and write ‘Dead On Arrival’ as its epitaph.” Both groups based their objections on Garland’s vote, as a D.C. Circuit judge, simply to rehear an important gun rights case.

The Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Severino — who previously called Garland a “best case scenario” Obama nominee to the Supreme Court — has been relying on thesame flimsy criticism to attack Garland.

We’ll update this post with more reactions as they come in.

This post has been updated.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 2/26/16

  • Kim Davis has received the "Heroine of the Faith" award from the Bott Radio Network "for her faithful commitment to Christian values despite political and media opposition."
  • Rick McDaniel has a warning: "'Deadpool' is a wake-up call for the Church and followers of Christ. It may be just a movie but its popularity reveals much about our present culture. It is a sign of a sin-sick culture where evil is winning over good." 
  • Landon Schott says that "slave owners and traders were the ones originally on the wrong side of history. If we give in to affirming homosexuality, we will again be on the wrong side." 
  • In a surprising development, Glenn Beck thinks that a guy who totally agrees with Glenn Beck is a guy who "really gets it."
  • Finally, Jay Sekulow complains that Democrats "will try to make it look like the big bad Republicans are trying to stop President Obama's [Supreme Court] nominee." Um, maybe because that's exactly what Republicans are doing? 

Jay Sekulow: 'Advice And Consent' Means Telling Obama 'Don't Put Up A Nominee'

Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the conservative legal group American Center for Law and Justice, offered a creative interpretation of the Senate’s constitutional duty to provide “advice and consent” on presidential nominations today, saying that the “advice” the Senate should be offering President Obama is not to appoint anybody to the Supreme Court.

Jay Sekulow appeared with Pat Robertson, ACLJ’s founder, on “The 700 Club” this morning to discuss the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the resulting fight over his replacement on the court.

Robertson, sounding somewhat bewildered, noted that one potential Obama nominee for the vacancy, Judge Sri Srinivasan, “is an Indian, he actually was born in India,” concluding that “they shouldn’t rush somebody on” the court until the next president takes office.

Sekulow agreed that Senate Republicans should “just say no” to any Obama nominee.

“The Republicans need to say no,” he insisted. “It’s that simple. Just say no. That’s the way the rules are structured. The Senate has a role in this, the Constitution says ‘advice and consent.’ The advice here is, ‘Don’t put up a nominee when you’re only going to be the president, you’re a lame duck and you’re only going to be the president for 11 months.’”

As well as his questionable claim that Obama is a “lame duck” president months before an election has been held for his replacement, Sekulow falsely claimed that there “hasn’t been a confirmation when there’s been an appointment during an election year since 1880.”

Conservative Groups Circle The Wagons On SCOTUS Obstruction

When the news broke of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday, Republicans in the Senate almost immediately vowed to block the nomination of any person President Obama puts forward to fill the empty Supreme Court seat.

Conservative groups quickly followed suit, putting forward various rationales for keeping a Supreme Court seat open for more than a year in the hopes that a Republican is elected president in November.

Some of these activists made variations on the false claim that the Senate never confirms judicial nominees during election years. Others warned of dire consequences for America if the president is allowed a Supreme Court pick. One activist going so far as to claim that Scalia’s seat should be kept vacant in perpetuity until a Republican is elected president.

Conservative legal activist Ed Whelan said it would be “grossly irresponsible” to let Obama pick the next justice:

Senate Republicans would be grossly irresponsible to allow President Obama, in the last months of his presidency, to cement a liberal majority that will wreak havoc on the Constitution. Let the people decide in November who will select the next justice.

Whelan also told “Breitbart News Daily” that “we are at risk of really losing the Supreme Court and losing the Constitution.”

The American Center for Law and Justice ’s Jay Sekulow said that President Obama was perfectly free to nominate a conservative to replace Scalia:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley are both committed to letting the American people decide at the ballot box this November, letting our 45th President appoint Justice Scalia’s replacement. While President Obama remains free to appoint a conservative committed to upholding the Constitution as his replacement, he has given us no reason to believe he would.

So the American people should get to decide.

This is a prime opportunity for all branches of government to show that we still have a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network (formerly the Judicial Confirmation Network), said President Obama is the “last person” who should be nominating the next Supreme Court justice:

… This president, who has shown such contempt for the Constitution and the laws, is the last person who should be appointing his successor. The American people on both sides of the aisle are disgusted with the status quo in Washington and another nomination by this President would just bring about more of the same. The people’s voice should be heard in November to determine who will appoint the next Supreme Court Justice.”

Mat Staver, head of the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel (which represented Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and is now representing an anti-Planned Parenthood activist) declared that the “future of the Supreme Court and America” depends on the Senate blocking any Obama nominee:

“With the passing of Justice Scalia, the future of the High Court and the future of America is hanging in the balance. The Senate must not confirm any nominee to the Supreme Court from President Obama. The Senate must hold off any confirmation until the next President is seated. Unfortunately the presidential debates have been more theater and less substance about the real issues surrounding the Supreme Court. The election of the next President has now taken on even greater importance. The future of the Supreme Court and America now depends on the Senate blocking any nominee by President Obama and the people electing the right person to occupy the White House,” said Staver.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins echoed the call to hold Scalia's seat open:

"The Supreme Court has now become the centerpiece in this presidential election. There has not been an election-year nomination in generations and the Senate must not break that trend now. With the election only 269 days away, the people should decide what president should fill this seat," concluded Perkins.

As did the American Family Association’s Buddy Smith:

We cannot allow President Obama to replace him with a judicial activist. Activist judges have mangled the Constitution almost beyond recognition, and we cannot allow Justice Scalia to be replaced by a justice who will continue to shred the Constitution rather than protect it and uphold it.

While the Constitution gives the president the right to nominate Supreme Court justices, it also gives the Senate the right to reject them. The Constitution does not even require an unacceptable nominee be given a vote on the floor.

Americans United for Life’s Charmaine Yoest said, “His loss is tragic, and we hope that when it comes time for the Senate to vote on his replacement, that a worthy successor who can pick up his banner can be found after the election.”

Alan Sears, head of Alliance Defending Freedom, hedged his bets, saying that “it is unlikely that a new justice will be installed prior to the election of our next president.

Janet Porter of Faith 2 Action declared, “The best way to honor Justice Scalia’s legacy is to make sure there is no Obama nominee confirmed by the U.S. Senate.”

Troy Newman, head of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and a member of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, warned that if Obama were to nominate the next justice, America would become a “totalitarian government”:

"With the passing of the esteemed Justice Scalia, America stands at a crossroads. Will she choose the path of fascism or freedom? We are just one Obama appointee away from a totalitarian government. Two years ago, the GOP promised the American people that, if elected, they would thwart Obama's radical leftist agenda. This is the GOP's moment. Will it shine as a light for liberty in this dark moment or will that light be extinguished by political appeasement?" asked Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

John Zmirak, editor of James Robison’s website The Stream, went even further, saying that if the next president is a Democrat, a Republican Senate should still refuse to confirm any of their judicial nominees:

But they should go further. As long as Republicans control the Senate, there is no excuse for any pro-choice, anti-gun rights, anti-marriage justices to be confirmed to our highest court. If, God forbid, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton is elected, they should face a Republican Senate — or even a GOP minority — that will obstruct their every judicial appointment, even if it means leaving key seats on national benches empty, for years at a time. As justices retire or die, the court will simply grow smaller. Big deal. America will muddle through. This is the kind of implacable determination that defeated the solidly conservative Justice Bork and got us the muddled Anthony Kennedy — and Casey v. Planned Parenthood and Obergefell. It is time for that worm to turn.

Conservatives must drop the facade of high-minded bipartisanship, which only ever cuts to the left. The courts have staggering power to change our lives, and damage our country. They can kill our nation’s unborn babies, seize our guns and punish our churches. If GOP senators aren’t willing to fight long, hard and relentlessly to stop that from happening, we should find other senators who can, back them in the next primary election, and cripple the re-election of squishy moderate turncoats. A presidential candidate who appreciates all this will get my vote. And I think he’ll earn yours.

Jeb Bush Courts The Pat Robertson Vote

Televangelist Pat Robertson has invited presidential candidates to a series of candidate forums at Regent University, the school he founded and for which he still serves as dean.

The first to take him up on the invitation is Jeb Bush, who will speak later this month at a forum that will include an interview with Robertson and a session moderated by Jay Sekulow, the head of the Regent-affiliated American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Jay’s son, Jordan Sekulow, is the former executive director the ACLJ and is Bush’s liaison to the Religious Right.

While Robertson has said that he believes Bush and John Kasich should team up for a “dream ticket” in 2016, the former Florida governor should perhaps be wary of Robertson’s support, as the televangelist once assured Mitt Romney that God told him that he would defeat President Obama and have a successful two-term presidency.

There are also other reasons to be wary, as Robertson has built a career out of being one of the most intolerant voices in America.

Robertson has blamed gay people for natural disasters, a possible meteor strike, problems in the stock marketthe terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and America’s ultimate destruction.

He also believes that gay people wear special rings that cut people’s fingers in order to spread HIV/AIDS and compares them to terrorists, warning that they are carrying out a Satanic agenda.

The televangelist has even gone on record claiming that the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake was God’s judgment for a purported colonial-era pact between Haitians and Satan, that Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for legal abortion and that the dozens of deaths from tornadoes in 2013 were the result of a lack of prayer.

Bush may also want to freshen up on Robertson’s views on feminismevolutionpublic schools, yogaadoption and divorce.

Meet The Extremists Behind The Latest Attacks On Planned Parenthood

As the Senate prepares to vote this afternoon on a bill to strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood, People For the American Way has released a new report detailing the activists behind the latest round of attacks on the women’s health organization, their ideology and ultimate goals.

A group called the Center for Medical Progress has promised to release a dozen videos that it claims show that Planned Parenthood is “selling baby parts” for profit. That claim is easily debunked, but as PFAW details, the specific accusations are only part of the point:

The latest Planned Parenthood smear falls in a long line of attacks on the organization that have failed at proving any wrongdoing but succeeded at reinforcing long-held myths about the organization within the anti-choice movement. Previous attacks by activists related to the latest series of videos have made flimsy attempts to “prove” that Planned Parenthood targets people of color and harbors sex traffickers. Similarly, the latest attack hopes to reinforce the longstanding anti-choice myth that Planned Parenthood is a massive “industry” that preys on women for profit.

None of these specific claims have held up to the smallest amount of scrutiny, but that was never the point.

Instead, the Center for Medical Progress’ campaign is part of a long-running effort to undermine access to reproductive health care — including contraception, reproductive health screenings, sex education and legal abortion — by providing cover to legislators who want to dismantle women’s access to reproductive care.

The report also details the anti-choice activists behind the Center for Medical Progress, including Live Action’s Lila Rose, who has called for abortions to be performed “in the public square” and Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, who once publicly celebrated the death of an abortion provider. These activists, PFAW notes, want not only to criminalize abortion in the United States but to undermine access to contraception. In doing so, they are willing to cut off basic medical care for hundreds of thousands of women.

You can read the full report, “The Activists And Ideology Behind The Latest Attacks On Planned Parenthood,” here .

Tony Perkins Links HHS Contraception Mandate To Religious Persecution In Middle East

In testimony to a Senate subcommittee today, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins linked the Hobby Lobby contraception coverage case to violent religious persecution in the Middle East and around the world, repeating his claim that there is a “correlation” between perceived discrimination against conservative Christians in the U.S. and oppression and violence against religious minority groups by groups like ISIS.

As we noted yesterday, Perkins was a troubling choice to testify in an international religious freedom hearing because he routinely exploits the very real persecution of Christians and other religious minorities throughout the world to attack President Obama and the LGBT rights movement, who he claims are persecuting Christians in the United States by preventing them from discriminating against gay people.

Perkins picked up on the theme in his testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s foreign operations subcommittee, responding to a question from Sen. Steve Daines of Montana by claiming that U.S. policies like the HHS mandate on insurance coverage for contraceptives that was struck down by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case send a “message to bad actors abroad that America no longer puts a high priority on religious freedom.”

“The lack of priority on religious freedom that we have placed here domestically in our policies does send a message internationally,” he said. “I think there is a correlation between…the growing intolerance toward religious freedom here at home, i.e. in the marketplace, is giving rise to persecution abroad. And the reason I say that is when we no longer make it a priority domestically, that sends a message to bad actors abroad that America no longer puts a high priority on religious freedom, so we don’t have to worry about them acting against us or moving against us based on that.”

“I mean, you look at the case of the HHS mandate, the Hobby Lobby case, which had to go all the way to the Supreme Court in order to exercise their religious freedom under the Religious Freedom Act,” he added.

That was too much even for Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel to the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, who responded that while he agreed with Perkins that the contraception coverage mandate represented “religious discrimination,” it was “not on the same level as religious persecution where people are having their throats slit, being crucified or being beheaded.”

This isn’t the first time Perkins has made such an absurd claim: He once suggested that President Obama’s support for overturning the Citizens United decision is somehow connected to the violent persecution of Christians in countries like Sudan.

Earlier in his testimony, Perkins also claimed that the Obama administration had left open the position of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom for “36 months,” sending “a message that we did not put a priority as an administration, as a country on religious freedom.” The position was indeed left open for a little over two years at the start of President Obama’s first term…because then-Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican who now runs the Heritage Foundation, placed a hold on Obama’s first nominee for the job.

Pat Robertson: Prosecuting Bob McDonnell For Corruption Is 'Destroying This Nation'

Is Bob McDonnell the latest Religious Right “victim” of President Obama’s purported persecution of conservatives?

Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson and Jay Sekulow did their best to paint the former Republican governor of Virginia as the victim of a “political prosecution,” decrying his corruption trial as a “political witch hunt” spearheaded by Attorney General Eric Holder.

Robertson alleged, without any evidence, that Holder wanted to stop Mitt Romney from tapping McDonnell as his running mate in 2012 and is “behind all of this stuff.”

“It is just one more reason why this administration is just destroying this nation and destroying its own credibility.”

Both Robertson and Sekulow are close to McDonnell, who attended the televangelist’s CBN University (now Regent University), where he wrote his controversial thesis. McDonnell was a member of Regent University’s board of trustees and Robertson donated to his campaign.

ACLJ: Blasphemy Laws For Me, But Not For Thee?

Yesterday, Miranda reported on the seemingly contradictory views of the American Center for Law and Justice’s European and Slavic affiliates when it comes to blasphemy laws. The ECLJ has been vocal in opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, but the SCLJ supported passage of a new anti-blasphemy law in Russia. The law provides for fines, “correctional labor” and up to three years behind bars for “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers.” SCLJ’s co-chairman Vladimir Rehyakovsky expressed some reservations about the final form of the law, but said it was “very important” to have such a law in place.

So, where does the ACLJ stand on blasphemy laws?  On one hand, it is proud of its opposition in international forums like the United Nations to blasphemy laws that are used by Islamist governments to restrict religious expression.  In 2011, the ACLJ said the UN’s Human Rights Committee endorsed an ECLJ-backed position that “no right exists to protect the reputation of an ideology, rather human rights belongs to individuals.”

But more than a decade ago, in response to an “Ask Jay” question posted on the ACLJ’s website, the group’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, said it was “an unfortunate situation” that states no longer have laws against blasphemy, something he blamed on “the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people.”  Sekulow bemoaned the fact that “religion lacks protection in the law.”

Joe from Rhode Island asks: In Black’s classic law dictionary, blasphemy is illegal. When did it become legal to mock a person’s faith in God?

Jay answers: Black’s is the standard of legal definitions that law students are given around the country and Black’s is still cited in Supreme Court decisions. Not only in English common law but also in most states in the USA, blasphemy was prohibited speech. Clearly, the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people have changed that and that’s an unfortunate situation. But you’re absolutely correct, Black’s Law Dictionary is right. There are many definitions like that in Black’s, but religion lacks protection in the law. Not only is religion seen as irrelevant, but religion is trivialized and even mocked. This behavior has become an accepted part of who we are as a people and in some cases the Supreme Court hasn’t been particularly helpful in that context. The composition of the Supreme Court is obviously something we’re always watching because we know that with the more conservative court obviously some of our values will be more protected. Things have changed drastically if you look at our history, and it’s not even old history. Our country is still very young, but things are very different since our founding. We’re continuing to hope here at the American Center for Law and Justice that history will continue to change in a way that protects the rights of religious people across America. This is what we’re working toward. Selection of Supreme Court Justices is critical in the interpretation of these kinds of cases.

So it appears that the ACLJ is ready to champion free speech when it comes to opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, but supports restrictions on blasphemy in place where Christians are in the majority.  Perhaps that double standard is not much of a surprise, given that the ACLJ, which portrays itself as a champion of religious liberty, helped lead opposition to the construction of a Muslim community center in New York that critics inaccurately called the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

The ACLJ is a legal group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson and run by Jay Sekulow and his son Jordan in a manner that is very lucrative for the Sekulow family.

Religious Right 'Freedom And Liberty' Group ACLJ Backed Russian 'Gay Propaganda' And Blasphemy Bans

The American Center for Law and Justice, the group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson to be a right-wing counter to the American Civil Liberties Union, bills itself as a champion of the “ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.”

But the ACLJ – which has joined in the Religious Right chorus claiming that progressive policies are causing American Christians to lose their religious freedom – has never been so keen on the civil liberties of those with whom they disagree, especially in its work overseas. As we’ve noted in the past, the ACLJ led the fight to block the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in Manhattan and through its African affiliate has backed efforts to prevent legalized abortion in Kenya and to keep homosexuality illegal in Zimbabwe.

And in recent years, the ACLJ’s European and Russian branches have also supported key parts of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on gay rights and civil liberties, even as the group has served as a watchdog for Russia’s evangelical minority in the face of government persecution.

Both the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) and the Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ) affiliates voiced support for Russia’s 2013 gag order on gay-rights advocacy. In addition, following the 2012 Pussy Riot protest, the SCLJ called for a law criminalizing religious blasphemy. One of its leading attorneys then helped draft one proposed version of the law.

In 2012, the last year for which records are available, the ACLJ directed $300,000 to funding the SCLJ with the “goal of protecting religious rights and freedoms of individuals and associations in Russia.” Its bigger overseas project is the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), based in Strasbourg, France, to which it gave $1.1 million in 2012. The ACLJ’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, founded the SCLJ's overseas branches and serves as the chief counsel of the European affiliate. A handful of sources list him as the chief counsel of the Russian affiliate as well, although it is unclear if he still serves in that capacity.

The ACLJ did not respond to a request for comment on the work of its work in Russia.

Shortly after the feminist punk band Pussy Riot staged a protest at a Russian Orthodox cathedral – for which they were ultimately sentenced to two years in a penal colony for “hooliganism” – the SCLJ issued a press release endorsing the efforts of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, an Orthodox Church official, to criminalize blasphemy, which at the time was punishable by just a small fine. The press release argued that “seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health,” and recommending “harsh punishments” for people found guilty of blasphemy.

The press release called for Russian officials “to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.”

The cynical, blasphemous actions in the Church of Christ the Savior that took place this week aroused a broad public outcry. The participants of the women’s feminist punk group Pussy Riot ran into the church wearing masks and performed a blasphemous song with a political subtext right before the altar. They recorded the “performance” on video. Based on these recordings, a video clip was put together and posted on social networks, after which a flood of blasphemous and anti-church comments appeared online.

SCLJ recently raised the issue of the danger of dissemination through social networks of blasphemous information that insults the religious feelings of the faithful, at times openly inciting interreligious conflicts. Today we see that this concern is becoming even more acute and urgent. Criticism of certain religious views and beliefs is undoubtedly possible; however, insult and humiliation of the dignity of individuals who hold them or profess any religion is simply unacceptable.

The main problem is that the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation does not currently contain adequate penalties for such acts. The maximum punishment that can be brought down upon the participants in this blasphemous act at the Church of Christ the Savior is that they will be cited for an administrative offense and required to pay a small fine. However, the consequences of their activities may be very serious.

It should be noted that such cases are not rare. SCLJ staff members have often come upon similar situations in other regions of the country. Moreover, in many cases, seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health.

Law enforcement agencies typically respond to incidents of this nature by glossing over any anti-religious motives. No one wants crimes motivated by religious hatred and hostility. Therefore, officials strain to limit charges to “hooliganism” and sometimes refuse to open a criminal case at all.

In this regard, SCLJ supports the initiative of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.

In September of 2012, members of the Duma introduced a bill that would criminalize “insulting citizens’ religious views and feelings.”

Despite SCLJ’s initial call for an anti-blasphemy law, the group’s co-chair Vladimir Rhyakovsky was apparently not thrilled with the first draft of the law. Rhyakovsky, a member of Putin’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, joined with a fellow council member to propose a revised version of the bill that proposed more moderate penalties for violation and created “zoned” free speech areas, but also, disturbingly, would have made the definition of “insulting religious feeling” even vaguer to cover such beliefs as “patriotism” and “commitment to traditional values.”

In June, 2013, Putin signed the final version of the blasphemy ban. The Moscow Times summarized its provisions:

The blasphemy law will punish “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers,” with potential punishment of up to three years behind bars, fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($15,430), and compulsory correctional labor, Lenta.ru reported.

It also stipulates fines of 80,000-300,000 rubles and a prison term of up to three months for hindering the activities of religious organizations and preventing religious rites from being conducted.

A fine of over 200,000 rubles can be levied for deliberate destruction of religious or theological literature.

Ryakhovsky – speaking in his capacity as a member of the human rights council – said after the Duma passed the bill that while he felt that it was “very important” to pass such a law and acknowledged that some of the human rights council’s proposals had been adopted, he was still concerned that “the problem of legal ambiguity remains,” which could “lead to arbitrary application and interpretation of the law, and willful use of it by law enforcement agencies.”

“Whenever the law, and especially criminal law, contains room for arbitrary interpretation, it is fraught with negative consequences,” he said. “I believe that this law is better than the one that was originally proposed, but on the other hand – it is not what it should be.”

That an ACLJ affiliate advocated for a blasphemy law – even if its leader offered only tepid support for the final product – is especially unsettling given that the group has strongly opposed blasphemy bans in its work at the United Nations. In a comment to the UN’s human rights committee in 2011, the ECLJ urged the committee to adopt a strong condemnation of blasphemy laws, such as those in Islamist countries. “Blasphemy prohibitions and laws regarding the defamation of religions violate the very foundations of the human rights tradition by protecting ideas instead of the person who hold those ideas,” the ECLJ wrote in a memo cosigned by its director, Gregor Puppink.

“Freedom of expression includes the right to be controversial, insulting, or offensive, even when such expression targets ideas that are devoutly held beliefs,” the group added.

The SCLJ and its leaders may have had mixed feelings about the final version of the blasphemy ban, but they offered more enthusiastic praise to another bill that Putin signed the same day: a ban on the distribution of “gay propaganda” to minors, essentially a gag order on gay-rights advocacy.

After the Duma passed the “propaganda” ban, Ryakhovsky’s fellow SCLJ co-chairman, Anatoly Pchelintsev, told Voice of America that although he would “refine” parts of the bill, it addressed an important problem. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms,” he said.

Co-chair of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice Anatoly Pchelintsev told Voice of America that he believes there is such a thing as homosexual propaganda, and that it must be combated as much as possible. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms.”

However, Pchelintsev believes there is no need to apply the law in all cases, since it is primarily minors who need protection against homosexual propaganda. “Adults are capable of understanding what is good and what is bad,” added Pchelintsev.

Pchelintsev says that he shares the opinion of Sergei Nikitin about the necessity of refining some of the terminology used in the bill. “You have to know what “propaganda” is before banning it.”

Pchelintsev told another outlet that he was “very pleased” about the move toward adopting the law because LGBT people should be allowed to “live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life.”

“I’m against homosexual propaganda, especially among minors. I am for strong families, but in this case I admit that there may be some kind of anomaly, it’s difficult to say in what way exactly—psychological, biological, or something else, but the problem exists—there are people like this. And let them live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life,” believes the scientific director of the Institute for Religion and Law, lawyer Anatoly Pchelintsev. “So I’m very pleased about the adoption of this law on the federal level. The key will be that it works and guarantees some kind of punishment. In my view, citation for an administrative offense is sufficient, violations like this do not fall under the purview of criminal law.”

The ACLJ’s European affiliate also voiced support for the “propaganda” ban. In an essay last year, ECLJ’s director, Gregor Puppinck, wrote that the law was “intended to protect children from messages about LGBT practices” that portray homosexuality as “favorable to or equivalent to marital relationships.” He portrayed Russia’s suppression of gay rights as a beacon of hope to France and the rest of Western Europe, showing that the trend toward gay rights is “strong, but not inevitable.”

ECLJ has worked closely with a number of French groups that have been touting Putin’s social conservative crackdown as a model for Europe. Last month, Puppinck joined a delegation of French activists in a visit to Russia to meet with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and members of parliament to discuss partnering in “protecting traditional values.”

Although participants in the meeting said that they avoided foreign policy subjects, the visit by the delegation just a few weeks after Russia’s seizure of Crimea provoked some controversy in France, including criticism from a French Catholic leader who said, “If they think that Russia protects human rights, they should go for a tour of Crimea.” The magazine Nouvel Observateur accused the delegation of endorsing Putin’s propaganda of “Russia as a paradise of Christian values.”

In response to the Nouvel Observateur piece the president of the leading French anti-gay group Manif Pour Tous denied that anybody of authority in her group had participated.

But the ECLJ was far from shy about its own participation. According to the Russian Orthodox Church’s representative in Strasbourg, it was Puppinck who requested that he organize the delegation of French activists who support “the traditional concept of the family and oppose abortion, euthanasia, etc.”

We haven’t been able to find any detailed accounts of the visit, but one member of the delegation, the Russian Orthodox church’s representative in Strasbourg, repeated the idea of Russia as the moral protectors of Europe. “Russia is a unique country in Europe,” said Abbot Philip Rybykh. “It seeks to protect the natural order of life, and not the various deviations from it.”

Another report notes that the delegates reached the conclusion that “Western societies would do well to emulate” Russia’s “religious awakening.”

Puppinck reportedly said during the visit that he was “very impressed” by Russia’s newly established “moral” policies, specifically citing the drop in the country’s abortion rate. Russia’s anti-gay policies and protecting Europe from the “contagion” of gay rights were also reportedly objects of discussion.

GOP Congressmen Jump On Phony Internet Scandal

Even though the right-wing conspiracy theory about President Obama handing over control of the Internet to foreign powers has been completely discredited, the myth continues to survive among conservative activists and Republicans in Congress, who have seized upon the debunked claim to attack the Obama administration.

WorldNetDaily reports today that Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice, one of the chief groups pushing the false attack, has garnered over 100,000 signatures on its petition demanding Congress take action against the phony scandal.

GOP congressmen are more than happy to help. Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois told WND that Obama is helping “authoritarian governments” push “their anti-freedom agendas” on the Internet, while Tennessee’s Rep. Marsha Blackburn warned that Obama’s move “will allow countries like China and Russia that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech to better define how the Internet looks and operates.”

As we’ve noted before, the Obama administration actually turned down requests from China and Russia to give Internet oversight to a United Nations-led panel and instead completed a sixteen year plan to relinquish oversight to a non-profit backed by the US Department of Commerce.

But Republicans and right-wing activists don’t seemed to be bothered by the fact that the administration’s decision actually represented a rebuke to countries like Russia and China, and are more than happy to gin up fears that Obama is paving the way for the censorship of the Internet.

It took just days for more than 113,000 people to sign a petition by the American Center for Law and Justice opposing the plan.

Members of Congress confirmed that in just the past few weeks, some of the possible members of the multinational body — including Russia, Turkey, China and Malaysia — either have censored the Internet in their own nations or vowed to do it.

“This isn’t a theoretical debate,” warned Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., one of several lawmakers working on one of the legislative plans.

He’s joined by Reps. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

“There are real authoritarian governments in the world today who have no tolerance for the free flow of information and ideas,” Shimkus said. “What possible benefit could come from giving the Vladimir Putins of the world a new venue to push their anti-freedom agendas?”



“This decision represents another hostile step by the administration on the heels of net neutrality and the FCC’s CIN Study that threatens our freedom of speech. Giving up control of ICANN will allow countries like China and Russia that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech to better define how the Internet looks and operates,” she warned.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which organized the petition effort, said the Obama administration is pushing into dangerous territory.

“This move would put the online liberty of Americans at great risk,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “By turning over this key oversight to an international community – which is likely to include countries hostile to America – the world’s most powerful instrument of free speech would be subject to censorship, could be taxed, and would make it easier for cyber-fraud schemes to expand in countries around the globe.”

Sekulow said the “success and freedom of the Internet would be in grave jeopardy if the Obama administration is allowed to carry through with its plan to turn over control of the Internet to a ‘multinational’ body.”

“Free speech is at the core of our Constitution. We’re working with members of Congress on legislation to keep the Internet – and our free speech – free,” he said.

Jay Sekulow Touts Phony Internet Scandal, Claims It Will 'Censor The Church'

As we have noted several times, right-wing groups are falsely claiming that the Obama administration has relinquished control of the Internet to a United Nations-controlled group. In fact, quite the opposite is true: Politico reports that the administration rebuffed calls from Russia and China to give authority to the United Nations-led International Telecommunication Union, and instead completed a sixteen year transition of Internet oversight to a US-backed nonprofit.

Naturally, Obama critics are now alleging that the president did the opposite of what actually occurred and handed over authority to the UN body.

Religious Right leader Jay Sekulow today emailed members of the American Center for Law and Justice to warn that “the President wants to hand over control of the Internet to a multinational group, including corrupt dictatorships in China, Russia, and Iran,” warning that the move could “mean censoring the Church if it reaches out to Islamic lands” and “exposing our own computers to greater risk of fraud and other cybercrimes.”

So there you have it: the Obama administration rejects efforts to relinquish Internet oversight to the UN, and conservative activists decide to attack him anyway by falsely claiming that he did the exact opposite of what he did.

There is simply no excuse for the Obama Administration’s latest move.

The President wants to hand over control of the Internet to a multinational group, including corrupt dictatorships in China, Russia, and Iran.

Why?

China, Russia, and Iran have all signaled they want greater control over the Internet, including control over what we see and write.

Does this mean censoring the Church if it reaches out to Islamic lands?

Does this mean exposing our own computers to greater risk of fraud and other cybercrimes?

America has kept the Internet free for a generation; let’s keep it free. Stand with the ACLJ and stand against the Obama Administration’s latest attack on your liberty.

No, Obama Hasn't Handed Over The Internet To China And Islamists

Need more proof that right-wing activists will keep pushing their conspiracy theories even after they have been thoroughly and decisively debunked?

Take the case of the recent announcement that the federal government will relinquish oversight of the Internet to a US-backed nonprofit, which has prompted conservatives to claim that the United Nations, China, and Islamic governments will now seize control of the Internet. As it turns out, the transition has been in the making for 16 years and actually stifles attempts to increase the authority of the UN-led International Telecommunication Union.

In spite of these facts, right-wing activists are now arguing that the exact opposite is happening.

Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice today unveiled a misleading petition suggesting that the UN will take control of the Internet.

The Obama Administration is giving up American control over the Internet, handing over its most important technical functions to a “multinational” body – perhaps even the U.N.

But do we want Russia or China influencing whether we can create websites? Do we want the U.N. controlling key aspects of the world’s most powerful mode of communication – our free speech?

America has kept the Internet free. Don’t let our nation sign over our freedom to dictators.

Dear President Obama and Members of Congress,

America has kept the Internet free for decades. There is no reason to trust that dictators from Russia and China will protect our freedoms. Maintain American control and protect our online liberty.

ACT! for America, Brigitte Gabriel’s anti-Muslim group, released an even more frantic and deceptive response to the announcement, warning that the administration’s move will lead to the imposition of Sharia law on the Internet.

“Our founding fathers are turning in their grave!” the group said about the Internet oversight transition. “The truth cannot be silenced!”

WE MUST EXPOSE THIS OUTRAGE

Once again President Obama is putting you and your family at risk by giving power to the United Nations (UN) to control the Internet and muzzle YOUR freedom of speech, putting you at a risk of legal action just for expressing your view on the Internet!

If you’re a politician in Washington, and you want to bury bad news, you release an announcement late on Friday afternoon.

On Friday, March 14th, at 3:30pm, the Obama administration announced that America was surrendering control to the UN over key aspects of the Internet (control that America had because we built it in the first place).

Unfortunately, the largest voting bloc in the UN is the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a Saudi-dominated bloc of 57 nations that has waged an aggressive campaign against free speech, freedom of the press and free expression.

For an American president to betray the American public, our founding fathers, our Constitution, and throw our freedom of speech at the feet of tyrants to decide what we can and cannot say under the threat of a law suit for hate crime is unconscionable – shameful – reckless and stretches the boundaries of betrayal.

Our founding fathers are turning in their grave!

We at ACT! For America believe that truth is invincible. The truth cannot be silenced! We believe that if we can reach enough people with our message in defense of our security, our liberty and our values, America will prevail over those who want to destroy our way of life.



We know that the Jihadists not only have our country, our values and our citizens in their crosshairs, but the truth itself. And Jihad is based on the belief that the truth must be hidden, bent and broken.

It is disturbing and chilling that the Obama administration could allow the OIC, along with the Shariah doctrine to which it adheres, to suppress free speech on a global basis via control of the Internet.

Up to now, American oversight of the Internet has ensured that it has run with efficiency and openness, without political pressure.

Authoritarian governments, such as those in Saudi Arabia and Iran, have already been working to control the Internet and now they will no doubt move to fill the power vacuum caused by America's unilateral retreat.

In the future, domains could be banned and new ones not approved for groups deemed undesirable by the OIC or its members.

Let us never forget all that our founding fathers sacrificed so that we can enjoy the democratic freedoms we have today. Let us not forget how so many of them gave their lives for this and that many of them died destitute. They were willing to give everything they had. We cannot let them down. We must stand up, fight this, and inform Americans about what our president has just done. Please help us get this message out by following this link right away to make the most generous tax deductible donation you can afford.

Barbaric regimes from Khartoum to Tehran, and Damascus to Riyadh, have cut off their own citizens' Internet access in the past, but they have been unable to undermine general access to the Internet, where no one needs any government's permission to launch a website. This hallmark of Internet freedom is now endangered.

Dictators and tyrants, who have always silenced their critics and suppressed independent media, have long had a goal of “international” control over the Internet. Now the stage is set for them to achieve that goal.

UN members have called for a UN agency called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to replace America’s authority and challenge an open Internet. One critic calls the ITU “the chosen vehicle for regimes for whom the free and open Internet is seen as an existential threat.”



ACT! For America isn’t going to take this lying down. If the Internet is silenced, liberty will be silenced. If those who oppose tyranny are prevented from delivering their message, it is the same as being bound and gagged.

We must continue to confront the enemies of freedom at home and abroad.

Beck: America Is 'The Stink On The Crap Pile'

Last night's Glenn Beck program was a cavalcade of insanity, even by the generally insane standards of Beck's nightly program, as he spent most of the show railing against Common Core and ginning up outrage over the FCC's non-existent plans to place "monitors" in newsrooms all over the nation.  Beck even had the ALCJ's Jay Sekulow on the show to warn that this FCC study represents "the greatest assault on free press that we've seen in my lifetime" before turning his attention to the crisis in Ukraine in order to warn his audience that it is only a matter of time before what is happening there starts happening in cities all over America.

As he explained in this clip from one of his daily staff meetings, America is actually fortunate that, right now, we are just "the stink on the crap pile" because that gives us a little bit of time to prepare before our society and the entire world go up in flames.

Beck then somehow linked that to his obsession with the FCC study, warning that the government would use monitors to prevent news outlets from reporting the news that Americans need to know, crying out "don't you see? How can people be so stupid? Don't they see they are closing the noose around you?"

Sekulow Admits He Has No Problem With The DC Circuit Nominees He Opposes

On the 700 Club today, Pat Robertson got to talking with the American Center for Law and Justice’s Jay Sekulow about President Obama’s three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court. Although Robertson was concerned that there might be a “feminist”among them, Sekulow said he had no problem with the nominees themselves and instead repeated the GOP’s flimsy argument that President Obama’s nominating people to judicial vacancies constitutes “court-packing.”

Sekulow went out of his way to sing the praises of one of the three nominees, Patricia Millett, whom he called “a very bright lawyer,” but said the nominees’ qualifications are “not the question. The question is are these judges needed?”

Sekulow – like many of his allies in the Senate GOP – might want to check his own record before claiming that President Obama’s filling the D.C. Circuit’s vacant 9th, 10th, and 11th seats amounts to “court packing.” Under President Bush, Sekulow advocated for nominees to the very same seats: He boasted about “working aggressively” to confirm Janice Rogers Brown to the court’s 10th seat in 2005, supported Thomas Griffith’s nomination to the court’s 11th seat the same year, and demanded a vote on Brett Kavanaugh to the 10th seat in 2006.

Despite Sekulow’s vague claim that “There’s a real question as to the workload of these courts that are at an all-time low in the last ten or fifteen years,” the George W. Bush nominee who now runs the official body that recommends adding and subtracting federal judgeships has said the D.C. Circuit’s workload has remained “relatively steady” over that time.

Sekulow may also remember that he lobbied in 2005 to change the Senate’s filibuster rules in response to Senate Democrats’ blocking of a handful of extreme Bush nominees, saying that judicial nominees are “entitled...under the Constitution” to an up-or-down Senate vote.

Although he’s happy to rail against President Obama’s temerity in nominating qualified, unobjectionable judges to judicial vacancies, Sekulow signaled to Robertson that he would expect a Republican president to do the same, but to fill the vacancies with out-of-the-mainstream judges.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” he said of the Senate’s recent rules change. “And it means what’s going to happen here is when the Republicans are back in control -- which will happen one day, in the Senate, in the White House – look out on who’s going to be appointed. There should be no holds barred on these judicial appointments.”

 

Pat Robertson on Justice Kennedy: 'Does He Have Some Clerks Who Happen To Be Gays?'

Pat Robertson is wondering if Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion on the case striking down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act, may have been influenced by his sneaky gay clerks. Robertson’s remarks followed a totally impartial 700 Club news segment where Christian Broadcasting Network reporter Paul Strand said that gay rights advocates have “bashed” Christians and the Supreme Court “denigrated” marriage equality opponents.

While speaking to acolyte Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, which Robertson founded, the televangelist said: “let me ask you about Anthony Kennedy, does he have some clerks who happen to be gays?”

Following the wrongheaded talking points of other anti-gay activists, Robertson called into question the sexual orientation of district judge Vaughn Walker who was the first to rule on Prop. 8: “going into California, I understand the district court judge there either was an advocate of homosexual activity, or was a homosexual, or had a wife, some connection.” Sekulow agreed that the judge was biased and said that “there was a real controversy because the judge’s sexual orientation became, unfortunately, part of the case.”

Watch highlights here:

Oops: Five Conservative IRS Conspiracy Theories Fall Apart

Just as the GOP’s hyperventilation and grandstanding over Benghazi turned up empty, so are their claims that the IRS has been targeting right-wing groups. New reports show that the IRS did apply extra scrutiny to groups with phrases like “Tea Party” in their names…but the agency also applied the same scrutiny to groups with “progressive” or “occupy” in their titles. This backs up an earlier story from The Atlantic which also found that liberal groups had been targeted.

Prior to these revelations, we learned that the White House had no role in the supposed targeting and that the IRS manager accused of political bias is a conservative Republican.

But for some reason we don’t think this will stop right-wing activists from alleging that President Obama directed the IRS to go after political opponents as part of his plans to create an all-powerful, totalitarian government.

The IRS story has made its way into five right-wing conspiracy theories that we don’t expect to go away any time soon, despite being totally ungrounded in reality.

1) IRS May Deny Medical Care To Conservatives

Rep. Michele Bachmann led the way in giving credence to a claim that the IRS, through Obamacare, might attempt to “deny or delay” access to medical care for conservatives. After embracing the WorldNetDaily-inspired conspiracy theory, she told Fox News that the IRS may deny or delay health care “based upon our political beliefs.” Even Rand Paul latched onto the debunked conspiracy theory.

Right on cue, James Dobson’s son Ryan alleged that his father may be denied medical treatments under Obamacare, and Janet Porter said that the IRS may use the reform law to “target individuals on whether or not they have the ability to exist as a live human being” by denying people “lifesaving treatment” based on their “political views.”

2) Obama’s The New Hitler

Glenn Beck reacted to the IRS story by warning that the government could “shut down” and “scoop up” Tea Party members much like how Adolf Hitler persecuted Jews. “This is the way totalitarian states are created,” Beck argued. “We will be remembered as the most evil nation in the history of the world, we will dwarf what Germany did.”

World Congress of Families spokesman Don Feder agreed, maintaining that “Concentration Camp Obama” may “shove you in a cattle car” and take you “‘camping’ in a very real sense” if you are part of the conservative movement, all by “using the IRS as a presidential goon squad.” Todd Starnes of Fox News even pointed to the IRS controversy to claim that conservatives “could be facing a 1930s Germany here,” while End Times radio host Rick Wiles used the IRS as proof that Obama is leading a “modern day Nazi regime” and the “Fourth Reich.”

3) Obama Committed Impeachable Offenses

Naturally, right-wing activists brought impeachment into the debate over the IRS. Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said Obama may face the same impeachment charges as Richard Nixon as a result of the “misuse and abuse of the IRS.” Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly said that the “IRS scandal is much worse than Watergate” and agreed that “there are many reasons why Obama should be impeached.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry similarly drew a comparison to Nixon and said that the “scandal” may “reach the level of criminal activity” and reveal “a pattern of abuse of power.” Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner went even further and asserted that Obama is “ worse than Nixon” and added it to his long list of supposedly impeachable offenses, while Alan Keyes demanded that the GOP’s “cry should be ‘IMPEACHMENT NOW!’” Not to be outdone, Glenn Beck argued that “if there aren’t impeachment hearings” then America is “already operating under tyranny.”

4) Obama Would Have Lost If It Wasn’t For The IRS

Even though conservative outside groups greatly outspent their left-leaning counterparts in the last election, the IRS controversy has led some to allege that conservatives groups were not allowed to get off the ground and that must have been why Obama won his race for re-election.

Janet Porter reasoned that “the elections were affected” because “every Tea Party group and every conservative group…weren’t allowed to exist” or “inform their members of what’s going on and what’s at stake.” John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, a champion of suppressive voter ID laws and voter purges, told Fox News that “the real voter suppression in the 2012 election was done at the IRS” and “suppressed the vote” to the point that it “may have played a role in the outcome of that very close election.”

The American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis even made the dubious claim that 5-8.5 million voters didn’t vote last year due to IRS actions. Dean Chambers, whose “unskewed” polls predicted Obama’s defeat, claimed he was right all along, alleging that the “systematic and wide-scale suppression of Tea Party and conservative activity and votes, via the IRS targeting of those groups” had “clearly denied Mitt Romney the election that [he] clearly would have won by about the very margin I predicted on November 5 of last year.”

5) Demonic Forces Behind IRS Scandal

Larry Klayman said that “felonious liberal Jews” have used the IRS to attack conservatives to undermine “our proud Judeo-Christian roots and heritage,” but televangelist James Robison took it one step further, arguing that “Satan himself” had a role: “He and his demonic forces are fiercely focusing their fury against God’s kingdom purpose and anyone committed to it. What you are witnessing daily in news reports concerning Washington’s bad practices and policies related to the gross abuse of power by the IRS, along with unconstitutional checks on the free press, reveals satanic intent to take away freedom.” Rick Wiles also saw a demonic role in the IRS pseudo-scandal, stating that the IRS is creating the “Fourth Beat as foretold by Daniel in the Holy Bible.”

Pat Robertson on Obama's Victory: 'What is Going On with the American People?'

The Christian Broadcasting Network put on an election night special and host Pat Robertson appeared to be dumbfounded that President Obama won re-election. Robertson’s guests included Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, Regent University vice president Paul Bonicelli and Romney adviser Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, the legal group Robertson founded. Barnes reassured Robertson that even if Obama wins, the President “hardly has a mandate for anything” because “this was a status quo election,” as apparently Barnes thinks any incumbent who gets re-elected doesn’t have a mandate. But Sekulow said that Obama will likely appoint two or three justices to the Supreme Court and will use the power of the executive branch to push new “encroachments on liberty and freedom.”

Robertson, who throughout the program held out hope that Karl Rove’s prediction that Romney could win Ohio would materialize, was stunned that Obama was the winner: “What have they got? He doesn’t seem to have any program and yet he’s been able to win a re-election, what is going on with the American people?” Bonicelli said that Americans will spend their next four years “regretting this decision” and Robertson warned that the U.S. is looking more like Western Europe and even Zaire.

Watch highlights here:

Of course, Robertson should not have been surprised since earlier this year God told him who would win the election.

Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious