Warning against the “homosexual agenda,” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins introduced Mitt and Ann Romney and lauded the former Massachusetts governor for understanding “the threat that this imposes to our nation.”
Romney condemned people, especially activist judges, whom he accused of “trying to establish one religion, the religion of secularism” and “reject traditional values” and “reject the values of our Founders.”
“Here in Massachusetts, activist judges struck a blow to the foundation of civilization—the family—they ruled that our constitution requires people of the same gender to marry,” Romney said. “The principal burden of this court’s ruling doesn’t fall on adults, it falls on children.” He continued, “The price of same-sex marriage is paid by the children, our fight for marriage then should focus then on the needs of children, not the rights of adults.”
Romney called for the adoption of a Federal Marriage Amendment to block the “spreading secular religion and its substitute values” that he said “weaken the foundation of the family” and dishonor the Founders.
Other speakers included Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, American Family Association president Don Wildmon, and preacher Wellington Boone, who reminisced about the time when sodomy was a capital offense in America, joked about “sodomite island,” and said the push for LGBT rights represents the “rape of the civil rights movement.”
As Josh noted in the previous post, Mitt Romney will be delivering the commencement address tomorrow at Liberty University, the ultra-fundamentalist university founded by the late Jerry Falwell. But what many people may not realize is that Liberty U is also the home of some of the most militant anti-gay activists operating today, who are on staff at Liberty U while simultaneously working for the affiliated Liberty Counsel.
In fact, the two are so intertwined that Mat Staver serves as both Dean of the Liberty U Law School and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, while Rena Lindevaldsen, LU's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Matt Barber, LU's Associate Dean for Career and Professional Development, Shawn Akers, Dean of LU's Helms School of Government, and Deryl Edwards, LU's Director of Institutional Advancement, all hold positions with Liberty Counsel as well.
For years, Liberty Counsel has been at the center of a custody case involving Lisa Miller, an "ex-gay" woman who kidnapped her daughter and fled the country rather than abide by court-ordered custody arrangements with her former partner. Rena Lindevaldsen was Miller's attorney and even wrote a book about the saga while Liberty Counsel continues to insist that it has no knowledge of Miller's whereabouts, despite the fact that she was reportedly living at a home in Nicaragua owned by the father of an administrative assistant working for Staver at Liberty U Law School. Furthermore, Liberty U also taught a class based on the Miller case in which students were reportedly instructed that the "right" thing for a lawyer to do in a case such as this would be to counsel their client that they have an obligation to ignore the law and court orders and instead engage in "civil disobedience" in order to uphold God's law.
While Staver may be the head of Liberty Counsel with a penchant for issuing warnings that President Obama seeks to become a global dictator, his rhetoric pales in comparison to Matt Baber who, in addition to serving as an instructor at Liberty U's Law School, also happens to be one of the most viciously anti-gay bigots operating today, as demonstrated by his view that homosexuality is nothing more than “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’”
Just in recent months, Barber has said that marriage equality mocks God and desecrates the Church, declared that the Defense of Marriage Act is necessary to prevent children from becoming gay and getting AIDS, said that gay teens commit suicide because they "know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, [and] immoral," proclaimed gay adoption to be "tragic," "unconscionable," and "reprehensible," and warned that gay activists are seeking to poison the minds of children and are "running interference for the pedophile movement."
But it is not just gays whom Barber attacks on a regular basis, but liberals in general, whom he claims are driven by a hatred of God and are working with radical Islamists to destroy Christianity. He has said that the Obama administration's contraception mandate was no different than being forced to kill your family and that those who support reproductive choice are literally no different than the Nazis. In fact, Barber thinks the Left in general are nothing but a bunch of bullies who just need to be punched in the mouth.
Last year, when Romney spoke at the Values Voter Summit, he publicly called out the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer for his bigotry and declared that "poisonous language does not advance our cause."
Will Romney have the courage this weekend to likewise take a stand against the "poisonous language" and bigotry regularly displayed by the staff at Liberty University/Liberty Counsel?
[This is part of a series of posts on Liberty University's student handbook, “The Liberty Way,” which governs what students can say, do, read, and watch – both on and off campus – and sets out a regimen of reprimands and fines for violators]
Liberty University is all about freedom – the freedom to do, think and say exactly what Jerry Falwell would want you to do, think and say, and nothing else. Accordingly, students cannot participate in demonstrations, petitioning, picketing, or literature distribution on campus without the express approval of the administration. Students can also be restricted or prohibited from participating in such activities off campus if they are deemed to be in violation of the school’s principles and policies.
Here’s the relevant section for the Liberty Way:
Demonstrations, Petitions and Picketing
Student participation in on-campus demonstrations, petitions or picketing is prohibited unless approved by Liberty University administration. The administration may also prohibit or restrict student participation in demonstrations, petitions or picketing at places other than on campus, where such participation would contradict or otherwise compromise the principles and policies of Liberty University.
Distribution of Literature
Distribution of literature is permitted on campus only when prior administrative approval has been secured from the Student Life Office or University Services. Distribution of literature in the residence halls requires written approval from the Residence Life Office.
Violations of these policies are punished accordingly:
12 Reprimands + $50.00 Fine
Participation in an unauthorized petition or demonstration
Liberty administrators also restrict what students are free to read. Last year the school banned students from accessing the local Lyncburg newspaper, the News & Advance, after it reported on the half-billion dollars that the school received in 2010 from the federal government, which runs counter to the school’s anti-government ideology.
This is behavior I expect from a Chinese university, not an American one. But that’s the Liberty Way.
Mitt Romney will give the commencement address tomorrow at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Liberty, founded in 1971 as the Lynchburg Baptist College, is best known as the pet project of televangelist Jerry Falwell. Falwell created the university as a training ground for successive leaders of the Religious Right, and the curriculum is tightly controlled to advance an uncompromising right-wing outlook. But that’s not all.
The university also has an all-encompassing code of conduct, called “The Liberty Way,” which governs what students can say, do, read, and watch – both on and off campus – and sets out a regimen of reprimands and fines for violators.
When the university banned a student Democratic club in 2009, the outside world got a taste of student life at Liberty. But to fully grasp the mindset of Liberty administrators, and get a sense of what life would be like in an America run by the Religious Right, you need to look inside the Liberty Way handbook.
There is no question that Bryan Fischer played a key role in the resignation of Richard Grenell from his position with Mitt Romney's campaign, as Fischer had beenrelentlesslyattacking the campaign for having hired an openly gay man to serve as foreign policy and national security spokesman.
And when Grenell finally resigned, Fischer declared it to be a "huge win," saying that the Religious Right had taught Romney a lesson and that the campaign would not make this sort of "mistake again."
And then on Friday, Fischer capped off the crusade by essentially mocking Romney for having caved on this issue to "a yokel like me," saying that his handling of the Grenell situation was now raising questions about Romney's leadership abilities since it showed that he could be "pushed around, intimidated, coerced, co-opted by a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America."
But apparently Fischer has since realized that demanding concessions from politicians and then mocking those politicians when then make the very concessions that you demanded might be somewhat hypocritical ... and so yesterday Fischer offered an amazingly back-handed "apology" to Romney, saying that even though the entire fiasco demonstrated Romney's weakness and utter lack of core values, he still deserves credit for having done the right thing in letting Grenell go:
I want to issue what amounts to sort of an apology to Gov. Romney. I was pretty hard on him on Friday and my point on Friday was his waffling when conservatives raised a concern about Richard Grenell - he went silent, he put a bag over Richard Grenell's head, let him fall on his sword, only said supportive things to Richard Grenell after he had resigned - it was an indication of the challenges that we have with Gov. Romney, that he does not seem to have a core set of principles, a core set of values by which he guides himself. And the fact that he could be so - I used the word intimidated or coerced or whatever - could be so influenced by a comparatively small number of conservatives ... and so I think it was illustrative of Gov. Romney's weaknesses and things that we've got to be concerned about.
But, at the end of the day, I didn't make enough of the fact that he did the right thing here. Now, regardless of why he did it - most likely, it was for reasons that are politically expedient - but he did the right thing. He allowed this resignation to take place, probably had some hand in bringing it about; I cannot believe that they were entirely passive in that. But here's the point: at the end of the day, Richard Grenell had stepped down, this homosexual activist, this crusader for gay marriage had stepped down and Romney could have taken a different tack. So I want to give Romney credit for doing that. Now, you'd like to know that he did it on the grounds of principle and conviction and all that - I believe that would kind of be a bridge too far - but nevertheless, Gov. Romney did the thing that he should have done.
While the Romney campaign attempted to deny that right-wing pressure led to the spokesman's resignation, news reports suggested that that is exactly what happened.
But Romney's effort to appease the anti-gay right didn't even work. Right Wing Watch caught a clip of the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, the leading critic of the candidate's decision to hire an openly gay spokesperson, criticizing Romney for listening to him. "How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me?" Fischer demanded.
Earlier this week, Lawrence O'Donnell played and discussed the Fischer clip on his show. Watch:
The Republican National Committee’s Hispanic Outreach Director Bettina Inclan sparked a mini-firestorm today when she told reporters that she could not comment on Romney’s immigration positions because “he’s still deciding what his position on immigration is.” She later tried to clean up the mess by tweeting that she was mistaken, and that his position was clear, linking to his website.
Unfortunately for Romney and for the RNC’s Hispanic outreach, his position is all too clear: he opposes not only “amnesty” but all “magnets” – such as the DREAM Act or in-state tuition for students whose parents brought them here as children. Romney has backed legislation, like Arizona’s, that has the goal of making life for undocumented immigrants so miserable that they will choose to “self-deport.” That’s a bit much even for some right-wing activists, including some of those at the Freedom Federation’s recent Awakening conference in Orlando, Florida, where one speaker called the “self-deportation” approach “cruel” and “unbiblical” and where the Southern Baptists’ Richard Land called the GOP’s positions on immigration policy “dismal” and “indefensible.”
American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer poked fun at Mitt Romney today on Focal Point following the resignation of Richard Grenell, an openly gay Romney spokesman on security issues who Fischer and other Religious Right leaders wanted ousted from the campaign. Anti-gay activists celebrated news of Grenell’s resignation as a “huge win,” and the New York Times reported that one Republican adviser claimed the campaign offered no defense of Grenell because “they didn’t want to confront the religious right.”
Today, Fischer asserted that Romney shouldn’t expect voters to trust him to confront China, Russia or North Korea if he cannot stand up to “a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America.” “I don’t think for one minute that Mitt Romney did not want this guy gone,” Fischer continued, “he wanted this guy gone because there was not one word of defense, not a peep, from the Romney camp to defend him.”
Fischer: Let me ask you this question, people have raised this question, if Mitt Romney can be pushed around, intimidated, coerced, coopted by a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America, then how is he going to stand up to the Chinese? How is he going to stand up to Putin? How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me? I don’t think Romney is realizing the doubts that this begins to raise about his leadership. I don’t think for one minute that Mitt Romney did not want this guy gone; he wanted this guy gone because there was not one word of defense, not a peep, from the Romney camp to defend him. They just went absolutely stone cold silent, they put a bag over Grenell’s head, they even asked him to organize this phone conference and they didn’t even let him speak at the conference that he organized.
Following the resignation of openly gay Romney campaign foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell, who was roundlycriticizedbyconservativeactivists for his sexual orientation, the Romney campaign has tried to spin the issue by saying that his resignation had nothing to do with him being gay. However, the campaign told him to keep quiet on a major foreign policy call with reporters and never defended him from the attacks. When Grenell announced his resignation he noted, “My ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign.”
As one Republican adviser told the New York Times that while campaign staffers didn’t see Grenell’s sexual orientation as an issue, “they didn’t want to confront the religious right.”
After Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association called Grenell’s resignation a “huge win” for the Religious Right, he later wrote that since Romney is partial to “political convenience” over “political conviction,” conservatives must keep up the pressure on him “since the governor has demonstrated in the Grenell affair that he is maneuverable”:
So Romney went the full Etch-A-Sketch on us twice. He campaigned in the primary as a champion of natural marriage. Then as soon as he locked up the nomination, he shook the tablet clean and hired a same-sex marriage zealot as his spokesman. Then when the windsock shifted directions again, he shook the tablet once more and all traces of Richard Grenell disappeared. If the governor is not careful, he's going to sprain his wrist one of these days shaking that thing.
Gov. Romney is a politician rather than a statesman. While he will not do the right thing out of political conviction, he will do the right thing out of political convenience. This represents both a great challenge and a great opportunity for the pro-family community, since the governor has demonstrated in the Grenell affair that he is maneuverable.
The Grenell resignation represents a huge win for the forces defending the family in America, since it will be a long time before the governor appoints another homosexual activist to a prominent position in his campaign.
Since Gov. Romney will do the right thing when it is politically expedient, it's our job to make it politically expedient for him to do the right thing on as many issues as possible. Let's get cracking.
Yesterday, conservative talk show host Janet Mefferd also welcomed the news of Grenell’s resignation, saying that Republicans shouldn’t hire God-hating gays because they intend to trample over the rights and freedoms of Christians.
Like Fischer, Mefferd also went after Romney, saying that since “he evolves all the time, he flips all the time, he comes to new understandings all the time” and “doesn’t seem to have much of a core,” he may be willing to side with either “gay activists” or opponents of gay rights depending on who carries the most political weight.
Mefferd said, “I don’t what to be misunderstood on this, but if you continue to push the Republican Party to the left on the gay rights issue, we’re all dead—I mean, not dead literally—but Christians will pay the price for this”:
I think it was appropriate that he resigned, I think it was inappropriate to put him in that position in the first place as the presumptive presidential nominee for the GOP, the reason I say this and I’m going to reiterate it because I want to be clear what my objection is, my objection is the whole issue we’re seeing in our culture with gay rights trumping freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and it’s on the march, and we’ve seen it in a lot of different instances across the country. I think it’s foolish for the party that has stood up in defense of marriage so strongly, oh by the way the Democrats stood up for marriage once upon a time in DOMA although it’s fallen out of favor now, but you can’t be the party of freedom and the Constitution if you’re not going to understand that the Constitution enshrines the First Amendment and not gay rights.
When you have people who are gay activists on the Republican side, what happens? What do you think is going to happen? You’re going to have people, especially somebody like Mitt Romney, he evolves all the time, he flips all the time, he comes to new understandings all the time, this is the problem with having a nominee that doesn’t seem to have much of a core and that ends up being a problem for people who actually want principle to trump votes. Not every Republican feels that way, by the way, and I’m not trying to be mean to individual people, I don’t what to be misunderstood on this, but if you continue to push the Republican Party to the left on the gay rights issue, we’re all dead—I mean, not dead literally—but Christians will pay the price for this.
They hate the Bible, they hate God, they hate you, but that doesn’t mean we have to roll over and die, it doesn’t mean we have to be quiet on the issue, it’s about freedom, it’s about freedom for Christians to follow the word of God.
It was just last week that Bryan Fischer was declaring that if Mitt Romney wants to win in November, he'd "better start listening to me." And the first thing that Romney needed to do was fire Richard Grenell because all week Fischer had beenrelentlesslyattacking the campaign for having hired an openly gay man to serve as the foreign policy and national security spokesman.
Today, during the second hour of Fischer's daily radio broadcast, the news broke the Grenell had in fact resigned from the campaign and Fischer could barely contain his glee, declaring it a "huge win" for the Religious Right because it means that they have forced Romney to back down and taught him that he cannot do anything like this again:
Today, Mitt Romney spokesman Richard Grenell, who is openly gay, resigned from his job on the Romney campaign. Grenell’s hiring less than two weeks ago provoked harsh criticism among Religious Right activists including the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, former FRC president Gary Bauer and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. Fischer went so far as to suggest that Grenell posed a national security risk, as reported by People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch.
Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way, said:
“Mitt Romney is once again trying to have it both ways: claiming that he personally tolerates gays and lesbians while at the same time pandering to the anti-gay right-wing base whose intolerance is legendary. Obviously, it’s not working.
“Romney is clearly depending on Religious Right leaders to help him energize a wary base and they insist that he toe the line. But the support of those leaders comes at a price. If Romney is letting the likes of Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer dictate all his hiring decisions, he leaves no doubt as to what kind of president he would be.
“If Romney will cave to the far-right fringe on this, is there anything he won’t give them when they ask?”
After American Family Association Bryan Fischer wentintoall-outwar with Mitt Romney’s campaign for hiring an openly gay foreign policy spokesman, his “straights only” position won support from other Religious Right leaders like Gary Bauer and Tony Perkins. Now, Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality is jumping to Fischer’s defense as well, telling talk show host Janet Mefferd on Friday that Romney is “putting his finger in the eye of the pro-family movement” with the hire, even though Romney has emphasized his anti-gaybonafides throughout the campaign.
Later, LaBarbera denounced the “hidden homosexuality” in Washington D.C., in particular the Republicans who “have a homosexual problem” and are not public about it. He also told Mefferd that “Americans would rally to our position” on homosexuality if only the GOP recruits a candidate like Rick Santorum who can inspire the anti-gay “silent majority” and combat the “media, Hollywood and academy [that] are 1,000 percent for perversion.” If not, LaBarbera warned that the Right may “see a bigger push for a third party,” a view also supported by Family Research Council Vice President Tom McCluskly.
LaBarbera: I think the significance of what Mitt Romney has done is he’s putting his finger in the eye of the pro-family movement, as you alluded to, here’s the entire conservative movement, especially social conservatives like us, saying ‘it’s going to be hard to get enthused about Mitt Romney.’ I’m speaking as a private citizen, our group is non-partisan, but what does he do? He appoints a homosexual activist for one of his spokespeople.
Mefferd: Mostly in the past they’ve been quasi-closeted if not fully closeted, Ken Mehlman is a perfect example, he didn’t come out until after he was out as the campaign chief of Bush.
LaBarbera: But he did say that he used his influence that he could behind the scenes, which is what I always suspected of these homosexual Republicans. I’ve always called on them to be open, if they have a homosexual problem, as I put it, I don’t believe it’s a positive identity; the people have a right to know if they’re in elected office. There’s a lot of hidden homosexuality, especially in Washington.
Mefferd: The reason this bothers me so much is because increasingly you’re seeing the GOP indicating that, ‘because this is a losing issue and we see these polls showing more and more people support so-called homosexual marriage, we want to win, we need to be able to draw some of these voters to our side.’ My feeling on that is: if you’re drawing voters to your side on an issue that actually matters, then what does it matter if you win if you’ve compromised everything that matters?
LaBarbera: Absolutely. It’s shame on them. Guess what, there was a time when anti-Communism was unpopular, and Reagan is known for that as his greatest accomplishment, stopping Soviet Communism. Rick Santorum went very far and it’s interesting, the homosexual magazine The Advocate seems very concerned that Rick Santorum got so far, so I think there’s a lot of silent support for our position. The media, Hollywood and academy are 1,000 percent for perversion, for homosexuality, but the silent majority I believe still opposes them. I think the support for so-called gay rights is a mile wide and an inch deep. I think if you had a candidate like Santorum that explains the issue, explains how religious freedom is going to be trampled over by this tiny minority of homosexual activists who want to push their agenda at any cost, I think Americans would rally to our position.
Mefferd: It may make things a little bit dicey in future elections, won’t it, if the GOP keeps going in this direction?
LaBarbera: I think if they keep going in this direction I think you will see a bigger push for a third party because this is one of the core issues. Unless, you know, Christians just give up on their faith and you know say we’re not going to believe that part of the Bible, absolutely.
Mitt Romney is eager these days to change the subject from what the public sees as his party's "war on women." He seeks to close the huge gender gap that has opened up as women flee the party of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh in search of something a little less patriarchal and misogynistic.
But Romney's problems with America's women may be just beginning. He can distance himself from the theocratic musings of other Republicans and the macho bullying of Fox News talking heads, but he cannot run away from his own selection of former Judge Robert Bork, in August of last year, to become his principal advisor on the Supreme Court and the Constitution.
Bork hopes to wipe out not only the constitutional right to privacy, especially the right to contraception and to abortion, but decades of Equal Protection decisions handed down by what he calls a feminized Supreme Court deploying "sterile feminist logic" to guarantee equal treatment and inclusion of women. Bork is no casual chauvinist but rather a sworn enemy of feminism, a political force that he considers "totalitarian" and in which, he has concluded, "the extremists are the movement."
Romney may never have to elaborate his bizarrely muted reaction to Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" ("it's not the language I would have used"), but he will definitely have to answer whether he agrees with his hand-picked constitutional advisor that feminism is "totalitarian"; that the Supreme Court, with two women Justices, had become "feminized" at the time of U.S. v. Virginia (1996) and produced a "feminization of the military"; and that gender-based discrimination by government should no longer trigger heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.
Romney has already said that, "The key thing the president is going to do... it's going to be appointing Supreme Court and Justices throughout the judicial system." He has also said that he wishes Robert Bork "were already on the Court."
So look what Robert Bork thinks Romney's Supreme Court Justices should do about the rights of women.
Wiping Out Contraceptive, Abortion and Privacy Rights
Romney certainly hoped to leave behind the surprising controversy in the Republican primaries over access to contraception, but Robert Bork's extremist views on the subject guarantee that it stays hot. Bork rejects the line of decisions, beginning with Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), affirming the right of Americans to privacy in their procreative and reproductive choices. He denounces the Supreme Court's protection of both married couples' and individuals' right to contraception in Griswold and Eisenstaedt v. Baird (1972), declaring that such a right to privacy in matters of procreation was created "out of thin air." He calls the Ninth Amendment -- which states that the "enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people" -- an "inkblot" without meaning. For him, the right of people to decide about birth control has nothing to do with Due Process liberty or other rights "retained by the people" -- it is the illegitimate expression of "radical individualism" on the Supreme Court.
Bork detests Roe v. Wade (1973), a decision he says has "no constitutional foundation" and is based on "no constitutional reasoning." He would overturn it and empower states to prosecute women and doctors who violate criminal abortion laws. Bork promises:
Attempts to overturn Roe will continue as long as the Court adheres to it. And, just so long as the decision remains, the Court will be perceived, correctly, as political and will continue to be the target of demonstrations, marches, television advertisements, mass mailings, and the like. Roe, as the greatest example and symbol of the judicial usurpation of democratic prerogatives in this century, should be overturned. The Court's integrity requires that.
In other words, the Court's "integrity" would require a President Romney to impose an anti-Roe v. Wade litmus test on all nominations to the Court.
Ending Heightened Scrutiny of Government Sex Discrimination under Equal Protection
Bork is the leading voice in America assailing the Supreme Court for using "heightened" Equal Protection scrutiny to examine government sex discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment. While women and men all over America cheered the Supreme Court's 7-1 decision in United States v. Virginia (1996), the decision that forced the Virginia Military Institute to stop discriminating and to admit its first women cadets, Bork attacked it for producing the "feminization of the military," which for him is a standard and cutting insult --"feminization" is always akin to degradation and dilution of standards. He writes: "Radical feminism, an increasingly powerful force across the full range of American institutions, overrode the Constitution in United States v. Virginia." Of course, in his view, this decision was no aberration: "VMI is only one example of a feminized Court transforming the Constitution," he wrote. Naturally, a "feminized Court" creates a "feminized military."
Bork argues that, outside of standard "rational basis" review, "the equal protection clause should be restricted to race and ethnicity because to go further would plunge the courts into making law without guidance from anything the ratifiers understood themselves to be doing." This rejection of gender as a protected form of classification ignores the fact that that the Fourteenth Amendment gives "equal protection" to all "persons." But, if Bork and his acolytes have their way, decades of Supreme Court decisions striking down gender-discriminatory laws under the Equal Protection Clause will be thrown into doubt as the Court comes to examine sex discrimination under the "rational basis" test, the most relaxed kind of scrutiny. Instead of asking whether government sex discrimination "substantially" advances an "important" government interest, the Court will ask simply whether it is "conceivably related" to some "rational purpose." Remarkably, Mitt Romney's key constitutional advisor wants to turn back the clock on Equal Protection jurisprudence by watering down the standards for reviewing sex-discriminatory laws.
Judge Bork Means Business: the Case of the Sterilized Women Employees
If you don't think Bork means all this, go back and look at his bleak record as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Take just one Bork opinion that became a crucial point of discussion in the hearings over his failed 1987 Supreme Court nomination. In a 1984 case calledOil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union v. American Cyanamid Co., Bork found that the Occupational Safety and Health Act did not protect women at work in a manufacturing plant from a company policy that forced them to be sterilized -- or else lose their jobs -- because of high levels of lead in the air. The Secretary of Labor had decided that the Act's requirement that employers must provide workers "employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards" meant that American Cynamid had to "fix the workplace" through industrial clean-up rather than "fix the employees" by sterilizing or removing all women workers of child-bearing age. But Bork strongly disagreed. He wrote an opinion for his colleagues apparently endorsing the view that other clean-up measures were not necessary or possible and that the sterilization policy was, in any event, a "realistic and clearly lawful" way to prevent harm to the women's fetuses. Because the company's "fetus protection policy" took place by virtue of sterilization in a hospital -- outside of the physical workplace -- the plain terms of the Act simply did not apply, according to Bork. Thus, as Public Citizen put it, "an employer may require its female workers to be sterilized in order to reduce employer liability for harm to the potential children."
Decisions like this are part of Bork's dark Social Darwinist view of America in which big corporations are always right and the law should rarely ever be interpreted to protect the rights of employees, especially women, in the workplace.
No matter how vigorously Mitt Romney shakes his Etch-a-Sketch, Americans already have an indelible picture of what a Romney-run presidency and Bork-run judiciary would look like and what it would mean for women. With Robert Bork calling the shots on the courts, a vote for Mitt Romney is plainly a vote against women's rights, women's equality and women's freedom.
All week, we havebeenchronicling Bryan Fischer's one-man war against Mitt Romney because his campaign hired Richard Grenell as its foreign policy and national security spokesman and Grenell happens to be openly gay.
But apparently we totally misunderstood what Fischer was doing because today on his radio program he explained that he is really Romney's "best buddy" and just trying to help him win in November, saying that if he wants, he'd "better start listening to me." And Romney can start by announcing, among other things, that he supports the marriage amendment in North Carolina and that he will defend DOMA, reinstate DADT, and veto ENDA:
National Organization for Marriage chairman John Eastman talked to conservative radio talk show host Steve Deace yesterday where he assured Deace, a vocal critic of Mitt Romney, that NOM is confident that Romney will actively oppose marriage equality if elected president and dismissed fears that his donors who favor legalizing same-sex marriage might influence his views:
Deace: John, I want to ask you about a story that came out over the weekend, three men, Paul Singer, Dan Loeb, Cliff Asness, they are hedge fund managers, they are major Romney donors, and they each cut six figure checks toward the effort to redefine, or destroy, marriage in the state of New York. Is that a concern of your group that the Republican nominee has major donors in his camp that are funding the other side of this debate?
Eastman: You know, people running for president accept donations from all sorts of people who don’t always agree with them on all issues. The fact of the matter is, Governor Romney has signed our pledge where he will defend the Defense of Marriage Act, where he will support an amendment to protect traditional marriage nationwide. He has signed that pledge and we fully expect that he will honor his pledge in that regard.
Indeed, Romney, a NOM donor, in August signed NOM’s presidential candidate pledge [pdf] and committed to not only push for a Federal Marriage Amendment and defend the unconstitutional DOM, but also to nominate anti-equality judges, put Washington DC’s marriage equality law up to a popular referendum, and “establish a presidential commission” to “investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters”:
One, support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification.
Two, nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and to applying the original meaning of the Constitution, appoint an attorney general similarly committed, and thus reject the idea our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution.
Three, defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act vigorously in court.
Four, establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate and document reports of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.
Five, advance legislation to return to the people of the District of Columbia their right to vote on marriage.
While some columnists like to believe that it is only people on the “far fringes of the evangelical right” who oppose the Romney campaign’s hiring of an openly gay staffer, now two major Religious Right figures have joined the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer in denouncing openly gay foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell’s employment in the Romney campaign.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in his Washington Update stated that “there is strong evidence that Grenell would lobby” in favor of the pro-LGBT rights stance of President Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While Romney himself is an opponent of LGBT equality, Perkins said that Grenell’s hiring is troubling for conservatives:
Most conservatives have been anxious to see how the Romney campaign would react now that the strongest social conservative, Sen. Rick Santorum, is out of the race. Would the Governor try to fill the void left on values issues or would he stick to his more moderate approach? Some people believe that question was answered last week with the selection of Richard Grenell as Mitt Romney's foreign policy spokesman. Grenell, who served in President Bush's administration, specialized in the U.N., but the areas where he disagreed with his old boss are what concern conservatives most.
Grenell, who has been very open about his homosexual lifestyle, publicly condemned the Bush administration (shortly after leaving it) for opposing a U.N. resolution urging the full acceptance of homosexuality. While Bush (like nearly two thirds of the U.N. member states) refused to endorse the measure endorsing homosexuality, President Obama signed it shortly after taking office. Since then, his State Department, under the direction of Hillary Clinton, has tossed aside the cultural and religious beliefs of other countries to promote homosexuality as a basic human right, while downgrading the importance of religious liberty. Clearly, the strategy is for the State Department to force these policies (which most U.S. states reject) on the international stage and then build pressure on the U.S. to adopt measures like Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and same-sex "marriage."
In a recent column for the Washington Blade, Grenell hinted at where he falls on the marriage issue when he criticized gay and lesbian Democrats for supporting President Obama despite the fact that he hasn't done enough to redefine marriage. Still others point to Grenell's long-time partner and his desire to tie the knot, "It's not an option for us... but hopefully someday soon it will be." While past performance is not a guarantee of future results, there is strong evidence that Grenell would lobby for foreign policy more in line with the current administration than the last Republican one.
Gary Bauer, in his daily email to Campaign for Working Families members, called the hire an “unforced error” and a “disappointment.” Bauer said he is not upset that Grenell is gay but is angry that he wants to marry his longtime partner, claiming that it would only be acceptable if Grenell would oppose his own right to marry:
Unforced Error, Governor
While Governor Mitt Romney is clearly enjoying a bounce in the polls and a boost in momentum, his campaign still has some work to do when it comes to reassuring the conservative base and values voters. That's why his appointment of Richard Grenell, who worked in the Bush Administration, to be his spokesman on national security issues was a disappointment to many conservatives.
I share their disappointment not because Grenell is gay. He is not weak on defense. In fact, former Ambassador John Bolton is defending Grenell today. Conservative pro-family leaders are disappointed because Grenell has been an outspoken advocate of redefining normal marriage. For the overwhelmingly majority of folks who support Governor Romney that issue is starkly clear -- marriage is the union of one and one woman. But Grenell once caused a controversy by trying to have his partner listed as his spouse when he worked at the U.N.
Thankfully, Grenell is not going to be making policy on domestic issues. But his appointment was disappointing because it comes at a time when the Romney campaign should be reaching out to the conservative base. Instead, this appointment seems like a slap at the base.
Moreover, Grenell is known for having an acerbic personality, and critics have described his comments in social media as being "catty." He may be competent, but he is creating controversies on multiple fronts where the Romney campaign can least afford them.
That said, we should not exaggerate this. Homosexuals were part of the Reagan Administration and the Bush Administrations. Our concern is policy. One of the ways Governor Romney can reassure values voters is to make more statements in his speeches that speak to their concerns about the sanctity of life, the meaning of marriage and the importance of faith and family.
Pointing this out does not hurt Mitt Romney. I am making this observation precisely because it is so important that he defeat Barack Obama. There is no path to victory for a Republican presidential candidate that does not involve massive turnout by pro-family voters. The only way Mitt Romney will end up with a majority on Election Day -- and I will do everything I can to make sure that happens -- is to unite economic, defense and social conservatives behind his candidacy.
Last week, we unveiled a campaign featuring a website, web ad, and report exposing Mitt Romney’s dangerous agenda for America’s courts, as demonstrated by the fact that Robert Bork has been tapped to lead Romney's constitutional and judicial advisory team.
As the report noted, Romney's choice of judicial advisors "spells serious trouble for the American people" ... and it is no surprise that it is also music to the ear of the Religious Right.
On today's episode of "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green invited Jordan Sekulow, who worked for Romney back in 2008, to make the case as to why the Religious Right can and should support Romney. While Green was skeptical at first, Barton needed no convincing because Jay Sekulow (Jordan's father) was going to be involved in picking Romney's judges and that was all he needed to hear:
This has not been a hard thing for evangelicals to get over and support Romney and it shouldn't be a hard thing. When Romney ran four years ago, he wasn't my first choice but the reason I never got really worried about Romney was Jay Sekulow. And I tell you he has been very intimately involved in helping get folks like Alito and Roberts on the court. And four years ago, I heard that Sekulow is the guy that Romney has tapped to choose his judges and I said "that's it." I don't have any trouble with Romney because Isaiah 1:26 tells me the righteousness of nation is determined, not by the legislature, but by its judges. And if Romney's got folks like Sekulow picking his judges, I can live with that in a heartbeat.
When Jordan Sekulow joined the program, he made the case that conservatives should support Romney because he has pledged to nominate judges like Samuel Alito and John Roberts and has filled his campaign with people who are going to keep his feet to the fire:
Green: How important is it for us to recognize that if Romney is president, who has his ear? Who are the people that will consider those judges versus another four years of Obama if he gets another quarter of the judiciary appointed?
Sekulow: You've already got people who are long-time Romney supporters like my dad, who has argued thirteen cases before the Supreme Court and was very involved with President Bush - he was one of four people that were involved in the nomination process in the Bush White House - and so if you like Alito and Roberts, these are the kind of people. You have Judge Bork, who was filibustered by the Senate, voted down by the Senate actually, and he is on the Romney committee.
You want Kagan and Sotomayor, and I was at the Supreme Court during the 'Obamacare' oral arguments, you probably don't want more of that, or do you want more Alito and Roberts? And he's made those pledges; I think we need to come to the campaign say "alright, you made these pledges, we're going to keep you honest to them and keep your feet to the fire."
As we noted earlier today, Bryan Fischer is positively livid that Mitt Romney's campaign hired Richard Grenell to serve as its foreign policy and national security spokesman because Grenell is openly gay.
So it was no surprise that Fischer dedicated a segment to discussing the issue today on his radio program, where he began by asserting that most gay men have hundreds, if not thousands, of "random, frequent, and anonymous sexual encounters and that becomes a significant issue when we're talking about appointing somebody to a post as sensitive as a spokesman for national security and foreign policy":
Later Fischer brought up the fact that the LDS Church opposes homosexuality and demanded to know whether Romney agreed with that position and, if so, explain why he would appoint an openly gay man to serve on his campaign. If Romney said he didn't agree with that position, then Fischer said there would be no reason for social conservatives to vote for him:
People For the American Way launched a major new campaign today highlighting what a Mitt Romney presidency would mean for America’s courts. Romney has signaled that he’s ready to draw the Supreme Court and lower federal courts even farther to the right. And no signal has been clearer than his choice of former Judge Robert Bork to lead his campaign advisory committee on the courts and the Constitution.
In 1987, PFAW led the effort to keep Judge Bork off the Supreme Court. Ultimately, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate recognized his extremism and rejected his nomination.
Today, People For the American Way launched a major new campaign – including a website, a web ad and an exclusive report – exposing Mitt Romney’s dangerous agenda for America’s courts.
The campaign highlights Romney’s choice of Robert Bork to lead his constitutional and judicial advisory team. By allying with Bork, a jurist so extreme he was rejected by a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate 25 years ago, Romney has sent a clear signal that he means to drag America’s courts even farther to the right, endangering many of the civil rights, liberties and economic protections won by the American people over the past five decades.
The ad, Don’t Let Romney Bork America, and the report, Borking America: What Robert Bork Will Mean to the Supreme Court and American Justice, can be viewed at www.RomneyCourt.com.
“The debates over health care and immigration have reinforced the importance of the Supreme Court to all Americans,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “However, few are aware of the extreme agenda Mitt Romney has for the High Court – an agenda exemplified by his close alliance with Robert Bork.
“In 1987, People For the American Way led the fight to keep Judge Bork off the Supreme Court,” Keegan continued. “25 years later, we are as relieved as ever that we succeeded. When Bork was nominated, Americans across the political spectrum rejected the dangerous political agenda that he would have brought to the bench – his disdain for modern civil rights legislation, his acceptance of poll taxes and literacy tests, his defense of contraception bans and criminal sodomy laws, his continued privileging of corporations over individuals. Since then, he has dug his heels even deeper into a view of the law that puts corporations first and individuals far behind.
“It is frightening that a quarter century after Robert Bork’s jurisprudence was deemed too regressive for the Supreme Court, a leading presidential candidate has picked him to shape his legal policy.”
People For the American Way Senior Fellow Jamie Raskin, the author of the report, added: “The return of Robert Bork and his reactionary jurisprudence to national politics should be a three-alarm wake-up call for all Americans. In his work on the bench as a judge and off the bench as a polemicist, Bork has consistently placed corporations above the government and government above the rights of the people. The idea that Bork could be central to shaping the Supreme Court in the 21st century is shocking because he wants to turn the clock back decades in terms of the civil rights and civil liberties. His constitutional politics are even more extreme today than in 1987, when a bipartisan group of 58 senators rejected his nomination to the Supreme Court.”
The new report and ad review Bork’s record from his days as solicitor general to President Richard Nixon to his turn as co-chair of the Romney campaign’s committee on law, the Constitution and the judiciary. Highlights of Bork’s career include:
Consistently choosing corporate power over the rights of people. As a judge, Bork regularly took the side of business interests against government regulators trying to hold them accountable, but the side of the government when it was challenged by workers, environmentalists and consumers pressing for more corporate accountability.
Opposing civil rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, gay rights and individual free speech. Bork disparaged the Civil Rights Act of 1964; defended the use of undemocratic poll taxes and literacy tests in state elections ; disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling that overturned sodomy laws; and believes that the government should be able to jail people for advocating civil disobedience.
Advocating censorship and blaming American culture first. Bork promotes censorship to combat what he calls the “rot and decadence” of American society, saying “I don’t make any fine distinctions; I’m just advocating censorship.” He writes that “the liberal view of human nature” has thrown American culture into “free fall.”
Rejecting the separation of church and state. Bork rejects the science of evolution, advocates legalizing school-sponsored prayer and has written that he wants to see the Constitution’s wall of separation between church and state “crumble.”
Turning back the clock on women's rights: Bork has argued against Supreme Court decisions upholding abortion rights and decisions upholding the right to contraception for single people and even married couples. He believes that the heightened protections of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause don’t apply to women. As a judge, he authored a decision reversing the Secretary of Labor and holding that federal law permits a company to deal with toxic workplace conditions by demanding that female employees be sterilized or lose their jobs.