Arizona

Trent Franks Goes Akin: His History of Anti-Choice Extremism

At a hearing today on his bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy without exception, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona said he opposed adding a rape exception to the bill in part because “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” 

Franks added, nonsensically, “But when you make that exception, there’s usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours. And in this case that’s impossible because this is in the sixth month of gestation. And that’s what completely negates and vitiates the purpose of such an amendment.”

Franks’ misinformed, Todd Akin-like comments on the mechanics of pregnancy are just the latest in a long line of extreme anti-choice positions.

Aside from his anti-choice activism, Franks pushes anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, has flirted with birtherism, and has claimed that marriage equality is a “threat to the nation’s survival.”

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

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

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

Young Elected Officials Call for Gun Violence Prevention Reforms

Daniel Hernandez - Rep. Gabby Giffords' heroic intern, now a school board member in AZ - appeared on the Ed Show to discuss a letter from 42 members of PFAW’s Young Elected Officials Action program urging gun violence prevention reforms.
PFAW

Birthers of the World Unite: Larry Klayman to Represent Group Defending Joe Arpaio

Well this comes as no surprise.

Larry Klayman, the birther attorney who is now calling for an armed revolution against President Obama, is representing a new group of Tea Party members defending Sheriff Joe Arpaio from a potential recall election.

The Judicial Watch founder is threatening to sue activists who are collecting petitions to recall the Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff. In a video posted by Arizona Nightly News, Klayman ironically calls Arpaio opponents “vigilantes” who seek to “harass” the sheriff and distorts state election law to claim that the recall attempt is illegal.

Poor legal advice aside, Klayman’s selection to represent the group may not be a boon to the image of Arpaio, who is currently under fire for hiring a child-sex offender for his armed posse to guard schools, since Klayman himself has been accused of child sexual abuse.

Arizona Republicans Propose Anti-Evolution Education Bill

A group of Arizona Republicans are out with a new bill to undermine the teaching of evolution and subjects such as climate change and cloning in the classroom. The National Center for Science Education called the legislation another “instance of the ‘academic freedom’ strategy for undermining the teaching of evolution and climate change.”

The proposed “teach the controversy” bill is a stealthy attack on evolution as it tries to make science classes give equal weight to nonscientific beliefs and theologies. It’s the equivalent of including claims made by the Flat Earth Society in a geology class, all for the sake of “balance.”

A. THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS, SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARDS, SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENTS, SCHOOL PRINCIPALS AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS SHALL ENDEAVOR TO:

1. CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT IN SCHOOLS THAT ENCOURAGES PUPILS TO EXPLORE SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONS, LEARN ABOUT SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE, DEVELOP CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS AND RESPOND APPROPRIATELY AND RESPECTFULLY TO DIFFERENCES OF OPINION ABOUT CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES.

2. ASSIST TEACHERS TO FIND EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PRESENT THE SCIENCE CURRICULUM AS IT ADDRESSES SCIENTIFIC CONTROVERSIES. TEACHERS SHALL BE ALLOWED TO HELP PUPILS UNDERSTAND, ANALYZE, CRITIQUE AND REVIEW IN AN OBJECTIVE MANNER THE SCIENTIFIC STRENGTHS AND SCIENTIFIC WEAKNESSES OF EXISTING SCIENTIFIC THEORIES COVERED IN THE COURSE BEING TAUGHT.

B. THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS, SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARDS, SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENTS, SCHOOL PRINCIPALS AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS SHALL NOT PROHIBIT ANY TEACHER IN THIS STATE FROM HELPING PUPILS UNDERSTAND, ANALYZE, CRITIQUE AND REVIEW IN AN OBJECTIVE MANNER THE SCIENTIFIC STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF EXISTING SCIENTIFIC THEORIES COVERED IN THE COURSE BEING TAUGHT.

C. THIS SECTION PROTECTS ONLY THE TEACHING OF SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION AND DOES NOT PROMOTE ANY RELIGIOUS OR NONRELIGIOUS DOCTRINE, PROMOTE DISCRIMINATION FOR OR AGAINST A PARTICULAR SET OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OR NONBELIEFS OR PROMOTE DISCRIMINATION FOR OR AGAINST RELIGION OR NONRELIGION.

Sec. 2. Intent

The legislature finds and declares that:

1. An important purpose of science education is to inform students about scientific evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to becoming intelligent, productive and scientifically informed citizens.

2. The teaching of some scientific subjects, including biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning, can cause controversy.

3. Some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects.

PFAW Foundation Submits Amicus Brief in Critical Voting Rights Case

Yesterday, People For the American Way Foundation , on behalf of its Young People For program, joined with Demos and several other civil rights groups to submit an amicus brief to the Supreme Court urging it to reject a new requirement in Arizona that requires people to show certain documents proving citizenship when they register to vote. As Demos explains in its press release about the brief, this requirement could severely hamper grassroots voter registration efforts:

The brief filed today details the real-world negative impact that Arizona’s extreme documentation requirements have on the ability of community-based voter registration organizations to register eligible citizens to vote, particularly through registration drives.  Proposition 200 requires that a potential registrant produce a post-1996 Arizona driver’s license, a current U.S. passport, a birth certificate, naturalization documents, or selected Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal identification documents.  Many eligible citizens do not possess these narrow forms of documentation required by the law and, of those who do, many  do not carry them while conducting their daily affairs.  Community-based registration efforts overwhelmingly rely on approaching individuals who did not plan in advance to register at that time or location and who are thus unlikely to be carrying a birth certificate, passport, or other documentation.  Even when a potential registrant does happen to be carrying one of the required documents, logistical hurdles—ranging from an inability to copy documents on the spot to an unwillingness to hand over sensitive identification documents to registration drive volunteers—greatly hinder the ability of community-based organizations to register people in Arizona.  In short, community-based voter registration efforts are made more difficult, less effective, and more expensive as a result of Proposition 200’s citizenship documentation requirements.

The case in question, Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, is one of two critical voting rights cases that the Supreme Court will hear this year. The Court will also be considering a challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states and counties with a history of voting discrimination to get any changes to voting laws pre-cleared by the Justice Department or a federal court before they can go into effect. That law has helped to deflect numerous challenges to voting rights, including in the lead-up to the 2012 election. In fact, the Arizona law at issue in this case is a perfect example of why our federal voting rights protections should be expanded rather than eliminated.

Young People For fellows across the country worked last year to register and get young voters to the polls.

PFAW Foundation

The Right to Vote Under Attack, 2012 Update

Here we detail, as of October 6, 2012, except where otherwise noted, the latest efforts across the country to suppress the vote, as well as some encouraging successes in expanding the franchise.

Beck Tells Tea Party Activists They're Being Attacked, Just Like Washington, Lincoln, & Reagan

Over the weekend, Glenn Beck traveled to Arizona where he delivered a "spoken word speech while accompanied" by music to Tea Party activists attending a FreedomWorks "FreePAC" event.  For an hour, Beck lamented the loss of America's greatness while beseeching the audience to rise up and save this nation, but warning them that by doing so, they would be making themselves unpopular to the media and the elites who would ridicule and marginalize them, just as they have always done in the past: “They did it to Abraham [in the Bible]. They did it to Washington. They did to Lincoln. They did it to Reagan. They’re doing it to you”:

FRC Partners with Church that Urged Members to ‘Actively Pray and Work for the Defeat of Barack Obama’

FRC president Tony Perkins and vice presidents Jerry Boykin and Kenyn Cureton are heading to Catalina Foothills Church in Tucson, Arizona for “Recapture America.” Cosponsors include the Center for Arizona Policy, the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) and the church’s Christian Impact Committee. Recently the church claimed [PDF] that Obama is pushing a “reprioritization in human rights policy in favor of the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights” that is contributing to a “global crisis in religious liberty” and likened Obama to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Saddam Hussein.

During his Sunday sermon, Rev. Allen Cooney called on members of the church to “actively pray and work for the defeat of Barack Obama” in the upcoming election as he is an “enemy” of Christianity and religious freedom.

Of course that shouldn’t be a surprise as Perkins believes it is a sin for a Christian to vote for Obama and Boykin thinks Obama is using health care reform to create a personal Brownshirt army.

Arizona Prison Privatization: Ideology and Influence Trump Evidence

At 6:00 p.m. on the Friday before Labor Day weekend, Arizona officials announced the granting of a multi-million dollar contract to Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison giant, for the operation of one thousand medium security prison beds.  The grant was not exactly a big surprise; CCA had hired as lobbyists people close to Gov. Jan Brewer.

What should be more surprising is that officials are arguing with a straight face that the deal is good for taxpayers, in spite of evidence to the contrary.  As the Arizona Republic reported,

The contract calls for CCA to be paid a per diem rate of $65.43 per bed. The most recent information available shows the average daily cost per inmate in a state-run medium-custody facility in 2010 was $48.42. The award to CCA is 35percent more than what it cost the state to house and monitor inmates two years ago.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, Arizona officials have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to tap taxpayers in order to advance an anti-government ideology and boost the profits of a company that is generous with its spending on lobbying and campaign contributions. 

 

People For the American Way Foundation’s recent report “Predatory Privatization” noted that private prisons in Arizona cost the state as much as $7 million more in 2009 and 2010 than units operated by the state department of corrections.  The report also noted CCA’s aggressive expansion plans:

Earlier this year, CCA wrote to officials in 48 states offering to buy and run prisons if states would guarantee a 90 percent occupancy rate. A coalition of religious groups urged state officials to turn down the offer, which the groups said would create an incentive for mass incarceration and “be costly to the moral strength of your state” as well as costly financially.

 

 

PFAW Foundation

Barton: Cops Should Have Refused to Arrest Arizona Pastor for Illegally Building a Church

Yesterday on "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green discussed the case of Arizona pastor Michael Salman who has recently become a Religious Right cause célèbre because he is  supposedly being persecuted simply because he wanted to hold Bible study meetings at his home. 

In reality, Salman had been attempting to illegally build a church in his back yard and had been holding multiple-weekly church services on his property until he was found guilty of dozens of code violations and sentenced to sixty days in jail.

Barton took up the case today and voiced his outrage, calling on voters in Phoenix to work to remove political leaders in that city for allowing something like this to happen. Barton went on to falsely claim that Salman's home was raided by a SWAT team sent to arrest him and said that law enforcement officers must refuse to participate in things like this because they have an obligation to uphold the Constitution:

And the one we have today, the one we're going to talk about today is a great example is a bunch of political leaders in a city who need to be seriously removed. The fact that they would even think about enforcing this particular ordinance against anybody means that we've got a bad set of leaders there that need to be gone.

...

There needs to be some changes in Phoenix and people really do need to let city hall hear it over this. And I'm really concerned about cops who are willing to go in as a SWAT team to arrest a pastor who's had Bible study. The cops should have said "no, we're not doing that. I mean, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution too; there's the right of assembly, the right of speech, the right of religion. We're not going to go arrest this guy with AR-15s and a SWAT team." At some point, citizens are going to have to say we're not going to be part of this and that should have happened at this point.

Jailed AZ Unfairly Pastor Stuck in Arpaio's 'Concentration Camp'

Yesterday we wrote a post noting that John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, which is representing jailed Arizona pastor Michael Salman, was complaining about the conditions in which Salman is being held within the infamous tent city jail compound created by "America's Toughest Sheriff" and Birther extraordinaire Joe Arpaio.

Whitehead is now making the rounds on right-wing radio programs to plead Salman's case and stopped by AFA's "Today's Issues" where he complained that Salman was being held in a "concentration camp":

He's in Tent City. If you don't know what Tent City is, I'm telling your listeners, go Google it - it is a concentration camp. It has stun fences, electric fences, no air conditioning, people live in tents on the ground and men have to wear pink underwear to humiliate them. There's no air conditioning; it's a 145 degrees there. So that's where he's at.

The Right's Sudden Concern About Arpaio's Prison Camps

Over the last few weeks, Arizona pastor Michael Salman has become a Religious Right cause célèbre and the current poster boy for religious persecution. In the Religious Right's version of events, Salman has supposedly been harassed and persecuted by local officials for years simply because he wanted to hold bible study meetings at his home. 

In reality, Salman had been attempting to illegally build a church in his back yard and was found guilty of dozens of code violations, resulting in a sixty day jail sentence, which Salman is now serving ... and about which his supporters are now complaining:

Pastor Michael Salman is serving his 60-day sentence for holding a home Bible study in Tent City Jail, a prison compound in Maricopa County, Ariz. The Phoenix pastor’s attorney describes conditions there as similar to the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

“This is where you would put Osama bin Laden, not Michael Salman,” says Rutherford Institute founder and attorney John Whitehead in an interview yesterday with International Christian Concern (ICC).

“The temperature there has been around 140 degrees, and there is no air conditioning. They’re [living] in tents. They have stun fences … barbed wire … large German shepherds walking the perimeter, armed guards and facial recognition software so that the prisoners are studied all the time.”

According to Whitehead, Salman has reported being imprisoned with “really hardened criminals.” He is unsure why the pastor has been specifically sent to Tent City. In late June, the jail was the focus of thousands of protesters who gathered outside the Maricopa County Sherriff’s office to express their disapproval of the allegedly prison camp-like conditions.

It should be noted that this Guantanamo-like prison camp in which Salman is currently serving his time just so happens to be the system set up by the Right's hero, "America's Toughest Sheriff," and Birther extraordinaire Joe Arpaio.

Oddly, nobody on the Right seemed particularly concerned about the conditions in the compound until now. 

Split Decisions Impact Immigration and Unions

Here’s a quick recap of the Supreme Court’s decisions during the past week: Unions are now further disadvantaged and despite some important changes to the state’s immigration law, racial profiling remains a viable option for Arizona law enforcement.

On June 21, the Supreme Court issued its decision on Knox v. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000. The case dealt with a labor policy several states have, known as agency shops, in which employees are not required to become members of the union representing their place of employment, but must pay dues since they benefit from the work the union does. At the point in which all employees working at an establishment that has a union presence are receiving higher wages, more vacation days, and overall better working conditions, it is only fair that all employees pay union dues and not free-ride off of just the union members who pay.

However, in the case of public sector unions, the Supreme Court held a generation ago that non-members have the right to opt out of having their dues used for political activity by the union, effectively weakening the union’s ability to operate on its members’ behalf. In Knox, the Court criticized the balance struck in 1986 and ruled that when the union has a mid-year special assessment or dues increase, it cannot collect any money at all from non-union members unless they affirmatively opt-in (rather than opt-out). This ruling addressed an issue that wasn’t raised by the parties and that the union never had a chance to address, furthering the Right Wing’s goal to hamper a union’s ability to collect dues and make it harder for unions to have a voice in a post-Citizens United political environment. To add insult to injury, Justice Alito let his ideological leanings shine through when he essentially claimed right-to-work laws are good policy.

After the Knox v. SEIU decision, the court released its ruling on the highly contentious 2010 Arizona anti-immigration law, known as S.B. 1070. In a 5-3 decision, the court struck down the majority of the southwestern state’s draconian immigration policy. The court ruled that much of the state’s law unconstitutionally affected areas of law preempted by the federal government, acknowledging the impracticality of each state having its own immigration policy. Oppressive anti-immigrant provisions were struck down, such as one criminalizing the failure to carry proof of citizenship at all times, and a provision making it illegal under state law for an undocumented immigrant to apply for or hold a job. The decision also recognized that merely being eligible for removal is not in itself criminal, and thus the suspicion of being eligible for removal is not sufficient cause for arrest.

Although the majority of S.B. 1070 was overturned by the Supreme Court this week, one component remains, at least for the moment. Officers can still check the immigration status of anyone stopped or arrested if they had “reasonable suspicion” that the individual may be undocumented. This keeps the door wide open for racial profiling. Arresting an individual is not the same as being convicted for a crime. Latinos and other minority groups can be stopped for a crime as simple as jaywalking and “appear” suspicious enough to warrant an immigration background check. By leaving this portion of the law, the US Supreme Court has, for the time being, allowed the potential profiling of thousands of Arizona residents, regardless of whether they are immigrants or US citizens, but has left open the ability to challenge the manner in which this provision is put into practice.

PFAW

PFAW: Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Law is Important but Limited Victory

The Supreme Court invalidated most provisions of Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration law, known as S.B. 1070, including Section 6 which granted state police greater authority than federal officers to make warrantless arrests of anyone they suspected of being undocumented. The decision upholds, however, the clearly discriminatory Section 2b – the “show me your papers” provision – which allows police to demand proof of immigration status from individuals they stop, detain or arrest. The Court did not rule on challenges to that provision which question its discriminatory effects. It will likely hear additional challenges on those grounds at a later time.

“Today’s decision is a partial but important victory against S.B. 1070,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way, “and yet another reminder of how important it is that Congress move quickly to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The Court’s decision to uphold, for now, one of the most oppressive provisions of S.B. 1070 makes it painfully obvious how damaging the Republican obstruction on comprehensive immigration reform has been. No one should be forced to prove their right to be in this country simply because of the way they look, dress, or speak. These are not the American values we treasure, and we will continue to fight against these provisions in the courts, the Congress, and the halls of state legislatures.

“It’s deeply concerning that Section 2b is still in effect—especially given the reckless and dangerous rhetoric of Governor Brewer and Sheriff Arpaio. Today’s decision is important, but it is certainly not the end of this fight.

“The President recently took a courageous step to help young people – brought to the United States through no fault of their own – stay in this country and continue to contribute to their communities. Republicans in Congress should follow this example and suspend their obstruction of meaningful comprehensive reform to address the immigration crisis. Continuing to shirk that responsibility encourages dangerous state laws that threaten our civil liberties and harms hardworking individuals who have worked hard to live up to American ideals.”

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Hurwitz Finally Confirmed By Voice Vote

Senate Republicans agree to a voice vote to confirm a nominee who they claimed was not qualified to be a federal judge.
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