Georgia

Urgent Action Needed on Georgia Early Voting Bill on Last Day of Legislative Session

Updated March 21: Georgia's legislative session closed without final action being taken on HB 891. According to Facing South, "House sponsors declined to take up a vote on the revised bill, and HB 891 was dead." The report quotes Kelli Persons of League of Women Voters of Georgia, "The message here is that it's very important . . . to pay attention to what's happening at the local level," in reference to the bill's impact on municipal early voting.
PFAW

Georgia Governor Defends Confederate Flag License Plate: Part Of 'Cultural Heritage Of Our State'

Last week, Georgia approved a specialty license plate proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which features a confederate flag.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who had previously dodged questions about the plate, told Atlanta’s Channel 11 today that he wasn’t “concerned about” the plate and that “hopefully those who take offense at it will look at the fact that it is part of a cultural heritage of our state.”

When asked by 11Alive's Paul Crawley if he thought the plate should be changed and if it might hurt Georgia's image, Deal said, 'I don't think so, I mean it is one of many specialty plates that we have that are supportive of a variety of organizations and causes, so I don't think that it is something that we should be so concerned about. Hopefully those who take offense at it will look at the fact that it is a part of a cultural  heritage of our state.'

Sons of Confederate Veterans has a history of racism and has claimed “there is no difference between the invasion of France by Hitler and the invasion of the Southern states by Lincoln.”
 

'Freedom Fighter' Paul Broun: Immigration Reform 'Disastrous For Anybody Who Is Freedom-Loving'

Georgia Republican congressman and Senate candidate Paul Broun has been trying to out-extreme his opponents on the issue of immigration reform, announcing in a debate this weekend that the only immigration law he wants is one “that makes English the official language of America.” In an interview with Tea Party Express earlier this month, Broun made the same policy recommendation, claiming that comprehensive immigration reform would be “disastrous for Republicans” and “disastrous for anybody who is freedom-loving.”

Later in the interview, Broun claimed that “both political parties today are domestic enemies to the Constitution” and that he is a “freedom-fighter” who is “fighting those people.”

I think if John Boehner were to press on with comprehensive immigration reform, it will be disastrous for Republicans, not only in this election, but for decades to come. And it would be disastrous for anybody who is freedom-loving and wants to reduce the size of government. I introduced the “No Amnesty” resolution, which says, “no amnesty for anyone with any immigration reform.” And we should not have amnesty. We should be a nation that is directed under the rule of law.




Until we secure the borders, nothing else matters. And then we have to start enforcing the laws that are on the books. There’s only one new law I would like to see passed. One, and only one. And that’s one to make English the official language of America.



We’ve got to go back to the limited government as our founding fathers meant it, and that means by golly we’ve got to go back to the Constitution. When I was sworn into the Marine Corps, when I was sworn into Congress, I swore to uphold the Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic. Both political parties today are domestic enemies to the Constitution. I’m fighting those people. I’m a freedom fighter. I’m fighting for liberty and freedom.

 

Former Komen Exec Karen Handel Fundraising Off Planned Parenthood Debacle

Remember two years ago when the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation abruptly dropped its grants to a Planned Parenthood breast-cancer screening program, setting off a national outcry, and prompting the resignation of the Komen official reportedly behind the decision?

The fallout of the debacle is still hurting Komen, which recently reported a 22 percent drop in income over the past year. But the decision to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood seems to be paying off for one person: Karen Handel, the former Komen vice president who was widelyreported to have been the driving force behind split.

Now running for Senate in Georgia, Handel has released a campaign video touting her role in severing Planned Parenthood from Komen and fighting back against the “left-wing groups” and “liberal media” that criticized her.

Back when the news first broke that Komen had dumped Planned Parenthood, Handel denied that the decision was motivated at all by her anti-choice politics, despite reports from sources in the organization that said she manipulated its rules to cast Planned Parenthood out.

The campaign video has a different take, framing Handel as an anti-choice crusader caught in a David vs. Goliath struggle. “As a strong believer in the sanctity of life, Karen Handel had to make a decision: keep quiet in the face of the liberal onslaught, or stand by her convictions,” the video announces.

In speeches and interviews, Handel has made the Planned Parenthood showdown a centerpiece of her biography. She even paved the way for her Senate run by releasing a book calling Planned Parenthood “thugs” and “bullies.”

Whatever Handel’s motivations or role in the Komen/Planned Parenthood split, the whole episode seems to be working out pretty well for her. The decision that Handel advocated for might have left Komen struggling financially, but Handel herself now has the perfect story to prove her status as an anti-choice activist martyred by the liberal media.

50 Years Later, John Lewis Returns to Podium as Sole Surviving March Speaker

Recently The New York Times reminded us that Representative John Lewis is still marching on Washington, 50 years later.

On August 28, 1963, as the 23-year-old chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lewis took the podium on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Tomorrow, as the 73-year-old representative from Georgia's 5th congressional district, he will commemorate the 50th anniversary of those remarks.

Representative Lewis returns to the podium as the sole surviving speaker from the March on Washington.

A half century ago he was the torchbearer for youth leadership in the Civil Rights Movement. The message he delivered still hits home for youth leaders like those of Young People For.

Here at YP4 we know that “justice for all” is an expansive idea that includes pushing for and protecting civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT equality and more. It means rededicating ourselves to the promise of vibrant, safe, democratic communities. It means fighting for a country where our voices are not drowned out by massive corporate spending to influence our elections. It means standing up to groups like ALEC which push extreme laws threatening the wellbeing of our communities, such as the “Stand Your Ground” laws that YP4 alumni like [Phillip] Agnew – leader of the Dream Defenders in Florida – have been fighting to change.

In other words, we know that “justice for all” is a promise that has yet to be realized.

Join us tomorrow as Representative Lewis and others once again bring the struggle for jobs, justice, and freedom back to the nation's capital. Check out MLKDREAM50 for information on the full week of events.

PFAW Foundation

Rep. Broun: Immigration Law a Ploy to Doom America, 'Keep Democrats in Power for Perpetuity'

Georgia Republican congressman and Senate candidate Paul Broun has hardly hid his opposition to creating a new immigration policies. Back in June, for instance, he warned that immigration reform would “destroy our country” and “destroy our Constitution and limited government.”

Speaking with Steve Malzberg earlier this week, Broun repeated his warning that if the House GOP compromises at all on immigration, “America, economically, is doomed because we cannot afford to put these people on government largesse.”

By “these people,” Broun means formerly undocumented immigrations working toward citizenship, whom Broun claims Sen. Chuck Schumer, one of the authors of the Senate immigration bill, “wants to put on…federal welfare programs and federal largesse so that they vote for the Democrats and keep Democrats in power for perpetuity.”

“Anything that Chuck Schumer’s for, any freedom-loving American should be against,” Broun added.

Minister Leslie Watson Malachi: On Voting Rights, More Bridges to Cross

In response to the Supreme Court's recent Voting Rights Act decision, Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights hero and Georgia congressman, said, "I take it very personally. I gave a little blood on that bridge for the right to vote, for the right to participate in a democratic process."

Representative John Lewis: "There's other bridges to walk across"

The Supreme Court's ruling in Shelby is a setback, or as Representative Lewis put it to ABC's Jeff Zeleny earlier today: "What the Supreme Court did was to put a dagger in the very heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965." But it's also part of the voting rights bridge that we must continue fighting to get across.
PFAW Foundation

1000-Day Judicial Vacancy in Georgia

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

The Dangers of Getting a PhD in History From David Barton University

Recently, Georgia state Senator Barry Loudermilk appeared on TBN's "Praise the Lord" where he made the rather familiar argument that the Founding Fathers took the concepts of the separation of powers and the three branches of government directly out of the Bible.

Claiming that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington all directly cited the Bible as justification for these concepts, Loudermilk asserted that Jeremiah 17:9's claim that "the heart is devious above all else" made the Founder realize the need to divide power among various branches of government, which they took directly from Isaiah 33:22's declaration that "the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king":

If that argument seems familiar, it is because it came directly from David Barton, who has made the baseless assertion time and time and time again:

It is untrue every time Barton says it and is equally untrue when Loudermilk mindlessly repeats it.

PFAWF Releases Reports on Outside Election Spending in 21 States, Organizes ‘Money Out/Voters In’ Events Across the U.S.

Out of State Money Floods Contests in 2012

Washington, DC –  Today People For the American Way Foundation unveiled new state-by-state fact sheets detailing outside spending in U.S. Senate and House races in 21 states.  Each report analyzes the outside spending totals from Super PACs, dark money groups, and out-of-state spenders in the down ballot federal races from the 2012 election cycle.  The fact sheets reveal that, on average, a majority of outside election money in these states came from Super PACs.  And in every case, a vast majority came from organizations registered outside of the state.

The release of the “Outside Spending, Outsized Influence” reports coincide with the weekend marking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC  to draw attention to the dual threats of voter suppression and unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics. The reports – a partnership between PFAWF and U.S. PIRG – are part of the Money Out/Voters In campaign.  As part of that campaign, People For the American Way Foundation, its affiliate People For the American Way, and other organizers across the country are hosting “Day of Action” events in more than 76 cities in 33 states this weekend. Members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council will be leading Money Out/Voters In events in Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.

“Last year’s elections were far and away the most expensive in history,” said People For the American Way Foundation Executive Vice President Marge Baker.  “A major reason was the influx of outside, special interest spending in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision. When big money floods our elections, it dwarfs the ability of individual Americans to have their voices heard. Just as important, when politicians push laws to suppress the vote, we turn back the clock on decades on progress to expand and improve our democracy. We need to pursue the full range of remedies to address the problem of too much money in politics, including amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, and we need to stand up against the growing threat of voter suppression.  This weekend we are joining with allies across the country to call for a democracy that gets Money Out and Voters In.”

The states featured in the reports are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

For links to each report, please visit: http://www.pfaw.org/issues/outside-spending-outsized-influence-big-and-s...

For more information about the Money Out/Voters In campaign or the Days of Action, please visit: http://www.moneyout-votersin.org

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Right Wing Round-Up - 11/14/12

Memo: Behind the Scenes, Silent Obstruction of Judicial Nominees

To: Interested Parties
From: Marge Baker, People For the American Way
Date: May 4, 2012

Subject: Behind the Scenes, Silent Obstruction of Judicial Nominees

Senate Republicans’ systematic obstruction of President Obama’s nominees to the federal courts is by now well known. The President’s confirmed nominees have on average waited four times as long between committee approval and a vote from the full Senate than did George W. Bush’s nominees at this point in his term. The vast majority of these, once the GOP’s obstruction options are exhausted, are confirmed overwhelmingly.

What is less well known – and largely hidden in behind-the-scenes Senate procedure – is that this systematic obstruction often begins long before a nominee has been sent from the Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor. In fact, Senate Republicans are routinely using procedural tactics to delay the consideration and approval of the President’s judicial nominees by the Judiciary Committee.

This silent obstruction adds another layer of gridlock to an already gridlocked process – and it does so away from the spotlight of the media and the scrutiny of constituents.

Pre-Committee: Withholding Blue Slips

Under procedures adopted by Chairman Leahy as a bipartisan courtesy to his fellow senators, the Judiciary Committee does not consider a judicial nominee until both of that nominee’s home-state senators have submitted a “blue slip” allowing the nominee to move forward. The submission of a blue slip does not imply support of the nominee – merely that the nomination should be considered by the Judiciary Committee.

Despite the serious implications of withholding a blue slip, senators can do so without giving a reason and even without a public announcement – making it impossible to know how often the practice occurs. But several recent incidents that have been publicized show just how willing some GOP senators are to prevent unquestionably qualified and mainstream nominees from even reaching a Senate hearing.

In Arizona, a two-year-old emergency vacancy remains unfilled despite the existence of a well-qualified nominee who has been waiting since June 2011 for a Senate hearing. Rosemary Márquez, President Obama’s nominee to the District Court based out of Tucson, was rated unanimously qualified by the American Bar Association and has the support of a large cross-section of Arizona’s legal community. But Sens. McCain and Kyl have held up Márquez’s nomination for ten months by refusing to submit blue slips to the Judiciary Committee.

Márquez is not alone. In February, the President nominated Elissa Cadish, a state district court judge in Nevada, to fill an empty seat on the U.S. District Court. Cadish is widely recognized as being qualified for the federal bench, including by a unanimous panel of the American Bar Association. But Sen. Dean Heller is withholding his blue slip anyway and thus blocking the Judiciary Committee from even considering her nomination.

Heller’s objection to Cadish is this: one month before the Supreme Court overturned decades of case law to hold that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms, Cadish stated – accurately – that then-current case law did not recognize such a right. For a nominee for a lower federal court, who is expected to rely on Supreme Court precedent rather than create her own, it was a statement of fact, one that four members of the United States Supreme Court agreed with just a few weeks later. For Heller, it disqualifies her from even being considered for a federal judgeship.

Similarly, Eleventh Circuit nominee Jill Pryor is being kept from a Senate hearing by home-state Republican senators who have already acknowledged that she is qualified for a federal judgeship but want her in a different seat – one on the U.S. District Court. Georgia senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson have said that they’re fine with Pryor being a federal judge. Pryor’s skills and experience aren’t in doubt: she’s received a host of awards for her work in the courtroom and has been a leader in Georgia’s legal community. The senators’ beef is simply that they have someone else in mind for the Circuit Court seat the president nominated her to, and they seem willing to keep an emergency vacancy unfilled until they get their way.

All of these nominations are being held hostage by Republican senators who are silently filibustering them by refusing to consent to the Judiciary Committee’s even holding hearings on their merits.

In Committee: No-Shows and Routine Delays

Twice this year, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have prevented nominees from moving forward by simply not showing up at committee hearings and preventing a quorum. These “boycotts” kept the committee from holding votes on nominees who had already had hearings before the committee, further delaying already delayed nominations.

The walk-outs provided a more public accent to what was already routine obstruction by Judiciary Republicans. Committee rules allow the minority party to delay votes on nominees by requesting a one-week holdover, a provision designed to permit members who have questions about a particular nominee to get those questions answered. Under President Bush, such holdover requests were occasionally made to consider particular questions about particular nominees. Under President Obama, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have used this tactic routinely, holding over all but five of more than 150 nominees.

Conclusion

Senate Republicans have been using nearly every procedural tactic at their disposal to stall President Obama’s judicial nominees at every step in the nominations process. Very few of these maneuvers come with explanations, and those that do are often blown far out of proportion.

The result has been a record vacancy crisis in the federal courts, inexcusable delays for Americans seeking justice, and eroded trust in gridlocked Congress.

Media contact: Miranda Blue, (202) 467-4999, media@pfaw.org

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Georgia “Pastor of the Day” Tony Byrd: Compromise Leads to Catastrophe

Rev. Tony Byrd of Zebulon Baptist Church in Toccoa, GA raised eyebrows last month when he ranted against gays, liberals and the media on the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives. Byrd had been invited by Rep. Michael Harden to give the morning invocation and be the “Pastor of the Day.” The morning prayer is intended to be inclusive, and not a soap box for the pastor’s political views. Byrd’s sponsor, Harden, even said in his introduction that the morning invocation is “the part where can all come together and be quiet before all the ruckus starts.”

Byrd couldn’t help himself and got the ruckus started early. With a captive audience of legislators, he turned the morning prayer into a political rant:
 
 
The following Sunday, Byrd spoke to his congregation about his experience at the state capitol:
When I went there, I was not gonna back off the issue. I was gonna stand upon the authority of the word of almighty God. I think I said it the way the Lord wanted me to say it. […]
 
It was weird being there. They hemmed me in with a bunch of chairs and [House Speaker David Ralston], he’s a big old joker. Sitting right here.
 
When I left there I knew I did the right thing. Because, you know what, this nation needs to turn back to God.
 
Byrd didn’t mention to his congregation, or legislators, that most of his rant/sermon came straight from SermonCentral.com. (Compare this to this, starting at 2:15.)
 
However, the part where he ranted against gays, liberals and the media was wholly his own. That type of talk would not come as a surprise to his congregation, which has heard him say much worse.
 
In fact, Byrd’s appearance at the capitol was downright tame compared his sermon last October on the evils of compromise and the moral bankruptcy of America. Byrd said that compromise leads to catastrophe, citing homosexuality and abortion. He went on to rail against TV sitcoms, which “have some kind of homosexual agenda involved in them” and equate gays with drug addicts. The bottom line, he argued, is that “we’re going down the tubes.”
 

 

Jill Pryor Nominated to the 11th Circuit

President Obama has announced the nomination of Jill Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Pryor would fill a vacancy that has been declared an emergency by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Pryor's legal skills are recognized by her peers. The Best Lawyers in America recognized her from 2009-2011, and Georgia Super Lawyers selected her as one of the "Top 100 Super Lawyers" in 2010 and 2011. In addition, she has served as president of the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers, as well as on the Georgia State Bar's Board of Governors.

Her peers are not alone in recognizing Pryor's qualifications. Georgia's Republican senators have both stated that she is qualified for a lifetime judicial appointment. In a January 24 letter to President Obama, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson recommended three attorneys to fill judicial vacancies in Georgia. They recommended Pryor for one of the two vacant seats in the Northern District of Georgia, but President Obama recognized that she has the skills and experience needed to serve on the Eleventh Circuit Court.

This seat has been vacant since August of 2010. We hope that Sens. Chambliss and Isakson, who clearly recognize Pryor's qualifications and judicial temperament, quickly give their approval for the Judiciary Committee to proceed to examine the nomination.

PFAW

Protecting Constitutional Citizenship: 14th Amendment under Fire

Anti-immigrant activists would have us believe that doing away with constitutional citizenship in the 14th Amendment will stem the tide of illegal immigration. In reality, this radical redefinition of citizenship would do nothing to solve the problems we’re facing and would instead force countless children into the shadows due to someone else’s choice that was out of their hands.
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