Georgia

GOP House Candidate Jody Hice Touts Bundy Ranch Standoff As Symbol Of Anti-Gay Fight

In a radio program posted online Monday, Georgia pastor Jody Hice, the GOP nominee to replace Paul Broun in the U.S. House, linked the anti-government Bundy ranch standoff to anti-gay politics, saying that the militia groups that faced off against the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada were a symbol of Americans standing up against Big Government incursions on their liberties…like the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“There is unquestionably an undercurrent that is taking place across America where people are getting fed up,” he said. “They are saying to themselves and now beginning to say to themselves, ‘Enough is enough. We are not going to sit back while our government tramples over our liberties.’”

I will never forget these ranchers on horseback continuing to walk slowly toward the BLM. They were prepared to die. They were ready for confrontation. They were saying, ‘Enough is enough. You’re not going to trample on our rights any more. You have gone far enough and no further will you go.’

I mean, that was the statement being made by the ranchers and they continued marching toward the BLM. You will remember what happened, eventually the BLM never fired a shot, instead they got in their vehicles and left. Again, one of the other reasons they did not fire a shot is because all these ranchers, the cowboys and many, many others around them were themselves armed and ready for action if it came to that point, thank God it did not, but they were prepared just in case.

Now, that’s the image that comes to my mind. There is unquestionably an undercurrent that is taking place across America where people are getting fed up. They are saying to themselves and now beginning to say to themselves, ‘Enough is enough. We are not going to sit back while our government tramples over our liberties.’

And the examples are numerous. We could deal with different scenarios I don’t know how many times, they are abundant in the various ways in which this is taking place.

Now, I want to give you just what is the latest example: the whole battle over gay marriage, and in particular gay marriage as it relates to businesses, that businesses cannot remain committed to their personal religious convictions if there is ever a confrontation between those religious beliefs and same-sex marriage.

What Happened To GOP House Candidate Jody Hice's Radio Archives?

This week, pastor, radio host and Religious Right activist Jody Hice won the GOP primary to succeed Rep. Paul Broun in the U.S. House in Georgia’s 10th District.

Now, it seems that he may be trying to brush his record of extremism under the rug.

In the weeks leading up to this week's primary, we and several other outlets posted audio excerpts from Hice's extensive radio archives. Now, suddenly, all of the shows we had listened to are nowhere to be found. Each of the four radio programs we had linked to and excerpted have been removed from YouTube. In fact, all of Hice’s radio programs from before last month have disappeared from his show’s YouTube page.

We’ve reached out to Hice’s campaign to ask about the removal of the archives and will update this post if we hear back. But in the meantime you can listen to the audio we have captured, since removed from YouTube, of Hice blaming the Sandy Hook shooting on the separation of church and state,

lamenting that homosexuality “enslaves” people “in a lifestyle that frankly they are not,”

complaining about hate crimes protections for transgender people,

and musing on the meaning of “blood moons” on Jewish holidays.

Jody Hice Says The Second Amendment Gives Citizens The Right To Own 'Cannons And Bazookas And Missiles'

As Miranda noted yesterday, Jody Hice, a Religious Right activist and radio host with a long history of making outrageous statements, won a run-off election in Georgia to become the official Republican Party nominee for a seat in Congress.

Hice seems to have almost completely wiped away the archives of his radio broadcasts when he decided to run for office but some of his programs still remain available, such as this one posted on YouTube in which Hice reacts to the 2012 shooting that killed twelve people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado by blaming the separation of church and state, legal abortion, and evolution.

"The more the Judeo-Christian principles of our Founders are removed," Hice said, "the more you can expect Batman theater-type events taking place, the more you can expect Columbine and Virginia Tech-type tragedies occurring in America. This is what you get absent God."

Hice went on to blame things like legal abortion and the teaching of evolution is schools for conditioning people to accept the idea that "life is meaningless" and "the more we promote that junk ... the more we will get this type of result":

Hice then spent the second half of his program warning that liberals would seek to use the shooting to push for gun control, prompting him to stake out the extreme position that there are to be no limits on the Second Amendment because American citizens have the right to possess literally any weapon that the government possesses.

"It is my belief that any, any, any, any weapon that our government and law enforcement possesses," Hice said, "ought to be allowed for individuals to possess in this country."

Apparently this applies to tanks, fighter jets, and even nuclear weapons because, Hice argued, so long as people can pay for them and don't have a criminal record, they have a right to protect themselves from a tyrannical government with the same weapons that the government can use against them.

"The Second Amendment," he said, "is about us defending ourselves against potentially tyrannical government. You cannot defend yourself with a BB gun if your opponent has cannons and bazookas and missiles":

Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk Win GOP Primaries In Georgia

Two candidates with sterling Religious Right credentials won runoff primary elections yesterday to become GOP nominees to the U.S. House in Georgia.

Jody Hice won a primary to succeed Rep. Paul Broun in Georgia’s 10th District, and seems prepared to pick up Broun’s mantle as one of the most far-right members of Congress.

In 2012, Hice wrote a book in which he claimed that gay people have launched a scheme to “sodomize” children and proposed that Muslims be denied First Amendment rights.

Hice, a Baptist pastor, also hosts a syndicated radio show in which he has compared homosexuality to alcoholism and lamented that it “enslaves” people “in a lifestyle that frankly they are not”; blamed school shootings on the end of government-sponsored school prayer; and speculated about the prophetic qualities of “blood moons.”

Hice, who made his name advocating for copies of the Ten Commandments to be displayed in government buildings, once told a newspaper reporter  that a woman should be free to run for public office….as long as she stays “within the authority of her husband.”

And just last week, Hice suggested that the crisis of refugee children at the southern border might need to be dealt with through “Second Amendment” means.

Also winning his GOP primary in Georgia yesterday was state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, who beat former Rep. Bob Barr in a runoff in the 11th District. Loudermilk is an acolyte of fake historian David Barton, who endorsed his campaign. When he won Barton’s endorsement, Loudermilk said, "There is no greater expert on the U.S. Constitution and the underpinnings of American government, than David Barton."

The Right Wing's Inflammatory Reaction to the Border Crisis

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As we’re dealing with the refugee crisis on the southern border, right-wing elected officials have amped up their inappropriate, inflammatory rhetoric to dehumanize immigrants and attack immigration reform:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz announced last week that his new “top priority”  in Washington is to end President Obama’s deferred action program for DREAMers and deport undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. While trying to soften his appearance by bringing teddy bears and soccer balls to children at the southern border, he proclaimed that “as long as that promise of amnesty is there, more and more children will come... We need to eliminate the promise of amnesty.”
  • Rep. Louie Gohmert claims children being held are a problem because “we don’t even know what all diseases they have” and added that our healthcare system “can’t withstand the influx,” which, he believes was orchestrated by President Obama to recruit millions of people to cast fraudulent ballots for Democrats.
  • Sen. David Vitter has “had it with undocumented immigrants,” and tweeted on Friday that “enough is enough.” To deal with the crisis, he introduced a bill that would “require mandatory detention for anyone” that is in the U.S. illegally, in order to get “illegal aliens on the next plane home.” (Mother Jones calculated that this effort would require more than 64,000 planes to actually work.)
  • Rep. Tom Tancredo shared a similar plan when he said that President Obama should “sign an executive order saying all these people ought to be returned. Put them on buses or planes, send them back to the countries from which they came and have the governments there take care of it.”
  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, claimed that these unaccompanied minors from Central America are probably “gangbangers” and questioned why they are being sent to this county in the first place.

Of course, elected extremists aren’t the only ones making outrageous statements:

  • The Minuteman Project’s Jim Gilchrist said this crisis is “part of a concerted effort to transfer populations of Central America and Mexico into the United States using minor children, illegal immigrants under the age of 18, as human shields… to detour our ability to enforce our immigration laws.”
  • The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios suggested the child refugees should be quarantined like lepers used to be, harking back to “biblical times” when the “lepers were separated” because it was “understood that leprosy was so contagious.” Rios' fretted that these children are transported in the “same planes that you and I fly in… How do we know about lice and disease before they get on public transportation?”
  • Jody Hice, running to replace Georgia Rep. Paul Broun in the U.S. House, suggested that people take up arms in response to “a government that refuses to secure our borders” because “that is the reason we have a Second Amendment.”

The Right Wing's inflammatory rhetoric distorts the reality of the crisis, causing more conflict and damage.

PFAW

GOP House Candidate Suggests 'Second Amendment' Response To Border Crisis

Jody Hice, a Republican candidate to replace Rep. Paul Broun in Georgia’s congressional delegation, told a conservative radio show last week that “we have the responsibility as individuals and as states to step up in those areas where our federal government will not,” and suggested that people might have to take up arms in response to “a government that refuses to secure our borders.”

In an interview with Liberty Conservatives last week, Hice predicted (correctly) that Texas would send National Guard troops to the southern border in response to the crisis of children fleeing violence in Central America.

But then he went further. In response to a question about the border crisis, Hice said, “that is the reason we have a Second Amendment.”

“Ultimately, it’s not about hunting and fishing and that type of thing,” he said. “It’s about our ability as individuals to defend ourselves, be it in our own private property, but most importantly, ultimately, it comes down to the right of defending ourselves against tyranny should our government ever become a threat to our liberties. And when you are talking about a government that refuses to secure our borders, you are talking about a government that is not taking seriously its responsibility to defend us.”

“We have the responsibility as individuals and as states to step up in those areas where our federal government will not,” he added.

h/t Balloon Juice

Bob Barr Challenges Barry Loudermilk To Disavow David Barton's Endorsement

Georgia State Senator Barry Loudermilk is currently seeking the Republican Party's nomination for a seat in Congress and has been touting the endorsement he received from "nationally recognized author, historian and constitutional expert David Barton."

Loudermilk's admiration of Barton is no secret, given that he mindlessly repeats Barton's lies in his own presentations, but now it seems that it is becoming an issue in his campaign as he was asked to repudiate Barton's endorsement earlier this week during a debate with his GOP primary opponent, former Congressman Bob Barr.

A clip from the debate was posted on YouTube by Bartowpolitics showing Barr noting that Loudermilk has very proudly accepted Barton's endorsement despite the fact, Barr said, that Barton "has been roundly and uniformly criticized with facts for taking positions that are anti-Semitic [and] that are against women voting."

Barr asked Loudermilk to disavow Barton's endorsement, but Loudermilk refused to do so, saying that he had no idea where Barr was getting his information and saying that Barton "had done a tremendous job of reintroducing Americans to their true heritage ... so, no, I'm not going to stand out here and disavow an endorsement of somebody that I believe has done a tremendous job in reintroducing Americans to their true heritage":

The allegation that Barton spoke to anti-Semitic groups stems back over twenty years and Barton has consistently insisted that he was not aware of the views of some of the groups that he addressed. 

As for the claim that Barton is "against women voting," that comes from an ironically Bartonesque misrepresentation of a radio program he did earlier this year when he asserted that the Founding Fathers did not grant women the right to vote in order "to keep the family together."

We have listened to literally thousands of hours of Barton's programs and presentations and he can be justifiably criticized for a lot of things (most notably, being a serial liar), but being anti-Semitic and against women voting should not be among them.

Joe Arpaio Wannabe Quits Following Racist Text Message Scandal

A sheriff in Georgia who wanted to bring notorious anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio’s methods to his jurisdiction has resigned following a scandal over racist text messages.

The Newnan Times-Herald reports:

Embattled Grantville Police Chief Doug Jordan has officially resigned.

On Friday Jordan was suspended upon allegations of several text messages that were allegedly sent by Jordan to Grantville police officers which contained derogatory language – specifically the “N-word,” according to Grantville Mayor Jim Sells.

“When we approached the chief in regards to these allegations, he did not deny them and accepted some culpability,” Sells said. “Following this revelation, he was immediately placed on suspension.”



Grantville City Council was originally slated to discuss the reasons of the suspension and review their options in regards to Jordan during a closed session Monday evening. However, since Jordan resigned on Sunday, the matter will not be taken up since he is no longer an official city employee.

One sign that it may have been inevitable that Jordan was caught in a racial bias scandal?

He wanted to be the Joe Arpaio of Georgia, viewing the discriminatory Maricopa County sheriff as a model.

“I was very interested in how he described his ability to make people mad at him by simply enforcing the state and federal laws he is sworn to uphold,” Jordan said. “I told him, ‘It’s this simple, we the people of the United States, either citizens or politicians, do not have the pleasure to pick and choose which laws we will abide by. As law enforcement officials, we do not get to pick and choose which laws we enforce.’”



“We are in the process of setting up some training for the Grantville officers to travel to Arizona and get hands-on training,” Jordan said. …

“I plan to make a change here in Grantville,” Jordan said, “and being as tough on crime as Sheriff Arpaio is will help make the city of Grantville a safe place to live and raise a family. We are on the right track now.”

“Any chance that I can send a Grantville police officer to Arizona to train with the best would be unheard of without the support from Sheriff Arpaio,” he added.

Spurned Georgia Group Launching Even More Extreme Rival To National Right To Life Committee

A no-compromise anti-choice group that was recently ousted as National Right to Life Committee’s Georgia affiliate is launching a new, even more extreme national group to compete with NRLC.

In April, we wrote about the drama in Georgia, where an upstart group backed by pundit Erick Erickson succeeded in booting Georgia Right to Life from its spot in the NRLC. Their feud was over not ideology, but strategy. NRLC and Erickson backed a 20-week abortion ban in the House that included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest; Georgia Right to Life and other hardline groups said that those exemptions made the bill unacceptable:

While all the major anti-choice groups share the same goal — criminalizing all abortions under nearly all circumstances — they differ in how to go about reaching that goal in a post-Roe v. Wade world. This came to a boil last year, when the House voted on a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. At the last minute, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor added rape and incest exemptions to the bill after the legislation’s chief sponsor, Trent Franks, stoked controversy when he said “ the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low .” The addition of rape and incest exceptions then caused the anti-choice movement to split.

National Right to Life supported the revised bill and included the vote on its congressional scorecard . But Georgia Right to Life, then the state affiliate of NRLC, opposed the revised bill because of its rape and incest exceptions and urged House members to “vote against this shameful legislation.” Two Georgia Republicans, including Rep. Paul Broun, who is now running for Senate, crossed party lines to vote against the bill, siding with Georgia Right to Life.

One of the loudest critics of Georgia Right to Life’s insubordination was Georgia-based conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who called the group the “Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement.” A few weeks ago, a new group with Erickson on its board sprung up with the goal of replacing Georgia Right to Life as the official state affiliate of NRLC. And this weekend, they succeeded, as NRLC cut ties with Georgia Right to Life and took on Erickson’s group, Georgia Life Alliance, in its place.

Today, Georgia Right to Life struck back, announcing that it is forming the National Personhood Alliance, a new network of state-level groups that that support the no-compromise strategy. In a press release announcing the move, Georgia Right to Life President Daniel Becker takes a clear swipe at National Right to Life: “Compromise is not possible. This is not like roads or highways or agricultural subsidies; when we compromise - someone dies."

"The focus of NPA will differ from most national pro-life groups," Becker said. "The general consensus of many in the movement is that it's time for a fresh strategy for ending the disregard for innocent human life. We intend to be 'standard-bearers' as opposed to 'king-makers'. This will require the application, politically and legislatively, of a higher standard than is currently embraced by most national pro-life groups today."

Becker said, "There has been an overwhelming call from many within the movement to form a new national pro-life group which will represent us on Capitol Hill."

The new organization will be officially formed at a convention to be held in Atlanta, GA on October 10th and 11th. Representatives of existing pro-life organizations and leaders from across the country are invited. Attendees who affirm the founding charter will begin the process of electing a national board of directors representing each state.

"The pro-life movement is more than 40 years old," Becker said. "From its inception in the late 1960's, the focus has primarily been on ending abortion. Our concern must be expanded to encompass the dignity and value of each human being at any developmental stage through natural death.

"To achieve that goal, we must ensure that our strategies are consistent with our policies and objectives. Compromise is not possible. This is not like roads or highways or agricultural subsidies; when we compromise - someone dies."

Keith Mason, Personhood USA President: "Personhood USA looks forward to working with emerging groups like the National Personhood Alliance who share our commitment to never compromise on the lives of pre-born babies."

The new National Personhood Alliance has the support of Personhood USA and claims to have allied groups in 17 states. It has also racked up endorsements from Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, talk show host Steve Deace, and a number of anti-choice activists.

2001 Recording Undercuts Georgia Judicial Nominee Mike Boggs' 2014 Testimony

A 2001 recording shows that legislators discussed the threat to abortion providers posed by legislation that Mike Boggs voted for.
PFAW

7 Outrageous Rants From GOP House Candidate Jody Hice On Blood Moons, Sandy Hook, Women And 'Judicial Terrorists'

When Baptist pastor Jody Hice made it into a runoff election last week to succeed Georgia Rep. Paul Broun in the U.S. House, Tim Murphy at Mother Jones did a great public service by reading Hice’s 2012 book, in which he alleged that gay people have a secret plot to “sodomize” kids and posited that Muslims don’t deserve First Amendment rights.

While Hice might have crystalized his thinking in his book, his long record as an activist and host of a syndicated radio show reveals his views on many other subjects, including mass shootings, the role of women in politics and the appearance of "blood moons."

1. Hice has no problem with women entering politics as long as they ask their husbands first

Hice weighed in on a 2004 Athens Banner-Herald story on an increase in women holding political office in Georgia, saying that he didn’t “see a problem” with a woman entering politics as long as she’s “within the authority of her husband.”

''If the woman's within the authority of her husband, I don't see a problem,'' Dr. Jody Hice of the Bethlehem First Baptist church in Barrow County said of women in positions of political power.

2. He warned that homosexuality “enslaves” people “in a lifestyle that frankly they are not”

In a November, 2013, radio program, Hice reacted to laws banning so-called “conversion therapy” for minors by lamenting that by banning harmful “ex-gay” therapy, “we are enslaving and entrapping potentially hundreds of thousands of individuals in a lifestyle that frankly they are not.”

He went on to compare being gay to alcoholism, drug addiction, “tendencies to lie” and “tendencies to be violent.”

3. He doesn’t think Muslims should have First Amendment rights, but can’t bother to pronounce their names

In his book, Hice writes that “[a]lthough Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology. It is a complete geo-political structure, and as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection."

The pastor elaborated on this theory in a speech to a Tea Party group in 2011, where he specified that he only wanted to deny First Amendment rights to Muslims who “embrace all of Islam.”

Hice told the standing room-only crowd that there is an important distinction between many Muslims and Islam.

"Our general concept is a Muslim is someone who adheres to Islam. That is true to an extent, but that is not the whole truth," Hice said.

There are some religious Muslims who follow the five tenets of Islam but don't subscribe to the entirety of what is laid out in the Quran, he said.

"Now those individuals would be included in our First Amendment" protections to 'worship as you want to worship,'" Hice said. "The problem is for those others who embrace all of Islam."

He went on to allege that there are “200 Islamic organizations in the United States that answer directly to the Muslim Brotherhood,” which along with “secularism” amount to “the number one threat” to “our worldview”:

Broadening the conversation pertaining to the potential introduction of Sharia law and other aspects of global Islam into the United States, Hice said there are 200 Islamic organizations in the United States that answer directly to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“It’s about controlling your behavior, when and where you can worship and legal issues. The number one threat is to our worldview and whether we chunk it for secularism or Islam,” Hice said. “So get involved and stay involved. Hold elected officials accountable and pray for our country.”

But he couldn’t name any of the people he was afraid were taking over America, because, as the Newnan Times-Herald reported, “he usually can't pronounce Muslim names anyway, he said.”

4. He warned that “looking cross-eyed” at a transgender person is now a “hate crime”

In an August, 2013, radio program, Hice lamented that “you can’t even speak against a person who is a cross-dresser or a man who wants to believe himself to be a woman” without being convicted of a “hate crime.”

5. He blamed Sandy Hook shooting on America’s “kicking God out of the public square “

After the Sandy Hook massacre, Hice blamed mass shootings on America’s “kicking God out of the public square,” specifically the end of government-sponsored prayer in schools.

6. He advised listeners to “take notice” of the possibility that blood moons could signal “world-changing events”

Hice devoted a segment of his radio program last month to advising listeners to “take notice” and “have your antennas up” about John Hagee’s prediction that recent “blood moons” signal impending “world-changing events.”

7. Two years after 9/11, he complained of “our freedoms being hijacked by judicial terrorists"

Hice made his name in Georgia as the head of Ten Commandments-Georgia, whose goal is to display copies of the Ten Commandments at public buildings throughout the state. Hice led the battle to display a copy of the Ten Commandments in Barrow County, raising money to pay tens of thousands of dollars to Virginia attorney Herb Titus (who has since become a birther activist), but sticking the county with the $150,000 in legal fees it was ordered to pay to the ACLU.

At a November, 2003, rally for a bill drafted by Titus and Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore that would have stripped federal courts of the ability to decide many church-state separation cases, Hice declared, ''We need to send a message -- we are sick and tired of our freedoms being hijacked by judicial terrorists.''

''We are no longer going to tolerate the continual assault on our God, our faith and our freedom by ... these judges of tyranny,'' said the Rev. Jody Hice, pastor of Bethlehem First Baptist Church and president of Ten Commandments-Georgia Inc. ''We need to send a message -- we are sick and tired of our freedoms being hijacked by judicial terrorists.''

In 2005, when the Athens Banner-Herald’s editorial board blasted him for sticking the county with legal fees from his losing Ten Commandments case, he punched back, accusing the ACLU of being an “anti-religious, anti-moral and utterly anti-American” group that perpetrated an act of “moral terrorism” by suing over his Ten Commandments display.

Also in the editorial, there were some examples of the ACLU representing religious cases. The editorial implied I do not understand their compassionate activities. The fact is, the vast majority of ACLU cases are anti-religious, anti-moral and utterly anti-American, at least from the perspective of America's mainstream. It is no secret the founder of the ACLU was a communist, who specifically instructed his followers to "wave flags" and appear patriotic while undermining the values of America's heritage. It is an erroneous endeavor to try and make the ACLU look pristine when it comes to defending religious liberties.

It is easy to be a "Monday-morning quarterback" and rationalize unfounded accusations. Anyone can advise TC-Ga. of the "reasonable" and "honorable" thing to do. The fact is, we tried.

We should bear in mind the real issue regarding tax money. What are tax dollars for if not to defend our rights? Just look at what our tax dollars are doing to protect us from terrorism. In my opinion, what happened to Barrow County was an act of "moral terrorism," and someone must defend us, even if it includes tax dollars. And if you are going to be upset about spending tax money, instead of blaming TC-Ga.

Six Decades Later, Still Fighting for Equality in Schools

The following is a guest post from the Reverend Dr. Merchuria Chase Williams, a former school teacher and a member of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council.

Last month, sixty years after the Supreme Court threw out the toxic doctrine of “separate but equal,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked us to keep our “eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.” She pointed out that in law and in daily life, race still matters deeply and cannot “be wished away.”

Justice Sotomayor wrote those words in a dissent to the Schuette decision that upheld Michigan’s state constitutional ban on race-based affirmative action, six decades after the famous Brown v. Board of Education ruling that said schools may not be segregated by race. It’s no coincidence that both of these decisions were about education. If anything proves that race still matters in America, it’s our public schools.

While the 1954 Brown decision brought badly needed change and helped invigorate a nationwide civil rights movement, glaring racial inequalities persist to this day – and nowhere are they more evident than in the classroom. In recent years, school segregation has actually gotten worse rather than better. On average, a black student today goes to a school where 29 percent of her fellow students are white – a percentage that has dropped seven points since 1980. Students of color are less likely to have access to a broad range of math and science courses and are more likely to be suspended than their white peers. And according to the Center for American Progress, on average American schools spend hundreds less on each student of color than they do on each white student.

While we may no longer be legally separate, educational opportunities and conditions for our nation’s students are far from equal.

Despite these gaps, big funders on the Right continue to pour money into efforts to privatize the education system rather than strengthen the public education system that the vast majority of our nation’s children use. The Walton Family Foundation, created by the family that established Walmart, has pumped millions into efforts to expand private school vouchers, undermining the public schools that are, in education advocate Diane Ravitch’s words, “the heart of most communities.”

Those of us who have been working for many years to improve the education system in Atlanta and across the country know that we need to support and strengthen public education, not undercut it. We need to work to address ongoing education inequalities for students of different backgrounds, not pretend that race simply doesn’t matter or that racial inequalities do not exist. Let’s use the anniversary of this landmark decision to recommit ourselves to building an education system that truly provides equal opportunities to all of our nation’s children.

Today’s Supreme Court majority may not get it, but the millions of children failed by our school system do.
 

PFAW Foundation

Tell the Senate: Oppose the Confirmation of Michael Boggs

Michael Boggs’s record and statements he’s made about his role as a judge make him unfit for a lifetime position as a United States judge.

PFAW Opposes Nomination of Michael Boggs to be Federal Judge

Federal district court nominee Michael Boggs of Georgia had his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. The hearing was his opportunity to address the many serious concerns we and others have had about his record. When he first ran for office as a state judge, he assured voters that they could know where he stood by looking at his legislative record, including his opposition to marriage equality. But judges aren’t supposed to let their personal political beliefs determine how they rule on cases. In addition, the legislative record he cited is deeply disturbing.

Unfortunately, his testimony in response to senators’ questions only deepened our concerns. So in a letter Wednesday to members of the Senate, People For the American Way expressed strong opposition to this confirmation. PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker and Senior Legislative Counsel Paul Gordon delineated the reasoning behind the organization’s opposition to Boggs’ confirmation.

“[Boggs’] record makes clear that senators should not confirm him to a lifetime position as a United States judge,” the letter states. “…we do not believe Michael Boggs has demonstrated that he would be able to bring to his service as a lifetime judge on the federal courts the requisite impartiality necessary for such a position.”

The five page letter discusses the problems around Boggs’ ability to perform in the role of judge and his actions relating to LGBT equality, reproductive rights, and government promotion of religion. It also discusses the controversy around his support for the inclusion of Confederate imagery in the Georgia state flag, as well as his candor before the Judiciary Committee. You can read the full text of the letter here.
 

PFAW

Voting Rights Advocates Rack Up More Wins

Earlier this month, PFAW reported on what has gone right for voting rights at the state level in 2014. While there is much more work to be done to enact needed reforms and to step up and counter threats when the right to vote is under attack, states like Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina have shown that we can win. Now we've uncovered even more evidence of why we can and should keep fighting the challenges that lay before us.
PFAW

Personhood USA Joins Battle Over Anti-Choice Leadership In Georgia

The radical anti-choice group Personhood USA has waded into the very public battle over the anti-choice movement’s strategy that is playing out in Georgia.

Over the weekend, a long-running feud among abortion-rights opponents broke into a full civil war when the National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest anti-choice group, cut its ties with Georgia Right to Life because of the Georgia group’s hardline, no-compromise strategy.

While all the major anti-choice groups share the same goal – criminalizing all abortions under nearly all circumstances – they differ in how to go about reaching that goal in a post-Roe v. Wade world. This came to a boil last year, when the House voted on a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. At the last minute, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor added rape and incest exemptions to the bill after the legislation’s chief sponsor, Trent Franks, stoked controversy when he said “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” The addition of rape and incest exceptions then caused the anti-choice movement to split.

National Right to Life supported the revised bill and included the vote on its congressional scorecard. But Georgia Right to Life, then the state affiliate of NRLC, opposed the revised bill because of its rape and incest exceptions and urged House members to “vote against this shameful legislation.” Two Georgia Republicans, including Rep. Paul Broun, who is now running for Senate, crossed party lines to vote against the bill, siding with Georgia Right to Life.

One of the loudest critics of Georgia Right to Life’s insubordination was Georgia-based conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who called the group the “Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement.” A few weeks ago, a new group with Erickson on its board sprung up with the goal of replacing Georgia Right to Life as the official state affiliate of NRLC. And this weekend, they succeeded, as NRLC cut ties with Georgia Right to Life and took on Erickson’s group, Georgia Life Alliance, in its place.

NRLC’s decision has served to further split the anti-choice movement. Yesterday, Personhood USA – the group behind radical “personhood” laws – waded into the fight, with its president Keith Mason issuing an open letter to NRLC saying that he was “shocked” by the group’s decision and giving it an ultimatum: “We can have no conflict between us unless it is you who abandon our common aim to protect every human being's right to life. Only then will we part ways.”

National Right to Life,

What does it mean to be pro-life? Is it about protecting every innocent human being or about getting good marks on the NRLC scorecard? I was shocked when I read your decision to revoke affiliation with Georgia Right to Life.

….

It's time to decide what our standard is as a movement. If being pro-life is about getting good marks on the NRLC scorecard and voting the party line, like Eric Cantor, then we will continue to enable political opportunists who have no interest in ending abortion. If it is about protecting the lives and inherent dignity of every unborn child -- Personhood -- then we will praise statesmen who adhere to that standard rather than reprimanding them. That was the standard set by the GOP platform and the legislative agenda endorsed in President Ronald Reagan's Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation.

We are not enemies, but friends. We ought not be enemies, for we are allied in the same great struggle for human dignity. We seek unity with you toward that end. It is in your hands to decide which standard to follow. We can have no conflict between us unless it is you who abandon our common aim to protect every human being's right to life. Only then will we part ways. I ask you to reconsider your commitment to our movement's singular purpose and beg you to rededicate yourselves to protecting and defending Personhood for all, no matter the cost.

UPDATE (4/1/14): The personhood group American Right to Life, which makes no secret of its disdain for NRLC, has also  come out to defend Georgia Right to Life, writing in a press release that NRLC have "lost the vision for victory" and "ruined the term" "pro-life."

New Erick Erickson-Backed Group Ousts Hardline Anti-Choice Org In Georgia

Last week, we wrote about the infighting among anti-choice groups – between those that will settle for nothing short of banning abortion with no exceptions and those that are willing to take a more incremental approach to the same goal – that’s bubbling to the surface in contentious GOP Senate primaries in Kentucky and Georgia.

Georgia’s feud is particularly dramatic: Georgia Right to Life, the state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, broke with the national group last year when it opposed a federal 20-week abortion ban that the national group supported, refusing to endorse the legislation because it included exceptions for rape and incest.

Republican congressman and Senate candidate Paul Broun sided with the state group and voted against the ban because of the rape and incest exceptions; his fellow representatives Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey, who are also running for the Senate seat, sided with the national group and voted for the ban. Former Susan G. Komen executive Karen Handel, another leading Senate contender, also supports rape exceptions to abortion bans.

Georgia Right to Life’s open split with National Right to Life over the 20-week abortion ban drew the ire of Macon-based conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who called the hardline Georgia group “the Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement” and declared, “we need a new pro-life group in Georgia.”

Enter Georgia Life Alliance, a brand new anti-choice group that mysteriously sprung up a few weeks ago with the goal of taking Georgia Right to Life’s spot as the state affiliate of National Right to Life. Erickson quickly acknowledged that he was involved in the new organization and would be on its board.

And this weekend, Erickson completed his coup, as National Right to Life announced that it was ending its relationship with Georgia Right to Life and taking on Georgia Life Alliance as its new affiliate. In a press release, the national organization blamed the split on Georgia Right to Life's insubordination and defended its legislative strategy, claiming it “has helped save millions of lives.”

In short, by its own actions, Georgia Right to Life ruptured its relationship with National Right to Life.

National Right to Life and its affiliates seek to restore legal protection for all unborn children from the moment of their conception. Until the Supreme Court allows broad protections for unborn children, we work to protect as many children as possible by passing the strongest possible laws at the state and federal level. That legislative strategy has helped save millions of lives – and continues to save lives today.

Georgia Right to Life then lashed out in return, calling the national group’s decision a “tragedy”:

“It’s a tragedy that a pioneering, highly successful pro-life organization is considered unworthy to remain affiliated with National Right to Life (NRLC),” Becker said. “It’s especially hard to understand, since GRTL has accomplished so much.”

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Daniel Malloy caught up with Broun, who chided National Right to Life and said he wished everyone in the anti-choice movement would just get along:

“I’m saddened that those of us that believe in life are fighting amongst ourselves. We ought to be fighting to protect the lives of unborn children instead of quibbling about differences of opinion of strategy. I’m honored that Georgia Right to Life has endorsed my candidacy for U.S. Senate. …

“I know that Georgia Right to Life has been at the forefront in the state of Georgia fighting for life. What National Right to Life did is I think unfortunate for the people who have been involved with Georgia Right to Life for a long period of time.”

Anti-Choice Infighting Disrupts Georgia, Colorado Senate Races

In an echo of the electoral battle between Tea Party groups and the establishment GOP, Senate candidates in Colorado and Georgia are being caught up in a long-simmering conflict between purists and pragmatists in the anti-choice movement.

Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado attracted national attention yesterday when he announced that he was reversing his previous support for radical and wildly unpopular anti-choice “personhood” laws. Personhood USA, the primary group pushing such laws, promptly responded with a press release declaring that "Cory Gardner has betrayed the Republican Party, his pro-life voters, and most importantly, unborn babies in Colorado” and (hilariously) insisting that Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election because he didn’t get behind personhood.

Now, the anti-choice site Life News is citing the Susan B. Anthony List's endorsement of Gardner in his previous congressional race to attack Personhood USA, accusing them of trying to sabotage the race. Reporter Steven Erkelt writes:

Unlike Harry Reid and his friends who control the Senate, Cory Gardner will give the pro-life movement another vote and the potential to actually pass legislation that will stop abortions and abortion funding. At a critical time when the rest of the pro-life movement is working in unison to win control of the Senate and stop abortion, Personhood USA should stop misleading pro-lifers about our pro-life candidates.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, anti-choice groups are also engaged in a public spat on strategy, linked to a contentious Republican Senate primary.

A brand new group called Georgia Life Alliance is reportedly challenging Georgia Right to Life, a prominent state anti-choice lobbying group that subscribes to the “all-or-nothing” strategy, for its spot representing Georgia within National Right to Life.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway writes that the public feud between the Georgia groups “has everything to do with the U.S. Senate race,” in which anti-choice absolutist Rep. Paul Broun is vying with Karen Handel, an anti-choice crusader who nevertheless supports legal exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of a pregnant woman – and has been endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List .

There’s an assumption in these quarters that this has everything to do with the U.S. Senate race. U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, is prominently featured on the current GRTL website, praised for his endorsement of the organization’s aggressive approach – which some critics have described as all-or-nothing.

Likewise, the group’s antipathy toward former secretary of state Karen Handel dates to the 2010 race for governor and beyond.

The major point of contention: The National Right to Life organization allows for exceptions to abortion bans in cases of rape and incest. GRTL does not, and has insisted that no politician who endorses those exceptions can be considered pro-life.

Last June, Broun voted against a “fetal pain” abortion bill backed by House Republicans that would ban abortions after a fetus is 20 weeks old. He and Georgia Right to Life blanched when House Republican leaders inserted exceptions for rape and incest.

The vote last year on the national 20-week abortion ban pitted National Right to Life, which supported the ban even though it contained rape and incest exceptions, against Georgia Right to Life, which sided with Broun in saying it didn’t go far enough, and subsequently endorsed him for Senate.

Two other Georgia representatives in the race, Rep. Phil Gingrey and Rep. Jack Kingston, sided with the national group voted for the bill with the rape and incest exceptions, with Kingston saying, “As we live in this post Roe v. Wade world, the reality is that we have to play chess, not checkers."

In response to Georgia Right for Life’s breaking of ranks on the 20-week bill, RedState blogger Erick Erickson called for the formation of a rival Georgia group, a wish that has apparently come true this week.

UPDATE (3/27/14): Surprise, surprise: It turns out that Erickson was involved in the creation of Georgia Life Alliance, and will be on its board

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to clarify that Life News was citing Susan B. Anthony List's endorsement of Cory Gardner in a previous race.

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.
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