Kentucky

Jade Helm 15 Is Here! The GOP Politicians Who Encouraged Panic Over President Obama's 'Texas Takeover'

This spring, when far-right conspiracy theory websites started buzzing about Jade Helm 15, a planned military exercise in western states that they said was a cover for President Obama’s plans to impose martial law on Republicans states, we expected apoplectic reactions from the fringiest of right-wing circles. But who else was going to take it seriously?

Plenty of people, it turns out, including Republican politicians seeking to capitalize on anti-Obama fears in order to lift their profile in the increasingly far-right party — a poll in May found that a full one-third of Republicans believed that the government was “trying to take over Texas.”

Today, as the military exercise begins, we look back at five Republican politicians who, whether credulously or cynically, fed the Jade Helm 15 frenzy.

1. Greg Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was the first GOP politician this fringe conspiracy theory into the Republican mainstream, assuring concerned citizens that he had ordered the Texas Guard to monitor the potential takeover effort.

After he became the object of national criticism and ridicule, Abbott said that the actually thought the military exercise would “work out just fine” and blamed President Obama for stirring up suspicion:

“Frankly, I gotta tell you, I think the cause of the underlying concerns is that we see instances, like a shooting in Fort Hood by a terrorist, that the president labels workplace violence. We see the president come to the border in Texas and say it’s safer than it’s ever been,” said Abbott. “And so I think it was a misplaced perception by people in Texas who have problems with the Obama administration and connected that trust with the Obama administration to the military.”

2. Rick Perry

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry initially criticized Abbott’s fanning of the Jade Helm 15 flames, saying that while “you can always question” civilian leadership, “I think our military is quite trustworthy.”

But the presidential candidate quickly got the messaging memo, telling Glenn Beck that while President Obama invites unhinged conspiracy theories, when he’s president, everyone will trust the government:

3. Ted Cruz

Not to be outdone by his presidential rival Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz assured his flock that he had “ reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise ,” and although he had “no reason to doubt” the official line about the training exercise, “I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, “because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.”

4. Louie Gohmert

After Abbott ordered the Texas Guard to monitor Jade Helm 15, Rep. Louie Gohmert threw himself into promoting the conspiracy theory, releasing a statement saying that the conspiracy theorists were “legitimately suspicious” because “true patriots” and Christians were being persecuted in America.

Gohmert continued with some theories of his own:

Once I observed the map depicting ‘hostile,’ ‘permissive,’ and ‘uncertain’ states and locations, I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, ‘cling to their guns and religion,’ and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution. When the federal government begins, even in practice, games or exercises, to consider any U.S. city or state in 'hostile' control and trying to retake it, the message becomes extremely calloused and suspicious.

Such labeling tends to make people who have grown leery of federal government overreach become suspicious of whether their big brother government anticipates certain states may start another civil war or be overtaken by foreign radical Islamist elements which have been reported to be just across our border. Such labeling by a government that is normally not allowed to use military force against its own citizens is an affront to the residents of that particular state considered as 'hostile,' as if the government is trying to provoke a fight with them. The map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped so the federal government is not intentionally practicing war against its own states.

Like Abbott and Perry, Gohmert was insistent that the whole conspiracy theory was President Obama’s fault:

5. Rand Paul

We’ll give Rand Paul credit for seeming a little surprised when a popular Iowa talk radio host asked him about Jade Helm 15, although he said he’d been hearing about it from constituents and would “look into” it. If Paul ever did look into it and find that the conspiracy theory was completely bogus, however, he never bothered to say so.

Anti-Gay Clerk: Following The Law Is A Violation Of My Rights

It was only a few years ago that a local official in Louisiana drew national ire, and threats of dismissal from Gov. Bobby Jindal, for refusing to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple because he held the personal conviction that such marriages are wrong and undermine the wellbeing of children. Now, however, many Republicans are rallying around local officials who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, similarly citing their personal convictions that such marriages are wrong.

One of these officials is Casey Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky who has boasted that he will defy the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage and deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis appeared on the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” program yesterday, where he tried to portray himself as the latest victim of anti-Christian persecution in America.

Davis told host Tony Perkins, who heads the Family Research Council and recently praised Davis, that his rights are “being violated” by being asked to perform his job responsibilities.

“It’s not just me being violated but it’s both side of the coin, both sides of this issue that’s at stake here, and that is our First Amendment rights,” Davis said. “We have religious freedom in this country and if we lose that we’ve lost everything.”

Just Weeks Before Saying Abortion Should Be Left To The States, Rand Paul Wanted To 'Bypass Roe v. Wade'

Sen. Rand Paul’s recent remark that the issue of abortion rights would be best handled “by the states” rather than “under the 14th Amendment” and his ambiguous answer to the question of “when does life begin” were, as commentators on the left and the right have pointed out, somewhat confounding since Paul has sponsored a Senate bill that aims to undermine Roe v. Wade by defining life as beginning “at conception.”

Adding to the confusion, just a few weeks before Paul made his remarks, the “personhood” group National Pro-Life Alliance forwarded to its members a fundraising email Paul wrote last year urging them to support the effort to “bypass Roe v. Wade” by declaring “unborn children ‘persons’ as defined by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, entitled to legal protection.”

On April 4, National Pro-Life Alliance forwarded Paul’s letter with the subject line “Sign the petition to bypass Roe v. Wade”:

In the past, many in the pro-life movement have felt limited to protecting a life here and there -- passing some limited law to slightly control abortion in the more outrageous cases.

But some pro-lifers always seem to tiptoe around the Supreme Court, hoping they won't be offended.

Now the time to grovel before the Supreme Court is over .

Working from what the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, pro-life lawmakers can pass a Life at Conception Act and end abortion using the Constitution instead of amending it.

Signing the Life at Conception Act petition will help break through the opposition clinging to abortion-on-demand and ultimately win a vote on this life-saving bill to overturn Roe v. Wade.

A Life at Conception Act declares unborn children "persons" as defined by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, entitled to legal protection .

This is the one thing the Supreme Court admitted in Roe v. Wade that would cause the case for legal abortion to "collapse."

Today, the group sent a similar message from former Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas. Paul’s and Stockman’s argument is based on the somewhat questionable legal theory — rejected by even many anti-choice leaders — that Congress can “bypass” a constitutional amendment or Supreme Court decision overturning Roe by simply passing legislation declaring fertilized eggs and fetuses to be “persons” under the law.

Some anti-choice leaders worry that this strategy would backfire in the courts, giving the Supreme Court a broad opening to strengthen Roe v. Wade. But if it were to succeed, the consequences would be enormous , not only defining all abortion as murder, but endangering common forms of birth control as well. Back in 2013, Paul claimed that such a measure would have “thousands of exceptions,” which his staff later clarified that he did not actually mean.

In fact, saying completely contradictory things on reproductive rights seems to be becoming Paul’s official campaign line. In his profile of Paul in March, Brian summarized Paul’s shifting stance on abortion rights as he heads into the 2016 presidential election:

Paul has also been on all sides of the question of abortion rights. Although Paul is the chief sponsor of a federal personhood bill that would ban abortion in all cases and has warned that a failure to pass the bill will result in the collapse of civilization, he has also said that he does not favor changing the nation’s abortion laws because the country is currently too divided on the issue. Paul insists that he opposes bans on birth control, despite the fact that his own personhood bill would give legal rights to zygotes and could ban common forms of contraception. In a 2013 CNN interview, Paul said that there would be “thousands of exceptions” to his personhood bill, but a spokesman later assured anti-choice activists that the senator approved of just a single exception, allowing abortion in cases where the life of the pregnant woman is at risk.

Far-Right Tea Party Candidate Poised To Win GOP Gubernatorial Nomination In Kentucky

Matt Bevin, the Tea Party favorite who unsuccessfully challenged Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican primary, is now leading in a tight race for the Republican nomination for governor. An early count has Bevin ahead by 83 votes after Tuesday's primary election, making it possible that he will become the newest GOP standard-bearer in the state.

While this is great news for the Tea Party, whom Bevin calls the new abolitionists and civil rights leaders, and for Glenn Beck, who thinks Bevin is a “founder quality” candidate, who has been “ called by God” for public office, it’s less good news for everyone else. One McConnell aide said that if Bevin, a political novice, were to become governor, “his only agenda would be the commissioning of his portrait.” But his record shows that he might have quite a bit more on his plate:

Far-Right Allegiances Bevin likes to boast that in 2004 he was so “fed up” with the Republican Party that he backed the presidential candidacy of Michael Peroutka, who was running on the Constitution Party ticket. Peroutka is a Christian Reconstructionist and southern secessionist who later served on the board of the racist League of the South. While campaigning for president in 2004, Peroutka said that he was “still angry” that his home state of Maryland didn’t join the Confederacy.

Gay Marriage Panic While campaigning against McConnell in 2014, Bevin warned that legalizing marriage for gay couples could lead to parent-child marriage, comments his campaign tried, somewhat unconvincingly, to walk back.

Anti-Contraception Stance Bevin won the endorsement of the extreme anti-choice group Northern Kentucky Right to Life last year after he said in a questionnaire that he would support a “personhood” amendment to the Constitution — which would ban all abortion and even some common forms of birth control — and work to prohibit Medicaid funding for birth control pills.

Health Care Extremism Bevin is such an opponent of the Affordable Care Act that he has vowed to reverse Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid under the law, a move that would take away the health insurance of 400,000 people. Kentucky has been one of the greatest success stories of Obamacare, experiencing what NPR calls “second-steepest drop in uninsured of any state.”

Cockfighting Bevin got plenty of negative publicity in his last campaign when it came to light that he had once spoken at a rally organized in support of legalizing cockfighting. Bevin later explained that while he opposes “animal cruelty” he supports “states’ rights” more. A Republican strategist told the New York Times that he expects the cockfighting issue to come up a lot in the general election should Bevin secure the nomination.

PFAW Foundation and Leadership Programs Support #Unite4Marriage

Marriage equality supporters are currently organizing around the April 28 oral arguments before the Supreme Court and a ruling expected in the coming months on whether the fundamental right to marry enshrined in the US Constitution is limited to opposite-sex couples. There will be events in DC and in communities across the country.
PFAW Foundation

Kris Kobach: 'Not A Huge Jump' To Think Obama Could Ban Criminal Prosecution Of Black People

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the chief architects of the anti-immigrant movement’s legal and legislative strategies, told a caller to his weekly radio program last week that while he thought it was “unlikely,” it would not be a “huge jump” to predict that the Obama administration could call an end to the prosecutions of African Americans for any crime. Claiming that “it’s already happened more or less in the case of civil rights laws,” Kobach told listeners that “I’ve learned to say with this president, never say never.”

Kobach was discussing the University of Minnesota’s decision to stop including race and other physical descriptions in email alerts of crimes on campus unless they have “sufficient detail that would help identify” a perpetrator, when a listener named Stu called in to share a theory.

“Given the situation in Minnesota, given the recent story that Obama was instructing immigration enforcement to not enforce the immigration laws against illegal aliens, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch, Kris, to envision an announcement that any black person accused of a crime, charged with a crime, is not going to be prosecuted, regardless of the crime,” he said, adding that “we’ve already seen it from Eric Holder in his failure to prosecute the Black Panthers.”

Holder, Kobach agreed, “basically made it clear….that the civil rights laws were only to protect minority races, and he was not going to be enforcing them to the benefit of white people who were discriminated against on the basis of their race. So, that’s basically what you’ve described.”

“So the word is going to come down that there just won’t be any prosecutions of black criminals,” Stu predicted. “And I can see it happening. I don’t think I’m nuts for envisioning it.”

“Well, it’s already happened more or less in the case of civil rights laws,” Kobach responded. “So I guess it’s not a huge jump, I think it’s unlikely, but you know I’ve learned to say with this president, never say never.”

Kobach got national attention back in November when a caller presented the outlandish scenario that a Latino majority in the U.S. would embark on an “ethnic cleansing,” to which Kobach responded in a similar noncommittal way, saying that while he didn’t “think it’s going to happen in America,” under Obama “things are strange and they are happening.”

Ken Ham: Government Persecuting Us By Not Providing Taxpayer Funding To Creationist Theme Park

Creationist leader Ken Ham is incensed that the state of Kentucky is supposedly abridging his organization’s “fundamental rights” by declining to provide around $18 million in tax incentives to his Noah’s Ark theme park. The park is a planned addition to Ham’s Creation Museum and is intended to be, according to Ham, “one of the greatest evangelist outreaches of our day.”

Since Ham’s group plans to discriminate on the basis of religion in its hiring practices, it is no surprise that it won’t get public funds. But Ham claims that he has a “right” to receive taxpayer money and has filed a lawsuit against Kentucky, insisting that his organization, Answers in Genesis, is the real victim of discrimination.

He took his case to “Washington Watch” yesterday, where he told host Tony Perkins that Kentucky’s decision somehow violates his organization's right to the freedom of speech: “Anyone who wants to have freedom of speech in this nation, freedom of religion, free exercise of religion, needs to stand with us as we do this because that is what we are standing for.”

Ham charged that Kentucky’s decision amounts to anti-Christian persecution and means “that we can’t have the free exercise of religion.”

“The more that you don’t do anything and Christians don’t do things, we lose freedoms and we see the free exercise of religion under threat across this nation so we believe it’s time to stand for God’s people,” Ham said.

Perkins, who leads the Family Research Council, completely agreed and warned that everyone’s freedom is at stake.

Ken Ham Demands Taxpayers Pay For 'One Of The Greatest Evangelist Outreaches Of Our Day'

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis was a guest on American Family Radio today, where he discussed with Tim Wildmon his new project building a Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky. Ham insisted that the theme park, a complement to Ham's Creation Museum, has come under attack from “intolerant” liberals who want to deny it taxpayer funding.

Last month, Kentucky’s tourism board announced that the Noah’s Ark park wouldn’t be eligible for an $18 million tourism tax break because Answers In Genesis intends to use the site to proseletize and refuses to promise not to discriminate based on religion in its hiring. The board noted that “[s]tate tourism tax incentives cannot be used to fund religious indoctrination or otherwise be used to advance religion," but Ham cried persecution, complaining that Kentucky had violated his “fundamental rights” by witholding the tax break.

In the American Family Radio interview, Ham continued to portray himself as the victim of “intolerant” liberals (like Bill Nye) while also inadvertently bolstering the tourism board’s case by announcing that the Noah’s Ark park will be “one of the greatest evangelist outreaches of our day, of our period in history.”

Creationist Group Fights For Its 'Fundamental Rights' To $18 Million In Tax Incentives

Yesterday, Kentucky’s tourism board announced that the state would not be granting an estimated $18 million tax break to the Creationist group Answers In Genesis (AIG) for its construction of a Noah’s Ark theme park, after learning that AIG intended to discriminate based on religion in its hiring.

Now, AIG’s CEO Ken Ham is crying religious persecution, claiming that Kentucky is violating his “fundamental rights” by failing to provide millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to his project. Ham told WorldNetDaily that he intends to sue the state for discriminating against him, saying, “We are fully prepared to defend our fundamental rights in court if necessary, as this issue is of huge importance, not only to us, but to every religious organization.”

Answers in Genesis, which is building the life-size version of Noah’s Ark – 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and three stories high – announced Thursday it was informed by the state that it could participate in the tourism program on two conditions.

The organization is required to “waive its right to include a religious preference in hiring” and “affirm that it will tolerate no ‘proselytizing’ at the theme park.”

Not possible, AiG responded, on billboard messages and elsewhere.

AiG said Kentucky officials bowed to pressure from secularist groups when it denied the Ark Encounter theme park an opportunity to participate in a popular tax rebate incentive program offered by the state’s tourism office.”

The restrictions demanded by the state are “unlawful,” AiG asserted.

“It is well-established under both federal law (Title VII) and state law (KRS 344.090) that religious organization and entities like AIG are specifically permitted to utilize a religious preference in their hiring,” the organization said.

“Moreover, the government cannot show hostility toward religion or discriminate against persons or organizations who express religious viewpoints.”

Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham explained his organization’s position.

“We have been working on this project with Kentucky for more than two years, so this just-received denial announcement is as disappointing as it is costly for our ministry without the expected rebate,” he said. “Our construction has already begun at the Williamstown, Kentucky, site, and it must proceed. We are fully prepared to defend our fundamental rights in court if necessary, as this issue is of huge importance, not only to us, but to every religious organization.”

He said two law firms, Freedom Guard and the Center for Religious Express, already have agreed to represent AiG in the matter.

PFAW Activists Protest Kentucky’s Marriage Equality Ban

People For the American Way joined local activists at a park in downtown Louisville on Friday to protest Kentucky's ban on marriage equality for same-sex couples. 

The "Love Will Win" rally came in response to last week's federal appeals court decision that upheld laws against same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Currently the Commonwealth doesn't even have to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

Protesters are hopeful this setback will pave the way for a Supreme Court reversal, bringing marriage equality to the South and the rest of the nation.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, said that he’s disappointed by the decision but pleased by the prospects of getting a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I think we all knew the sixth circuit was going to rule against LGBT freedom to marry,” Hartman said. “The sixth circuit is the most overturned circuit at the Supreme Court in the entire nation."

Thus far, 32 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage.

PFAW

Former President Clinton Calls Out McConnell for Support of Big Money in Politics

During a speech earlier this week supporting Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, former President Bill Clinton drew attention to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s obsession with keeping big money in politics.

Clinton questioned McConnell’s commitment to public service in light of remarks McConnell made during a closed-door meeting to a roomful of billionaires in which he said that the day the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill passed was the “worst day” of his political life:

How can that be the worst day of your life, even if you thought it was a bad idea? That was worse than 9/11? That was than the day we had the biggest crash since the Great Depression?…Wouldn’t you feel sick if you spent 30 years representing Kentucky in the Senate, and the worst day of your life was when there was an honest attempt to limit black-bag operations from foreign billionaires from buying your elections?

It should come as no surprise to voters, then, that McConnell has pushed an agenda that routinely favors corporate interests over Kentuckians. His willingness to sacrifice the needs of his constituents to support big businesses was put on display when he helped to lead the opposition against the Democracy for All Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United that was voted on in the Senate last month.

McConnell’s careless remarks about his “worst day” say a lot about the danger of big money in our elections. Through public demonstrations, petition deliveries and rallies, PFAW members and local activists have been working hard to spotlight McConnell’s devotion to wealthy special interests, and show Kentuckians that their needs have never been his primary concern. Without limits on spending to influence elections by deep-pocketed special interests, corporations and the super wealthy are given free rein to buy elections and stack the political deck against the will of the American people. 

PFAW

PFAW Activists Host “Ditch Mitch” Debate Watching Party

On Monday night, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes went face-to-face in debate for the first and only time in their race, and PFAW activists were paying attention.



 

More than 50 people turned out to a debate watch party that People For the American Way co-hosted in Louisville – one of the largest in Kentucky.

Candidates sparred over raising the minimum wage and on whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act. McConnell tried repeatedly to tie Grimes to Obama and to portray her as anti-coal. Grimes fired back by blaming the gridlock and dysfunction in DC on McConnell. She also highlighted who McConnell really works for: “I'm not bought and paid for by the Koch brothers or any special interest.”

Sen. McConnell reminded Kentuckians that if he is re-elected and becomes Senate majority leader, he will help set the nation’s political agenda next year. That’s a pretty scary thought. And that’s why PFAW is working hard on the ground in Kentucky to save the Senate and keep millionaires and billionaires from deciding the future of our nation.

PFAW

Kentucky Activists Protest Mitt and Mitch Fundraiser

On Thursday, PFAW members joined MoveOn.org, Kentucky AFL-CIO, and other activists to protest Sen. Mitch McConnell’s pro-corporate agenda outside of a high-dollar fundraiser for the senator featuring Mitt Romney. The exclusive event was priced at $1,000-$5,000 a ticket.

Activists, standing up against big money in politics, called for Sen. McConnell to listen to Kentuckians and not just to the billionaires and corporations that fund his politics. They held signs that read “Ditch Mitch” and “Corporations are not People.”

 

Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan joined the protest, along with PFAW organizers and grassroots activists.

 

PFAW

Activists Protest Outside McConnell/Romney High-Dollar Lexington Fundraiser

LEXINGTON, KY — Thursday afternoon, People For the American Way members and activists joined members of MoveOn.org, Kentucky AFL-CIO, and other allies to protest Sen. Mitch McConnell’s pro-corporate agenda outside of a high-dollar fundraiser for the senator featuring Mitt Romney. Tickets for the Mitt and Mitch event were priced at $1,000-$5,000 a ticket.

Activists called for Sen. McConnell to listen to the voices of everyday Kentuckians rather than pushing an agenda that benefits billionaires and corporations.

Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan was on-site at the protest along with PFAW organizers and grassroots activists.

“This fundraiser is just one more example of how Sen. McConnell focuses on the interests of the millionaires and billionaires who fund his campaign,” said PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager. “But as we saw at the protest, Kentuckians are standing up against his billionaire-funded politics that only allow the most privileged to be heard.”

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PFAW Memo: Senate Needs to Confirm Pending Judicial Nominees

To: Interested Parties
From: Paul Gordon, Senior Legislative Counsel, People For the American Way
Date: September 15, 2014
Subject: Senate Needs to Confirm Pending Judicial Nominees

There is probably little more than a week before the Senate goes out on recess until after the election. One of the most important – and undoubtedly quickest and easiest – things it can do before then is confirm 16 judicial nominees, most of whom have overwhelming bipartisan support.
                                                                                      
One of the most important responsibilities of the United States Senate is to maintain a functioning federal court system. District courts are the backbone of the American judicial system. They are where people turn when they feel their rights have been violated. “Having your day in court” is an essential part of the American ideal. But that ideal cannot be met if we don’t have enough judges to make it happen. Even if every vacancy in the country were filled tomorrow, it wouldn’t be enough: The Judicial Conference of the United States – the entity responsible for assessing the federal courts’ ability to effectively manage their caseloads – has urged Congress to create an additional 85 district court judgeships. So when an existing vacancy can be filled with a qualified nominee, it ought to be done with dispatch.

Right now, nominees for 16 such vacancies can be confirmed within the next few days. Seven of these were fully vetted and approved by the Judiciary Committee and have been waiting for a floor vote since June or July. Of these seven, all but one of them advanced without any opposition. Four alone are from Georgia: nominees who have the unanimous support of the Judiciary Committee’s Democratic and Republican senators. There are no more questions to ask of these nominees, except when they will be allowed to take up their judicial responsibilities and fill empty courtrooms in Georgia, New York, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

The remaining nine were scheduled for a committee vote last week, having had their confirmation hearings back in July. They have been nominated for judgeships in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Four of them – nearly half – would serve in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a state with so many vacancies that it alone accounts for 15% of the nation’s total, but Chairman Leahy was forced by the GOP to delay the vote. Republicans gave no reason for the delay, but they rarely do: Since President Obama took office, Republicans have exercised the right of the minority party to have a committee vote “held over” (delayed) by at least a week without cause for nearly all of his judicial nominees, part of their overall mechanism of obstruction. Fortunately, they are expected to get their overdue committee approval later this week.

There remains plenty of time to confirm all 16 nominees before the Senate goes out for its pre-election recess next week.

The fact that we are heading into an election is no reason not to hold these confirmation votes. In fact, in September of 2008, a presidential election year – and the twilight of George W. Bush’s presidency, no less – Democrats rushed several of his nominees through to make sure they got confirmed before recess (and before his presidency ended). Ten of Bush’s district court nominees were confirmed just one day after being approved by the Judiciary Committee. All ten had had their committee hearings earlier that same month – in some cases, during that same week. The confirmation votes took hardly any time at all, since all ten were considered and confirmed as a bloc by unanimous consent.

Interestingly, three of those 2008 nominees were from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where four of the current 16 nominees could be serving by next week, if given the chance.

Republicans still have a chance to demonstrate that they can prioritize the functioning of the U.S. court system over their own partisan interests. But it seems unlikely. Since last year, the GOP has insisted that no judicial nominee, despite their bipartisan support, advance on the Senate floor without time-consuming cloture votes and roll-call confirmation votes. And it isn’t just the roll-call votes that take time (although each one can take nearly an hour). Without unanimous consent to waive the chamber’s time requirements, cloture votes cannot be held until two days after cloture petitions are filed, and each confirmation vote requires at least an hour of needless “post-cloture debate” even after the filibuster is broken.

If Republicans successfully prevent votes this month, the earliest the courtrooms will see some relief will be in a potential lame duck session.  That means another two month wait until clearly qualified nominees are  able to take their seats in courtrooms around the country.  There is simply no good reason for such delay.
 

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Louisville Activists Protest McConnell's Vote Against Amendment to #GetMoneyOut

On Friday, PFAW members and local activists came out to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s West Louisville campaign office to hold him accountable for his support of big money in politics and for voting against the Democracy For All Amendment during this week’s Senate vote.

The rally included PFAW Regional Political Coordinator Scott Foval, along with MoveOn Council’s Ann Hardman, University of Louisville’s College Democrats President Connor Allen, and local activist Bonifacio “Flaco” Aleman. Activists had a giant “King Mitch” holding fake money and signs saying “Money Is Not Speech” and “Mitch: Go Filibuster Yourself!” and more.

McConnell led the fight to block the Democracy for All Amendment during Senate debates this week. As a leading voice against efforts to get big money out of elections, McConnell has fought hard for years to protect billionaires’ and millionaires’ influence in our elections instead of protecting the average Kentuckian’s interests.

This rally along with over 15,000 signatures on a petition delivered to McConnell last week should make it clear to “King Mitch” that Kentuckians support an amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United and #GetMoneyOut. Polling also shows that three in four voters support the measure nationally.

There were not sufficient votes to pass the proposed amendment this week, but a majority of the Senate did vote on Thursday in support of the Democracy for All Amendment despite “King Mitch’s” best efforts.
 

PFAW

Activists Rally Outside Sen. McConnell’s Campaign Office in Louisville in Support of Constitutional Amendment

LOUISVILLE, KY — This afternoon, People For the American Way members and other activists rallied outside of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s West Louisville campaign office to protest “King Mitch’s” role in supporting big money in politics. The rally was held in response to McConnell’s vote against the Democracy for All Amendment during yesterday’s Senate session. This proposed constitutional amendment would overturn decisions like Citizens United and allow Congress and the states to set reasonable limits on money in elections.
 
During the Senate debates this week, Sen. McConnell led the charge against the Democracy for All Amendment despite receiving petitions from PFAW activists last week signed by over 15,000 Kentuckians urging him to support an amendment.

PFAW Regional Political Coordinator Scott Foval was featured during the rally, along with MoveOn Council’s Ann Hardman, University of Louisville’s College Democrats President Connor Allen, and local activist Bonifacio “Flaco” Aleman.

“‘King Mitch’ only pays attention to the millionaires and billionaires that fund his campaigns and ignores the average Kentucky constituent,” said PFAW Regional Political Coordinator Scott Foval. “He supports big money in politics and fights against policies that don’t benefit his ‘court’ of lobbyists, donors, and friends like the Koch brothers. But Kentuckians are standing up against his brand of crony politics that gives a voice only to the most privileged.”

For more information on People For the American Way’s work to get big money out of politics, please see our Government By the People webpage.

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