Pennsylvania

Civil Rights Leader Dolores Huerta, Pennsylvania Latino Leaders Denounce Donald Trump’s Year of Hate

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta joined Pennsylvania Latino leaders at City Hall today to respond to the DACA+/DAPA Supreme Court decision and discuss why it’s critically important to stand up against anti-immigrant politicians like Donald Trump and Sen. Pat Toomey.

Huerta’s visit to Pennsylvania is part of progressive advocacy group People For the American Way’s “Donald Trump’s Year of Hate” campaign. This month marks the one-year anniversary of Trump’s campaign launch, in which he infamously described Mexican immigrants as “rapists.”  Since then, Trump has only increased his attacks against immigrants and Latinos. As part of the campaign, digital Spanish-language ads are currently running in Pennsylvania, which you can view here.

At the press conference today, speakers discussed Trump’s hateful campaign and the critical importance of the Latino vote.

“We must use the power of our vote to ensure that Donald Trump is never in a position to appoint Supreme Court justices,” said civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, a board member of People for the American Way. “He has demonstrated over the past year that he is unfit to be a leader for Latino communities and for all Americans. And Senator Toomey continues to hold the Supreme Court seat open for a Trump presidency. Latino voters can determine who wins and who loses in Pennsylvania.”

"Pat Toomey’s inaction on the president’s Supreme Court nominee is a failure of leadership for Pennsylvania,” said Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sánchez. “The disgraceful things Donald Trump has said about Mexican immigrants and Puerto Ricans show that he doesn’t have the temperament or the judgment to be commander-in-chief. Until Senator Toomey renounces any support for Trump, he has to be held accountable for the positions of his party’s nominee. Latinos will make our voices heard loud and clear this November.”

“In the last year of Donald Trump's campaign, he has shown what a dangerous, divisive president he would be,” said Lizet Ocampo, director of Latinos Vote! and manager of political campaigns for People For the American Way. “From his rhetoric against judges and every day Americans to his policies for a mass deportation force, he's made it crystal clear that he is forcefully against the Latino community and we must vote against him."

"For our community, the stakes have never been higher, and we are ready to fight back against hate at the ballot box," said Yaheiry Mora, elections specialist, CASA.

For photos, follow-up interviews, or questions, please email media@pfaw.org.

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Sam Rohrer Ties Orlando Massacre To Gay Rights Victories: God Has 'Removed His Hand Of Protection'

American Pastors Network president and former Pennsylvania lawmaker Sam Rohrer linked Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando to Supreme Court decisions securing rights for LGBT people, telling conservative talk radio host Steve Deace this week that Supreme Court decisions involving marriage equality and “God’s order for human sexuality” have helped to cause God to remove “His hand of protection” from the country.

Rohrer told Deace that he has a “great deal of compassion for those who are involved” in the shooting and also believes that “these kind of events are only going to be increasing” for a number of reasons, including that “the Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood folks, they have made it clear that they’re going to do that”; that “our president and those in office are soft, refuse to even identify the enemy ideology of Islam as the enemy”; and, finally, “it’s a large part because I believe God has removed his hand of blessing on this country because we’ve turned our back upon him, and when he removes his hand of protection, these kinds of things come forth.”

“God has made very clear,” Rohrer explained, “that every nation that He has established — and He establishes all nations, we’re told that all nations are established by God, even the very geographical boundaries of the nations are determined — that when a nation, any nation, does what God says, meaning that they fear Him, that they uphold and enforce God’s moral law and God’s design for the family and for the family and for civil government, all of those are His, when those things are done, then God will bless a nation.”

“One of those blessings are the increase of wealth, one of those things is a security and protection from the neighbors around them,” he continued, “even the enemies will be at peace with them, we’re told in a number of places in Scripture. But when a nation backs off of that, particularly a nation such as ours that has a very biblical basis in an understanding of biblical principles — that’s where our Constitution came from, Declaration of Independence before that came out of that. When those things were there and put in place, when a nation turns their back on those things as we have and [are] increasingly, arrogantly doing, then at that point the justice of God says ‘I cannot any longer bless’ and these things which you’re doing will lead to not His lack of blessing, but insecurity and so forth.”

Deace returned to the theme later in the interview, saying that America’s current standing with God is “essentially like when a parent has an unruly child that persists in a behavior or an addiction that is destructive and has tried repeatedly to reach them, has tried repeatedly to intervene, they will not listen, and so they reach a point where you essentially have to allow them to hit rock bottom on their own in order to get the message and just kind of pray that they don’t kill themselves in that process.”

Rohrer agreed that this was a “fairly accurate representation” of what is going on and outlined a number of ways that he believes that Americans have “turned their back on” God, including marriage equality and a redefinition of “God’s order for human sexuality.”

“You know,” he said, “God has established, and made it very, very clear, that He’s established the family, He’s established the church, He’s established the institution of civil government … But when a nation, when a family, when the church fails to employ, fails to do and, even worse, turns their back on God’s moral law and His design, there is nothing but difficulty and trouble that comes and follows from that.”

“And, unfortunately, as a nation, we’ve once known God,” he said, “‘In God we trust’ is our motto. But … Congress wouldn’t even pass that motto now, they wouldn’t even bring it up and the president wouldn’t sign it. And our courts declare to be immoral what is moral, we redefine God’s institution of marriage, we redefine God’s order for human sexuality and we expect God to sit back and continue to bless? He can’t.”

Rohrer: Same-Sex Marriage Ushering In Divine Judgment On America

Sam Rohrer, president of the American and Pennsylvania Pastors Networks, joined Jim Schneider on his “Crosstalk” radio program on Friday to discuss the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide. Rohrer, a former member of Pennsylvania’s legislature, argued that “God’s law must always reign supreme” and that due to its acceptance of same-sex marriage the U.S. will “go nowhere but down.”

“One of the marks of a nation that is walking away from God that will incur God’s judgement is a nation whose systems and functions and elements of government proclaim to be true what is false and proclaim to be false what is true,” Rohrer said, claiming this occurred when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.

“No court has the authority to overturn what God says and what God defines to be a matter of marriage in this case, so that’s the clearest example where man’s law counters what God has said is what something ought to be,” Rohrer said. “God’s law must always reign supreme.”

Rohrer and Schneider accused the government of attempting to force acceptance of same-sex marriage on churches, and Rohrer warned this will lead to America’s demise.

“Only by the grace of God and the help of some human institutions of law that have helped to step in that have, at this point, held it off, but this is the direction that they’re going,” Rohrer said. “Any nation that throws God off and says, ‘We don’t need God’ or ‘We don’t care what God says, as a matter of fact, we’re gonna stick our fingers in his eye and redefine what he says,’ we’ll ultimately find that God will judge that nation — which I believe that God’s judgment is on our nation right now — but ultimately once that happens, you go nowhere but down.”

Last year Rohrer called Russian President Vladimir Putin “the moral leader of the world” for his crackdown on homosexuality.

PFAW Targets Sen. Pat Toomey for Supreme Court Obstruction with Robocalls from Alfre Woodard

In a robocall released today by People For the American Way, award-winning actress Alfre Woodard calls Pennsylvania voters urging them to contact Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) and demand that he give fair consideration to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. As the call states, Sen. Toomey has declared that he won’t fulfill his constitutional duty and instead falsely asserts it’s “not that big a deal” if the Supreme Court vacancy lasts for over a year.

“Sen. Toomey’s irresponsible obstruction is inexcusable,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way. “The Constitution is very clear that it’s the job of Senators to give fair consideration to Supreme Court nominees, and there’s certainly no exceptions during election years. Not only is it a ‘big deal’ if Sen. Toomey and his fellow Republican Senators refuse to do their jobs, it’s a crisis of constitutional proportions.”

This is the second set of robocalls that PFAW has launched on this issue. In February, Martin Sheen called Wisconsinites targeting Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) for his obstruction on the Supreme Court vacancy.

Listen to the call here: 



A transcript of the recording for today’s Pennsylvania calls reads:

Hi, this is Alfre Woodard, calling on behalf of People For the American Way.

When there’s a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the Constitution is clear about what happens next: the President nominates a new Justice and the Senate gives that nominee fair consideration.

But Republicans, including Senator Pat Toomey, are playing politics with the law and saying they won’t fulfill their constitutional obligation. Toomey even said it’s “not that big a deal” to leave the ninth Supreme Court seat empty for more than a year!

He couldn’t be more wrong.

Call Senator Toomey at (202) 224-4254, and tell him you expect him to put his Constitutional duties first—and give fair consideration to President Obama’s nominee.

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

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New Poll Shows Obstructionist Stance on Supreme Court Vacancy is Hurting Toomey and Portman With Voters

Note to senators in tough reelection battles: putting your Washington DC party bosses over the Constitution by standing in the way of filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court is not only the wrong thing to do for our country, it’s also making voters less likely to support you.

New Public Policy Polling surveys released today show that large majorities of voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where Senators Pat Toomey and Rob Portman are running for reelection, want the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death to be filled this year. According to the polling memo:

  • Strong majorities of voters – 58/35 in Ohio and 57/40 in Pennsylvania – think that the vacant seat on the Supreme Court should be filled this year. What’s particularly noteworthy about those numbers – and concerning for Portman and Toomey – is how emphatic the support for approving a replacement is among independent voters. In Ohio they think a new Justice should be named this year 70/24 and in Pennsylvania it’s 60/37.
  • …Voters are particularly angry about Senators taking the stance that they’re not going to approve anyone before even knowing who President Obama decides to put forward. By a 76/20 spread in Pennsylvania and a 74/18 one in Ohio, voters think the Senate should wait to see who is nominated to the Court before deciding whether or not to confirm that person. Toomey and Portman are out of line even with their own party base on that one – Republicans in Pennsylvania think 67/27 and in Ohio think 63/32 that the Senate should at least give President Obama’s choice a chance before deciding whether or not to confirm them. [emphasis added]

Perhaps most notable for the senators, more than half of voters (52 percent in both states) say they would be less likely to vote for Toomey or Portman if they “refused to confirm a replacement for Justice Scalia this year no matter who it was.” Among independents, the numbers were even higher.

Senators Toomey and Portman would be wise to take heed of their constituents, and of the Constitution, and stop refusing to even consider any Supreme Court nominee, regardless of his or her credentials. Any nominee must be treated fairly and honestly. The Supreme Court is far too important to be held hostage to the overtly political obstruction of GOP senators.

PFAW

PFAW Statement on Senate Confirmation of Luis Restrepo

Today, more than a year after being nominated by President Obama, Judge Luis Restrepo was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Today’s vote followed months of needless delays by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, assisted by Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley.

“Americans of every stripe should be glad that Judge Restrepo was confirmed today. He will be a true asset to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. But Senate Republicans should be embarrassed about how they’ve played politics with the courts for months on end,” said People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker. “Judge Restrepo was nominated with bipartisan support from his home state senators, but at every turn Republicans delayed and dragged their feet, saying one thing and doing another. Not a single senator raised any concerns about Judge Restrepo’s fitness for the bench—this was anti-Obama politics plain and simple. If Americans need another example of who’s causing gridlock in Washington, the expanse of time that it took us to get to this vote is a perfect example.”

Upon today’s vote, Restrepo becomes the second Latino judge ever to serve on the Third Circuit and the first from Pennsylvania.

Today’s vote comes during an period of historic obstruction of judicial nominees in the Senate. Since Mitch McConnell became majority leader in January 2014, the number of current circuit and district court vacancies has climbed from 40 to 71 today, a nearly 80% increase. Despite Restrepo’s confirmation, the current Senate’s confirmation rate remains far behind that of Democrats who controlled the body during the last two years of President Bush’s term eight years ago.

“During the long wait for Judge Restrepo’s confirmation, yet another vacancy has opened up on the Third Circuit,” said Baker. “If Republicans decide to start caring about the ordinary people they purport to represent, moving expeditiously to fill that vacancy, among others, would be a reasonable place to start.”

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Dolores Huerta Criticizes Sen. Toomey, Senate Republicans for Holding Up Restrepo Nomination

This past Thursday, Senate Republicans disregarded the procedure they’ve been using all year and decided that they would skip over the confirmation vote for Judge L. Felipe Restrepo for the important U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Judge Restrepo would be only the second Latino to ever serve on this prestigious federal court.

Though no one has questioned Judge Restrepo’s qualifications for the job, Republican Senator Toomey is collaborating with Senate GOP leaders to prevent a confirmation vote.

Civil rights leader and People For the American Way (PFAW) board member Dolores Huerta stated:

“Shame on Senator Toomey and Senate Republicans for holding up the confirmation of highly-qualified Judge Restrepo. Republicans are once again using obstructionist tactics in a way that harms our country, and this time, it impacts Latinos in particular. We can’t let Senate Republicans get away with this blatant, partisan obstruction.”

PFAW Senior Legislative Counsel Paul Gordon explained:

“By skipping over Judge Restrepo, Senate Republicans threaten not to hold a confirmation vote by the end of the year, meaning that the reset button could be hit on his confirmation. If they do that, he’d have to be re-nominated and re-processed by the Judiciary Committee, even though Republicans and Democrats alike have voiced only support for Judge Restrepo.”

To schedule an interview with a PFAW spokesperson on this issue, please contact Laura Epstein (lepstein@pfaw.org).

Background on Restrepo’s Nomination Process

In November of last year, President Obama nominated federal district Judge L. Felipe Restrepo to be a judge on the important U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Unfortunately, Republican Senator Toomey and Senate GOP leaders in Washington DC have up to this point refused to hold a confirmation hearing.

Judge Restrepo would be only the second Latino to ever serve on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. He would also be the first judge on the court to have experience as a public defender. It is important to fill this vacancy: The caseload is so high that it has been formally designated a judicial emergency, and there is a second vacancy on the same court. No one has questioned Judge Restrepo’s qualifications for the job, and Senator Toomey said great things about Judge Restrepo. But for over a year, every time that action has been needed to prevent Judge Restrepo from falling victim to Washington partisan politics, Toomey has chosen to be silent.

It’s critical that Judge Restrepo be confirmed before senators leave town for the holidays, which could be as soon as next week. He’s at the top of the list of judicial nominees waiting for a vote. But, apparently with Toomey’s acquiescence, GOP leaders have skipped Judge Restrepo and plan to confirm another nominee on Monday.

Because the Senate will likely adjourn at the end of this week, skipping Judge Restrepo could mean his confirmation vote will not happen this year. This could mean that in 2016, Judge Restrepo would have to be re-nominated by President Obama and re-submitted to the Judiciary Committee, further delaying his confirmation process.

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An Anniversary Pat Toomey Should Be Ashamed Of

Pat Toomey has spent a year helping his party obstruct the nomination of L. Felipe Restrepo, who he says he supports.
PFAW

Jan Mickelson Promotes Radical Tax Protester Theory In Interview With Santorum

Iowa conservative talk radio host Jan Mickelson’s morning program has become a required stop for Republicans campaigning in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. Nearly every GOP presidential candidate has appeared on Mickelson’s program at least once this year, which is remarkable given that Mickelson recently suggested enslaving undocumented immigrants and often asks his guests to comment on right-wing conspiracy theories such as those surrounding Jade Helm 15 and a toxic spill in Colorado.

Rick Santorum got the full Mickelson treatment yesterday when the radio host asked him to comment on a theory espoused by anti-government tax protesters that the 16th Amendment was never actually ratified and therefore the federal income tax is illegal.

The two got to talking about the “strange bedfellows” behind the 16th Amendment, which Mickelson compared, seemingly disapprovingly, to the coalition of “the business community lined up with the feminists” who backed the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.

He then threw Santorum a curveball: “So, do you think the 16th  Amendment actually really passed?”

“There’s a whole book about the 16th Amendment, it was never legally ratified because the language in many, many different states was not uniform and there was all kinds of trickery involved,” Mickelson continued, apparently referring to William Benson’s 1985 book “The Law that Never Was,” whose contentions have been repeatedly debunked.

Santorum didn’t take a stand on the validity of the 16th Amendment (which he has said he wants to repeal), but did agree that progressives are nefarious tricksters. “That’s the progressives!” he said. “It’s the same group, it’s the same group of people. It was the progressive movement that pushed the income tax and it’s the same progressive movement that’s out here pushing Obamacare and all the other socialism that we’re seeing pushed.”

Santorum Agrees With Carson: A 'Devout Muslim' Shouldn't Be Elected President

Rick Santorum agreed with this GOP presidential rival Ben Carson yesterday that a Muslim should not be elected president, explaining that while “of course a Muslim could be elected president” because the Constitution bars religious tests for public office, “a devout Muslim who believes in the totality of Islam” shouldn’t be elected president because Islam is “both a political doctrine and a religious doctrine.”

Santorum told Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson that Carson “was not clear in what he was articulating” but that he agreed with his essential point.

“What he was saying is, is a devout Muslim who believes in the totality of Islam — which is both a political doctrine and a religious doctrine, which means Sharia law — can a devout Muslim who believes in Sharia law, should that person be elected president?” Santorum said. “Well, the answer is no, they shouldn’t, because that belief structure is antithetical — and, by the way, they wouldn’t be elected president.”

“I would have said, could a Muslim be elected president? Of course a Muslim could be elected president,” he continued, “we can’t bar someone from a certain religion from being elected president. Is a Muslim who believes strictly in the adherence of Sharia law be elected president? I would oppose them for electing president, and I think most Americans would too.”

Micah Leadership Council Applauds Online Voter Registration in Pennsylvania

Today, leaders of the Micah Leadership Council applauded Pennsylvania’s launch of a system allowing eligible voters to register online. Reverend Michael Couch, national Co-Chair of Micah Leadership Council, released the following statement:

“At a time when so many states have placed the right to vote under constant attack, it’s worth applauding a move to make it easier for more people to participate in the democratic process. I’m pleased that Governor Wolf and his administration have taken this step to remove an unnecessary barrier between citizens and the ballot box.

“This isn’t the last reform Pennsylvanians need in order to ensure that all our citizens have an equal opportunity to make their voices heard on Election Day, but it’s unquestionably a step in the right direction. This is a victory for voters and a victory for all of us who care our democratic process."

People For the American Way Foundation’s Micah Leadership Council engages African American ministers ages 25 through 40 who are committed to continuing, and redefining the fights for civic engagement, quality public education, voting rights protection and environmental and social justice for all as well as addressing divisive right wing rhetoric.

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Rick Santorum Pledges To Sign Unconstitutional Birthright Citizenship Repeal

In an interview yesterday with Newsmax TV after a press conference at which he reiterated his support for ending birthright citizenship, Rick Santorum promised that as president he would “absolutely” sign a bill repealing the right, saying that it could probably be done without a constitutional amendment.

Ignoring the clear history of the 14th Amendment, Santorum told Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg that it wasn’t clear whether the Constitution requires that children of foreign nationals born on U.S. soil be granted citizenship. Santorum said that he would leave it up to the Supreme Court to interpret the stipulation that birthright citizenship applies only to people “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States — long interpreted by the courts as excluding only a small class of people such as the children of ambassadors.

“That’s a decision that’s actually appropriately left up to the Supreme Court,” Santorum said. “These are the kinds of decisions that the Supreme Court should be making with respect to how do we determine somewhat vague language in the Constitution, not doing what they did and have been doing routinely is creating new constitutional rights.”

When Malzberg asked if the Supreme Court has ever “weighed in on whether the 14th Amendment covers these babies born of illegals,” Santorum replied that “to my knowledge, they have not.”

In fact, the Supreme Court did just that in 1898, ruling that a California-born child of Chinese immigrants, who were later barred from returning to the United States under the Chinese Exclusion Act, could not be denied citizenship under the 14th Amendment. That case, U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, cemented the right to birthright citizenship guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.


 

Santorum: Judicial Review Is Okay…If The Court Agrees Me!

Last month, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum got into a heated exchange with Rachel Maddow about his statement that the Supreme Court doesn’t “have the final say on anything,” including abortion rights and LGBT equality. He attempted to clarify his position at a campaign event in Iowa last week, explaining that while he is fine with the Supreme Court having judicial review powers, the president and Congress should simply ignore decisions that they think are wrong.

In comments captured on video by the conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts, Santorum said, “There’s nothing in the Constitution that gives the Supreme Court the right or the duty or the obligation to determine what is constitutional and what is not.”

“Marbury v. Madison is a Supreme Court case where they granted themselves that authority,” he continued. “And for a couple of hundred years, roughly, we have seen that deference given to the court. I think the court is the right place to make these types of constitutional judgments. But what happens if the court makes an unconstitutional judgment? What happens if the court itself violates the Constitution? Is there a remedy?"

“Our founders clearly wanted it to be very hard to change the Constitution,” he said. “That’s why when you see the court change the Constitution in an unconstitutional fashion, in other words…amend the Constitution by creating something that’s not there, they’ve short-circuited something that was supposed to be very hard to do, and there should be some remedy of saying, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ And what is that? Well, what is that is the president or the Congress saying, ‘You’re acting unconstitutionally and we’re not going to pay attention to that law, we’re not going to pay attention to your ruling.’”
 

Santorum: 'Poisonous, Wretched, Cancerous' Abortion Rights Creating Another Holocaust

Speaking at an anti-Planned Parenthood rally in Iowa on Saturday, Rick Santorum compared the “poisonous, wretched, cancerous” legalization of abortion in America to the Holocaust, saying that both were “based on a lie.”

Santorum told the rally that he had recently read the book “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?” by Andy Andrews and thought it applied just as easily to legal abortion as to the Holocaust.

“The title of the book is ‘How Do You Kill 11 Million People?’ He could have retitled it ‘How Do You Kill 55 Million People Here In America?’” he said. “This book is about the Holocaust. And you know what his answer was, in one simple sentence? How do you kill 11 million people? You lie to them. Planned Parenthood, the abortion industry, Roe v. Wade, all of it is based on a lie about when a child becomes a human being.”

“We see the poisonous, wretched, cancerous result of that lie,” he continued. “Every lie, we all know, we tell our kids that when you lie that one lie leads to another lie, and another one, and another one, and pretty soon you just have this poisonous web that you can’t get out of. That’s where we are.”

The video was captured by the Iowa conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts.

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