Virginia

EW Jackson: Obama Turning Military Into A 'Sexual Experiment' Because He Doesn’t Believe In America

E.W. Jackson, the Virginia pastor and GOP politician, joined Frank Gaffney on his “Secure Freedom Radio” program earlier this month, where the two discussed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and efforts to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military.

“The lesbian, transgender, bisexual military is what the president is creating for us, and it’s sad,” Jackson declared, alleging that President Obama “is much more interested in turning the military into some sort of sexual experiment than he is in making it the finest fighting force in the world.”

Gaffney asked Jackson, who now works as a Fox News contributor and Family Research Council senior fellow, if allowing LGBT people to serve openly is not just a “wrecking operation against the military” but also an effort to “do over the United States itself as a society.”

Jackson responded that Obama wants to allow LGBT people to serve in the military because he doesn’t believe in America or want the military to be effective: “I don’t think he wants the military to be militarily effective, because I don’t think he believes in it, I don’t think he believes in its mission, because, frankly, and I know this sounds extreme but it’s what I believe in my heart, I don’t think he fundamentally believes in the nature of this country or its mission.”

'Constitutional Sheriff' Urges Elected Officials To Defy Supreme Court On Marriage

Richard Mack, the head of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), said last week that “every governor and sheriff and county commissioner” in the country should refuse to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision striking down bans on gay marriage.

Rob Schilling, host of a radio program on Virginia’s WINA, asked Mack, “I’ve wondered what would happen if let’s just say a Judge Roy Moore stood up and said, ‘We’re not abiding by this. We already have defined marriage in this state.’”

“Every governor and sheriff and county commissioner should all be saying that,” Mack responded.

“Is the federal government going to send troops into that state, are we going to have an armed conflict over this issue?” Schilling pressed.

“If it’s one person, they very well might,” Mack responded, “but if it’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds all across the country, there’s nothing they can do about it, so that’s what we should be doing.”

Mike Koeniger, the vice president of the state chapter of the Oath Keepers, was also on the line and interjected that it would only take a couple of hundred sheriffs, each backed up by thousands of armed civilian Oath Keepers, to defy the federal government on marriage.

“Imagine that we only had 200 sheriffs that stood in the gap, and behind every one of those sheriffs there were 2,000 Oath Keepers, being civilian or prior military or whatever, imagine the power of 200 sheriffs,” he said.

With that support, he said, “we’d win the war.”
 

 

Pat Robertson: Gay Marriage Will Stifle Free Speech, Just Like In Bob Jones University Case

Pat Robertson warned today that a Supreme Court decision striking down bans on same-sex marriage would have devastating consequences, telling viewers of “The 700 Club” that marriage equality will jeopardize the free speech of religious broadcasters like himself who oppose gay marriage.

Curiously enough, Robertson broadcasts from Virginia, a state with marriage equality, and is freely able to denounce gay marriage on a regular basis without facing any legal consequences.

“Isn’t it chilling to think that a practice that was abhorrent and stigmatized for so many years has now become the dominant weapon of the left to hurt those who share traditional values?” he asked.

Robertson also addressed the Supreme Court’s 1983 in Bob Jones University v. US, in which the court found that the IRS did not violate the Constitution by stripping the evangelical university of its tax exempt status because of its rules barring interracial relationships. According to Robertson, such a rule never existed: “Bob Jones never prohibited men and women of different races from getting married, they never had any laws, as I understand, they merely said in their statement of faith, they didn’t believe that the Bible supported interracial marriage and interracial activity. That was their belief.”

He quickly added that while he disagreed with the university’s stance, he feared that the ruling would open the door to religious persecution by the government.

Robertson’s claim that Bob Jones University didn’t have an enforceable rule barring interracial relationships is simply false.

“There is to be no interracial dating,” declared the university’s rule book in the 1990s. “Students who become partners in an interracial marriage will be expelled. Students who are members of or affiliated with any group or organization which holds interracial marriage as one of its goals or advocates interracial marriage will be expelled. Students who date outside of their own race will be expelled.”

Up until 2000, the university stated that it had “a rule prohibiting interracial dating among its students”:

God has separated people for His own purposes. He has erected barriers between the nations, not only land and sea barriers, but also ethnic, cultural and language barriers. God has made people different one from another and intends for those differences to remain. Bob Jones University is opposed to intermarriage of the races because it breaks down the barriers God has established. It mixes that which God separated and intends to keep separate. Every effort in world history to bring the world together has demonstrated man’s self-reliance and his unwillingness to remain as God ordains.

Sound familiar?

The rule, which was put into place in the 1950s, was only lifted when it received national attention after George W. Bush, then a candidate for president, made a campaign appearance at the South Carolina school.

The rule stemmed from the teachings of Bob Jones Sr., the university’s founder, who made the case that anyone who believes the Bible should oppose interracial marriage, just as televangelists like Robertson are arguing about same-sex marriage today.

Gohmert: Bush Wouldn't Have Invaded Iraq Had He Known Obama Would Succeed Him And Fight For 'The Wrong Side'

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said yesterday that President Bush would have thought twice about invading Iraq if he had known that his successor would be “such a total incompetent leader” who is on “the wrong side” in the fight against terrorism.

In an interview with Virginia talk radio host John Fredericks, Gohmert said he opposed an effort led by Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia to pass a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in the fight against ISIS, saying that “the president has all the authority he could possibly need” in the broad AUMF passed in 2001 and that the proposed new AUMF would “help tie his hands in ways a good president would not need.”

He added that the new AUMF, in addition to giving the president too little authority, would give the president too much authority. “I don’t trust this administration, I don’t want to give them any additional authority that Bush didn’t have,” he said.

“So, thank you very much, Mr. Kaine, but you need to tell your buddy in the Democratic Party to actually start fighting our enemies and quit helping our enemies and help our friends instead and quit worrying about a new AUMF,” Gohmert added. “He would be able to defeat ISIS if he just starts helping our friends and stops helping the enemies.”

“That AUMF, it’s a red herring, it’s a crock,” he continued. “The problem is the president’s on the wrong side. That’s the real problem.”

As Fredericks repeatedly tried to break in with a question, Gohmert continued his train of thought.

“I mean, seriously, John, you think a new AUMF is all of a sudden going to give us a president that will fight with the right people over there and win over there, really?

“Everybody else wants to ask that question of, ‘Gee, would you have gone into Iraq if you’d known what you know now?’ And I think if President Bush had known that he would have a total incompetent follow him that would not even be able to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraq and start helping our enemies and just totally put the Middle East in chaos, then he would have to think twice about doing anything if he had known he would have such a total incompetent leader take over after him. That should be the question.”

GOP Rep: DREAMers Serving In Military Will Lead To 'Decline Of Western Civilization'

Rep. Dave Brat, the Virginia Republican who unseated Rep. Eric Cantor last year thanks in large part to his uncompromising anti-immigrant politics, told talk radio host John Fredericks yesterday that a proposal to allow DREAM Act-eligible immigrants to enlist in the military represents the “decline of Western Civilization.”

Discussing the House’s narrow vote to strip the proposal from a Pentagon spending bill last week, Fredericks asked Brat, “What’s going on out there?”

“Well, what’s going on is the decline of Western Civilization at the highest level,” Brat responded. “I think everybody knows their old Roman history, part of the reason Rome fell was because they started hiring the barbarians in, otherwise known as the Germans at the time, to be troops in their own army, and that led to their eventual downfall.”

Brat also had a response to proponents of the measure who pointed out that being willing to serve in the U.S. military shows a certain level of patriotism: “I wanted to stand up and shout, I mean ISIS is willing to serve in our military as well.”

Later in the conversation, Brat compared allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children to serve in the military to requiring President Obama to hire Republicans to serve in the White House, a nonsensical comparison for a number of reasons, including that President Obama is in charge of both the military and the White House:

It is an Orwellian situation where language is upside-down. I told some of the guys on our side last night, just as a joke, I mean, if the illegal aliens are so talented that they should take the slots of our military heroes, why not just start out and hire them to work for the White House? And that kind of reverses the humor, right? I mean, if these folks are so good and so patriotic, you know, hire them in the White House.

And even better, just so we’re equal opportunity, I would suggest they hire all Republicans, and so let someone else pick who will work for you in the White House. And if Mr. Obama thinks that’s a reasonable proposition, at least we’re on the same Orwellian footing.

Rep. Dave Brat Claims ISIS Has Set Up Camp In Texas

In an interview last month with conservative radio host Rusty Humphries, Rep. Dave Brat said that the terrorist group ISIS has set up a base in Texas.

Apparently referring to a debunked report from a right-wing group about an ISIS camp near the Texas border, the Virginia Republican told Humphries, “In our country, now it looks like we have an ISIS center in Texas now that’s been reported last week.”

Brat also warned of “2,000 un-vetted people coming across the border from Syria, the home of ISIS.” The U.S. is planning to admit 2,000 refugees from Syria’s civil war this year, who will be screened by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

“You can’t make up what a terrible problem this is,” he said, “and the political parties are just blind to it because the money, it causes blinders on their eyes. They can’t see reality clearly.”

Rep. Dave Brat: DREAM Act Is An Orwellian Plan To Undermine Pillars Of American Success

Rep. Dave Brat, the Virginia Republican who upset House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary thanks in part to his promises to fight immigration reform, told conservative radio host Rusty Humphries last month that the DREAM Act represents “the cynical use of language that only George Orwell could come up with.”

Brat said that the DREAM ACT — which would enable undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to earn legal status if they meet certain requirements — would, along with church-state separation, threaten the “pillars” of American success.

The congressman contrasted the DREAM Act with the teachings of Martin Luther King, whom Brat said “had a true dream of a better day for all of us under the law.”

This, he explained, was because King “came out of the Judeo-Christian tradition,” which got him to talking about how the fact that “the faith doesn’t get discussed in school anymore,” that “there’s hardly any free markets left” and that “the rule of law is under threat, it’s called the ‘DREAM Act,’” are sending America in the “wrong direction.”

All of this led Brat to dispute church-state separation, arguing, “If you want a total separation of church and state, get rid of law and get rid of love, because that’s in the tradition.”

The ‘DREAM,’ unfortunately, is the cynical use of language that only George Orwell could come up with where logic is just flipped on its head, so you call something that’s illegal a ‘dream.’ So, when Martin Luther King said, ‘I have a dream,’ he had a true dream of a better day for all of us under the law.

He had a Ph.D. in theology — everybody forgets this — he came out of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which started way back when, but roughly with Moses, and in the U.S. Congress, when the speaker looks out, guess who the first face he sees staring him eyeball-to-eyeball? Moses. So the dream can never be, and nothing in the longer-term religious tradition, you can’t violate the law and have a sane culture over the long run. So you have to first of all have foundations that matter, a spiritual foundation or legal foundation, then we finally were fortunate enough to have a free-market foundation, and all of that made us the richest country on the face of the earth.

So now we’re threatening, all these pillars are under attack, the faith doesn’t get discussed in school anymore, the rule of law is under threat, it’s called the “DREAM Act,” free markets are in just free-fall, there’s hardly any free markets left. So we’re going the wrong direction.

EW Jackson: Baltimore Riots Are Obama's 'Chickens Coming Home To Roost'

At the end of a conference call about the Supreme Court marriage cases on Tuesday, Bishop E.W. Jackson addressed the riots in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, saying that the violence represented President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder’s “chickens coming home to roost.”

“The bottom line is this is the president, Holder, Sharpton’s chickens coming home  to roost,” said Jackson, who was the 2013 GOP nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia. “These people have been racial demagogues, they have never missed an opportunity to declare how unjust, how unfair the country is and they have sowed this stuff out there. Not that this sentiment wasn’t already out there, mind you, I’m not saying that they created it, but they certainly stoked it, they fanned the flames.”

Claiming that mistreatment of black men by police is “statistically insignificant,” Jackson complained that “nobody want to address” the fact that gangs like the Bloods and the Crips are full of “evil.”

“And the reality is, folks, there are 12 million arrests every year; two-thirds of those arrests are white folks,” he said. “There are 800,000 police officers in this country. Compared to the number of police officers and the number of arrests, as much as the press plays up these particular incidents, they are statistically insignificant. Now that doesn’t mean they’re not significant to the family or the community or to the people to whom these things happen, but they are statistically insignificant. The real dangerous to the average black person is another black person, like a Blood or a Crip or, apparently, they got the Black Guerillas now in Baltimore.”

Noting that he was criticized for making similar comments on Fox News this week, Jackson told his audience, “I know that both you and many others across the country are glad to hear someone like me express an opinion that they consider to be sane.”


 

 

Virginia 'Religious Liberty' Bill Sponsor Claims Opponents Are Discriminating Against Straight People

Virginia Del. Bob Marshall, the sponsor of a measure that would go beyond the state’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act to explicitly allow discrimination against LGBT people, complained in a radio interview earlier this month that business that oppose such bills are implying that “heterosexuals cannot be the best and the brightest.”

Falsely claiming that a controversial “religious liberty” measure recently debated in Indiana was no different from the RFRA already on the books in Virginia and other states, Marshall told talk radio host John Fredericks that he took issue with a letter Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe published in the Indianapolis Star inviting businesses to relocate to his state’s “open, inclusive and thriving business environment.”

Such rhetoric, Marshall complained, is derogatory to straight people: “When you actually look at the rhetoric, that you need these laws to hire the best and the brightest, that kind of like is a sweeping statement that says that heterosexuals cannot be the best and the brightest.”

Marshall also objected to claims that legislation like his would diminish the rights of LGBT people. “My question is, what possible rights can a person who has this inclination have that you don’t have right now?” he asked. “I mean, homosexuals go to public schools, they can go to colleges, they vote, they drive cars, they have businesses, they go to country clubs. I don’t know what else is needed.”

 

EW Jackson: Slavery In America Wasn't A 'Racial Issue'

In an April 9 interview with Virginia talk radio host John Fredericks, conservative activist E.W. Jackson insisted that President Obama does not love his country enough, in part because he refuses to acknowledge that slavery in America was “not a racial issue.”

Jackson, the 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in the state, responded to a clip of a sermon by the president’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright by insisting that Obama “always seems to want to put American down, apologize for America, indicate what America has done wrong, and yet he never — just like Jeremiah Wright — he never talks about the virtue of our country, he never talks about its greatness, its freedom.”

“I mean, Jeremiah doesn’t want to talk about, for example, the fact that slavery was a worldwide institution and that Nigerians apologized for their complicity in slavery because those slave-masters and  slave-traders could not have gotten those slaves without Africans going into the interior to bring people out,” he continued.

“So this is not a racial issue, it’s a human issue, people subjugating each other. But America’s the place where people of all races, all backgrounds, have come and found freedom. And I don’t think he understands that, the president that is, and Jeremiah Wright certainly doesn’t understand it and doesn’t want to understand it and the president sat in that church for 20 years because he agrees with it.”

 

Ken Cuccinelli: 'We're Being Invaded…One Person At A Time'

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who now heads up the Senate Conservatives Fund, told talk show host Steve Deace in an interview yesterday that America is being “invaded” by immigrants “one person at a time” and that President Obama is guilty of “encouraging the invasion” with his executive actions.

Discussing the decision of Republican leaders in Congress to ally with Democrats to pass a Department of Homeland Security funding bill, Deace asked Cuccinelli: “Is there any affront to the Constitution this president could commit that would cause the current Republican leaders in Congress to really, substantively attempt to do something about it and stop it? Is there anything he could do? Anything?”

“I can’t think of one,” Cuccinelli responded. “I mean, other than surrendering to everybody — I mean, we’re being invaded. We’re being invaded, right? One person at a time, we’re being invaded. And the president isn’t protecting us from invasion, he’s encouraging the invasion, and he’s doing it unconstitutionally."

“He’s assumed power after power that’s allocated to Congress and they’ve supinely rolled over under the Republican surrendership of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy, and there’s no reason to expect that’s going to change," he continued.

“I mean, what’s more important that’s coming up than what we’ve seen in the last week or two months?" he asked. "Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Not to say that the other things we’re going to deal with in coming months aren’t important, Steve. It’s just that clearly what we’ve been through both constitutionally, in terms of our sovereignty and the rule of law, you’re never going to top that.”

Cuccinelli used similar rhetoric in a Facebook post last year in support of then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s questionable decision to send the Texas National Guard to the southern border to confront Central American child migrants. “The border states that are being directly invaded by illegal immigrants – Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico – may constitutionally deal with the invasion themselves, at least as it relates to attempting to stop the flow across their own borders,” Cuccinelli wrote at the time. “And there is nothing President Obama or those in Washington can do to stop any of these states, if they are determined to act.”

EW Jackson: SPLC 'No Different' Than 'Slave Masters Or Segregationists'

Bishop E.W. Jackson, the Religious Right activist and one-time GOP nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, was in Washington yesterday for a “racial reconciliation” rally he organized last night, and took the opportunity to hold a press conference at the National Press Club attacking the Southern Poverty Law Center for briefly listing Ben Carson in its “extremist files.”

SPLC had posted a profile of Carson in its “extremist files,” but quickly took it down, noting that it did not meet the group’s standards, but standing by its reporting on Carson’s long history of promoting anti-government conspiracy theories and smears about LGBT people.

But Jackson told the National Press Club audience that SPLC had criticized Carson simply for opposing marriage equality, which Jackson said “is a violation of his and potentially all of our religious liberty.”

He went on to declare that SPLC’s criticism of Carson was “no different than what maybe slave masters or segregationists would have said.”

“When an organization like the Southern Poverty Law Center decides that a black man that doesn’t agree with them can be slandered the way they’ve slandered him, what it tells me is that there’s a certain level of racism that they are operating under while they are trying to point the finger at others,” he said. “And I say that for this reason: To me, this is no different than what maybe slave masters or segregationists would have said. You know, ‘Some black people are okay as long as they do what we expect them to do and they think the way we expect them to think.’ In other words, they’re the ‘good ones.’ So apparently, if you’re not one of the ‘good ones,’ then we’re going to try to destroy you. And to me, that is racism at its worst.”

Video: The Worst Of The GOP's Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

As President Obama prepares to announce the steps that he will take to provide temporary deportation relief for some undocumented immigrants, it’s important to remember why he’s taking this step. It’s not because Obama and Democrats refuse to work with Republicans to address pressing immigration problems. It’s because a small but influential segment of the Republican caucus refuses to do anything to fix the immigration system.

Today, we at People For the American Way joined with American Bridge to release a video highlighting the kind of rhetoric from congressional Republicans that has sunk any kind of attempt at bipartisan immigration reform.

Some of the examples of anti-immigrant rhetoric from GOP members of Congress will be familiar to RWW readers. And, sadly, we have plenty more where they came from.

Republicans Said What About Immigrants?

Today PFAW is releasing a new digital ad in Virginia highlighting GOP Congressional candidate Barbara Comstock’s dehumanizing rhetoric toward immigrants. Taking a page out of former gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s playbook, who has compared immigrants to rats, last month Comstock compared immigrants to FedEx packages.

Comstock said in a recent debate: “Fedex can track packages coming in here all the time. We can track people who are coming into the country, and we can do that right.”

Beginning today, the ad (pictured above) will run in Northern Virginia until Election Day, as will a Spanish-language version of the ad. The text above the ad notes:

Virginia Republicans continue to use dehumanizing and degrading language towards immigrants. Hold them accountable on Election Day, November 4!

Comstock’s comment is just the latest example from a political party that continues to alienate the Latino community with its demeaning rhetoric and harmful agenda. Despite what GOP candidates may believe, immigrants are not rats, or Fed Ex packages, or dogs, or drug runners. That’s why PFAW is working hard this election cycle — in states including Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado, and Wisconsin — to highlight for Latino voters the harmful track records of GOP candidates, and encouraging voters to keep that in mind when they cast their ballots on Election Day.

PFAW

People. Not Packages.

GOP Congressional candidate Barbara Comstock thinks the government should track immigrants like FedEx tracks packages.

"Fedex can track packages coming in here all the time," Comstock said. "We can track people who are coming into the country."

Last year, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli even compared immigrants to rats.

Republicans aren’t just using dehumanizing rhetoric – they’re pushing an agenda that would harm Virginia families.

People are not Packages!

Vote against the Republicans on November 4th.

 

Eugene Delgaudio Warns Gay Men Will Soon Be 'Skipping Down To Adoption Centers To Pick Out A Little Boy For Themselves'

Eugene Delgaudio, a Loudoun County, Virginia Republican supervisor who heads the group Public Advocate of the United States is warning his supporters that gay people are preparing to “terrorize daycare centers, hospitals, churches and private schools” by teaching schoolchildren “perverted sex acts” and getting married, at which point “[y]ou’ll see men hand-in-hand skipping down to adoption centers to ‘pick out’ a little boy for themselves.”

In a fundraising email yesterday with the subject line, “They say you support homosexual ‘marriage,’” Delgaudio told supporters that he is the only one who can reverse the “Homosexual Agenda” in Congress.

You see, the radical homosexuals are storming through Washington demanding passage of their agenda.

And with the Democrats dominating the Senate and Barack Obama calling the shots in the White House, they say NOW is the time to push their perverse “lifestyle” on every man, woman and child in America.

And they insist YOU actually support them.

To make matters worse, more and more Republicans in Congress are coming out in favor of the Homosexual Agenda .

The Homosexual Lobby has already rammed through Thought Control and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I can only begin to imagine how much more damage the radical homosexuals will do now that they’ve broken the ranks of the opposition party.

As the President of Public Advocate of the United States, I’ve devoted thirty years to battling the radical homosexuals in Washington.

Backed by Hollywood celebrities, the media, and millions of your tax dollars, the radical homosexuals have many Congressmen, both Democrat AND Republican, quivering with fear -- and because of that they have a radical homosexual-friendly majority in control of Congress.

That’s why pro-Family Senators and Congressmen are counting on me to find out if you really support the Gay Bill of Special Rights and homosexual “marriage” as the radical homosexuals claim .

Frankly, if you really do support the radical Homosexual Agenda -- or if you just no longer care enough to stand up for the Family -- insiders in Congress say the entire Homosexual Agenda could pass in a matter of months.

Passage of the Homosexual Agenda will ignite a firestorm that will rip through families, communities and businesses:

* Special job rights for homosexuals. Businesses may have to adopt hiring quotas to protect themselves from lawsuits. Every homosexual fired or not hired becomes a potential federal civil rights lawsuit.

Radical homosexuals will terrorize daycare centers, hospitals, churches and private schools. Traditional moral values will be shattered by federal law.

* Same-sex marriages and adoptions. Wedding gown-clad men smooching before some left-wing clergyman or state official is just the beginning.

You’ll see men hand-in-hand skipping down to adoption centers to “pick out” a little boy for themselves.

* The Homosexual Classrooms Act, which pushes their agenda into our schools. Your children or grandchildren will be taught homosexuality is moral, natural and good. High school children will learn perverted sex acts as part of “safe sex” education.

With condoms already handed out in many schools, radical homosexuals will have little trouble adopting today’s “if it feels good do it” sex-ed curriculum to their agenda.

But the email doesn’t stop there. Delgaudio goes on to tell the harrowing story of a recent “stormy night” in which he drove to a deserted warehouse where “long-haired, earring-pierced” men were printing gay-rights petitions until they spotted him and chased him away, shouting, “This time, Delgaudio, we can’t lose!” [UPDATE: Joe points out that this story is a favorite of Delgaudio's.]

One stormy night, I drove to a mailshop hidden deep in a nearly deserted stand of warehouses. I’d heard something was up and wanted to see for myself.

As I rounded the final turn, my eyes nearly popped. Tractor-trailers pulled up to loading docks, cars and vans everywhere and long-haired, earring-pierced men scurrying around running forklifts, inserters and huge printing presses.

Trembling with worry, I went inside. It was worse than I ever imagined.

Row after row of boxes bulging with pro-homosexual petitions lined the walls, stacked to the ceiling .

My mind reeled as I realized hundreds, maybe thousands, more boxes were already loaded on the tractor-trailers. And still more petitions were flying off the press.

Suddenly a dark-haired man screeched, “Delgaudio, what are you doing here?” Dozens of men began moving toward me. I’d been recognized.

As I retreated to my car, the man chortled, “This time, Delgaudio, we can’t lose !”

Driving away, my eyes filled with tears as I realized he might be right. This time the radical homosexuals could win.

You see, even though homosexuals are just 1% of the population, if every one sent a petition to Congress, it would generate a tidal wave of two or three million petitions or more.

Hundreds of thousands of pro-homosexual petitions will soon flood Congress , and my friends in Congress tell me there’s virtually nothing on Capitol Hill from the tens of millions of Americans like you who oppose the radical Homosexual Agenda and the Gay Bill of Special Rights.

I made up my mind that night to write to you and as many other patriotic Americans as possible. To stop the radical homosexuals and protect marriage, there must be an immediate outpouring of support from folks like you.

Delgaudio then repeats his fundraising plea to reach “twice as many” families as “all the homosexuals in America” so that he can finally let Congress know that the “radical homosexuals are lying.”

I’ve identified nearly 10 million families I believe would join our struggle for morality if only I can reach them. That’s more than twice as many as all the homosexuals in America ... and most of these families represent two or three voters each. But without your financial help, I’ll never be able to reach them.

My hope is you care enough to contribute sacrificially so I can reach these families.

A generous gift of $25 will let Public Advocate reach 45 more families. $50 will help us rally more than 97 homes. And a special gift of $100 will generate over 215 contacts.

Only you know whether chipping in $10, $20, or more is best suited to your budget.

I ask you to do what you can.

The radical homosexuals boast you support same-sex marriage, special job rights and the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

Please let Congress know the radical homosexuals are lying.

H/T RWW reader Erik

Rep. Frank Wolf Says Christians May Need To Go To Jail In Order To Wake Up America

On Sunday, a variety of Religious Right groups hosted a webcast called "iPledgeSunday 2014: The Rise of the Church," designed to mobilize right-wing Christians before the midterm elections. Hosted by the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and Live Action's Lila Rose, the event featured in-person interviews with people like Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver, as well as a variety of pre-taped interviews with Religious Right activists including David Barton, Jim Garlow, and the Benham Brothers.

Rep. Frank Wolf also appeared in a prerecorded interview, telling Perkins that religious liberty is under attack in America because the church has been intimidated and fallen into silence.

In order to combat this, the Virginia Republican said, Americans need to imitate people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and prepare to go to prison in the face of government oppression.

"Frankly," Wolf said, "some people in the church may have to go to jail and that would wake up America. That would literally wake up America if they arrested a cardinal, if they arrested a bishop, if they arrested a prominent pastor":

Barbara Comstock’s “FedEx” Comments Part-and-Parcel with GOP Trend of Dehumanizing Immigration Rhetoric

In a debate yesterday, Barbara Comstock, GOP candidate for Congress from Virginia’s 10th District, compared the tracking of immigrants to the tracking of Fedex packages.

I think first and foremost we need to stop playing politics with this, secure the borders, and just do it. We know how to do it. Fedex can track packages coming in here all the time. We can track people who are coming into the country, and we can do that right.

Comstock is not alone in her dehumanization of people coming to the U.S. Last year, Ken Cuccinelli compared immigrants to rats: “It is worse than our immigration policy. You can’t break up rat families…and you can’t even kill ‘em.”

People in Virginia and around the country need to know about the hateful rhetoric coming from the Right and the extremist views held by candidates vying for leadership positions. These are not fringe conservatives, but candidates in contested races who could eventually influence how immigration policy is shaped and the way our country is run.

Immigrants are not Fedex packages to be tracked, families of rats, or drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

PFAW

PFAW Foundation’s Supreme Court 2014-2015 Term Preview

To: Interested Parties
From: Paul Gordon, Senior Legislative Counsel, People For the American Way
Date: September 25, 2014
Subject: PFAW Foundation’s Supreme Court 2014-2015 Term Preview


The beginning of a new Supreme Court term has become a time to worry, “What’s next?” In the past two terms alone, often in 5-4 decisions, the Roberts Court has severely undermined the Voting Rights Act, continued its assault on the American people’s efforts to limit money in politics, strengthened the hand of employers who discriminate, significantly eroded church-state separation, discovered religious rights for for-profit corporations seeking to deny female employees needed contraception coverage, undercut unions, and found ways to help large corporations bypass laws designed to limit their power over small businesses and ordinary people.

As bad as the Roberts Court has been, there have also been some good decisions in the most recent terms. For instance, the Court struck down the odious Defense of Marriage Act, upheld the EPA's general authority to issue regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, and unanimously recognized our Fourth Amendment right to privacy concerning our smart phones.

The 2014-2015 Term is set to begin on October 6, the traditional First Monday in October, and the Court will be hearing a number of important cases. At the same time, perhaps half the cases it will hear this term have not been determined or announced, and there is substantial speculation on whether it will hear cases on several high-profile issues, marriage equality most prominent among them. Below is a summary of some of the major cases the Court may hear this term, along with cases already scheduled that we will be following.


CASES THAT THE COURT MIGHT HEAR

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

If the Court accepts a marriage equality case, it will obviously become the blockbuster case of the term (and perhaps the decade). The Court has already been asked to hear appeals of pro-equality rulings by three circuit courts: From the Tenth Circuit are Herbert v. Kitchen (Utah) and Smith v. Bishop (Oklahoma). From the Fourth Circuit are Rainey v. Bostic, Schaefer v. Bostic, and McQuigg v. Bostic (all Virginia). From the Seventh Circuit are Bogan v. Baskin (Indiana) and Walker v. Wolf (Wisconsin). While states and government officials who lost in the lower courts are filing the appeals, the couples who won the cases are also urging the Court to hear the appeals, so there can finally be a national resolution to the issue.

Should one of the remaining circuit courts uphold a state marriage ban, the resulting split among circuits on such a major constitutional issue would almost guarantee review by the Supreme Court. But if every circuit continues to rule the same way, the Justices might decide to let the issue be resolved there.

Conservatives like Scalia and Thomas, who have in case after case shown their hostility to LGBT equality but may be unsure of how Kennedy would vote, might not be willing to risk a Supreme Court precedent that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. From their perspective, if they can’t change the outcome around the country, why make it worse by adding a jurisprudential nightmare from the nation’s highest court that would taint American law for decades to come?

For Justices likely to recognize the constitutional right to marriage equality, the calculation might be different. They, too, not knowing Kennedy’s position, might not want to risk a 5-4 ruling in the “wrong” direction on a major constitutional and societal issue. But even if they could be certain of being in the majority, they might find advantages to having the Court stay out. Justice Ginsburg, for instance, has suggested publicly that Roe v. Wade went “too far, too fast,” provoking a backlash that could otherwise have been avoided. If the legal question of marriage equality is being decided rightly in all the circuit courts, some Justices might rather leave well enough alone. In fact, Justice Ginsburg told a group of law students in mid-September that without a circuit split, she saw “no urgency” for the Court to take up the issue now, although she added that she expects the Court to take it up “sooner or later.”

Should the Court grant cert on one or more of the appeals, it could answer a number of critically important questions in addition to whether states can prohibit same-sex couples from marrying.

Exactly which constitutional right do the bans violate? While numerous courts have ruled in favor of same-sex couples, they have been anything but unanimous in their reasoning: Some have suggested that the bans violate the Due Process Clause, because the longstanding, fundamental right to marry includes the right to marry someone of the same sex. Other judges indicate that the bans violate the Equal Protection Clause because they deny the right to marry based on the sex of the people seeking to get married. Still others suggest that the bans violate the Equal Protection Clause because they discriminate against gays and lesbians. While the different legal rationales would all have the same immediate result (marriage equality), they could create very different legal precedents and have very different impacts down the line as lower courts consider other types of discrimination, whether aimed at gays and lesbians, at transgender people, or at others.

A Supreme Court ruling might decide what level of scrutiny the Equal Protection Clause requires for laws that discriminate against gay people, an issue not squarely faced in previous cases. Most government classifications are subject to – and easily pass – “rational basis” scrutiny by the courts: The law is constitutional as long as it’s rationally related to some legitimate government interest. (The Court has said that animus against gays and lesbians is not a legitimate purpose, which in the past has let it bypass the question as to whether anti-gay laws warrant more scrutiny from the courts.)

But a few types of laws trigger heightened Equal Protection scrutiny. Sex-based classifications are subject to intermediate scrutiny: They must be substantially related to an important government interest. Race-based classifications are generally subject to strict scrutiny, the highest level: They must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest. If the Court rules that laws discriminating against lesbians and gays warrant some level of heightened scrutiny, that would have an enormous impact nationwide on all kinds of laws that discriminate against lesbians and gays, not just marriage bans.

The Court’s discussion of this issue could also shed light on whether eliminating private discrimination against LGBT people is (in the Court’s eyes) a compelling government interest. This could have an enormous impact as courts consider right wing challenges to anti-discrimination laws on the basis of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act or state-law analogs.


ACA SUBSIDIES

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act strategically launched lawsuits in four different circuits challenging federal subsidies for millions of Americans buying health insurance on federally-run exchanges. The circuits were apparently selected to maximize the possibility of a circuit split, which in turn would maximize the likelihood of getting the case heard by the Roberts Court, which (they hope) would deliver a crippling blow to Obamacare. Decisions have been reached in two of the circuits, although one has since been vacated.

Section 1311 of the ACA says states should set up insurance exchanges, while Section 1321 of the Act says the federal government can set one up if a state doesn't. Subsidies are available for less well-off people getting health insurance through an exchange, based on the amount the person pays for the insurance s/he is enrolled in through an exchange "established by the state under [section] 1311" of the ACA. The law’s opponents hope to have the Supreme Court rule that Congress intended for subsidies to be unavailable to Americans purchasing insurance through the federally-established exchanges that the law calls for in cases where the state does not step in. In other words, the argument is that Congress intended to undercut the financial viability of the law and thwart its central purpose.

A unanimous panel of the Fourth Circuit rejected this wild claim in King v. Burwell. However, two far right judges on the D.C. Circuit formed a majority in a three-judge panel ruling actually agreeing with the Obama care opponents in Halbig v. Burwell. Dissenting Judge Harry Edwards recognized the lawsuit as a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” noting that “[i]t is inconceivable that Congress intended to give States the power to cause the ACA to crumble.” The full D.C. Circuit subsequently vacated the ruling and will consider the issue en banc, and most observers expect a ruling more like the Fourth Circuit’s.

But even if that happens, there are still lawsuits percolating in Indiana (Seventh Circuit) and Oklahoma (Tenth Circuit), so the hoped-for circuit split may yet occur. If it does, the Roberts Court is almost certain to consider the issue. While the case is transparently political and legally weak, that did not stop the conservative Justices when it came to the Commerce Clause challenge to the individual mandate.


CONTRACEPTION COVERAGE AND RELIGIOUS NONPROFITS

The Roberts Court may hear one or more cases involving religious nonprofits that oppose the ACA’s contraception coverage requirement, in a sequel to Hobby Lobby v. Burwell. In that case, the Roberts Court gave certain for-profit corporations religious liberty rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), then completely rewrote the law to give the chain store the right to “exercise” its religion by refusing to comply with the ACA’s contraception coverage requirement.

Under RFRA, a federal law cannot impose a substantial burden on a person’s religious exercise unless it is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest, and it is the least restrictive means of doing so. In Hobby Lobby, the Roberts Court concluded that the corporation and its owners suffered a “substantial” burden” on their religious exercise because the owners were offended by the contraception coverage requirement, even though it did not restrict or burden what they may believe or do. The majority also concluded that the law was not the least restrictive means of furthering the government’s interest in women’s health, because the Administration offers religious nonprofits an accommodation: They are exempt if they simply sign a form certifying that they are a religious nonprofit that objects to the provision of contraceptive services, and provide a copy of that form to their insurance issuer or third-party administrator, which then has the responsibility to pay for and provide the coverage. (Churches, in contrast, are wholly exempt.) The Roberts Court concluded that the federal government can make this accommodation available to for-profit corporations, meaning the coverage requirement is not the least restrictive means of achieving the ACA’s goal.

But three days later, the Court issued a temporary injunction against enforcing even this accommodation against Wheaton College, a non-profit religious institution that argued that the accommodation substantially burdens its religious freedom. This prompted a furious dissent from the three women Justices. Although the merits of the case are still being argued before a lower federal court, this was an ominous sign of how the Roberts Court will address the legal question when it inevitably reaches the high court.

Another high-profile case (or one similar to it) that may reach the Court involves Little Sisters of the Poor. This religious nonprofit organization, too, has a religious objection to the accommodation that was designed to meet its religious objections, arguing that the form is like a permission slip that would trigger contraception coverage, making the nuns complicit in sin. However, the Little Sisters’ insurer is classified as a “church plan,” which is actually exempt from the ACA requirement. So regardless of whether the Little Sisters signed the form, their employees would still not have the contraception coverage. Nevertheless, last January, while its RFRA suit against the contraception coverage provision was before the Tenth Circuit (where it is still pending), the Supreme Court enjoined the federal government from enforcing the law until a final resolution on the merits.

It seems likely that there will be a request that this issue be considered by the Supreme Court at some point this term, either through one of these cases or one similar to them.


CASES CURRENTLY BEFORE THE COURT


EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AND WORKERS’ RIGHTS

Young v. UPS: Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy

The Supreme Court is to decide to what extent employers can treat pregnant workers temporarily unable to work differently from other workers temporarily unable to work.

This case involves Peggy Young, a pregnant employee of UPS with temporary medical restrictions on how much she could safely lift. UPS did not make any accommodations for her, such as temporary alternative work. As a result, she spent several months on unpaid leave, during which she lost her medical coverage.

In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that discriminating against employees who are pregnant was not sex discrimination under Title VII. Congress corrected that interpretation of the law in 1978 with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which has two relevant provisions. First, it specifies that sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

The second provision explains how to apply that general principle: It says that women affected by pregnancy “shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes … as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” This establishes a basis of comparison. So while a typical sex discrimination case looks at how a female plaintiff is treated in comparison to similarly situated men, a PDA case looks at how she is treated in comparison to non-pregnant workers with similar ability (or inability) to work.

UPS’s collective bargaining contract calls for UPS to accommodate temporarily disabled employees if the disability is due to an on-the-job injury, or if they have lost their DOT certification to drive. UPS also accommodates employees who have a permanent impairment under the Americans With Disabilities Act. UPS says its policy is “pregnancy-blind:” They claim they are treating Young the same way they’d treat a non-pregnant employee whose injury doesn’t fit any of the above conditions.

But Young argues that isn’t the proper analysis under the PDA. She points out that UPS would have made an accommodation for someone “similar in their ability or inability to work” to her if they were in one of those three categories. So, she concludes, the plain text of the PDA requires UPS to accommodate her, as well.

Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk: Overtime pay for workers at warehouse distribution centers

The Supreme Court is to decide if employers can deny overtime pay to employees at “customer fulfillment” distribution centers for the time they spend waiting for mandatory security screenings.

This is a class-action lawsuit brought by Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro, two former employees of Integrity Staffing Solutions, which provides workers to work in the warehouses of companies like Amazon.com. At the end of the shift, the company requires every employee to go through a security check before they leave the facility to make sure they aren’t stealing the merchandise. The employees wait as long as 25 minutes to be searched. Busk and Castro claim that they should have been paid overtime for this time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as should all current employees, as well.

FLSA requires overtime pay when a covered employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek. In 1947, Congress helped define what counts as “work” by passing the Portal-to-Portal Act (PPA), which says that FLSA’s overtime requirement doesn’t apply to activities that are “preliminary” or “postliminary” to an employee’s primary job responsibilities. In a 1956 case called Steiner v. Mitchell, the Supreme Court interpreted the PPA as requiring overtime only for tasks that are an “integral and indispensable part of the principal activities for which covered workman are employed.”

Busk and Castro say that any activity required by and benefitting the employer (such as the security searches) are part of the actual job, not “postliminary” to it, so they count as time at work under FLSA and should generate overtime pay. They get support from an amicus brief submitted by the National Employment Lawyers Association, which details how loss-prevention activities have become integrated into the modern retail work routine, making searches like those at issue here part of an employee’s principal activities.

The workers won at the Ninth Circuit, but the court used different reasoning: that the searches are “postliminary” (so the Portal-to-Portal Act applies), but that they are an “integral and indispensable part” of the workers’ principal activities and therefore subject to overtime pay. Integrity (supported by an amicus brief from the Obama Administration) asserts that the searches are “postliminary” to work, are not an “integral and indispensable part” of the employees’ principal activities and, therefore, don’t trigger the overtime requirement.

Part of the company’s argument seems to be a results-based pitch to a corporate-friendly Court: In its certiorari petition urging the Justices to hear its appeal, Integrity Staffing wrote that since the Ninth Circuit ruling, “plaintiffs’ lawyers have brought nationwide class actions against a number of major employers—including Apple, Amazon.com, and CVS—seeking back pay (plus overtime and penalties) for time spent in security screenings.” Notice that it isn’t employees who are suing, but “plaintiffs’ lawyers,” a framing that is red meat for right-wing ideologues. This argument also seems to have less to do with discerning congressional intent and more to do with protecting large corporations.

Mach Mining v. EEOC: Pre-lawsuit settlement efforts by the EEOC

The Supreme Court is to decide if employers can escape liability for illegal discrimination by arguing that the EEOC failed to make a sufficiently good-faith attempt to reach a settlement with the employer.

Mach Mining has never hired a woman for a mining position. A woman who had been turned down several times for a coal mining job filed a sex discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a step that Title VII requires before filing a lawsuit. EEOC looked into the allegation, found it had merit, and – again, as required by Title VII – sought to negotiate an end to the alleged sex discrimination “by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion” before suing. After several months without success, the EEOC notified the company that it felt further efforts would be futile and initiated a lawsuit. Mach Mining says the case should be dismissed on the grounds that the EEOC didn’t make a good-faith conciliation effort. In response, the EEOC says Title VII doesn’t allow such a defense.

While several other circuits have ruled otherwise, the Seventh Circuit in this case concluded that Title VII cannot be interpreted to allow courts to inquire into the adequacy of the EEOC’s conciliation efforts. For one thing, Title VII has no express provision for an affirmative defense based on a defect in the EEOC’s conciliation’s efforts. It also calls for the EEOC to “endeavor” to end the discrimination through “informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion.” If it can’t reach a result “acceptable to the Commission,” it can sue. The Seventh Circuit interpreted this as giving the EEOC great deference.

The court also noted that Title VII makes the process confidential, with penalties for making the information public without the consent of everyone concerned. That could prevent the EEOC from showing the court the evidence that it had sought to conciliate in good faith. It seems unlikely that Congress wrote Title VII to require the EEOC to defend its conciliation efforts in court but made its ability to do so dependent on the permission of the employer being sued. The court also concluded that there would be no meaningful standard of review. For instance, just how hard should the agency pursue an agreement?

A Supreme Court ruling for the employer could give employers a significant tool to stymie legitimate lawsuits against unlawful employment discrimination. As the Seventh Circuit wrote:

Simply put, the conciliation defense tempts employers to turn what was meant to be an informal negotiation into the subject of endless disputes over whether the EEOC did enough before going to court. Such disputes impose significant costs on both sides, as well as on the court, and to what end?

All the employer should legitimately hope to gain is some unspecified quantum of additional efforts at conciliation by the EEOC. The result of such a defense, as we have said in a closely related context, is to “protract and complicate Title VII litigation, and with little or no offsetting benefit.”


RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

Holt v. Hobbs: Right of a Muslim prisoner to grow a short beard

The Supreme Court is to address whether a state prison’s prohibiting a Muslim prisoner from growing a half-inch beard violates the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

This case originated with a handwritten request to the Supreme Court from Gregory Holt (aka Abdul Maalik Muhammad), a Muslim prisoner in Arkansas, to hear his case. He states that his religious beliefs require him to have a beard, and he seeks to grow a half-inch beard. The state Department of Corrections prohibits beards generally, but allows quarter-inch beards grown for medical reasons. Muhammad sees his request as a compromise (since his religious beliefs really would have him grow it much longer) that has been accepted in prisons elsewhere.

Since he is in a state prison, Muhammad’s case is governed by a federal law called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, or RLUIPA. Passed unanimously by Congress in 2000, RLUIPA requires prisons accepting federal funds to give greater religious liberty protections to inmates than is required by the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. Similar to the better-known Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was at issue in Hobby Lobby, RLUIPA is triggered when the government imposes a “substantial burden on the religious exercise” of a person confined to an institution. When that happens, the action can be upheld only if the government can demonstrate that the burden: “(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

The state argues that the no-beard policy furthers the compelling government interests in prison safety and security, and that the proposed half-inch accommodation would not be as effective as the no-beard rule in achieving those purposes. For instance, they provide the opinions of penal experts that prisoners could use the beards to hide contraband, and that escaped prisoners could too easily and quickly change their appearance simply by shaving. Muhammad (now represented by counsel) argues that the lower courts, which ruled against him, did not provide the strict scrutiny of the state’s arguments that is required by RLUIPA.

In Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court significantly rewrote RFRA, watering down the “substantial burden” requirement and applying the religious liberty law to for-profit corporations. Neither factor is relevant to this case, meaning the Court could rule in favor of Muhammad without rewriting the law. But the Roberts Court is known for playing the “long game.” Even if the Court rules unanimously for Muhammad, they may not all agree on the reasoning: The conservatives could write an opinion designed to be cited in future RFRA litigation strengthening the hands of those on the right who would reshape RFRA from a shield against government oppression into a sword.


VOTING RIGHTS

Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama / Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama: Racial gerrymandering

The Supreme Court is to address whether Alabama engaged in unconstitutional racial gerrymandering when it drew new state House and Senate district lines that channeled large numbers of African Americans into districts that were already majority-minority.

The GOP-controlled Alabama state legislature enacted a redistricting plan that transferred a significant portion of the black population that had previously been in majority-white districts into districts that were already majority-black. In so doing, the legislature was seeking to achieve certain percentages of black voters in the majority-black districts. At issue is whether legislators engaged in an unconstitutional effort to separate voters by race, or whether they followed traditional redistricting criteria in a way that was necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

Due to population shifts, majority-black districts established after the 2000 Census lost population and had to be redrawn after the 2010 Census to bring in new people. In some cases, the population loss was disproportionately white, meaning that a significantly higher percentage of the remaining population was African American than before. In redrawing the lines while keeping the same number of majority-black districts, the legislature made two decisions that led to what some call “bleaching” – drawing lines so that large numbers of African Americans in majority-white districts would be redistricted into supermajority-black districts, and diminishing African Americans’ political influence in much of the state.

First, they chose to reduce the permissible population difference between districts from 10% (the 2000 standard) to 2%. To achieve district populations that close to each other, many more people would have to be drawn into the modified black-majority districts than would otherwise have been necessary. That huge numbers of those people would be blacks removed from majority-white districts was determined by the second decision: Ostensibly to comply with the requirement under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (this was before Shelby County) that new lines not lead to a retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise, the African American percentages in the redrawn majority-minority districts should be at least whatever they had become in 2010.

This reapportionment was upheld by a divided three-judge federal district court. The majority concluded that race was not the predominant factor in drawing the redistricting boundaries, so that they need not be analyzed under strict scrutiny as in the 1993 Shaw v. Reno case. The majority also concluded that even if strict scrutiny applied, the legislative boundaries were narrowly tailored to achieve the compelling purpose of compliance with the preclearance provisions of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which applied at the time. The plaintiffs in this case – the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and state Democrats – challenge those conclusions, arguing that legislators had misinterpreted Section 5, that race was impermissibly the overriding criterion used by legislators in drawing lines, and that the redistricting plan violated the Fourteenth Amendment.


FREE SPEECH AND SIGN REGULATIONS

Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona: Municipal sign regulations

The Supreme Court will hear a church’s Free Speech challenge to city rules regulating the size and placement of various types of signs, which affect the signs it puts up to direct people to its church services.

This case was brought by a small church (25-30 adult members) in Arizona that places signs up to invite people to its weekly services and inform them where they are being held. Good News Church and its pastor Clyde Reed are urging the Court to strike down the town of Gilbert’s sign ordinance, which treats some signs (such as directional signs for events, like a fair or, in this case, a church service) differently from others (like political, real estate, or ideological signs). The different types of signs have different rules on how large they can be, and where and when they can be posted. Good News Church argues the law is an unconstitutional content-based infringement of its First Amendment rights. The lower court had upheld it as content-neutral.

Gilbert regulations generally require a permit before posting a sign, with a number of exceptions that can be posted without a permit. These exceptions (each with specific size, number, and placement rules) include construction signs, open house signs, parking signs, building identification signs, garage sale signs, street address signs, and restaurant menu signs. The church devotes much of its focus to three of the exceptions:

  • Temporary directional signs relating to a qualifying event (like the church’s weekly church service)
    • Size: up to 6 square feet (and up to 6 feet in height)
    • Time: 12 hours before, during, and 1 hour after an event
    • Number: maximum of 4 on a single property
  • Political signs
    • Size: up to 32 square feet
    • Time: any time before election, until 10 days after
    • Number: unlimited
  • Ideological signs
    • Size: up to 20 square feet
    • Time: any time
    • Number: unlimited

The church has signs in the first category to tell people about their weekly church services in the space they rent. The maximum size is smaller than political and ideological signs, fewer can be posted, and they cannot stay up nearly as long. Represented by the far-right Alliance Defending Freedom, Good News Church argues that the city is violating its First Amendment rights by applying different rules to different types of noncommercial signs based on their content. According to the church, any classification based on what a sign says is content-based and therefore subject to the highest level of scrutiny. And if the law’s purpose is, say, to promote traffic safety or aesthetics, then what difference should it make if the sign is for a church service, political candidate, or particular ideology?

A divided panel of the Ninth Amendment disagreed, ruling against the church. It said the distinctions among different types of signs are content-neutral (and thus subject to a somewhat lower level of scrutiny) because Gilbert’s interests in regulating temporary signs are unrelated to the specific content or message of the sign. Each exemption is based on objective criteria related not to the sign’s message, but to the reason for the exemption (such as need for communication about elections, or the need to let event sponsors inform people how to get to the event).


HOLDING FRAUDULENT CORPORATIONS ACCOUNTABLE

Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi v. IndyMac MBS: Timing of lawsuits

The Court is to decide whether the clock stops on a deadline to sue for securities fraud when someone files a class action suit.

This case relates to a key 1974 precedent called American Pipe & Construction Co. v. Utah, where the Supreme Court ruled that the filing of a class action lawsuit stops the clock (“tolls” in legal parlance) on the statute of limitations on filing federal antitrust claims for all potential members of the class, including those who are not actively involved with or even aware of the class action lawsuit. So if a court then doesn’t certify the class for some reason or dismisses its claims, but makes that decision after the statute of limitations has passed, those who would have been included in the class have not lost their opportunity to have their day in court just because they hadn’t made an individual filing in the case.

The current case relates to the financial meltdown of the 2000s and involves federal laws in the Securities Act of 1933 prohibiting sellers of securities from misleading investors. The law has two key time limits: (1) You generally have one year to file a lawsuit, and that can be a year after the untrue or misleading statement is made or discovered. (2) But there is an additional limit, one that restricts just how long after the fact you have to discover the wrongdoing: “In no event shall any such action be brought … more than three years after the security was bona fide offered to the public [or, depending on which section of the law is involved] more than three years after the sale.” The Second Circuit concluded that the American Pipe rule did not apply to this statute.

One of the great benefits of class action litigation is that it protects the rights of people who cannot afford to themselves engage in litigation and may not even realize they have been wronged. It also vastly enhances our society’s ability to hold large corporations responsible when they violate people’s rights. The rule from American Pipe has served that purpose well. But in other contexts, the Roberts Court has significantly undercut the ability of Americans to utilize class actions to protect their rights. If the Court rules that American Pipe doesn’t apply in the securities fraud context, it will be important to see if its reasoning also undercuts American Pipe as a precedent in other contexts.

Omnicare v. Laborers District Council: Holding companies accountable for false statements to investors

The Court is to address what investors need to prove to hold companies accountable for material misstatements in investment material.

When responding to a public offering of company shares, investors may rely on a company’s registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, investors can sue if that statement “contained an untrue statement of a material fact or omitted to state a material fact [that was] necessary to make the statements therein not misleading.” This case asks what investors need to prove if the purportedly “untrue statement” was the company’s opinion that it wasn’t breaking the law.

Omnicare is the nation’s largest provider of pharmaceutical care for the elderly and other residents of long-term care facilities. In Omnicare’s registration statement, it said that “we believe” that its financial relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers were legal. The investors here claim that some of those deals constituted unlawful kickbacks. The question is whether that allegation is enough to trigger Section 11.

According to Omnicare, for the investors to have a claim under Section 11, they have to allege that Omnicare didn’t believe the statement when it was made. Otherwise, companies could be held liable for statements of opinion that turn out later not to be true. Two circuit courts have taken that view.

But in this case, the Sixth Circuit took a different approach, one that makes it easier for investors to file a Section 11 claim. That court reasoned that Section 11 is a “strict liability” statute where the state of mind of company officials isn’t relevant, so it’s sufficient to allege that the opinion was false, regardless of whether the company knew at the time it was false. That’s the ruling the investors in this case are asking the Supreme Court to uphold.

In an amicus brief, the Obama Administration takes a middle ground, in which the company isn’t held liable only because it expressed an opinion that turned out not to be true. The Administration argues that a statement of opinion is actionable under Section 11 if: (1) the company didn’t believe it at the time (which both parties in this case agree on), or (2) there was no reasonable basis for the opinion at the time, even if it was sincerely held (which Omnicare disagrees with).

Any ruling by the Roberts Court should keep in mind that Congress enacted Section 11 to encourage maximum disclosure by companies making a public offering. After all, people associated with the company know far more about the business than potential investors could ever know, and Section 11 was intended to dissuade corporations from tricking investors.


CONCLUSION

Just as the Lochner case defined the Supreme Court a century ago as it turned conservative economic policies into constitutional dogma, America finds itself living through the Citizens United era, where the Court again routinely rules in favor of corporate and other powerful interests. By the end of June, we will know if the current term will have been as damaging to Americans’ fundamental rights as recent terms have been.

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