Constitution

What Would It Look Like If Ted Cruz Put His Pal Mike Lee on the Supreme Court?

Back in December, Kyle reported that Glenn Beck, who believes Ted Cruz is anointed by God to be president, suggested that a President Cruz should nominate Utah Sen. Mike Lee to the Supreme Court. This weekend, while campaigning in Utah, Cruz himself floated the prospect, saying Lee “would look good” on the court.

“Good” is not really the right word. “Terrifying” is more like it.

Lee, who calls Cruz his “best friend at work,” has perhaps the most extreme view of the Constitution of anyone in the Senate. Lee is a fervent “tenther,” someone who believes the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution radically restricts the authority of the federal government. As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in the New York Times Magazine in 2010, “Lee offered glimpses of a truly radical vision of the U.S. Constitution, one that sees the document as divinely inspired and views much of what the federal government currently does as unconstitutional.”

Lee dismisses Supreme Court rulings upholding a women’s right to abortion. He called the court’s marriage equality ruling a “breathtaking presumption of power.” People For the American Way noted in a 2010 report that Lee “has denounced as ‘domestic enemies’ those who disagree with his radically limited view” of the Constitution.

Here are a few things that Sen. Mike Lee believes are unconstitutional for the federal government to be engaged in:

This list helps explain why right-wing law professor Jonathan Adler, a force behind the King v. Burwell challenge to the Affordable Care Act, has also suggested that the next Republican president should put Lee on the court.

For an ardent self-described constitutionalist, Lee has a lot of problems with the Constitution as amended over the years and as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Lee published a book last year called “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America's Founding Document.” He believes the 16th amendment, allowing the federal government to collect income taxes, should be repealed, leaving it to the states to determine how they would tax their own citizens to pay for the extremely limited federal government that would fit his vision of the constitution. He also thinks the 17th Amendment was a mistake and thinks the power to elect U.S. senators should be taken away from voters and returned to state legislatures. He also wants to "clarify" the 14th Amendment through legislation to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. to parents who are not citizens or legal residents and wants to amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget and to impose congressional term limits. He supports a campaign by some right-wing activists for state legislators to convene an “Article V” convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution.

As a Senate candidate he said he would like to abolish the federal Departments of Energy and Education, dismantle the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and phase out Social Security altogether. As a senator, Lee orchestrated shutting down the government in an effort to defund Obamacare, even though Cruz took most of the blame for it.

Cruz and Lee share a sort of gleeful pride in playing the outsiders who have contempt for “the establishment.” Lee is reportedly the guy who suggested that Cruz run for Senate; he was among those who endorsed Cruz in his long-shot primary for his Senate seat. This month, he became the first of Cruz’s Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential run.

Congressional Republicans Promote 2016 'Ideas' Strategy, Warn Against Trump At Heritage 'Conservative Policy Summit'

The Heritage Foundation’s political advocacy affiliate, Heritage Action for America, held an all-day “Conservative Policy Summit” on Wednesday, during which Heritage staff and supporters heard from nearly two dozen conservative Republican members of Congress. Heritage's president, former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, reaffirmed one of the organization’s longstanding principles — that you can’t legitimately call yourself an economic conservative if you aren’t also a social conservative.

The morning consisted of speeches on “conservative policy pillars” – House Speaker Paul Ryan on leadership, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa on defense, Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina on social policy, and Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska on economic policy. The afternoon was built around panel discussions on the House Freedom Caucus, the freshman class, differences in the workings of the House and Senate, and the state of the conservative movement. What was meant to be a closing debate on the filibuster between Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Sen. Mike Lee turned into a moderated conversation with Lee — who defends the filibuster against frustrated right-wing House members — when Goodlatte didn’t show.

Ryan’s opening speech set a mostly high-minded tone, saying conservatives must address Americans who are hurting and convince them that a conservative pro-growth agenda offers them more promise than “failed” liberal policies. He called for a “clarifying election” that would, like Ronald Reagan’s 1980 victory, come with a mandate to enact conservative policies. Ryan warned that with one more progressive presidency “liberals will lock in all their gains” — and that Democrats’ refusal to deal with entitlement reform would ensure monetary and fiscal crises.

In remarks that may have been intended for his Heritage Action hosts and members of the Freedom Caucus, Ryan urged conservatives not to engage in a “circular firing squad” or waste time fighting over tactics or impugning one others’ motives. “We can’t let how someone votes on an amendment to an appropriations bill define what it means to be conservative, because it’s setting our sights too low,” he said.

Ryan also said Republicans must not be merely oppositional. He suggested that conservatives who promised to repeal Obamacare while Obama was still in office were merely setting themselves up for failure. He said House Republicans are putting together a five part ideas-based agenda that will define the year in the areas of national security, jobs and the economy, healthcare, poverty and opportunity, and restoring the Constitution.

Rep. Mark Walker, a Southern Baptist minister, was introduced by Heritage’s Jennifer Marshall as a champion of the right-wing social agenda on marriage, abortion and religious liberty. Walker said the country was founded on traditional values, but that decades of liberal policies have led to the “undoing” of communities: “The federal government has hijacked the American Dream and the family has been decimated.”

Walker said Congress must “eliminate every taxpayer dollar that goes to Planned Parenthood,” saying, “There is no other freedom-robbing, opportunity-destroyer and life-killer that is more intentional than Planned Parenthood.”  Walker did not directly address the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling or the resistance to the ruling being pushed by some social conservatives. In a question about how to make marriage fashionable, he said the church has to do its job in teaching the truth about family.

Walker said people are right to be angry about some things, like classrooms indoctrinating students with “progressive secularism,” and said that anger can be a powerful motivator if properly targeted. He urged people to be discerning and compassionate in order to more effectively make the conservative case. “It’s okay to be a loud voice as long as you’re doing more than just making noise,” he said.

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a former college president tasked with talking about economic freedom, said that the American idea of limited government and conservatives’ commitment to the free market are grounded in “an anthropological claim about human dignity.” Like other speakers, Sasse denounced what he described as regulatory overreach. He disputed the characterization by former Democratic Rep. Barney Frank that government is “another word for the things we choose to do together.” No, said Sasse, government is not community, but compulsion, power and force.

Sasse seemed to criticize Donald Trump’s campaign without mentioning the candidate by name (something Ryan had also done), saying it was wrong to think that government power or a single election can fix things.

A lot of what is happening in the Republican electorate right now is the downstream effects of the tribalism of race, class and gender identity politics on the left, that some of the right have decided, well, if they’re going to have an identity politics, maybe we should have an identity politics. And that is an abandonment of the American idea. We already have one post-constitutional party in this country; we don’t need a second one. And so the idea that there is a strongman that can save us isn’t true. It’s understandable why it can be attractive, but it isn’t true. And so if you pretend that if only we gave more power to one guy in Washington, but he was the right guy, everything would be fixed, I submit to you that that act is the act of saying everything is already lost in the American experiment. Because what America needs is a constitutional recovery, not a Republican Barack Obama.

A panel with members of the House Freedom Caucus — what moderator Fred Barnes referred to affectionately as the “Bomb-thrower Caucus” — included Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Raul Labrador of Idaho, Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina. A common theme of their remarks was that Republicans in Congress have lost the trust of the American people by overpromising and under-delivering because too many of them get to D.C. and get talked into being a “team player.” Members of the Freedom Caucus and panel of House freshmen all seemed optimistic that the House would function more effectively under the speakership of Paul Ryan than it did under deal-maker John Boehner.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia talked about the new Article I project that has been launched by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and others, which is designed to limit the regulatory power of federal agencies and the discretionary power of the president. (Lee and Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas described the Article I project in National Review this week.) Later in the day Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona also mentioned the project, saying he hoped it would reinvigorate the constitutional balance between the legislative and other branches.

But in spite of the perils they said face America, panelists were positive about the state of the conservative movement. Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama noted that the conservative movement today has many assets that Ronald Reagan didn’t, including a national network of state-level think tanks and advocacy organizations, political groups devoted to candidate recruitment and training and grassroots mobilization, and GOP control in most statehouses and legislatures. Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia, who waged the right-wing insurgent campaign that defeated former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary, predicted a conservative wave election. And Rep. Bill Flores of Texas said the conservative movement is strong, as reflected in the success of “outsider” candidates in the Iowa caucuses and the majorities in the House and Senate — there’s just “one big step to go.”

PFAW Edit Memo: Striking Progress on Judicial Nominations

To: Interested Parties
From: Paul Gordon, Senior Legislative Counsel
Re: Striking Progress on Judicial Nominations
Date: September 22, 2014

So far, 2014 has been a banner year for effectively pushing back against the Republican obstruction of judicial nominees that we have seen since the moment Barack Obama took office. The past few months have shown just how much progress America can make in ending the deliberate sabotage of the third branch of government so that our nation’s federal court system can do what the Founders intended it to do: Protect every person’s rights and ensure that everyone can have their day in court.

Background

Since the day that George W. Bush left office, Republicans have sought to leave as many judgeships as possible vacant for as long as possible, apparently in the hopes of maximizing the next (Republican) president’s opportunities to nominate his or her own judges and impose a right-wing ideology on America’s federal courts. With that goal they have simply blocked confirmation votes, regardless of the nominee. The result has been long backlogs in courts across the country and serious delay in providing justice for many Americans.

Under Senate rules, unanimous consent is needed to schedule a confirmation vote for a judicial nominee – something that used to be regularly granted to nominees with strong bipartisan support, as most lower court judges have had. But for the first time, Republicans under President Obama have routinely refused to allow timely votes on nearly every nominee – even the vast majority who have little or no Republican opposition – effectively but invisibly filibustering just about every one of them. Only after months of delay would Republicans finally consent to a vote. In all other cases, the only way to break the logjam has been for Democrats to file a cloture motion to end the filibuster, a burdensome and time-consuming practice, and (until recently) one requiring a supermajority of 60 votes. So for the first five years of the Obama presidency, confirmations were regularly delayed for no reason, usually out of public view, for months longer than necessary. For instance, Richard Taranto was confirmed to the Federal Circuit unanimously, but the Senate was not allowed to hold a vote until 347 days after his committee approval; Republicans never publicly explained why they would not allow him a vote earlier.

Overcoming Obstruction in 2014

This year, things have changed. By late 2013, five years of unprecedented obstruction had climaxed in a declaration by GOP senators that they would filibuster any nominee for the critically important and understaffed District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, no matter who the nominee might be, Senate Democrats concluded that the Senate and the nation would be significantly damaged if this were allowed to continue. The chamber responded to the exceptional obstruction by reforming its procedural rules. Going forward, cloture votes to end filibusters of executive and judicial nominees (with the exception of those to the Supreme Court) would require a majority of senators voting, rather than 60 votes.

Now, when Republicans refuse to consent to a vote, Majority Leader Reid files a cloture petition and sets a vote. Taking advantage of the change in Senate rules, Democrats have been able to defeat the GOP filibusters with a simple majority vote. While Republicans have not consented to even one judicial confirmation vote in 2014, they also have not been able to stop the Senate from voting on any of them. And despite the significant time that Republicans force the Senate to spend on each confirmation – drawn-out roll-call cloture votes, post-cloture time for debate of 30 hours for circuit court nominees and two hours for district court nominees (a debate that usually does not occur despite the time set aside for it), then time-consuming roll-call confirmation votes – Reid and the Democrats have persevered. Rather than wait for months longer than needed after committee approval before having a floor vote, the Senate has been able to act in a more timely – and appropriate – manner.

One of the basic and most important responsibilities of the U.S. Senate under the Constitution is to vote whether to confirm judges and keep the federal judiciary functioning. As of 2014, the Senate has no longer been blocked from doing that.

The figure below shows the dramatic drop in how long the average nominee has had to wait for a confirmation vote after approval by the Judiciary Committee as a result of the rules change:

With the Senate freed to do its job, the number of confirmation votes has grown significantly.

This has ameliorated the intentionally generated vacancy crisis that has hobbled our courts since President Obama took office. There were 54 vacancies when Obama was inaugurated in 2009. With the Senate blocked from holding timely confirmation votes, that number went to historic highs, skyrocketing to 100 by the end of the year. When the 111th Congress ended in December of 2010, Republicans blocked confirmation votes for 19 qualified nominees who had been approved by the Judiciary Committee, the overwhelming majority of whom had been approved unanimously or with almost unanimous support. As a result, 2011 opened with 95 vacancies – and with a needless bottleneck of nominations that delayed confirmation votes for all nominees down the line. With Republicans preventing the Senate from confirming even consensus nominees, it counted as a major accomplishment if the number of vacancies dipped into the low 80s, or even the 70s, as it sometimes did.

As a result, at the beginning of this year, our federal court system was suffering from 92 vacancies. And now? As of September 21, we’re down to 57 circuit and district court vacancies, just a few more than when Obama took office. This is a dramatic and long overdue drop.

Supreme Court and Circuit Courts:
Undoing the Damage of the Bush Years

Our Constitution and our laws protect our right to vote, to have a workplace free of discrimination, to get married, to make our own reproductive decisions, to hold corporations accountable when they unlawfully injure or cheat us, and to have a voice in our democracy. But those rights don’t mean anything if we don’t have effective courts – and judges – to vindicate them when they are impinged.

Knowing the important role federal courts play in shaping our laws and guaranteeing – or frustrating – our basic rights, President Bush and his supporters set out to put as many far right ideologues on the federal appellate courts as possible. The most controversial of his court nominees are busy re-making law across the land.

Most notoriously, John Roberts and Samuel Alito have joined with Reagan and Bush-41 nominees Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy to give hard-right ideologues a frequent 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court. They have regularly bent the law and confounded logic in order to rule in favor of the powerful in case after the case, rewriting our Constitution and federal laws. Citizens United, Shelby County, and Hobby Lobby are just a few of the growing number of cases where they have used the federal bench as a platform to transform the country to fit their personal political ideologies, notwithstanding what the Constitution and our laws actually say.

While the Supreme Court is extremely important and well known, it only hears around 75 cases a year. Most Americans in federal courts have their cases decided at the district or circuit level. Circuit court rulings have an enormous impact on the law, and only a tiny portion of them are reconsidered at the Supreme Court. That is why George W. Bush and his partisans spent so much effort to confirm ideologues like Janice Rogers Brown, who now holds a lifetime position on the D.C. Circuit. She wrote a 2012 opinion holding that graphic warnings on cigarette packages violate the tobacco companies’ free speech rights. She joined a 2013 opinion striking down a National Labor Relations Board rule requiring employers to post workers’ legal rights, framing it as “compelled speech” indistinguishable from forcing schoolchildren to say the Pledge of Allegiance or requiring drivers to display a political message (Live Free or Die) on their license plates. She even defended the ideology of the discredited Lochner era in a 2012 concurrence, writing that courts’ deference to everyday economic and business regulations “means property is at the mercy of the pillagers.”

In contrast to ideologues like Brown, President Obama has named judges characterized by their fidelity to the Constitution and our laws, and the impact on ordinary Americans has been enormous. For instance, the full D.C. Circuit, which now has four Obama nominees among its eleven active judges, this month vacated a widely criticized panel ruling by two conservative judges striking down a key subsidies provision of the Affordable Care Act. The legal argument against the subsidies has been widely recognized as weak, with a transparently political motive. On the same day of the DC Circuit’s panel ruling, a unanimous panel of the Fourth Circuit had upheld the law. Obama nominee Andre Davis accurately described what the far right plaintiffs are seeking judicial allies to do:

[They want] our help to deny to millions of Americans desperately-needed health insurance through a tortured, nonsensical construction of a federal statute whose manifest purpose, as revealed by the wholeness and coherence of its text and structure, could not be more clear.

As that one example illustrates, the D.C. Circuit is hardly the only one of our nation’s 13 federal circuit courts that looks very different today from when Bush left office. Where there was then only one circuit with a majority of its active judges nominated by Democratic presidents, today there are nine.

Especially this year, supported by the Senate rules change, progress has been remarkable. The 113th Congress has confirmed 23 circuit court judges. One would have to go back to the 99th Congress in 1985-1986 to see that many circuit court judges confirmed during a single Congress.

The past year has seen the confirmation of nominees like Michelle Friedland (9th Circuit), Pam Harris (4th Circuit), and Nina Pillard (D.C. Circuit), jurists who understand the impact of the law on everyday Americans, who cherish our constitutional principles of equality and liberty, and who don’t see the federal courts as just another part of government that can be used to enhance corporate power.

Conclusion

If the past few months have shown us anything, it is this: Standing up to bullies works. The White House has made judicial nominations that it can be proud of, and Senate Democrats have overcome years of Republican obstruction to get these nominees confirmed. Despite the GOP’s herculean efforts to prevent President Obama from exercising the powers he was elected – and re-elected – to use, he is successfully restoring balance to the nation’s courts. For the first time, the number of courtroom vacancies is close to where it was when Obama took office, and highly qualified jurists are taking their places on our federal circuit and district courts.

And the progress isn’t over. An additional 16 judicial nominees have been fully vetted and approved by the Judiciary Committee and are currently eligible for a floor vote – a floor vote that could have been held before the Senate left town for the elections. Several more have had hearings and should be ready for consideration by the Committee and the full Senate during the lame duck session that is scheduled to begin on November 12. And the White House just sent additional nominees to the Senate that could easily have hearings and a Committee vote during the lame duck session as well. There is absolutely no excuse for not holding confirmation votes on any of these committee-approved nominees by the end of this Congress.

During the last two years of the Obama Administration and the years that follow, we can be sure of certain things: The courts will remain critically important, and progressives will have to fight hard to protect those courts and keep them functioning effectively, with judges who won’t seek to use their positions to short-circuit our most important rights.

###

Louisville PFAW Activists Deliver Petitions Supporting Democracy For All Constitutional Amendment to Mitch McConnell


On Wednesday, PFAW activists in Kentucky joined other activists representing ally organizations in delivering petition signatures to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s state office calling for amending the Constitution to overturn cases like Citizens United and get big money out of politics. Nationally, more than three million Americans have signed such a petition.

The delivery comes days before the Senate is set to vote on the Democracy for All Amendment (S.J. Res 19), a joint resolution that would amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and related cases. An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s rulings opening the floodgates to unlimited money in our elections, with sixteen states and over 550 cities formally demanding that Congress vote to pass a constitutional amendment to allow common sense campaign finance rules to be enacted.

The event in Louisville is part of a nationwide push to make the Democracy for All Amendment our Constitution’s 28th Amendment. Rallies and petition deliveries also occurred in the state offices of nine other senators throughout the country.

PFAW

America's History of Amending the Constitution to Expand Democracy (And Overturn the Supreme Court)

The 28th Amendment would overturn cases like Citizens United and enhance political democracy and the First Amendment.
PFAW Foundation

Over 1,000 Law Professors Condemn Senate Vote on Debo Adegbile’s Nomination

Last month, the US Senate failed to invoke cloture on the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department after a right-wing smear campaign that attacked Adegbile for helping provide legal representation at the appellate level to Mumia Abu-Jamal, a convicted murderer, while working at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Every Senate Republican and seven Democrats voted to filibuster Adegbile’s nomination, effectively blocking the nomination and throwing out the window the constitutional ideal that all criminal defendants should have access to quality legal representation.

People For the American Way’s vice president Marge Baker called the filibuster a “triumph of demagoguery.”

Last week, over one thousand law professors came together to publicly condemn the vote by writing a letter to the Senate where they explain the ramifications of the vote for law students, lawyers, and the legal profession as a whole. The letter – dated April 25, 2014 – states:

[W]e are deeply concerned that the vote and the rationale publicly articulated by a majority of Senators rejecting Mr. Adegbile sends a message that goes to several core values of the legal profession. These include the right to counsel, the importance of pro bono representation, and the importance of ensuring that constitutional protections are afforded to every criminal defendant regardless of the crimes for which they are accused.

As law teachers we are particularly concerned about the disquieting message conveyed to law students and graduates entering the profession who may fear that their engagement with pro bono representation of unpopular clients may imperil their future eligibility for federal government service.

…We believe that the criticism of Mr. Adegbile, based on his representation of a death row inmate, is unjust and inconsistent with the fundamental tenets of our profession. The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the assistance of counsel to persons charged with crimes, and all accused defendants are entitled to zealous representation by competent counsel.

The highest calling of any lawyer is to ensure that the Constitution is applied fairly and in accordance with the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court to every defendant.

…The debate surrounding Mr. Adegbile’s confirmation also threatens to undermine the widely-recognized importance of lawyers providing pro bono representation to meet unmet legal needs. Providing representation to defendants on death row is among the most challenging, resource-intensive and critically important pro bono counsel a lawyer can provide. Lawyers engaged in this work should be commended rather than denounced for their hard-work and commitment to ensuring that the protections of the Constitution are extended even to those accused of heinous crimes.

…Finally, as every lawyer knows – including the 57 in the U.S. Senate – we are not our clients. The constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel would be turned on its head if the contrary view were advanced. Indeed, had past candidates for public office been held to the Senate’s unjust standard, our nation would have been deprived of the likes of President John Adams (who defended British soldiers charged with killing Americans in the Boston Massacre), Justice Thurgood Marshall (who defended countless black men on death row in the Jim Crow South), and Chief Justice John Roberts (who represented convicted serial killer John Errol Ferguson).

Simply put, the rule of law cannot succeed if attorneys are judged guilty by association with their clients. In rejecting a qualified nominee for public service based on conduct which reflects the best of our profession, the Senate has done a grave disservice to the legal profession and those who seek to enter it.

PFAW

Keyes: 'So-Called Homosexual Rights' Incompatible with the Constitution

In his latest WorldNetDaily column, Alan Keyes warns that “so-called libertarians” have a “rebellious arrogance that disdains decent self-government” because they are unable to see “the distinction between liberty and licentiousness.”

Keyes specifically pointed to gay rights as a reason to oppose libertarians: “By promoting so-called homosexual rights, they are engaged in a general offensive to disparage, subvert and ultimately deny the constitutional rights” of the “God-endowed family, the primordial institution that is the paradigm, in terms both of liberty and obligation, for natural justice and human community.”

He concludes that the “regressive elitist faction agenda” will discard “the incomparably successful American experiment in principled self-government” and “give way, first to disorder and dissolution and then, in all likelihood, to the most thoroughly totalitarian elitist despotism humankind has ever known.”

Thus, as a logical consequence of the principles of the Declaration, every valid claim of right is associated with the freedom to exercise the right. But in light of those same principles, not every exercise of freedom entails a valid claim of right. This is the essential point forgotten or willfully rejected by many so-called libertarians these days. As a result, they advocate positions that ignore what America’s founders were determined to respect, to wit, the distinction between liberty and licentiousness; and between the wholesome courage wherewith we stand upon our rights and the rebellious arrogance that disdains decent self-government.

As I point out in the essay on Ninth Amendment rights quoted above, the Declaration’s logic in this respect allows Americans to recognize and properly assert rights not mentioned in the Constitution. The 9th Amendment exists to provide them with clear constitutional grounds upon which to stand as they invoke these rights, as constraints upon government power.

At the moment, the relevance of this constitutional claim is painfully obvious. The elitist faction forces presently controlling the U.S. government and some state governments (including Republicans as well as Democrats) are moving to deny the constitutional right of individuals or states to oppose the taking of human life, as required by the first law of “nature and Nature’s God.” They are doing so in the context of an insidious, persistent assault on Second Amendment rights. They are also doing so in the context of Obamacare, as they prepare, by force of unconstitutional edicts and “laws,” to deny the constitutional right of individuals and States to refuse complicity in so-called health-care practices that disregard this same life-preserving natural law obligation. In addition, by promoting so-called homosexual rights, they are engaged in a general offensive to disparage, subvert and ultimately deny the constitutional rights – rooted in obligations antecedent to any and all humanly instituted law or government – that are inherent in the God-endowed family, the primordial institution that is the paradigm, in terms both of liberty and obligation, for natural justice and human community.

The Constitution’s Ninth Amendment provides the key to recognizing and justifying legal and other moves to oppose what amounts, on every front, to a wholesale assault on the first principle of constitutional self-government in the United States, i.e., the Declaration’s affirmation of God-endowed individual rights. Next week I plan to post an article at my blog in which I will discuss specific instances in which politicians and other public figures, who claim to be conservatives, are cooperating with this assault. By discussing these examples, I hope to awaken Americans committed to our founding principles, and to the constitutional republic based upon them, to a simple fact: No one prominently associated with, or promoted by, either of the so-called major parties appears to shares this commitment. Unless Americans who do share it rouse themselves and unite against the regressive elitist faction agenda, the incomparably successful American experiment in principled self-government will give way, first to disorder and dissolution and then, in all likelihood, to the most thoroughly totalitarian elitist despotism humankind has ever known.

Gaffney & McCarthy: Obama 'Contemptuous' of, 'Taking Out a Contract On' Constitution

The Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney and National Review columnist Andy McCarthy were unimpressed with President Obama’s second inaugural address, despite all its references to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers. On yesterday’s edition of Secure Freedom Radio, McCarthy told Gaffney that the president is “taking out a contract on the Constitution as we know it.” Gaffney responded that the president “wrapped himself in a sort of nostalgia for the Constitution” while in fact being “rather contemptuous of it.”

McCarthy: I think what Obama’s trying to do -- and a lot of us who followed his career warned about this back in 2007, 2008 -- is really consummate the ambition of FDR to change the very nation of the American system, and certainly to change the nature of our constitutional framework from a charter of negative liberties, which is the protection of the American people against the adhesions and the extreme maneuvers of government, to basically a contract of the have-nots against the haves with government as the intermediary for demanding what government must do for people. With the big problem with that being, number one, what is your license to take from me, which is certainly not what the country was founded on. And number two, enough is never enough with the left. So even if you were to institute such a system it quickly becomes unsustainable.

Gaffney: Yeah, I take it you don’t mean “contract” in the sense of “taking out a contract” on somebody, but it certainly sounds as though that might be the gist.

McCarthy: It’s certainly taking out a contract, it’s taking out a contract on the Constitution as we know it.

Gaffney: Yeah. Even as we talked about with Dr. Paul Kengor earlier, and even as he wrapped himself in sort of nostalgia for the Constitution, he certainly showed himself to be rather contemptuous of it.

Religious Right Leader: Vote Romney Because Mormons Believe US Constitution is Biblical Truth

As RWW has noted, most Religious Right leaders have cast aside whatever reservations they once had about voting for Mitt Romney, whose Mormonism many do not consider a Christian faith.  Sure, they’d rather have a conservative evangelical or right-wing Catholic as the GOP nominee, but they lost that chance in the primaries.  And they are so eager to defeat Barack Obama, and avoid the divine wrath that his re-election would provoke, that they have circled the wagons around Romney.

In September, more than two dozen Religious Right leaders wrote a letter dismissing differences over doctrine, praising the Republican platform, and saying “it is time to remind ourselves that civil government is not about a particular theology but rather about public policy." Long past time, some might say.
 
Marc Nuttle, a board member of the dominionist Oak Initiative and regular speaker at the Freedom Federation’s Awakening conferences, goes one better. Rather than telling evangelicals they should vote for Romney in spite of his Mormonism, he essentially says in a recent Oak Initiative bulletin that people should vote for Romney because of the Mormon faith’s incorporation of the US Constitution into a particularly potent form of American exceptionalism:
 
Governor Romney has been criticized by some for being a Mormon.  I find this curious given the fact that little criticism has been given to the President who belonged to a church headed by a pastor who condemned the United States of America.  
 
The Mormon Church is the only religion that has canonized the Constitution of the United States as biblical truth.  The scripture in point is Doctrine and Covenants, Section 101, Verses 77-80.  In verse 80 the Lord is speaking, “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”
 
Mormons believe the principles within the Constitution are eternal principles given to us from God Himself for the benefit of all mankind.  They support the Constitution, they revere it, and they will defend it with all their strength.  It is fundamental to their belief.
 
If you are an evangelical and concerned about the federalization of moral values without consideration of the 9th or 10th Amendment, if you are a small business owner concerned about unfair taxes from a big business viewpoint, if you are a community banker concerned about onerous regulations based upon the concept of “big banks are too big to fail,” if you are worried about federal judges who legislate from the bench and do not respect the Constitution or state laws, then Governor Romney is the answer for your security.

Matt Barber: 'The LGBT Agenda and Constitutional Rights Cannot Exist in Harmony'

Yesterday on Faith and Freedom, Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber railed against—what else?—LGBT equality, warning of a “tyranny of sexually deviant rights” that will overthrow the Constitution. Barber, who previously said that the push for equal rights is part of an attempt “to impose a globalist, communist structure” and put conservatives “behind bars,” asserted that the “LGBT agenda and Constitutional rights cannot exist in harmony.”

Watch:

This tyranny of rights, this tyranny of the minority, and we’re not talking about racial minorities, neutral minorities, we’re talking about people who define their identity based upon sexually deviant behaviors and proclivities. This is a tyranny of sexually deviant rights and it’s by design to replace the enumerated Constitutional rights given by our Creator based upon the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, these so-called rights violate the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, and yes violate the expressed guarantees that we have to religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of association granted to us by the United States Constitution. The LGBT agenda and Constitutional rights cannot exist in harmony. At Liberty Counsel, we defend the Constitution.

Steve King Rails Against Right to Privacy, Laments that States Cannot Outlaw Contraceptives

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) today appeared on WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green. King rather incredibly described Green as a “constitutional scholar” and lamented the “manufactured, judicial activist right to privacy” protected in Griswold v. Connecticut. King also bemoaned that inability of states to outlaw contraceptives and even said that King George would not have had the “audacity” of President Obama to mandate that insurance companies cover contraceptives as part of his compromise policy with religiously-affiliated organizations. Green even dubbed the policy “totalitarianism.”

King: I watched another thing happen that is very troubling to me, and we’ve watched that, I’ll just dial this back and as a constitutional scholar you will be very familiar with Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965. There, the Supreme Court created a right to privacy that didn’t exist in the Constitution and by essentially ruling that contraceptives that were unlawful in Connecticut and Massachusetts, by the way, and a good number of other states, could not be made unlawful by the states.

We’ve come so far from that standpoint that states can’t outlaw contraceptives because of a manufactured, judicial activist right to privacy, and today we see some weeks ago the President of the United States step up to the podium with the great Seal of the United States on it and in a press conference he legislated by press conference. When he did the press conference and said, ‘ok, I’m going to make this accommodation to the Catholic Church and other religious institutions and no longer require you to provide contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-causing drugs, I’m going to require the health insurance companies to do that for free.’ King George would have not had the audacity to do that, Rick.

Green: If that’s not totalitarianism I don’t know what is.

 

Alabama's Soon-To-Be Chief Justice Roy Moore Doubts Obama's Christian Faith

Roy Moore was removed from his job as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003 after he disobeyed a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument he placed in his court house, but last Tuesday he won the Republican nomination for the position, making it extremely likely that Moore will soon have his old job back. Moore celebrated his victory today with Sandy Rios of the American Family Association, where he urged Congress to impeach Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, among other judges he would like to see removed from office. The Religious Right went off the rails after Ginsberg suggested in an interview that Egypt look to the South African constitution when drafting its new constitution, acknowledging that what works in the US may not work in Egypt, and ignoring her immense praise for the Constitution in the same interview. Rios even suggested that progressives wanted to do away with the Constitution altogether:

He also told Rios that America has always been based on a “biblical standard” and warned that “if you take away that standard then you have same-sex marriages, marriages between two and three people, or whatever.”

Moore: There is no standard without the biblical standard that we’ve lived under for 225 years. If you take away that standard then you have same-sex marriages, marriages between two and three people, or whatever. You don’t have a standard and moral atheists may want to hold on to the past without any basis of doing so, they’ve got to recognize the basis of why they have the right to believe in whatever they want to believe in and that right comes from God, it is not from government. You can go to governments over in Southeast Asia or the Mideast and you find governments that restrict what you believe and what you think and how you worship and that is because that is what governments will do when you don’t have this freedom.

Moore went on to claim that he doesn’t know the faith of President Obama, a committed Christian, adding he thinks the President does “favor the Muslim faith” and is trying “to remove any acknowledgement of a particular God” in America.

Moore: We have people like Barack Obama who do favor the Muslim faith and there is a reason for this. Do I believe he is a Muslim? I don’t know his faith but he certainly doesn’t represent what this nation is founded upon. He is typical of secular humanists in government that try to remove any acknowledgement of a particular God and say they grant religious freedom and that is entirely opposite to what this country is founded upon.

Dobson and Jeffress Lament the Imminent 'Implosion' of America

Robert Jeffress took his book tour to James Dobson’s Family Talk and the two Religious Right leaders bemoaned that America is doomed as a result of Supreme Court decisions in Engel v. Vitale, Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas. Jeffress falsely claimed that Engel “removed voluntary prayers from the school,” when it actually said it was unconstitutional for public schools to compose and organize prayers. He also claimed that Engel, along with Roe and Lawrence have “so destroyed the spiritual and moral structure of our nation that we are going to collapse on ourselves, we are going to implode, it’s only a question of when.”

Jeffress: I believe there have been three explosive decisions by the Supreme Court in the last fifty years that have so weakened our spiritual and social structure as a nation that our implosion is inevitable. In 1962, Engel v. Vitale which removed voluntary prayers from the school, all of the decisions that have cascaded down from that decision that have made government not neutral but hostile to Christianity. Then in 1973 of course Roe v. Wade that has resulted in 40 million unborn children at least being murdered in the womb.

Dobson: I think it’s closer to 50 [million].

Jeffress: That’s right. Listen, you can’t kill 20 percent almost of your population and not have economic repercussions for that. So that’s the second decision. The third decision in 2003, which our listeners may not be as familiar with, the Lawrence v. Texas decision, where the Supreme Court really paved the way for same-sex marriages.



Jeffress: Now think about it, when you first of all remove prayer and make government hostile toward Christianity, when you allow for the murder of the unborn and when you absolutely redefine the most basic institution of society, marriage and the home, you have so destroyed the spiritual and moral structure of our nation that we are going to collapse on ourselves, we are going to implode, it’s only a question of when.

The Citizens United Era: How the Supreme Court Continues to Put Business First

A new PFAW Foundation report examines how the Supreme Court's conservative majority is working to reshape our Constitution and elevate corporate interests above the rights of individual Americans. Beginning with the 2010 decision in Citizens United, the Roberts Court has handed down a steady stream of decisions that allow enormous corporations to use their significant resource advantage to influence the law in their favor.

The True Spirit of the Union

If you ask people what part of the U.S. Constitution has been most critical for advancing social progress, many would say the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause or the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee. But a powerful case can be made that the most important constitutional instrument for social progress in our history has been the Commerce Clause

House Reads the Constitution, Should Defend Its Values

Members of the House of Representatives plan to read most of the U.S. Constitution aloud on the House floor today.

Members of the House of Representatives plan to read most of the U.S. Constitution aloud on the House floor today.

Undermining the Bill of Rights: The Bush Administration Detention Policy

Last week the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments concerning the Executive Branch's right to unilaterally strip citizens of core constitutional rights. People For the American Way Foundation believes the government's "enemy combatants" and detention policies -- the heart of the case before the high court -- violate fundamental principles enshrined in our Constitution, such as the separation of powers and due process of law, and actually threaten progress in the war on terror and America's campaign for greater freedom and democracy around the world. Read the powerful new PFAWF report on these policies.

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