Tim Scott, who is set to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, got his start in politics when he was elected in 1996 to the Charleston County Council. One year later, according to his 2010 campaign website, “he placed a plaque of the Ten Commandments outside council offices to show his support for the Ten Commandments as a guide for conduct, especially within the county chambers.”
The city was promptly sued for this blatant violation of the First Amendment. By 1998, Scott’s colleagues had decided to remove his display and settle the lawsuit. When challenged on why he was wasting taxpayer dollars, Scott replied that “whatever it costs in the pursuit of this goal is worth it.”
Scott’s unconstitutional grandstanding as a county councilmember made him a favorite of the Christian right in South Carolina and put him on the track that he’s followed ever since. Scott returned to his roots while addressing a Tea Party rally in January, hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, ahead of a GOP primary debate.
Scott claimed that the “greatest minority under assault today are Christians.” “No doubt about it,” he emphasized. (Note that Scott says 1995 in the video, but he misspoke – he was elected in 1996 and posted the display in 1997.)
Over the last 17 years of public service, I have seen the concept of faith tested time and time again. The greatest minority under assault today are Christians. No doubt about it.
When I was on county council in 1995, I posted the Ten Commandments. And the ACLU and the folks for separation of church and state all came and attacked us at Charleston County and said we were wasting taxpayer dollars.
Think about where we are today, 17 years later. We are in desperate need of a compass, a moral compass that tells us the difference between right and wrong. And I believe that you can look no further than the word of God to find that compass.
Tim Scott actually believes what he said about Christians being a minority under assault. Never mind that Christians aren’t a minority. Never mind that Christians control every branch of government at every level. Never mind that Christians aren’t under assault in any conceivable way.
Still, Scott feels that Christians are a minority under assault because Christians like him are being prevented by the Constitution and other Americans – Christian and non-Christian alike – from forcing everyone to live in accordance with their extreme views and beliefs. It’s a bit like the Taliban claiming that the Afghan government is attacking Islam.
Scott clearly has not changed with time and will display the same utter disregard for the First Amendment as senator that he did as a county councilmember. It’s just another way that Scott will fill the shoes of his right-wing predecessor.
Congressman Tim Scott, who will soon replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, is not a common man. He's quite uncommon, as is his right, and he doesn't cower or take handouts. He declares to the entire world, even if no one is listening, that he's a "free American."
Scott acknowledged as much in a bit of Tea Party poetry on his 2010 campaign website, entitled: "Republican Creed":
I do not choose to be a common man.
It is my right to be uncommon.
If I can seek opportunity, not security,
I want to take the calculated risk to dream and
build, to fail and to succeed.
I refused to barter incentive for dole.
I prefer the challenges of life to
guaranteed security, the thrill of fulfillment
to the state of calm utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence,
nor my dignity for a handout.
I will never cower before any master,
save my God.
It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and
unafraid. To think and act for myself, enjoy the
benefits of my creation; to face the whole world
boldly and say, "I am a free American."
In late July of 2011, House Speaker John Boehner was closing in on a deal to end the debt ceiling crisis, but something happened during the final hours of debate. “The math appeared to turn against the speaker,” and “key lawmakers, like Representative Tim Scott of South Carolina, a member of the freshman leadership team, said he would join the other freshmen from his state and vote no.”
Scott, who will soon replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, holed up in the House chapel with a group of freshman conservatives. There Scott received instructions from God to vote against an increase in the debt ceiling:
With the bill in limbo, a few first-term conservatives slipped into a small chapel a few paces down the hall from the Capitol Rotunda, as they contemplated one of the most consequential votes of their careers.
Asked if he was seeking divine inspiration, Republican Rep. Tim Scott said that had already happened. "I was leaning no and now I am a no," he said.
While it is typical for Tea Party and Religious Right politicians to claim to know what God wants, they normally rely on Biblical references. Tim Scott, it would appear, is in a different league with luminaries like Pat Robertson, who famously hears from God at the end of each year.
I suggested earlier that Republican leaders could come to regret the elevation of Scott to the Senate. Scott provides sorely needed diversity and will keep Tea Partiers engaged, to be sure, but Boehner surely didn’t appreciate hearing from a freshman member that God opposes his debt deal. I can’t imagine that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will appreciate going up against God’s proxy either. This could get interesting….
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will announce shortly that she has picked Rep. Tim Scott to replace Senator Jim DeMint, who is leaving to head up the right-wing Heritage Foundation. DeMint’s imminent retirement is seen by many as a setback for the Tea Party, which had a genuine champion in DeMint, and a sign that the movement’s best days are behind it. But the Tea Party is still raging in South Carolina, and Scott is poised to become its new Senate standard-bearer.
Tim Scott was elected to Congress in 2010, becoming the first African-American Republican to represent South Carolina since Reconstruction (when the party of the Lincoln was still the party of Lincoln). Scott served for over a decade on the Charleston County Council before serving briefly in the state house. While he gained statewide – and now national – attention as a darling of the Tea Party movement, he has a far more extensive background as a cultural warrior for the Religious Right.
With Scott poised to replace DeMint in the Senate, we’re going to explore his extreme, and frequently bizarre, record. Be sure to read Peter’s primer on Scott from earlier today.
Scott made the leap from the county council to state house in 2008 with major backing from then-Governor Mark Sanford. Sanford was a family values conservative and rising star in the national GOP until he was caught eloping with his Argentine mistress. Sanford famously claimed that he had been hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Before he did all that, Sanford vouched for Scott’s sterling conservative credentials in an open letter posted to Scott’s campaign website:
I wanted to write to you today to let you know about a friend of mine who is running for the State House of Representatives who needs our help.
Tim Scott is a consistent conservative who will carry our values to the State House. […]
Tim is also a proven social conservative who will stand up for the family values that help to make our state a great place to live and work.
Because of his strong stands on conservative issues, I have endorsed Tim’s candidacy for the House. Today, I am asking for you to join us in supporting Tim, both with your vote and with your financial contributions.
And when Scott ran for Congress in 2010, he enjoyed strong backing and an endorsement from Sarah Palin:
Tim is a pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-development, Commonsense Conservative who’s been endorsed by the Club for Growth because of his solid commitment to the principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility. […]
“I am excited to receive the support of Sarah Palin. She has been a trailblazer for the conservative cause and tea party movement going on across the nation. We share the same values of limited government, less spending and being a champion for our Constitution.”
Michele Bachmann also gushed over Scott last year during the GOP presidential primary: “All of us in Washington, D.C., are extremely proud of you for choosing the right man to send from Charleston up to Washington. We love Tim Scott!”
Bachmann and Palin clearly have good reason to be excited about a Senator Tim Scott. Republican leaders, on the other hand, may soon find that they have a new liability on their hands. Keep an eye on Right Wing Watch for more coverage of Scott’s record.
To: Interested Parties
From: Marge Baker, People For the American Way
Re: Debunking the GOP’s Spin on Judicial Obstruction
Date: March 13, 2012
Senate Democrats are taking action this week to call Republicans on their unprecedented obstruction of judicial nominees, which over the past three years has left far too many of our nation's courtrooms empty. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture petitions in an attempt to end the GOP filibusters of all 17 district court nominees currently waiting for Senate votes, most of whom have been stalled for over three months for absolutely no reason. And already, Senate Republicans have concocted a false spin in an attempt to cover for the mess they have helped to create in the federal courts.
Reid’s action is unprecedented: only two district court nominees were filibustered in the sixteen years of the Bush and Clinton presidencies. As of yesterday, nineteen of President Obama’s district court nominees have been filibustered.
If Republicans don’t back down and allow up-or-down votes on these nominees, the cumbersome cloture process will tie up the senate until early April – and it will become very clear to the American people that Republicans’ top priority is gridlock, not policy.
In response, Senate Republicans have united behind a message that seeks to blame President Obama for the gridlock they created. Their claim is that their unprecedented obstruction of judicial nominees is a direct response to President Obama’s recess appointments of a director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and members of the National Labor Relations Board -- appointments that they neglect to mention were themselves necessary because of Republican obstruction.
This narrative is simply not true. Even a cursory look at the last three years shows that today’s Republican obstruction is not related to their fury at the president’s recess appointments. In fact, these unprecedented levels of obstruction have been going on since President Obama took office. By the end of 2011, before the recess appointments, President Obama's confirmed district court nominees had been stalled more than four times longer on average than President Bush's. That is the case today, as well.
The unjustified delays in 2009-2011 were hardly caused by recess appointments made in 2012.
Make no mistake: the Senate GOP’s obstruction of judicial nominees is part of a deeply cynical effort to create gridlock in Washington and to keep as many courtrooms empty for as long as possible in the hopes of having a Republican president fill them in 2013.
Our federal courts are now facing a historic vacancy crisis, and Americans are facing unjustified delays as they seek their day in court. Senate Republicans should ditch the false excuses for their obstruction, and start doing the job they were elected to do.
Press Contact: Miranda Blue, (202) 467-4999, email@example.com.
The Senate today confirmed Jesse Furman to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, over five months after his nomination was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee. The vote came after the GOP quietly ended its five-month filibuster of Furman’s nomination, which was all but unheard of for an unopposed district court nominee.
President Obama’s judicial nominees have waited an average of 91 days for an up-or-down vote from the Senate after being approved by the Judiciary Committee. For President Bush’s nominees at this point in his presidency, the average wait was 23 days. The Senate GOP was roundly criticized last week for obstructing the nomination of Circuit Court nominee Adalberto Jordan, who was confirmed in a 94-5 vote after four months of delay.
“Americans across the board are fed up with Republicans in Congress,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “Watching the Senate GOP’s charade around judicial nominees, there’s no wonder why. Republicans in the Senate filibustered Adalberto Jordan, a consensus pick for a judicial emergency on the 11th Circuit and the first Cuban American on the court, for four months – and once their filibuster was broken, stalled him for two more days for absolutely no reason. Then, they filibustered Jesse Furman, an unopposed district court nominee who has been waiting over five months for a vote, but at the last minute backed down.
“The GOP backed down under pressure from Americans who expect better of their elected officials. Republicans in the Senate should stop the obstruction charade altogether and allow up-or-down votes on the remaining 20 nominees on the calendar.”
The Senate today confirmed the nomination of Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, based in San Diego. The 90-6 vote highlighted the needlessness of the obstruction that caused Bencivengo to wait 126 days for consideration by the Senate after her unanimous approval by the Judiciary Committee.
Bencivengo will fill one of a dozen vacant federal court seats in California, and one of six that have been designated “judicial emergencies” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Bencivengo, who is currently a Magistrate Judge, received the highest rating from the American Bar Association and a glowing recommendation from Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“The Senate’s confirmation of Judge Bencivengo brings a talented jurist to the federal bench, and is a step toward relieving the enormous caseload burden that has caused Southern Californians to face long delays as they seek their day in court,” said People For the American Way’s Marge Baker. “The judicial crisis in California, unfortunately, is not unique. The Senate GOP should immediately allow votes on the other eighteen highly-qualified nominees still on the calendar. Our Justice system is too important to be a pawn in partisan politics.”
Bencivengo’s confirmation leaves eighteen judicial nominees on the Senate’s calendar. The overwhelming majority have strong bipartisan support. Thirteen are women or people of color.
President Obama’s district court nominees have waited an average of 90 days after committee approval for a vote from the full Senate, in contrast to a mere 23 days for George W. Bush’s district court nominees at this point in his presidency.
In a move to ensure the functioning of an important consumer protection agency in the face of escalating GOP obstructionism, the White House announced that President Obama will install Richard Cordray as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a recess appointment today.
Marge Baker of People For the American Way issued the following statement:
The Senate ended its 2011 session on Saturday, leaving 21 judicial nominees on its calendar. All but two of the abandoned nominees were supported by a bipartisan majority of the Judiciary Committee. Under none of the previous four presidents has the Senate left noncontroversial nominees without a vote at the end of a session.
The Senate Judiciary Committee today reported out five new judicial nominees and the Senate confirmed three, bringing to 27 the total number of nominees still waiting for a vote from the full Senate. This puts the nominations backlog back to where it was last month before Majority Leader Harry Reid pushed through votes on ten nominees who received broad bipartisan support.
“Senator Reid took an important step last month when he stood up to Republican obstructionism and pressured the Senate to confirm ten highly qualified judicial nominees,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “Unfortunately, since then the nominations backlog has returned to its previous size. The Senate should make it a priority to completely clear the current nominations backlog. Holding a vote on all 27 nominees currently on the calendar would provide desperately needed assistance to strained courts throughout the country and demonstrate Congress’s ability to do its job.
“Senate Republicans have made a habit of delaying President Obama’s judicial nominees hostage for as long as possible. This obstructionism is bad for the American people, who depend on both an efficient justice system and an effective legislature. It’s time for the Senate to do its job and hold votes on these 27 nominees.”