Supreme Court

NOM To Its Supporters: You're Pathetic

The latest fundraising email from the National Organization for Marriage is not a happy one; it starts with a graphic of the U.S. Capitol and the text, “This is pathetic.”

 The chastising letter from NOM President Brian Brown complains:

NOM began our critical Summer Membership Drive on July 22nd. We're now three weeks into our drive — the halfway point — and we have only received 256 contributions from our members. We're only 17% toward our goal of receiving 1,500 membership contributions of at least $35.

That is pathetic.

Brown goes on to complain that with only a 17 percent participation rate, NOM can’t convince courts to uphold anti-gay “religious liberty” laws, fight President Obama’s “dangerous gender ‘identity’ agenda,” or “lobby the next President and the US Senate to only appoint and confirm Supreme Court justices who will reverse the illegitimate and anti-constitutional ruling redefining marriage.”

Brown, who recently gloated about NOM’s role in defeating a Missouri Republican state legislator who had voted against a constitutional amendment protecting anti-LGBT discrimination, fumed that unless his supporters start forking over cash, “It means that gutless, turncoat legislators who have betrayed marriage with their votes may get away with their treachery.”

Brown just doesn’t understand—he can’t imagine!why people would be unenthusiastic about continuing to support NOM's anti-gay activism:

I really don't believe — I just can't imagine the thought — that NOM's members have quit fighting for the institution of marriage as a union between man and woman. And yet, only 256 of you have responded with an urgently needed membership contribution during this critical period.

I'm going to be blunt: we need 1,500 people to step up with a membership contribution of at least $35 in order to raise the $52,500 we're short so far this year. Without that type of response, we'll have no choice but to lay people off, cut programs and stop pursuing some of our most important work.

Regardless of what kind of response NOM’s shaming email brings in, Brown will have plenty of anti-equality work to keep him busy, as he recently became president of the World Congress of Families, a network of organizations dedicated to resisting LGBT equality and preserving anti-gay discrimination around the world. 

PFAW Hosts Telebriefing on the Supreme Court and 2016

Even as GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump hits new lows in his campaign—from attacking Gold Star parents to suggesting gun violence as a way to stop Hillary Clinton—Republican senators continue to hold open the vacant Supreme Court seat for Trump to fill.

Yesterday People For the American Way held a telebriefing for members and supporters about the critical role the Supreme Court plays in 2016 and beyond, and how progressive activists can hold GOP senators accountable for their unconscionable blockade of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. PFAW’s Marge Baker, Drew Courtney, and Elliot Mincberg were joined by Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen to discuss how to make the Supreme Court a winning issue in the election.

You can listen to the full telebriefing here:

PFAW

Pennsylvania Elected Officials Denounce Trump Over Khan Comments, Call On Toomey to Reject Trump

During a press call today, Pennsylvania elected officials denounced Donald Trump for his attacks on the Khan family following their appearance at the DNC. Speakers also called on Sen. Pat Toomey to pledge to vote against Trump given his disgraceful attack on the fallen soldier’s family and Trump’s clear history of bigotry and xenophobia throughout the campaign.

Key statements from today’s call:

Matt Stehman, Royersford Borough Councilman:

“As a former United States Marine in addition to serving as a City Councilman, as someone who has lost friends in war, someone who has seen friends struggle with coming home from war, I take Donald Trump’s latest attacks deeply personally. His attacks on the Khan family are an attack on all veterans and military families. It’s an attack on their sacrifice and on the values that our military has instilled in generations of Americans. No one who shows that disrespect to military families should be our commander-in-chief. I know that, Pennsylvanians know that, and Pat Toomey should know it too.”

Kate Abel, Dormont Borough Councilwoman:

“Donald Trump’s comments attacking the Khan family were unconscionable—but they shouldn’t be surprising. Trump has made clear that he doesn’t value the contributions of Muslim Americans—the same way he’s dismissed the contributions of Mexican Americans, of immigrants, of women and of so many other groups. People in Pennsylvania and around the country have real concerns and face real challenges, but instead of proposing solutions, Trump has just pointed to scapegoats and enflamed racial resentment. That’s why Pat Toomey’s tepid criticism of Donald Trump isn’t enough. He needs to make clear that someone who has displayed this record of bigotry and prejudice has no place in the White House.”

Shamaine Daniels, Harrisburg City Councilwoman:

“This week, Donald Trump called Harrisburg, Pennsylvania ‘a war zone.’ He decided to disparage it because he glanced out the window of his airplane. So my question is: where is Pat Toomey’s line? Apparently, he’s willing to let Donald Trump disparage the people of Harrisburg and Pennsylvania. Apparently, he’s willing to let Donald Trump attack and smear the parents of a soldier who gave his life for his country. Apparently he’s willing to let Donald Trump attack immigrants and Muslims and women.

“What will it take for Pat Toomey to say enough is enough? What will it take for Pat Toomey to stop holding a Supreme Court seat for Donald Trump to fill? If Pat Toomey won’t stand up against these attacks now, what would he do if Donald Trump were to become President?  We don’t need someone who gets pushed around by bullies. I don’t think we need Pat Toomey.”

Marita Garrett, Wilkinsburg Borough Councilwoman:

“Donald Trump has shown that he can’t respond to criticism with anything but arrogance and rage. Even putting everything else aside, no one with this little self-control should be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office. Pat Toomey should recognize that fact. But instead he continues to put his party ahead of his country. Pat Toomey needs to stop playing politics and say loud and clear that Donald Trump doesn’t have the temperament to be President. He doesn’t have the temperament to appoint our next Supreme Court Justice. He doesn’t have the temperament to have his finger on the button.”

For more information or follow-up interviews, please email lepstein@pfaw.org.

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Oak Initiative Wonders If Satan Is Behind The 'Never Trump' Movement

The latest missive, or “Oak Leaf,” from the dominionist Oak Initiative is a scolding “Message to the Never Trump Voters!” from Rick Warzywak, head of Transformation Michigan and state co-director of the Michigan Oak Initiative. Warzywak chastises, “If even the Supreme Court was the only issue to vote for him that should be enough — the  future of your children and grandchildren are at stake. He has given us his pro-life constitutional sound [sic] nominations!”

The Michigan Oak Initiative sponsored a three-day event in June with the theme “America Hanging in the Balance  Election 2016,” which featured the Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin, a founding board member of the Oak Initiative, as the keynoter.

Warzywak, who identifies himself as a supporter of Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, peppers Never Trump conservatives with a long, long series of questions, among them:

What has Donald Trump personally done to you to not vote for him? Have you picked up an offense from someone? Why are you so critical of this man? … Do you consider him your enemy? Do you believe he hates you; has he cursed you; has he spitefully used you; do you have bitterness in your heart toward him? How should one respond if you are a Christian conservative?

Warzywak uses these questions as set-ups for Bible verses about loving your enemies and forgiving those who have done you wrong. (Of course, Donald Trump’s personal theology is a little different, as he told Liberty University students in 2012: If someone does you wrong, you’ve got to “get even!”)

Warzywak warns, “Accusations, slander, and criticism is what nurtures division, especially in the body of Christ,” and suggests that Never Trump conservatives may be being led astray by Satan: “As a Christian have you ever considered that the enemy of our souls may be deceiving and using those who have hardened their hearts against Trump?”

He never explains why all these same questions might be asked about people who have hardened their hearts against Hillary Clinton, whose Christian faith is well-known, which is also the case with running mate Tim Kaine. Warzywak does say he will continue to pray that Hillary Clinton’s “eyes would be opened,” though he says she and President Obama “have chosen to harden their hearts it appears.”  But he has more hope for Trump, who may be “a babe in Christ.” Writes Warzywak, “With Donald Trump I can see a veil being lifted and his eyes being opened. If we diligently pray for him and stop the accusations, the Scripture below will manifest because he is open to a biblical worldview paradigm.”

Warzywak has more than a few questions for those who say they will vote their conscience:

1.    Does my conscience stand for a conservative pro-life U.S. constitutionally-based Supreme Court (Trump gave us a list of pro-life constitutionally sound judges that he would nominate)?

2.    Does my conscience allow a candidate to take office who would most assuredly nominate liberal judges that would impact my children and grandchildren’s lives for the next forty years (look at Trump’s nominations)?

3.    Does my conscience agree with restoring the rule of law and order in our nation (Trump will restore that)?

4.    Does my conscience agree with protecting Christian liberties, our freedom of speech, and eliminating the 501(c)3 tax status so pastors could speak freely (Trump said he would do all of these)?

5.    Does my conscience realize that our present open borders is allowing in gang cartels, ISIS, and Muslim extremists that endanger all American lives, including my own family possibly (Trump understands)?

6.    Does my conscience allow NO vetting of refugees from nations who are predominantly Muslim (Trump will vet and stop this illegal immigration—Hillary will not and increase immigration)?

7.    Does my conscience see radical Islam as a threat and realize it must be addressed? (According to Ret. Lt. General Jerry Boykin a Cruz campaigner said we must vote for Trump and has Generals advising Trump.)

8.    Does my conscience see the plight of people in our inner cities and jobs needed to bring hope back to all minority groups (policies of last eight years have failed)?

9.    Does my conscience support police, our military, and border agents who need our help and they overwhelmingly support Donald Trump?

10.   Does my conscience realize that Common Core in our educational system is detrimental to our children (Trump would eliminate)?

11.   Does my conscience see that Obamacare is destroying our health care system in America (Trump will repeal and reinvent new strategy)?

12.   Does my conscience see a need to preserve our second amendment as it was designed to stop oppressive government (Trump said he would protect—endorsed by NRA)?

13.   Does my conscience favor Socialism/Globalism or freedom (Hillary is a pure progressive socialist and globalist)?

14.   Does my conscience value having a Christian on the Presidential ticket and Christians advising the President (Pence and a Christian advisory team has been assembled)? Hmmmmmmmmmmm

15.   Does my conscience allow me to judge another person’s heart (Trump) when the Bible says only God looks at the motive and intents of the heart?

Warzywak is a close associate of Lou Engle and organized one of Engle’s “The Call” rallies in Detroit in 2011 to target the Muslim population in nearby Dearborn and the rest of the state. Warzywak is “Prayer Strategy Coordinator” for one of Engle’s projects, the “Moravian Night Watch.” The project recruits teams of people around the country to sign up for time slots between midnight and 6:00 a.m. when they will gather by conference call to pray for a Great Awakening and divine intervention for the nation.

A website about the project’s statement of purpose praises the International House of Prayer movement for promoting a global prayer movement around “the bridal paradigm” emphasizing “lovesick adoration for Jesus” and “the surrendered posture of the heart to God’s love as such” — which the Moravian Night Watch website calls “primarily a feminine mode of prayer.” That needs to be balanced, they say, with a more “aggressive” and “masculine” form of “contending” prayer:

Other dimensions of prayer are also vital, including more masculine expressions that wield the authority of Christ for the sake of war against dark powers, bringing transformation to society by breaking through in heavenly dimensions…Contending prayer is focused and aggressive. It realizes there is a mission and mandate to prayer, conflict to overcome, battles to engage, and victory to secure. This is done in a spirit of humility (not elitism!) and submission (not fleshly domination!) to advance the kingdom of God on earth.

Steve Crampton: US Risks Becoming 'Slave Nation' Because Of Marriage Equality Ruling, 'Religious Freedom' Attacks

Steve Crampton, a Religious Right activist who is running for a seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court , said last month that the U.S. is at risk of becoming a “slave nation” if attacks on “religious freedom” and the “rule of law” continue. He in particular praised the Alabama Supreme Court’s resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans.

Crampton told Cleveland Right to Life’s Molly Smith that the federal government is “running roughshod over states and their rights” and that “it’s essential, if we’re going to preserve our liberties as our founders intended, that states reassert themselves.”

“One of the seminal issues, I believe, in our day, in our state of Mississippi as elsewhere, is how far does the federal government go constitutionally in basically ordering the states around,” he said. “And I think the big example that we have, maybe the most glaring one nationally right now, is what’s going on in Alabama, where the state Supreme Court has issued very fine opinions and very studied analyses of the issue of same-sex marriage and whether the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Obergefell opinion is actually binding on a state that was not a party to that lawsuit and that had, as Mississippi has, its own state marriage amendment that unequivocally protects marriage as between one man and one woman.”

“So, long and short of it is,” he continued, “all of our freedoms, I think, today are grave risk, in particular religious freedom. I believe it is under attack as never before in our nation’s history. And because religious freedom is the first freedom, it’s foundational, if it goes, everything goes. So it’s a time when either we stand up or we shut up and become almost a slave nation. Because the rule of law is at grave risk.”

Jim Bakker: If Trump Loses, Supreme Court Will Shut Me Down

Charisma magazine is highlighting an exchange between televangelist and noted survivalist huckster Jim Bakker and Ramiro Peña, senior pastor of Christ the King Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, that took place on Bakker’s show last week.

While asking Peña a question about the future of the Supreme Court, Bakker said that he believes his TV ministry will be shut down unless Donald Trump wins the presidential election:

If Donald Trump isn’t elected, do you envision America to look good, bad or ugly? What will it look like, say, four years from now if we do not change the court? I know what the last eight years — we have seen the greatest deterioration. I’m afraid if we have another four years we will not even be able to function. I believe that they’ll shut me down. I believe they’re gonna shut anybody outside the church, all religious activity down. What will America look like if we don’t get on the right track?

Peña responded:

Let me speak to the church for just a moment. Just hear me, church. If we don’t elect Donald Trump president, we’re going to end up electing someone who we absolutely know will put justices on the Supreme Court that will be pro-abortion, that will be pro-gay-marriage, that will rob us of religious liberty, will continue to take away and wear away at our right to bear arms. That is the kind of jurist who will be on the Supreme Court and on the federal bench…

Peña noted that Trump has released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees that was vetted by the Federalist Society, and said that if he is elected Trump would have the opportunity to name at least three, and maybe as many as five, justices to the high court:

He has said he will appoint pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. So on that point, if for no other reason, even if you don’t like some of the things that he has said or done, for that point alone, for the sake of the Supreme Court, and the future of our nation that Pastor Jim is talking about, that’s why I am so convinced that he must be elected the next president of the United States.

 

Jim Inhofe: 'Our Kids Are Being Brainwashed' In School

Last week, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., appeared on “The Eric Metaxas Show” where he warned that “our kids are being brainwashed” in school.

Inhofe recounted a story where “my own granddaughter came home one day” and challenged him over his claims that climate change is a myth.

“I did some checking,” Inhofe said, “and, Eric, the stuff that they teach our kids nowadays, they are brainwash —you have to un-brainwash them when they get out.”

Later in the program, Inhofe urged Republicans to rally behind Donald Trump’s presidential bid, pointing to the future of the Supreme Court. Metaxas said that “it’s kind of game over for republican democracy” if Hillary Clinton appoints liberal justices to the bench.

“How can we possibly remain America if you have six or seven Sotomayors on the court?” he asked.

Inhofe said that while the court is admirably delaying many of the Obama administration’s environmental initiatives, its direction would shift if Clinton were allowed to fill the current vacancy.

“Stop and think how significant it is if they make one change,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be all Sotomayors, it could just be one more change and we’re through.”

Revealed: The Right-Wing Movement’s Agenda For Trump’s First 180 Days

The Conservative Action Project is a network of more than 100 right-wing leaders created in 2008 as “an offshoot” of the secretive far-right Council for National Policy, making it part of an array of conservative coalitions that bloomed around and after the election of Barack Obama. Originally chaired by Edwin Meese, the Conservative Action Project is now headed by Becky Norton Dunlop, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. It includes leaders of all of what are often described as the three legs of the conservative movement: social, economic, and national security conservatives.

The Washington Post reported in 2010 that the Conservative Action Project was helping fuel closer coordination across the multifaceted conservative coalition with its weekly Wednesday morning meetings at the Family Research Council. The group also promotes shared messaging and strategy with its “Memos for the Movement.” Now this collection of right-wing leaders has identified its policy priorities for the first 180 days of a new administration.

At a forum organized by the American Conservative Union Foundation at the Republican National Convention, participants were given of a set of pocket cards containing policy proposals, quick facts and “market tested messages” on the one dozen highest priorities selected by Conservative Action Project leaders. The 12 priorities are divided into four categories: Constitutional Issues and the Judiciary; Preserving and Protecting Our Culture; Freeing Our Economy so Everyone Can Win; and Defending Our Freedoms.

The package provides a clear picture of the ideas that right-wing organizations are pushing Trump to embrace. Some are vague, like, “The President should revive Public Diplomacy,” but others are quite specific. Taken together, they’re a pretty good indication of what we’d have in store on the policy front with Trump in the White House. 

Among the proposals, which signal the intense desire of right-wing organizations to infuse their priorities throughout the federal government’s executive branch agencies:

  • Immediately rescind all Obama Executive Orders consistent with recommendations by Constitutional and trusted advisors such as The Federalist Society, The Heritage Foundation, and other conservative advisors and transition committees.
  • Terminate all executive branch individuals still within their probationary period and freeze hiring for all regulatory positions.
  • The President should eliminate taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood using executive action and seek a permanent legislative solution.
  • The President should freeze and withdraw all regulatory activity on the Obama energy and climate agenda.
  • Submit legislation to repeal Obamacare in its entirety.
  • The President should support the rule of law and reject amnesty proposals and fully enforce and strengthen interior enforcement measures in the United States.

The policy proposals listed under “Restore Religious Freedom” include calls for the president to ensure passage of the First Amendment Defense Act, which carves out exceptions from nondiscrimination laws for people who claim anti-LGBT religious beliefs, and to “issue an Executive Order requiring that the Executive branch respect the 1st Amendment and provisions of the First Amendment Defense Act.”

The package proposes a new tax code that is “simpler, fairer, flatter and stimulates growth,” insisting that all tax reform “should lower individual and business tax rates, particularly the top marginal rates, to encourage saving and investing.”

It says senators “should vigorously question judicial nominees about their intent to remain faithful to the original meaning of the Constitution and laws.”

On education, the movement’s priority is to “Advance School Choice,” and it calls on the president to appoint “a movement conservative” as secretary of education. It wants the president to “champion the policy of dollars following the children,” language used by advocates for private school vouchers and other forms of public school privatization.

The Conservative Action Project’s “memos for the movement” provide a further sense of the group’s worldview.  For example, it responded to last year’s marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court in apocalyptic terms, saying, “The Court’s abuse of power is of such historic proportions that the conservative movement, and indeed every American who cherishes liberty must now address the serious damage done to the cause of freedom and the very foundation of our civil society.”

The group has intensely opposed efforts to expand disclosure requirements for political “dark money,” portraying conservatives as “a persecuted class” who are “bullied to either conform or suffer retribution.”

Among its 2016 releases was a March memo urging Senate Republicans to be resolute in refusing to consider a nominee from President Obama to fill the Supreme Court seat that became vacant with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Here’s an excerpt from the group’s thoughtful and rational rhetoric:

The president and his liberal allies know what is at stake and so do we.  It is nothing short of their intent to eradicate precious constitutional rights. These leftists have made clear their first target is our 1st Amendment right to political speech and the silencing of conservative voices. They mock the 2nd Amendment right of the people to protect themselves and their families and are determined to take away our constitutional right to bear arms. They welcome the prospect of unleashing unaccountable federal agencies like the IRS and EPA to impose a liberal policy agenda that will harm Americans and punish any who dare to disagree with their worldview. And not least of all, they vow to use the Court’s power to impose an “unconditional surrender” in their cultural war against our fundamental institutions of faith, family, marriage, home, and school — and will wipe out any pro-life protections, instead imposing abortion on-demand, up to the moment of birth, paid for by the taxpayers.

 

GOP Lawmaker Dick Black: Hillary Clinton's Immigration Policy Is 'Ethnic Cleansing'

On Friday’s episode of “The John Fredericks Show,” Virginia state Sen. Dick Black, a far-right extremist who served as Ted Cruz’s Virginia campaign co-chair, said that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton are using immigration to commit “ethnic cleansing,” accusing Democrats of bringing only Middle Eastern Muslims into the country so that “nobody can organize against them.”

“The Democrats have a laser focus,” Black said. “Everybody they put on that [Supreme] Court is a wicked SOB and they never change. They could care less what the law says. They’re there as politicians and they’re there to do the bidding of their party. And so anybody who thinks that we can count on having fair elections in four years and redoing things, that’s a pipe dream, it’s not going to happen because Hillary Clinton is going to keep the borders open, we’re undergoing this immense immigration, which really amounts to ethnic cleansing. That’s what they’re trying to do.

“They’re trying to shatter the cohesion of the American people, not only in terms of ethnicity but also in terms of religion,” he continued. “They’re bringing in people from the Middle East, zero, zero Christians. They will not allow Christians to come in. All of them have to be Muslim. What they’re trying to do is just shatter any cohesion so that nobody can organize against them.”

If Republicans lose this election, Black said, “our children, our grandchildren, they may never face another free and fair election in the United States after this, if Hillary wins.”

Operation Save America Declares SCOTUS Rulings On Abortion & Gay Rights 'Null And Void'

A major theme at last week’s “Summer of Justice,” an event that Operation Save America convened in Wichita to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the anti-abortion Summer of Mercy, was the idea that laws that violate a particular reading of the Bible are not real laws and therefore should be ignored by elected officials.

As such, organizers convened an “ecclesiastical court” in front of Wichita’s federal courthouse on Thursday to hold the federal courts and the Supreme Court in “contempt” of God’s law, as determined by them. Eight OSA members, holding coffin-shaped signs with the names of Supreme Court cases on church-state separation, reproductive rights and LGBT equality, took turns coming to the microphone to read “charges” against the federal courts. The proceedings followed a script that the group used at a similar “ecclesiastical court” in Alabama last year.

The “charge” based on Roe v. Wade held that “America has committed domestic terrorism in the womb, and we are reaping terrorism in our streets.” The charge based on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld the central finding of Roe, linked the case to the 1999 Columbine school shooting, saying that the court “declared that man can determine his own reality, standards and meanings apart from the objective truth of Almighty God,” as the Columbine shooters did.

On Lawrence v. Texas, the case striking down bans on consensual sex between adults of the same sex: “Homosexuality means the burning out of man. It will destroy those who practice this perversion and nations that condone it.”

OSA leader Rusty Thomas closed the proceedings by declaring that “the Supreme Court of the United States of America has sinned against God” in issuing decisions protecting reproductive rights and LGBT rights (or, as he put it, “sodomy”) and accusing the court of “high treason against God and our nation.”

“Yes, the Supreme Court of the United States of America has betrayed our God, our nation, our people, our children, and has invited the wrath of Almighty God to come  upon us — all of us,” he said.

The Supreme Court, he said, has “forfeited all moral authority” and therefore “by the authority invested in us as ministers of the gospel of the kingdom,” OSA would render these objectionable rulings null and void.

He led the crowd in declaring: “We cancel these wicked decisions. We render them null and void. We prohibit their enforcement upon America and its citizens. We declare with one voice that these wicked decrees are no longer binding upon us, our children or our nation.”

“You’re literally acting today like a Moses to Pharaoh” by “telling our government what you are doing is not lawful in the eyes of God,” Thomas said.

 

Rick Santorum: Vote Trump To Avoid A Progressive Supreme Court

On “The Eric Metaxas Show” yesterday, Rick Santorum urged listeners to vote for Donald Trump to avoid Hillary Clinton’s nomination of progressive Supreme Court justices who he said would ignore the Constitution. 

“I sat at [Antonin Scalia’s] funeral and it just hit me as a wave that the next president of the United States is going to have the chance to replace him and probably two other justices, if it’s a Hillary Clinton, two other justices, and put three more progressives,” Santorum said. “When I say two other justices, I mean Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, both of whom are old and will retire during the Clinton administration, if she’s elected.”

Regarding Trump’s recent tweet in which he claimed Ginsburg’s “mind is shot,” Santorum said: “He breaks the rules and he gets away with it and that’s great. That’s one of the reasons conservatives love him, because he’s able to break the rules, say things that conservatives can’t get away with that are true, and gets away with it.”

“With the two 50-year-old progressives on the court, Sotomayor and Kagan, plus three that Clinton will add, that’ll be five 50-year-olds who will be on the court for 25 to 30 years, and they will all subscribe to this theory of judicial practice which is, the Constitution is whatever we say it is,” Santorum continued.

Santorum also argued that within a few years, the progressive justices would “just reference their old opinions and say, ‘Well, what we really meant here was this,’ and not even tether it to the Constitution anymore. So if you believe that America is better off governed by five elites who are detached from any kind of control by anybody, then vote for Hillary Clinton.”

Tom DeLay: GOP Should Leave Supreme Court With Eight Justices Until A Republican Is Elected President

Earlier this week, former House GOP Leader Tom DeLay told radio host Steve Malzberg that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, Senate Republicans should continue to obstruct the judicial nominating process and simply refuse to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

DeLay, who has so far refused to endorse Donald Trump, tried to play down fears about the judicial nominations of a potential President Clinton by saying that if enough conservatives are elected to Congress, “it doesn’t matter who is president, the Senate can control” which judicial appointees get confirmed.

“There’s nothing in the Constitution that says you have to have nine justices,” he said. “We can go another four years with eight.”

Ralph Reed Makes The Case For Donald Trump

One theme of this year’s Republican National Convention is the Religious Right getting fully on board the Trump Train. Even before he vanquished Ted Cruz, his final primary opponent, Trump has been aggressively courting the Religious Right, and he has recently sought to shore up support from the movement leaders who backed Cruz and other candidates.

Yes, Trump is a habitual liar whose Bible-waving and political use of religious is transparently cynical, but that isn’t stopping Religious Right leaders from rallying around him. And why not? He allowed the Religious Right to write anti-gay discrimination into the GOP's platform. His promise to fill the Supreme Court with right-wing justices gives them hope that marriage equality in the U.S. will be short-lived. And he is even promising to overturn the federal law that forbids churches, like other tax-exempt nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral politics, and to sign legislation defunding Planned Parenthood.

In Cleveland this week for the RNC, Religious Right political operative Ralph Reed spoke with Doug Wright, “Utah’s most listened to talk show host.” Polls show that many of Utah’s Mormon voters are resisting the call to unite behind Trump.

When asked why so many evangelicals are supporting Trump in spite of his “interesting” background, his use of “vulgarities,” and other things that might concern a conservative Christian, Reed said, “You’re not electing a pastor-in-chief, you’re electing a commander-in-chief.”

Reed reminded Wright that evangelicals backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election even though they had a different approach to faith, and even though Romney had previously held pro-choice and pro-gay views, something for which some conservatives have criticized Trump. “I thought we were members of a faith where we were supposed to welcome converts,” said Reed.

In fact, said Reed, he thinks Trump “has the potential to be the greatest advocate for our values, and do the most to advance that agenda, precisely because he doesn’t necessarily come from where we come from.” In other words, because people don’t view Trump as a Religious Right activist, they might be more receptive to his call for ending the ban on church politicking.

Here’s Reed’s basic case for Trump, starting with the fact that “he is a professing Christian.”

More importantly…he shares our values. He’s pro-life. He’s pro-traditional marriage, which is very important to us…He’s pro-religious freedom. He supported the Hobby Lobby Decision, supports Little Sisters of the Poor, has placed in the platform, at his insistence, at this convention, for the first time in the history of the Republican Party, a call for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment to the internal revenue code, which threatens churches that speak out politically with the loss of their tax-exempt status. That has been used to harass and persecute the Christian community for over half a century. Donald Trump will end it.

Pat Robertson: Donald Trump Is 'Professing His Faith' And Courting Religious Right Support

Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson congratulated Donald Trump, who has repeatedly courted the televangelist's support, for officially securing the GOP nomination for president, claiming that Trump is “professing his faith” on the campaign trail.

Robertson said that Trump “understands that the evangelicals are crucial to winning this election,” which is why he has pledged to only appoint solidly conservative judges to the bench and push the Religious Right's political agenda.

“Trump is willing to say, ‘Okay, you back me on this and I’m going to back you on your issues,’ and I believe him,” Robertson said. “He looks after his friends.”

The televangelist added that the Supreme Court is “at stake” in the election, along with “all the legislation having to do with all the sexual activity of the United States people, same-sex marriage and all that stuff, plus abortion, that’s on the table. If you’re interested in guns and the Second Amendment, that’s going to be on the table without question. You can go right down the list of key issues that are going to be decided by the Supreme Court and we’re looking at at least two to maybe three vacancies on the court for the next president.”

Mitch McConnell: Donald Trump Must Have The Honor Of Filling The Supreme Court Vacancy

For months, Republicans have said that they are refusing to consider anyone President Obama nominates to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court because they are simply following a (nonexistent) Senate tradition of blocking Supreme Court nominees in the final year of a president’s term.

But yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed the obvious: Republicans just want to hold the seat open to be filled by Donald Trump.

“On that sad day when we lost Justice Scalia, I made another pledge that Obama would not fill this seat,” McConnell said in a speech to the Republican National Convention. “That honor would go to Donald Trump next year.”

Trump, for his part, has pledged to pick anti-choice justices from lists compiled by right-wing groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society.

GOP's Record-Breaking SCOTUS Obstruction

GOP senators don't seem to care about the damage their record-breaking obstruction of Merrick Garland does to the country. But perhaps self-interest will move them.
PFAW

Edit Memo: Senate Republicans, Exhausted From Not Doing Their Jobs, Take a 7-Week Vacation, the Longest in 60 Years

To: Interested Parties
From: Paul Gordon, Senior Legislative Counsel, People For the American Way
Date: July 19, 2016
Re: Senate Republicans, Exhausted From Not Doing Their Jobs, Take a 7-Week Vacation, the Longest in 60 Years

Last week, the GOP-controlled Senate explained why there supposedly wasn’t enough time before an extensive summer recess, the longest in 60 years, to confirm numerous long-standing consensus judicial nominees. In fact, they spent more time making excuses than it would have taken to actually confirm the nominees.

The exchange revealed new depths to which Senate Republicans will sink in order to avoid doing their jobs and voting on the president’s nominees to our lower federal courts, in addition to their unprecedented refusal to even consider the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, July 13, Democrats sought votes on many of the nominees waiting for Senate action. First, Sen. Chuck Schumer asked for votes on the 13 longest-stalled district court nominees, all of whom had been approved by the Judiciary Committee with unanimous or near-unanimous support, as well as seven nominees for the Court of International Trade and Federal Claims Court (six of whom had been approved by the Committee in 2014, then again in 2015). On behalf of the GOP leadership, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis blocked the vote because, among other things, the Senate had confirmed one judge the previous week and one judge the week before that.

Then Sen. Elizabeth Warren sought a vote just on the 13 district court nominees. Tillis again objected, complaining that instead of debating drug abuse:

What we get are things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs. I'm doing my job today and objecting to these measures so that we can actually get back to pressing matters … [emphasis added]

In fact, vetting and confirming judges so that the United States judicial system can function and provide a forum to protect people’s rights is among the most important responsibilities the Constitution gives to the Senate, and to the Senate alone.

There was apparently no number low enough or waiting period long enough that Republicans would accept. Sen. Mazie Hirono sought a vote only on the eight longest-stalled district court nominees, who would fill vacancies in Tennessee, New Jersey, New York, California, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii. All were approved by the Judiciary Committee without opposition. Half had been approved in the fall of 2015, three back in January, and one had been waiting for “only” three months. Yet again, Tillis objected, urging the Senate not to waste time on this issue but to address other issues.

Actually, the waste of time came from Sen. Tillis, who spent far more time blocking votes on qualified consensus nominees than it would have taken to actually confirm them. Mitch McConnell’s Senate is a far different place than it was on September 26, 2008, an election year, when the Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed ten of President Bush’s consensus district court nominees in less than a minute, nominees who had been waiting for a vote for only three days.

As Tillis carried out McConnell’s obstruction directives last week, Republican senators who claim to support the nominees from their home states were nowhere to be found. Tennessee’s Edward Stanton III has languished on the Senate floor since October of last year, but Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker were nowhere to be found to offer them support when Tillis blocked a vote on him three separate times. Similarly, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey allowed two nominees he had recommended to the White House to be denied votes three times that day, even though they were approved by the Judiciary Committee six months ago.

Rather than being an aberration, Republican efforts to block confirmation votes for President Obama’s judicial nominees have been the norm. While their refusal to even hold a hearing for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has grabbed the headlines, the GOP’s deliberate sabotage of the rest of the federal judiciary is nothing new. Since Republicans have taken control of the Senate, the pace at which they’ve chosen to process all judicial nominations has fallen far short of what precedent would dictate.

Failing to confirm judges has never been the norm even when the Senate and the White House are held by different parties. A useful basis of comparison is George W. Bush’s final two years in office, when Democrats took over the Senate after the 2006 midterms. In 2007, the first year as the majority, the Democratic Senate confirmed 40 of President Bush’s circuit and district court nominees (with a total of 68 by the end of 2008). In stark contrast, the McConnell Senate has confirmed only 20 circuit and district court judges during this Congress (along with two Court of International Trade nominees). Just as the number of confirmations last year (11) was the lowest since 1960 (also 11), the total for this two-year Congress appears on track to be the lowest since the Eisenhower era, when there were hundreds fewer judgeships than today.

The figure below shows the stark difference in the pace of circuit and district judicial confirmations under today’s Republican-controlled Senate as compared to the Democratic-controlled Senate of Bush’s last two years.

image 1

Another way of contrasting how seriously Senate Democrats took their job in 2007-2008 versus the attitude of Republicans today is to track the number of vacancies. Judicial vacancies open regularly and predictably, since judges usually announce their intent to retire or go into semi-retirement up to a year in advance. Just to keep the number of vacancies at an even level requires that several new judges be confirmed each month.

At the beginning of 2007, there were 56 circuit and district court vacancies. Throughout the next two years, the number of vacancies generally remained at 50 or fewer, getting as low as 34 in the early fall of 2008. Because an unusually high number of vacancies opened up after Election Day, that number climbed back to 55 by Inauguration Day, but even with that increase, the number of vacancies ended up at about what it had been two years earlier.

Today, in stark contrast, the number of circuit and district court vacancies is climbing, more than doubling from 40 at the beginning of the year to 81 today.

image 2

We see the same thing with judicial emergencies, a formal designation assigned by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts for vacancies where the caseload per judge is so high that it endangers access to justice. Judicial emergencies have skyrocketed from 12 at the beginning of the new congress to 29 as of July 15 of this year*. As the chart below shows, Democrats in the Senate during Bush’s last two years did not allow the number of judicial emergencies to increase in a similar fashion, and in fact the number generally remained steady or decreased during most of those two years.

image 3

There is work to be done, but Sen. McConnell is having the Senate take an extended seven-week summer vacation, the longest in at least 60 years. As Democratic leader Harry Reid has accurately noted:

The American people expect their elected officials to try to solve problems. At the very least, the American people demand their senators to at least show up to work on a regular basis. But Senate Republicans have done neither. Instead, they are setting dubious records for the fewest working days and the fewest judges confirmed. Republicans have denigrated this institution with their obstruction. I hope they will consider the consequences of their inaction over this seven-week vacation.

Courts are the infrastructure of justice, just as important to our constitutional rights as roads and bridges are to transportation. Either in spite of this or because of this, Senate Republicans have abused their position in the majority to stymie President Obama’s efforts to put qualified people on our nation’s federal courts. In so doing, they are weakening the entire third branch of the United States government.

 

* - Judicial emergencies are based on caseloads, which are weighted to reflect the wide variations in time and resources generally associated with different types of cases. On April 15, the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts list of emergency vacancies began to incorporate a new weighting system adopted a month earlier by the Judicial Conference of the United States. As a result, the number of officially designated judicial emergencies dropped from 34 on April 14 to 28 the next day, a drop that had nothing to do with Senate action.

###

Senate GOP Keeping Court Vacancies Open So Trump Can Transform America’s Judiciary

This piece originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

The Constitution sets up an independent judiciary as the third branch of government, intended to protect people’s rights and to serve as a check on the power of the other two branches. Our nation’s charter tasks the president and the Senate with the job of selecting and vetting the people who would serve on those courts.  President Obama has been doing his duty by nominating qualified women and men to serve as judges at all levels of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court.

But the GOP-controlled Senate is not living up to its constitutional responsibilities. While this has always been harmful to America, it is even more so with Donald Trump the presumed presidential nominee of his party.

Mitch McConnell and his party have slow-walked or outright blocked so many nominees that the number of circuit and district court vacancies has risen from 40 when they took over the Senate to 80 today. (There are also several vacancies for the Court of International Trade and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.) In that same time, the number of vacancies formally designated as judicial emergencies has skyrocketed from 12 to 29. The Senate has not been allowed to vote on nominees who were thoroughly vetted and approved months ago by the Judiciary Committee with strong bipartisan support.

Yesterday, Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin went to the floor to draw attention to the problem. She noted that while the Senate GOP’s blockade of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has been in the headlines, that has not been the case with the obstruction of lower court nominees.

She focused particularly on Seventh Circuit nominee Donald Schott, who not only has Democrat Baldwin’s support, but also that of his other home-state senator, Republican Ron Johnson.  Schott would fill the nation’s longest circuit court vacancy, which has been open for well over six years.  Since the Supreme Court takes so few cases, the Seventh Circuit is usually the last word on the meaning of the Constitution and federal laws for millions of people in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana, and every day that goes by with that vacancy open hurts everyone in those states.  Schott earned strong bipartisan support from the Judiciary Committee, which advanced his nomination to the full Senate four weeks ago.  Baldwin noted that Schott also has the support of a bipartisan group of former Wisconsin Bar presidents.  Saying that “the people of Wisconsin and our neighbors in Illinois and Indiana deserve a fully functioning appeals court,” Baldwin urged McConnell to finally allow votes on Schott and on all of the judicial nominees who have cleared the Judiciary Committee.  Many of them have been waiting for more than half a year for a floor vote, with several having been approved by the Judiciary Committee last year.

But Republicans are fighting to keep vacancies open for as long as possible so that they will be filled by a President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump, who wants to make it easier for the government to punish media sources whose reporting he disagrees with.

Donald Trump, who has said that Latinos cannot serve effectively as unbiased judges.

Donald Trump, who would ban certain people from entering the country based on their religion.

Donald Trump, who has demeaned and humiliated women at every opportunity.

Donald Trump, who has used hate groups’ blatantly anti-Semitic imagery in his campaign.

Donald Trump, who has said he is considering firing all Muslim TSA agents.

With serious discussion among scholars, political figures, and Americans across the political spectrum on whether Trump’s extreme views amount to fascism, we need a strong, effective, and independent federal judiciary more than ever. Yet Senate Republicans are pulling out the stops to allow Donald Trump to move quickly to dramatically transform our judiciary from the Supreme Court on down.

The Senate GOP is abdicating their constitutional and moral responsibility to the American people and to our democracy.

PFAW

Richard Land: Trump Can Get Evangelical Votes By Promising To Put Ted Cruz On Supreme Court

Evangelical seminary president Richard Land told the American Family Association’s One News Now today that Donald Trump could help himself “enormously” with social conservatives “if he were to hold a press conference and say that if he is indeed elected president, that he will nominate Ted Cruz to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.”

Land has previously promoted some pretty extreme ideas about the federal courts. Just after the November 2014 elections in which Republicans took control of the Senate, Land called on Republicans not to confirm a single federal judge for the final two years of Obama’s term.

Land, who was president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission for 25 years, is serving on a religious advisory panel for Trump even though last October he said he was “dismayed” by Trump’s “mystifying and somewhat depressing” popularity among evangelicals. At the time, he called support for Trump “a failure on our part to adequately disciple our people.”

His earlier lack of enthusiasm for Trump was in spite of sharing some similar personal history. In 2012, Land announced his retirement from the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in the midst of a controversy over inflammatory comments he made saying that President Obama was using the Trayvon Martin killing “to try to gin up the black vote” for his re-election. Although Land eventually apologized, his initial response to criticism was defiant, saying that he had been “speaking the truth in love” and would not “bow to the false god of political correctness.”

Grassley Is Deliberately Obstructing Judicial Confirmations, Anti-Choice Lobbyist Confirms

A prominent anti-abortion lobbyist acknowledged this weekend that Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is deliberately slow-walking President Obama's federal judicial nominees at all levels in order to keep seats on the courts open for the next president to fill.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, said on Saturday at his group's convention in Virginia that "the left is quite unhappy with the number of nominations that have not come to a vote in the Senate." This, he said approvingly, is because Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have "moved with very deliberate speed on those nominations and it's safe to predict that there will be quite a number of vacant seats on the federal courts, including that Supreme Court vacancy, when the election rolls around."

"There certainly would be a lot more Obama-nominated federal judges if the Senate had remained in Democrat hands," he said.

Grassley has denied that he is slow-walking federal judicial nominations, despite ample evidence to the contrary, telling The Des Moines Register in April that he is simply following the practice of Democrats and Republicans alike.

Johnson particularly praised Grassley and McConnell for blockading the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

After Scalia died, he said, "the Senate majority leader reached out to senators all across the country and the world and indicated that what they had to do is take a hard line that this seat was not going to be filled by Barack Obama in the last year of his presidency, that who fills this seat was going to be determined by the person selected to be president by the American people in November. And they agreed to that."

McConnell, he said, "knew what had to be done."

"This made a difference," he said. "If this had been a Democrat Senate, possibly even been a Republican Senate under different leadership, that seat would have been long since filled."

He added that he was disappointed that the Senate's obstruction of the Garland nomination hadn't stopped a victory for abortion rights in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, but noted that it "has been decisive on some other important matters."

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