Supreme Court

A New Species of Politicians: “Trumpublicans”

This piece originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

The number of Republican elected officials criticizing Donald Trump and condemning his policies while pledging to vote for him has many people understandably scratching their heads, and it’s not hard to see why: politicians calling out the GOP nominee in one breath and then working to bring him and his agenda into power in the next utterly defies logic.

I’d like to propose a name for this odd species of politicians: Trumpublicans.

Trumpublicans: /trəmˈpəbləkən/ — n., pl. 1. Republicans who’ve endorsed or pledged to vote for Trump to win support from far-right voters. 2. Republicans who claim to oppose Trump’s hateful campaign, yet work to advance his candidacy and agenda (e.g. holding a Supreme Court seat open for him to fill.)

Examples of Trumpublicans abound. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire has tried to separate herself from Trump, refusing to endorse him and saying that she would “stand up” to him. But she also says that she’s “glad to get his endorsement” and still plans to vote for him. Huh? Senator John McCain of Arizona is trying to toe the same line, at times criticizing Trump while repeatedly stating his commitment to vote for him. Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey says that Trump’s actions “give me great pause” but has still refused to disavow him.

There’s no more egregious example than the fight over the Supreme Court vacancy to show how each of these senators are already actively working to support Trump’s extremist agenda. They may express misgivings about Trump with their words, but with their actions, they are holding open the vacant Supreme Court seat so that it can be filled by him. They are going to extraordinary lengths—ignoring their constitutionally-defined responsibilities—to let the next Supreme Court justices be picked by Donald Trump, a man who says a judge can’t do his job because of his Mexican heritage.

Senators’ comments against Trump mean nothing when their actions and votes are still with him in all the ways that count. These senators are trying to have it both ways in a straddle to appeal to both voters with common sense and decency and those who are turned on by Trump’s hate. 
  
Too many people have written off the Trumpublican phenomenon as being only about Trump as if he’s a one-time thing. “He’s coming out of left field,” the story goes. “He’s so out-there that he’s putting ‘moderate’ Republicans in a tough place.” But when it comes to his anti-Latino, anti-women, anti-just-about-everyone agenda, Trump’s not coming out of left field; he’s coming straight from home plate. He’s riding the sorry momentum that the Republican party has built for years.

After all, way before Trump, this is the party that has threatened to shut down the government over immigration reform and the funding of Planned Parenthood. The party of “self-deportation.” The party that wants to ban abortion. The party that now denies science and doesn’t believe in the president’s birthplace or religion. There is no question that Trump’s rhetoric is horrific, but don’t believe the myth that he is a wild aberration; in many ways, he is tapping into the very core of the Republican party that tragically for the country has become more and more extreme every year.

There’s a reason why the strong recommendations of the infamous 2012 GOP post-loss post-mortem couldn’t be heeded, and this was long before the idea of a Trump candidacy was a glimmer in any Republican eye.

This is no longer your granddaddy’s GOP. And it’s not going to be the “the party of Lincoln”—a description they love to throw around, no matter how increasingly inaccurate—again until people start to stand up to the likes of Donald Trump and to the base that so decisively elected him. It’s as simple as that. You can’t tell your children and grandchildren that you stood against a man who proposed banning all members of a religious group from the country, who smeared an entire community as rapists and criminals, who claimed a judge couldn’t do his job because of his heritage. No, Trumpublicans will have to tell them that even though they said Trump was in the wrong, they stood by him all the way.

PFAW

Senate GOP Holding Dozens Of Federal Court Seats For Trump

It’s well known that the Senate GOP has been stalling President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland for months in the hope that Donald Trump will win the presidential election and eventually fill the vacant Supreme Court seat. This dynamic is playing out in the lower federal courts as well, as Senate Republicans stall confirmation proceedings in an apparent effort to leave as many vacancies as possible for a potential President Trump to fill.

People for the American Way’s Paul Gordon has crunched the numbers and reports in a memo today that by stalling district and appeals court nominations, Senate Republicans are leaving far more lower court vacancies at the end of President Obama’s term in office than Democrats did at the end of President Bush’s.

Gordon reports that there are 87 current circuit and district vacancies in the federal courts today, more than double the number that there were at the beginning of the year. Contrast that with the number of vacancies during the final two years of Bush’s presidency:

Gordon notes that these vacancies do not exist because of a lack of nominees:

Now, in September of 2016, Republicans have an opportunity and a responsibility to fill dozens of vacancies. In addition to Merrick Garland, there are 29 circuit and district court nominees still bottled up in the Judiciary Committee. Only six of them have even had hearings, let alone a committee vote; two of the nominees (both from Pennsylvania) had their committee hearings last year, but Grassley still has not brought them up for a vote.

In addition, there are 20 circuit and district court nominees who have been vetted and approved by Judiciary Committee and who could — and should — have confirmation votes as soon as the Senate returns to Washington. More than a third of these have been pending on the floor for more than six months, including four who advanced from committee back in 2015.

The fact that the Senate GOP is deliberately slow-walking President Obama’s nominees in the final year of his term in office is an open secret. A top anti-abortion lobbyist said this summer that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck 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 added.

Trump Cozying Up To Activists Who've Supported Criminalizing Homosexuality

Donald Trump is scheduled to speak this week at the Values Voter Summit, the annual confab hosted by the Religious Right powerhouse the Family Research Council. While Trump has claimed that he will be a better “friend of LGBT Americans” than Hillary Clinton (just “ask the gays”), his appearance at VVS shows the extent to which he has cozied up with some of the country’s fiercest opponents of LGBT equality, going so far as to offer them their pick of Supreme Court justices.

Many of the summit’s organizers and speakers have a long history of anti-LGBT rhetoric and promoting anti-LGBT policies, from denigrating gay and lesbian armed service members to falsely linking homosexuality with pedophilia. In fact, a glaring number of VVS participants have defended laws criminalizing homosexuality in the U.S. and around the globe.

While the Religious Right has changed its messaging in recent years to claim that conservative Christians in the U.S. are facing persecution from LGBT rights activists, it was not long ago that many of the same groups were fighting to preserve laws that made gay people criminals—and some still support enacting these policies at home and abroad.

The Family Research Council, which is the chief organizer of the conference, is a case in point. In 2003, when the Supreme Court was considering the constitutionality of Texas’ ban on “sodomy” in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case, the FRC filed an amicus brief on behalf of the state. When the court ruled against Texas in the case, the FRC called it “a direct attack on the sanctity of marriage” and the group’s president, Tony Perkins, declared, “What’s at stake here is the very foundation of our society, not only of America but all Western civilization.”

Not only has Perkins defended state laws criminalizing same-sex relations, he once defended a notorious anti-gay bill in Uganda that at the time he discussed it proposed life in prison or even the death penalty for people who have sex with someone of the same sex. Perkins lauded this bill as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable,” criticizing President Obama for opposing it. The FRC even spent $25,000 to lobby Congress about a resolution denouncing the Ugandan bill—the group later claimed that it didn’t oppose the resolution, it just wanted to make its language less friendly to gay rights. In 2011, FRC asked its members to pray to give Malawi the “courage to withstand U.S. coercion” and maintain its ban on homosexuality.

Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the FRC who will have a speaking slot at this weekend’s summit, has perhaps been the most clear about the organization’s views on the subject. Asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in 2010 if he thinks “we should outlaw gay behavior,” Sprigg replied, “Yes.” In a 2008 television interview, Sprigg mused, “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.”

The American Family Association, another sponsor of the Values Voter Summit, likewise backed Texas in the Lawrence case, writing in the amicus brief that a law like Texas' could prevent the “injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy” and would even protect the gay people it targeted by sparing them “illness, disease and death resulting from [their] conduct.” That same year, the AFA published an essay lamenting that the disappearance of sodomy laws showed that “Judeo-Christian views” were being abandoned in favor of “moral relativism.” In 2011, then-AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer said that homosexuality should be a “criminal offense.”

First Liberty, another sponsor of the event, likewise backed Texas in the Lawrence case (under its previous incarnation as the Liberty Legal Institute), with the group’s leader Kelly Shackelford—also a speaker at this year’s VVS—declaring that there is “no constitutional right to engage in homosexual sodomy.”

Other figures at the Values Voter Summit have also supported criminal bans on homosexuality.

Rick Santorum, who will have a speaking slot, has boasted of his opposition to the Supreme Court’s Lawrence decision. Family Watch International, which is sponsoring a booth at the event, frequently works with some of the world’s most repressive governments to keep LGBT-friendly language out of UN documents and has supported harsh anti-gay legislation in Nigeria. Liberty Counsel, which will also be sponsoring a booth in the summit’s exhibit hall, backed Texas in the Lawrence case and defended a homosexuality ban in Malawi. Radical anti-LGBT activist Matt Barber said on a Liberty Counsel radio program he co-hosts that the U.S. should adopt a ban on “homosexual activist propaganda” similar to Russia’s. Fischer, the former AFA spokesman, also advocated enacting a similar law in the U.S.

Many Religious Right leaders have rallied behind Trump because he has promised to give them their ideal Supreme Court justices and lower court judges. Very recent history shows that these groups aren’t just interested in using the courts to reverse marriage equality—which would be harmful enough on its own—but also to severely roll back years of hard-won legal protections for LGBT people. Trump says that he’d be better for the LGBT community than Hillary Clinton—but we doubt that he’ll bring that message to the Values Voter Summit.

PFAW and Granite State Progress Bring the "Supreme Court" to Sen. Ayotte

In light of Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s continued refusal to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, members of People For the American Way and Granite State Progress donned Supreme Court justice robes Wednesday in front of her Nashua office to demonstrate that Granite Staters will be watching the Supreme Court vacancy when she returns to DC from Congressional recess. Members of both groups also brought a symbolic empty chair and a sign reading “fill this seat.”

scotus justice protest

“We’re bringing the Supreme Court to Sen. Ayotte today, since she’s tried so hard to ignore it,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way,  “Obstruction that results in leaving the seat open for Trump to fill is neither independent nor bipartisan, as she likes to call herself, and she’s ignoring the majority of her constituents who understand filling this vacancy is crucial in bringing forth justice for millions of people.”

scotus justice protest

Ayotte has remained in lockstep with her party leadership on this vacancy, forcing the highly qualified Merrick Garland to wait more days than any nominee in history. Recently Ayotte called Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist a “good start,” apparently ignoring the many extreme rulings from these judges. One judge on Trump’s shortlist, Steven Colloton, said that a woman who reports sexual harassment cannot take legal action if her employer retaliates by firing her.

scotus justice protest

Participating activists took photo petitions amplifying this message -- Margaret and Rocco Femia and Carol and Karl Stamm called out Ayotte’s hypocrisy and so-called independence, while Marcel ‘Dusty’ Liberge and Steven Goldstein focused on the lack of justice from an 8-member court.

PFAW

Video: Chuck Grassley Just Doesn’t Think The Confirmation Process Is That Important  

It is common for members of the Senate to cite the process of confirming Supreme Court justices as one of their most important responsibilities. These judges receive lifetime appointments and their impact on the law lasts for decades. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s continued obstruction of Merrick Garland’s confirmation, though, reveals his lack of respect for his constitutionally mandated responsibility.

Previously, Grassley explicitly spelled out his belief that the confirmation process should not be taken as seriously as other functions of the Senate, such as yearly squabbling over budgets and appropriations.

In 1991, during the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas, he explained, “Some have stated that the Senate’s advice and consent role in the elevation of Supreme Court justices, of any Supreme Court justice, for that matter, is the most important power that we in the Senate here exercise.” Grassley continued, “Now, I don't happen to share that view, as important as I take my responsibilities today and through this process, because I happen to feel that confronting the issue of war—as we did only last January, and attempting to bring government spending under control are among the more significant responsibilities that we have.”

“And, of course, I think the Constitution doesn't elevate the confirmation process quite this high. The Constitution shows this because the ‘advise and consent’ role is spelled out in Chapter 2 with executive powers, and not with the legislative powers in Article 1. So I think the Constitution itself indicates it is not a preeminent legislative power,” Grassley concluded.

If the chairman of the Judiciary Committee does not recognize that vetting and voting on the confirmation of Supreme Court justices is one of his greatest responsibilities, perhaps he should relinquish his gavel to someone who does.

Kevin Swanson: 'It's Amazing That God Has Not Judged America' For Gay Rights & Legal Abortion

Kevin Swanson, the Colorado pastor and homeschooling activist who last year hosted three GOP presidential candidates at a conference in Iowa, hosted an event near Cincinnati over the weekend to help families prepare their children to avoid cultural pitfalls and be prepared to enter the metaphorical Noah’s ark of Christianity. Among the speakers were Ken Ham, the Creationist activist who just completed a life-sized replica of Noah’s ark near the site of the conference, and GOP favorites David, Jason and Flip Benham.

Swanson started things off by impressing upon attendees the need to prepare their children to fend off and avoid God’s wrath by declaring that it’s “amazing that God has not judged America” already for gay rights and legal abortion.

“It’s amazing that God has not judged America in 1973,” he said, “hard to believe that God didn’t judge America in 2001 [sic] with the Lawrence v. Texas decision, it’s hard to believe that God didn’t judge America with Obergefell.”

“It is amazing that God has not brought judgment upon this world shortly after [the Obergefell decision] happened in July [sic ]of 2015 or in August of 2015 or even in September of 2015 or maybe even October,” he added.

“So be assured, my friends,” Swanson said, “judgment is coming. I have no idea when it will come. Will it be 120 years from 1900? Will it be 120 years from 1890? Will it be 120 years from 1973, Roe v. Wade, the decision to eliminate hundreds of millions of babies in America and of course all around the world, same thing has happened since the 1960s? Will it be 120 years from 2015, the day on which the most powerful court in the world ruled against God’s institution of marriage in one of the most radical, arrogant insults against Almighty God? When will God’s judgment come? I have no idea, but I will tell you, it will come.”

(It took Noah 120 years to build his ark before the Flood came, thus the 120-year delay in judgment that Swanson is suggesting.)

Marco Rubio: Vote For Donald Trump To Have More Scalia-like Justices On The Supreme Court

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio may stand by his belief that Donald Trump is a dishonest “con man,” but in an interview last week with the Christian Broadcasting Network, he said that pastors should support Trump anyway, noting that “Donald Trump is committed” to appointing Supreme Court justices in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia.

“I just don’t believe there’s any chance at all that Hillary Clinton will ever appoint someone to the Supreme Court with the views that Scalia had,” he added.

Happy Birthday, Phyllis Schlafly!

Today is the 92nd birthday of Phyllis Schlafly, the godmother of the right-wing movement in America. Schlafly broke onto the national scene with “A Choice Not an Echo,” her 1964 book making the case for Barry Goldwater, and she solidified her leadership with her successful campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment. Decades later, she helped rally right-wing opposition to President Obama, hosting a “How To Take Back America” conference during his first year in office. She’s still hard at work, leading Eagle Forum and publishing her Phyllis Schlafly Report newsletter, whose June issue argued for putting Trump’s wall—“and yes, Mexico will pay”—in this year’s Republican platform. Mission accomplished.

It hasn’t been the happiest year for Schlafly, who has been embroiled in a power struggle with a group of Eagle Forum board members, including her own daughter. She also lost a trademark lawsuit against her nephew, who makes Schlafly beer.

On the other hand, Schlafly was an early and ardent backer of Donald Trump, standing up for him in the primaries against many of her Religious Right allies and Eagle Forum colleagues. At this year’s Republican National Convention, Schlafly hosted a “Life of the Party” event celebrating that the GOP has been officially anti-abortion since 1976; she told attendees that she endorsed Trump after he pledged loyalty to a pro-life platform. Party attendees were given copies of the most recent of her more than two dozen books, “How the Republican Party Became Pro-Life.” It’s a short paperback that feels as if it was thrown together after having Schlafly tell war stories about her GOP platform battles over the years.

Schlafly spends most of the book recounting stories of pro-life activists’ efforts to strengthen and protect anti-abortion language at every Republican convention since 1976. It includes the successful resistance led by Schlafly, Ralph Reed, Bay Buchanan and Gary Bauer to Bob Dole’s efforts to soften the anti-abortion language in 1996. (I was in San Diego with a People For the American Way team covering that convention; Reed was gleeful about demonstrating his power to humiliate Dole, which may well have contributed to his November defeat.)

After the quick march through convention history, Schlafly moves into a denunciation of “judicial supremacy,” calling on Republicans to repudiate the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. She also calls for nullification of 2015’s marriage equality ruling:

When supremacist judges presume to rewrite portions of our law, most especially if it is a law that we have had for millennia such as our law defining marriage, it’s time for the American people to speak up and say “No” just as Abe Lincoln did when supremacist judges ruled that blacks could be considered another man’s “property.” … All Americans must use every tool in the political process to reject judicial supremacy and return to government by “we the people.”

The book includes a short afterword by Kristan Hawkins, presidents of Students for Life, who calls Schlafly “a great American hero” and celebrates that, thanks to Schlafly and “her army,” there is today “no national Republican candidate who dares be anything other than pro-life!” The final 70 pages of the book, more than half its total length, is devoted to an appendix of anti-abortion and anti-marriage-equality references in Republican platforms and resolutions and excerpts from the 2012 platform.

Earlier this year, Schlafly urged Republican senators to hold firm in refusing to consider a Supreme Court nominee “until we have a Republican who will appoint somebody of the nature of Scalia,” telling her interviewer that the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency made her “scared to death.” Republican senators have done as she asked, and Schlafly got her wish in Cleveland with a solidly right-wing platform and the nomination of Donald Trump. But given what current polls suggest that November will bring, she may want to do her celebrating now.

 

PFAW Members Catch Up to Kelly Ayotte in Manchester 5K to Ask if She Trusts Donald Trump to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy

kelly ayotte

Yesterday, at the Cigna/Elliot 5K Road race in downtown Manchester, Sen. Kelly Ayotte revealed a level of trust in Donald Trump’s ability to choose a qualified Supreme Court justice when questioned by a Manchester voter.

Watch her response:

Ayotte, who has repeatedly ignored the vast majority of Granite Staters who want her to do her constitutional duty and support moving forward with hearings and a vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, seemed unconcerned with the particulars of Trump’s judgement regarding the next Supreme Court justice, but said she’d looked at the list and thinks it’s a “good start.”

PFAW

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.”

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