Equality For All

Heritage List Gives Glimpse Of Far-Right Justices Sought By Trump And Cruz

One of the conservative establishment’s greatest fears about a Donald Trump presidency has been that he wouldn’t pick movement ideologues to sit on the Supreme Court. Trump attempted to put that concern to rest last week when he announced that he was working with the conservative behemoth the Heritage Foundation to shape a list of 10 possible Supreme Court picks from whom he would choose nominees if he were to become president. (Whether he would actually keep that promise, however, is an open question.)

Meanwhile, Trump’s main GOP presidential rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, has promised to make nominating ultra-conservative justices a “priority” of his presidency. He has even made a point of criticizing past Republican presidents for appointing insufficiently conservative jurists.

Trump hasn’t released his list of candidates, but today the Heritage Foundation published a “non-exclusive” list of eight people that it said “illustrates the kind of highly qualified, principled individuals the new president should consider” for the high court — and who, it’s safe to assume, represent the kind of judges the conservative movement would pressure Trump and Cruz to pick for the federal courts.

Two of Heritage’s picks, federal appeals court judges William Pryor and Diane Sykes, have been mentioned repeatedly by Trump on the campaign trail. The name of another, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, has been brought up by Cruz, who even picked up the Utah senator’s endorsement.

In a profile of Sykes last month, ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser wrote:

… Sykes, who currently sits on the Seventh Circuit, backed a voter ID law . She also wrote a decision expanding religious objectors’ ability to limit their employees’ access to birth control coverage that SCOTUSBlog’s Lyle Denniston described as “ the broadest ruling so far by a federal appeals court barring enforcement of the birth-control mandate in the new federal health care law.”

Millhiser noted that Sykes also ruled “that anti-gay groups have a constitutional right to continue receiving government subsidies even if they engage in discrimination,” another troubling indication that she could support conservative groups’ attempts to justify discrimination.

Pryor, a former Alabama attorney general, also has a history of right-wing activism. Pryor has called Roe v. Wade the “ worst abomination in the history of constitutional law” and said that it created “ a constitutional right to murder an unborn child.” He has claimed that with “the New Deal” and other measures, the U.S. has “strayed too far in the expansion of the federal government,” and asserted that the federal government “should not be in the business of public education nor the control of street crime .” Like Sykes, Pryor has upheld a voter ID law.

Lee, a Tea Party favorite who has been Cruz’s strongest ally in the Senate, has a legal philosophy that might be even more troubling, dismissing large swaths of the federal government’s work as unconstitutional. As Peter summarized recently:

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

Peter noted that Lee “dismisses Supreme Court rulings upholding a woman’s right to abortion” and has “called the court’s marriage equality ruling a ‘breathtaking presumption of power.’”

Also on Heritage’s list is Brett Kavanaugh, a George W. Bush appointee to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where he is a colleague of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Kavanaugh, who before his career as a judge worked on the notorious “Starr Report” about President Clinton, is just one example of Bush’s effort to put ideologically motivated conservatives on the federal bench.

Kavanaugh’s rulings on the D.C. Circuit include striking down important EPA air pollution rules in an opinion that one columnist called “60 pages of legal sophistry, procedural hair-splitting and scientific conjecture.” PFAW summarized the issue at hand:

Last summer, two Bush-nominated judges on the D.C. Circuit issued a much-criticized ruling in EME Homer City Generation, striking down important new EPA rules on air pollution that crosses state lines. In 2011, the EPA issued new regulations to limit the levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emitted by coal-fired power plants and crossing state lines. Based on the administrative record and its expertise on environmental health, the agency concluded that the new rules would prevent 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks, and 400,000 cases of asthma. As if that weren’t important enough, the rules would also save $280 billion a year in healthcare costs.

In 2011, Kavanaugh dissented from a ruling that found ExxonMobil was not immune from being sued by Indonesians who said they had been “beaten, burned, shocked with cattle prods, kicked, and subjected to other forms of brutality and cruelty" by the company’s security forces. Dissenting from a ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act the same year, Kavanaugh suggested that a president who thinks the ACA is unconstitutional could simply decline to enforce it.

Also on Heritage’s list are Paul Clement, who served as solicitor general in the Bush administration and is just 49 years old, and federal appeals court judges Steven Colloton and Raymond Gruender. Another Heritage suggestion is Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, who was nominated by then-Gov. Rick Perry after helping Bush run his faith-based initiatives in Texas and in the White House.

Norman Lear: Why I'm a Man for Choice

Norman Lear

More than forty years ago, the writers and I on our TV show "Maude" did something which apparently no one had done before on television: We showed our main character making the decision to have an abortion.

This was 1972, the year before the Supreme Court affirmed the right for all women to make their own reproductive health-care decisions. Back then, abortion wasn't something that was being discussed on television. But, of course, millions of women, and men, and families were discussing it in their own homes. So, we wrote some episodes that included Maude's discovery that, at age 47, after her daughter was grown, she found herself pregnant. We explored her conversations with friends and family about that pregnancy, and her ultimate decision with her husband to end that pregnancy. To no one's surprise, the world continued to turn on its axis.

As with our character, Maude Findlay, the majority of women who have an abortion today are already mothers, and don't make the decision lightly. At that time, a woman's ability to make the decision to create or expand her family was dependent on the state she lived in and how much money was in her bank account.

I never would have thought that, more than 40 years later, we would still be waging these same fights over women's reproductive rights that we were facing in the 1970s.

Yet, in June, the Supreme Court will decide the most consequential abortion case in decades involving a Texas law that could force the closure of abortion clinics in the state.

As America celebrates Women's History Month this March, we recognize the incredible strides our country has been able to make because of the hard work, creativity and resolve of American women. Our country is stronger when all Americans are empowered to make their own decisions about their health, their bodies and whether to start and grow their families.

It is unfortunate that, in this heated political season, we are still debating whether women have the right to make decisions about their own bodies. Seven in 10 Americans support a woman's right to an abortion. Congress and state legislatures should be following the will of the people and get out of the way.

Instead, states from Texas to Mississippi to Ohio are leaving millions of women without access to health-care clinics that provide the reproductive healthcare services they deserve. Women – particularly poor women, women of color, and those living in red states – are losing access to their constitutional right to abortion at a frightening pace.

The very same politicians who are closing clinics in the name of protecting women and families are actively harming them by cutting off funding for preventative health care, cancer screenings and HIV prevention as part of an ideological war against abortion. Putting up barriers to accessing health care is not the way to support and empower women in this country.

But really, this is not about abortion for the anti-choice movement. Cutting off access to health care is one tool in their playbook that pushes a worldview where women are kept out of positions of power.

We know that one in three women in the United States will have an abortion in their lifetime. Most women who choose to have an abortion are in their twenties — the same decade in which their careers are just starting to take off. By depriving a woman of her right to an abortion, we're boxing her into a world where she cannot choose her own destiny, take advantage of the career opportunities she wants, or simply live the life that's best for her and her family.

f we trust women to run businesses, fight for our country, raise children, and hold the highest political offices (and we all should), we need to also trust that they are capable of making their own decisions about what is best for their own body, family and future. When the anti-choice movement doesn't trust women to make these personal decisions, we can only assume they don't trust women to lead either.

I am proud to stand with NARAL Pro-Choice America and call myself a "Man for Choice" because I believe it is time for men to stop pretending that we know better what women's health-care needs are. Women have proven that they are up to any task set before them and are more than capable of deciding their own futures. We can't afford to wait another 40 years before politicians figure this out.

This post originally appeared on CNBC.

PFAW

The Year Bryan Fischer Became 'Mainstream'

Back in 2011, when Mitt Romney was in the starting months of his presidential campaign, he accepted an invitation to speak at the Values Voter Summit, an annual event organized by the Family Research Council. The VVS always attracts an assortment of far-right activists, but that year Romney was scheduled to speak directly before Bryan Fischer, an inflamatory American Family Association official and radio host who had viciously insulted everyone from LGBT people to women to Muslims to Native Americans to medal of honor recipients to Romney’s fellow Mormons.

After facing a public outcry for choosing to appear beside Fischer, Romney called out Fischer in his speech — albeit not by name — decrying the “poisonous language” of “one of the speakers who will follow me today.”

After that year, Fischer was nowhere to be found at the Values Voter Summit, although his employer, the American Family Association, continued to cosponsor the event.

Then, in January of last year, Fischer was, for a moment, edged further out of the conservative mainstream. When a group of 60 members of the Republican National Committee embarked on a trip to Israel organized by Christian-nation advocate David Lane and paid for by the AFA, the RNC was forced to answer why it was sending members on a junket financed by a group whose spokesman was one of the most vitriolic voices of hate in the country — and one who said the First Amendment applies only to Christians. Facing a diplomatic incident with the GOP, the AFA finally stripped Fischer of his title with the organization, although he kept his daily radio program with its affiliate, American Family Radio.

But that was then and this is now.

Earlier this month, we reported that Fischer was scheduled to join Sen. Ted Cruz at a campaign rally in Mississippi. The event was eventually canceled: not because of Fischer’s extremism but because Cruz was reportedly ill .

And, although Fischer remains one of the most hateful voices on the Right, he is hardly any more controversial than many of the figures with whom the leading Republican candidates have surrounded themselves in 2016 — or even, in some cases, the candidates themselves. As soon as the GOP began to ostracize Bryan Fischer, it was taken over by Bryan Fischer’s ideology.

Fischer himself pointed this out on his radio program last week as he prepared to discuss a column in which he reiterated his long-held views that Muslims immigrants should be barred from the U.S., American Muslims should be shut out of the U.S. military and state governments should ban the construction of mosques. Things that he’s been saying for years, he said, that were once perceived as “outlandish” and “off-the-charts lunacy,” have now “become virtually mainstream.”

He’s right. In fact, when we began to look through some of Fischer’s most controversial statements — which are bad enough that he was publicly rejected by the 2012 Republican nominee — we found that they weren’t too different from things that Republican presidential frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz say every day.

Although Fischer has campaigned for Cruz and openly despises Trump, his ideology and rhetoric is echoed by both campaigns. (Although, thankfully, neither candidate has called for stoning whales … at least not yet.)

On Muslim immigration...

Fischer: ‘Stop Muslim immigration into the United States’

Fischer was far ahead of the trend when it came to anti-Muslim bigotry,calling as early as 2010 for the U.S. to block all Muslim immigration, “repatriate” Muslims who are already here, ban American Muslims from serving in the U.S. military, and impose a policy of “no more mosques, period.” Fischer repeated these demands just last week.

Trump: ‘A total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’

He was several years behind Fischer, but Trump called last year for a temporary ban on all of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims entering the United States and deporting Syrian refugees who have been resettled in America, which have since become central planks in his platform. Echoing Fischer, Trump has also said that if he were to become president, he would have “no choice” but to close some mosques and once flirted with the idea of setting up a government database to monitor all Muslims. Cruz, for his part, has called for banning the resettlement of Muslim refugees from Syria.

On religious freedom for Muslims ...

Fischer: ‘Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims’

Fischer justifies his anti-Muslim plans by claiming that the First Amendment does not apply to Muslims or any other non-Christian religion and asserts that any religious liberty rights extended to non-Christians are simply a “courtesy”:

Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.

Cruz: ‘Patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods’

When Cruz called for the U.S. to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods” in response to this week’s terrorist attacks in Belgium, it came as no surprise since he has surrounded himself with advisers who argue, like Fischer, that Muslims do not deserve the same civil rights and civil liberties as other Americans.

One Cruz adviser, the Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin, has explicitly said that “Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections.” In an interview with Fischer, Boykin called for “no mosques in America.”

Trump, for his part, has repeatedly called for government profiling of Muslims.

On Mormonism and Mitt Romney ...

Fischer: ‘I’m more Mormon’ than Mitt Romney

Fischer has never been a fan of the Mormon faith, insisting that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to Mormons and warning that a Mormon president like Romney would threaten the nation’s “spiritual health.” However, when Fischer deemed Romney to not be anti-gay enough, he declared that he himself was “more Mormon” than the candidate.

At one point, Fischer clarified that he had “love” for Mormons and just wanted them “to come into the full light of the truth” and abandon their faith.

Trump: ‘Are you sure he’s a Mormon?’

Although Trump may “love the Mormons,” he has been out on the campaign trail with Robert Jeffress , an extremist pastor who says that Mormonism and Islam are demonic faiths “from the pit of hell” (and that the Roman Catholic Church was created by Satan). It was in a radio interview with Fischer at the 2011 Values Voter Summit that Jeffress, who was stumping for Rick Perry, declared that Romney is not a “true” Christian because Mormonism is a “cult.”

Like Fischer, Trump has questioned Romney’s faith after Romney criticized him, asking a crowd in Utah: “Are you sure he’s a Mormon?”

On LGBT rights ...

Fischer: ‘Rainbow jihadists’ on the Supreme Court ‘blasted the twin pillars of truth and righteousness into rubble.’

Fischer reacted with predictable reason and restraint to the Supreme Court’s landmark Obergefell marriage equality ruling, comparing it to 9/11, Pearl Harbor and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and referring to the justices in the majority as “rainbow jihadists.”

Cruz: The gay community is waging ‘jihad’ against religious freedom

In this case, Fischer may have picked up a turn of phrase from Cruz, who several weeks before the Obergefell ruling accused LGBT rights activists of waging “jihad” against the religious freedom of Christians.

On the role of women ...

Fischer: God ‘designed’ women to be good secretaries

Fischer explained back in 2014 that he wouldn't consider male applicants for receptionist and secretary positions at his church because God “designed” women “to be warm, to be hospitable, to be open-hearted, to be open-handed, to have their arms open, to be welcoming, to be receptive, to create a nurturing, welcoming environment.”

Trump: ‘It really doesn't matter what they write, as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass’

Trump may have a different view of women in the workplace than Fischer, but it isn’t any more enlightened.

On science ...

Fischer: ‘Liberals are absolutely anti-science when it comes climatology and global warming’

Fischer contends that when it comes to climate change, it’s the scientists who are “absolutely anti-science,” citing God’s promise to Noah in the Bible that he would never again destroy the earth with floods. He also believes that the theory of evolution is “completely irrational and scientifically bankrupt ”and argues that people who believe in evolution should be “disqualified from holding public office.” Fischer has filled the vacuum left by actual science with some of his own creative theories, such as that dinosaurs were actually giant, 1,000-year-old lizards.

Cruz: ‘Climate change is not science, it’s religion’

Cruz similarly thinks that it’s climate scientists who are being illogical, telling Glenn Beck last year that “climate change is not science, it's religion.” Trump is also “not a big believer” in climate change, which he has dismissed as “bad weather” and a Chinese fabrication designed to destroy the U.S. economy.

While Cruz has deflected questions about evolution, his father and campaign surrogate, Rafael Cruz, has called the theory “baloney” and suggested that it was a communist plot to “destroy the concept of God.”

On the military ...

Fischer: We’ve ‘feminized’ the medal of honor by giving it to service members who haven’t killed people

In 2010, Fischer reacted to the awarding of the medal of honor to an Army sergeant who had rescued two of his fellow soldiers in battle by lamenting that we have “feminized” the military honor by awarding it “for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them."

Trump: ‘I like people who weren’t captured’

Trump, who, like Fischer, has never served in the military, made headlines last summer when he attacked Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for his time as a prisoner of war, saying, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Ted Cruz Extends Anti-Gay Endorsement Bonanza With Religious Right Intellectual Leader Robert George

As we have noted repeatedly, Ted Cruz has enthusiastically welcomed the endorsements of and associated with a lot of extreme anti-gay activists, including the kind who scream from the stage that gay people should be executed. But not all anti-gay activists are of the ranting sort; some are prominent lawyers who draft legislation and devise legal strategies for restricting equality. Today, Cruz trumpeted the endorsement of the most prominent of these “respectable” anti-gay activists, Robert George.

George operates from Princeton University, where he teaches law and directs the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He is a prime mover behind the effort to brand opposition to abortion and LGBT equality as religious liberty questions. He is a very busy man. In fact, it seems as if there are few anti-equality efforts that don’t bear his fingerprints in some way.

It goes on and on. According to his bio at the Witherspoon Institute, where he is a senior fellow:

Professor George serves on the boards of directors of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and the Center for Individual Rights. 

George’s dual role at the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation were noted during the controversy over the infamous Regnerus study, which has been widely discredited but it still cited by anti-equality advocates as “evidence” that gay people and couples should not be allowed to adopt or be parents. Witherspoon sponsored the research to the tune of nearly $700,000 and Bradley kicked in $90,000.

George’s influence extends beyond his own work. A former student and George protégé, the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, has become a leading voice in opposition to marriage equality; they co-authored with Sherif Gergis the book “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.”

The Cruz campaign released a gushing endorsement from George, who says that Cruz was one of his most brilliant students and is among “the most principled and dedicated public servants” he knows. George’s endorsement of Cruz will come as no surprise to anyone who saw the mutual admiration society that passed for George’s interview of Cruz for EWTN last November. The two commiserated about the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, which George called “another tragic mistake in imposing same-sex marriage on the entire country.”

George recently joined other conservative Catholics in denouncing Donald Trump, who they said degrades our politics and culture and threatens their ability to use the Republican Party to promote Catholic social doctrine. Notably, George did not endorse Cruz until after Marco Rubio suspended his campaign. Rubio’s faith outreach director, Eric Teetsel, was formerly executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, and George is included in the acknowledgments section of Teetsel’s own book on (one man, one woman) marriage. 

Boykin's Defense of 'Religious Freedom' Includes Violent Anti-Trans Rhetoric

On Saturday retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, addressed the Awakening conference, an annual event sponsored by Liberty Counsel and the Freedom Federation. Boykin, known for his anti-Muslim and anti-gay rhetoric, dedicated his remarks in the plenary session to denouncing Bernie Sanders supporters for wanting free things, and to calling on Christians to do more to stand up for religious freedom and against LGBT equality.

Boykin quoted socialist Norman Thomas saying in 1927, “America will never vote for socialism, but under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program.” Boykin asked, “Is that where we are today?” He declared that support for Sanders is “an indication of the sad state of affairs in this country.”

I am absolutely, incredibly amazed at the number of young people, particularly young people, that are flocking to Bernie Sanders. My generation never would have believed we would have taken a socialist seriously. And here we have tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people, flocking to Bernie Sanders, and when you pin ‘em down and say, ‘What is it about Bernie Sanders that you really like? it comes back to one thing. Oh, they’ll give you the pablum – ‘I like his policies, I like this and I like that.’ But listen to them very carefully they’ll eventually tell you it’s because he’s going to give them something for nothing. He’s going to give them something that’s free.

Boykin warned that American Christians are not fighting hard enough against what the Religious Right claims are efforts to narrow the concept of freedom of religion that the Founding Fathers placed in the First Amendment down into a more restrictive freedom of worship:

Folks, if you accept the concept of freedom of worship you are going down a dangerous path. They didn’t just give us freedom of worship, they gave us freedom of religion. What they said was you can believe what you want to believe, and you can live your faith. Today, that constitutional freedom is in the greatest jeopardy of any of our constitutional liberties. It is the freedom of religion and it is based on a radical agenda to tell you that you can believe what you want to believe but you cannot live your faith in the public square…

Boykin quoted Eric Metaxas, biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor who was killed for his resistance to German Nazis, telling him that “if America accepts what Hitler forced the church in Germany to accept, which was freedom to worship, we’re going to wind up being just like Germany.” Added Boykin, “We’re in the same situation today. We’re being told that we can have freedom of worship but we cannot have freedom of religion and we’re going to have to pay a price … We’ve got to stand up to evil.”

As is customary at Religious Right events, Boykin and other speakers blamed the church for not doing enough to resist evil and stand up to the LGBT rights movement. Boykin praised Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver for his defense of Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis, who refused to process marriage licenses for same-sex couples after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. And he took now-familiar Religious Right rhetoric targeting transgender people over their use of bathrooms to an ugly new low:

Where is the Christian world today? Where are the Christians of America today? They should be flocking to people like Kim Davis. They should be flocking to the city council and say, ‘No, you’re not going to let a man go in my daughter’s bathroom just because he feels like a man today.’ Where are the Christians that are standing up to this kind of evil?

And I’ve already said, and somebody’ll be recording this and this’ll be on YouTube before it’s all over with. But I will tell you what, the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain’t going to have to worry about surgery. That’s not right. That is not right. It’s not right. It’s ungodly. But it’s also just unnatural. This is crazy. Where are the Christians that are standing up?

 

Discriminatory "Religious Freedom" Bill is Bad for Our State

This piece originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

I am one who believes that we must be vigilant about protecting true religious liberty, which has been a guiding principle throughout our country's history. As the First Amendment makes clear, all people have a right to practice, or not to practice, any religion they choose. Laws that truly protect individuals' exercise of religion prevent the government from infringing on our rights.

But the state legislature is considering a bill (HB 757) that, though framed in the language of protecting First Amendment religious freedom, at its core is about one thing: discrimination. HB 757 was recently amended and passed by the state Senate and is now being considered by the House. As Americans United explains it, the bill would allow "any individual or 'faith-based' business, non-profit entity, or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage." In other words, businesses and organizations could cite religion in order to refuse service to certain groups of people.

This bill could lead to any number of nightmare situations. Restaurant owners who refuse to serve same-sex or interracial couples. Domestic violence shelters that turn away unmarried mothers and their children. Adoption agencies that refuse to place a child with parents of different faiths.

It's not the first time Georgia has considered passing a "right to discriminate" bill. Why are our state representatives wasting time, again and again, pushing legislation that would harm Georgians and threaten to drive businesses out of the state? The bill's sponsor even admitted last week that the legislation could protect the Ku Klux Klan as a "faith-based" organization. This bill is too extreme for Georgia, plain and simple. 

While the new title of part II of HB 757, "the First Amendment Defense Act of Georgia," may sound like it's about true religious protection, the bill is actually a cynical attempt to turn the idea of religious liberty into a sword to attack other people's rights, rather than to truly shield their own religious practices from improper government interference. That's not what religious liberty is about. Moreover, using religion as a tool to harm others is an idea that a strong majority of Georgians reject. According to new data from the Public Religion Research Institute, 57 percent of Georgians oppose allowing small businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds.

Many faiths, including my own, teach that we should fight for the oppressed. Disguising a push for a "right to discriminate" under the mantle of First Amendment religious freedom is an insult to those moral principles. It's an insult to people of faith who take seriously the call to walk with, and fight for, the most vulnerable among us. 

As a Baptist pastor and as a Georgian, I urge our legislators to do the right thing by rejecting HB 757. On the senate floor, Sen. Nan Orrock said, "Be able to tell your grandchildren that you didn't vote for state-sanctioned discrimination." To that, I say: Amen.

Rev. Timothy McDonald III is Senior Pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta and Co-Chair of People For the American Way's African American Ministers In Action.

PFAW Foundation

Meet A Law Professor Conservatives Turn To On Marriage, Immigration And The SCOTUS Blockade

Among the right-wing figures encouraging Republican senators to block any nominee President Obama might make to the U.S. Supreme Court last week was law professor John Eastman, who right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt calls “perhaps the most revered center-right specialist in America.” If that’s true, it may be because Eastman puts himself out there on so many issues that rile today’s far-right. He chairs the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage and he is also one of the leading voices in opposition to birthright citizenship. His advocacy pretty much covers the right wing’s public policy wish list.

On Hewitt’s radio show on February 15, Eastman called Scalia’s death a “devastating loss” not only for Scalia’s family “but also for our understanding of the appropriate role of the court in constitutional adjudication.”  Eastman agreed with Hewitt’s assertion that it is “well within” Republican senators’ constitutional authority “not to give a hearing or a vote to President Obama’s nominee,” saying that Republicans “ought to oppose with every bit of their power” the kind of nominee he would expect from President Obama, someone who he believes will “try and nail the lid in the coffin on advancing his radical transformative agenda.”

Eastman said Scalia’s death will put the role of the high court at the center of the presidential campaign, declaring that “there is a fundamental difference” between the political parties on a central question: “Do we live in an autocratic, unelected regime run by nine black robed individuals, or are we the people the ultimate sovereigns in this country?”

That’s the kind of rhetoric that warms the hearts of far-right leaders like Sharron Angle, the Tea Party activist who lost a challenge to Nevada Sen. Harry Reid in 2010 and whose is encouraging an effort by a couple of state legislators to draft her for a 2016 Senate bid. “The U.S. Senate should absolutely put a hold on any nomination this President sends to the hill,” Angle said last week. “We have to stop the damage to the Constitution now!”  Angle went even further, declaring that Eastman would make the “perfect” Supreme Court justice.

If he ever did make it onto the court, Eastman would manage the remarkable feat of being to the right of the late Justice Scalia. Like Chief Justice John Roberts, Scalia opposed the Supreme Court’s infamous 1905 Lochner decision, which ushered in an era in which the court routinely rejected economic regulations, like a state limiting the hours employees could be required to work, and exhibited hostility to union activity. On Hewitt’s show, Eastman recalled Scalia turning a speaking invitation into a forum on Lochner, on which Scalia disagreed with Eastman, who is part of a pro-Lochner movement in right-wing legal circles.  Eastman also takes a fringe position, one held on the current Supreme Court only by Justice Clarence Thomas, that the First Amendment’s ban on the establishment of religion cannot be properly applied to the states.

Eastman is a professor  at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law in California and is the founding director of Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, affiliated with the conservative Claremont Institute. He stepped down as dean of the law school to run for California attorney general in 2010. National right-wing leaders, including Ed Meese, Ed Whelan, Bill Bennett, Michele Bachmann and others backed his bid, but he failed to win the nomination.  Eastman, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and 4th Circuit Appeals Court Judge Michael Luttig, worked at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during the Reagan administration. In 1990 he was the GOP nominee for Congress from the 34th District in California.

A few highlights (or lowlights) from Eastman’s activism and rhetoric:

Role of the Courts

Eastman, who chairs the National Organization for Marriage, appeared at a July 2015 Senate hearing convened by Ted Cruz after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, which Cruz called “the very definition of tyranny.”

Eastman agreed with Cruz’s call for Supreme Court justices to be subjected to judicial retention elections and term limits, and added his own proposals to keep the court in check. He said a simple majority of states should be allowed to override “egregiously wrong” Supreme Court decisions, and that Congress should be able to veto Supreme Court rulings by a two-thirds majority in both houses.  He also suggested that Congress should impeach judges whose rulings it considers unconstitutional.  And he interpreted Scalia’s dissent in the marriage case to be “an invitation to executive officials throughout the land to refuse to give their ‘aid’ to the ‘efficacy of the’ Court’s judgment in the case.”

I truly hope this Committee will give serious thought to these proposals, advancing them with your approval, first to the full Senate, then to the other House, and then ultimately to the people for consideration and hopefully ratification. But I encourage you to do that soon, as I sense in the land a strong feeling that our fellow citizens are about out of patience with the “long train of abuses and usurpations” that have emanated from an unchecked judiciary. They have demonstrated for a very long time now that they, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, have been “more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms [of government] to which they are accustomed.” We should not expect that the patience of our fellow citizens will last forever. Let us now, therefore, in good faith, advance solid proposals to restore and expand checks and balances on the judiciary before that patience runs out.

Marriage and LGBT Equality

In 2000, Eastman called homosexuality an indicator of “barbarism.” He called the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence decision, which overturned laws criminalizing consensual gay sex, a “despotic” decision.

Given his position at the National Organization for Marriage, which he has chaired since 2011, it is not surprising that Eastman’s rhetoric in opposition to marriage equality has been consistently hostile. When he took the position, he told the conservative National Catholic Register, “Evil will be with us always, and it requires constant vigilance to defeat.”

At the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, Eastman attacked the Ninth Circuit decision overturning California’s Proposition 8 and warned that legalizing marriage for same-sex couple would hurt children and have “catastrophic consequences for civil society.” He said marriage equality “would destroy the institution that has been the bedrock of civil society since time immemorial.”

At the June 2014 March for Marriage in Washington, organized by NOM, Eastman said that Justice Scalia’s dissent from the court’s 2013 decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act was “a call to arms.” “Let the justices know that we will not tolerate them redefining marriage!”  he said. “The good of society and the wellbeing of our children depend on it!”

In 2014, after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a federal court ruling that made legalized marriage for same-sex couples in North Carolina, Eastman told North Carolina legislative leaders to defend the state’s marriage ban anyway — even though Attorney General Roy Cooper had said it would be a waste of taxpayer money. The Charlotte Observer later reported that the Claremont Institute, where Eastman serves as the director for the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, had billed North Carolina $78,200 for its work defending the law, a price that it said included a “public interest” discount.

In an April 2015 podcast for the Constitution Center following oral argument in Obergefell, Eastman said it was “perfectly legitimate” to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples due to their “unique procreative ability.”  He denounced the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling as “not only wrong, but illegitimate,” going so far as to encourage anti-equality groups in Alabama to resist the decision. 

In 2015, commenting immediately after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling for a Federalist Society podcast, Eastman called it “surreal beyond belief” to believe the people who ratified the 14th Amendment would believe that it mandated “the redefinition of a core social institution that is both religiously and biologically grounded.”

Eastman has praised Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis, who tried to stop her county office from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying  “She confronted what I call a Thomas More moment, and she’s demonstrated her saintliness in how she’s responded to this.”

Outside of marriage equality, Eastman has said that a ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s decision to treat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as a form of sex discrimination was an example of the “utter lawlessness” of the way “these agendas are being pushed through.”  Last July Eastman said that some gay rights activists “in their candid moments … have admitted that they want to destroy the church, and they want to destroy the family…”

A few months ago, Eastman reacted to Hillary Clinton’s address to the Human Rights Campaign in a radio interview in which he denounced the LGBT equality movement as “fascist” and claimed that it was promoting pedophilia:

This is not about anti-discrimination laws any more. This is about forcing people to bend the knee to an agenda to say things that are inherently immoral are in fact normal and moral … It’s a very fascist movement that forces a viewpoint on other people that disagree ... We’re finding challenges to age of consent rules because a good portion of this movement seeks to remove age of consent so they can have sex with teenage boys.

He claimed that the LGBT movement’s actual goal was not to achieve the right to marry but to destroy the institution of marriage, because the family is a bulwark against unlimited and omnipotent government.

Support for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act

In 2015, Eastman gave a speech at the Family Research Council defending Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Act and saying he hoped the law — rejected by the country’s Supreme Court over a procedural issue — would come back “in short order.”

He cited as justification for the law President Mouseveni’s claims that “western groups” were trying to use the schools to recruit children into homosexuality.  Eastman said that the law’s provision for lifetime in prison was only for “aggravated homosexuality,” which he defined as “homosexual acts” by someone with HIV/AIDS or “homosexual acts with minors.” In reality, the law’s definition of “aggravated homosexuality” also included serial offenders. As he noted, the law included prison terms for someone who “counsels” a person into homosexuality, a provision that seemingly did not bother Eastman. The law would even have imposed a prison term of up to seven years for attempting “to commit the offence of homosexuality.” Eastman denounced American opposition to the bill as “cultural imperialism.”

Eastman also joined Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater as a speaker at a “National Family Conference” in Nairobi in 2015; the conference was sponsored by Kenya Christian Professionals Forum, a group that not only supports the country’s law criminalizing homosexual sexual activity, but fought to prevent LGBT groups from even being allowed to legally register as advocacy organizations.

Immigration as Invasion

Eastman has also become one of the most visible advocates for eliminating the 14th Amendment’s protection of birthright citizenship. Actually, Eastman believes there’s no need to change the Constitution or law in order to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants, just a court decision to correct what he thinks is an erroneous interpretation of the 14th Amendment.

In December 2014, Eastman testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which he said violated the Constitution. Eastman rejects the idea that the administration’s actions reflect an exercise of prosecutorial discretion.  Obama, he said, “has taken it upon himself to drastically re-write our immigration policy, the terms of which, by constitutional design, are expressly set by the Congress.” 

Eastman has been at this for a long time. He testified before a House subcommittee in 2005 in favor of reconsidering birthright citizenship in the wake of 9/11, and he published a paper for the Heritage Foundation in 2006 urging Congress to assert its authority and make clear that children born to people who are not in the country legally are not considered citizens.

In a 2006 Federalist Society exchange, he said:

Our current non-enforcement policy has fostered "outlaw" communities of non-citizens amongst our midst, who not only work illegally, but who are bankrupting our social services systems and who, tragically, are preyed upon by trans-border thugs well aware that their victims will not report crimes for fear of deportation. This is no way to treat fellow human beings. Why should we expect that the new spate of amnesty proposals, whether denominated "guest worker" plans or something else, will not also continue the incentive for illegal immigration that the 1986 Act provided?

In that same Federalist Society Q&A, he noted that the Constitution requires the president to protect the country against invasion, adding, “We have been invaded by more than 10 million people, and it is the president's duty, not just right, to defend against that invasion.” He also challenged the notion of dual citizenship, calling it “self-contradictory” and saying “it has no place in our existing law.”

In 2011, he co-authored an article for a Federalist Society publication defending Arizona’s infamous anti-immigrant bill SB 1070, writing that “Arizona was well within its rights to adopt SB 1070. Indeed, given the border lawlessness that Arizonans are facing, it is not a stretch to argue that the Arizona government may well have been duty-bound to take some such action.”

Church-State

Eastman is critical of more than a half century’s jurisprudence on church-state issues. He says that under the modern view of church-state separation “we completely destroy the foundation for our entire constitutional system.” He has argued that a state taxing people to support an official church, as some states did early in the nation’s history, was not all that coercive and, as we noted earlier, he believes it is wrong to interpret the 14th Amendment as applying the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the states.

Eastman champions an expansive reading of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in line with the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling and backs the passage of additional state RFRAs and religious exemptions. He has joined Religious Right leaders in portraying Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis as a heroine for refusing to marry same-sex couples.

Anti-Union

Eastman, not surprisingly, supports right-wing attacks on unions. In a July 2015 blog post, Eastman argued that it is “time to drive a stake through the heart of mandatory dues.” Eastman noted that Justice Samuel Alito, writing in an earlier decision, essentially invited the kind of lawsuit that the Court has agreed to hear this term in the Friedrichs case, which conservatives hope the Supreme Court will use to dramatically weaken the power of public employee unions.

Constitutional Limits on Spending

Eastman has also argued that the country’s view of the Constitution’s Spending Clause has been wrong ever since the Supreme Court’s 1936 decision in United States v. Butler. He believes Congress does not have the constitutional authority to make appropriations for “internal improvements,” citing, among other things, President James Buchanan’s veto of a bill that would have granted public lands to states for the establishment of agricultural colleges.

In 2014 he joined the advisory council of the Compact for America, a group whose goal is to have the states propose and ratify a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution through an “Article V” convention. Under the proposal, Congress could only increase the debt limit with the approval of a majority of the state legislatures; any new sales or income taxes would require two-thirds approval of both houses of Congress.

Reproductive Rights

At a Federalist Society debate, Eastman referred to Roe v. Wade as one of the Supreme Court’s “grievous mistakes” — like its affirmation of the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality — to which he would not give deference.  At a Federalist Society panel from 2014 on the ACA’s contraception mandate, he argued that there is basically no distinction between individuals and the corporate structure when it comes to freedom of conscience, a view adopted by the Court majority in Hobby Lobby, which has opened a door to corporations claiming exemptions from generally applicable laws based on the religious beliefs of company owners, such as complying with the requirement that insurance provided for employees include coverage for contraception.  

 

Cruz: 'Disastrous' Marriage Equality Ruling Led To 'Persecution' That's 'Unprecedented'

In an interview yesterday with conservative Christian broadcaster Janet Mefferd, Sen. Ted Cruz once again touted his support from anti-gay leaders including the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and the National Organization for Marriage, saying that anti-gay conservatives support him because he knows that the Supreme Court’s “disastrous” and “fundamentally illegitimate” marriage equality decision has led to “unprecedented” persecution.

Cruz told Mefferd that “we are seeing an assault on religious liberty from Washington that is unprecedented,” citing a number of his favorite cases of people supposedly being persecuted by running afoul of state or local nondiscrimination policies, almost none of which have stemmed from the federal government.

Claiming that “these threats are growing and growing,” Cruz said that “much of this persecution is the fruit of the Supreme Court’s disastrous gay marriage ruling last year” — never mind that every single one of the incidents he referenced happened before the ruling and were in no way connected to it.

Cruz declared that it was “very sad” that some of his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination called the Obergefell ruling “settled law,” which is, he said, why anti-gay leaders have flocked to endorse him.

“I believe that decision was fundamentally illegitimate, it was lawless, it was unconstitutional and it will not stand,” he said. “And I would note, that is precisely why Dr. James Dobson has endorsed me in this campaign, it is why Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has endorsed me in this campaign, it’s why the National Organization on Marriage [sic] has endorsed me on this campaign and has said it cannot support Donald Trump or Marco Rubio because if we’re not willing to defend marriage, we are giving up the foundational building blocks of the family, we’re giving up the Judeo-Christian values that built this great nation.”

Ted Cruz Announces Endorsement From Jerry Boykin, Anti-Muslim, Anti-Gay Conspiracy Theorist

Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign announced the support of yet another far-right figure today, issuing a press release touting the endorsement of Lt. General Jerry Boykin, the executive vice president of the Family Research Council.

Boykin first gained notoriety when he was publicly rebuked by the Bush administration for giving speeches framing American military conflicts in the Middle East as a religious conflict between “our God” and Satan. After retiring from the Army, Boykin threw himself into Religious Right activism, eventually landing the number-two post at the Family Research Council. (Boykin's boss, anti-gay extremist Tony Perkins, is also a Cruz endorser.)

Boykin’s career in the military came under further scrutiny last year when the Intercept reported that Boykin — who now frequently accuses the Obama administration of persecuting Christians at home and abroad — created a Pentagon program that used unwitting missionaries as spies.

His career as an activist has featured plenty of the same Holy War rhetoric for which he first became known, combined with conspiracy theories about President Obama as a terrorist sympathizer and a vision of Jesus as a “man’s man” who will return carrying an AR-15. He is deeply involved in both anti-Muslim activism and the fringe “dominionist” movement that seeks conservative Christian control over the U.S. government.

Just a few lowlights of Boykin’s career:

  • Thinks Christians should act more like ISIS and be “willing to die” for their God.

  • Blamed Obama and his supporters for the shooting at an Oregon community college, adding that we here at Right Wing Watch use “the exact same tactics” as ISIS and Al Qaeda to encourage attacks on Christians.

  • Suggested that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to the “absolute destruction” of our military.
  • Said that “God’s army” must fight the “evil” of gay rights.

Ben Carson: Ask Trump His Views On Marriage And 'Abnormal Relationships'

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said on Friday that GOP frontrunner Donald Trump could prove his conservatism by answering questions like, “What are your feelings on marriage?” and, “What constitutes a normal relationships or is an abnormal relationship?”

Carson has previously referred to LGBT people as “a few people who perhaps are abnormal.”

Newsmax TV host Steve Malzberg asked Carson on Friday if he was “concerned about Donald Trump’s lack of a conservative record.”

“I think maybe people put too much emphasis on labels,” Carson responded, adding that interviewers should instead “delve deeply into what he believes.”

“Why not examine him?” Carson said. “Say, ‘What is your feeling about life? When does life begin? What are your feelings about marriage? What constitutes a normal relationships or is an abnormal relationship?’ You know, question him on these things and see what he says.”

When Malzberg asked him if he thought Trump skipped last week’s Fox News presidential debate in order to avoid such questions, Carson responded, “I don’t know. I don’t think it’s because he was afraid of Megyn Kelly.”

Jennifer Roback Morse: Leaving 'The Gay Lifestyle' Takes More Courage Than Coming Out

Jennifer Roback Morse, the head of the Ruth Institute, an organization formerly affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage, was not pleased that President Obama discussed gay rights in his State of the Union address last week, saying that while Obama talked about the courage it takes for a young person to come out to his or her parents, that “does not require as much courage” as choosing to “walk away from the gay lifestyle.”

Obama “talked about the courage required for a young guy to come out to his parents,” she said in an interview with the “Issues, Etc.” podcast on Thursday, “completely omitting the fact that right now coming out does not require as much courage as is required by a person who says, ‘You know, I feel same-sex attraction, but what I want to do is not act on it, what I want to do is live up to my church’s teachings, what I want to do is walk away from the gay lifestyle that I’ve been living, that’s what I want to do.’ Now, that person, that takes a lot of courage to talk like that in today’s world, but Obama didn’t mention any of those people.”

The president’s mention of parents changing their previous beliefs to embrace gay children, she added, was “tacitly putting every adult in America, every Christian in America, every Lutheran, every serious Jewish person, at war between their religious beliefs and their love for their children.”

“Well, our religion teaches that if you love somebody, you have to live in the truth with respect to them and you have to help present them the truth,” she said. “You aren’t doing anybody any favors by accommodating their desires even if their desires are not necessarily good for them.”

Morse was also outraged that the president invited Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that struck down same-sex marriage bans nationwide last year, to the State of the Union. Morse appeared to be unfamiliar with Obergefell’s story — he and his partner of 20 years got married in a plane on an airport tarmac in Maryland shortly before his partner died of ALS — suggesting that Obergefell’s marriage wouldn’t last.

“Well, he’s trying to say, obviously he’s trying to treat Obergefell as a hero, as a Rosa Parks type figure or something like that,” she said of the president. “I would have been more impressed if he could have invited the Goodridges [the plaintiffs in the landmark 2003 Massachusetts marriage equality ruling] … but the Goodridges are no longer married to one another. So it will be interesting to see if Mr. Obergefell remains married to his true love there for whom we redefined marriage for the entire country.”

Five GOP Candidates To Join Pastor Who Says AIDS Is God's Punishment For Gay People

In yet another example of what the Religious Right’s recent focus on “religious liberty” is really about, five Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak this weekend at a “religious freedom” event hosted by a conservative pastor who has repeatedly declared that AIDS is God’s punishment for gay people’s “immoral act” and has called for a “class action lawsuit” against homosexuality.

Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee are scheduled to join a “Free to Believe Broadcast” on Saturday, hosted by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, two of the most outspoken anti-gay activists in the country.

Both, even while attempting to curtail the rights of LGBT people, have claimed that it is their rights that are being violated by the LGBT movement: Perkins has said that the supposed persecution of anti-gay Christians in America is inspiring ISIS, and Scarborough has declared that he is ready to burn to death in the fight against gay marriage.

But neither Scarborough nor Perkins has ever been particularly interested in a “live and let live” truce with LGBT people.

Scarborough has declared that AIDS, “a homosexual disease,” is God’s “judgment as a result of an immoral act.” Just last year, he repeated his belief that AIDS is “God’s judgment on a sinful generation, adding that “God would probably give us the cure for AIDS today” if the U.S. stopped supporting gay rights:

He also said last year that marriage equality is part of Satan’s effort to “destroy this country,” warning that gay parents will lead their children “into an early grave called hell”:

Scarborough is so concerned about gay people that back in 2013 he brought up the idea of issuing a “class action lawsuit” against homosexuality, much like actions taken against the tobacco industry:

In 2014, Scarborough agreed with Islamic fundamentalists who call America the “Great Satan,” saying that God would be perfectly justified in sending a nuclear bomb to destroy the country because of such sins as President Obama’s appointments of a handful of gay ambassadors:

And that’s just Scarborough. Perkins has a vile anti-gay record of his own, which Brian summarized last month.

Also appearing at the event will be Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who has warned that gay people seek to “groom” and “entrap” children, and David and Jason Benham, brothers who became Religious Right martyrs when they lost a TV show they were set to star in after their anti-gay activism came to light.

Cruz might not mind appearing with an activist who has said that God is punishing gay people with AIDS — after all, he has praised Scarborough before and has David Barton, an activist who has said similar things, leading a super PAC in support of his candidacy. Cruz and Huckabee similarly showed their willingness to cozy up to the most radical people in the anti-gay movement when they appeared last year at a conference hosted by Kevin Swanson, who spent much of the event expounding on what he interprets as the Bible’s call for the death penalty for gay people.

But if any of the other candidates have an ounce more shame, they might want to think twice about appearing at Saturday’s event.

Tony Perkins: 'Blood On Our Streets' Because Of Gay Marriage, Family 'Confusion'

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins delivered his second annual “State of the Family Address” at his organization’s offices yesterday, a pompous affair to which he invited various supposed victims of American anti-Christian persecution, like Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, and his fellow Religious Right leaders.

Perkins, the self-appointed president of American families, faulted President Obama for talking about the importance of fatherhood while simultaneously supporting same-sex marriage, which he called an “incoherent, ideological campaign” that is leading to “havoc in our homes and blood in our streets.”

“The promise of strong efforts these past seven years to restore fatherhood and reestablish family life in our poorest communities has faded completely,” he said. “Instead, national policies have sown confusion about the very definition of family. President Obama has extolled the virtues of fatherhood even as he has fought for same-sex marriage, in essence saying two same-gendered person can parent as well as a mom and a dad. This contradictory message is more than disappointing. For our children throughout the country, it is devastating. It reduces mothers and fathers to genderless caregivers. Our children deserve better: They deserve a mom and a dad.”

“And we pay a price for this incoherent, ideological campaign by havoc in our homes and blood in our streets,” he added. “That’s why we have to re-empower American parents. The decision of our courts on contraception for minors, abortion on demand and redefining marriage have gravely weakened the family.”

Cruz Gets Another Anti-Gay Endorser: Linda Harvey

As Kyle pointed out a few weeks ago, people who hate gay people sure do seem to love Ted Cruz.

Today, Cruz can add another name to his long list of anti-gay endorsers: Mission America’s Linda Harvey, who as a columnist and host of a conservative radio show spreads some of the most extreme anti-gay rhetoric in the country.

Harvey announced her support for Cruz in a joint press release with a number of Ohio conservatives, including Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values and Molly Smith of Cleveland Right to Life. The release directs supporters to the website of Keep The Promise, a pro-Cruz Super PAC led by Religious Right activist David Barton, but the endorsements have not been promoted by the PAC or the Cruz campaign, at least not yet.

Perhaps Harvey thinks that Cruz will be the president she has longed for who will issue “an Emancipation Proclamation … to free America from the tyranny of sodomy.”

Harvey, who is boycotting so many pro-LGBT businesses that she complains she is running out of places to shop, has just this year:

Harvey has also advised parents not to let gay doctors or nurses treat their children, even when they’re hospitalized, and has insisted that “there is no proof that there’s ever anything like a gay, lesbian or bisexual or transgendered child, or teen or human.”

Burress and Smith also have anti-gay records that allow them to fit right in with their fellow Cruz supporters. Burress, whose Citizens for Community Values is the Ohio state affiliate of the Family Research Council, was an influential player in the passage of waves of anti-gay-marriage legislation in the 1990s and early 2000s, although his true passion is fighting against pornography. Smith, the head of Cleveland Right to Life and a leader of the fetal personhood group Personhood Alliance, has clashed with the National Right to Life Committee over her anti-gay activism.

Both Burress and Smith have fought to stop the Republican Party from becoming too friendly to gay people, attacking Ohio Sen. Rob Portman when he came out in favor of marriage equality. Burress, who called Portman “a very troubled man,” urged the senator to put his gay son into ex-gay therapy and later vowed to run a primary challenger against him.

Cruz Rallies Christian Right, Slams 'Secular Agenda' At Campaign Stop With James Dobson

At an Iowa campaign stop with influential Religious Right activist James Dobson yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz warned that people of faith have consented to “allow nonbelievers to elect our leaders,” and now a “secular agenda” bent on doing away with the Ten Commandments and stifling religious liberty is on the rise.

Cruz repeated to the audience in Winterset, Iowa, his insistence that an atheist would be unfit to be president , saying, “If you don’t begin every day on your knees asking God for His wisdom and support, I don’t believe you’re fit to do this job.”

He also repeated his assertion that Republicans lost the last two presidential elections because millions of evangelicals stayed at home. “I believe the key to winning in 2016 is very simple,” he said. “We have to bring back to the polls the millions of conservatives who stayed home, we have to awaken and energize the body of Christ.”

“You know,” he said, “we look at our federal government now, and we have a federal government that is waging a war on life, a war on marriage, a war on religious liberty. We have a federal government that is advancing a secular agenda that puts the ability of Bible-believing Christians to live our faith more and more in jeopardy and that is appeasing radical Islamic terrorism, in fact refuses even to acknowledge its name. And if you look at the federal government, you might say, ‘Why do we have government attacking life, attacking marriage, attacking faith, attacking religious liberty?’ Well, is it any wonder, when a majority of believers are staying home? If we allow nonbelievers to elect our leaders, we shouldn’t be surprised when our government doesn’t reflect our values.”

Cruz also doubled down on his criticism of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling , calling both it and the King v. Burwell ruling preserving the Affordable Care Act “fundamentally illegitimate” and “lawless.” He warned that if Hillary Clinton were to become president, the Supreme Court would “tear down our constitutional liberties fundamentally” by ruling against Ten Commandments monuments on public grounds and reversing the Heller decision, which found an individual right to bear arms. (When Cruz said that this meant “the government can make it a felony for you to own a firearm and protect your family,” an audience member yelled out, “Come and take it!”)

Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council who recently endorsed Cruz, also said he was very impressed by the candidate’s wife, Heidi Cruz, saying that “there has never in American history been a pro-life first lady” and that with her we “have a chance to get one this time.”

The Iowa conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts recorded the event. Cruz and Dobson discuss prayer about 2 minutes into the video; the “missing” evangelical vote about 6 minutes in; the Supreme court around 13 minutes in; and Heidi Cruz about 24 minutes in.

Kim Davis Predicts She Is 'Just The First Of What's Going To Be Very Many'

In an interview with the Catholic TV network EWTN earlier this month, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who spent a few nights in jail in September when she attempted to stop her office from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, warned that she was “just the first of what’s going to be very many.”

“The stand I took affects every church, every person that lives and loves God, that holds the word of God precious and dear and intimate in their lives,” Davis told EWTN’s Catherine Szeltner in an interview broadcast on December 17. “I’m just the first of what’s going to be very many. You can rest assured of that. And it’s not if it happens, it’ll be when it happens. And maybe my stand will encourage others who will be in the same position.”

Szeltner reported that Davis told her that her time in jail was a “joyful and peaceful time” and that she “knows that it is a possibility” she’ll return.

Davis was imprisoned by U.S. Marshals after defying repeated court orders to allow her government office to start issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges struck down state same-sex marriage bans. She was released when her deputies began issuing licenses . Contrary to Davis’ statements to EWTN, Obergefell does not impede the ability of churches to choose whom they will and will not marry.

Davis also recounted to Szeltner her meeting with Pope Francis, the importance of which has been a matter of public dispute between Davis’ attorneys at Liberty Counsel and Vatican officials.

Santorum: Iowa Christian Right Leader 'Settling' With Cruz Endorsement

Influential Iowa social conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats has, depending on who you ask, either the ability to propel his chosen Republican presidential candidate to a caucus victory or the ability to latch onto the winning campaign. So it was a big deal, if not surprising, when Vander Plaats endorsed Ted Cruz earlier this month, snubbing his 2008 and 2012 picks Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, respectively.

In an interview with conservative Iowa radio host Simon Conway yesterday, Santorum said that Vander Plaats, who heads the group The Family Leader, was “settling” with his pick of Cruz, citing Cruz’s efforts to allow states to ban same-sex marriage rather than controlling marriage on the federal level.

“Look, I understand it,” Santorum said. “Ted’s a fine guy and has really been a scrapper in Washington. I think what Mike and I both feel is that when it comes to the issues that are near and dear to The Family Leader, the family issues, marriage in particular, I think we need a stronger voice, a more principled voice that understands there’s a higher law there that we have to abide by and just because a state wants to do something doesn’t mean a state should be able to.”

This prompted Conway and Santorum to launch into an extended debate about the role of government in marriage, which Conway argued the government should have nothing to do with at all.

Santorum disagreed, saying that the government has a responsibility to ensure the “continuity” of culture, citing low birth rates among native Europeans — the unspoken subtext of which is that low birth rates necessitate greater immigration. “If you look at Europe … they’re decrying the fact that Europe is barren,” he said, "they’re not having children, and the people who are having children are not Europeans, or native Europeans, so you’ve got some really big problems and it’s beginning to occur in this country.”

He added that laws governing marriage also serve to “encourage people to behave the right way” when “fidelity, monogamy are not a natural thing” but “are learned behaviors.”

A Baker’s Dozen Idiocies From Rafael Cruz’s Elect-My-Son-President Book

Rafael Cruz, father of presidential candidate Ted Cruz, has become a popular figure among Religious Right activists with his unhinged rhetoric. Rafael is now out with a new book designed to help his son get elected president. Right Wing Watch published a review of "A Time for Action" of “A Time for Action” on Monday.

In the book, Rafael Cruz compares the USA to the cruise ship Costa Concordia, which crashed into rocks when the captain steered it to close to shore. “America, too, is headed straight toward a perilous reef,” writes Cruz. “If we don’t make an immediate change of course, the dream of our Founding Fathers and many conservative Americans today will perish." Here are a few highlights:

  1. The Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran will make it “quite literally, the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.”
  2. “If the left wing continues their stranglehold on public policy, the day will soon come when speaking out against gay marriage will be a punishable offense.”
  3. “Educational elites can now brainwash our students through federally mandated curriculum that extols socialism, globalism, and immorality from a secular humanist worldview.”
  4. “The time has come for pastors to again fearlessly preach toward the political landscape, just like their predecessors centuries ago. If they don’t, Satan will rule without opposition in our halls of legislation.”
  5. “Our government mandates that teachers affirm alternative, nonbiblical lifestyles, teach evolution as incontrovertible “fact,” and mock the notion that God created the heavens and earth.”
  6. “The Obama administration has intensified our progression into an age of lawlessness.”
  7. President Obama’s “version of social justice is nothing more than collectivism and creating a society dependent upon the government, as espoused by Karl Marx.”
  8. The Democratic Party platform “promotes an ungodly socialist agenda that is destroying America. And unfortunately, there are those in the Republican Party who aren’t much different.”
  9. “…the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual marriage is one of the biggest signs of our country’s moral degradation.”
  10. “In the future, questioning the sexual preferences of any prospective pastor may well become off-limits. If you do, you could be slapped with a civil rights discrimination lawsuit.”
  11. “Interestingly enough, although many people think otherwise, the concept of separation of church and state is found nowhere in either the Declaration of Independence of the Constitution or the United States of America.”
  12. America today “is tragically following the same path that Cuba did a half century ago.”
  13. “Our country stands at a precipice, and if another radical Democrat gets elected as chief executive, the future of America as we know it is in jeopardy. We cannot afford four or eight more years of the socialist policies that are destroying America at such a fast pace. If we stop fighting for God’s dream for America, the dream will die.”

Bonus from Ted Cruz’s epilogue: “If our nation’s leaders are elected by unbelievers, is it any wonder that they do not reflect our values? … If the body of Christ arises, if Christians simply show up and vote biblical values, we can restore our nation.”

Kevin Swanson: Hillary Clinton Will Lead 'Tremendous Majorities of American Kids' To Homosexuality

Far-right Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson got some negative publicity last month when he managed to get three Republican presidential candidates to speak at an event he organized, where he spent most of his speaking time warning that America must repent for such sins as birth control, liking Harry Potter too much and failing to execute gay people.

On his “Generations Radio” program yesterday, Swanson said that although he was “severely mocked” for his remarks at the conference, it is true that America must repent or God will punish the nation through the election of Hillary Clinton, who will in turn lead “tremendous majorities of American kids” down “the track towards homosexuality” and other sexual sins.

Swanson got on the subject while discussing a recent case in Massachusetts in which a judge found that a Catholic school violated a state nondiscrimination law when it pulled a job offer from its food services director after he listed his husband as an emergency contact.

Swanson warned that this was all part of the “preparation for the Greek form of education, which, as you know, involves whatever’s going on in gymnasia, very, very ugly stuff” and that the nation is going in the direction of Harry Potter’s mentor and Hiccup’s mentor in ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’” whom he says are gay.

The only way to save America, he said, is to keep enough kids out of public schools, which are teaching them to be “polytheists and socialists” and to get enough Americans to repent, otherwise God will fail to “have mercy on this nation” and allow Clinton to be elected president.

If America fails to repent, he asked, “Why wouldn’t Hillary Clinton get full rein upon this nation to continue the destructive pattern, destroy the social fabric of the nation — the family, of course — so that of course there will be 75 percent of kids born outside of wedlock to single mothers by the year 2030, so to be sure that tremendous majorities of American kids are taken down the track towards homosexuality, towards the destruction of sexuality with pornography habits, illegitimate divorce, the shack-up rates being 30 times what they were in 1970 and so forth?”

The Gay 'Jihad,' The Charleston 'Accident' And The 10 Worst Right-Wing Moments of 2015

Here at Right Wing Watch, we listen to hours of video and audio each day in order to find the short clips that we share with our readers. It’s been a doozy of a year, in which presidential politics has collided with the farthest of the far right, and here at Right Wing Watch, we’ve had the dubious pleasure of witnessing it all. It’s hard to pick our favorite/most horrifying memories of the year, so instead we’ve looked back at the 10 most watched videos and most listened-to audio clips of the year.

10. Sandy Rios Investigates The Amtrak Crash

Days after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia in May, killing eight and injuring hundreds, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios pointed out “an interesting part of the story” that was likely “a factor” in the crash: the conductor’s homosexuality.

9. ‘America, Repent Of Harry Potter!’

This was just one of the many bizarre and disturbing things to happen at last month’s National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa, which was attended by three Republican presidential candidates .

8. The Gay Marriage ‘End Game’

June was not a happy month for anti-gay activists, as exemplified by Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, who days before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision warned that gay marriage was a satanic plot to destroy Christianity and may very well bring God’s judgment on America.

7. ‘Light Wins’

You can imagine our delight when conservative activist Janet Porter announced that she had filmed a new anti-gay “documentary” featuring Republican presidential candidates and members of Congress alongside some of the most extreme anti-gay activists in the business.

The trailer was stunning:

And, in the end, the film did not disappoint.

6. Gay Wedding Etiquette

At the same conference at which he railed against Harry Potter, radical pastor Kevin Swanson offered his advice on what to do if your child is gay and getting married.

Reminder: Swanson organized the conference, which three Republican presidential candidates attended.

5. Pat Robertson Comforts the Bereaved

Televangelist Pat Robertson is not always quite on point with the advice he gives to viewers of “The 700 Club” at the end of every program, such as when he told a bereaved mother who had just lost a young child that the child could have turned out to be the next Hitler .

4. The Gay ‘Jihad’

Ted Cruz went there during a campaign event in Iowa in April.

3. Rick Perry’s ‘Accident’

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry had a very ill-timed “oops” moment when he called the mass shooting at a church in Charleston an “accident,” in the process of claiming that the crime was the result of drugs rather than guns.

2. Phil Robertson’s Imagination

Back in March, controversial “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson tried to make a convoluted point about atheists supposedly having no moral code by telling a gruesome hypothetical story about a family of atheists getting raped and murdered.

1. Rick Scarborough’s Martyrdom

Nobody took the hysteria over the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision quite as far as Rick Scarborough, who declared a few days before the court handed down its decision that he was ready to burn to death in his fight against gay marriage.

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