People For the American Way launched a major new campaign today highlighting what a Mitt Romney presidency would mean for America’s courts. Romney has signaled that he’s ready to draw the Supreme Court and lower federal courts even farther to the right. And no signal has been clearer than his choice of former Judge Robert Bork to lead his campaign advisory committee on the courts and the Constitution.
In 1987, PFAW led the effort to keep Judge Bork off the Supreme Court. Ultimately, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate recognized his extremism and rejected his nomination.
Last night, PFAW’s Jamie Raskin went on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss PFAW’s campaign and what a Supreme Court picked by Mitt Romney and Robert Bork would look like:
Watch our full video, Don’t Let Romney Bork America:
To find out more about Judge Bork and what a Romney presidency would mean for America’s courts, visit www.RomneyCourt.com.
Today, People For the American Way launched a major new campaign – including a website, a web ad and an exclusive report – exposing Mitt Romney’s dangerous agenda for America’s courts.
The campaign highlights Romney’s choice of Robert Bork to lead his constitutional and judicial advisory team. By allying with Bork, a jurist so extreme he was rejected by a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate 25 years ago, Romney has sent a clear signal that he means to drag America’s courts even farther to the right, endangering many of the civil rights, liberties and economic protections won by the American people over the past five decades.
The ad, Don’t Let Romney Bork America, and the report, Borking America: What Robert Bork Will Mean to the Supreme Court and American Justice, can be viewed at www.RomneyCourt.com.
“The debates over health care and immigration have reinforced the importance of the Supreme Court to all Americans,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “However, few are aware of the extreme agenda Mitt Romney has for the High Court – an agenda exemplified by his close alliance with Robert Bork.
“In 1987, People For the American Way led the fight to keep Judge Bork off the Supreme Court,” Keegan continued. “25 years later, we are as relieved as ever that we succeeded. When Bork was nominated, Americans across the political spectrum rejected the dangerous political agenda that he would have brought to the bench – his disdain for modern civil rights legislation, his acceptance of poll taxes and literacy tests, his defense of contraception bans and criminal sodomy laws, his continued privileging of corporations over individuals. Since then, he has dug his heels even deeper into a view of the law that puts corporations first and individuals far behind.
“It is frightening that a quarter century after Robert Bork’s jurisprudence was deemed too regressive for the Supreme Court, a leading presidential candidate has picked him to shape his legal policy.”
People For the American Way Senior Fellow Jamie Raskin, the author of the report, added: “The return of Robert Bork and his reactionary jurisprudence to national politics should be a three-alarm wake-up call for all Americans. In his work on the bench as a judge and off the bench as a polemicist, Bork has consistently placed corporations above the government and government above the rights of the people. The idea that Bork could be central to shaping the Supreme Court in the 21st century is shocking because he wants to turn the clock back decades in terms of the civil rights and civil liberties. His constitutional politics are even more extreme today than in 1987, when a bipartisan group of 58 senators rejected his nomination to the Supreme Court.”
The new report and ad review Bork’s record from his days as solicitor general to President Richard Nixon to his turn as co-chair of the Romney campaign’s committee on law, the Constitution and the judiciary. Highlights of Bork’s career include:
Learn more at www.RomneyCourt.com.
Earlier this month, we posted a report on remarks that Phyllis Schlafly delivered to a class at The Citadel entitled the "Conservative Intellectual Tradition in America" during which she warned the cadets not to date feminists.
The Citadel has finally posted the video of Schlafly's appearance, which turned out to be an excruciatingly dull hour and forty five minutes of Schlafly railing against feminism and gay marriage and abortion to a group of cadets who, based on the question and answer session toward the end, clearly did not share many of her views.
The bulk of Schlafly's remarks was dedicated to recounting the rise of the conservative movement and her efforts to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, which she said was unnecessary because "women have had every constitutional right men have [had] since the day it was written" ... which seems like a rather odd statement considering that the Constitution had to be specifically amended to give women the right to vote.
We managed to grab a few "highlights" from Schlafly's remarks, such as we she said that feminism "is a bad word and everything they stand for is bad and destructive" because "American women are the most fortunate people who ever lived on this earth."
She then went on to explain that the true motive of feminists is to destroy the stay-at-home mother as a model because it gives men an advantage over women in the workplace. As Schlafly explained it, men have wives at home cooking them dinner and raising their children and the feminist "is insanely jealous of that [and since] she can't have a wife of her own, she wants to abolish the wife of the man."
Finally, she warned the cadets not to date women who are feminists, no matter how pretty they are and offered a surefire way to know whether a woman is a feminist or not - simply ask her how she feels about Phyllis Schlafly:
Once again, the National Organization for Marriage is promoting North Carolina pastor Patrick Wooden, who stars in a video meant to drum up support for the state’s discriminatory Amendment One. The North Carolina Traditional Values Coalition includes Wooden and other Religious Right activists in the video urging people to vote for Amendment One, which would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state constitution, and Wooden maintains that there is “no bigotry” against gays and lesbians in their efforts:
NOM likes to claim that they are not “anti-gay” but simply against “redefining marriage,” but they’re not fooling anybody when they use a spokesman who called anti-LGBT violence “normal” and encouraged parents to beat their transgender child, blamed Oprah, Tyler Perry and the cast of Glee for promoting “wicked” and “perverse” causes, said that Chaz Bono is controlled by demons and claimed homosexuality is a “wicked, deviant, immoral, self-destructive, anti-human sexual behavior.”
And those are just his least notorious statements.
Wooden in an interview with Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality alleged that gay men ultimately “have to wear a diaper or a butt plug just to be able to contain their bowels”:
In a second interview with LaBarbera, Wooden went on to describe how gay men have “literally died in diapers” because of their inability to control their bowels as a result of shoving cellphones, baseball bats, and gerbils up their anuses, saying that he thanks God he is a human being so he is not put up a gay man’s rectum.
NOM should really stop pretending to be confused when critics call the group “anti-gay.”
We noted on Friday that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, working with a Republican-led state legislature, had taken the extraordinary step of repealing the state’s enforcement mechanism for pay discrimination lawsuits.
But it turns out that’s not all. Daily Kos points out that along with equal pay repeal, Gov. Walker signed what reads like a wish list of bills from the Religious Right:
The first bill bans abortion coverage through policies obtained through a health insurance exchange, set to be created under the federal health care reform law starting in 2014. The only exceptions would be in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity. [...]
The second bill requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an exam and consult with a doctor alone, away from her friends and family. The doctor must determine whether someone is pressuring the woman into the procedure. Doctors who break the law could be charged with a felony. [...]
The sex education bill requires teachers in schools that offer sex education to stress abstinence as the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
The bill also declares that sex education teachers do not have to address contraception. That's a dramatic shift from current state law, which requires teachers to instruct students on birth control options.
And it doesn’t end there. Walker has now decided to stop defending a law that gives gay and lesbian couples the right to visit each other in the hospital, a law that an anti-gay group is disputing in court.
That’s right. After making it harder for women to sue for pay discrimination, setting up demeaning hurdles for women seeking legal abortions, and giving the go-ahead for ineffective sex ed, Gov. Walker is going out of his way to try to keep same-sex couples from visiting each other in the hospital.
Is this the governor’s “jobs” agenda?
The Center for Military Readiness’s Elaine Donnelly has been making the rounds this week to discuss what she alleges is the Pentagon’s attempted cover-up of a marked increase in violent sexual assaults in the Army since 2006. The increase in sexual assaults was reported [pdf] by the Army in January and Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta immediately called the trend “unacceptable” and vowed to take steps to stop it. This week, a federal judge ordered the Army to release more detailed records on the assaults, at the request of the ACLU and the Service Women’s Action Network.
Donnelly, however, asserts that the Pentagon has been trying to cover up the increase in sexual assaults in order to cover for a new policy allowing women to officially serve in combat positions.
Speaking with Frank Gaffney on Secure Freedom Radio yesterday, Donnelly said that adding “social burdens” to the military – like allowing women to serve in combat and gays to serve openly – will eventually topple institution like a tower of Jenga blocks. Donnelly has previously claimed that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military would "break the all-volunteer force."
Gaffney: Are we at risk, Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness, of breaking the all-volunteer force with all of this?
Donnelly: Yes, yes we are. And what we’re heading toward is what I call the Jenga block military. If you’ve ever played that game with wooden blocks, you know you take the blocks out of the bottom, and you load more burdens on the top. Eventually, the tower becomes so unstable it collapses. And it’s a fun game to play on your kitchen table. But if you take things away from our military, and you keep adding social burdens on top, what you do is make a weakened force, you make that tower unstable. You, in essence, weaken the infrastructure of the culture of the military.
And let’s face it, it isn’t just about the weapons and the planes and ships and all of those hardware things, it’s the people who defend the military – the all-volunteer force. If we are doing great harm to both men and women in the military, if sexual assaults become so demoralizing, so conducive to indiscipline, what we’re doing is weakening the finest military in the world, we’re doing it gradually and according to this Army report, the progression is relentless. And it’s going in the wrong direction, it’s getting worse. And we certainly should not make it even worse than that by placing female soldiers into direct ground combat infantry battalions.
Somebody’s got to blow the whistle on this. Social engineers never are held accountable for their handiwork. Instead, the Pentagon invites them in to do more mischief, to create more problems. They don’t know what they’re doing. This report indicates that we need to really analyze this thing, and frankly Congress needs to intervene before it is too late.
Donnelly also dropped by the Janet Mefferd Show yesterday, where she claimed the Pentagon is “pretend[ing] there’s no problem” and mocked the Defense Department’s hiring of Sexual Assault Response Coordinators as a “jobs program” boondoggle:
Donnelly: You can understand why the Army did not want to trumpet these findings: they don’t fit the template. Well, now we’re going to put women into land combat battalions, the ones that are all male, the tip of the spear. They just pretend there’s no problem, and if theirs is a problem, well the problem is a myth. So, we’ll just do more training, we’ll hire more, what do they call it, ‘sexual assault response coordinators.’
Mefferd: Oh, good grief.
Donnelly: Starts to make a pretty good salary. You’re talking about a jobs program here.
Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber once again is trying to deny reality by arguing that there is “no evidence” of violence against the LGBT community. Barber said that while he opposes “violence against people who engage in these aberrant sexual behaviors,” he also opposes efforts to investigate and prevent such violence and discrimination. While speaking with Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver on Faith & Freedom today, Barber reiterated his support of countries that outlaw homosexuality and warned that anti-violence measures are a “Trojan Horse” to repress the church and anyone who holds “traditional values.”
Unless any of our detractors, which I know they will, attempt to say that we are advocating violence against people who engage in these aberrant sexual behaviors, that is of course not the case, nobody I know favors of course violence, we all are opposed to violence against any individual for anything. But that’s not what’s happening here. What’s happening is they’re using this specter of some kind of notion of ‘mass violence’ committed against homosexuals, they do the same thing here in the United States, ‘mass discrimination,’ something where there is no evidence of course against people who are engaged in these behaviors. They use that as a Trojan Horse to force, to compel nations and individuals and groups and churches that embrace traditional values, relative to sexual behavior, to push them into the closet and say ‘no, no, you have to adopt a full affirmation of these perversions.’
Tomorrow, activists and progressive organizations will descend on the headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Washington, DC to protest the NRA-designed “Shoot First” laws that ALEC has shopped to state legislatures around the country. As Calvin posted earlier this week, “When politicians enact ALEC legislation that benefits corporations, real people suffer the consequences. The results are tragic:”
(Source: Data issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement)
Information for the rally is below, and pictures will be posted after the event.
WHAT: Rally in Washington, DC, to protest the ALEC campaign to pass the "Shoot First" laws that protect Trayvon Martin's shooter, and delivery of letter to ALEC headquarters demanding disclosure of NRA funding and immediate cessation of “Shoot First” legislative advocacy:
WHEN: Thursday, March 29, 2012 at Noon
WHERE: ALEC Headquarters, 1100 Vermont Ave., NW Washington, DC
Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL); Hilary Shelton, NAACP; Marc Morial, National Urban League; Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange; Lisa Graves, CMD/ALECexposed; Mike Livingston, National Council of Churches; Diallo Brooks, People For the American Way; Doug Clopp, Common Cause.
Maine's investigation of the National Organization for Marriage's campaign finance practices has resulted in the release of several internal fundraising and planning documents. HRC has posted them online where NOM-watchers are poking through them. For sheer reprehensibility, it's hard to top hiring (or at least planning to hire) someone to find and exploit children who are willing to publicly betray their gay parents.
But that kind of "ends-justify-the-means" approach to politics has been the hallmark of NOM and its campaigns in California, Maine, and elsewhere. Those who have been on the receiving end of those dishonorable and untruthful campaigns won't be surprised by much of what's in the NOM documents. But the brazenness of the language around racial wedge politics long practiced by the religious right should make it easier to expose the group's Machiavellian heart. And it may be useful in blunting their efforts to make opposition to marriage equality a "marker of identity" for Latinos and African Americans.
The NOM documents from 2009 discuss a number of organizational projects and strategies, including a "Not a Civil Right" project:
The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.
And just in case that isn't clear enough: "Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persuading the movement's allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on this issue."
NOM's stated plans to overturn marriage equality in Washington, D.C. include an effort to "find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally."
NOM's strategists said they needed "to accomplish a sophisticated cultural objective: interrupt the attempt to equate gay with black, and sexual orientation with race. We need to make traditional sexual morality intellectually respectable again in elite culture. And we need to give liberals an alternative way of thinking about gay rights issues, one that does not lead to the misuse of the power of government to crush dissent in the name of fighting discrimination."
Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, director of People for the American Way Foundation's African American Ministers Leadership Council, released a statement on behalf of the Council's Equal Justice Task Force calling NOM's wedge strategies "deeply cynical" and "deeply offensive."
NOM also planned to target Latinos through a "community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous noncognitive elites across national boundaries" who can help "interrupt the process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity." NOM hopes that "[a]s 'ethnic rebels' such spokespeople will also have an appeal across racial lines, especially to young urbans in America." NOM said, "Our ultimate goal is to make opposition to gay marriage an identity marker, a badge of youth rebellion to conformist assimilation to the bad side of 'Anglo' culture."
NOM has had more success in some areas than others: most recently it failed in a stated priority of overturning marriage in New Hampshire, despite having made gains in the state legislature; and it failed to prevent marriage from advancing in New York. Its efforts in other states, like Iowa, are still underway. And it is pushing constitutional amendments in North Carolina and Minnesota. It also hopes to keep opposition alive "behind enemy lines" in states that have made marriage equality a reality.
But even in 2009, the top priority for 2012 was clear: defeating Barack Obama. In order for the group to achieve victory on marriage, "the next president must be a man or woman who expressly articulates a pro-marriage culture, and appoints sympathetic Supreme Court justices." In order to help achieve that objective, the group discussed plans to "sideswipe Obama" by portraying him as a "social radical" and by taking steps to "[r]aise such issues as pornography, protection of children, and the need to oppose all efforts to weaken religious liberty and the federal level." No wonder Maggie Gallagher is such a fan of Rick Santorum -- his campaign plan mirrors NOM's.
In addition, it is utterly clear that the bishops and NOM were ready to make "religious liberty" a campaign issue well before the recent controversy over insurance coverage for contraception: "Gay marriage is the tip of the spear, the weapon that will be and is being used to marginalize and repress Christianity and the Church." NOM's documents also affirm the group's "close relationships" with Catholic bishops, with whom it would work to engage Catholic priests nationally as well as locally.
You can fault NOM for many things, but not for thinking small. NOM's planning documents discuss strategies for exporting its model and playing a major role internationally. It calls for a global "counterrevolution" against marriage equality, something that is, unfortunately, well underway, with disastrous consequences.
Newly exposed documents from the National Organization for Marriage shed light on the organization’s plans to “drive a wedge” between the LGBT movement and African American and Latino communities.
Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council issued the following statement on behalf of the Council’s Equal Justice Task Force:
“If the success of the National Organization of Marriage’s movement depends on stirring up resentment between communities, it might want to rethink its strategies.
“African American men and women of faith are not a political football to be tossed around in a cynical game of resentment and division. We, like all Americans, struggle thoughtfully with issues of faith, family and politics. Anti-equality activists such as NOM consistently attempt to use a deeply cynical ‘wedge’ strategy to divide African Americans and the gay community, playing up what are now old and tired cliches. In the long run, this strategy will falter as African American and LGBT communities continue to work together for equal justice.
“I celebrate as more and more African American clergy engage in AAMLC’s Healing Grace dialogues and work to confront and overcome stigma, prejudice and homophobia in the Black Church. We continually seek to help and not harm, love and not hate, reconcile and not separate, unite and not divide -- and it's working.
“NOM’s explicit attempt to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and African Americans is deeply offensive, and it exposes the depravity of their politics.”
HRC got its hands last night on a December 2009 National Organization for Marriage strategy document, which was unsealed in connection to NOM’s court challenge to Maine’s campaign finance disclosure laws.
The most explosive revelation in the document is NOM’s explicit plan to drive a wedge between the gay community and blacks and Latinos. But another part of their effort to recruit “hearts and minds” to the anti-marriage cause is also startling. Not only did NOM propose to document anti-gay “victims” of gay rights with emotional videos– a plan they implemented with a set of glossy films in upstate New York, for instance – they proposed to hire a staff member at $50,000 a year “to identify children of gay parents willing to speak on camera”:
Did NOM end up hiring someone to find children of gay parents who they could portray as “victims”? If so, it seems that a year’s worth of full-time work didn’t turn up a single child of gay parents who was willing to be portrayed as a “victim” of marriage equality.