Shortly after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in favor of marriage equality last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told county clerks in his state that they could opt out of issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
It turns out that in doing so, he had the encouragement of some vocal and influential Religious Right activists in his state, including Steve Hotze of Conservative Republicans of Texas, who wrote to Paxton hours after the court handed down its ruling urging him to ignore the decision by Supreme Court justices who “hate God and want to let the Sodomites queer our country.”
The Dallas Morning News obtained Hotze’s email through an open records request:
“Greetings in the name of Christ our King!” Hotze wrote Paxton about two hours after the court ruled on June 26.
“Do what the Louisiana AG has done,” Hotze said in an email, urging Paxton to emulate that state’s Republican attorney general who said Louisiana didn’t have to comply because there was no specific line in the court ruling saying so.
“The illegitimate SCOTUS ruling does not name Texas, so fight those lousy bastards,” said Hotze, president of Conservative Republicans of Texas, a group influential in Harris County GOP primaries. “They hate God and want to let the Sodomites queer our country.”
Senator and presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has repeatedly called recent Supreme Court decisions on marriage and health care reform “tyranny.” On Wednesday, he used his platform as chair of the Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts to hold a hearing on “Supreme Court activism” in which he said that the marriage equality ruling was “the very definition of tyranny” and that “Justice Kennedy’s pop psychology has no basis in the text and history of the Constitution.”
Among the witnesses Cruz called was John Eastman, chair of the National Organization for Marriage. Eastman said a simple majority of states should be allowed to override Supreme Court decisions. (While we’re talking about “tyranny,” let’s not forget that Eastman recently defended Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Act and hoped for its swift reinstatement.)
Cruz is far from the only right-winger crying “tyranny” over the prospect of gay couples getting married. We have seen right-wing activists and politicians denounce the marriage equality ruling in the most apocalyptic terms, and charge that it will bring unprecedented religious persecution to the U.S. Right-wing Catholic Hugh Brown of the American Life League even said that Justice Kennedy had “betrayed” Jesus. Another, Michael Hichborn of the right-wing Catholic Lepanto Institute, said Kennedy should be excommunicated.
Some have been calling for states to resist or ignore the ruling (Liberty Counsel is defending county clerks who refuse to do their jobs), or negate it with a “creative” law. Some are focused on passing laws to allow government officials and business owners to discriminate against same-sex couples – like the proposed federal First Amendment Defense Act. Some are calling for constitutional amendments to overturn the marriage ruling. And some are looking at the 2016 presidential election as an opportunity to pack the Court with far-right justices.
Cruz has called for a constitutional amendment that would require justices to face retention elections, and has said he would also support term limits on justices, an idea promoted by fellow presidential contender Mike Huckabee.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay joined “Wallbuilders Live” today to discuss the Supreme Court’s decision striking down bans on gay marriage, repeating his call for states to “defy” the “illegitimate” ruling.
DeLay was especially incensed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for calling the Supreme Court’s ruling the “law of the land,” urging fellow Republican members of Congress to “revolt” against McConnell and start punishing the entire federal court system for the gay marriage decision by cutting courts’ budgets, limiting their jurisdictions and impeaching judge.
“The members should revolt against that and go after McConnell for saying that, because there’s a lot that Congress can do,” he said. “Not just limited jurisdiction of the courts, they can pass a constitutional amendment, they can impeach judges, they can cut the budgets of the courts — they can’t cut the Supreme Court, but lower courts — they can express themselves that way, express their abhorrence to the ruling by cutting the budgets. There’s just a lot of things that they can do to invoke the separation of powers.”
The Tenth Circuit today released its opinion in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, becoming the latest federal appellate court to reject the claim that the Obama Administration’s contraception coverage accommodation for religious nonprofits violates their religious liberty.
This is the latest effort by the far right to redefine “religious liberty” and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to use as a sword to deprive third parties of their legal rights. Under RFRA, no federal law imposing a substantial burden on religious exercise can be sustained unless it is the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling government purpose.
The Tenth Circuit now joins the DC Circuit, the Third Circuit, the Fifth Circuit, and the Seventh Circuit in rejecting this attack on the accommodation for religious nonprofits. Notably, all these decisions came after the Supreme Court rewrote the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in the Hobby Lobby case, giving certain for-profit corporations and their owners greater latitude to exempt themselves from laws they find personally offensive. (The Sixth Circuit also reached the same conclusion, but it is still in the process of reconsidering it to make sure it is consistent with Hobby Lobby.)
The Obama Administration created a process whereby religious nonprofits can exempt themselves from the federal requirement that its employees have certain contraception healthcare coverage: Fill out a form (or now, just send a letter) and let the Department of Health and Human Services know that you won’t be providing it and say who your insurance carrier is, so that officials can inform them of their legal requirements to provide the coverage. The religious right has called even this accommodation a violation of the religious liberty rights of nonprofits, saying it makes them complicit in the provision of contraception that violates their religious beliefs.
The Tenth Circuit concluded that the accommodation does not substantially burden Plaintiffs’ religious exercise and therefore does not violate RFRA. The court stated:
The accommodation relieves Plaintiffs from complying with the Mandate and guarantees they will not have to provide, pay for, or facilitate contraceptive coverage. Plaintiffs do not “trigger” or otherwise cause contraceptive coverage because federal law, not the act of opting out, entitles plan participants and beneficiaries to coverage. Although Plaintiffs allege the administrative tasks required to opt out of the Mandate make them complicit in the overall delivery scheme, opting out instead relieves them from complicity.
The court does not question the sincerity of the plaintiffs’ assertion that filling out the form violates their religious beliefs. But it also pointed out that under RFRA, whether a burden is substantial is a legal question that is up to the court, not the plaintiff, to answer:
If plaintiffs could assert and establish that a burden is “substantial” without any possibility of judicial scrutiny, the word “substantial” would become wholly devoid of independent meaning. Furthermore, accepting any burden alleged by Plaintiffs as “substantial” would improperly conflate the determination that a religious belief is sincerely held with the determination that a law or policy substantially burdens religious exercise. (internal citation removed)
Whether it’s women’s ability to access their legal right to healthcare or same-sex couples’ ability to exercise their constitutional right to marry, imagine the chaos if people could simply exempt themselves from – and severely weaken – laws they disapprove of by citing their personal religious beliefs.
But that is a recipe for a Balkanized society, not a healthy pluralistic democracy. Citing a previous case, the Tenth Circuit states: “Law accommodates religion; it cannot wholly exempt religion from the reach of the law.”
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has not been hiding his displeasure about the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down gay marriage bans, telling Alabama church audiences that the ruling will result in Christians being “persecuted” and has, at the behest of Satan, “destroyed the institution of God.”
Moore also brought his message on Saturday to a long-planned rally in Montgomery hosted by the radical anti-choice group Operation Save America, which descended on Alabama specifically to support the “poet, warrior, statesman” Moore’s fight against LGBT equality, abortion rights and the separation of church and state.
OSA, which was previously led by the Benham brothers’ father, Flip, is now under the direction of Rusty Lee Thomas, who memorably took to the streets of New York on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks to announce that the terrorist attacks were divine retribution for legal abortion. According to the group, Moore’s chief of staff, Ben DuPre, is an important local contact, and DuPre introduced Moore at the Saturday event.
Moore told the audience that “America is under attack” as it moves away from God. "I'm sorry but this country was not founded on Muhammad. It was not founded on Buddha. It was not founded on secular humanism. It was founded on God,” he said.
AL.com reports that Moore addressed complaints about OSA’s radicalism, saying "You know, some told me 'you know they're a radical group.' I said yeah. They are radical for God.”
Thomas opened up the event by telling activists that in order to bring Heaven to Earth, they must end legal abortion and gay marriage, because there are “no babies being murdered in Heaven” and “in Heaven they’re not parading their sin like Sodom and trying to redefine marriage.”
Thomas then brought Moore up to the stage to accept a “Godly Statesman Award," after which he gathered the audience around the chief justice to pray that God would use him to “set an example for lesser magistrates throughout the United States of America that it’s time to say no to the federal beast!”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who announced his presidential bid on Twitter this morning and will have a launch event later today in Waukesha, has sent an email to activists declaring that his presidential run “is God’s plan for me.”
“My relationship with God drives every major decision in my life,” starts the note, which is clearly designed to appeal to Religious Right voters who make up a major part of the GOP base vote, particularly in the early primary states Iowa and South Carolina.
The letter goes on to talk about Walker’s faith as “the guiding force of my life in both politics and in private” and promotes opposition to reproductive choice and marriage equality. “A lifelong supporter of the pro-life movement, my work defending the unborn goes back to my college days where I was a leader of Marquette Students for Life,” he writes, bragging about signing into law new restrictions on access to abortion and pledging to do the same as president. He calls the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision a “grave mistake” and calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn it. And he pledges to nominate Supreme Court justices who share his approach to the Constitution.
“Our country is at a crossroads and we need a proven conservative leader who is not afraid to fight for what is right -- even when it’s not politically expedient,” Walker says. “My decisions are guided by my relationship with God -- not by what might win me a few votes.”
The full letter follows:
My relationship with God drives every major decision in my life. Each day I pray and then take time to read from the Bible and from a devotional named Jesus Calling.
As you can imagine, the months leading up to my announcement that I would run for President of the United States were filled with a lot of prayer and soul searching.
Here’s why: I needed to be certain that running was God’s calling -- not just man’s calling. I am certain: This is God’s plan for me and I am humbled to be a candidate for President of the United States.
Now, it is up to the voters to decide who will win the election. If you support my conservative campaign, please join my team right now with $10, $35, $50, $100, or even $250 today.
As the son of a Baptist preacher, my faith comes first. It is the guiding force of my life both in politics and in private. For example, I believe in the sanctity of life. I believe in the covenant of marriage. I believe in strong families. I believe in protecting religious liberties. And I believe these things are worth fighting for -- and I have.
A lifelong supporter of the pro-life movement, my work defending the unborn goes back to my college days where I was a leader of Marquette Students for Life. As a state lawmaker, I helped write and pass legislation banning the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. As Governor of Wisconsin, I prohibited abortion from being covered by Wisconsin health plans in a health insurance exchange, signed an ultrasound bill into law, and defunded Planned Parenthood while maintaining health services for women throughout Wisconsin.
Earlier this year, I called for legislation to protect unborn children once they can feel pain at five months. The members of the State Legislature just passed the bill and I will sign it into law next week. Yet another pro-life victory here in Wisconsin!
If elected President, I would be honored to sign similar legislation at the federal level. I was raised to believe in the sanctity of life and I will always fight to protect it.
Please stand with me today to help elect a pro-life President.
Our conservative values were handed a big blow with the recent Supreme Court ruling. Let me be very clear: this decision was a grave mistake. Five unelected judges took it upon themselves to take that responsibility away from the states and redefine the institution of marriage.
In 2006, I voted to amend my state constitution to protect the institution of marriage because I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.
I believe that the states have the right to define marriage.
To protect this right, I support an amendment to the United States Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.
Going forward, we need to focus our attention on protecting the religious rights of Americans. Our U.S. Constitution calls for freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. The founders of this exceptional country took religious freedom very seriously and we must redouble our efforts to protect these freedoms today.
Peter, I have been a tireless advocate for religious liberty. And my state’s families and children are better off because of our pro-life, pro-family agenda that promotes life, freedom, and opportunity.
As President, I will stand up for these same values. And I will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully uphold the Constitution -- without injecting their own political agendas into legal matters.
Our country is at a crossroads and we need a proven conservative leader who is not afraid to fight for what is right -- even when it’s not politically expedient. My decisions are guided by my relationship with God -- not by what might win me a few votes.
I am proud to have earned the early support of conservative and religious activists across the country and hope to earn your support today. Visit here to become a leader of our conservative team with a contribution of $10, $35, $50, $100, $250, or whatever amount is right for you.
Every day I pray that our best days of peace, prosperity, and freedom are ahead of us. As President, I will uphold the traditional values that have made our country great, but I need your help to win.
Your enthusiastic support will help us build much-needed momentum in these early weeks as we take our conservative message to voters across the country.
God bless you and God bless America,
Just a few hours after the Supreme Court struck down bans on gay marriage last month, former Missouri GOP chairman and current Eagle Forum president Ed Martin joined Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace to discuss the decision, which he said should lead to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s impeachment for acting like the “king of America.”
Martin compared marriage equality opponents to David fighting Goliath, who “taunted Israel like the Supreme Court taunted us with this ruling.”
Saying that merely electing a new president or pressuring Congress won’t be enough to respond to the marriage equality ruling, he said, “David didn’t fight Goliath in the way that Goliath wanted. He fought in a different set of terms. And I will tell you, one thing that has not been invoked in a meaningful way is the doctrine of, is how to limit the judiciary with impeachment.”
“I think we’re to that point” of impeachment, he said, explaining that while the four more liberal justices are “corrupt in terms of their worldview,” Kennedy “has really put himself up as the king of America in a way that the founders would have recognized as a discussion point for an impeachable offense.”
Claiming that evangelical churches are full of “posers” on cultural issues, Deace suggested that the Christian Right should emulate the Southern Baptist Convention’s crackdown on moderates in the 1960s, when, he said, “they exposed and purged all posers.”
Martin responded that he couldn’t speak for churches, but that if the GOP tries to “water down marriage,” that will be “the end of the Republican Party.”
Martin then, bizarrely, compared the emergence of the Republican Party in the 1860s to fight back efforts to extend slavery to the current Republican Party’s “retreat” on the issue of the Confederate flag.
“People have been trying to do that, what they did for years, and our people retreated and surrendered within like two days,” he said of the flag issue. “I’ve never seen the speed with which the culture put our people into rapid retreat. They didn’t even make meaningful arguments about the loss of life and the brother against brother and what the Confederacy meant. They just retreated to the space they were pointed to.”
“It’s an extraordinary moment, but the tide can shift, as you say, if we get back to first principles,” he added.
In his latest column, Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy In Media calls on Congress to impeach Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan in the wake of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, saying they were biased in the case because they had both officiated weddings for gay couples and because Kagan is a “known lesbian.”
“Members of Congress taking up this cause will not get sympathetic headlines in the media,” he writes. “But it is something that has to be done if Independence Day is going to have any meaning left at all.”
He adds that a spokesman for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law had told him that “the failure by Kagan and Ginsburg to withdraw from the case leaves them open to impeachment and removal from the bench.”
Whatever the reason for the putsch, our form of government has been overthrown and another put in its place—a judicial dictatorship that is devoted to elevating to protected status a sexual minority seeking the abolition of traditional values. Left unchecked in its drive for power over others, this cabal threatens not only our heritage but America’s standing in the world as a superpower. It appears the Obama administration wants to spend more money on Pentagon gay pride events and climate change than actual weapons systems to defend America.
As we get ready to celebrate Independence Day, however, we can rest assured that the American people remember enough about the founding of their country that they cannot and will not accept a judicial tyranny. That would make a complete mockery of what July 4th is all about and what millions of Americans have sacrificed for.
Our media didn’t treat it as a big deal, but Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg had both officiated at gay weddings. Groups such as the National Organization for Marriage, the American Family Association, the Coalition of African American Pastors, and the Foundation for Moral Law had called for Kagan and Ginsburg to withdraw from the case.
Matthew Kidd, executive director of the Foundation for Moral Law, told Accuracy in Media that the failure by Kagan and Ginsburg to withdraw from the case leaves them open to impeachment and removal from the bench.
In the case of Kagan, an Obama appointee, she may have had a personal conflict-of-interest. This is a sensitive matter, but various reports indicated that Kagan was a known lesbian before she was nominated to the Court by President Obama. For example, the gay blog QueerTY had identified her as a lesbian. That would mean she was compromised on homosexual issues prior to her ascension to the bench and after she was confirmed. This is a conflict of interest that cannot be tolerated.
Whether the reports of her lesbianism are true or not, we know that Kagan had an extremely radical record as Dean of Harvard Law School (2003 to 2009) where she promoted homosexuality and transgenderism. Nevertheless, she was confirmed to the Supreme Court in a 63 to 37 vote.
We now see the evidence of what happens when the media and Congress fail to do their jobs.
Congress, however, can try to undo some of the damage by holding hearings into the possible impeachment of Justices Kagan and Ginsburg. This would be one way of getting to the bottom of Scalia’s sensational charge that America’s democratic system has been subverted and stolen from the American people.
We are bound to hear that impeachment would be difficult and conviction impossible. There’s always an excuse for not taking bold action in Washington, D.C. But a congressional failure to act, in the wake of Scalia’s extraordinary charge of a judicial Putsch, would suggest that celebrating July 4th means fireworks and nothing more.
I think enough Americans are sufficiently concerned about this matter that they want to see some real fireworks, in the form of Congress exposing the lies, corruption and conflicts of interest that went into the sick and tyrannical gay marriage ruling.
Members of Congress taking up this cause will not get sympathetic headlines in the media. But it is something that has to be done if Independence Day is going to have any meaning left at all.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said yesterday that he would support impeaching Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan over their participation in the Supreme Court’s marriage equality case whenever “the public is ready” for such proceedings.
King, a guest on Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson’s program, took a call from a listener who said of the justices who voted to strike down same-sex marriage bans, “I submit that these are rogue justices and they can be impeached and removed by Congress.”
King told the caller that he agreed with him, but “impeachment itself,, we have learned throughout history, is a political decision” and the timing is “up to the will of the people.”
“That provision does exist, and let’s hear what the public has to say,” he added. “If that were put up before me today, and I think I mentioned Ginsburg and Kagan as being two that had been conducting same-sex marriages on their spare time and did not recuse themselves, I would put up the vote to remove them from office. And I’d like to see that case heard again and it would come down four-to-three and it in the end it would come back to the states for that decision, where it should be. But I don’t know if the public is ready for that.”
Mickelson then asked King about Sen. Ted Cruz’s idea of establishing retention elections for Supreme Court justices — similar to those in Iowa in 2010 that resulted in three state supreme court justices losing their jobs in retribution for marriage equality votes — which King said he thought was “a pretty good idea.”
But in the near term, King said, the nation must turn to “nationwide civil disobedience” in defiance of the marriage decision. He also repeated his plan for states to “abolish civil marriage” in order to deny the benefits and responsibilities of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.
“By doing so we can avoid the litigation that’s coming at every one of our churches,” he said, claiming that gay rights advocates “will not stop until they can force a priest to conduct a same-sex marriage at the altar of a Catholic church.”
Earlier in the program, King went on a long tangent linking the U.S. Constitution not only to the Magna Carta and to Greek and Roman law, but also to the New Testament.
“You can go piece by piece of this all the way through the history of the foundation of western civilization to get to the underpinnings of the pillars of American exceptionalism,” he said. “And we seem to have forgotten about those underpinnings and now we’re at this place where there is no right and wrong and the rule of tyranny of whoever can get leverage in whatever form and five justices in the Supreme Court setting a policy that turns over thousands of years of human experience.”
“This Constitution is rendered an artifact of history if we let this stand,” he warned.
UPDATE: We've posted some video clips of the press conference's highlights.
The mood was apparently apoplectic at a press conference held by gay-rights opponents in front of the Alabama state judicial building yesterday, as one Republican state official called the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision “an assault on God, on Christian heritage and on our culture” and warned that the “runaway judiciary is a bigger threat to the United States than ISIS” and “liberal judges have done [more] harm to our country and our Constitution than Al Qaeda.”
Public Service Commissioner Chip Beeker, who made the ISIS remarks, was joined by Joe Godfrey of the Alabama Citizens Action Project, who warned that Christians will soon be fired from their jobs just for attending church and by John Eidsmoe, the influential Christian Reconstructionist thinker and Michele Bachmann mentor, who said that the Supreme Court’s decision is moot because two justices who had performed legal same-sex weddings should have recused themselves.
Eidsmoe is the senior counsel at the Foundation for Moral Law, the organization started by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has been clashing with the federal courts over marriage equality. The group, which is now led by Moore’s wife, Kayla, has questioned the “validity” of the decision and vowed to keep on fighting it.
The Montgomery Advertiser was on the scene of the press conference:
Public Service Commissioner Chip Beeker told the crowd that "five unelected and unaccountable justices imposed their will on the people of Alabama and the United States."
"This was not an interpretation of the Constitution. It was an assault on God, on Christian heritage and on our culture," Beeker said.
"The runaway judiciary is a bigger threat to the United States than Isis. Liberal judges have done harm to our country and our constitution than Al Qaeda."
Joe Godfrey, executive director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, which lobbies the Legislature on behalf of churches, said people who attend churches that oppose same-sex marriage could be threatened with losing their jobs.
"I predict it's going to happen when big corporations, CEOs, tell people that work as their employees, ''You know, if you keep going to that church that teaches against homosexuality, teaches what the Bible says, we're going to have to let you go.'
"So they're going to be forced to make a choice between a church that they attend and have been attending for years, and their job."
[John] Eidsmoe also said the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision was illegitimate because two of the justices who supported it -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan -- had performed same-sex marriages.
The foundation had filed a motion for Ginsburg and Kagan to recuse themselves from the case.
"They were incapable of considering this question objectively," Eidsmore said. "And therefore, they had every duty to recuse."