Religious Liberty

Freedom for 'Phobes

It has been known for years that Chick-fil-A supports right-wing groups. The company has given out gift cards at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit. At a recent Religious Right gathering, a speaker talked about how wonderful it was to live and work in Atlanta, where, he said, there’s a Baptist church on every corner and the streets are paved with Chick-fil-A.

So I am no fan of Chick-fil-A, but I’m a big fan of freedom, and that includes Chick-fil-A’s freedom to open its restaurants, even in cities where progressive political leaders don’t like the reactionary politics promoted by the company and its owners.

There’s been a robust campaign by advocates for LGBT equality to call more attention to Chick-fil-A’s contributions to “traditional family” groups, which total in the millions of dollars. But the feathers really flew when company president Dan Cathy made comments in an interview with Baptist Press bragging about his company’s position on marriage – “guilty as charged” -- and his comments to an Atlanta radio station.

I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” said Cathy.

I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about,” he added.

It’s no surprise that Cathy’s comments have stirred supporters of LGBT equality to respond. Much of that response has been in the best traditions of free speech and protest. In Washington, D.C., this week, the Human Rights Campaign organized a protest in front of a Chick-Fil-A food truck. Other activists have rallied outside Chick-Fil-A stores and some students have protested the company’s presence on their campuses.

In addition, a number of political leaders have spoken out in defense of marriage equality and in opposition to the company’s support for discrimination. Twenty years ago, I would never have imagined elected officials taking the time to publicly criticize a business on behalf of the ability of same-sex couples to get married. It’s a good thing – a sign of amazing progress.

But a couple of politicians have gone too far – suggesting that the power of government should be used to prevent the company from opening restaurants based on its political donations and the positions of its owners. That’s not a good thing. As a matter of principle, the government shouldn’t treat individuals differently based on their political or religious beliefs, or companies based on the political activities and contributions of their owners.  As others have noted, we wouldn’t want cities or states to have the power to prevent the opening of stores whose owners support LGBT equality or other progressive causes. 

People For the American Way’s headquarters is located in the District of Columbia, where elected officials have recognized that LGBT people should be treated equally under the law. DC’s progressive public policies stand in stark contrast to the anti-equality work of groups like the Family Research Council, but we would never suggest that the DC government could or should have prevented FRC from planting its headquarters in the center of downtown DC. Our commitment to freedom and equality should extend to those who don’t share it.

PFAW Foundation

PFAW Calls on Speaker Boehner to Remove Michele Bachmann from Intelligence Committee

Washington, DC -- People For the American Way is calling on House Speaker John Boehner to remove Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and two other members from their seats on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence after a series of irresponsible allegations against U.S. government employees.

Intelligence Committee members Bachmann, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and Rep. Thomas Rooney were among the five Republican representatives to sign a letter to federal agencies baselessly alleging that a number of public servants, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin, have ties to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. The letter relied largely on phony information peddled by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney.

Last week, Speaker Boehner called the accusations “pretty dangerous,” but refused to say whether he’d remove Bachmann and the others from the Intelligence Committee. Abedin has reportedly been placed under police protection after receiving a threat over the weekend.

“Michele Bachmann has never been a model of responsibility, but this latest attack is one step too far,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Members of the House Intelligence Committee are entrusted with classified information that affects the safety and security of all Americans. That information should not be in the hands of anyone with such a disregard for honesty, misunderstanding of national security, and lack of respect for her fellow public servants.

“Speaker Boehner was right to call out Rep. Bachmann’s dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric. Now he should act on those words.”

PFAW’s Right Wing Watch has put together a brief history of Rep. Bachmann's conspiracy theories.

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PFAW Calls Out Chick-fil-A’s Hypocrisy

Under fire for anti-gay comments by its president, Chick-fil-A issued a statement this week saying its “culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect.” The statement failed to mention Chick-fil-A’s other tradition of treating millions of Americans like second-class citizens by contributing millions of dollars to anti-gay organizations.

People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement:

“Chick-fil-A said that ‘going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.’ Left unsaid is that the company pours millions of dollars into anti-gay groups that work in the political arena to change the government’s policy on same-sex marriage. But it gets worse. Many of these groups not only oppose marriage equality, they’re actively promoting bigotry and opposing efforts to end anti-gay discrimination and bullying.

“Chick-fil-A should either cut ties with these groups or own up to its bigotry. A shorter and more accurate version of today’s statement would’ve read, ‘We still don’t like gays, but we do like money, so going forward we’re doing this without any fingerprints.’”

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Don’t Forget Who John Roberts Is

Add this to the good news/bad news mix from the Supreme Court's healthcare decision: Because of the good news (Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act), we get the bad news that his standing among the nation's Democrats has significantly increased. This collective amnesia about who John Roberts is and what he has done is disturbing, especially since the direction of the Court is one of the most important issues upon which Democrats should be voting in November.

A new Gallup Poll shows wild fluctuations in Democrats and Republicans' assessment of Chief Justice John Roberts since their last poll in 2005, a change Gallup attributes to his role in upholding the Affordable Care Act. Roberts' approval rating among Republicans has plummeted 40 percentage points from 2005, falling from 67% to 27%. In contrast, his favorability among Democrats has risen from 35% to 54%. That the healthcare decision is a catalyst of this change is supported by a PEW Research Center poll last week showing that between April and July, approval of the Supreme Court dropped 18 points among Republicans and rose 12% among Democrats.

Yes, John Roberts upheld the ACA, but only as a tax. At the same time, he agreed with his four far right compatriots that it fell outside the authority granted Congress by the Commerce Clause, leaving many observers concerned that he has set traps designed to let the Court later strike down congressional legislation that should in no way be considered constitutionally suspect. He also joined the majority that restricted Congress's constitutional authority under the Spending Clause to define the contours of state programs financed with federal funds.

Just as importantly, Roberts's upholding the ACA does not erase the past seven years, during which he has repeatedly been part of thin conservative majority decisions bending the law beyond recognition in order to achieve a right wing political result. John Roberts cast the deciding vote in a number of disastrous decisions, including those that:

Oh, and then there's that little 5-4 Citizens United opinion that has upended our nation's electoral system and put our government up to sale to the highest bidder.

With a rap sheet like that – and this is hardly a complete a list – no one should be under the illusion that John Roberts is anything but a right-wing ideologue using the Supreme Court to cement his favorite right-wing policies into law.

Next term, Roberts is expected to lead the judicial front of the Republican Party's war against affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act. Whether he succeeds may depend on whether it is Mitt Romney or Barack Obama who fills the next vacancy on the Supreme Court.

PFAW

Grudem: Freedom of Religion 'Doesn't Mean it's Morally Right for People' to be Non-Christians

For the last two days, James Dobson's "Family Talk" radio program has featured a discussion with Wayne Grudem, author of the book "Politics According to the Bible."

In between fretting that the United States was on the verge of permanent collapse due to the policies of President Obama and the poor moral/spiritual state of the nation in general, Grudem was asked by Ryan Dobson just what he should say to people who think that just because something is legal that makes it okay.  The question prompted Grudem to respond that just because something is legal, that doesn't make it moral ... just as our nation allows freedom of religion, but that doesn't mean it is "morally right" for people to be Muslims or Buddhists:

Ryan Dobson: When I speak around the country to all ages, I talk about the difference between legal and right; just because it's legal doesn't mean it's right. And oftentimes I hear from churchgoers "well, that's what the law is, what am I supposed to do?" And at what point can a believer say just because it's legal doesn't make it right and I'm going to do what's right even if it's illegal.

Grudem: Well, there are two questions. One is does God require of us more than the civil laws demand? Sure. Our nation, for instance, allows freedom of religion so it's legal to have a Muslim mosque or a Buddhist temple but that doesn't mean it's morally right for people to seek to come to God that way because you and I believe, Ryan, that we only come to God through knowing Jesus Christ as Savior. So there are things that are allowed that are not what God wants us to do.

Pat Robertson: Dump Your Muslim Girlfriend

A 700 Club viewer asked Pat Robertson today if he should marry his Muslim girlfriend of three years even though he is a Christian, to which Robertson responded, “no way.” “She wants to do her Muslim thing and you want to do your Christian thing,” Robertson said, “walk away.” He urged him to pray for her to become a Christian, “and if that doesn’t work say, ‘I’m sorry, good bye.’” Robertson, who is no fan of Muslims, explained that it isn’t necessarily Christ-like to be “nice and friendly” as “he’s not gentle Jesus, meek and mild, he really isn’t.”

Watch:

Representative Ellison Responds to Republican Islamophobia

Sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood are coming! Clearly that idea is ridiculous. Not even Rep. Michelle Bachmann believes that. She believes they are already here! On June 13, Bachmann, along with fellow Republican congressmen Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney, and Lynn Westmoreland, sent a letter to the Inspectors General of the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood has “operatives” within the US government. The letter attempts to link Muslim governmental officials to the Muslim Brotherhood and defames a number of American Muslim organizations.

Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, responded to the egregious accusations in an open letter today. Ellison points out that Bachmann and her allies took many of their claims from MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com, a website run by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy. Gaffney has a history of making unsubstantiated claims about Muslims, a number of which Ellison lists in his letter. For instance, Gaffney has claimed that Muslim Americans who run for office do so to wage “stealth jihad” and has “accused New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of ‘corruption’ and ‘treason’ for appointing a Muslim lawyer to be a judge.” At the end of the letter, Ellison requests a list of all the sources Bachmann used to make these serious claims and asks that if the sources turn out to not be credible that the names of all accused be publicly cleared.

It would be nice if Ellison’s letter put an end to the fear tactics and Islamophobic statements that have become far too common in the Republican Party, but that’s sadly unlikely. Republicans, whose main focus is clearly the economy, somehow seem to find a new Sharia threat each election year. Has it really been two years since we first heard about the Park 51 Muslim Community Center?

PFAW

Schlafly Screed on Obama's 'Hostility'

As RWW readers know, there is no end to the Religious Right’s dishonest campaign to portray Barack Obama as an enemy of faith and freedom.  The latest salvo from Phyllis Schlafly on the president’s “record of hostility to religion” is a litany of the Religious Right’s favorite horror stories, half-truths, distortions, and outright falsehoods, wrapped up in a sweeping assertion:
When Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally transform the United States” we could not have anticipated the extreme transformations he would seek. The evidence is rolling in that he is determined to transform America into a totally secular land where religion is permitted only within the walls of a church, but is banned in every public place, public gathering and public school….
Barack Obama is trying to morph our traditional religious liberty to the lesser scope of freedom of worship. That means worship only inside a church, or maybe a synagogue, but not any public affirmation of belief in God.
Schlafly must have missed Obama’s inauguration, not to mention the administration’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and ongoing federal funding of religiously affiliated social service organizations.   Or perhaps she cares less about the truth than about convincing conservative Christians that Obama is their enemy.

Celebrate the 4th with a Christian Nation Bible

Christian publisher Thomas Nelson Inc. is offering a July 4 special, with several books available at the patriotic price of $17.76.  Among them is the American Patriot’s Bible, edited by Atlanta-based pastor and Religious Right figure Richard Lee.  Nothing could better demonstrate the effort by Religious Right leaders to claim a divine blessing for their political views and their view of America’s founding.

The American Patriot’s Bible attracted some unflattering attention when it came out in 2009.  Ethics Daily reported that some critics charged that it “promotes idolatry and glorifies nationalistic violence.” One of those critics was theologian and pastor Greg Boyd, author of The Myth of a Christian Nation, who called the Patriot's Bible "one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever witnessed coming from a Christian publishing house.”  Boyd published an in-depth critique that ended this way:

In the Introduction Dr. Richard Lee promises that, "If you love America and the Scriptures, you will treasure this Bible." I truly love America and deeply love the Scriptures, but for just this reason, I was thoroughly appalled by this Bible.

But not everyone was appalled.  In 2010, Glenn Beck told viewers that he had a copy of the Patriot’s Bible at home and one at his office and said, “this should be in every person’s home.”  Lee was part of Beck’s show on the eve of his “Restoring Honor” rally, and has been active in Religious Right efforts to shape the 2012 campaign and defeat President Barack Obama. 

Spending a little time with the Patriot’s Bible makes it clear why the Gingrich campaign invited Lee to serve on its faith leaders coalition during this year’s presidential primary.   Religious Right political rhetoric appears in an introduction and in articles sprinkled throughout the Patriot’s Bible.  It complains that Supreme Court rulings against requiring prayer and Bible readings in the public schools amounted to “censoring religious activities long considered an integral part of education.” 

On abortion: “If people and nations do not grant ultimate respect and protection to both the born and the unborn, all other professed morals and values are meaningless.”

On marriage:  “The plan of God, nature, and common sense is a man and a woman producing children within the institution of marriage. What that plan is lost, “marriage” and “family” become meaningless, and a nation and its people will follow the road to ruin….”

The American Patriot’s Bible also promotes Religious Right propaganda about the supposed threat to religious liberty in America:

Our freedom to serve God and to promote the gospel in our land is disintegrating. We are engaged in a great spiritual battle that threatens our county, our families, and our lives. Only God’s intervention will return America to solid footing and restore a moral nation that righteousness will exalt.

And, for those who keep hoping that the Religious Right is going to fade away:

When fighting for the right, we must never cease until we prevail. The battle is not always won by the strongest, the smartest, or the most elite, but ultimately it comes to those who persist and persevere.

PFAW Welcomes Nuns On the Bus

PFAW staff and supporters welcomed home the Nuns on the Bus as they arrived in Washington, DC following a two-week tour through nine states. The Catholic sisters went on tour to stand in solidarity with those living in poverty and to push back against the Ryan Budget, which further enriches the wealthiest Americans while slashing vital programs that help our neediest citizens.

The nuns drove through nine states to help spread the word about how the Ryan Budget, which passed the House this year, harms the most vulnerable American families, and does so -- in the words of the nuns -- in violation of Catholic teaching.

Speakers at this afternoon’s rally condemned those in Congress who voted to perpetuate a political system that benefits the privileged few at the expense of the many, limits participation in our democracy in order to maintain an established system that protects the powerful and fails to show compassion for all people. They coined the slogan “Reasonable Revenue for Responsible Programs – the Faithful Way Forward” to illustrate the priorities they would like to see adopted by Congress to help make our communities and country more just for all.

PFAW

Boykin: Go To Dearborn, Michigan and 'You Would Think You Were in Beirut or Damascus'

Over the weekend, Jerry Boykin was interviewed on a radio program out of Bakersfield, California ahead of a scheduled appearance at a local church early next week where he will undoubtedly promote his anti-Islam conspiracy theories.

During the interview, Boykin warned that every serious Muslim was determined to enshrine Sharia wherever they lived and that they were making great progress in establishing it in America.  This prompted one of the co-hosts to ask Boykin about Dearborn, Michigan which he claimed was "almost one hundred percent Muslim and operating under Sharia law now," a statement with which Boykin agreed, adding that "if you walk down the streets, you would think you were in Beirut or Damascus": 

Steve Deace Just Can't Understand Why People Call Him an Anti-Mormon Bigot

As we have noted several times before, Religious Right radio show host Steve Deace has made a habit of inviting openly anti-Mormon activists onto his program to make the case that Christians cannot vote for Mitt Romney purely because of his faith.

Last night, Deace interviewed Stephen Mansfield, author of the forthcoming book "The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion Became Became a Dominant Force in Politics, Entertainment, and Pop Culture" to discuss the issue of Romey's Mormonism once again, during which Deace complained that whenever he criticizes Romney, he gets accused of being an anti-Mormon bigot.

Of course, Deace is not being accused of anti-Mormonism because he is criticizing Romney's inconsistent record or history of flip-flops but rather because he frequently offers air time to people who liken voting for Romney to voting for Satan. And, in fact, during the discussion with Mansfield, Deace openly wondered how voters can justify supporting candidates just because they might be good on some issues despite that fact they also "believe things that are so crazy" like Mormonism: 

What I have found is, you know, I can vet every other Republican candidate running for president the last two cycles, I can vet their record. I can talk about I don't like Rick Santorum's endorsement of Arlen Specter and nobody calls me an anti-Catholic bigot. I can vet the record of every other Republican running for ... I can vet Rudy Giuliani's record and nobody calls me a bigot against agnostics. But if I vet Mitt Romney's record, I'm a religious bigot and this continues on to this day.

...

At some level, when people believe things that are so crazy, does that cancel out where they're at on anything else?

When Deace was "vetting" the other GOP candidates, he never explicitly attacked any of them for their faith, yet he does exactly that to Romney on a regular basis.  So if Deace doesn't like being called an anti-Mormon bigot, perhaps he ought to stop offering air time to (and agreeing with) anti-Mormon activists.

Allen West's "American Way'

Congressman Allen West (R-FL) is out with a new ad this week. Set to soaring, dramatic music, the Congressman tells the story of his upbringing and how describes how his father gave him the opportunity live the American Dream. He runs through typical Republican talking points calling for tax cuts and slashing services, and laments the failings of Washington. It’s standard campaign-ad fare, and he concludes by stating “I’m just getting started; that’s the American Way.”

However, West’s record suggests that his notion of the “American Way” is rather at odds with the Constitution’s promise of freedom and equality for all.

The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of religion for all Americans, and Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” But West thinks that Representative Keith Ellison (D-MI), a practicing Muslim, represents the "antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established." He also harbors some vehemently anti-Islamic ideas.

America is a country that values free speech and open debate. Yet West has a habit of resorting to calling his colleagues who disagree with him Communists. Liberals, he said, can just “Get the hell out of the United States of America.” 

Freedom of the press doesn’t seem to be high on his list either. He once called for censoring American news agencies for publishing information about the government’s activities.

West believes America is a land of opportunity – something to which he owes his own success – but “equality” and “fairness” somehow fly in the face of liberty. Marriage equality, he says, is not only un-American but will destroy society as we know it.

Congressman West may have produced a slick ad, but the agenda he pushes in Congress would increase inequality, harm working families, destroy core constitutional liberties and cripple Americans’ ability to address pressing problems through government. That’s not the American Way.

PFAW

Barber: PFAW, ACLU, FFRF, & AU are Communists Engaged in 'Religious Cleansing'

Liberty Counsel attorney Harry Mihet grew up in Communist Romania and lived there until his family fled to America and now, in his capacity as a right-wing culture warrior, never misses an opportunity to warn that sees America heading down the road toward communism.

So it was no surprise to see Mihet featured on today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program entitled "Is American Becoming Communist?" where he warned that things like the contraception mandate are just "communism by any other name." 

Host Matt Barber completely agreed with Mihet, declaring that groups like People for the American Way, the ACLU, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State are "anti-theist" groups that "display a marked hostility towards religious freedom" and are seeking to make all citizens loyal to the state by "engaging in religious cleansing" ... which is "uncannily similar" to what took place in communist Romania:

Pat Robertson Dubs Episcopal Church an 'Apostate' Church, Tells Viewer to 'Destroy' Friend's Buddha Statue

Pat Robertson today on the 700 Club had harsh words for Episcopalians in the U.S., saying that it is “a matter of time” before the Anglican Communion declares the Episcopal Church “an apostate.” Robertson was referring to a case in Falls Church, Virginia, where a judge ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church over a breakaway conservative group that has been holding services in the disputed sanctuary since 2006, and Robertson said that the returning Episcopalian congregation won’t have “the blessing of God.”

Watch:

Update: Later in the show, Robertson told a viewer to “destroy” her friend’s statue of Buddha:

Barton: Solution to Concerns About Muslims in Congress is to Convert them to Christianity

Last month, we wrote a post featuring a video clip from a presentation that David Barton delivered just before Memorial Day back in 2007 in which he made the case that God was pro-war and even claimed that the United States was one more bombing run away from winning the war in Vietnam when our troops were withdrawn.

Today, we stumbled upon a similar presentation Barton delivered at Calvary Chapel in California in 2009 on the anniversary of 9/11.  In it, Barton was making his standard claim that War on Terror actually goes back to the 1800s when the US was engaged in conflict with Barbary pirates, whom Barton claims were really “Muslim terrorists.” 

During the presentation, Barton mentioned the election of Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and took issue [PDF] with the claim that Ellison is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, claiming that John Randolph of Virginia, who served in Congress from 1799-1834, was really the first Muslim to be elected.  And Barton insisted that though it is worrisome to have a Muslim in Congress when we are engaged in the War on Terror, the solution is simply to convert Ellison to Christianity, just as Randolph was reportedly converted by Francis Scott Key:

You may remember back in January of 2005 [sic], Keith Ellison from the Fifth Congressional District of Minnesota was sworn in to Congress on the Quran - he refused to take the oath on the Bible, said I'm going to take it on the Quran. He was reported to be the first Muslim member on Congress ... Now it distressed a lot of people that we had a Muslim sworn into Congress at a time of a global war on terror. And it's interesting while the media said he's the first Muslim sworn into Congress, I'm not sure that's the case because if you go back to Founding Father John Randolph of Roanoke ... he said "I hated Christianity and I loved Islam." He made it real clear ...

So here we have a professing Islamic person, Muslim, serving in the House of Representatives? What do we do with that? Real simple. Francis Scott Key knew exactly what to do: he converted him and led him to Christ. Real simple way to take care of the thing.

Francis Scott Key did the Star Spangled Banner, but he was an outspoken Christian, he was a strong evangelist and he led John Randolph of Roanoke to Jesus Christ and he became a firm and committed Christian and that's the simplest way to handle the concerns that people may have about who is serving in Congress. So, get another Francis Scott Key.

Cass Needs Donations to Continue Proving that Obama is not a Christian

Last year, Gary Cass of the ironically named Christian Anti-Defamation Commission announced that his organization would be releasing monthly videos leading up to the 2012 election laying out ten "irrefutable proofs that Barack Obama is NOT a Christian!"

So far, three have been released but now April has almost ended and his latest video is nowhere to be seen, which is why Cass is now sending out emails saying he must "raise $3,500 to create and distribute our next video [that] will expose Obama's radical Anti-Christian judicial appointments, including his Supreme Court appointments."

Cass warns that they must speak out "so people aren't deceived by Obama's 'Christian' faith" which, he asserts, is rooted a racist Black Liberation theology that Obama embraced despite being half-white:

Ironically, although Obama is half-white, raised by his white mother and white grandparents, and attended elite white schools, he chooses to identify with a fringe, angry, black culture. This only makes sense if you believe you are a perpetual victim and America is irreparably racist.

Class warfare, envy, victimization and government intervention, not individual responsibility, self-reliance and freedom, are at the heart of Obama's classic Marxist worldview.

For Obama, the poor are the victims of the rich, Blacks and Hispanics are victims of Whites, women are the victims of men, Muslims are the victims of Christians and Jews and homosexuals are victims of heterosexuals. There it is, the Obama agenda. An agenda based on envy and covetousness, licentiousness and lies.

Obama's values are not Christian, biblical values that unite us. His values are the discredited Marxist values that pit entire classes against each other. No matter how hard Obama tries to sugar coat his radical ideology with religious rhetoric, he is not a Christian by any historic standard, nor do his policies reflect Christian values.

Mitt Romney, Judge Bork, and the Future of America’s Courts

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:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

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.
 

PFAW

Romney and Bork, a Dangerous Team: People For the American Way Campaign Exposes Romney’s Embrace of Judicial Extremism

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:

  • Consistently choosing corporate power over the rights of people. As a judge, Bork regularly took the side of business interests against government regulators trying to hold them accountable, but the side of the government when it was challenged by workers, environmentalists and consumers pressing for more corporate accountability.
  • Opposing civil rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, gay rights and individual free speech. Bork disparaged the Civil Rights Act of 1964; defended the use of undemocratic poll taxes and literacy tests in state elections ; disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling that overturned sodomy laws; and believes that the government should be able to jail people for advocating civil disobedience.
  • Advocating censorship and blaming American culture first. Bork promotes censorship to combat what he calls the “rot and decadence” of American society, saying “I don’t make any fine distinctions; I’m just advocating censorship.” He writes that “the liberal view of human nature” has thrown American culture into “free fall.”
  •  Rejecting the separation of church and state. Bork rejects the science of evolution, advocates legalizing school-sponsored prayer and has written that he wants to see the Constitution’s wall of separation between church and state “crumble.”
  • Turning back the clock on women's rights: Bork has argued against Supreme Court decisions upholding abortion rights and decisions upholding the right to contraception for single people and even married couples. He believes that the heightened protections of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause don’t apply to women. As a judge, he authored a decision reversing the Secretary of Labor and holding that federal law permits a company to deal with toxic workplace conditions by demanding that female employees be sterilized or lose their jobs.

Learn more at www.RomneyCourt.com.


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The Games Bryan Fischer Plays

Last year, Bryan Fischer openly declared that Mitt Romney's Mormon faith "ought to be an issue in 2012" and that Romney should be forced to publicly declare whether he embraces Mormon teachings that conflict with the Bible so that voters can decide "whether they want somebody with those convictions sitting in the Oval Office."

Since then, Fischer has repeatedly attacked Romney over his faith, calling him a "spiritually-compromised candidate" and declaring  that a Mormon president represents a threat to the "spiritual health" of the nation.

But Fischer has also realized that openly attacking Romney's faith in this manner might be problematic even at the American Family Association, so he has settled upon a trick whereby he continues to do so while pretending that is really the media which is attacking Romney's Mormon faith.

Fischer announced this trick a few months ago when wrote a piece claiming that if Romney became the Republican nominee, "the winger-left media" would not hesitate to highlight "the more unusual aspects of Mormon theology."  And he has been using this framing ever since as he launches repeated attacks upon Mormonism while thinking he is avoiding responsibility simply because he is pretending that it is the media that is really attacking Romney's faith.

Yesterday, while discussing Hilary Rosen's comment about Ann Romney, Fischer demonstrated exactly how he does it, using the flap as cover to engage in a long attack on Mormon theology while saying that the media needs to ask Mitt and Ann Romney about it because the media once asked Michele Bachmann about her theology:

So, based on nothing more than a random comment made about Ann Romney, Fischer is now demanding that the Romney's publicly address the specific tenets of their faith ... while blaming it all on the media.

As we have said before, if Fischer actually thinks that he is fooling anyone with this pathetic charade, he is even less self-aware than we ever could have imagined.

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