Mat Staver

Liberty Counsel: Send Money To Help Roy Moore Resist Supreme Court Marriage Tyranny

Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right legal group that is actively promoting efforts by right-wing judges, lawmakers and activists to nullify U.S. Supreme Court rulings on abortion and marriage equality, is raising money for its ongoing support of suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. As Miranda reported yesterday, Moore’s backers are holding a rally on Saturday to support his defiance of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. 

In a direct mail letter, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver warns that Moore and other Christian leaders “are facing intense backlash for upholding God’s unwavering TRUTH.”

“In Alabama and across America, state judiciaries and legislatures are standing up against the federal judiciary, resisting tyrannical rule and upholding the moral law of God,” writes Staver, who asks for money to “defend Christian leaders who are being targeted by deep-pocketed, radical activists.”

Staver says “you and I must continue to pray and take an active stand against the forces destroying the foundations of our nation.” More from his letter:

I support Chief Justice Moore’s action that sends a “shot across the bow” regarding the Supreme Court’s egregious 5-4 marriage opinion on same-sex “marriage.” The United States Constitution does not prohibit states from affirming the natural crated order of one man and one woman joined together in marriage.

Like Daniel in the lion’s den, Chief Justice Moore is being persecuted for his faith by liberal legal professionals and radical LGGBT activists. But like Daniel, Chief Justice Moore will not bend, having faith that God will protect those who seek and follow His Word.

Staver asks recipients of the letter to sign and return (along with some money) a “Vote of Confidence” letter to Moore, which says in part:

Thank you for not bowing your knee to the U.S. Supreme Court’s egregious 5-4 marriage opinion on same-sex “marriage.” No civil authority, including the U.S. Supreme Court, has the authority to define marriage as anything but the union of one man and one woman!

I pray that God continues to guide and protect you, and to give you and other Christian leaders the continuing strength to turn the tide of immorality sweeping our nation.

Staver also includes a card reminding people to pray for Moore that he suggests placing in your Bible or on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.

 

Kim Davis' Attorneys Take Credit For Oklahoma's Felony Abortion Ban

In a press release today, the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel took credit for a bill that passed the Oklahoma legislature yesterday that would make it a felony to perform abortions in the state. The group also claims that Paul Blair, a far-right Oklahoma pastor and activist who was embraced by Ted Cruz’s failed presidential campaign, “initiated” the legislation.

“SB 1552 was authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm,” the press release says. “Yet this legislation was initiated by a local pastor, Paul Blair, with the support and guidance of Liberty Counsel.”

“Life begins at conception,” the press release quotes Liberty Counsel’s founder Mat Staver saying. “Preborn children are in fact children, not merely fetuses, and their lives should be protected from the moment of conception. This bill is a very positive step toward affirming the value of human life by taking away ability to murder children. Liberty Counsel stands ready to defend this legislature if it is challenged.”

Liberty Counsel is perhaps best known for its role representing Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who tried to stop her office from issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. The group and Staver have a long history of vicous anti-gay activism, including defending criminal bans on same-sex relationships . The group has also taken credit for the wave of anti-transgender laws sweeping the country, althought the Religious Right behemoth Alliance Defending Freedom seems to have played alarger role.

Blair also has a long history of extreme anti-gay rhetoric, including saying that the source of the “radical homosexual agenda” is Satan and declaring that the success of the movie “Brokeback Mountain” was proof that Americans are “under attack” from the devil. He is also a vocal advocate for states to ignore Supreme Court rulings with which they disagree — including Roe v. Wade.

As Peter wrote earlier this year, Blair has been working to convince state lawmakers to defy court rulings on abortion rights and marriage equality:

Reclaiming America for Christ , a ministry of Blair’s church in Edmond, Oklahoma, is promoting “Protect Life and Marriage,” an effort “dedicated to the proposition that the state of Oklahoma has federal and state constitutional authority to (1) protect the institution of natural, traditional marriage and; (2) protect innocent, unborn children from abortion; and that in the face of unjust, unlawful U.S. Supreme Court actions it is time for Oklahoma to exercise this authority.”

Blair said his group has 980 pastors and over 20,000 supporters, and is working with the governor, attorney general and state legislators to promote a nullification strategy: “We are trying to stop this legally, lawfully, politically, actually using the Constitution initially…”Speakers at a Protect Life and Marriage rally at the Oklahoma state capitol last October included U.S. Sen. James Lankford and Rep. Jim Bridenstine, along with state legislators and pastors. Blair also said people supporting some kind of state-led resistance are working through different channels in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Texas.

At a conference in March, Blair distributed copies of an interview he did with the magazine of the John Birch Society in which he says there is no need for constitutional amendments reversing Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality and abortion rights because states can simply cite the 10th Amendment to ignore them. He said in the interview that “we want Oklahoma to be a ‘sanctuary state’ for marriage, life and the Constitution.”

Peter adds:

Blair told The New American that Obergefell is illegitimate, unconstitutional, violates natural law and “celebrates immoral conduct.” The decision, he said, “is an attempt to force everyone to celebrate a behavior that violates conscience and the Holy Scriptures, and to force the acceptance of that behavior on our children through public education.”

Samuel Rodriguez Gives Trump Chance To 'Redeem The Narrative' With Latinos

Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez has a consistent political strategy: position himself as a nonpartisan advocate committed “not to the agenda of the elephant or the donkey but the lamb,” all while trying to convince Hispanic Christians to support socially conservative causes and politicians.

You might think that the immigration-reform-promoting Rodriguez would be in a bind with immigrant-demeaning Trump as the Republican nominee. But even though Rodriguez has been publicly critical of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, he seems to be positioning himself to encourage Hispanic evangelicals to support the Republican candidate. He has said Trump blew it with his early campaign rhetoric and that the candidate must “redeem the narrative” with Latinos.

This week Bloomberg reported that Trump would be delivering a videotaped message to be shown at this weekend’s meeting of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), which Rodriguez heads, and whose board includes Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver. The pro-immigrant group America’s Voice called on Rodriguez not to let Trump deliver a message to the group given Trump’s “hateful, incendiary rhetoric directed at our communities.”

(Just days ago, Trump attacked NHCLC board member Russell Moore, a leading Southern Baptist official, as a “nasty guy with no heart.” Rodriguez, who co-authored with Moore a Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing Trump’s immigration rhetoric and policies last July, said at the time that “an attack on Russell Moore is an attack on the entire evangelical community.”)

Rodriguez told the Washington Post earlier this week that he would wait to see if the message was “respectful” before deciding whether to show it. Today it is clear that Trump has satisfied Rodriguez, because the NHCLC put out a press release saying the group would show video messages from Trump and from Hillary Clinton on Friday evening.

While Rodriguez says he will not endorse a candidate, it’s hard to take him seriously as some kind of honest broker between the staunchly pro-choice Clinton and the muddled punish-the-woman Trump, who has said he would nominate Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.  As we recently noted, Rodriguez has said, “I’m going to vote for protecting the Supreme Court from judges that are activists, that run counter to our Judeo-Christian value system.” And he has made it clear that he believes Hispanic Christians must make opposition to abortion, not support for immigrant families, the basis of their vote.

In an interview being promoted by Glenn Beck’s The Blaze today, Rodriguez doubles down on that message, saying it would be “morally reprehensible” for Christians to vote for a candidate who supports Planned Parenthood, saying they would need to “repent.”

“I want to speak to every single African American, Latino, and Anglo Christ follower who believes in biblical orthodoxy — how can we justify supporting anything — be it Republican or Democrat — that in any way, form or shape defends Planned Parenthood?”

Trump has repeatedly praised Planned Parenthood but says he wants to defund the women’s health organization unless they agree to stop providing abortion services.

Rodriguez told The Blaze that it would take “a miracle” for Trump to win over the Latino community, but suggested it could be possible if he apologizes and chooses a Hispanic running mate, mentioning Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez and Ted Cruz.

The supposedly nonpartisan Rodriguez has filmed a video promoting the Republican Party’s faith-outreach project. Only 16 percent of American Latinos identify themselves as evangelical, according to the Pew Research Center, but they are more likely than other Hispanics to vote Republican.

Why Has The Religious Right Embraced Neo-Confederate Michael Peroutka?

Our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center have obtained a copy of the 2014 membership list of the Council for National Policy, a secretive group led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins that includes a who’s who of leaders of the Religious Right and the wider conservative movement who work together to influence national politics. (In 2014, Perkins was the group’s vice president.) We’ve known from news reports that CNP’s membership includes a wide range of Religious Right leaders, but one name on the list obtained by SPLC stood out: Michael Peroutka.

Peroutka, who made his fortune with a family debt-collection business, has become a minor benefactor to the Religious Right, including funding anti-choice groups, bankrolling some of the campaigns and advocacy work of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (who is currently suspended for attempting to defy the federal courts on marriage equality), and, maybe most notably, donating a million-dollar dinosaur skeleton to a creationist group.

Peroutka runs the Institute on the Constitution, a Christian Reconstructionist group that argues for the enforcement of a particular interpretation of biblical law. For instance, Peroutka has suggested that all laws passed by the Maryland legislature are invalid because the legislature became an invalid body when it violated “God’s law” and passed marriage equality legislation.

Most troubling, Peroutka has a history as a neo-Confederate activist, including spending time on the board of the secessionist League of the South. In a 2004 speech to the group, Peroutka said that he was “still angry” that Maryland failed to secede from the Union during the Civil War. At the group’s 2012 convention, Peroutka led attendees in a spirited rendition of “Dixie,” which he referred to as “the national anthem”:

Peroutka was appointed to the board of the League of the South in 2013, the year before the CNP membership list obtained by SPLC was published. He quit the group in late 2014 as he ran for a local government seat in his home state of Maryland, unconvincingly claiming that he hadn’t been aware of the group’s racism.

Peroutka ended up winning a seat on the county council of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, after his openly gay Democratic opponent was hit withnasty anti-LGBT robocalls that were later tied to Peroutka’s advisers.

CNP’s membership list is closely guarded and new members can join only by invitation. This means that Peroutka didn’t just show up unannounced: He was invited to join a group that includes Perkins, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Alan Sears and many other high-profile conservative activists.

We don’t know if Peroutka is still a member of the group. But even by the time CNP’s 2014 membership directory was published, there was already plenty of public information available about his troubling ideology. Why was the leadership of the Religious Right willing to invite Peroutka into their fold?

Samuel Rodriguez: Getting Conservative SCOTUS Trumps Immigration Reform

As head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Samuel Rodriguez has worked to get more Latino voters, especially evangelicals, to back conservative candidates, while at the same time trying to get Republicans to stop trash-talking Latino immigrants and back immigration reform.

But it appears that Rodriguez has thrown his lot in with Donald Trump, the very candidate who kicked off his campaign by trash-talking Latino immigrants and calling for mass deportations.

While he may be an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, when push comes to shove, as it has with Trump’s all-but-certain nomination, Rodriguez makes it clear that he is first and foremost a Religious Right culture warrior.

Rodriguez pushes the Religious Right line that religious freedom is threatened in America. There is an attempt to “silence Christians” in America, he says, and Christians cannot sit out elections because “today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity.” He also believes there is a spiritual battle under way to “annihilate” the family.

In the end, his advocacy for immigrant families takes a back seat to his opposition to legal abortion and marriage equality. He said as much at an Evangelicals for Life event in January, telling Latinos that it’s fine to march for immigration reform —“as long as it’s not amnesty or illegal immigration; we need to stop that” — but “we must be above all things pro-life.”

Although Rodriguez manages to cultivate a public image as a nonpartisan bridge-builder, he regularly partners with some of the most extreme voices within the Religious Right. The stridently anti-gay Liberty Counsel serves as NHCLC’s official “legislative and policy arm” and Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver serves as an NHCLC board member and its chief legal counsel. Last fall Rodriguez called Cindy Jacobs, who has predicted a new civil war between God-loving and gay-loving states,  “one of the most anointed voices, prophetic voices in the Kingdom of God.”

In a story last week by right-wing pundit Todd Starnes of Fox News, Rodriguez dismissed talk by some evangelical leaders that Christians should, in the words of pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Of evils choose none.” Rodriguez says not voting is “sacrificing your Christian worldview on the altar of political expediency. It is silly to talk about not voting for either candidate. Every single Christian should vote.”

And while Rodriguez doesn’t mention Trump by name, it is clear that he will not be voting for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders:

“I will vote my Christian values,” Rodriguez said. “It’s life, the family ethos, it’s religious liberty, it’s limited government. That’s the person I’m going to vote for.”

Rodriquez conceded that the 2016 candidates are not his “dream team” – but he’s only concerned about one issue – the Supreme Court.

“I’m going to vote for protecting the Supreme Court from judges that are activists – that run counter to our Judeo-Christian value system.”

This is a very different message than Rodriguez conveyed in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in July, which he co-wrote with Southern Baptist official Russell Moore, where he described Trump as an unchristian, unethical and unelectable politician.

Trump tweeted earlier this week that Moore is “a terrible representative of Evangelicals” and a “nasty guy with no heart!”

Unlike Rodriguez, Moore is standing by his opposition to Trump.

 

Mat Staver: Obama Forcing LGBT Rights 'Down Our Throats'

On Wednesday, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel appeared on VCY America’s “Crosstalk” to discuss new advances in transgender rights and the recent suspension of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a client of Staver’s who is facing ethics charges for flouting federal court rulings on marriage equality.

Staver said that he and Moore are engaged in “spiritual warfare” against demonic forces, and urged listeners to contact Alabama officials to defend Moore.

He then went after the Obama administration’s “ridiculous” challenge to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, HB2, accusing the White House of “forcing this immorality, absolute rejection of objective reality and male and female, pushing all this agenda across America and down our throats.”

Advances in transgender rights, Staver warned, could mean that white people will soon be able to identify as black in order to attain “minority protection” or that young people will be able to identify as older in order to acquire firearms licenses.

Here We Go Again: Roy Moore Suspended For Defying Gay Marriage Rulings

On Friday, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended from his position after being charged with violating judicial ethics in his response to federal court rulings on same-sex marriage.

Despite a ruling by a federal judge in Mobile making same-sex marriage legal in Alabama last year, and in the face of a United States Supreme Court ruling last year making its legality the law of the land, Moore instructed probate judges throughout Alabama to ignore those higher courts and to refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples.

Moore's actions led the Southern Poverty Law Center to file complaints with the commission, which acts much in the same way as a grand jury. When it receives a complaint, the commission investigates and decides whether to forward charges to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.

This isn’t the first time Moore has been in this situation.

Back in 2003, he was removed from the office of chief justice for flouting a federal court ruling ordering the removal of a Ten Commandments monument he had installed in the courthouse rotunda.

The episode turned Moore into a martyr in the eyes of right-wing activists, although his newfound celebrity wasn’t enough to help his two unsuccessful campaigns for governor.

But in 2012 Moore returned to the Alabama Supreme Court, where he was once again lauded by the Religious Right when he tried to block same-sex marriages from taking place in the state in defiance of the federal courts.

Moore himself has likened the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling to Nazi oppression and has tapped Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver, the Religious Right activist who used bizarre legal arguments to defend Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in her unsuccessful attempt to flout the Supreme Court on marriage equality, to represent him in the case.

Just as Staver likened Davis to victims of the Holocaust, expect him to turn Moore, once again, into a symbol of the supposed persecution of Christians in America.

Indeed, far-right pastor Dave Daubenmire is already planning to hold a rally in Montgomery, Alabama, to support Moore and challenge the “uncircumcised philistine of the federal court system.”

Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, who succeeded him in leading the Religious Right legal group Foundation for Moral Law, posted a song on her Facebook page yesterday comparing her husband to actual Christian martyrs.

Mat Staver: Transgender Nondiscrimination Laws Are 'Being Financed By Those Who Are Actively Promoting Pedophilia'

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver asserted that North Carolina's anti-LGBT law and the Religious Right's boycott of Target are necessary because efforts to allow transgender people to use facilities that match their gender identity are being pushed by pedophilia advocates.

"The fact is we know sexual assaults occur," he said, "they are going to occur with or without these laws, there's no question about that. People commit sexual assaults, they commit them in buildings, they commit them in restrooms; but what you have now done, knowing that sexual assaults occur, knowing that they occur in these places where women are trapped and they can't get out, now what we've done, through these laws, is we've opened the door for every rapist and pedophile."

"Frankly," he continued, "when you look at some of the people behind the North Carolina law and some of these other laws, who are they? They have been identified, some of them that have been advocating this, as pedophiles. Some of this is being financed by those who are actively promoting pedophilia."

Of course, Staver did not disclose which groups were identified as organizations that promote child abuse.

Defending Roy Moore's Nullification Efforts, Liberty Counsel Shows New Concern For 'Judicial Independence'

Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right legal group that opposes legal equality for LGBT Americans, held a press conference on Wednesday with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has been waging a campaign of resistance to the Supreme Court’s June 2015 marriage equality ruling.

Moore and his Liberty Counsel lawyers were calling on the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission to dismiss ethical complaints that had been filed against Moore earlier in 2015 after he urged the governor not to comply with a federal court order on marriage equality. Moore, of course, had gotten in trouble before; in 2003 he was removed from his seat on the court when he refused a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument he had installed in the rotunda of the judicial building.

People For the American Way Foundation was one of the groups that filed a complaint against Moore last year. The PFAWF complaint, which you can read here, was filed in early 2015, based on actions he took when he began to insert himself into a federal marriage equality case that was not before his court. He accused federal judges across the country of seeking to impose tyranny upon the nation, and he suggested he might not comply with a potential Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality (which came down a few months later). The complaint spells out the Canons of Judicial Ethics that Moore violated, undermining public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. “Like the United States as a whole, Alabama is governed by the rule of law,” the complaint concludes, noting that “the history of the state shows the violent and tragic consequences when that ideal is not met.” The complaint asked that Moore once again be removed from his office.

In defending Moore on Thursday, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver dismissed the complaints as “politically motivated” and warned that they “pose a threat to the doctrine of judicial independence.” Continued Staver, “Judges must be free to exercise their considered judgment without the threat of being attacked by organizations and individuals who wish to misuse the ethical process to further a radical political agenda.”

Staver’s concern for Moore’s judicial independence is touching, if a bit surprising, given that Staver was a cheerleader for Religious Right attacks on Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality. After a political campaign that was successful in unseating three state justices in 2010 retention elections, Staver crowed, “The justices crossed the line when they played the role of a legislator and abandoned judicial restraint.”

Moore also said at Wednesday’s press conference that this was about “judicial independence.” But when right-wing groups were cranking up the outrage machine against Iowa Supreme Court justices, Moore joined in the condemnation, saying that the conservative outcry against the justices would send “a signal all across the nation.”

Mat Staver: Gay Boy Scouts Put Young Boys In Danger

Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel released a statement yesterday urging churches to cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America, claiming that the group’s acceptance of gay members jeopardizes “the safety of their young boys,” and encouraging churches to instead partner with a group, Trail Life USA, that was explicitly created to discriminate against gay people:

"The once great Boy Scouts of America has taken a great fall when it changes the longstanding policy to allow homosexual scout leaders and members. This change in policy is fraught with danger. While there are ways for churches to protect their integrity and the safety of their young boys, the best alternative is to abandon the scouts because the scouts abandoned them. Trail Life USA is the best alternative to the failed BSA program," said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. "Liberty Counsel will continue to defend the right of churches to make employment and volunteer decisions based on church religious beliefs and the teachings of the Bible," said Staver.

Staver, a longtime anti-gay activist who received national attention for representing Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in her quest to deny marriage licenses to gay people, urged people to leave the Scouts last year because the group’s gay members would sexually abuse children and turn the organization into “a playground for pedophiles.”

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 4/12/16

  • Glenn Beck is looking into suing Roger Stone and The Daily Caller over Stone's recent op-ed.
  • Speaking of Beck, he was broadcasting his radio program today from home and Ted Cruz just happened to drop by.
  • Mat Staver is outraged that "President Obama avoided the funerals of Justice Antonin Scalia and former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Yet, he has made time in his schedule to participate in a grand opening of a $100 million mosque and compound built by the Turkish government ... This is a blatant bow to Muslim pressure and to foreign powers." Obama did not attend the grand opening of this mosque, but rather spoke at a mosque a month before in Baltimore.
  • AFA's One Million Moms continues its crusade against the ABC sitcom "The Real O'Neals."
  • Finally, John Burton says that the president must be the nation's "pastor in chief": "The reality is that we are absolutely electing someone to lead our nation who must be first and foremost a servant of God ... If we don't have a God-fearing person in office, one who exhibits the traits of a true pastor, the alternative should terrify us."

Mat Staver: The Fight To Reverse Marriage Equality 'Will Never Be Over'

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver declared that the fight against gay marriage will never end because marriage equality is a direct assault on God.

After praising Florida Gov. Rick Scott for signing the "Pastor Protection Act," which shields churches and pastors from being sued for refusing to perform same-sex marriages (something they were already allowed to do), Staver declared that such laws need to be passed all over the country because the fight to undo marriage equality will never stop.

"This issue of marriage," he said, "this attempted redefinition of marriage, some have said, 'Well, it's over with, the Supreme Court has decided, let's move on;' even some presidential candidates, past and present, have made that kind of a statement. What they don't realize is this is not over, it will never be over and there will never be churches, pastors and people of Christian faith and values who will accept this. Period."

"I think that we can ultimately reverse this trend as well," Staver continued. "Pendulums swing and I believe that if you remain faithful, you will ultimately be encouraged by being on the right side of history. People say, 'Well, you're on the wrong side of history.' I would rather be on the side of God's history and the natural created order, millennia of human history than some newfangled idea. This is an assault on marriage and family, our freedom and an assault on God himself."

Conservative Groups Double Down On SCOTUS Obstruction

After President Obama announced his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court today, conservative groups quickly doubled down on their calls for Senate Republicans to block any person the president nominates to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Although a handful of senators are now hinting that they may be willing to at least meet with Garland — who has won praise from Republicans in the past — conservative groups have reiterated their demands that the GOP block his nomination.

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice issued a statement repeating his call for “no confirmation proceedings until after the election.” Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver similarly repeated that there should be “no Senate hearing on any Obama nominee.” Concerned Women for America announced that “President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court does not change the fact that the Senate needs to continue to do the proper thing by fulfilling its role of ‘advice and consent’” — by which CWA means blocking a nominee.

Alliance Defending Freedom’s Casey Mattox offered no criticism of Garland himself but claimed that the Obama administration is untrustworthy and so Garland’s nomination should be blocked: “The Obama administration has demonstrated it cannot be trusted to respect the rule of law, the Constitution, and the limits of its own authority. So it should be no surprise that the American people would be highly skeptical that any nominee this president puts forth would be acceptable.”

Heritage Action, which was calling for an end to most judicial and executive branch confirmations even before Scalia’s death, declared that “nothing has changed” with the nomination of Garland and that we areone liberal Justice away from seeing gun rights restricted and partial birth abortion being considered a constitutional right.”

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council similarly tried to paint Garland as a liberal, saying he is “far from being a consensus nominee,” although he offered no specifics about the “serious questions” he said there were about Garland’s “ability to serve as a constitutionalist.” Kayla Moore, who heads the Foundation for Moral Law, the group founded by her husband Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, also opted for vague and dire warnings, saying that Americans “may very well lose our rights” if Garland is confirmed.

Anti-abortion groups also doubled down on their opposition to any confirmation proceedings, while at the same time struggling to find specific reasons to oppose Garland.

Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life didn’t bother to criticize Garland at all, writing instead that this is “no time for a lame duck President to push through a judge for a lifetime appointment.” (Never mind that Obama, with nearly a year left in his second term in office, is not a lame duck president.)

The Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser wrote:

This changes nothing. We do not know this nominee but we do know Barack Obama. Anyone he nominates will join the voting bloc on the Court that consistently upholds abortion on-demand. The President should not be permitted one last opportunity to stack the Court with pro-abortion Justices.

Meanwhile, Americans United for Life dug up this one unconvincing piece of opposition research:

Consider that Judge Garland spoke at a gathering celebrating Linda Greenhouse’s book on Justice Harry Blackmun, Becoming Justice Blackmun. He described the release of the papers of the late Justice Blackmun—the author of one of the Supreme Court’s worst decisions, Roe v. Wade—as a “great gift to the country.”

Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman said his group would oppose any nominee who does not publicly “renounce Roe v. Wade”:

"Millions of lives hang in the balance of each ruling on abortion put forth by the Supreme Court. I refuse to support any nominee - Republican or Democrat - that will not renounce Roe v. Wade and commit to restoring legal protections to the pre-born," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.



"I strongly urge the members of the Judiciary Committee to hold fast to their promise, for the sake of the future of our country and the future of our posterity," said Newman. "The Senate Republican leadership cannot afford to break this important promise to their conservative, pro-life base, if they expect us to vote for any of them ever again."

Gun groups also came out swinging against Garland, with the National Rifle Association claiming that he “ does not respect our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense” and Gun Owners of America colorfully calling on the Senate to “bury this nomination and write ‘Dead On Arrival’ as its epitaph.” Both groups based their objections on Garland’s vote, as a D.C. Circuit judge, simply to rehear an important gun rights case.

The Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Severino — who previously called Garland a “best case scenario” Obama nominee to the Supreme Court — has been relying on thesame flimsy criticism to attack Garland.

We’ll update this post with more reactions as they come in.

This post has been updated.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 3/8/16

  • The American Family Association announced that it "is launching the Patriot Project to help underwrite the cost of sending more young people to Patriot Academy," a project run by David Barton's sidekick Rick Green.
  • Donal Trump continues to regularly appear on Michael Savage's radio program.
  • Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton fumes that "the Air Force Academy leadership is attacking traditional Christian beliefs at the same time [it is] funding witchcraft and voodoo."
  • Don Boys declares that Christians must leave any church that supports immigration reform or refugee resettlement: "Some American Evangelical leaders are pressuring Congress to give amnesty to illegal aliens already here and to bring in even more! These are people who know nothing about democracy, have no concept of freedom, speak a foreign language, worship a pagan god, are so backward they have bathed in a river and peed into a hole in the floor all their lives, and will immediately become a financial leach on the face of America!"
  • Finally, Mat Staver knows why Planned Parenthood is building a facility near a school in Washington, DC: "They're trying to bring in these young girls – as young as elementary and middle school – to get them introduced to Planned Parenthood and the killing machine."

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?

 

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 2/24/16

  • The California Republican Assembly has named Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver the recipient of its "Ronald Reagan Freedom Fighter Award."
  • Even after dropping out of the race for president, Mike Huckabee remains as bitter as ever.
  • Jerry Boykin has endorsed Janet Porter in her bid for a seat in the Ohio state senate.
  • Linda Harvey has penned an entirely fictional story about how the SPLC is out to label an innocent grandma as a hate group ... or something.
  • Finally, Walid Shoebat blasts his fellow anti-gay activists for refusing to "support the death penalty for pedophiles and homosexuals who rape young boys": "I see millions upon millions, crowds upon crowds, stadiums and arenas, yet not once did I see any of these major crowds marching to the White House crying for justice for the poor victims or calling for death for such reprobates as they do in the east." 

Conservative Groups Circle The Wagons On SCOTUS Obstruction

When the news broke of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday, Republicans in the Senate almost immediately vowed to block the nomination of any person President Obama puts forward to fill the empty Supreme Court seat.

Conservative groups quickly followed suit, putting forward various rationales for keeping a Supreme Court seat open for more than a year in the hopes that a Republican is elected president in November.

Some of these activists made variations on the false claim that the Senate never confirms judicial nominees during election years. Others warned of dire consequences for America if the president is allowed a Supreme Court pick. One activist going so far as to claim that Scalia’s seat should be kept vacant in perpetuity until a Republican is elected president.

Conservative legal activist Ed Whelan said it would be “grossly irresponsible” to let Obama pick the next justice:

Senate Republicans would be grossly irresponsible to allow President Obama, in the last months of his presidency, to cement a liberal majority that will wreak havoc on the Constitution. Let the people decide in November who will select the next justice.

Whelan also told “Breitbart News Daily” that “we are at risk of really losing the Supreme Court and losing the Constitution.”

The American Center for Law and Justice ’s Jay Sekulow said that President Obama was perfectly free to nominate a conservative to replace Scalia:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley are both committed to letting the American people decide at the ballot box this November, letting our 45th President appoint Justice Scalia’s replacement. While President Obama remains free to appoint a conservative committed to upholding the Constitution as his replacement, he has given us no reason to believe he would.

So the American people should get to decide.

This is a prime opportunity for all branches of government to show that we still have a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network (formerly the Judicial Confirmation Network), said President Obama is the “last person” who should be nominating the next Supreme Court justice:

… This president, who has shown such contempt for the Constitution and the laws, is the last person who should be appointing his successor. The American people on both sides of the aisle are disgusted with the status quo in Washington and another nomination by this President would just bring about more of the same. The people’s voice should be heard in November to determine who will appoint the next Supreme Court Justice.”

Mat Staver, head of the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel (which represented Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and is now representing an anti-Planned Parenthood activist) declared that the “future of the Supreme Court and America” depends on the Senate blocking any Obama nominee:

“With the passing of Justice Scalia, the future of the High Court and the future of America is hanging in the balance. The Senate must not confirm any nominee to the Supreme Court from President Obama. The Senate must hold off any confirmation until the next President is seated. Unfortunately the presidential debates have been more theater and less substance about the real issues surrounding the Supreme Court. The election of the next President has now taken on even greater importance. The future of the Supreme Court and America now depends on the Senate blocking any nominee by President Obama and the people electing the right person to occupy the White House,” said Staver.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins echoed the call to hold Scalia's seat open:

"The Supreme Court has now become the centerpiece in this presidential election. There has not been an election-year nomination in generations and the Senate must not break that trend now. With the election only 269 days away, the people should decide what president should fill this seat," concluded Perkins.

As did the American Family Association’s Buddy Smith:

We cannot allow President Obama to replace him with a judicial activist. Activist judges have mangled the Constitution almost beyond recognition, and we cannot allow Justice Scalia to be replaced by a justice who will continue to shred the Constitution rather than protect it and uphold it.

While the Constitution gives the president the right to nominate Supreme Court justices, it also gives the Senate the right to reject them. The Constitution does not even require an unacceptable nominee be given a vote on the floor.

Americans United for Life’s Charmaine Yoest said, “His loss is tragic, and we hope that when it comes time for the Senate to vote on his replacement, that a worthy successor who can pick up his banner can be found after the election.”

Alan Sears, head of Alliance Defending Freedom, hedged his bets, saying that “it is unlikely that a new justice will be installed prior to the election of our next president.

Janet Porter of Faith 2 Action declared, “The best way to honor Justice Scalia’s legacy is to make sure there is no Obama nominee confirmed by the U.S. Senate.”

Troy Newman, head of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and a member of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, warned that if Obama were to nominate the next justice, America would become a “totalitarian government”:

"With the passing of the esteemed Justice Scalia, America stands at a crossroads. Will she choose the path of fascism or freedom? We are just one Obama appointee away from a totalitarian government. Two years ago, the GOP promised the American people that, if elected, they would thwart Obama's radical leftist agenda. This is the GOP's moment. Will it shine as a light for liberty in this dark moment or will that light be extinguished by political appeasement?" asked Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

John Zmirak, editor of James Robison’s website The Stream, went even further, saying that if the next president is a Democrat, a Republican Senate should still refuse to confirm any of their judicial nominees:

But they should go further. As long as Republicans control the Senate, there is no excuse for any pro-choice, anti-gun rights, anti-marriage justices to be confirmed to our highest court. If, God forbid, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton is elected, they should face a Republican Senate — or even a GOP minority — that will obstruct their every judicial appointment, even if it means leaving key seats on national benches empty, for years at a time. As justices retire or die, the court will simply grow smaller. Big deal. America will muddle through. This is the kind of implacable determination that defeated the solidly conservative Justice Bork and got us the muddled Anthony Kennedy — and Casey v. Planned Parenthood and Obergefell. It is time for that worm to turn.

Conservatives must drop the facade of high-minded bipartisanship, which only ever cuts to the left. The courts have staggering power to change our lives, and damage our country. They can kill our nation’s unborn babies, seize our guns and punish our churches. If GOP senators aren’t willing to fight long, hard and relentlessly to stop that from happening, we should find other senators who can, back them in the next primary election, and cripple the re-election of squishy moderate turncoats. A presidential candidate who appreciates all this will get my vote. And I think he’ll earn yours.

Liberty Counsel Growing Increasingly Desperate In Its Effort To Smear Planned Parenthood

Last week, Miranda noted that Liberty Counsel is representing Sandra Merritt after she and her Center for Medical Progress colleague David Daleiden were indicted by a grand jury in Texas over their failed efforts to expose Planned Parenthood for supposedly illegally selling fetal tissue for profit. 

Liberty Counsel seems to have decided to defend Merritt by attacking Lauren Reeder, one of the 300 attorneys in the Harris County District Attorney's Office who had nothing to do with the investigation of Merritt and Daleiden, because she serves on the board of the local Planned Parenthood affiliate. But since Liberty Counsel cannot attack Reeder on the merits, given that she disclosed her relationship with Planned Parenthood and had nothing to do with the DA's investigation, the right-wing legal organization has decided to attack her instead for having once worn "hot pants and a very revealing tank top" to a Planned Parenthood fundraising event.

Reeder attended the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast's "Party Like A Rock Star" event dressed as a dancer from Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" video and on Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast today, Mat Staver and Matt Barber attacked her for wearing "what looks like a bra but it's actually a very low-cut tank-top and also, hot pants, very short shorts."

Even more upsetting to Staver was the fact that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast's director of development, Ed Benyon, attended the event in make-up and a shirt covered in blood.

Benyon was clearly dressed as Alice Cooper, which was somehow scandalous to Staver.

"He's got a white, like almost a lab coat," Staver said, "and on the left shoulder, all covering the entire shoulder and the left part of his chest, dripping down the left side of that shirt is what appears to be blood."

Barber, of course, was equally scandalized.

"I guess they think that is funny, somehow?" he sneered. "That's cute? To wear this lab coat with blood dripping down it? I don't know if they're mocking pro-lifers, but it does underscore just how they devalue human life here, that they were even jokingly mock themselves for what they do."

Anti-Planned Parenthood Lawyer Shames Attorney For Once Wearing A 'Very Revealing' Top

Last month, a grand jury in Houston that had been convened to investigate Planned Parenthood in the wake of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) instead indicted CMP’s David Daleiden and his colleague Sandra Merritt on charges related to their infiltration of the women’s health provider.

Planned Parenthood opponents, searching for a way to spin the indictments, have latched on to the fact that one of the 300 attorneys in the office that launched the investigation is a member of the board of the local Planned Parenthood affiliate — never mind that the district attorney’s office disclosed the connection from the very beginning and made it clear that the attorney in question would have nothing to do with the case.

But the fact that the attorney with the Planned Parenthood connection had nothing to do with the activists’ indictments hasn’t stopped Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, the attorney famous for defending anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and who is representing Merritt, from questioning her influence on the case and calling her out for once wearing “hot pants and a very revealing tank top” at a Planned Parenthood fundraising event.

A post on Liberty Counsel’s website on Friday say that the “history and actions” of the district attorney’s office “raise serious questions about bias” and includes a photo of Laruen Reeder, the attorney who is on the local Planned Parenthood board, at a costume party fundraiser for the organization “wearing a revealing tank top and hot pants.”

Staver continued this line of attack in an interview with Pennsylvania radio host Bobby Gunther Walsh today, in which he insisted that “it remains to be seen” whether Reeder influenced the investigation and added that she had once been “pictured in hot pants and a very revealing tank top” at the Planned Parenthood fundraiser.

Mat Staver: Gays Are Imposing A 'Jizya' Tax On Christians In America

On a recent "Freedom's Call" radio commentary, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver declared that gays are now imposing a "jizya" tax on Christians in America.

Staver, the anti-gay legal activist representing Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, said that gays have borrowed the concept of the jizya, a discriminatory tax imposed on non-Muslims under Islamic law, and are now subjecting Christians in America to such taxes.

"Deep in the Islamic tradition is jizya, a tax which forces non-Muslims to pay an exorbitant fee for living within a Muslim state," Staver said. "Now, from farmers in New York to those offering wedding cakes, photography and other services, all have been fined thousands, and sometimes more than a hundred thousand dollars for having and acting on a religious belief that is different from homosexuals who demand their services. These fees and fine are in essence a tax on Christians who are living out their faith and beliefs in the businesses that they labored for and have built. In America, we should not fear paying a tax or fee to Muslims, nor to homosexuals, just because our faith is different from theirs."

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Mat Staver Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Friday 05/20/2016, 12:32pm
Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right legal group that is actively promoting efforts by right-wing judges, lawmakers and activists to nullify U.S. Supreme Court rulings on abortion and marriage equality, is raising money for its ongoing support of suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. As Miranda reported yesterday, Moore’s backers are holding a rally on Saturday to support his defiance of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.  In a direct mail letter, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver warns that Moore and other Christian leaders “are facing intense backlash... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Friday 05/20/2016, 10:33am
In a press release today, the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel took credit for a bill that passed the Oklahoma legislature yesterday that would make it a felony to perform abortions in the state. The group also claims that Paul Blair, a far-right Oklahoma pastor and activist who was embraced by Ted Cruz’s failed presidential campaign, “initiated” the legislation. “SB 1552 was authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm,” the press release says. “Yet this legislation was initiated by a local pastor, Paul Blair, with the support and guidance of Liberty Counsel... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 05/19/2016, 1:22pm
Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez has a consistent political strategy: position himself as a nonpartisan advocate committed “not to the agenda of the elephant or the donkey but the lamb,” all while trying to convince Hispanic Christians to support socially conservative causes and politicians. You might think that the immigration-reform-promoting Rodriguez would be in a bind with immigrant-demeaning Trump as the Republican nominee. But even though Rodriguez has been publicly critical of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, he seems to be positioning himself to... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 05/18/2016, 11:55am
Our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center have obtained a copy of the 2014 membership list of the Council for National Policy, a secretive group led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins that includes a who’s who of leaders of the Religious Right and the wider conservative movement who work together to influence national politics. (In 2014, Perkins was the group’s vice president.) We’ve known from news reports that CNP’s membership includes a wide range of Religious Right leaders, but one name on the list obtained by SPLC stood out: Michael... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 05/16/2016, 3:37pm
As head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Samuel Rodriguez has worked to get more Latino voters, especially evangelicals, to back conservative candidates, while at the same time trying to get Republicans to stop trash-talking Latino immigrants and back immigration reform. But it appears that Rodriguez has thrown his lot in with Donald Trump, the very candidate who kicked off his campaign by trash-talking Latino immigrants and calling for mass deportations. While he may be an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, when push comes to shove, as it has with Trump’... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 05/13/2016, 1:05pm
On Wednesday, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel appeared on VCY America’s “Crosstalk” to discuss new advances in transgender rights and the recent suspension of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a client of Staver’s who is facing ethics charges for flouting federal court rulings on marriage equality. Staver said that he and Moore are engaged in “spiritual warfare” against demonic forces, and urged listeners to contact Alabama officials to defend Moore. He then went after the Obama administration’s “ridiculous” challenge to North Carolina’... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 05/09/2016, 11:40am
On Friday, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended from his position after being charged with violating judicial ethics in his response to federal court rulings on same-sex marriage. Despite a ruling by a federal judge in Mobile making same-sex marriage legal in Alabama last year, and in the face of a United States Supreme Court ruling last year making its legality the law of the land, Moore instructed probate judges throughout Alabama to ignore those higher courts and to refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Moore's actions led the Southern Poverty Law Center to file... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 05/09/2016, 11:00am
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver asserted that North Carolina's anti-LGBT law and the Religious Right's boycott of Target are necessary because efforts to allow transgender people to use facilities that match their gender identity are being pushed by pedophilia advocates. "The fact is we know sexual assaults occur," he said, "they are going to occur with or without these laws, there's no question about that. People commit sexual assaults, they commit them in buildings, they commit them in restrooms; but... MORE >