Anti-Abortion

Pat Robertson: God Will Punish America For Abortion Rights Decision

Pat Robertson reacted today to the “terrible” Supreme Court ruling striking down parts of a Texas anti-abortion law by declaring that America will face divine judgment for allowing abortion to be legal.

We have slaughtered over 55 million unborn babies in this country and we’re going to pay a terrible price as a nation for allowing that. And when it’s sanctioned and approved of by the highest court in the land, then we all stand responsible for it and we will pay, all of us, as a nation, because the Supreme Court and the president and the leaders of our country said that’s what they want.

And those unborn babies are crying out, their blood will cry out against us as a nation and one of these days what’s going to be happen is going to be horrible. So, this is the law, you can talk about the law, it’s legal to have an abortion, Roe v. Wade, and so forth. But what is happening is the slaughter of the unborn is exceeding in America the slaughter in any nation I am aware of in the history of mankind.

Donald Trump Courts Activist Who Wants Abortion Providers Put To Death

During his summit with Religious Right leaders yesterday, Donald Trump took time to meet with Troy Newman, the anti-abortion extremist in charge of Operation Rescue.

Newman, who was the co-chair of Ted Cruz’s Pro-Life Coalition, said that Trump is the only candidate left in the race who will challenge abortion rights. Newman’s deputy Cheryl Sullenger said in a statement that Trump pledged to:

1. Appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices, which have been pre-vetted by the conservative Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation.

2. Appoint strong pro-life judges to the Federal Courts.

3. Repeal and replace Obamacare and the abortion mandate that forces the insured to pay for abortions and abortifacient drugs.

4. Actively support and sign into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

5. Defund America’s largest supplier of abortion, Planned Parenthood.

None of these promises is new, as despite media stories about Trump’s supposedly “moderate” social views, the presumptive GOP nominee has been campaigning on his vow to put anti-choice judges on the court, cut access to reproductive services and defund Planned Parenthood as long as it offers abortion care. Trump has renounced his previous support for abortion rights and quickly backtracked after he recently told CBS that he didn’t want to change abortion laws.

Meeting with Newman would go a long way toward shoring up his anti-choice credentials.

Newman spearheaded the recent smear campaign against Planned Parenthood that falsely accused the organization of selling fetal tissue and has built an entire career around harassing abortion providers . Sullenger, his Operation Rescue colleague, even served “time in jail for conspiring to bomb a California abortion clinic in the 1980s.”

Newman’s views are so extreme that he said a man convicted of murdering an abortion provider was “little more than a political prisoner” who should have been allowed to argue that he was performing a “justifiable defensive action” and “present a defense that claimed that the killing of the abortionist was necessary to save the lives of the pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day.”

He and Sullenger once wrote at length about why it is a government responsibility to execute abortion providers:

In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.



Rejecting that innocent blood is to reject the only standard that is effective against innocent bloodshed, excluding the lawful execution of the murderers, which is commanded by God in Scripture.

In the same book, “Their Blood Cries Out,” the two also suggest that women who have had an abortion are “murderesses” who shouldn’t be treated any differently than abortion providers or “any other mother” who killed “any other family member,” and that God is now punishing America for abortion rights with terrorist attacks like 9/11, cancer and HIV/AIDS. The California drought,inclement weather and financial turmoil, according to Newman, are all results of the legalization of abortion.

But, as we’ve said before, there appears to be no one who is too extreme to be embraced by Trump.

Pat Robertson: God Will Punish Us For Satanic Abortion Rights

Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson railed against America’s “culture of death” that “delights in killing people,” warning that God will soon punish America for making abortion legal.

Robertson said that “we have to look at the spiritual roots” of abortion rights, blaming the right to abortion on Satan: “The enemy of our soul is Satan and he hates people, he hates human beings, and the idea is if humans can kill other humans, the devil wants to do everything to help it.”

“It’s a shocking holocaust,” he said. “And we as Americans seem to think it’s okay. Well, it’s not okay. And one day, a righteous, holy God is going to demand an accounting for every drop of blood that has been spilled of innocent, unborn babies. And we just keep it mind, when it happens it’s going to be awful.”

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.

 

House GOP Attempts To Strip LGBT Workforce Protections

Over and over again, we have heard about the supposed demise of the Religious Right and how the Republican Party will stop focusing on issues like LGBT equality and abortion rights, especially in the age of Donald Trump.

As Ari noted last week, these claims come at a time when women’s “access to birth control is still a matter of public debate and gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals can still face discrimination across wide swaths of our country in the workplace, in housing, and even when attempting to access basic services.”

Trump, the candidate hailed by some pundits for minimizing such social issues, just put out a list of anti-abortion, anti-LGBT, ultraconservative jurists he would pick from when choosing his Supreme Court nominees.

The release of the list comes after Trump has made repeated vows to use the judicial nomination process to challenge the Roe v. Wade and Obergefell rulings, the landmark decisions on abortion and marriage equality, respectively.

Indeed, anyone paying attention to the actions of House Republicans over the last few days can see that the party is still committed to undermining LGBT rights.

“During debate on a military spending bill, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) offered an amendment to nullify a provision in a separate bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, that the House passed late Wednesday,” Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post writes today. “The provision opens the door to government contractors citing religious liberty as grounds for firing or harassing employees who are LGBT.”

When the amendment was on the verge of passing, GOP leaders convinced seven Republicans to switch their votes, successfully defeating the amendment by one vote. The Associated Press reports:

The vote was 213-212. President Barack Obama has issued an executive order that bars discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors, and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., had offered an amendment to a spending bill that would have prohibited using taxpayer dollars to violate the order.

The vote for Maloney’s amendment peaked at 217, one short of the majority needed for passage, before it began a slow, sporadic decline. Members of the Republican whip team, whose job is to round up needed votes, were stalking the House chamber’s aisles where GOP lawmakers seat, openly pleading for support.

“Need two more votes,” Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., one of the GOP whips, said loudly as he prowled among Republicans.

Russell was the same congressman who introduced the anti-LGBT amendment that, according to the Advocate, allows groups “doing business with the U.S. government to fire or punish any employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity” under the guise of religious freedom.

Also this week, Oklahoma Republican lawmakers passed “a bill that would make it a felony to perform abortions” and Texas Republicans expanded their already firm opposition to LGBT rights.

But remember, the culture wars are dead!

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.

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.

 

Religious Right Leaders Head To Republic Of Georgia For 'Pro-Family' Attacks On West

The World Congress of Families, a global network of organizations that oppose LGBT equality and legal access to abortion, will hold its annual summit in Tbilisi, capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, beginning on Sunday, May 15. Over the next several days, American Religious Right activists will meet with their counterparts from around the world to share and plan strategies for resisting and rolling back women’s and LGBT rights — often lumped together with opposition to sex education under the banner of fighting “gender ideology.”

This year’s summit is likely to feature a particular focus on siding with Putin’s Russia and the Orthodox Church as defenders of “Christian civilization” against a secular, decadent West. Georgia, which joined the Council of Europe in 1999, is front and center in what many of these activists see as a civilizational battle. Last October the EU and Council of Europe recommended policy changes to strengthen human rights protections in Georgia; the action plan to achieve them was launched this week. Back in 2014, with the encouragement of the EU, Georgia adopted a sweeping nondiscrimination law, which infuriated people like the WCF summit’s chair, businessman and philanthropist Levan Vasadze, who called the law part of “an international agenda” to “destroy the family.”

An anti-Western quote from Vasadze has been featured on the WCF home page this week:

The West is attacking our Christian culture with atheism, new forms of socialism and sexual radicalism — worse than what we saw during the last 25 years when we were part of the Soviet empire. This is why we need you to come to Tbilisi and work with us.

A WCF regional conference in Tbilisi in 2014 released a declaration criticizing Georgia’s adoption of the Law on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination, calling the law “an unnatural and an artificial imposition of pseudo-morality upon Georgian traditional society.” The declaration is a screed against such nondiscrimination laws, saying they “lead to serious discrimination of people respective traditional moral and family values, especially Christians, and to the massive human rights violations.” More from the declaration:

We believe that pseudo-values connected with promotion of “sexual diversity” and favoring different kinds of immoral and perverse sexual behaviors, are harmful for the society and have nothing to do with the real foundational values of humanity and with the genuine and universally recognized human rights. They are contradicting the values and teachings of major great religions of our planet. These pseudo-values are designed to destroy the institution of the family, moral and spiritual foundations of the society and to drive human beings into solitude and enslavement to vulgar materialism and lust. Family statistics in Western Europe as well as unprecedented levels of debt for western population, alarming rise of consumption of anti-depressants, addictive medicaments as well as narcotics, rampant child violence and rising suicide rates are a vivid proof of that. To our despair, Western Europe in particular and western culture in general, seem now to be on the path to self-destruction through family demise and moral degradation.

That theme was helpfully echoed this week by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which ran a story titled, “Western Invasion: Inside Georgia’s Battle Against the Gay Agenda.” The story quotes Vasadze promoting “selective Westernization” and saying, “the opening must not happen at the expense of Georgia’s faith and family values.” Adds Vasadze:

“If you think indecent, radically sexual behavior is what you want to do — that's your choice. But if I think that this is an embarrassing sin, I want to remain a society which is allowed to say that …The frontline of that war is no longer found on the geographic map of this planet," he warned. "The frontline of this war is in every living room and in every bedroom where your wife and my wife and our children sleep.”

Pat Robertson, the televangelist and CBN founder, responded to the story by saying “the fact that the European Union and the U.S. is trying to impose this lifestyle on a little country like Georgia that wants to stay Orthodox is incredible.”

The CBN story aligns nicely with themes in anti-Western propaganda in Georgia, which is the focus of a report by The Media Development Foundation, a project of the United Nations Association of Georgia with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The report finds that “anti-Western rhetoric is often applied in xenophobic and homophobic contexts and it is associated with unjustified fears, which is an accompanying process of modernization.” Another theme portrays the West as “a fighter against Orthodox Christianity.”

Another recent report on Russian influence on Georgian media and NGOs examines groups such as the Young Political Scientists’ Club, an initiative of the Eurasian Institute, noting that the group uses nationalist anti-Europe and anti-gay statements by clergy to promote anti-Western sentiments. The group declared that violence following the 2013 IDAHOT celebration, in which gay-rights marchers were attacked by Orthodox priests and their supporters, was the result of “western provocation.”  At the time, Patriarch Ilia, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, distanced himself from the violence but said of the IDAHOT event, “It’s something that should not be propagandized.” One of the pro-Russian media outlets examined in the report is Patriot TV, founded in 2015, which “is based on the authentic Georgian traditions, useful for the future generation of our country. A television which serves the purpose of Georgian, ethical ideas and not anti-Christian, sodomite propaganda which, unfortunately, floods our media space.”

At last year’s WCF in Salt Lake City, the Mormon Church had a visible role, with an opening keynote featuring Russell Ballard, a high-ranking elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The WCF summit in Georgia, the first in a predominantly Orthodox country, will include a similar address from Patriarch Ilia II, the country’s popular Orthodox Church leader. Ilia has designated May 17 — which will be celebrated around the world as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia — as “A Day to Strengthen Families and Honor Parents.”

In Utah, the Sutherland Institute served as WCF’s local organizing partner; this year that role is being played by the Georgian Demographic Society XXI, founded and chaired by Vasadze, who appears to play a role in Georgia somewhat similar to the one played in Russia by Konstantin Malofeev, the Putin ally who funds Russian Orthodox Church ventures. The Vasadze bio posted on the summit’s website touts his role in defending “traditional society,” saying he is “the author of an October petition signed by 36 prominent Georgian intellectuals protesting a report by the EU’s Special Advisor on Human Rights, which criticized the nation’s treatment of so-called sexual minorities.”

The speakers’ list for this year’s World Congress of Families is, as usual, a who’s who of global anti-choice and anti-LGBT culture warriors, including many of the same people who spoke at the last WCF summit.

American speakers include, in addition to the WCF’s Doug Clark, Allan Carson, Don Feder and Larry Jacobs:

Other Americans speaking include Justin Murff of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute; Fr. Josiah Trenham, member of the secretariat of the U.S. Assembly of Orthodox Bishops; Gregory Johnson, a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals; and Christopher Carmouche from GrasstopsUSA.

Prominent Europeans include:

  • Marion Maréchal Le Pen, granddaughter of far-right French politician and National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and niece of the party’s current president Marine Le Pen;
  • Ignacio Arsuaga of Spain, founder of CitizenGo and HazteOir, groups meant to help European cultural conservatives deploy online organizing techniques in Europe’s current culture wars;
  • Luca Volonte, chairman of Italy’s Novae Terrae Foundation and an anti-gay and anti-choice activist, who was honored at last year’s World Congress of Families gathering;
  • Gabriele Kuby, a German sociologist engaged in battling “gender ideology” and author of The Global Sexual Revolution: The Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom”;
  • Katalin Novak, Hungary’s Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs;
  • and Antoni Szymański, member of the Polish Senate.

Russians scheduled to speak include:

Also speaking will be Theresa Okafor, WCF’s Nigeria-based African representative, who supports repressive anti-LGBT legislation in Africa and suggested that gay-rights activists are involved in a conspiracy with terrorist group Boko Haram to “silence Christians” and who was honored at last year’s summit.

 

Cruz Backer Robert George No Fan of Trump, But Group He Founded Is

Princeton University professor Robert George was a co-chair of Catholics for Cruz; when Cruz was a student at Princeton, George supervised his junior-year independent project and senior thesis. Along with George Weigel, George wrote an anti-Trump letter signed by other conservative Catholics that was published in National Review, part of the magazine’s failed effort to derail Trump’s campaign.

That letter declared Trump “manifestly unfit to be president of the United States.” It decried his “vulgarity” and “appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice” and his promises to order the American military to torture terror suspects and kill terrorists’ families — “actions condemned by the Church and policies that would bring shame upon our country.”

The letter went on:

And there is nothing in his campaign or his previous record that gives us grounds for confidence that he genuinely shares our commitments to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government….

Mr. Trump’s record and his campaign show us no promise of greatness; they promise only the further degradation of our politics and our culture. We urge our fellow Catholics and all our fellow citizens to reject his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination by supporting a genuinely reformist candidate.

When Cruz dropped out, George tweeted “God help us.”

George expanded on that sentiment in a despairing interview with the Daily Princetonian:

Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George, who authored an endorsement for Cruz earlier this spring, said that with Cruz’s withdrawal from the race, it is now clear that voters will be choosing in November between Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“For many Americans, including myself, these are dreadful alternatives. We regard neither of these individuals as fit – morally or otherwise – to be president,” he said.

The two presumptive nominees have told appalling lies to advance or protect their political interests, George said.

“A number of people have written to me this evening asking, ‘Which should we support?’ I answer: If you believe that Ted Cruz’s dad was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, then vote for Trump. If you believe that the murders of Ambassador Stevens and the others at Benghazi were committed by a mob inflamed by a movie trailer, then vote for Clinton,” he said.

Since then, he’s continued tweeting criticism of both candidates, such as this one from May 4: “Dreadful Donald and Horrible Hillary are both products of the culture of narcissism which is the me-generation's true and lasting legacy.”

But in spite of all that, it is not clear whether George will remain in the #NeverTrump camp. George is connected to an extraordinary number of Religious Right groups, and it is difficult to overstate his role in shaping the anti-gay movement’s “religious liberty” strategy.  But at least one of those groups is on a different page.

George is the founder of the American Principles Project, which is embracing Trump based on a letter he sent the group last year saying he would sign the First Amendment Defense Act – the Religious Right-backed legislation to give special legal protection to anti-LGBT discrimination – if Congress would send it to his desk.

On Thursday, APP put out a press release defending Trump against criticism from the Human Rights Campaign and saying that given a choice between Trump and the “extremist” Clinton, “the choice is incredibly easy – we have to, and will, back Trump.” APP President Frank Cannon’s statement said:

Donald Trump deserves credit from social conservatives for his principled position on protecting freedom of religion…Trump has demonstrated a commitment to the concerns of social conservatives on issues like life, marriage, and religious freedom, and he has promised to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia.

On Friday, APP’s communications director Jon Schweppe published “the moral case” for Trump in the Daily Caller. Schweppe says he votes on one issue – abortion – and that the election of Hillary Clinton would be “devastating to the pro-life cause.” Under a Trump presidency, Schweppe writes, “we have the opportunity to protect the court, replace Justice Scalia with a conservative justice, and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade…He is committed to getting this right.”

The APP bio of George ends with this disclaimer: “Views expressed by the American Principles Project and/or on this website are not necessarily those of Professor George.” Not necessarily.

 

Ted Cruz Tries To Downplay His Anti-Choice Extremism

Last weekend, the National Right to Life Committee’s board of directors voted to support Ted Cruz in the remaining Republican presidential primaries. A post on the group’s website yesterday said:

National Right to Life believes Sen. Cruz is the only candidate for president who has always been pro-life, who has a 100% pro-life voting record with National Right to Life, who can win the Republican nomination, and who can defeat pro-abortion Hillary Clinton in November.

Cruz spent an hour with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly last night. The first audience question came from a woman who described herself as a pro-choice Republican who was afraid that Cruz would make abortion illegal nationwide if he became president. Those are extremely well-founded fears; Cruz is a zealous advocate for the criminalization of abortion. Last night he said that he sees Roe v. Wade as judicial activism, not settled law. Kelly noted for the record, and Cruz reaffirmed, that he wants to ban abortions without any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Cruz then engaged in a bit of disingenuous rhetorical misdirection, saying that if Roe v. Wade were not the law of the land, questions about abortion and exceptions “would be up to the people of Wisconsin to decide.” But of course Cruz doesn’t really want decisions about abortion being made at the state level as they were before Roe v. Wade. He has publicly supported a constitutional amendment to ban abortion nationwide. And he doesn’t really even think a constitutional amendment is necessary. He said a few months ago that Congress could “absolutely” get around Roe v. Wade just by passing a law declaring that fertilized eggs have all the legal rights of people under the 14th Amendment. That would not only criminalize all abortion nationwide but would almost certainly make some forms of birth control illegal and leave women open to prosecution for miscarriages deemed suspicious by local authorities.

Cruz also criticized Donald Trump’s recent comments, quickly reversed, that women who have abortions should be punished. “No conservative actually believes that,” said Cruz. Of course, Cruz is lying.

 

Donald Trump Defends Call For Punishing Women Who Have Abortions: 'I Didn't See Any Big Deal'

Last week, GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump took several competing positions on abortion rights over a period of three days.

Trump, who was once adamantly pro-choice, said on Wednesday that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions, only to claim later that day that he has never supported such a policy. Then, on Sunday, Trump declared that “we have to leave” current abortion laws in place, only to be again contradicted by his own campaign.

But the way conservative radio host Joe Pags sees it, Trump’s initial “punishment” comments were simply the result of a trap set by MSNBC in an effort to dislodge his candidacy. While speaking with Trump over the weekend, Pags said the candidate should have never even appeared on MSNBC “after what CNBC did in that one debate that was disgusting.”

Trump, interestingly enough, bragged about all the praise he received after saying that if abortion becomes illegal, women who have abortion should be punished.

“A lot of people thought my answer was excellent, by the way,” he told Pags. “There were a lot of people who thought that was a very good answer.”

He added that he “didn’t see any big deal” about the comments until they prompted “somewhat of a storm.”

Pags: Many people say that the difference in Wisconsin is because of that ridiculous question that Chris Matthews that asked you. I’m not going to ask you the question because it was hypothetical and it was stupid. I really don’t believe the question had any merit whatsoever and the guy is not a journalist. But having said that, why continue to go on any MSNBC property after what CNBC did in that one debate that was disgusting? And then you go on MSNBC and you have to expect to be attacked. Why even go? It only benefits them. How does it benefit you?

Trump: It was a hypothetical question. A lot of people thought my answer was excellent, by the way. There were a lot of people who thought that was a very good answer. It was a hypothetical question. I didn’t see any big deal and then all of a sudden there was somewhat of a storm. And you know, it’s interesting, this morning I’m hearing two hosts on television that were critical and they said, “We really thought his first answer was very good.” Because you can’t win. “We thought it was good, what was wrong with his first answer?” And I heard a pastor, who is a fantastic pastor, saying, “Well, you know, if you think about it, his first answer is right.”

Pags: Your answer was consistent with conservatism but Chris Matthews has an agenda, so I’m not even wondering about the question because I thought it was loaded and stupid and hypothetical.

Trump: It was disgraceful.

Pags: Why go on the show? Why go?

Trump: I heard people defending it today. Now they defend it. Now they say, “It was really right.” The whole thing is just so — the press is extremely unfair. A lot of very terrible people. It is interesting with MSNBC. Not only that, I made NBC a fortune with “The Apprentice.” An absolute fortune with “The Apprentice.” But they’ve all got agendas and I understand that. Frankly, they’re bad but they’re sort of all bad. I don’t get treated well on Fox. I don’t get treated well on CNN.

Right-Wing Pundit Defends Trump's Abortion 'Punishment' Comments

Conservative commentator Gina Loudon dedicated her WorldNetDaily column yesterday to defending Donald Trump’s recent comment that, if abortion is recriminalized, women who have illegal abortions should face “some form of punishment.”

Trump’s campaign, taking heat from the anti-abortion movement for blowing up its PR strategy, attempted to retract the candidate’s comments shortly after he made them. Two days later, Trump suggested that he didn’t actually want to change the current abortion laws at all, a position that his campaign also ended up retracting.

Loudon, however, was just fine with Trump’s initial suggestion that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions, hailing the candidate for upending the debate on an important issue just as he did “when discussing illegal immigration.”

Loudon, defending Trump’s remarks, compared punishing a woman for having an abortion to prosecuting a person who “hires a contractor to kill someone.”

“Conservatives herald ‘the rule of law’ when discussing illegal immigration, but why do the rules suddenly change when we are talking about the killing of an unborn child?” she asked.

“His view was consistent with many things conservatives say,” Loudon continued. “He just didn’t know this was the unspeakable – kind of like saying we should stop illegal immigration was the unspeakable before Trump dared to say otherwise.”

Indeed, Loudon noted that Trump is simply saying what many people in the anti-abortion believe but refuse to say publicly: “Is there a pro-lifer out there that doesn’t think that in a perfect world — where we agreed abortion was, for example, illegal after the first trimester – that the woman could, if working with full knowledge, be held accountable for her complicity in the abortion? Shouldn’t this, like any law that is broken, be considered in a case-by-case manner?”

Abortion rights opponents who criticize Trump, Loudon argued, have decided to “jump on the gender identity ‘women are always victims’ bandwagon” rather than argue that women should be held accountable through prosecutions, making Trump “even more pro-life than the [sic] some of the pro-life groups out there.”

Donald Trump has no high-paid consultants around him telling him what he can and can’t say, even on the liberal’s favorite conservative-killing topic of abortion. They talk all about the woman’s right to choose as if women are so frail and helpless they shouldn’t bear any of the personal responsibility conservatives talk about in other political realms.

Trump knew this: If a person hires a contractor to kill someone, under the law, both the person hiring the contracted killer and the killer are held accountable. In his non-political mind, why would he think any differently?

Conservatives herald “the rule of law” when discussing illegal immigration, but why do the rules suddenly change when we are talking about the killing of an unborn child?

If you kill a pregnant woman, and her baby dies as a result, in most states that is a double homicide.

Donald Trump is new to political campaigns. He has not been formally trained on the political answer to every politically loaded question, like where one stands on abortion.

He has not spent hours in front of a mirror with consultants drilling his words, body language and intonation on every topic. If he had, rest assured, the consultants would have started with abortion. This is the single most un-discussable, off-limits, never-mention topic in all of politics.

When pressed by Chris Matthews, Trump said women who abort their unborn babies should perhaps receive some form of punishment if indeed the abortion in question was banned and, therefore, breaking the law. Trump said he hadn’t thought of what the punishment should be, but you could tell that he hadn’t seen the memo from the GOP consultants that said you aren’t supposed to discuss the personal responsibility of women in this scenario.

His view was consistent with many things conservatives say. He just didn’t know this was the unspeakable – kind of like saying we should stop illegal immigration was the unspeakable before Trump dared to say otherwise.



Is there a pro-lifer out there that doesn’t think that in a perfect world – where we agreed abortion was, for example, illegal after the first trimester – that the woman could, if working with full knowledge, be held accountable for her complicity in the abortion? Shouldn’t this, like any law that is broken, be considered in a case-by-case manner?



When Trump took on the issue of illegal immigration, he ignored conventional wisdom and said that people who broke the law and came here illegally should be punished. The silent majority surprisingly cheered.

Trump came to his position on illegal immigration by using logic and defying political correctness.

After his comments in the MSNBC town hall, Donald Trump has arguably become the most pro-life candidate in the race for president. He is now even more pro-life than the [sic] some of the pro-life groups out there.

I wish I didn’t have to come to Donald Trump’s defense, but to jump on the gender identity “women are always victims” bandwagon against him over this issue would be intellectually dishonest of me. It’s time for authenticity in politics. If conservatives want to talk about the power of women, the rule of law and personal responsibility, gray areas in abortion cannot be glossed over.

Mr. Trump said what he thought. Pro-lifers won’t win in this country until they are courageous enough to admit that not all women who chose to abort their babies are victims. Furthermore, Mr. Trump has vowed to appoint a pro-life Supreme Court justice, as has Sen. Ted Cruz.

Pat Robertson Stumped On Abortion Punishment: 'What Do You Do To Somebody Who Commits Murder?'

Reacting to Donald Trump’s since-reversed assertion that women who have abortions should be punished if the procedure is outlawed, Pat Robertson seemed hesitant to rebuke the billionaire mogul. If abortion is murder, the televangelist said today, then it only makes sense to reach Trump’s conclusion.

“You know, it’s interesting, what Trump says, it shocks people, but at the same time the old adage was that abortion is illegal, that is was murder, and consequently if it’s illegal and it’s murder then there had to be some penalty attached to it,” he said.

Robertson added that many anti-choice activists now say that the law “should punish the provider who does the abortion, not the woman who is having it, which sounds more reasonable. In any event, if somebody says abortion is murder, then what do you do to somebody who commits murder? It’s a dilemma that people have been wrestling with and I’m certainly not going to get into it. But that does seem a bit draconian, but at the same time we’ve slaughtered close to 50 million unborn babies in America since Roe v. Wade.”

Donald Trump's America: Bring Back The Back-Alley Abortion

Donald Trump stoked outrage yesterday when he said that if he were to be successful in making abortion illegal there would have to be “some form of punishment” for women obtain the procedure.

A campaign spokesman then said that it would be up to the states to determine what form of punishment women should receive and Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., vigorously defended his father’s comments.

As the outcry continued, Trump’s campaign released a statement from the candidate saying that he only believes the abortion provider, and not the woman, should face punishment for abortion, since the woman is “a victim in the case.” Absurdly, Trump said in the statement that “my position has not changed,” even though it was a reversal of what he had said just hours earlier.

It wasn’t the first time Trump has changed his views on abortion rights: While he said in the 1990s that he was “pro-choice in every respect,” he now says he changed his mind after a friend who was considering an abortion ended up having a “total superstar” kid.

While Trump was offering his vague, evasive and since-contradicted answer on whether he thinks women should face punishment, he also acknowledged that if abortion is banned women would to “go to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places.”

Just as women in parts of the U.S. today are already being punished for having abortions, some women are also going “to illegal places,” as Trump put it, as a result of laws curtailing access to abortion care. Rather than decrease the abortion rate, time and time again anti-abortion laws simply just make women turn to dangerous means.

As Mother Jones notes, unsafe abortions have been on the rise in Texas after state lawmakers passed a number of laws restricting access:

A new study quantifies some of those fears: At least 100,000 Texas women—and as many as 240,000—between the ages of 18 and 49 have attempted to self-induce abortions, according to a report released today by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP). The study also found that it is possible that the rate of women attempting to self-induce abortions is rising in Texas as a result of the state's additional restrictions on abortion care. The report points to previous studies that have explored the correlation between a rise in abortion restrictions and the prevalence of self-induced abortions. A 2008 national study found that about 2 percent of women reported that they tried to terminate pregnancies on their own. In 2012, a year after Texas passed several new abortion restrictions, a study of Texas women seeking care at an abortion clinic found that about 7 percent reported attempting to end their pregnancies without medical assistance before seeking clinic care.



The study identifies two populations where histories of self-induced abortion were most prevalent: Latina women living in a county that borders Mexico—a more rural area of the state that has seen several clinic closures—and women who reported difficulty gaining access to reproductive health care in the past.

The study also determined that the two broad categories of methods used by women to end their pregnancies were home remedies such as herbs, teas, vitamins, or medications—primarily misoprostol—obtained in Mexico without a prescription by women traveling there.

Indeed, women in Texas have sought drugs in Mexico that can cause miscarriages and which, according to one expert, “can cause serious bleeding or a partial birth abortion” if taken without medical guidance.

Latin America, where several countries have enacted anti-abortion laws in recent years, is experiencing a high rate of unsafe abortions:

Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest regional rate of unsafe abortions (pdf) per capita in the world at 31 per 1,000 women, aged 15 to 44. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are about 4.2m unsafe abortions each year in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Abortion is a major cause of maternal mortality in Latin America. The WHO, which calls unsafe abortion a "persistent, preventable pandemic", estimates that in 2008, 12% of all maternal deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean were caused by abortions. Many other women die as a result of complications stemming from unsafe abortions such as septic shock or perforation of internal organs.

If Donald Trump gets his way, women will still be punished for his anti-abortion views, no matter what he now says.

Trump Turns To Far-Right Heritage Foundation For Future Supreme Court Nominees

While many Americans grimly wonder which would be worse for the country, President Donald Trump or President Ted Cruz, one issue isn’t providing much help: Both candidates are making it clear that their potential nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court would be terrible.

We reported yesterday on Cruz’s suggestions that he would nominate his best friend in the Senate, Utah’s Mike Lee. Under his extreme views of the Constitution, much of what the federal government does is unconstitutional, including Social Security and Medicare.

What about Trump? Last year, Trump called Clarence Thomas his favorite justice. This year, he declared Justice Antonin Scalia’s death a “massive setback” for the conservative movement and joined right-wing conspiracy theorists in raising suspicions that Scalia had been murdered.

Last month Trump tossed out the names of two right-wing appeals court judges, William Pryor and Diane Sykes, as two potential nominees from a Trump administration. Pryor calls Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona, two landmark cases protecting the rights of women and criminal defendants, respectively, “the worst examples of judicial activism.” Sykes, like Pryor, has upheld damaging voter ID laws. She also argued that anti-gay groups have a constitutional right to receive government subsidies regardless of whether they engage in discrimination.

Now, Trump is pledging to release a list of seven to 10 potential justices from which he commits to choosing a nominee – and that list is being put together with help from the far-right Heritage Foundation. Heritage is a massively funded right-wing powerhouse that is home to, among others, anti-marriage-equality activist Ryan Anderson, who is urging social conservatives to resist the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Heritage and its more explicitly political arm Heritage Action have demanded even greater obstructionism from congressional Republicans. Even before Scalia’s death, the group had urged the GOP to refuse to confirm any executive branch or judicial nominations except for appointments dealing with national security. Heritage senior fellow Hans von Spakovsky has even demanded that Scalia be allowed to “vote” – even though he is dead – on a case that right-wing activists were hoping the court would use to destroy public sector unions.

Trump met in Washington yesterday with congressional Republicans, and at a press conference he pushed back against accusations by Cruz that he couldn’t be counted on to name a conservative to the court. “Some people say maybe I’ll appoint a liberal judge,” he said. “I won’t.” He promised that his nominee would be “pro-life” and “conservative.”

Trump also explicitly warned (or taunted, depending on your view) Republicans opposed to his nomination that if they support a third-party candidate against him, they will allow a Democrat to name Supreme Court justices who “will never allow this country to be the same.”

Among the Republicans huddling with Trump? Heritage Foundation president and former Sen. Jim DeMint.

Trump Pastor: Hillary Clinton Supports 'Black Genocide'

Mark Burns has been traveling with Donald Trump’s campaign to tout the billionaire mogul’s candidacy and, most recently, criticize Bernie Sanders for his Jewish faith.

Last week, Burns stopped by InfoWars where he lashed out at black voters who support Democrats like President Obama and Hillary Clinton, resurrecting the discredited myth that abortion rights are part of a plot to achieve “the extermination of or genocide of many in the African American community.”

Burns also claimed that Planned Parenthood was “designed to destroy the African American community.” (Trump has repeatedly praised the organization, while at the same time threatening to defund them if they perform abortions.)

“It vexes me greatly how they will stand behind anyone that is okay with the murders of babies,” he said. “That’s really one of my major platforms behind Donald Trump. He loves babies. Donald Trump is a pro-baby candidate and it saddens me how we as African Americans are rallying behind a party that is okay with the genocide of black people through abortion.”

Paul Blair Wants Oklahoma To Lead States' Nullification of Marriage Equality, Abortion Rights

Anti-gay pastor Paul Blair, a former professional football player, is among the far-right activists whose endorsements have been celebrated by the Ted Cruz campaign. At last weekend’s The Awakening conference, Blair promoted his efforts to get states to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.

Resistance to marriage equality and other “unjust” laws was a major theme at the conference and Blair was part of an afternoon panel devoted to the topic, along with Rick Scarborough, E.W. Jackson and Keith Fournier. Blair and others praised the Alabama Supreme Court’s diatribe against the legitimacy of the Obergefell ruling, which was released last Friday, the day before The Awakening.

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.

“We are not 320 million people ruled by five nonelected attorneys,” he said. “The federal government does not have unlimited power, and they do not have the ability to determine the limits of their own power…”

At The Awakening, Blair distributed glossy reprints of an interview he did with The New American, the magazine of the far-right John Birch Society, last summer after the Obergefell decision. In that interview he made the case for states to nullify U.S. Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality and abortion.

There’s no need for constitutional amendments overturning those decisions, he argued, saying that states have the power to enforce the 10th Amendment.

Oklahoma lawfully amended its state Constitution in 2004 to incorporate God’s definition of marriage. There’s no place in the U.S. Constitution where we delegated to Washington the authority to redefine marriage in our state. In fact, according to the 10th Amendment (which is part of the U.S. Constitution) that authority clearly remains with us. Our governor, attorney general, and legislators have all sworn oaths to uphold the constitutions of the State of Oklahoma and the United States. We call upon them to uphold their oaths of office and ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s unlawful Obergefell opinion. In fact, we want Oklahoma to be a “sanctuary state” for marriage, life and the Constitution.

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.”

In the interview, Blair also praised the John Birch Society, saying it has “faithfully stood in defense of our Constitution.” He said Reclaiming America for Christ has included the Society’s "Overview of America" DVD as part of its “biblical worldview training package.” 

What Is Ted Cruz's Position On Personhood?

The anti-choice movement has, in recent years, been feuding over “personhood” laws, which ban all abortions by declaring zygotes and fetuses to be legal “persons” protected by the Constitution. Efforts to pass state-level “personhood” amendments have failed miserably, in part because opponents have pointed out that they could also threaten legal birth control and in-vitro fertilization, and a federal personhood bill sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul hasn’t gotten off the ground in Congress.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz, who has claimed the mantle of the Religious Right in his run for the presidency, seems to be attempting to sidestep the “personhood” debate by taking both sides at once.

Back in 2012, when Cruz was running for a U.S. senate seat in Texas, the anti-choice group National Pro-Life Alliance reported that Cruz had told its members that he would cosponsor Paul’s “personhood” bill, the Life at Conception Act.

Cruz never did cosponsor that legislation, but last year, as he was starting his campaign for the presidency, he signed a pledge written by the pro-personhood group Georgia Right to Life to “support a personhood amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” thus earning the group’s endorsement.

Then, later last year, Cruz was asked by social conservative leader Robert George about the basic theory behind Paul’s “personhood” bill — that if fetuses are declared to be “persons” under the law, Roe v. Wade will fall and abortion will be banned without the need for a constitutional amendment — Cruz said that he “absolutely” agreed.

Then, just this month, as he scrambled to woo social conservative voters ahead of the South Carolina Republican primary, Cruz recorded a video message extolling a resolution that state Republicans had passed in support of a state “personhood” amendment.

Throughout this time, Cruz has insisted that his extreme anti-choice position won’t have any effect on the legality and availability of contraception.

Now, a video is making the rounds among abortion-rights advocates that shows Cruz at a campaign stop in Iowa in January explicitly saying that he has “not supported personhood legislation” because “it focuses on issues that are unrelated to protecting unborn children” — an apparent reference to contraception and IVF.

“I believe we should protect every human life from the moment of conception to the moment of death,” Cruz says. “I have not supported personhood legislation because I think — and the pro-life community is divided on this — but I think personhood legislation can be counterproductive because it focuses on issues that are unrelated to protecting unborn children, and I think our focus should be valuing and cherishing every human life.”

When asked about his views on birth control, the senator adds: “I believe that birth control should be legal and unencumbered. And there are a lot of folks in politics that try to paint a false picture, they try to scare people to suggest that there are politicians trying to go after their birth control. It’s not true.”

Today, the pro-personhood group American Right to Life announced in a press release that it “disavows” Cruz because of his comments backtracking on its signature issue:

A mere 6 months after signing the Georgia Right To Life personhood pledge, Ted Cruz reversed himself last month stating, "I have not supported personhood legislation..." His flip-flop on this position that would make all abortions illegal from the moment of fertilization with no exceptions has resulted in Cruz being eliminated from consideration of being endorsed by American Right to Life.

"It's tragic that Ted Cruz has taken contradictory positions on abortion," said ARTL president Leslie Hanks, "and it's sobering to realize that his effort to get votes from the Republican base could explain his behavior. What America needs is a statesman who will never hesitate to use the bully pulpit to proclaim the God-given, inalienable right to life, at every stage of biological development. No exceptions."

Keep in mind that the video that offended American Right to Life was recorded well before Cruz praised a potential “personhood” amendment in South Carolina. Which leaves us to wonder: What exactly is his position on this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Role of the Courts

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

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

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

Marriage and LGBT Equality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act

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

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

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

Immigration as Invasion

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

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

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

In a 2006 Federalist Society exchange, he said:

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

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

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

Church-State

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

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

Anti-Union

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

Constitutional Limits on Spending

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

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

Reproductive Rights

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

 

Schlafly: GOP Must Block All Obama Judicial Nominees, Strip Courts Of Funding And Power

Right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly wrote today that Justice Antonin Scalia’s death is “a terrible loss for our Nation” and “a reason for Republicans to rethink their approach to the judicial branch of our government.”  The Eagle Forum founder agrees with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge to block any nominee President Obama puts forward to fill the Scalia vacancy, but she wants much more — essentially a declaration of war on the federal judiciary by a conservative Congress.

Of course Senate Republicans should block President Obama from filling this Supreme Court vacancy in an election year, and they have 80 years of precedent on their side. But Republicans should go further and block nominations for all the other vacancies in the federal judiciary, too.

But even with that call for a total blockade of the federal courts, Schafly is just warming up. She wants Congress to cut funding for the courts, cut funding for the enforcement of what she believes are “bad” court decisions, and strip the courts of their jurisdiction over immigration, abortion, and marriage:

It’s fine for the Republican presidential candidates to point out that a vacancy on the Supreme Court is part of the upcoming election, and to promise to fill Justice Scalia’s immense shoes with someone similar. But even if a Republican wins the upcoming presidential election, even if he picks another Justice Scalia, and even if he is confirmed by the Senate, the federal judiciary will still be stuffed with hundreds of activist judges appointed by Obama, Clinton, and even Jimmy Carter.

The Founders gave Congress everything necessary to take power away from this runaway federal judiciary. Congress can deprive the federal courts of power over immigration, abortion and marriage, and can completely defund enforcement of bad federal court decisions that are already on the books.

Congress spent months trying unsuccessfully to defund Planned Parenthood, a laudable goal, but Congress can more effectively defund enforcement of the pro-abortion and pro-homosexual marriage decisions by the judiciary without sparking a phony “war on women” debate.

Congress should also defund use of taxpayer money by the Department of Justice to push the liberal agenda in the liberal courts. Congress should cut back on the funding for the courts themselves, too, and eliminate rather than fill some of the vacancies.

While stopping short of an actual endorsement, Schlafly recently called Donald Trump “the only hope” that grassroots activists have, while many of her Eagle Forum colleagues have endorsed Ted Cruz. But Schlafly is apparently not satisfied with any of the presidential candidates:

While some presidential candidates promise to work with Congress, none of them promise to rein in the Supreme Court in the absence of Justice Scalia. None of them promise to stand up against an unconstitutional order by an activist court by refusing to enforce it, as the next president could do with respect to activist Supreme Court rulings on immigration, abortion, and marriage.

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Anti-Abortion Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 06/28/2016, 12:30pm
Pat Robertson reacted today to the “terrible” Supreme Court ruling striking down parts of a Texas anti-abortion law by declaring that America will face divine judgment for allowing abortion to be legal. We have slaughtered over 55 million unborn babies in this country and we’re going to pay a terrible price as a nation for allowing that. And when it’s sanctioned and approved of by the highest court in the land, then we all stand responsible for it and we will pay, all of us, as a nation, because the Supreme Court and the president and the leaders of our country said... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 06/22/2016, 1:00pm
During his summit with Religious Right leaders yesterday, Donald Trump took time to meet with Troy Newman, the anti-abortion extremist in charge of Operation Rescue. Newman, who was the co-chair of Ted Cruz’s Pro-Life Coalition, said that Trump is the only candidate left in the race who will challenge abortion rights. Newman’s deputy Cheryl Sullenger said in a statement that Trump pledged to: 1. Appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices, which have been pre-vetted by the conservative Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. 2. Appoint strong pro-life judges to the Federal Courts... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 06/21/2016, 11:45am
Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson railed against America’s “culture of death” that “delights in killing people,” warning that God will soon punish America for making abortion legal. Robertson said that “we have to look at the spiritual roots” of abortion rights, blaming the right to abortion on Satan: “The enemy of our soul is Satan and he hates people, he hates human beings, and the idea is if humans can kill other humans, the devil wants to do everything to help it.” “It’s a shocking holocaust,” he said... MORE
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
Brian Tashman, Thursday 05/19/2016, 2:35pm
Over and over again, we have heard about the supposed demise of the Religious Right and how the Republican Party will stop focusing on issues like LGBT equality and abortion rights, especially in the age of Donald Trump. As Ari noted last week, these claims come at a time when women’s “access to birth control is still a matter of public debate and gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals can still face discrimination across wide swaths of our country in the workplace, in housing, and even when attempting to access basic services.” Trump, the candidate hailed by some pundits... 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
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