Brownback Wants McCarthyesque Hearings for Bush’s Judicial Nominee

Sen. Sam Brownback is not giving up his fight against the nomination of Janet Neff and is now seeking to bring her before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a second hearing so that he can get her to provide the “facts” about her attendance at a lesbian commitment ceremony in 2002:

"I am not opposed to her getting a vote," Brownback said before a lunch with potential donors and supporters in Davenport. "I would like her to come back through committee so she can testify what took place, factually ... her legal views on same-sex marriage and her ability and willingness to be impartial." 

Brownback’s McCarthyesque desire to uncover every bit of information regarding Neff’s attendance at this ceremony is staggering.  What does he expect her to provide?  A guest list?  A copy of the gift registry?  

Neff explained her attendance at the ceremony, saying that one of the women was a close family friend and that “it was no different than being asked by my own daughters to be part of an important event in their lives.” But that did not satisfied Brownback, who demanded that she recuse herself from any cases involving the issue of same-sex unions as a condition of receiving a confirmation vote.  Earlier this week, Brownback appeared to back down from that position after realizing that his demand “was so unusual as to be possibly unprecedented” - though he is still defending his actions:

"If we don't testify on her views on same-sex marriage legally, then the only way I can see fit to do this is to have her recuse herself from a class of cases," Brownback said. "Then others stepped in and said 'you can't do that.' Well, that's the only option I had at that late hour."

President Bush nominated Janet Neff back in June and she received a Committee hearing in September – a hearing that was, coincidentally enough, chaired by Brownback himself:

Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin said Tuesday they support three nominees submitted by President Bush to the U.S. District Court for Michigan's Western District.

The three nominees - Grand Rapids lawyer Robert Jonker, Berrien County Circuit Judge Paul Maloney and Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet Neff - told the Senate Judiciary Committee that they would respect the principles of judicial restraint if confirmed.

Stabenow, introducing the appointees, said they bring "distinguished legal careers to the federal bench" and she hoped their nominations would reach the full Senate quickly.

"Senator Levin and I are bringing our full support, enthusiastic support, for the nominees," Stabenow told Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who led the hearing.

If Brownback was so concerned about Neff’s “willingness to be impartial,” perhaps he should have asked her about it when he chaired her confirmation hearing three months ago.  

Study Casts Doubt on Assumptions behind Abstinence-Only Education

Responding to a large-scale study from the Guttmacher Institute showing that the vast majority of Americans do engage in premarital sex – “which calls into question the federal government's funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for 12- to 29-year-olds,” as the study’s author said – Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Wade Horn defended abstinence-only programs, claiming that by withholding comprehensive education on safer sex, the programs “help young people delay the onset of sexual activity” and thus reduce the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.

Dobson Strikes Out Again

As we noted last week, James Dobson recently took to the pages of Time Magazine to discuss the news that Mary Cheney and her partner are expecting a child.  In attempting to make the case that “we should not enter into yet another untested and far-reaching social experiment, this one driven by the desires of same-sex couples to bear and raise children,” Dobson cited work done by New York University Professor Carol Gilligan that he claimed bolstered his argument.  

Only, as it turned out, Gilligan was “mortified” by Dobson’s distortion of her work and demanded that he “cease and desist from quoting my research in the future.”  (Video of Gilligan blasting Dobson can been found here.)

In his Time column, Dobson also cited a book written by Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School to back his position – and now Pruett has stepped forward as well to blast Dobson for distorting his work as well:

Dr. Dobson, I was startled and disappointed to see my work referenced in the current Time Magazine piece in which you opined that social science, such as mine, supports your convictions opposing lesbian and gay parenthood. I write now to insist that you not quote from my research in your media campaigns, personal or corporate, without previously securing my permission. You cherry-picked a phrase to shore up highly (in my view) discriminatory purposes. This practice is condemned in real science, common though it may be in pseudo-science circles. There is nothing in my longitudinal research or any of my writings to support such conclusions.

In this piece, Dobson cited exactly two experts by name, claiming that their work supported his view that “the two most loving women in the world cannot provide a daddy for a little boy--any more than the two most loving men can be complete role models for a little girl.” 

Both have now openly repudiated Dobson’s attempt to distort their work for this own discriminatory ends.    

Right Resumes Dem-Bashing on Judges Despite Electoral Flops

There is nothing the Right loves more than to complain about the issue of judicial nominations.  Back when President Clinton was making nominations, they complained that the Senate was confirming too many and ever since President Bush took office, they’ve been complaining that the Senate isn’t confirming enough.   

On Wednesday, Sen. Patrick Leahy delivered a speech setting out his agenda as incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in which he touched on the issue of judicial nominations:

For too long, this White House has used judicial nominations for partisan political purposes and refused to work with us on consensus nominees. The American people want the Senate to be more than a rubber stamp. They want the Senate to do its job by carefully evaluating nominees for lifetime judgeships -- judgeships that will continue long after this President leaves office and will affect the rights of today’s Americans and those of their children and grandchildren.

The process starts with the President. In the choices he makes, he can unite the Senate and the American people, or he can divide us. If he works with us to send consensus nominees instead of picking political fights, we can make good progress filling vacancies in these important lifetime appointments. One tangible step we should consider is wider use of bipartisan judicial nominating commissions in screening judicial candidates.

Not surprisingly, the Right jumped on the opportunity to complain about the issue once again, with Fidelis, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, and the Committee for Justice all weighing in to blast Sen. Leahy and the Democrats for their supposed “damaging” of the confirmation process.  

The Judicial Confirmation Network also issued a statement, warning:

Voters in key battleground states in 2008 will be watching these liberal Democrats, to see if they really are fair and how they treat President Bush's nominees to the bench who respect democracy and leave political questions to the American people to decide.

It is funny that the JCN would warn that “voters will be watching” because, back in October, it and several of the other groups mentioned above were desperately trying to get voters to pay attention to this issue by unveiling a “Fair Judiciary Oath” that was circulated to candidates running for the Senate.  By signing, candidates pledged to “work to see that everyone duly nominated to serve on the federal judiciary gets a fair confirmation process.” 

The JCN and the others obviously thought that this oath would provide a way to highlight Democratic “obstruction” during the mid-term elections and mobilize right-wing voters in order to help the GOP retain control of the Senate.  

But it didn’t turn out that way, because only four candidates agreed to sign the oath:  George Allen (VA), Rich Santorum (PA), Jim Talent (MO), and Michael Bouchard (MI). 

And each one lost their race.

Professor Tells Dobson to “Cease and Desist” Distortion of Her Work

Earlier this week, Focus on the Family's James Dobson took to the pages of Time Magazine to discuss the news that Mary Cheney and her partner are expecting a child.  

Dobson wrote that even “the two most loving women in the world cannot provide a daddy for a little boy” and attempted to bolster this point by citing research done by New York University Professor Carol Gilligan:

According to educational psychologist Carol Gilligan, mothers tend to stress sympathy, grace and care to their children, while fathers accent justice, fairness and duty. Moms give a child a sense of hopefulness; dads provide a sense of right and wrong and its consequences. Other researchers have determined that boys are not born with an understanding of "maleness." They have to learn it, ideally from their fathers.

Unfortunately for Dobson, Truth Wins Out contacted Gilligan directly and reported that she was none-too-pleased that he was distorting her work:


I am writing to ask that you cease and desist from quoting my research in the future. I was mortified to learn that you had distorted my work this week in a guest column you wrote in Time Magazine. Not only did you take my research out of context, you did so without my knowledge to support discriminatory goals that I do not agree with. What you wrote was not truthful and I ask that you refrain from ever quoting me again and that you apologize for twisting my work.

From what I understand, this is not the first time you have manipulated research in pursuit of your goals. This practice is not in the best interest of scientific inquiry, nor does bearing false witness serve your purpose of furthering morality and strengthening the family.

Finally, there is nothing in my research that would lead you to draw the stated conclusions you did in the Time article. My work in no way suggests same-gender families are harmful to children or can't raise these children to be as healthy and well adjusted as those brought up in traditional households.

UPDATE: See "Dobson Strikes Out Again"

Dobson and Perkins Weigh in on Mary Cheney

First, far-right activists called the vice-president’s daughter’s pregnancy “tragic,” then crackpot researcher Paul Cameron called it “cruel” to her child. It was only a matter of time before the highest-profile leaders of the D.C.-connected Religious Right chimed in with their opposition to gay families.

James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, told the readership of Time magazine that both childbirth and adoption ought to be limited to opposite-sex couples because “The two most loving women in the world cannot provide a daddy for a little boy”:

With all due respect to Cheney and her partner, Heather Poe, the majority of more than 30 years of social-science evidence indicates that children do best on every measure of well-being when raised by their married mother and father. …

In raising these issues, Focus on the Family does not desire to harm or insult women such as Cheney and Poe. Rather, our conviction is that birth and adoption are the purview of married heterosexual couples. Traditional marriage is God's design for the family and is rooted in biblical truth. When that divine plan is implemented, children have the best opportunity to thrive. That's why public policy as it relates to families must be based not solely on the desires of adults but rather on the needs of children and what is best for society at large. …

We should not enter into yet another untested and far-reaching social experiment, this one driven by the desires of same-sex couples to bear and raise children.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, echoes this theme that gay parents are merely gratifying themselves rather than raising their child well:

Children's needs, however, are more than the sum of the wants in the lives of the adults who reside with them. Study after study demonstrates that no amount of care or financial privilege can compensate for the missing physical and emotional benefits experienced by children who enjoy the lifelong love and presence of a married mother and father.

Perkins goes even beyond the dubious argument that children raised by gay couples are automatically worse off for lack of a gender model; he argues that gays are simply too dangerous, writing that “studies published in the peer-reviewed journals”

… all cite the devastating effects of domestic violence, increased substance abuse, mental health problems, sexual identity confusion, depression, and suicide associated with the homosexual lifestyle. A child fortunate enough to escape those realities still faces a distinct disadvantage throughout childhood--the irreplaceable influence of the missing biological parent.

Brownback's Double Standard

We have been following Sen. Sam Brownback’s on-going hold of Janet Neff’s nomination to serve on the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan because Brownback is concerned that Neff attended a commitment ceremony for a lesbian couple back in 2002.  

Brownback is stalling her nomination simply because she attended a commitment ceremony in her personal capacity, but now said that he will consider lifting his hold on her nomination – but only if she agrees to recuse herself from any case that deals with the issue of same-sex unions

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, a potential presidential candidate, said Friday he would lift his hold on a federal judicial nominee if she agrees to step aside from any case dealing with same-sex unions.

Brownback, a Republican raising money for a possible White House bid, has stalled the confirmation of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet Neff to the federal bench because she once attended a lesbian commitment ceremony.

Neff has said she attended the ceremony as a friend of one of the two women, a longtime neighbor. She insisted in an Oct. 12 letter to Brownback that the ceremony had no legal effect and would not affect her ability to act fairly as a federal judge.

Brownback, a prominent gay marriage opponent, says he is concerned the incident colors her legal view on the constitutionality of allowing same-sex marriages.

It should be noted that Brownback voted to confirm William Pryor to a seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals despite Pryor’s open hostility to Supreme Court precedent and his extremist views on church-state separation, gay rights, and other matters

During an April 1997 rally, Pryor decried the decades-old precedent of Roe. He said, “I will never forget January 22, 1973, the day seven members of our highest court ripped the Constitution…” In a survey of state attorneys general on the issue, Pryor said, “Abortion is murder and Roe v. Wade is an abominable decision.” Pryor opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

One of Pryor’s most memorable efforts to move the law closer to his ideology is seen through Alabama Justice Roy Moore’s crusade to defy a federal court order and display the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and on other state property. Moore parlayed his refusal to remove such a display, even after a court ordered him to do so, into a successful campaign for the state’s top judgeship. There, he again displayed his Ten Commandments, this time on a granite monument in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery.

William Pryor has backed Judge Moore, even though the judge’s actions plainly violate the Constitution’s requirement of the separation of church and state.

… Speaking at a rally in support of Judge Moore in 1997, Pryor said, “God has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time and this place for all Christians…to save our country and save our courts.”

Brownback made no such demands that Pryor recuse himself from any case involving the Ten Commandments or reproductive choice, even though there was no doubt about Pryor’s views on the issues and how he would rule in such cases – yet, Brownback is now demanding that Neff agree to recuse herself from any case involving the issue of same-sex unions merely because she attended a commitment ceremony.  

Concerned Women for America Bemoans Failure of 'Fetal Pain' Bill

Congress “voted to not let women know that abortion will torture their innocent unborn babies,” says head Wright; group invokes animal slaughter regulations.

Right on Veep’s New Grandchild: 'Tragic'

Media Research Center ’s Robert Knight called it “tragic.” Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth called it “immoral.” Concerned Women for America ’s Janice Crouse called it “unconscionable.” What are they talking about? A couple deciding to have a kid. If Vice-President Cheney thought that some of his biggest supporters would congratulate him on a new grandchild – or at least restrain themselves from sending out press releases – he had to be disappointed at the right-wing reaction to his daughter’s pregnancy and her plans to raise the child with her lesbian partner.

According to the Right, gays just aren’t fit to be parents – and raising a child is akin to a malicious act. CWA’s Crouse told ABC that Cheney and her partner are “deliberately bringing a child into the world without a father, leaving a great gaping hole” and that leads to “all sorts of negative outcomes — drug use, juvenile delinquency. You name it.” Crouse’s former fellow Concerned Woman Bob Knight went further, claiming that the “child has been conceived with the express purpose of denying it a father,” and “they're shortchanging this child from the start." LaBarbera described the situation as “fatherless by design,” and decry the couple’s plans to “model immoral homosexual behavior before innocent children.”

Carrie Gordon Earll of Focus on the Family was a little more tactful, saying, "Just because you can conceive a child outside a one-woman, one-man marriage doesn't mean it's a good idea. Love can't replace a mother and a father.” She also talked, obliquely, about gay adoption, saying it “intentionally denies children either a mother or a father” and put the “desires of adults” above the “needs of children.” In this she echoed radio talker Kevin McCullough, who wrote that Cheney and her partner were withholding a father “purposefully, simply to stroke one's own desire to have a child - sort of like a new handbag, or pair of shoes.”

Gay advocates pointed out that Mary Cheney’s home state, Virginia, recently passed a constitutional amendment to bar her partner, Heather Poe, from marrying her (or even entering a legal arrangement to approximate marriage), and so the efforts of the right-wing will have a real, deleterious effect on the child’s family situation. “Unless they move to a handful of less restrictive states, Heather will never be able to have a legal relationship with her child,” said Jennifer Chrisler of Family Pride.

But the Right took the opposite view: that Cheney was getting in the way of their anti-gay mission. Crouse told the L.A. Times, “Not only is she doing a disservice to her child, she's voiding all the effort her father put into the Bush administration.” Knight said, "Mary and Heather can believe what they want, but what they're seeking is to force others to bless their nonmarital relationship as marriage" and to "create a culture that is based on sexual anarchy instead of marriage and family values.”

“God’s Senator” Explores Run for President

Now that Sen. Sam Brownback has announced he is setting up an official exploratory committee to prepare to run for president, he is poised to become the Right’s preferred candidate.   

Facing a presidential primary in which “not one of [the] front-runners is a bona fide social conservative” wholly committed to the right-wing agenda, Brownback’s entry is being welcomed as the Right’s best hope

"He will add a lot to the national, not just the presidential, debate," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, a group represented at those meetings. "He truly understands the conservative point of view. It is so frustrating for us when politicians try to pander to us. Brownback is consistent."

It is easy to see why Brownback’s candidacy would be embraced by the Right. He was, after all, named Distinguished Christian Statesman by D. James Kennedy in 2000.  And a quick look at the people he has chosen to serve on his presidential exploratory committee shows just how committed he is to the Right’s agenda.  


Among those listed is Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center, which is part of a network of state-level affiliates that work closely with Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, and Dr. Jack Willke, President of the Life Issues Institute. In addition to Willke and Hurley, Brownback has tapped the likes of Alveda King, a right-wing stalwart who, among other things, participated at the Family Research Council’s “Justice Sunday III” event.  

But two names among those listed as members of Brownback committee stand out: Tom Monaghan and Frank Pavone.

War on Christmas: Right Blasts Chicago for Not Airing Movie in Christmas Market

David Limbaugh, Robert Knight, Concerned Women complain. City said “Nativity Story” clips were “too commercial”; the festival has its own nativity scene.

AFA Still Thinking up New Reasons to Boycott Ford

Hoping to be the biggest threat to American automobile manufacturers since the arrival of large numbers of low-priced Japanese cars in the 1980s, the American Family Association, a virulently anti-gay group, has marshaled a large portion of its resources over the last two years attempting to organize its constituents to boycott the Ford Motor Company over its marketing to gays and lesbians. While a planned boycott one year ago was cancelled, AFA almost immediately reconsidered – claiming the automaker had “reneged” on some kind of “agreements” – and began a boycott in earnest in March.

Adding to its list of grievances – such as Ford running a commercial during a CBS program that had a kiss between two women – AFA cites an e-mail sent by Ford’s “grassroots action program” that urged its employees to vote, and directed them to two sites with information about candidates and ballot initiatives. One of the sites, Ballot.org, describes ballot initiatives in various states and provides links to proponents’ and opponents’ web sites.  The AFA didn’t like Ballot.org’s descriptions or endorsements – especially the site’s opposition to anti-gay constitutional amendments.

According to AFA, this is just more evidence that Ford has “elected to throw their company resources behind the promotion of homosexual marriage.” AFA is urging more of its supporters to join its boycott and to contact local Ford dealers.

At the Values Voter Summit in September, AFA President Don Wildmon bragged that his efforts were having a considerable effect on the company’s bottom line. While this claim is dubious to say the least – AFA’s nine-year Disney boycott fizzled out – the Ford boycott did at least become an issue in Michigan’s race for governor, with pro-gay groups publicizing ties between AFA and Republican candidate Dick DeVos in order to undermine DeVos’s stated support of the auto industry.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Americans Have Judges on Christmas List,” according to a press release from Concerned Women for America pushing the lame-duck confirmation of a handful of controversial judicial nominees whom Bush resubmitted after the election.

Christmas Surprise!

Catholic League: 'Cultural Fascists' to Steal Christmas

CheermeterThe Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights placed a costly advertisement in the op-ed section of the New York Times declaring that “cultural fascists” are preparing to destroy Christmas again this year. Catholic League President William Donohue writes:

There is something sick about Friendship Trees, Winter Solstice Concerts, Holiday Parades and Holly Day Festivals. The neutering of Christmas extends to the banishment of Nativity Scenes from the public square, the expulsion of baby Jesus from crèches not otherwise forbidden, the banning of red and green at school functions, the censoring of “Silent Night” at municipal concerts, etc.

(It’s worth noting that these latter two examples apparently refer to accusations made by Fox News hosts and Religious Right figures last year that turned out to be bogus – see here and here.) Last year, Donohue developed a brief boycott against Wal-Mart, and had another “beef” with Land’s End, for the use of those retailers of the phrase “Happy Holidays” in their promotional material rather than the supposedly more potent expression “Merry Christmas.”

This year, the group has set up a “Christmas Watch,” compiling alleged violations of the spirit (if not the letter) of Christmas law. “Grinches” include a mail-order catalog that sells a “Cat Nativity” scene and thieves who stole a man’s nativity scene from his front yard in Greenfield, Pennsylvania.

Whipping up a paranoid conspiracy theory of a “War on Christmas” is becoming something of an annual, festive tradition on the Right. While nobody is “banning” Christmas, right-wing groups can at least attack retailers, school administrators, and others whose yuletide cheer doesn’t cut muster. But what’s unusual about Donohue’s Times ad is the strange argument he makes to convince people not to say things like “Happy Holidays” – a seasonal greeting used not only as shorthand for “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” but also as a way to express kind sentiments to those who celebrate other days. According to Donohue, one should make a point of impoliteness – excluding people is the reason for the season, apparently, and it is also the true meaning of “diversity”:

To be excluded is normal. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Black History Month, Gay Pride Parades—they all exclude someone. The Olympic Games are a showcase of segregation—men are barred from women’s sports—yet not even radical feminists call it sexist. Should all of these holidays and events be banned because some feel excluded?

By celebrating Christmas we are celebrating diversity. Don’t let the cultural fascists get their way this year.

Facts Optional When It Come to Judges

As we have noted before, there appears to be something about the issue of judicial nominations that makes the Right take leave of their senses.  

For example, Vision America’s Rick Scarborough frets about the Democratic take-over of the Senate in January but insists that, despite the election results, “the American people elected George W. Bush in 2004 with the expectation that he would keep his campaign promise to nominate judges” who share the Right’s agenda regardless of which party controlled the Senate and is urging him to ignore calls to nominate any sort of “compromise” candidates.

To this end, Scarborough claims


When Clinton was president, there was no talk of compromise candidates. Our 42nd President put hard leftists like Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the bench.


The only thing that can be taken from this ridiculous claim is that Scarborough either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the facts because, as Senator Orrin Hatch recounted in his autobiography, at a time when Democrats controlled the Senate and he was merely the ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, President Clinton still conferred with him when it came to potential nominees for the Supreme Court

Our conversation moved to other potential candidates. I asked whether he had considered Judge Stephen Breyer of the First Circuit Court of Appeals or Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. President Clinton indicated he had heard Breyer’s name but had not thought about Judge Ginsberg.

I indicated I thought they would be confirmed easily. I knew them both and believed that, while liberal, they were highly honest and capable jurists and their confirmation would not embarrass the President. From my perspective, they were far better than the other likely candidates from a liberal Democrat administration.

In the end … he nominated Judge Ginsburg and Judge Breyer a year later, when Harry Blackmun retired from the Court. Both were confirmed with relative ease.

Scarborough is not the only one who seems oblivious to history, no matter how recent. In Human Events, Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton writes that


Liberals in the Senate have turned the judicial confirmation process on its head, obstructing the President’s judicial nominees for political reasons. They even resorted to launching judicial filibusters, ignoring the constitutional directive to provide up-or-down votes on all judicial nominees. Why? Not because the nominees were unqualified. But rather because they didn’t like the nominees’ philosophy of judicial restraint.


As we have noted repeatedly, if folks on the Right are really concerned about judicial nominees being denied a vote because one or more senators don’t “like the nominees’ philosophy,” perhaps they can start hounding Sen. Sam Brownback to lift his hold on the nomination of Janet Neff -  a hold that Brownback says is going to continue indefinitely

“I’m still looking at the Neff situation, and I will in the future,” Brownback said.

Neff has said she attended [a same-sex commitment ceremony] as a friend of one of the two women, a longtime neighbor.

Neff has declined to answer Brownback’s queries on whether the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage or civil unions, saying it would be improper to address questions that might come before her as a federal judge.

Brownback called gay marriage a developing area of the law best not left to the judiciary anyway.

“To me these issues should be decided by the legislative bodies, not by the judicial bodies, and it seems to me this may indicate some view of hers on the legal issue. And that’s what I’m concerned about here, is her view of the legal issue involving same-sex marriage,” Brownback said.

One has to marvel at Scarborough’s willingness to claim that there is no need for consultation or compromise on Supreme Court nominees despite the standard set by Hatch and Clinton - and Fitton’s willingness to blast Democrats for opposing nominees based on philosophy at a time when Brownback is doing exactly that.   

Never let it be said that the Right will let pesky things like facts get in the way of their partisan polemics.

Anti-Abortion Groups File Briefs in 'Wrongful Death' Suit Involving Frozen Embryo

Last year, a Chicago judge allowed a wrongful-death suit to go forward against a fertility clinic that had accidentally destroyed a couple’s frozen embryos. This month, religious-right groups have signed on to the cause, reports the American Family Association’s AgapePress:

On November 17, a coalition of nine Illinois and national pro-life organizations filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case in support of the parents. Comprising the coalition are Illinois Citizens for Life, Concerned Women for America, the Illinois Right to Life Committee, Life Advocacy Resource Project, Illinois Federation for Right to Life, Concerned Christian Americans, the Illinois Family Institute, Lutherans for Life, Inc., and the Catholic Conference Center of Illinois. The case is now pending before the Illinois appellate court.

Paul Linton is special counsel for the Thomas More Society of Chicago, which is representing the pro-life coalition. He says the trial judge was correct in concluding that the embryos were human beings under the state's wrongful death statute and should be protected by the law in the event of their destruction.

"Of course," Linton points out, "we want to maintain the standard that human life begins at conception -- understood as fertilization -- and not at a later stage of development, for example, where there is implantation."

According to Thomas Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, this case, on the cutting edge of abortion politics, “is the modern equivalent to Dred Scott in a Petri dish” – one in which the far limits of the “pro-life” position could potentially be legally delineated. But given that in-vitro fertilization involves the fertilization of a number of embryos, most of which will be discarded, one has to wonder what the Illinois couple was thinking when they began the process.

Right Creates Early, Extreme Campaign against Obama

Nov. 29: Update appended.

When it was recently announced that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) would speak at a global AIDS conference at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, radio talker Kevin McCullough was quick to denounce the partnership between the “evil” young senator and Warren, author of the best-selling “Purpose-Driven Life”:

In doing so he has joined himself with one of the smoothest politicians of our times, and also one whose wickedness in worldview contradicts nearly every tenant of the Christian faith that Warren professes.

So the question is, "why?"

Why would Warren marry the moral equivalency of his pulpit - a sacred place of honor in evangelical tradition - to the inhumane, sick, and sinister evil that Obama has worked for as a legislator?

According to McCullough, what makes Obama “a man who represents the views of Satan at worst or progressive anti-God liberals at best” is his position on abortion and his support of “the radical homosexual activist lobby.”

Obama, who in his keynote address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention famously called for political ecumenism, will appear with far-right Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) to be tested for HIV on stage. But the spirit of bipartisanship in approaching issues, like AIDS, that cross the ideological divide is not enough to tamper the Right’s political efforts. Perhaps hoping to preempt a future presidential bid by Obama, right-wing leaders are coming out unusually strong against the AIDS Day appearance.

A (White) Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

In a telling display of the right wing’s contempt for affirmative action, College Republicans in Boston have decided to take a break from limiting the rights of gays, women and non-Christians to stand up for one of our society’s most down-trodden and ignored groups: white people.
Looking to draw attention to what they call the "worst form of bigotry confronting America today," Boston University's College Republicans are circulating an application for a "Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship" that requires applicants be at least 25 percent Caucasian.
Just in case any students of a non-pure blood attempt to swindle money from needy white Republicans, the scholarship application requires students to provide a written essay describing their lineage. Applicants are also required to write an essay describing “what is means to be Caucasian-American today.” Will applicants bemoan the lack of prominent white role models in government and business? Or, will they opine on the unequal treatment white people often receive from the criminal justice system? Perhaps, applicants will discuss their dream of a day when being white is not such a hardship. The Boston University group is not the first to offer scholarships to white folks. Two years ago a group of College Republicans in Rhode Island offered a similar scholarship, though their application required a photograph to “confirm whiteness,” and asked applicants to write an essay extolling white pride. Former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie criticized those white only scholarships.

Perhaps Colson Isn’t the Best Example

Appearing in Wednesday’s edition of the Washington Post was an op-ed by Joseph Loconte and Michael Cromartie, both affiliated with the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center, entitled “Let's Stop Stereotyping Evangelicals.”

The gist of the piece was that the culture’s conception of evangelicals “is a gross caricature” because it ignores “evangelicalism's deepening social conscience.” 

There can be no doubt that certain segments of the evangelical community have long been committed to social and justice issues beyond the Right’s standard anti-abortion and anti-gay agenda. In fact, as we noted in a post the other day, the National Association of Evangelicals is attempting to broaden its agenda to include everything from global warming to the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. Of course, such efforts have not been welcomed by some right-wing pundits and Religious Right leaders, some of whom are attempting to discredit this effort by tying it directly to the NAE’s disgraced former president, Ted Haggard. 

Loconte and Cromartie insist

Even the Moral Majority in its most belligerent form amounted to nothing more terrifying than churchgoers flocking peacefully to the polls on Election Day. The only people who want a biblical theocracy in America are completely outside the evangelical mainstream, their influence negligible.

So as Jerry Falwell and other ministers were jumping into politics, leaders such as Charles Colson -- former Nixon aide turned born-again Christian -- were charting another path. In 1976 Colson launched Prison Fellowship, a ministry to inmates, to address the soaring crime problem. Today it ranks as the largest prison ministry in the world, active in most U.S. prisons and in 112 countries. "Crime and violence frustrate every political answer," he has said, "because there can be no solution apart from character and creed." No organization has done more to bring redemption and hope to inmates and their families.

Colson’s organization has indeed been very effective reaching out to inmates.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been doing so in a manner that is constitutional

Operation Rescue Says Kansas Voters Have Blood on Their Hands

Amid the myriad of losses the Right suffered this election – be it the anti-abortion measure in South Dakota, the stem-cell amendment in Missouri, the parental notification measure in California, the fall of Sen. Rick Santorum, or the loss of more than two dozen seats in the House – nothing seems to have generated as much rage as Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline’s, an anti-abortion zealot who has long been trying to obtain medical records from women’s health clinics in the state, defeat.

Operation Rescue was practically beside itself   

Morrison Slithers into Kansas AG's Office on Backs of Dead Babies

“Kansas has opted to continue the practice of looking the other way when innocent young girls are taken to abortion clinics by their rapists, who are looking to destroy the evidence of their crimes,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “It has also voted to ignore violations of Kansas law that bans post viability abortions. That vote has bloodied the hands of the Kansans who cast those votes.”

Being upset after losing a race that one feels passionately is understandable, but telling the nearly half-million voters who supported your preferred candidate’s opponent that they have blood on their hands is probably not going to generate a lot of sympathy or support.

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Women Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Monday 11/08/2010, 5:40pm
Following Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our third candidate profile is Mississippi state senator and self-described “crusader” Alan Nunnelee. Mississippi Democrat Travis Childers was a prime target for the GOP the moment he took office after a special election in May, 2008 in a seat that Republicans had held for 14 years. One of the most conservative Democrats in the House, Childers opposed health care reform and abortion rights, supported gun rights, and voted with his party less often than... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 11/05/2010, 12:53pm
Following Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our second candidate profile is on a hero to Idaho's Religious Right and Tea Party movements, Raul Labrador: In the Republican primary to see who would face off against Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick, Raul Labrador ran to the right of his very conservative opponent who was endorsed by Sarah Palin and the NRCC. Labrador rallied support from Religious Right and Tea Party groups in order to upset Republican Vaughn Ward, whose campaign imploded, and he went on to... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 11/04/2010, 2:50pm
A few months ago I ordered a book entitled "The Reformer's Pledge" which consists of a bunch of essays written by people like Cindy Jacobs, Jim Garlow, Chuck Pierce, Lance Wallnau, C. Peter Wagner, and others. Among the essays is one written by Lou Engle on "creating a culture of life" and I just want to highlight a few key passages ... like the section where he urges Christians to have more children because they are being out-bred by Muslims and it will help in terms of winning elections: With deep sadness and inward frustration, I see the encroaching Muslim... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 11/04/2010, 1:30pm
Following Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress."  Our first candidate is Florida's version of Sharron Angle, Sandra "Sandy" Adams: After serving four terms in the Florida State House, Sandy Adams ran for US Congress and handily defeated freshman Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas. She built-up a far-right voting record as a state representative, and she campaigned as the most conservative candidate in the competitive Republican primary. As a legislator and candidate Sandy Adams has embraced the... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 11/04/2010, 10:14am
As we noted yesterday, for the second consecutive election the right-wing effort to outlaw abortion in Colorado failed by a substantial margin.  Twice the amendment has been put on the ballot and twice it has managed to secure less than 30% support. But organizers remain undeterred, annoucing that they "will never give up, no matter how long it takes" and comparing their efforts to the women's suffrage movement: From 1890 to 1918, women in South Dakota attempted many times to gain the right to vote. Their constitutional amendments failed to pass six times before they... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 11/03/2010, 10:29am
When the right-wingers behind Colorado's effort to eliminate abortion back in 2008 received a mere 27% support, they proclaimed themselves encouraged by their showing and vowed to try again. Which they did this year, upping the ante by comparing abortion to slavery, President Obama to the Angel of Death, and choice to Nazism ... and this time they managed to secure a whopping 28% support en route to losing by a 3-1 margin. Which, of course, means they are planning trying again in the next election: Amendment 62 was defeated by a wide margin, but Keith Mason, head of the campaign,... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 11/02/2010, 4:22pm
I have to admit that I was a little surprised to see Vision America's Rick Scarborough show up on Joyce Meyer's television program yesterday, mainly because I had never really associated Meyer's with this sort of Religious Right activism.   But judging by the discussion they had, it is pretty clear that she shares Scarborough's right-wing agenda, as the two discussed how important it is for Christians to vote in order to make sure that Godly men and women are writing our nation's laws instead of allowing Satan to pass laws aimed at silencing preachers, their fear that God will... MORE