Mike Lee

Trump Lawyer Who Trashed Campaign Finance Laws: SCOTUS List Shows How Trump Will Govern

Among the events hosted by right-wing groups during the Republican National Convention was “The Conservative Pit Stop,” sponsored by the American Conservative Union Foundation with an assist from its friends at the National Rifle Association. The ACU hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which attracts thousands of participants and a host of Republican officials.

The RNC event consisted of two panel discussions and a surprise keynote from vice presidential nominee Mike Pence. Among the speakers, on different panels, were U.S. senators from opposite ends of the Trump train: early Trump booster Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Utah’s Mike Lee, who was involved in the raucous, unsuccessful Day 1 effort to force a roll-call vote on the convention rules in an attempt to undermine Trump.

Also speaking: Fox News national security analyst KT McFarland, Heather Higgins of Independent Women’s Voice, GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, Heritage Foundation VP for Policy Promotion Ed Corrigan, platform committee policy director Andrew Bremberg and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission Don McGahn, a Jones Day attorney who is the lawyer for Trump’s campaign.

The two questions formally on the table were “Will conservatives support Trump?” and “Can we reverse the Obama imperial presidency?” For these panelists, not surprisingly, the answers were “yes” and “yes.” Lee said it is in Trump’s power to win over Cruz supporters like him by adding to the campaign’s message a clear stand on reversing the trend of allowing the federal government and executive branch to accumulate too much power.

The Supreme Court was a major topic at the event, as it was throughout the convention, where the court was cited frequently as the ultimate reason for conservative voters to back Trump despite whatever qualms they might have.

Making that point most extensively was Trump counsel McGahn, who called the list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees released by the Trump campaign the most important insight into how Trump will govern. “For those conservatives who are on the fence…I would counsel them to take a very hard look at this list and I would also counsel them to take a very hard look at what’s at stake in this election.”

McGahn said the list presents “a defining moment” and “a very, very, very clear choice for Americans.” It contains no moderate or “squishy” judges, he said, “no stealth candidates” and “no David Souters.” A number of them, he noted, clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas or the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

“Everyone on the list is already wearing a black robe,” McGhan said. He explained that there were a number of state Supreme Court justices on the list because many conservative “rising stars” whose age puts them in the “sweet spot” for a Supreme Court nomination are not on the federal bench:

Frankly, anyone in what I consider to be the sweet spot barely had an opportunity to be considered for chance to be considered for a federal court appointment in the last Republican administration so I think the rising stars who are conservative, conservative-libertarian, movement conservative, whatever one wants to label themselves, constitutionalist, textualist, etc., etc., are really going to be found on the state courts, simply because that’s where we are generationally.

McGahn did praise by name a few of the federal judges on the list, including William Pryor and Diane Sykes. And he mentioned state Supreme Court justices Allison Eid of Colorado and Don Willett of Texas, an anti-regulatory judge whose opinion in a Texas licensing case McGahn called “a manifesto on economic liberty we have not seen in our lifetime.”

Sessions also praised Trump’s “great list” of judges, saying it contains “no Souters or Kennedys.”

While everyone on the panel loved Trump’s list, the Heritage Foundation’s Corrigan had one more suggestion: In response to a question about what a President Trump should do on his first day in office, Corrigan suggested that he nominate Sen. Mike Lee to the Supreme Court. (Not long ago we discussed Lee's extreme views about the Constitution.)

Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees was reportedly drawn up with help from right-wing powerhouses the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. McGahn also seems to have played a role as Trump’s liaison to the conservative and Washington establishments in putting that list together; in his introduction, the ACU’s Dan Schneider said McGahn “gets a lot of credit for those 11 judges.” McGahn also reportedly helped broker Trump’s March meeting with GOP congressional leaders.

What do we know about McGahn? He is a partner at the Jones Day law firm. His uncle Paddy was an Atlantic City power broker who helped Trump cut real estate deals in that town. As a Republican appointee to the Federal Election Commission, McGahn actively resisted enforcement of campaign finance laws and sought to “chip away at election rules and regulations.” MSNBC’s Zachary Roth has said, “if you don’t like today’s almost-anything-goes campaign funding landscape, you can lay part of the blame on McGahn.” 

McGahn has bragged that others have called his tenure “the most consequential of any commissioner.” Says Democratic FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, “He was consequential like a sledgehammer was consequential. He did his best to undermine the law.”

RNC Descends Into Chaos When Presiding Chair Blocks Never Trump Delegates

The Republican National Convention broke into disarray today when Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, who was serving as the presiding chair, walked off the stage after ruling against a last-ditch effort by Never Trump forces to save their cause. The Never Trump delegates had demanded a roll call vote on the adoption of the convention rules, which they hoped to change in their Hail Mary effort to stop Donald Trump’s nomination.

Politico described the showdown:

The anti-Trump delegates opposed the rules and hoped to vote them down in the roll call vote. Their ultimate goal is to get a new set of rules that allow delegates to vote against Trump even if they are pledged to him based on the results of their state's primary or caucus rules, though they appear unlikely to have the votes to do either.

Womack eventually returned to say that the group pushing for a vote on the rules did not have sufficient support after several states, which he didn’t name, withdrew from the effort.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli led the protests of Womack’s decision to approve the rules on a simple voice vote rather than call for a roll call vote, and the Colorado delegation walked out of the proceedings entirely.

If Republicans Get Their Wish On The Supreme Court, What Would Trump Or Cruz Do?

By Miranda Blue, Elliot Mincberg and Brian Tashman

Republicans in the Senate, pushed by outside conservative interest groups, are promising to block President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, and arguing that the next president should fill the current vacancy, in the hope that a Republican president will name a conservative ideologue to the bench.

Even if the Senate does confirm Garland, the next president will likely be charged with nominating at least one person to the Supreme Court, and possibly more. Since it looks like either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will win the Republican presidential nomination, looking at both men’s past statements gives us an idea of the kind of justices that Republicans are hoping for.

Trump and Cruz have both signaled that they would appease their base by nominating justices who would shift the court far to the right. Cruz has lamented that some justices nominated by Republican presidents have strayed from the party line on issues like abortion rights and has vowed that he would appoint “rock-ribbed conservatives” who have a “long paper trail” to demonstrate their “conservative” bona fides.

Trump, dogged by worries among movement conservatives that he would betray them when it comes to Supreme Court nominations, has promised to pick any Supreme Court nominees off a list he develops in partnership with the conservative Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society.

Both candidates have indicated that they would nominate judges who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark abortion rights and marriage equality decisions. Trump, although he appears not to understand the central legal issue of Roe, has said that the decision “can be changed” through the right judicial nominations since “you know, things are put there and are passed but they can be unpassed with time.” Cruz has warned that unless a true conservative like him picks the next justice, the Supreme Court will soon be “mandating unlimited abortion.” Trump has said that Obergefell was wrongly decided, while Cruz has called the decision “fundamentally illegitimate” and said it can be ignored by the president.

Cruz has made the future of the court a centerpiece of his campaign, while Trump may not actually understand how the Supreme Court works. But both have made clear that as president they would work to shift the court even farther to the right on the issues important to social conservatives and to the corporate Right.

What would a court shaped by a President Trump or a President Cruz look like? Looking at a few of the possible judicial nominees whose names have been dropped by candidates or who have been recommended by the Heritage Foundation, we can get an idea of the kind of ideological conservatives whom Republicans are hoping to put on the bench.

William H. Pryor

One possible Supreme Court nominee whom Trump has specifically praised is William H. Pryor, selected by President George W. Bush to be on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Formerly Alabama’s attorney general, Pryor has a history of extreme right-wing activism, severely criticizing not just women’s right to choose under Roe v. Wade but even the constitutionality of the New Deal.

Pryor has called Roe the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.” He has claimed that with the New Deal and other measures, the U.S. has “strayed too far in the expansion of the federal government,” and asserted that it “should not be in the business of public education nor the control of street crime.” As a judge, he has helped uphold a restrictive Georgia voter ID law and joined just one other judge on the 11th Circuit in claiming that “racially disparate effects” should not be enough to prove a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, even though the Supreme Court has ruled precisely the opposite.

Pryor came first on a wish list of Supreme Court picks that the Heritage Foundation published shortly after Trump promised to consult them before naming justices.

Diane Sykes

Trump has also repeatedly named Diane Sykes, a Seventh Circuit federal appeals court judge appointed by President George W. Bush, as a potential Supreme Court nominee. Sykes, who previously served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and a trial court, has also won high praise from the Heritage Foundation and from right-wing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

In a series of dissents, Sykes has argued in favor of big business and against consumers and discrimination victims, including cases where she tried to limit corporate liability for product defects and overturn a $1 million damages award, to protect a corporation from having to defend against an employee’s claim of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to reverse a $3.5 million bad faith judgment in favor of a Lutheran church against its insurance company.

She showed her anti-reproductive-choice views in providing a lenient sentence to two anti-abortion protesters who had to be forcibly removed from blocking the entrance to a Milwaukee abortion clinic and had previously been arrested 100 times for such offenses; Sykes nevertheless praised them for their “fine character” and expressed “respect” for the “ultimate goals” the blockade “sought to achieve.”

She asserted in dissent that a jury verdict against a criminal defendant should have been upheld even though there was extensive evidence that one of the jurors did not understand English (including a statement from the juror himself), which disqualified him from serving on a jury under Wisconsin law; that a prosecutor should be immune from a claim that he fabricated false evidence that wrongly convicted a man for 17 years; and that a conviction under federal law against someone convicted of domestic violence for possessing firearms should be reversed and that the law itself could well be unconstitutional, in disagreement with all 10 other judges on the court of appeals. She voted in favor of a Wisconsin voter ID law and of a claim by a student group that it should receive state funding and recognition despite its violation of a university rule prohibiting against discrimination based on sexual orientation, an issue on which the Supreme Court reached exactly the opposite conclusion several years later.

Steven Colloton

The third name on Heritage’s list of possible Supreme Court nominees is Judge Steven Colloton, who was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, after previous service for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and as a U.S. attorney.

Colloton has been at the forefront of a number of troubling Eighth Circuit rulings, including writing decisions that reversed an $8.1 million award to whistleblowers who helped bring a defective pricing and kickback claim against a large corporation and a nearly $19 million class action judgment against Tyson Foods for violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. He also joined a ruling making the Eighth Circuit the only appellate court in the country that found that the Obama administration’s efforts to accommodate religious universities and other religious nonprofit objectors to the provision of contraceptive coverage under the ACA was insufficient, an issue now being considered by the Supreme Court.

Even more troubling, Colloton has dissented from a number of Eighth Circuit rulings that have upheld the rights of employees, consumers and others against big business and government agencies. He dissented from a decision giving African-American shoppers the opportunity to prove discrimination claims against a large department store, and then saw his view prevail by one vote when the full Eighth Circuit reheard the case. In another case, he dissented from a decision finding that a city had violated the Voting Rights Act by improperly diluting the voting strength of Native Americans.

Colloton dissented from rulings that gave individuals a chance to prove claims of use of excessive force and, in one case, that a city’s policy to use police dogs to bite and hold suspects without any warning was unconstitutional. In three separate cases, he dissented from decisions that employees should at least get the chance to prove in court that their employers retaliated against them for filing sex harassment, age discrimination, or other discrimination claims. In two more decisions, he argued in dissent that public employees should not have the opportunity to prove that they were retaliated against for speaking out in violation of their First Amendment rights. Yet he also claimed in a dissent that the First Amendment rights of a candidate for state supreme court justice were violated by a state judicial code of conduct restricting solicitation and other campaign activity in order to promote judicial impartiality and ethical conduct by judges. Even the conservative Roberts Court that decided the Citizens United case has agreed that these concerns justify solicitation restrictions in state supreme court elections.

Mike Lee

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah is Cruz’s closest ally in the Senate and Cruz has said that Lee “would look good” on the Supreme Court. Lee also made the Heritage Foundation’s shortlist of potential Supreme Court justices.

Lee is a fervent “tenther,” someone who believes the 10th Amendment to the Constitution radically restricts the authority of the federal government. As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in the New York Times Magazine in 2010, “Lee offered glimpses of a truly radical vision of the U.S. Constitution, one that sees the document as divinely inspired and views much of what the federal government currently does as unconstitutional.” Among the areas that Lee has suggested it is unconstitutional for the federal government to be engaged in:

  • Social Security,
  • Medicare and Medicaid,
  • child labor laws,
  • food safety,
  • disaster relief,
  • food stamps,
  • the Violence Against Women Act,
  • and, of course, the Affordable Care Act.

Lee has criticized the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion rights and marriage equality, calling Roe v. Wade an “unconscionable decision” that “defied the spirit and the letter” of the Constitution and responding to Obergefell by introducing a measure that would protect anti-LGBT discrimination.

Ted Cruz

While we don’t expect Cruz to name himself to the Supreme Court, as recently as December Trump was receptive to the idea of extending an olive branch to his main Republican presidential rival in the form of a Supreme Court nomination.

A Justice Cruz would certainly align with Trump’s stated priorities of reversing the Obergefell marriage equality decision and making sure Roe v. Wade is “unpassed.” Cruz, who served as the solicitor general of Texas before his election to the U.S. Senate, has gone so far as to call for the U.S. government to defy Obergefell and to claim that Congress could ban abortion without overturning Roe. Before running for the Senate, Cruz proposed an unconstitutional plan to nullify the Affordable Care Act; last year, he said that a Supreme Court ruling rejecting a clearly meritless challenge to the ACA was the “lawless” work of “rogue justices.” Cruz is known for having politicized the Texas solicitor general’s office, filing dozens of Supreme Court amicus briefs defending conservative positions on hot-button issues such as gun rights and abortion. On the campaign trail, he frequently boasts of his work as an attorney fighting church-state separation.

If Cruz were to become a Supreme Court justice, however, we wonder if he would stick with his idea of subjecting justices to retention elections.

This post has been updated to clarify the circumstances of a case in which Sykes asserted in a dissent that a jury verdict should have been upheld despite evidence that one juror was disqualified from serving.

What Would It Look Like If Ted Cruz Put His Pal Mike Lee on the Supreme Court?

Back in December, Kyle reported that Glenn Beck, who believes Ted Cruz is anointed by God to be president, suggested that a President Cruz should nominate Utah Sen. Mike Lee to the Supreme Court. This weekend, while campaigning in Utah, Cruz himself floated the prospect, saying Lee “would look good” on the court.

“Good” is not really the right word. “Terrifying” is more like it.

Lee, who calls Cruz his “best friend at work,” has perhaps the most extreme view of the Constitution of anyone in the Senate. Lee is a fervent “tenther,” someone who believes the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution radically restricts the authority of the federal government. As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in the New York Times Magazine in 2010, “Lee offered glimpses of a truly radical vision of the U.S. Constitution, one that sees the document as divinely inspired and views much of what the federal government currently does as unconstitutional.”

Lee dismisses Supreme Court rulings upholding a women’s right to abortion. He called the court’s marriage equality ruling a “breathtaking presumption of power.” People For the American Way noted in a 2010 report that Lee “has denounced as ‘domestic enemies’ those who disagree with his radically limited view” of the Constitution.

Here are a few things that Sen. Mike Lee believes are unconstitutional for the federal government to be engaged in:

This list helps explain why right-wing law professor Jonathan Adler, a force behind the King v. Burwell challenge to the Affordable Care Act, has also suggested that the next Republican president should put Lee on the court.

For an ardent self-described constitutionalist, Lee has a lot of problems with the Constitution as amended over the years and as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Lee published a book last year called “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America's Founding Document.” He believes the 16th amendment, allowing the federal government to collect income taxes, should be repealed, leaving it to the states to determine how they would tax their own citizens to pay for the extremely limited federal government that would fit his vision of the constitution. He also thinks the 17th Amendment was a mistake and thinks the power to elect U.S. senators should be taken away from voters and returned to state legislatures. He also wants to "clarify" the 14th Amendment through legislation to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. to parents who are not citizens or legal residents and wants to amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget and to impose congressional term limits. He supports a campaign by some right-wing activists for state legislators to convene an “Article V” convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution.

As a Senate candidate he said he would like to abolish the federal Departments of Energy and Education, dismantle the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and phase out Social Security altogether. As a senator, Lee orchestrated shutting down the government in an effort to defund Obamacare, even though Cruz took most of the blame for it.

Cruz and Lee share a sort of gleeful pride in playing the outsiders who have contempt for “the establishment.” Lee is reportedly the guy who suggested that Cruz run for Senate; he was among those who endorsed Cruz in his long-shot primary for his Senate seat. This month, he became the first of Cruz’s Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential run.

The White Horse Prophecy: Glenn Beck Tells Utah That God Has Chosen The Mormons To Save America By Electing Ted Cruz

Back in 1843, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, supposedly delivered a message known as "The White Horse Prophecy" that declared that one day, when the U.S. Constitution was hanging by a thread, the Mormon people would rise up and save this nation.

This is how Brigham Young reportedly explained it in 1854:

Will the Constitution be destroyed? No; it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction."

In 2010, the LDS church issued an official statement that "the so-called 'White Horse Prophecy' is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine," but that didn't stop Glenn Beck from repeatedly invoking it as he campaigned for Ted Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee in Utah over the weekend.

Beck spent all last week declaring that God has spent the last 10 years preparing and sanctifying his audience to rise up at this very moment and save the republic by electing Ted Cruz as president. But when he went to Utah, Beck made it unmistakably clear to his fellow Mormons that God is using them to save America because evangelical Christians "are not listening to their God," a reference to southern evangelical Republicans who have voted for Donald Trump.

When Beck spoke at a rally for Sen. Lee's re-election in Draper on Saturday, he explicitly invoked the language of the White Horse Prophecy.

"It's something that Utah needs to hear," he said. "The body of the Priesthood is known to stand up when the Constitution hangs by a thread. I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 2000. What attracted me was not only the truth of the message, but also the people like President [Harold] Lee and President [Ezra Taft] Benson, who knew exactly who we were, knew who we were as a country. Many times, what held me through was the prophecy that the Constitution will hang by a thread and this people would remember what our founders did. It is our responsibility to stand for the Constitution!"

Beck echoed that message while campaigning for Cruz in Provo, telling the audience that he had a "special message for the people of Utah."

"I believe the Book of Mormon," he said. "I believe it to be true. I believe every word of it ... That book spells out in great detail what things look like before the Lord comes back. And He gave us that book so we can protect freedom here. He also gave us that book so we would know what to do at the time. Now you either believe that or you don't. You either believe that to be true, it's not just a book; then let the Priesthood lead! Priesthood holders, stand up and take your staff! You are the guardian at the gate."

While speaking at another Cruz rally in Salt Lake City, Beck said that it was up to the Mormons to save this nation because "the evangelicals are not listening to their God."

"Let me testify to you now," he stated. "The Book of Mormon is a book that was given to us for this time in this land and it explains exactly what it's going to look like when trouble comes ... You know what time it is, the Priesthood is supposed to rise up and restore the Constitution. Now is that time!"

"Utah has an incredible opportunity," he continued. "So many Christians have been standing up, but all throughout the South, the evangelicals are not listening to their God. Let us raise a standard in Utah. Let us do this one thing perfectly right."

Heritage Demands SCOTUS Blockade As Part of Scorched-Earth Obstructionism

As the New York Times explained earlier this week, the Senate GOP’s promises to block anyone who President Obama nominates to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court amounts to a ratcheting up of a campaign of obstruction on nominees that has lasted throughout Obama’s time in office.

This is in part thanks to the lobbying of conservative groups who, even before Scalia’s death, were urging Senate Republicans to block nearly every Obama nominee in his final year in office.

A particularly influential force behind this effort has been the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank that has in recent years become a bludgeoning arm for the Tea Party as it pressures GOP lawmakers away from allowing the government to function in any sort of bipartisan manner.

Heritage, under the leadership of former Sen. Jim DeMint, and its more explicitly political arm Heritage Action, headed up by Michael Needham, have worked to pressure the GOP to be an immovable agent of obstruction in a divided government. One House Republican accused Heritage Action last year of insisting on “an unachievable standard” of conservativism that actually “hurts” the party’s goals by preventing reasonable action and compromise.

Heritage Action’s version of conservativism is so far out of the mainstream that even Senate Republicans score an average of just 60 percent on its legislative scorecard. The two senators who have perfect scores from group are Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been boasting of his bridge-burning obstructionism as he runs for the Republican presidential nomination. (Sen. Marco Rubio, a supposedly mainstream rival to Cruz, ranks an impressive fourth in Heritage’s ranking of senators.)

Heritage Action’s single-minded focus on attacking the Affordable Care Act infamously helped lead to the 2013 government shutdown. One fellow ACA opponent slammed Heritage and Cruz for the ordeal, writing that the “entire affair was bungled by a few narcissistic conservative groups and senators” and ended up actually hurting the cause they were claiming to support.

Heritage and Heritage Action have applied the same scorched-earth tactics to Obama judicial nominations, urging the GOP to shut down all executive branch and judicial confirmations even before the death of Scalia.

Politico reported in January that in advance of a GOP retreat in Baltimore, Heritage Action circulated a document among lawmakers declaring, “Given the Obama administration’s disregard for Congress’s role in our constitutional system of government, the Senate should refuse to confirm the president’s nominees unless those nominees are directly related to our national security.” This echoed previous calls from Heritage’s favorite senators, Lee and Cruz, to completely shut down the judicial confirmation process.

Later that month, Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky and American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios agreed that Republicans should oppose all future Obama judicial nominees because, in von Spakovsky’s words, they would all share Obama’s “radical left-wing views.”

On January 26, Heritage Action announced that it would “continue to oppose all judicial nominees and reserve the right to key vote against any and all judicial nominees retroactively,” meaning that it would count support for any Obama judicial nominee against members of Congress in its scorecards — even, apparently, in votes that had already taken place. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid specifically called out Heritage Action for pressuring GOP senators against action on judicial nominees.

Unsurprisingly, Heritage Action and the Heritage Foundation are now pressuring GOP senators to hold Justice Scalia’s seat open until the next president takes office. Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, who, as a Republican senator, built a reputation as a “warrior for purity” within the party, wrote on Tuesday that the Senate “can and should withhold its consent” from any Obama nominee.

In another interview with Rios on Monday, von Spakovsky offered a barely veiled threat to Republican senators contemplating considering an Obama nominee.

“I think they understand that if they were to confirm a liberal Obama nominee this year, it would be an absolute election disaster,” he said. “I mean, I’ve already heard from folks in the conservative community saying that if any Republican senator works to confirm an Obama nominee, they’re going to be a massive target of people trying to get them out of office because they’ll be so upset about that.”

Now that a Supreme Court seat is at stake, the conservative movement is converging on this line of thinking, inventing bogus new “traditions” in an attempt to justify keeping a Supreme Court seat open for more than a year.

There are plenty of conservative groups that are promising an all-out campaign to keep an Obama Supreme Court nominee off the bench — the Times says that the American Center for Law and Justice, the right-wing legal group founded by Pat Robertson, started opposition research on potential nominees “moments” after Scalia’s death was announced. But Heritage’s commitment to keeping any Obama nominees off the federal bench speaks to the real motivations behind the effort to stop any Supreme Court nominee: turning the Congress into a force of obstruction, not of governing.

Congressional Republicans Promote 2016 'Ideas' Strategy, Warn Against Trump At Heritage 'Conservative Policy Summit'

The Heritage Foundation’s political advocacy affiliate, Heritage Action for America, held an all-day “Conservative Policy Summit” on Wednesday, during which Heritage staff and supporters heard from nearly two dozen conservative Republican members of Congress. Heritage's president, former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, reaffirmed one of the organization’s longstanding principles — that you can’t legitimately call yourself an economic conservative if you aren’t also a social conservative.

The morning consisted of speeches on “conservative policy pillars” – House Speaker Paul Ryan on leadership, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa on defense, Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina on social policy, and Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska on economic policy. The afternoon was built around panel discussions on the House Freedom Caucus, the freshman class, differences in the workings of the House and Senate, and the state of the conservative movement. What was meant to be a closing debate on the filibuster between Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Sen. Mike Lee turned into a moderated conversation with Lee — who defends the filibuster against frustrated right-wing House members — when Goodlatte didn’t show.

Ryan’s opening speech set a mostly high-minded tone, saying conservatives must address Americans who are hurting and convince them that a conservative pro-growth agenda offers them more promise than “failed” liberal policies. He called for a “clarifying election” that would, like Ronald Reagan’s 1980 victory, come with a mandate to enact conservative policies. Ryan warned that with one more progressive presidency “liberals will lock in all their gains” — and that Democrats’ refusal to deal with entitlement reform would ensure monetary and fiscal crises.

In remarks that may have been intended for his Heritage Action hosts and members of the Freedom Caucus, Ryan urged conservatives not to engage in a “circular firing squad” or waste time fighting over tactics or impugning one others’ motives. “We can’t let how someone votes on an amendment to an appropriations bill define what it means to be conservative, because it’s setting our sights too low,” he said.

Ryan also said Republicans must not be merely oppositional. He suggested that conservatives who promised to repeal Obamacare while Obama was still in office were merely setting themselves up for failure. He said House Republicans are putting together a five part ideas-based agenda that will define the year in the areas of national security, jobs and the economy, healthcare, poverty and opportunity, and restoring the Constitution.

Rep. Mark Walker, a Southern Baptist minister, was introduced by Heritage’s Jennifer Marshall as a champion of the right-wing social agenda on marriage, abortion and religious liberty. Walker said the country was founded on traditional values, but that decades of liberal policies have led to the “undoing” of communities: “The federal government has hijacked the American Dream and the family has been decimated.”

Walker said Congress must “eliminate every taxpayer dollar that goes to Planned Parenthood,” saying, “There is no other freedom-robbing, opportunity-destroyer and life-killer that is more intentional than Planned Parenthood.”  Walker did not directly address the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling or the resistance to the ruling being pushed by some social conservatives. In a question about how to make marriage fashionable, he said the church has to do its job in teaching the truth about family.

Walker said people are right to be angry about some things, like classrooms indoctrinating students with “progressive secularism,” and said that anger can be a powerful motivator if properly targeted. He urged people to be discerning and compassionate in order to more effectively make the conservative case. “It’s okay to be a loud voice as long as you’re doing more than just making noise,” he said.

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a former college president tasked with talking about economic freedom, said that the American idea of limited government and conservatives’ commitment to the free market are grounded in “an anthropological claim about human dignity.” Like other speakers, Sasse denounced what he described as regulatory overreach. He disputed the characterization by former Democratic Rep. Barney Frank that government is “another word for the things we choose to do together.” No, said Sasse, government is not community, but compulsion, power and force.

Sasse seemed to criticize Donald Trump’s campaign without mentioning the candidate by name (something Ryan had also done), saying it was wrong to think that government power or a single election can fix things.

A lot of what is happening in the Republican electorate right now is the downstream effects of the tribalism of race, class and gender identity politics on the left, that some of the right have decided, well, if they’re going to have an identity politics, maybe we should have an identity politics. And that is an abandonment of the American idea. We already have one post-constitutional party in this country; we don’t need a second one. And so the idea that there is a strongman that can save us isn’t true. It’s understandable why it can be attractive, but it isn’t true. And so if you pretend that if only we gave more power to one guy in Washington, but he was the right guy, everything would be fixed, I submit to you that that act is the act of saying everything is already lost in the American experiment. Because what America needs is a constitutional recovery, not a Republican Barack Obama.

A panel with members of the House Freedom Caucus — what moderator Fred Barnes referred to affectionately as the “Bomb-thrower Caucus” — included Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Raul Labrador of Idaho, Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina. A common theme of their remarks was that Republicans in Congress have lost the trust of the American people by overpromising and under-delivering because too many of them get to D.C. and get talked into being a “team player.” Members of the Freedom Caucus and panel of House freshmen all seemed optimistic that the House would function more effectively under the speakership of Paul Ryan than it did under deal-maker John Boehner.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia talked about the new Article I project that has been launched by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and others, which is designed to limit the regulatory power of federal agencies and the discretionary power of the president. (Lee and Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas described the Article I project in National Review this week.) Later in the day Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona also mentioned the project, saying he hoped it would reinvigorate the constitutional balance between the legislative and other branches.

But in spite of the perils they said face America, panelists were positive about the state of the conservative movement. Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama noted that the conservative movement today has many assets that Ronald Reagan didn’t, including a national network of state-level think tanks and advocacy organizations, political groups devoted to candidate recruitment and training and grassroots mobilization, and GOP control in most statehouses and legislatures. Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia, who waged the right-wing insurgent campaign that defeated former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary, predicted a conservative wave election. And Rep. Bill Flores of Texas said the conservative movement is strong, as reflected in the success of “outsider” candidates in the Iowa caucuses and the majorities in the House and Senate — there’s just “one big step to go.”

Glenn Beck Hopes President Ted Cruz Will Appoint Sen. Mike Lee To The Supreme Court

Sen. Mike Lee called into Glenn Beck's radio program today, where Beck raised the prospect of Lee finding himself with an appointment to the Supreme Court should Sen. Ted Cruz become president, which Lee said is something for which he would be "highly flattered" and "very grateful."

When Beck raised the possibility of Lee being nominated to the Supreme Court, the Utah Republican responded that obviously any "law geek" in America would be flattered by such an offer and he would be no exception, saying that if such a scenario comes about, "we'll see what happens."

Beck and cohost Pat Gray were positively giddy about the prospect of putting Lee on the court for the next 50 years because it would drive the left insane, while Lee admitted that he would certainly "not be their first choice."

Beck responded that he has had personal conversations with Cruz about the need to confirm people like Lee to the Supreme Court and Cruz has promised Beck that he has the "guts" to try and do exactly that.

"I believe him," Beck said of Cruz's pledge before telling Lee that "I'm hoping to see you in robes some day."

Mike Lee: Supreme Court Marriage Decision Would Be 'Disruptive Of The Constitutional Order'

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah joined Phyllis Schlafly on her “Eagle Forum Live” radio program last month, where he took a call from a listener who asked if he agreed “that the original Constitution didn’t give the Supreme Court the power to rule anything about marriage” and that even Justice John Marshall, who established the principle of judicial review, “never said that the court could change the definition of marriage.”

“Where did the Supreme Court get the power to change the definition of marriage?” the caller asked. “And all the justices, all nine of them, even though they disagree, they all seem to think that they have the power to make that decision.”

“They don’t have that power, the Constitution didn’t give it to them,” Lee responded.

“There are a few who appear to take the position that something in the Constitution, something in the 14th Amendment in particular, gives them this power,” he said. “I strongly, strongly disagree with that viewpoint. I don’t think it does, and I think they are mistaken in that conclusion. And it think it’s wrong, I think it’s disruptive of the constitutional order for them to take a debatable matter and take it beyond debate, to take a state matter and take it to the federal government, not just to Congress, but to the Supreme Court, to a group of nine lawyers dressed in black robes who are not elected, but who are appointed for life. And I think that’s a big problem.”

In an interview with WorldNetDaily posted on its YouTube channel last week, Lee had a similar warning, saying that if a bill he has introduced allowing religious groups to discriminate against gay people doesn’t pass, a Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality could cause churches and religious organizations to shut down because of the government “retaliating against religious individuals or institutions.”

“I fear that what could happen is that the government could start discriminating against religious individuals and religious institutions that have a religious belief about the definition of marriage,” he said. “I don’t want that to happen. I hesitate to imagine what an America that would have that as part of its legal system would look like.”

Gordon Klingenschmitt Scores An Exclusive Interview With Sen. Mike Lee

The Western Conservative Summit was held in Denver earlier this month and Gordon Klingenschmitt, the demon-obsessed anti-gay exorcist who is the GOP nominee for a seat in the Colorado legislature, was on hand to get his photo taken and score exclusive interviews with some of the speakers, including Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.

Klingenschmitt asked Lee about the effort by Democrats in the Senate to reverse the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision and though the effort failed, Lee warned it "was nothing short of a full-frontal attack on religious liberty itself."

"This is not about women's health," Lee told Klingenschmitt, "as much as they would like to try and dress it up that way. This is about religious freedom and this is an all-out, no-holds-barred attack on that and it's one that we have to resist":

Fox News' Monica Crowley: Left At War With America

Monica Crowley of Fox News served as the emcee for a “legislative luncheon” that kicked off the “Road to Majority” conference sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.

The speakers’ lineup – Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Allen West, and John Bolton – promised a butcher shop’s worth of red meat for right-wing activists, and Crowley must have decided she didn’t want to be overshadowed.

She complained that she has both a Marxist president and mayor (New York’s Bill de Blasio) and asserted that “we are in a war…the left is waging a 24/7 war against this country.” She said the fight is not only against leftism and statism, but against “the ideology of control.” Health care reform was not about health care, but about government power and control. “Every day of this presidency has been an impeachable offense – every day.”

Crowley could be unintentionally funny, as when she railed, without any apparent sense of irony, that the left relies on divisiveness and “manufactured” crises, then a few moments later ticked off a set of the right wing’s favorite manufactured crises.  Or when she complained that the mainstream media is too partisan, saying that the Obama administration has gotten away with ravaging the Constitution because of “the protection racket of a corrupt and supine press.” Or when she called people like Ralph Reed and Ted Cruz “truth tellers.”

She managed to hit on just about every current right-wing meme, from Benghazi to the IRS, from illegal immigration to “the removal of God from public life.” The Obama administration, she says, is engaged in “the deliberate takedown of America.”

In introducing the “brilliant” and “beautiful” Crowley, Ralph Reed noted that she has recently been named online opinion editor for the Washington Times, a major sponsor of the anti-marriage-equality rally that the National Organization for Marriage was holding at that very moment in front of the US Capitol.

Cruz To Join Christian Nation Activists In South Carolina

Update, 10/30: The Dallas Morning News is now reporting that Mike Lee will not be attending the summit.

Ted Cruz and Tim Scott will be joining Religious Right leaders in South Carolina, an early primary state, in the beginning of November for a Renewal Project conference organized by David Lane.

Lane believes that the US may soon face car bombings as a form of divine retribution over gay rights and legal abortion, and believes that his Renewal Projects can activate enough pastors and conservative voters to save America.

Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News reports that Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) will be attending as well. It is a tad ironic that Lee, a Mormon, would be addressing a summit hosted by Lane, who promoted attacks against “the false god of Mormonism” during the last primary campaign against Mitt Romney.

But Lane’s push to move the GOP towards embracing the Religious Right’s agenda has made him a weighty figure, as over the summer Republican leaders including Cruz, Rand Paul and Reince Priebus attended his Iowa summit.

American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, Religious Right historian William Federer and pastors Laurence White and Ken Graves are also listed as featured speakers.

Wildmon for decades has preached the virtues of censorship and supposed evils of homosexuality, while Federer believes that President Obama and Hillary Clinton are advancing Sharia law and has predicted that the military will be used to oppress gay rights opponents (along with several Obama “October surprises” which never materialized).

Not to be outdone, White has regularly predicted America’s imminent doom and Graves made a name for himself by offering his special insights on gay family dynamics.

Beck: If We Don't Stop Calling Ted Cruz & Mike Lee 'Extremists,' It'll Give Rise To A Nazi-Style Party In America

On his radio program yesterday, Glenn Beck pointed to a victory by a far-right National Front candidate in an election in France to warn that if people don't stop calling Tea Party leaders such as Ted Cruz and Mike Lee "extremists," it'll give rise to a powerful Nazi Party in America.

"I guarantee you," Beck said, "if we don't wake up, if we don't stop calling people like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz extremists, you are going to see a Nazi-style party in this country."

Saying that the true Right is total anarchy and the true Left is big government Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Beck declared that "the real center of this country is Mike Lee; he is a reasonable man":

Lee: Conservatives Have Not Focused Enough On The Family

Senator Mike Lee of Utah was the first speaker that this year's Values Voter Summit, which he kicked off by telling the audience that the problem with conservatives is not that they have focused too much on issues relating to the family -  such as school prayer, abortion, or marriage equality - but have not focused on those issues enough:

Larry Pratt: 'Everybody Understands Ted Cruz Runs the United States House'

Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt is one of Texas senator Ted Cruz’s biggest boosters. Back in May, Pratt called the freshman senator “a real hero there that’s ridden into town from Texas” and ventured that he was “certain” that Cruz wouldn’t disappoint him. And the relationship works both ways: Cruz has nothing but praise for the gun group, and the New York Times has called him Pratt’s “key ally in the Senate.”

Cruz’s role in instigating the government shutdown has only intensified Pratt’s admiration for the senator. In a speech to a Pennsylvania Tea Party group last week, Pratt called House Speaker John Boehner a “sad sack” who has been “totally humiliated” because “everybody understands that Ted Cruz runs the United States House.”

Pratt also sang the praises of Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, principally because, according to Pratt, Lee was the one who first suggested that Cruz run for Senate.

Pratt is a big fan of the shutdown for a number of reasons. On the Talk to Solomon Show last week, Pratt applauded the shutdown of a huge portion of government services, saying, “Let’s just celebrate the fact that we’re only getting oppressed 57 percent of normal.”

Tea Party Senators Kick Off Ralph Reed's Faith & Freedom Conference

Four of the Tea Party’s favorite senators – Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, and Marco Rubio of Florida – addressed the kick-off lunch for this year’s “Road to Majority” conference, which is sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition.

Rand Paul made his case for a humbler foreign policy, suggesting that anti-abortion “pro-life” advocates should also think about the lives of 18- and 19-year old soldiers sent abroad before applauding a politician who talks with bravado about pre-emptive wars.  He said that even when American soldiers go to war with the best of intentions, the law of unintended consequences can be merciless.

Paul told activists that there is a worldwide “war on Christianity” that is being waged not only by “liberal elites” but also by American taxpayers through the country’s financial support of countries that persecute Christians. “American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East.”

Paul took the requisite political shot at Barack Obama, saying the "scandals" surrounding the administration were causing the president to lose his "moral authority" to lead the country.

Johnson said the root cause of the country’s problem was that too many Americans were either never taught or have forgotten the “foundational premise” of the country. The nation’s founders, he said, understood that while government is necessary, its growth is something to fear. “Far too many Americans,” he said, “are willingly trading their freedom and ours for the false sense, the false promise of economic security.”

Johnson said he would like Americans to take their disgust about the IRS, or Benghazi, or the NSA, and apply it in a broader way to the federal government.  He said people who talked about restoring trust in government have the wrong idea.  What we should do, he said, is foster a healthy distrust of the government.

Lee said conservatives had not focused too much on families, but too little.  He said conservatives have to have an agenda that includes “forgotten” families at the bottom rung of the economic ladder, policies that address the effect of stagnant wages, rising costs of housing, etc. He called for a new “conservative reform” agenda that didn’t seem all that new: tax cuts to encourage entrepreneurship, school choice, and welfare reform, as well as an end to “corporate welfare.” 

Lee said conservatives are opposed to big government because a small government encourages a healthy civil society. Conservatives, he said, aren’t about a “you’re on your own” philosophy, but rather a “we’re in this together” one. But in his take, “in this together” does not involve the government. Without an intrusive government, he said, communities and churches would take care of people. Remember, Lee is the guy who believes the welfare state is unconstitutional, along with restrictions on freedom such as child-labor laws.

Marco Rubio has taken some heat from some of his fellow conservatives recently for his advocacy of immigration reform.  Reed is on record supporting comprehensive reform, but talking points for the activists’ post-lunch lobbying on Capitol Hill reflect tensions within the movement.  While it talked about the biblical basis for a compassionate immigration policy, it also talked about the rule of law and a so-called “enforcement trigger.”  One of the talking points says, “Alongside our principles, we vehemently oppose amnesty and guaranteed paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently residing in the country.”

Rubio revisited his campaign theme of American exceptionalism.  He used a biblical passage from Matthew chapter 5 to encourage activists to keep bringing their faith into their political activism, especially, he said, at a time when people are told they should silence their faith.

Rubio expanded on the notion that Christians should be the “salt of the earth” and a light unto the world to take on the foreign policy portion of Rand Paul’s remarks, without naming Paul specifically. A call to retreat from the world, he said, is a call for America to hide its light, and there is no nation that can replace the U.S. and its example of freedom:

“Our light must shine so that others will look to us and give glory to our heavenly father.”

Rubio made a couple of references to protecting marriage, but none of the senators explicitly addressed the battle over marriage equality. Talking points for activists’ afternoon lobbying visits on Capitol Hill were clearer. “Public polling overstates the support for same-sex marriage,” claim the talking points “The American people have overwhelmingly supported traditional marriage in votes on state referenda and initiatives.”

Also on the lobbying agenda: asking representatives to support the House of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, which would allow churches and preachers to engage in explicit electoral politicking without consequences for their nonprofit tax status.

Phyllis Schlafly Implores Tea Partiers to 'Save America' From Karl Rove, Federal Takeover of Toddlers

The Religious Right and the Tea Party have not exactly been responding well to GOP strategist Karl Rove’s plan to spend big money bringing down unelectable Tea Party candidates in primaries or to RNC chairman Reince Priebus’ suggestion that the party make over its messaging.

Add to the list of right-wing discontents Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, who this week sent out a six-page fundraising appeal urging supporters to “join together to save America” from Rove and his fellow “Establishment bullies.”

Schlafly blames Rove and the “Establishment” for every Republican president or presidential candidate since Reagan, all of whom she labels “RINOs.” But she sees hope for the “emergence of a new Reagan Republican Party” in the persons of senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee, and former senator Jim DeMint.

As for the rest of the party, “Establishment Members of  Congress are doing nothing to stop Obama’s grab to put all 2 to 5 year-olds under federal control,” she warns.

Excerpts from the letter are below. All emphases are in the original.

Dear Fellow American,

The battle for control of the Republican Party has begun and I am asking you to answer the call to action!

The Establishment Republicans want to lead the Party down the road of big-government spending and globalist entanglements by selecting our nominees, deciding what issues they talk about, and controlling all the political money.

They want grassroots conservatives and the Tea Parties to shut up and just do what they are told. The future of America depends on how you and I respond to this challenge.



Let me tell you where we are in this battle, and how fierce it has already become. I need your help!

After Ronald Reagan’s two terms were over, the Establishment operatives (sometimes called RINOs – “Republicans In Name Only,” or country-club Republicans, or “moderates”), grabbed control of the Republican Party and gave us a series of losers as presidential candidates such as Bob Dole and John McCain.

And don’t forget their choices of George H.W. Bush (who betrayed his “no new taxes, read my lips” promise), and George W. Bush who gave us phony “compassionate” conservatism (which really meant big deficit spending) and even tried to put the U.S. in an open-borders North American Union.

The Establishment and Karl Rove even supported Gerald Ford against Ronald Reagan in 1976.

We can’t afford to let that crowd pick our candidates again. But Rove now thinks he should be the “decider” of which primary candidates are “electable” and which are “unelectable.”

Please vote NO on his dreadful scheme.


We must sound the alarm and rally activists from Alaska to Florida about the embarrassment that Karl Rove and his big-government allies – posing as “moderates” – are to the Republican Party.

The Establishment is trying to purge the Tea Party conservatives from the Republican Party. Let’s be clear – we welcome the Tea Partiers.

We must show the nation that Republicans – true conservatives – don’t want Karl Rove, or any Establishment guru to run the Republican Party off a cliff.



Fortunately, we are seeing an emergence of a new Reagan Republican Party. In 2010 and 2012, Republicans elected some real conservatives to the Senate after defeating Establishment candidates in the primaries: Rand Paul in Kentucky (who defeated Mitch McConnell’s choice), Ted Cruz in Texas (who defeated a fabulously wealthy Establishment candidate), and Marco Rubio in Florida (who defeated Establishment candidate Florida Governor Crist, who then showed his true colors and became a Democrat).

Jim DeMint (now with Heritage) and Mike Lee of Utah were two other successful non-Establishment Republican Senators. It’s time for the grassroots to take control of the Republican Party away from the elitists who want to choose our candidates, tell them what to say, and how to vote.

Our litmus test for Republican primary candidates should be: “Are you a Karl Rove candidate?”



The Establishment is doing nothing to stop Obama from his announced plan to promote a Zero Nuclear World by cutting our nuclear missile force and refusing to modernize our anti-missile system.

The Establishment is doing nothing to stop Obama from taking over the curriculum of our public school system – a plan that is unwanted by Americans, illegal and unconstitutional. Establishment Members of  Congress are doing nothing to stop Obama’s grab to put all 2 to 5 year-olds under federal control through federal daycare, early childhood education, Pre-K, and mandatory all-day Kindergarten.



We absolutely must join together and save America. Time is running out. Eagle Forum is ready to lead the way, but we need your active support.

Please return your Conservative Activist Pledge right away. The conservative grassroots must rally and fight back.

And please, make the very most generous donation to Eagle Forum you possibly can. We’ve beaten Establishment bullies in the past, and with your help we will do it again!

Faithfully,

Phyllis Schlafly
 

CPAC: A few more scenes from off-Broadway

The main themes from this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference were not terribly surprising to anyone paying attention to the GOP presidential primary.  According to CPAC speakers, President Obama is a “socialist, Marxist president” bent on destroying the country and the Constitution, and the nation will not survive if he is re-elected.  “Compromise” is a four-letter word. Health care reform is tyranny. Contraception is tyranny. TSA searches are tyranny.  You get the idea.

But there were also moments of insight into aspects of the conservative movement, often coming from smaller rooms and panels, like actor Stephen Baldwin’s declaration that “separation of church and state can kiss my ass” and the anti-multicultural, anti-diversity discussion which featured the founder of a white-nationalist website. Here are a few additions to the excellent RWW coverage of CPAC by Kyle and Brian.

Screw the Vote

As we have reported, Republicans are waging aggressive voter suppression campaigns across the country, including voter ID laws and voter registration restrictions supposedly needed to prevent “voting fraud.”  At CPAC, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton hosted a press conference to talk about the group’s  “Election Integrity Project,” which is suing states that Judicial Watch says have not done enough to clean up their voter registration lists.  Panelists claimed that “rampant election fraud” took place in the last two election cycles – there’s no real evidence to back up that claim – and complained that the Obama administration’s Justice Department is selectively enforcing the Voting Rights Act.  Fitton said that having the DOJ meet with representatives from Project Vote and ACORN is “like having the mafia running the FBI.” Another speaker represented True the Vote, an outgrowth of Houston Tea Party group King Street Patriots, which hosted a fundraising event last year with a speaker who believes:

Registering [poor people] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals.  It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.

True the Vote is backing states whose voter ID laws have been challenged by the Justice Department and recruiting volunteers to challenge signatures gathered by those seeking to recall Wisconsin’s anti-labor governor Scott Walker.

The Federal Government’s War on Clean Underwear

It is an article of faith among many right-wing activists and candidates that health, safety, and environmental regulations are oten unconstitutional and are destroying the American economy.  Americans for Tax Reform and its affiliate Cost of Government Center sponsored a panel dubbed “The Red Tape War: How the Regulatory Burden and Growing Nanny State Threaten Prosperity.” The group’s Mattie Duppler described regulation as an ongoing “war on consumers and taxpayers.”  Sam Kazman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute said that energy efficiency regulations had caused a steep decline in the quality of top-loading washing machines, and talked about a campaign his group had run to have people send virtual underwear to the undersecretary of the Department of Energy. (Turns out that campaign was in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration)

Beyond Obstructionism to Nullification

One Newt Gingrich campaign theme has been pledging that as president he would ignore Supreme Court decisions he disagrees with and abolish the jobs of federal judges who don’t share his view of the Constitution.  A couple of groups at CPAC – the Tenth Amendment Center and the Foundation for a Free Society – held a series of events to promote nullification, the idea that the states should similarly ignore federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional.  In fact, they want to go far beyond ignoring such laws.  Speakers introducing a documentary on nullification praised an Arizona bill that would not only declare the federal health care law null and void in the state, but would also make any agent of the government who tries to enforce the law guilty of a felony.  The documentary featured state legislators as well as speakers from the Oath Keepers and the John Birch Society.

Here Sharia Comes!

Pamela Geller hosted a panel on Sharia, at which speakers complained about the room they were given and about their supposed mistreatment at the hands of CPAC – though other panels met in the same room and the “Islamic Law” panel was listed in the conference program.   Geller and fellow panelist Robert Spencer attacked panelists from a previous, more thoughtful, panel on religious liberty which defended the religious rights of American Muslims.  Also speaking was North Carolina congressional candidate Ilario Pantano, who said he was once charged with murder for killing terrorists in Iraq [charges were dropped] and who denounced “political correctness run amok.” Pantano praised discredited “historian” David Barton for telling the “truth” about America’s founding and called the misnamed “Ground Zero Mosque” a “desecration of an American holy site and an American national battlefield.”

Civics Education = David Barton, the Bible, and American Exceptionalism

In a panel on civics education, Matthew Spalding, VP for American Studies at Heritage Foundation praised the battle over textbook standards in Texas, in which David Barton and other Religious Right activists pushed to infuse far-right ideology into social science books.  

Those are the battles that matter, especially big states because they control the textbooks. Texas had a great battle, and the media hated it, the left went crazy, but it’s an extremely reasonable curriculum improvement, and they focus on very good things. It’s a solid, good model….Civic education is not just in the classroom. You must understand the effect that public discussion about these questions, about history and about the meaning of our country affect politics, politics affects elections, elections affects state boards and things that make the curriculum.

Another panelist, Larry Schweikart, author of Patriot’s History of the United States, argued that civics education must be grounded in “American exceptionalism.”

All of the founders understood that the bible and biblical virtues were necessary to a good education, and a civic order. So once again it comes down to those four pillars of American exceptionism: common law, a predominantly Christian religion, property rights, and free markets.

 Limit Government, Not Campaign Speeches

One of the final sessions before Sarah Palin’s closing remarks was intended to give a number of congressional candidates challenging Republican incumbents the chance to make 5-minute speeches.  A couple candidates were shortchanged by the fact that Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, running to unseat Sen. Richard Lugar, took about twice as much as his allotted time and Ted Cruz, running against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP Senate primary, ran even longer. 

Mourdock devoted his speech to the need for conservatives to “conquer”  - conquer the media, educators, advocates of reproductive choice, big-spenders, anyone who thinks America is just an “average” nation, and all who “wish to crush our traditional American values,” presumably including 35-year Senate incumbent Lugar.  Repeated Mourdock again and again, “Conquer we must!”

Cruz, who was also given time at last year’s Awakening Conference at Liberty University, argued that liberty is under assault like never before, that President Barack Obama is the “most radical president this country has ever seen,” and that the U.S. Senate is the key battleground.  Cruz, who hopes to follow in the electoral footsteps of Florida’s Marco Rubio, is like Rubio the child of Cubans who came to the U.S. in the 1950s.  Cruz brags that he is the only candidate this year supported by all four of his favorite senators: Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey, and called his primary “ground zero” in the battle between the Tea Party and the GOP’s “moderate establishment.”

 

Right Wing Leftovers

  • MSNBC responds to Bradlee Dean’s lawsuit, saying, “This suit is baseless and we stand by our reporting.”
  • A whopping fifteen people turned up to the Tea Party rally led by Herman Cain, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee and Rand Paul.
  • Note to David Barton, the Founding Fathers were not fans of massive, football stadium prayer rallies.

Sen. Mike Lee Really Just Wants To Be A Pirate

It was just a few weeks ago that Mike Lee took office as a Republican Senator from Utah, but he is obviously just using that as a means of getting Congress to issue him a letter of marque and reprisal so that he can explore his true calling - becoming a pirate

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