Advertisements

[VIDEO] Jonah Goldberg: How will Scalia’s Death Affect the 2016 Election? 

How will the upcoming fight on Capitol Hill over Antonin Scalia‘s Supreme Court seat bleed into the 2016 presidential race? AEI Resident Fellow Jonah Goldberg explains how Scalia’s passing drama.

Source: AEI

Advertisements

Oregon Shooting: How Gun Rights Advocates Think

realists-gun-politico

editor-commen-deskThis is one of the more insightful essays from a non-conservative writer about conservative gun owners we’ve seen all year. A refreshing sight. It’s unfortunate that the irrational, anti-democratic, reactionary urge for massive government control by the increasingly radical anti-gun left–and the increasingly irritable impatience of the strident pro-gun right (of which I proudly belong) predictably leaves little room for any hope of mutual respect. Sophia Raday’s article is a step in the right direction, exposing and addressing the false accusation of heartlessness. For this alone, conservatives should be grateful.

Perhaps Raday unnecessarily mythologizes the protective instincts of conservative gun owners. And needlessly refers to Hollywood stereotypes about Good and Evil that trivialize the subject. But her main points are well-reasoned, and valid. I’d prefer the word ‘realist‘, than pessimist, myself. But these are minor disagreements. Maybe pessimist is the right word. To her credit, Sophia Raday’s effort hints at an under-explored potential for honest dialogue between opposing camps.

Parting question: does a person actually have to be married to a member of the opposing camp, in order to reach these conclusions, and this level of understanding? I hope not!

Sophia Raday writes:

“How can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?” President Barack Obama asked on Friday.

I can answer that question. I’m in the progressive camp, but I’m married to my political opposite, a Republican police officer and soldier. We’ve had eighteen years to compare notes on many political issues, and out of all those arguments, I have gained an understanding and a measure of respect for the conservative worldview.

When something as horrible as the shooting in Oregon happens, progressives want to pull some shred of meaning from it. So let’s do something already, we say, in increasingly exasperated and angry tones. Let’s learn. Let’s change things. But we might be more effective in getting something done about mass shootings if we actually understood the opposition. Researchers studying conflict and extremism believe you can get a lot further in negotiation with an adversary if you acknowledge what is sacred to them. And believe it or not, gun-rights advocates—at least by virtue of their politics—are not heartless.

[Read the full story here, at Politico.com]

It must be understood that gun-rights advocates, like many conservatives, tell a very different story about the world than we progressives do. In their narrative, the earth is an inherently dangerous, often hostile, and definitely competitive place. Unlike us, they do not take as given that deep down, all people are basically good. They believe there is evil in the world, that there will always be evil in the world and that evil must be consistently and stalwartly confronted. In their story, it’s up to every one of the good people to stand up against malice. Otherwise, evil gets the upper hand. So, when a mass shooting occurs, their view of American society as overly permissive, and therefore an insufficient bulwark against ever-threatening evil, is only confirmed.

Liberals scratch their heads at the NRA member’s passion for firearms. People like Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin—whose post-Sandy Hook letter refusing to enforce any additional gun regulations is now going viral—seem like callous monsters to us. We find it odd and twisted to be so attached, so passionate about an amalgamation of metal and explosives whose raison d’tre is destruction. What we don’t get is that for conservatives, and Second Amendment defenders especially, the supreme virtue is self-reliance. The unconscious story underlying much conservative thought is a tale of good versus evil. Think of movies such as the Dark Knight, or Braveheart, or Star Wars. The virtuous individual must draw on his own talent and courage to defeat evil within and without. Read the rest of this entry »


Political Warriors Black Robes? Poll: Negative Views of Supreme Court at Record High

scotus

68% of Conservatives Identifies Court as Liberal

Following major, end-of-term rulings on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage, unfavorable opinions of the Supreme Court have reached a 30-year high. And opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided.

“Seven-in-ten Americans (70%) say that in deciding cases, the justices of the Supreme Court ‘are often influenced by their own political views.’ Just 24% say they ‘generally put their political views aside. when deciding cases.”

Currently, 48% of Americans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court, while 43% view the court unfavorably. Unfavorable opinions of the court, while up only modestly since March (39%), are the highest recorded since 1985.

The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted July 14-20 among 2,002 adults, finds that 7-29-2015-12-42-28-PMmost of the increase in unfavorable views of the Supreme Court has come among Republicans.

“Most Americans (54%) say that the Supreme Court has the right amount of power, while 36% say it is too powerful.”

Just 33% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of the court, while 61% have an unfavorable view. Since March, the share of Republicans viewing the court favorably has fallen 17 percentage points (from 50% to 33%), while the share with an unfavorable impression has jumped 21 percentage points (from 40% to 61%). Republicans’ views of the Supreme Court are now more negative than at any point in the past three decades.

“Only about one-in-ten (7%) thinks the court has too little power”

In contrast, Democrats’ views of the Supreme Court have become more positive since March, though the change has not been as dramatic. Currently, 62% of Democrats have a favorable impression of the court, up from 54% four months ago.

There also has been a major shift in how Americans, especially those at either end of the ideological spectrum, view the Supreme Court’s ideology. The share of the public saying the current Supreme Court is liberal has doubled since March, driven by changing attitudes among Republicans, particularly conservative Republicans.

Overall, 39% of the public views the court as middle-of-the-road, 36% as liberal and 18% as conservative. The share saying the court is liberal has increased from 26% to 36% over the past few months and stands at its highest point in surveys dating to 2007. There has been a ten-point decline in the number saying the court is conservative (18% today, 28% in March), while the share saying it is middle-of-the-road is little changed (39% now, 38% then).

Opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided

Currently, 68% of conservative Republicans say the current Supreme Court is liberal – up 20 points since 7-29-2015-12-25-38-PMMarch and by far the highest percentage since 2007. About a quarter of conservative Republicans (24%) say the court has a middle-of-the-road approach and 5% see it as conservative.

Liberal Democrats now generally view the current Supreme Court as middle-of-the-road; in March, most saw the court as conservative. Currently, 49% of liberal Democrats say it is middle-of-the-road (up from 31% in March). Three-in-ten (30%) say it is conservative, down from 56% in March. And 17% say the court is liberal, about double the share who said this in March (8%).

Perceptions of the court’s ideology have changed less among those closer to the middle of the ideological spectrum. Moderate and liberal Republicans’ continue to be divided: 42% see the Supreme Court as middle-of-the-road; 40% say it is liberal and 13% say it is conservative. A plurality of conservative and moderate 7-29-2015-12-26-53-PMDemocrats (43%) continue to say it is middle-of-the-road.

The change in independents’ views of the Supreme Court’s ideology mirrors the shift among the public: 41% say it is middle-of-the-road, little changed from 38% in March; 36% see it as liberal (up 11 points) and 18% say it is conservative (down 10 points). The share of Republican-leaning independents who say the court is liberal has risen from 38% to 54%. Just 23% of independents who lean toward the Democratic Party say the same, up a modest seven percentage points since March.

Other findings

Little Change in Views of Same-Sex Marriage, Affordable Care Act. In contrast to opinions about the Supreme Court, views on two issues that were the subject of its high-profile rulings – same-sex marriage and the 2010 health care law – have shown little change. Currently, 54% of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 39% are opposed. In May, before the Court’s ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, 57% favored and 39% opposed same-sex marriage. The public is divided over 7-29-2015-12-26-37-PMthe 2010 health care law: 48% approve of the law and 49% disapprove. In February, 45% approved of the health care law and 53% disapproved.

Few Think Supreme Court Justices Set Aside Their Political Views. Seven-in-ten Americans (70%) say that in deciding cases, the justices of the Supreme Court “are often influenced by their own political views.” Just 24% say they “generally put their political views aside” when deciding cases. The belief that justices are swayed by their own political views spans partisan and demographic groups. The survey also finds that a majority of the public (56%) says the court should consider the views of most Americans when deciding cases; 39% say they should not be influenced by public opinion.

Supreme Court Not Viewed as ‘Too Powerful.’ A majority (54%) says the Supreme Court has the right amount of power, while 36% think it has too much power; 7% say it has too little power. Republicans (45%) are more likely than Democrats (32%) or independents (33%) to view the court as too powerful.

Supreme Court Favorability

Partisanship, ideology and religious affiliation are all factors in views of the Supreme Court. In addition, supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage and the 2010 health care law have starkly different opinions about the Supreme Court.

By a 63% to 28% margin, those who favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally have a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court. By almost an identical margin (63% to 30%), those who oppose same-sex 7-29-2015-12-26-04-PMmarriage have an unfavorable impression of the court. The association between views of the court and opinions on same-sex marriage is far stronger than in the past.

Opinions of the court among those who approve and disapprove of the 2010 health care law are similarly divided (61% of those who approve of the law have a favorable opinion of the court, compared with just 33% of those who disapprove). Supporters and opponents of the law were less divided last year, but were similarly split following the court’s 2012 term, in which it ruled the law was constitutional.

Since March, the plunge in the Supreme Court’s favorability among Republicans has largely come among conservatives. Just 27% of conservative Republicans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court. Four months ago, nearly half (48%) did so. Among moderate and liberal Republicans, there has been a smaller, nine-point decline in positive views of the court (45% now, 54% then). Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE: Christian Printer Who Was Punished By the Government for Refusing to Print Gay Pride T-Shirts Just Scored a Major Victory

Hands-On

 reports: A Christian printer who was previously found guilty of discrimination for refusing to print T-shirts for a gay pride parade won big on Monday after a court ruled that he can decline to print messages that run in opposition to his religious views.

“In America, we don’t force people to express messages that are contrary to their convictions. America should not be a place where people who identify as homosexual are forced to promote groups like theWestboro Baptists and where printers with sincere religious convictions are forced to promote the message of the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization.”

— Adamson‘s co-counsel Bryan Beauman of Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC

The Fayette County Circuit Court’s ruling overturned a previous decision by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, finding that Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands On Originals, a printing company in Lexington, Kentucky, was within his rights when he declined to make shirts for the Lexington Pride Parade, according to a press release from Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm.

“The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way.” 

— Jim Campbell, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom

The court found that Adamson did not violate the law in citing his religious convictions as the reason for the refusal, and that his decision was based on his personal freedom not to be forced or coerced to print messages that contradict his views.

[VIDEO]

“The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way,” Jim Campbell, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement.

He added, “In short, [Hands On Originals’] declination to print the shirts was based upon the message of [Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington] and the Pride Festival and not on the sexual orientation of its representatives or members.”

As TheBlaze previously reported, Adamson’s case began when he refused service to the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington and the organization subsequently filed a complaint against Hands on Originals in March 2012, alleging that he had discriminated based on sexual orientation.

But Adamson and his attorneys consistently argued that Hands on Originals is a Christian business and that the views presented on the T-shirts — which advertised a gay pride festival — violated his religious beliefs; these arguments were initially dismissed. Read the rest of this entry »


Rock Paper Scissors: Christian Who Asked Gay Rights Bakery to Bake Anti-Gay Marriage Cake May Face Legal Action

upi_NYP96013005

Cake Fake Controversy Enters Twilight Zone

Donna Rachel Edmunds reports: A bakery that has refused to bake a cake with an anti-gay wedding message has found itself at the centre of controversy. But unlike mirror image cases in which Christian bakers have been taken to court for refusing to bake pro-gay marriage cakes, this time, it is the Christian to tried to place the order who may face legal action.

The latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between Christians and gay rights campaigners began when pastor Josh Feuerstein called Cut the Cake in Longwood, Florida to request a sheet cake with the slogan “We do not support gay marriage” written on it.

Sharon Haller, owner of Cut the Cake, who took the call, asked Feuerstein whether the request was a prank (it took place on April 1st), before refusing to bake the cake saying “We wouldn’t do that, sorry”. She then hung up without explaining her reasons.

The brief call was recorded by Feuerstein who then turned to the camera to give his views on the debate currently taking place.

“It obviously violates her principles, so she doesn’t feel like she should be forced to make the cake. And yet there is all of this hoopla because Christian bakeries think that they shouldn’t be forced,” he said. “We’re getting to the place in America now where Christians are not allowed any form of freedom of speech.

“Have we gotten to the point in America where the left is so ‘open minded’ that they’re close minded to anybody that doesn’t agree with them, or is America big enough for different points of view? Christian bakeries should never be forced to do something that violates their Christian principles. That’s not American.

“I love gay people. This is nothing against gay people. This is about religious freedom.”

Feuerstein posted the video to YouTube, but according to WND he removed the video when Haller started to receive harassing phone calls and messages on Facebook. However, Haller then posted the video herself to the Cut the Cake Facebook page, commenting “Yes the video has been deleted by Joshua Feuerstein but the damage is done! Our reviews have been marred and our business reviews are no longer the same. We thought this was a prank! Look for yourself.”

Haller told local media that she had received intimidating calls and even death threats from people all over the country who had seen the video. “People (are) telling us that we need to kill ourselves and all kinds of stuff, and we’re just afraid for our business and our safety,” she said. Local police stepped up patrols in her area. Read the rest of this entry »


With Extra Cheese: Indiana Pizzeria Owners Go Underground as Donations Near $1 Million

pizza-getty

The owners of a pizza shop at the center of the debate over Indiana’s religious freedom law have gone into hiding.

The Associated Press reported Crystal O’Connor and her family have taken refuge in an undisclosed location after saying earlier this week that Memories Pizza would not cater gay weddings.
Gofundme account launched for the Walkerton, Ind., restaurant has brought in more than $750,000. The flood of support comes as the O’Connors vow to reopen Memories despite backlash over their business practices.
At issue is Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Thursday signed a fix he feels corrects the perception that it lets businesses discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The law’s latest version now prohibits business discrimination against protected groups like the gay community. It also forbids using the law as a legal defense in situations where such discrimination may have occurred. Read the rest of this entry »


Muslim Facial Hair, Amish Buggies, and Native American Peyote Rituals: This Map Shows Every State With Religious Freedom Laws

screen-shot-2015-04-01-at-5-14-45-pm

Dave Johnson and Katy Steinmetz report:The national outcry over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has turned attention towards the 19 states with their own versions of the law and the others that are considering similar measures. The timeline below shows when each state passed legislation, starting with Connecticut in 1993. Click on a state for links to the laws or pending bills.

screenshot

The fight over RFRAs dates to 1990, when the Supreme Court ruled against an Oregonian named Al Smith, who was a quarter American Indian. He had argued that his use of peyote in a Native American Church ritual—an act that cost him his job—should be protected by the First Amendment. He lost, and the ruling made it easier for the government to place restrictions on the freedom of religion. Read the rest of this entry »


The Anti-Pizzeria Mob Loses its Mind

anaonburn

Burn Her! She Would Act Like a Witch in a Situation That Will Never Come Up!

 writes: Someone please tell me if my progression here is inaccurate in any way:

1) Family owners of small-town Indiana pizzeria spend zero time or energy commenting on gay issues.

2) TV reporter from South Bend walks inside the pizzeria to ask the owners what they think of the controversial Religious Restoration Freedom Act. Owner Crystal O’Connor responds, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no….We are a Christian establishment.” O’Connor also says—actually promises is the characterization here—that the establishment will continue to serve any gay or non-Christian person that walks through their door.

3) The Internet explodes with insults directed at the O’Connor family and its business, including a high school girls golf coach in Indiana who tweets “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?” Many of the enraged critics assert, inaccurately, that Memories Pizza discriminates against gay customers.

4) In the face of the backlash, the O’Connors close the pizzeria temporarily, and say they may never reopen, and in fact might leave the state. “I don’t know if we will reopen, or if we can, if it’s safe to reopen,” Crystal O’Connor tells The Blaze. “I’m just a little guy who had a little business that I probably don’t have anymore,” Kevin O’Connor tells the L.A. Times.

Rod Dreher titles his useful post on this grotesque affair “Into the Christian Closet,” and it’s apt considering the progression above. If only these non-activist restaurateurs had simply kept their views to themselves when asked by a reporter, April Fool’s would have been like any other day for them.

But as it stands, they’re now being trashed not just by social-justice mobs from afar, but by powerful politicians where they live and work. Democratic State Sen. Jim Arnold represents the O’Connors’s district. This is what he said about his constituents:

pp_religiousfreedom_2015-04-02-9dd17504

“The vast majority of people in this country are not going to stand by and watch that kind of activity unfold,” he said. “If that’si-keep-telling-you-people-that their stand I hope they enjoy eating their pizza because I don’t think anyone else is going to.”

Sen. Arnold says he’s upset by the news because of the negative attention it’s bringing to a town he says is a great community.

He said this kind of thinking has no place in this town. And the Religious Freedom Restoration Law is not an excuse for them to discriminate.

“This is America and if people say they’re not going to serve them and they feel this is some kind of defense, which by the way doesn’t take effect until July 1, but if they feel it’s some kind of defense, I think they’re sadly mistaken[.]

Almost every word out of Sen. Arnold’s mouth was wrong, horrifying, or both.

1) The O’Connors did not say “they’re not going to serve them,” they in fact stressed the opposite. Read the rest of this entry »


David Weigel: Wrong Side of History? ‘Democrats Are Endorsing Something More Radical Than Voters Are Comfortable With’

backlash

David Weigel writes:

..it’s now expected for Democrats to denounce RFRAs, just as large corporations are denouncing them. In doing so, all of the critics are on the wrong side of public polling. According to a March edition of the Marist poll, 54 percent of Americans agreed with  “allowing First Amendment religious liberty protection or exemptions for faith based organizations and individuals even when it conflicts with government laws.” By a two-point margin, 47-45, even a plurality of Democratic voters agreed with that.

The margins were even larger in opposition to laws that proposed “penalties or fines for individuals who refuse to provide wedding-related services to same sex couples even if their refusal is based on their religious beliefs.” No Democrat is seriously proposing this; the nearest cultural analogue may be the story of Memories Pizza, the Indiana shop whose owner said that he would decline to provide pies to gay weddings, and saw its Yelp! page firebombed with angry comments. (The popularity of delivery pizza at gay wedding ceremonials is well known.) Still, according to Marist, Americans oppose penalties on businesses like Memories by a 65-31 margin. The margin among Democrats: 62-34 against. Read the rest of this entry »


A Bunch of Crazy-Pants Cuckoo Bananas Bigots Speak Out for Religious Liberty

From MKHamm,  Hot Air:

Wow, just check out the hate!

Chuck Schumer:

Unknown

[VIDEO]

“The parade of horribles has already begun. The American people today know that religious freedom is not a luxury. I believe this legislation is essential.”

Steny Hoyer:

Unknown-1

[VIDEO]

“It’s no accident the Founders decided to put the free practice of religion first… and this Congress should do the same…It was the genius of our framers…that we were not to leave minority religious practices to the…majority…If there is a shared American value, it is a commitment to religious liberty.

Jerrold Nadler:

Unknown-2

[VIDEO]

“It’s no accident the Founders decided to put the free practice of religion first… and this Congress should do the same…It was the genius of our framers…that we were not to leave minority religious practices to the…majority…If there is a shared American value, it is a commitment to religious liberty.”

President Bill Clinton:

(read more)

Hot Air


How RFRA Works, Explained In One Chart

RFRA-Infographic

The above infographic from the 1st Amendment Partnership very clearly spells out what RFRA does, how it’s used by courts, and what happens at the end of a case where RFRA is invoked.

Despite the deliberate misinformation being spread by Leftist activists and their friends in the media, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, is not a complicated law. It is not difficult to understand. It is not a blanket license to discriminate.

[Read the full text here, at The Federalist]

The RFRA statutes, which currently bind nearly two dozen state governmentsas well as the federal government, require courts to use a simple balancing test when weighing the facts of specific religious freedom cases. The laws state that the government may only substantially burden the free exercise of religion of a person or organization if the government 1) has a compelling interest to do so, and 2) is using the least restrictive means possible to further that compelling interest…(read more)

The Federalist 


My So-Called Religious Freedom

joker-scare-quotes

National Review‘s Katherine Connell notes major media’s new House Style:

Unknown

[read the full text here, at National Review]


Deroy Murdock: ‘Are We Prepared to Handcuff a Feminist Photographer Who Won’t Take Pictures at a Strip Club?’

liberals-in-shock-590

At National ReviewDeroy Murdock asks some questions.

• Do we still respect a woman’s right to choose not to bake a cake for a gay couple?

• Do we respect a woman’s right to choose not to take photographs at a Christmas party at a men’s club because she is a feminist who deeply loathes all-male establishments?

• Do we respect the rights of groups of women to choose to enjoy the sisterhood of a women’s club where they need not cope with men?

• Do we respect the Junior League’s right to choose to remain a female-only group, as it has been since 1901, or must they now accept male members?

[Read the full text here at National Review]

• Do we respect a lesbian bar owner’s right to choose to post a No Men Allowed sign in her window because her customers want to enjoy their all-female company in peace and don’t want to associate there with a bunch of hairy dudes with Adam’s apples, brawny shoulders, testosterone in their veins, and penises in their pants?

• Do we respect a gay merchant’s decision to tell a heterosexual couple to stop making out inside his club full of gay men who could live without such a spectacle while meeting other gay men?

cake_god-hates-fags

“Bake this!” — Can a gay baker just say no?

• Do we respect a gay baker’s right to choose not to bake a cake for the Westboro Baptist Church with icing that reads God Hates Fags?

• Do we respect a fundamentalist Muslim baker’s choice not to bake a cake for a bar mitzvah because she really is not crazy about the Star of David?

[Also see –  Indiana’s Law Is Not the Return of Jim Crow,” by Jonah Goldberg]

• Do we respect a black jazz band’s choice not to perform at a Ku Klux Klan chapter’s “Negro Minstrel Show”?

• Do we respect a pro–gun control photographer’s right to choose not to snap pictures at a Sharpshooter of the Year banquet organized by the local chapter of the National Rifle Association? Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘There is nothing more tiresome in modern American life than the indignation sweepstakes we get in all the time to see who can be most angry’

From The Corner,

Responding to the outrage surrounding the Hoosier State’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Will noted on Tuesday’s Special Report…

“Tim Cook, CEO of Apple thinks Indiana is a horrible place. He opened marketing and retailing operations in Saudi Arabia two months before a man was sentenced to 450 lashes for being gay. The selective indignation is itself wonderful.”

Apple-Approved

“There are obviously two important principles at stake here,” Will continued…

“One is, the government should rarely, and only with extreme difficulty, compel people to take actions contrary to their consciences. The other is that when you open your doors to commerce you open them to everybody. That’s a simple thing…You can work this out, but the indignation isn’t helping.”

(read more)

National Review


Tim Cook Needs to Do Some Homework

620x349“Apple’s Gay CEO Tim Cook Wants to Boycott Indiana for Its Allegedly Anti-Gay RFRA, But Will Gladly Sell You an iPhone At Its Boutique in Riyadh, Where They’ll Stone You to Death For Being Gay.”

AceofSpadesHQ

Ponnuru

 writes: Tim Cook, the chief executive officer of Apple, is spreading misinformation about a new religious-freedom law in Indiana. That law and similar ones, he writes in the Washington Post, “say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.” He goes on to claim that they “rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”

“What these religious-freedom laws say is that government can require people to violate their religious beliefs only when it is pursuing a compelling interest, and must do so in the least intrusive manner possible. Thus the Supreme Court recently ruled under a federal religious-freedom law that a Muslim prisoner doesn’t have to shave his beard.”

Discrimination against gay customers or employees is what opponents of the law are especially concerned about. But that’s a strange argument to make in the context of Indiana, which lacks any state nondiscrimination law on sexual orientation for people to resist. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is legal almost everywhere in the state, and was before this religious-freedom law passed.

“Cook may not be aware of this point or others that cut against his argument because reporting on this controversy has been abysmal. Cook may also be unaware that the ‘wave of legislation’ that he fears has largely already happened. A very similar religious-freedom law has been on the federal books for 22 years…”

[Read the full text here, at bloombergview.com]

Cook may not be aware of this point or others that cut against his argument because reporting on this controversy has been abysmal. Cook may also be unaware that the “wave of legislation” that he fears has largely already happened. A very similar religious-freedom law has been on the federal books for 22 years, and that law itself codified a Supreme Court doctrine that had been in place for most of the previous few decades. Nineteen states besides Indiana have similar laws. Read the rest of this entry »


Random, Unrelated Misfortune: Indiana Gov Website Targeted By Malicous Cyber Attacks

indiana-website

(CBS) — The controversy over Indiana’s so-called religious freedom law was not the only problem the Hoosier state faced Tuesday. It also fended off an apparent attack on its official website.

It was the second time since Friday that the IN.gov website was overwhelmed by simultaneous requests for service.

Graig Lubsen of the Indiana Office of Technology said the threat was known well before the controversy over the new law surfaced.

He was quick to say that the site was not hacked. Instead, it was inundated by millions of simultaneous requests for service, which slowed access to the site for some and timed out others. Read the rest of this entry »


The New Intolerance

anti-christian-protest

Indiana isn’t targeting gays. Liberals are targeting religion

In the increasingly bitter battle between religious liberty and the liberal political agenda, religion is losing. Witness the media and political wrath raining down upon Indiana because the state dared to pass an allegedly anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The question fair-minded Americans should ask before casting the first stone is who is really being intolerant.

The Indiana law is a version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that passed 97-3 in the Senate and that Anti-Christian_sign_in_Federal_Plaza_ChicagoBill Clinton signed in 1993. Both the federal and Indiana laws require courts to administer a balancing test when reviewing cases that implicate the free exercise of religion.

“The paradox is that even as America has become more tolerant of gays, many activists and liberals have become ever-more intolerant of anyone who might hold more traditional cultural or religious views.”

To wit: Individuals must show that their religious liberty has been “substantially burdened,” and the government must demonstrate its actions represent the least restrictive means to achieve a “compelling” state interest. Indiana’s law adds a provision that offers a potential religious defense in private disputes, but then four federal appellate circuits have also interpreted the federal statute to apply to private disputes.

Is-Iowa-Already-Sick-Of-Hillary-Clinton

“Part of the new liberal intolerance is rooted in the identity politics that dominates today’s Democratic Party. That’s the only way to explain the born-again opportunism of Hillary Clinton, who tweeted: ‘Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love.'”

The federal RFRA followed the Supreme Court’s Employment Division v. Smith ruling in 1990 that abandoned its 30-year precedent of reviewing religious liberty cases under strict scrutiny. Congress Tall-censorship-campusresponded with RFRA, which merely reasserted longstanding First Amendment protections.

“By that standard, Mrs. Clinton discriminated against gays because she opposed gay marriage until March 2013. But now she wants to be seen as leading the new culture war against the intolerant right whose views she recently held.”

In 1997 the Supreme Court limited RFRA’s scope to federal actions. So 19 states including such cultural backwaters as Connecticut, Rhode Island and Illinois followed with copy-cat legislation, and Indiana is the 20th. Courts in 11 states have extended equally vigorous protections.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Indiana was an outlier before the new law because neither its laws nor courts unambiguously protected religious liberty. Amish horse-drawn buggies could be required to abide by local traffic regulations. Read the rest of this entry »


Noah Rothman: Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy Embarrasses Himself with Indiana RFRA Tantrum

dan-malloy-connecticut-governor

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy revealed that he will prohibit all state-sponsored travel to this heretical member of the Union. He joins the mayor of Seattle, who also blocked city-funded travel to Indiana in protest over this perfectly banal law.

Noah Rothman writes: The frenzied outpouring of disproportionate outrage from the left over Indiana’s state-level version of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act can be best described as a tantrum.

[Read the full text here, at Hot Air]

A number of firms including Apple and Angie’s List Inc. have announced that they will respond to the legislation that critics insist is designed to discriminate against gays and lesbians by reviewing their commitments to do business in the state. A cornucopia of liberal groups are organizing a boycott of all things Hoosier. And, on Monday, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy revealed that he will prohibit all state-sponsored travel to this heretical member of the Union. He joins the mayor of Seattle, who also blocked city-funded travel to Indiana in protest over this perfectly banal law.

19-states

“This law, like other RFRAs, merely requires that state laws meet a demanding, but hardly insurmountable, test before infringing upon the religious practice or conscience of religious believers.”

— The Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blogger Jonathan Adler

This reaction is nothing short of an embarrassment for the left and a repudiation of the values that the Democratic Party espoused as recently as the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton signed a national version of this act into law.

federalist

“RFRA is a shield, not a sword. It can be used to defend oneself against lawsuits or administrative action. It can’t be used affirmatively to try and deprive others of the protections of law.”

— Attorney Gabriel Malor, The Federalist

The hypocrisy exhibited by the left in this display of childish pique over Indiana’s RFRA bill is impossible to ignore.

“[W]hile Indiana is being criticized, the NCAA didn’t say it was concerned over how athletes and employees would be affected by Kentucky’s RFRA when games were played there last week, there aren’t any plans to tall-surprise-faceboycott states like Illinois or Connecticut, and Miley Cyrus has yet to post a photo of President Clinton or any of the 19 other governors who have also signed RFRAs,” The Washington Post’s Hunter Schwarz wrote. “Indiana might be treated as if it’s the only state with a bill like this, but it’s not.”

“Malloy’s absurd response to the Indiana law is, no doubt, an effort to distract his liberal constituents from the fact that Connecticut’s RFRA law – yes, they have one, too – goes farther than the act signed last week by Governor Mike Pence.”

“This law, like other RFRAs, merely requires that state laws meet a demanding, but hardly insurmountable, test before infringing upon the religious practice or conscience of religious believers,” observed The Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blogger Jonathan Adler. “If the law imposes a substantial burden on religious belief, the law must yield unless the law serves a compelling state interest and is the least burdensome way to advance that interest.”

Malloy’s absurd response to the Indiana law is, no doubt, an effort to distract his liberal constituents from the fact that Connecticut’s RFRA law – yes, they have one, too – goes farther than the act signed last week by Gov. Mike Pence.

Religious-Liberty-Censored-998x618

The Federalist’s Sean Davis makes the case:

Connecticut’s law, however, is far more restrictive of government action and far more protective of religious freedoms. How? Because the Connecticut RFRA law states that government shall not “burden a person’s exercise of religion[.]” Note that the word “substantially” is not included in Connecticut’s law.

The effect of the absence of that single word is enormous…(read more)

That seems straightforward enough. Still have questions? Over at The Federalist, attorney Gabriel Malor answers all of your pressing inquiries. The most substantive assertion that he makes, however, is that all RFRA’s do not and cannot license discrimination. Read the rest of this entry »


Indiana Governor Mike Pence Informs Clueless Agenda-Driven Media that He Signed Same Bill Barack Obama Voted for in Illinois

Senator-obama-signs-religious-protection

White House doesn’t dispute it

John McCormack reports: In an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Indiana governor Mike Pence defended his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act by noting that Barack Obama had voted for the same law as an Illinois state senator.Pence_Mike

“Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”

— This Week Host George Stephanoplous to White House press secretary Josh Earnest

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago, and it lays out a framework for ensuring that a very high level of scrutiny is given any time government action impinges on the religious liberty of any American.” Pence said. “After last year’s Hobby Lobby case, Indiana properly brought the same version that then-state senator Barack Obama voted for in Illinois before our legislature.”

[For more on the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, see this article]

obama-church

This Week Host George Stephanoplous later asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest to respond to Pence’s claim: “Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”

Earnest didn’t dispute the Indiana governor’s statement….(read more)

weeklystandard.com


Religious Freedom Laws: True & False

Sarah TorreTorre_Sarah_TDS_lo1 writes: The mainstream media has launched an all-out blitz over a new law that protects the fundamental freedom of Indiana citizens from unnecessary and unreasonable government coercion.

The media’s gross mischaracterizations of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act ignore the truth: Religious Freedom Restoration Acts prevent government discrimination against religious free exercise and simply provide a way to balance religious liberty with compelling government interests.

Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible.

The First Amendment Partnership, an organization whose mission is “to promote and protect religious freedom for people of all faiths,” created the below infographic separating myth from fact on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts:

RFRAFacts

….By passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana joins the 19 other states that have implemented such laws. Eleven additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection….(read more)

The Daily Signal


REWIND: The Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act Passed the House Unanimously and the Senate 97-3

R-freedom

Remember When Democrats Used To Support Religious Freedom? Remarks on Signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993

By , November 16, 1993:

Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President, for those fine remarks and to the Members of Congress, the chaplains of the House and the Senate, and to all of you who worked so hard to help this day become a reality. Let me especially thank the Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion for the central role they played in drafting this legislation and working so hard for its passage.

“What this law basically says is that the Government should be held to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of religion.”

It is interesting to note, as the Vice President said, what a broad coalition of Americans came together to make this bill a reality; interesting to note that that coalition produced a 97-to3 vote in the United States Senate and a bill that had such broad support it was adopted on a voice vote in the House. I’m told that, as many of the people in the coalition worked together across ideological and religious lines, some new friendships were formed and some new trust was established, which shows, I suppose, that the power of God is such that even in the legislative process miracles can happen. [Laughter]

We all have a shared desire here to protect perhaps the most precious of all American liberties, religious freedom. Usually the signing of legislation by a President is a ministerial act, often a quiet ending to a turbulent legislative process. Today this event assumes a more majestic quality because of our ability together to affirm the historic role that people of faith have played in the history of this country and the constitutional protections those who profess and express their faith have always demanded and cherished.

“I submit to you today, my fellow Americans, that we can stand that kind of debate in this country. We are living in a country where the most central institution of our society, the family, has been under assault for 30 years.”

The power to reverse legislation by legislation, a decision of the United States Supreme Court, is a power that is rightly hesitantly and infrequently exercised by the United States Congress. But this is an issue in which that extraordinary measure was clearly called for.

As the Vice President said, this act reverses the Supreme Court’s decision Employment Division against Smith and reestablishes a standard that better protects all Americans of all faiths in the exercise of their religion in a way that I am convinced is far more consistent with the intent of the Founders of this Nation than the Supreme Court decision.

“More than 50 cases have been decided against individuals making religious claims against Government action since that decision was handed down. This act will help to reverse that trend by honoring the principle that our laws and institutions should not impede or hinder but rather should protect and preserve fundamental religious liberties.”

The free exercise of religion has been called the first freedom, that which originally sparked the development of the full range of the Bill of Rights. Our Founders cared a lot about religion. And one of the reasons they worked so hard to get the first amendment into the Bill of Rights at the head of the class is that they well understood what could happen to this country, how both religion and Government could be perverted if there were not some space created and some protection provided. They knew that religion helps to give our people the character without which a democracy cannot survive. They knew that there needed to be a space of freedom between Government and people of faith that otherwise Government might usurp.

“We are a people of faith. We have been so secure in that faith that we have enshrined in our Constitution protection for people who profess no faith. And good for us for doing so. That is what the first amendment is all about.”

They have seen now, all of us, that religion and religious institutions have brought forth faith and discipline, community and responsibility over two centuries for ourselves and enabled us to live together in ways that I believe would not have been possible. We are, after all, the oldest democracy now in history and probably the most truly multiethnic society on the face of the Earth. And I am convinced that neither one of those things would be true today had it not been for the importance of the first amendment and the fact that we have kept faith with it for 200 years. Read the rest of this entry »


Charlie Hebdo Editor to Chuck Todd: When You Blur Our Cover, ‘You Blur out Democracy’

Hebdo printed up to seven million copies of the issue, which quickly sold out at European newsstands.

“When they refuse to publish this cartoon, when they blur it out, when they decline to publish it, they blur out democracy, secularism, freedom of religion, and they insult the citizenship.”

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked Charlie Hebdo’s new editor-in-chief Gerard Briard Sunday morning what he made of the decision of many American news outlets, including NBC News, to blur the cover of this week’s issue, which featured a caricature of the Islamic prophet Muhammed. Briard basically told Western media to grow a pair.

“This cartoon…is a symbol of freedom of religion, democracy, and secularism. It is this symbol that these newspapers refuse to publish.”

“Écoutez, we cannot blame newspapers that already suffer much difficulty in getting published and distributed in totalitarian regimes for not publishing a cartoon that could get them at best jail, at worst death,” he said.

“On the other hand, I’m quite critical of newspapers published in democratic countries,” he continued. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] MSNBC Bubble: ‘Everybody Thinks Hobby Lobby Ruling Was Bad’

“This is the first time ever that we haven’t gotten anybody that’s in support of what the other side has done. So everybody doesn’t think this is a good idea.”

One hundred percent of MSNBC viewers early on Tuesday apparently disapproved of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.

On Way Too Early on Tuesday, host Thomas Roberts wrapped up the show with a summary of a survey of viewers. According to Roberts, every single participant said they thought the Supreme Court ruled incorrectly in protecting religious freedom for private business owners…(read more) National Review Online


An Atheists Case For Religious Liberty

Jefferson-Memorial-998x665

I’ve yet to see an atheist from the secular right emerge to make this case, it’s long overdue.

 writes:  I am an atheist, which puts me firmly on the secular right. There aren’t a whole lot of us, but we’re out here, in some surprising places.

Yet I consider the current campaign against religious liberty—the attempt to coerce Christians into providing service to gay weddings or to provide abortifacient drugs to their employees, against the dictates of their faith—to be a deep cultural crisis.

Why? Above all, because the sight of a bully using a club to force someone else to violate his conscience is inherently repugnant. As a humanist, what I regard as “sacred” is the power of the human mind to think and make judgments. To put this in terms borrowed from religion, when someone uses coercion to overrule the judgment of their victim’s mind, they are defiling my temple.

But there is another, more practical reason. History shows that the only way to fight for freedom of thought is to defend it early, when it comes under threat forothers—even people you strongly disagree with, even people you despise. So I’m willing to fight for it for people who are much worse, by my standards, than your average Christian.

Read the rest of this entry »


Religious Liberty After Arizona

1024px-Brooklyn_Museum_-_Embarkation_of_the_Pilgrims_-_Robert_Walter_Weir_-_overall-998x662

For The Federalist   writes:  Government, properly understood, is an agent of force. It can cause people to not do things they would otherwise do, and can compel them to do things they otherwise would not do. It does this in small ways and big ways, in nudges and at the end of a gun. At its best, as limited government conservatives and libertarians alike understand, government causes and compels only in those arenas it must, invading the scope of human life as little as possible. At its worst, government becomes, in Saint Augustine’s phrase, a system of “great robberies” where plunder is divided by the law agreed on, and people are subdued by force in accordance to the whims of the powerful elite.

So what are we to make of the divisions that emerged in the course of Arizona’s consideration of its version of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the responses it inspired? I think it comes down to a matter of priorities, and to the broad-based willingness to let personal inclinations about what society ought to look like overwhelm a reasonable understanding of the ramifications of giving government the power to shape that society.

Read the rest of this entry »


NYT House Editorial on HHS Mandate Cases: Obscuring the Obama Administration’s Hostility to Religious-Liberty Concerns

NYTvsAmerica

Bench Memos at NRO (my new favorite source for judicial news & analysis) on Nov. 27th, Ed Whelan posted a good rebuttal of the NYTimes House Editorial on HHS Mandate cases. It’s a point-by-point takedown that I recommend for any health care consumer, reporter, NYTimes skeptic, religious observer, or like myself, underinformed non-attorney spokesperson.

Ed Whelan writes: Let’s run through the elementary confusions in this New York Times house editorial:

1. NYT charges that “the real assault on religious freedom [is] the assertion by private businesses and their owners of an unprecedented right to impose the owners’ religious views on workers who do not share them.” It contends that the HHS mandate is necessary to “preserve[] an employee’s right to make her own decisions regarding birth control and not to conform to the religious beliefs of her employer.”

But the plaintiff businesses and owners are not trying to “impose [their] religious views on workers.” If they succeed in refusing to comply with the HHS mandate, their employees would remain entirely free to obtain and use the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives and to “make [their] own decisions regarding birth control.” All that the businesses and owners are objecting to is the Obama administration’s insistence on dragooning them to provide insurance coverage that violates their religious beliefs.

If the Obama administration wants to marginally increase the already easy access that employees have to contraceptives, it can do so through alternative means that don’t violate employers’ religious-liberty rights. That’s exactly what the standards set forth in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act contemplate.

2. NYT asserts that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “was not intended to cover profit-making corporations,” and it observes that the Supreme Court “has never recognized that a secular corporation is an entity capable of engaging in religion.”

As a textual matter, RFRA extends its religious-liberty protections to all “persons,” and relevant federal law (as the third paragraph of this post explains more fully and as even the dissenter in the Seventh Circuit acknowledged) defines “persons” to include corporations. If a law were to require all restaurants to serve pork and to be open on Saturdays, is it really NYT’s belief that a kosher deli run by a Jewish family would not even have a claim under RFRA if the family has incorporated the deli?

Read the rest of this entry »


Court Victory: Obama Administration Mandate Violates Religious Liberty

Ecce_Panis_Angelorum

Kathryn Jean Lopez reports:  A court ruled in favor of religious liberty against the assault on conscience that is the Department of Health and Human Services abortion-drug, contraception, female sterilization Obamacare “preventative services” mandate. A divided D.C. circuit court panel found: “We must determine whether the contraceptive mandate imposed by the Act trammels the right of free exercise—a right that lies at the core of our constitutional liberties—as protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” The case was brought by Frank and Phil Gilardi, two Catholic brothers who own Freshway Foods in Ohio. Ed Whelan’s instant legal analysis is here.

I’ve been writing all morning for various venues, broadly speaking, on the integrated life of faith. (I talked to a cool website, the Integrated Catholic Life about such matters a few months ago here.) Today Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day, followed by All Souls’ Day tomorrow. As the pope put it this morning, we believe we’re all called to sainthood — he calls it “a vocation for everyone” — a life of holiness, and the sacraments give us the possibility of pulling it off.

Read the rest of this entry »