Connect with us

The Republicans In The House Want To Defend DOMA? Bring It On!



Last week, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner announced he would in fact spend your tax dollars to hire private lawyers to defend DOMA, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act already declared unconstitutional by a sitting federal district judge. Some conservatives applauded this action, while liberals and others decried the waste of the people’s time and money (a great deal of money at that) on a social agenda that does not create jobs — except perhaps for trial attorneys — and reinforces the false concept that gays, lesbians, and bisexuals should be treated as second-class citizens.

But after great consideration, I say, bring it on!

DOMA is a grossly unconstitutional law that serves no just legal purpose. It has been rightly deemed unconstitutional, and I have full faith that it will be deemed unconstitutional again, this time at every one of the current ten or more DOMA challenges currently making their way through the federal courts.

Read: “The GOP’s Sanctimonious Defense Of The Sanctity Of DOMA

Given Monday’s news that this week, a bill to repeal DOMA will be introduced into the Republican-held House, and as we await a companion DOMA repeal bill that will be introduced by Senator Feinstein into the Senate, the only certain way we can remove the shackles of DOMA is through the courts, as there is no way we will pass a DOMA repeal bill in this Republican-controlled House and in a pre-presidential election year Senate.

I reached out to Evan Wolfson, the founder of Freedom To Marry, and the man considered to be the father of the modern-day marriage equality movement, and asked him what he thought about the Republican House’s decision to defend DOMA in court. He responds:

“The President and Attorney General had it right when they said that morally and legally, the discriminatory so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ is indefensible. Whatever legal briefs the House leadership pays for — out of our tax dollars — will only be able to rehash the anti-gay arguments and absence of evidence that led the Administration — and the Nixon-appointed federal judge who ruled against DOMA at the trial level — to conclude that DOMA is unconstitutional. And that rehashing won’t make DOMA any more palatable .. or constitutional.”

I whole-heartedly agree.

One of the reasons we can and should let the Republicans be the ones to try to defend DOMA in court is the fact that we need to educate America about why DOMA is unconstitutional, and about why the law should be on our side. As if to prove my point, I came across a well-written but terribly misguided letter-to-the-editor in a local Kansas newspaper, titled, “Going Against God.”

The letter begins,

“President Obama’s decision to subvert the law and usurp the prerogatives of the Federal Judiciary by declaring the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional should be cause for great concern for Bible-believing Americans.”

As many people know, the country is not ruled by the law of God but by the law of man, and any attempt to introduce biblical law into the books must be as vigorously fought on the left as the right is fighting the false specter of Sharia law introduction into America jurisprudence. And this decision neither “subverts the law” nor “usurps the prerogatives of the judiciary.”

The writer continues with,

“The president announced that the Department of Justice would no longer defend DOMA. By deeming the Defense of Marriage Act to be indefensible and unconstitutional, President Obama has once again exposed his willingness to subvert the checks and balances at the heart of our Constitution.”

Stop right there sir! It is critical that we spread the word that a president has the legal right to not defend laws in court. While the executive branch must enforce the laws, it is under no obligation to defend them if they believe them to be unconstitutional, as this president, the attorney general, and a federal judge have all stated.

He continues,

“This, in spite of the fact that DOMA has been in federal law since 1996 – and has withstood many court challenges. The president and his attorney general have a duty to defend lawfully passed legislation, especially when the essence of the law has been upheld by many courts.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Again, presidents have a duty to enforce, but not defend the law in court.

We absolutely must make absolutely clear that other presidents have refused to defend laws they believed unconstitutional also, including Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Truman, Ford, Clinton, Bush 41, Bush 43, and yes, Reagan.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg explains:

“During the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Truman administrations, the presidents, in one form or another, refused to defend separate-but-equal facilities in schools and hospitals. The Ford Justice Department refused to defend the post-Watergate campaign finance law, much of which was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court. The Reagan administration refused to defend the independent counsel law, a law subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court by a 7-to-1 vote. It also refused to defend the one-house legislative veto of many executive actions; in that case, the administration was more successful, winning 7-2 in the Supreme Court. The Clinton administration refused to defend a federal law mandating the dismissal of military personnel who were HIV-positive. The George W. Bush administration refused to defend a federal law that denied mass-transit funds to any transportation system that displayed ads advocating the legalization of marijuana. And in the George H.W. Bush administration, the Justice Department refused to defend a federal law providing affirmative action in the awarding of broadcasting licenses — a law subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court by a narrow 5-4 vote. Solicitor General Kenneth Starr was recused in the case, so the lead counsel for the government in the case was Starr’s deputy, a fellow by the name of John Roberts, now the chief justice of the United States.”

Getting back to our letter-to-the-editor writer, who says,

“Thirty states have passed marriage amendments affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Attorney General Eric Holder justifying his position says that in the congressional debates there were ‘numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate family relationships.’ He went on to describe this as ‘animus,’ or hatred.”

“There is no hate coming from Christians on this issue. God loves everyone. God’s moral laws are the best way for us to live as a society. Our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were set up by God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians. God, through his book the Bible, says homosexuality is morally wrong. We love the sinner but not the sin. Ninety-eight percent of places of worship in America are Christian churches. Our president is going against the majority once again.”

Again, the laws of man and the relationship of man to god in America are neither congruous nor should they be. In other words, keep your bible out of my civil laws!

And, as an aside, yes there is hate, there has been hate, oh, so much hate and animus. And majority rule is never a good idea when it comes to the civil rights of the minority. It was Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers the tea party likes to quote so much these days, who wrote, “that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”

Read: “Hate Group American Family Association: DOMA Is Unconstitutional”

Our letter writer ends with,

“The president and the attorney general took oaths to defend the Constitution. The arrogance demonstrated by them we can only hope awakens a deep resolve among patriotic citizens. God, who put us here to have a personal relationship with him, to spread his love and live with him forever, says it’s wrong. Our best chance of living a life of love and prosperity is to follow God’s word. Please don’t say, “What is the big deal, who cares whether gays get to marry?” God makes the rules. Our society and our families will benefit if we follow God’s word and not the words of man. A man, our president, is saying it’s OK for gays to marry, going against God’s word. Most of us live such a soft, spoiled life. We forget the blood, sweat and tears it’s taken to make our country great. Please, America, stand for what God says is the right and wrong ways to live.”

Let me remind this writer, and the public at large, that the president, sadly, has not said he supports marriage equality, or “gay marriage.” And also let me remind everyone, DOMA is not in the Constitution. You know, it’s so funny how modern-day self-professed “tea party patriots” and social conservatives (and the House Republicans) claim all of a sudden they need to know “where in the Constitution does it say…” yet they are so unfamiliar with the Constitution!

Bottom line, Obama has no legal requirement to defend DOMA. DOMA is not a part of the Constitution. Almost every president since Truman has refused to defend one law or another.

So, let the House Republicans spend the people’s time and money on defending DOMA. They will quickly learn unconstitutional laws are indefensible, they will lose, and we will be free of DOMA.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.


Ten Commandments Governor Declares No Church-State Separation in Rough Fox News Interview



Louisiana Republican Governor Jeff Landry appeared surprised in a Friday Fox News interview when asked to defend his newly-signed law requiring the Bible’s Ten Commandments to be posted in every public school classroom throughout the state, which critics say is unconstitutional.

Speaking about the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state, which the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed at least a half-dozen times, Landry declared: “I challenge anyone who says that to go find me those words in the First Amendment. They don’t exist.”

He went on to claim those who want to “extract” what he claims are America’s Judeo-Christian principles “out of the foundation of this country…really and truly want to create the chaos that ultimately is the demise of this nation.”

On Thursday in a signing ceremony Landry declared the Bible’s Moses is the “original lawgiver,” a claim some challenged as a cultural choice and not an accurate one, given there are others that date back earlier, to ancient Greece, Babylon,  and India.

READ MORE: ‘Ominous Opinion’: Same-Sex Marriage Targeted Again in Latest SCOTUS Ruling, Expert Warns

“You’ve heard the criticism, it seems to be pouring in. Was it still the right thing to do?” Governor Landry was asked Friday afternoon.

“I mean, I didn’t know that living the Ten Commandments is a bad way to live life,” Landry replied, not touching the obvious and likely unconstitutional nature of the legislation he proudly signed 24 hours earlier. “I didn’t know that it was so vile to obey the Ten Commandments. I think that that speaks volumes about how eroded this country has become. I mean, look, this country was, was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and every time we steer away from that we have problems in our nation. I mean, right now schools teach, basically treat kids like critters and get the Ten Commandments is something bad to put in schools? It just it’s amazing.”

The founders clearly intended to create a secular, not religious government and took great care, including in the First Amendment, to ensure no religion was favored and individuals had the right to observe any faith, multiple faiths, or none at all.

RELATED: ‘Christian Theocracy’: Ten Commandments Lawmaker Who Can’t ‘Fathom’ Outrage Gets Schooled

“For those listening right now, they’re wondering, what’s the goal?” Fox News host Sandra Smith continued. “Because it’s not as if this is going to be taught in every school and classroom. This is just being displayed on the walls. So my question to you is, how is this going to improve the school environment and the performance of kids in those schools? When Governor, I pull up the report cards of these public schools and Louisiana is struggling, I mean, it is at the bottom of the country. The education system is failing these kids. I mean, Louisiana is 43, 44th in math and reading. So is this gonna help what is a very big problem in Louisiana?”

“Look, I think it’s part and parcel for helping kids anywhere around the country, if other states followed our suits, but at the same time that we signed that bill into law, we signed a string of others assign 20 bills, including this one, to reform Louisiana schools.”

Experts note that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in 1980.

Sandra Smith’s remarks about Louisiana failing are accurate. According to U.S. News and World Report, Louisiana ranks 47th in education, 50th in crime, 49th in the economy, 46th in health care, and overall, it ranks last, at number 50.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

RELATED: ‘Desperately Needed’: Trump Wants ‘Revival’ of Religion and Ten Commandments in Classrooms


Continue Reading


‘Ominous Opinion’: Same-Sex Marriage Targeted Again in Latest SCOTUS Ruling, Expert Warns



In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines the right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court once again targeted the landmark 2015 Obergefell same-sex marriage decision, leading liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor to sound “alarm bells” on marriage equality in her dissent a legal expert says, warning that they may try to “roll it back.”

The case involves Sandra Muñoz, a U.S. citizen who argued that the federal government’s denial of a visa for her husband, who lives in El Salvador, deprives her of her constitutionally protected right to liberty.

The right-wing majority in a decision written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett ruled: “A citizen does not have a fundamental liberty interest in her noncitizen spouse being admitted to the country.”

Friday’s ruling “undermines same-sex marriage,” Bloomberg Law reports Justice Sotomayor’s dissent warns.

Slate senior writer Mark Joseph Stern has covered the courts since 2013, and is the author of a 2019 book on the Roberts Supreme Court.

“Justice Sotomayor, in dissent, accuses the conservative supermajority of cutting back the rights guaranteed in Obergefell—the same-sex marriage decision—and of repeating ‘the same fatal error’ it made in Dobbs,” Stern writes. “A very ominous opinion.”

READ MORE: ‘Desperately Needed’: Trump Wants ‘Revival’ of Religion and Ten Commandments in Classrooms

The “fatal error” in Dobbs was ignoring precedent.

“Justice Sotomayor says the burden of today’s decision will ‘fall most heavily’ on same-sex couples, many of whom cannot safely reside in the non-citizen’s home country,” Stern adds. “Her dissent is littered with alarm bells about Obergefell.”

He points to this from Sotomayor’s dissent, a citation from the Obergefell decision:

“A traveler to the United States two centuries ago reported that ‘‘[t]here is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is so much respected as in America.’ ‘ ”

“Today,” Sotomayor continued, “the majority fails to live up to that centuries-old promise. Muñoz may be able to live with her husband in El Salvador, but it will mean raising her U. S.-citizen child outside the United States. Others will be less fortunate. The burden will fall most heavily on same-sex couples and others who lack the ability, for legal or financial reasons, to make a home in the noncitizen spouse’s country of origin.”

Again quoting Obergefell, she adds, “For those couples, this Court’s vision of marriage as the ‘assurance that while both still live there will be someone to care for the other’ rings hollow.”

Stern warns: “I think Justice Sotomayor is clearly correct that the Supreme Court’s gratuitous attack on the constitutional rights of married couples in Muñoz—especially same-sex couples—suggests that the conservative justices hate Obergefell and may roll it back.”

Sotomayor began her dissent also with a quote from Obergefell: “The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition.”

READ MORE: ‘Fact Checking His Delusions’: Trump’s Falsehoods May Not Be Lies Anymore, Critics Warn

She warns that the right-wing majority could have appropriately issued a narrow ruling but instead chose to hand down a broad decision:

“The majority could have resolved this case on narrow grounds under longstanding precedent,” she writes. “Instead, the majority today chooses a broad holding on marriage over a narrow one on procedure.”

Justice Sotomayor again points to same-sex marriage:

“Muñoz may be able to live in El Salvador alongside her husband or at least visit him there, but not everyone is sovereign lucky. The majority’s holding will also extend to those couples who, like the Lovings and the Obergefells, depend on American law for their marriages’ validity. Same-sex couples may be forced to relocate to countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, or even those that criminalize homosexuality.”

She also noted, “The constitutional right to marriage has deep roots,” and “The constitutional right to marriage is not so flimsy,” while warning “the majority departs from longstanding precedent and gravely undervalues the right to marriage in the immigration context.”

Two years ago almost to the day, when the Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v Wade and stripping away the constitutional right to abortion, Stern warned the Court, especially Justice Thomas, would come for contraception, same-sex intimacy, and same-sex marriage:

Two years before Dobbs, Stern also warned Justice Thomas was targeting same-sex marriage, writing that “Thomas (joined by Alito) wrote a jaw-dropping rant taking direct aim at Obergefell and suggesting that SCOTUS must overturn the right to marriage equality in order to protect free exercise.”

READ MORE: ‘Christian Theocracy’: Ten Commandments Lawmaker Who Can’t ‘Fathom’ Outrage Gets Schooled

Image via Shutterstock

Continue Reading


‘Desperately Needed’: Trump Wants ‘Revival’ of Religion and Ten Commandments in Classrooms



Jumping on Louisiana’s controversial and likely unconstitutional new law mandating posters of a specific version of the Bible’s Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, Donald Trump overnight declared the nation “desperately” needs a religious “revival” and called for the religious text to be placed in classrooms across America.

Critics point out that the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980 found a similar law unconstitutional.

“The high court found that the law had no secular purpose but rather served a plainly religious purpose,” the Associated Press reports.

And while some lawmakers are insisting it is a historical document, remarks by Republican Governor Jeff Landry and the bill’s co-author, Republican state Rep. Lauren Ventrella, would appear to undermine that defense.

RELATED: ‘Christian Theocracy’: Ten Commandments Lawmaker Who Can’t ‘Fathom’ Outrage Gets Schooled

“I love the Ten Commandments in public schools, private schools, and many other places, for that matter. Read it — how can we, as a nation, go wrong??? This may be, in fact, the first major step in the revival of religion, which is desperately needed, in our country. bring back TTC!!! MAGA2024” Trump wrote on Truth Social in his all-caps post.

Some critics have been noting Trump has violated many if not most of the Ten Commandments. Some have listed the Ten Commandments and what they say are Trump’s actions in comparison to them.

MSNBC‘s Steve Bennen observed, “Trump is touting the Ten Commandments, despite the fact that he’s broken most of them. No graven images? Check. Honoring the Sabbath? Check. No adultery? Check. No stealing? Check. No bearing false witness? Big ol’ check. No coveting a neighbor’s wife? Check.”

Retired North Carolina Supreme Court justice and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Judge Bob Orr wrote: “The GOP and Trump want parents controlling the books that are in schools NOT educators…but their ok with educators being responsible for teaching children to follow the Ten Commandments – a responsibility that belongs at home with the parents and the church.”

Earlier this week, before Trump’s declaration, The Lincoln Project posted a video on Trump’s relationship to the religious document.

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Fact Checking His Delusions’: Trump’s Falsehoods May Not Be Lies Anymore, Critics Warn




Continue Reading


Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.