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.
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.
“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 â€” 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, â€œthat the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.â€
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.
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Experts Call on Trump to Release Search Warrant and Inventory List as His Supporters Talk of ‘Civil War’
Legal experts and other experts are urging – or in some cases, daring – Donald Trump to publish a copy of the FBI’s search warrant and the inventory list of the ten cartons of classified documents removed from Mar-a-Lago’s basement Monday, as his supporters openly call for civil war in response to what the former president called a “raid.”
“After the search, the federal agents hauled away roughly 10 more boxes,” The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
That makes the total number of cartons the former president was storing at his Florida home approximately 25, based on reports that 15 cartons had to be retrieved by the National Archives earlier this year.
Almost immediately upon news breaking that the FBI had executed a search warrant, Trump supporters went wild. They formed a convoy outside Mar-a-Lago, and online countless threats of violence and “civil war” have been made.
Tuesday morning CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan posted a graph, noting the “big spike in tweets referencing ‘civil war’ right after the news of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago broke last night.”
Dr. Caroline Orr Bueno posted an image of a large number of tweets that call for civil war and other related threats of violence, including: “I already bought my ammo,” “Civil war! Pick up arms, people!” “Civil War 2.0 just kicked off,” “Let’s do the war,” and “One step closer to a kinetic civil war.”
And Tuesday afternoon NBC News reported, “After Mar-a-Lago search, users on pro-Trump forums agitate for ‘civil war’ — including a Jan. 6 rioter.”
Legal experts have made clear they believe FBI’s execution of a lawful federal search warrant is most likely in connection with a national security and counterintelligence operation, not a casual stroll into the private estate of a former U.S. president – and certainly not a political move, like Trump supporters are falsely claiming.
Former Dept. of Justice Inspector General Michael Bromwich, who is also a former Asst. U.S. Attorney at the Southern District of New York (SDNY) notes that “Trump has the search warrant, specifying the crimes being investigated, and the inventory of the items seized.”
“He has chosen not to share those items publicly although he is free to do so,” Bromwich adds.
Former U.S. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal on MSNBC Tuesday morning:
“Donald Trump, you have a copy of the warrant. It explains what they were looking for, what statutes they think were violated, what judge signed off on that…If you believe this is such an abuse, release the warrant and let us decide for ourselves.”
“Donald Trump, you have a copy of the warrant. It explains what they were looking for, what statutes they think were violated, what judge signed off on that…If you believe this is such an abuse, release the warrant and let us decide for ourselves.” @neal_katyal pic.twitter.com/j3PH8m8ACI
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) August 9, 2022
“By the way,” noted Richard Stengel, a former U.S. Under Secretary of State, “Trump now has the search warrant and the inventory of what was taken in his possession. If this raid was so egregious and unjustified, why not release them?”
“Trump can release the search warrant and the inventory of what the FBI took. Why hasn’t he?” asked Marc Elias, the DNC’s top attorney who successfully fought more than 60 cases of alleged election fraud brought by the Trump team and his supporters.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, responding to a Fox News tweet with video of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) that reads, “‘WE DESERVE ANSWERS NOW'” wrote: “Some of those questions could be answered if Trump released the search warrant as well as the inventory of items seized, which his team presumably has.”
Politico’s Kyle Cheney tweeting his article titled, “Why the Trump search warrant is nothing like Hillary’s emails,” wrote: “One person who could clear most of it up? Trump. He has access to the inventory of records at Mar-a-Lago and likely received a copy of the search warrant. He would also know the nature of the classified documents at issue.”
‘He Was Going to Sacrifice You’: Pence Mocked for Rushing to Support Trump After FBI Mar-a-Lago Raid
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who was by Donald Trump‘s side constantly promoting and defending him when he was President, and who was subjected to Trump’s support of rioters and insurrectionists calling to “hang Mike Pence,” is being highly criticized and mocked for again rushing to defend Trump in the wake of the FBI’s raid at Mar-a-Lago.
Experts have made clear they believe FBI’s execution of a lawful federal search warrant is most likely in connection with a national security and counterintelligence operation, not a casual stroll into the private estate of a former U.S. president.
But not according to Pence, who is strongly believed to be organizing a 2024 presidential run.
“I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump. No former President of the United States has ever been subject to a raid of their personal residence in American history,” he writes.
“After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed,” he claims, which is at best a twisting of facts. No FBI agent was found to have taken official action based on personal political beliefs.
“Yesterday’s action undermines public confidence in our system of justice and Attorney General Garland must give a full accounting to the American people as to why this action was taken and he must do so immediately,” Pence demanded.
Pence could have made the exact same demand of Donald Trump, who has a copy of the lawfully executed search warrant and inventory of the likely hundreds or thousands of documents that are the rightful property of the U.S. government, and recovered by the FBI from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
Meanwhile, Pence was singing a very different tune int he weeks before he was elected Vice President.
“We call on the FBI to immediately release all emails pertinent to their investigation,” he tweeted about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on October 28, 2016. “Americans have the right to know before Election Day.”
Trump “and I commend the FBI for reopening an investigation into Clinton’s personal email server because no one is above the law,” Pence added just hours later.
Responses to Pence’s remarks on Tuesday were strong.
“Mike he was going to sacrifice you,” tweeted Daily Kos staff writer Gabe Ortíz.
“No President has ever attempted to have an armed mob assassinate his Vice President either,” wrote journalist Marcy Wheeler.
Trump sent a “violent mob to murder you so he could end [the] republic,” tweeted economist David Rothschild. “Trump took boxes of classified documents from White House & is known to destroy documents.”
“Trump won in 2016 because FBI intervened on his behalf over ‘concern’ about Clinton’s document retention & security,” he continued. “Not investigating & prosecuting former president who flaunts breaking law, including leading coup against US, undermines rule-of-law for all of US.”
“You don’t know what the FBI’s warrant said or what evidence was presented to the judge who authorized it,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “Your suggestion that Trump should be beyond accountability to the law, like your silence when Trump called for imprisonment of his opponents as president, harms our country.”
Talking Points memo editor and founder Josh Marshall writes, “this is a good reminder of who Mike Pence is. None of this happened. The FBI never plotted against Trump. To the extent it has org bias it’s toward the right. Everyone knows this. Pence is just repeating anti-‘deep state’ propaganda invented to give Trump cover for his crimes.”
“The pervasive rightwing lie and conspiracy theory that the FBI is controlled by Biden for political purposes is based on the assumption that everyone in the Biden admin, the FBI, the department of justice, the media and secret service is corrupt and abusing power—and trump is not,” wrote Condé Nast legal affairs editor Luke Zaleski.
Vox’s legal expert, Ian Millhiser asks, “Is there anyone on earth more pathetic than Mike Pence? Donald Trump egged on a lynch mob that wanted Pence hanged, and Pence is still Trump’s toady.”
‘Pledging to Sue’: Christian Nationalist GOP Nominee Subpoenaed by J6 Committee ‘Didn’t Answer a Single Question’
Christian nationalist Doug Mastriano, the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nominee for Pennsylvania who was at the US Capitol on January 6 and is seen as a central figure in the plot to overturn the election, complied with a subpoena to appear before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack but didn’t answer any questions.
“Trump ally Doug Mastriano’s virtual appearance Tuesday before the House January 6 committee only lasted about 15 minutes,” CNN reports, adding that “‘he didn’t answer a single question,’ according to a source familiar with the matter.”
New York Times reporter Luke Broadwater confirms, adding that Mastriano is “pledging to sue the committee,” although it is unclear on what grounds.
Mastriano is a conspiracy theorist with strong ties to far right wing extremists including antisemitic Gab found Andrew Torba.
CNN adds that “Mastriano’s attorney cut off the virtual appearance soon after it began, the source said. His lawyer, Tim Parlatore, took issue with several procedural matters related to the deposition, and raised questions about the legality of the subpoena that Mastriano received from the panel, the source added.”
As of May the Committee had already interviewed over 1000 people and it appears few, if any, have made these claims.
The New Yorker in May called Mastriano “a leader of the Stop the Steal campaign, and claims that he spoke to Donald Trump at least fifteen times between the 2020 election and the insurrection at the Capitol, on January 6th.”
“He urged his followers to attend the rally at the Capitol that led to the riots, saying, ‘I’m really praying that God will pour His Spirit upon Washington, D.C., like we’ve never seen before.’ Throughout this time, he has cast the fight against both lockdowns and Trump’s electoral loss as a religious battle against the forces of evil. He has come to embody a set of beliefs characterized as Christian nationalism, which center on the idea that God intended America to be a Christian nation, and which, when mingled with conspiracy theory and white nationalism, helped to fuel the insurrection.”
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