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 GOPâ€™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.
“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€
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.
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Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case
Joe Harding, the now-former Florida Republican lawmaker who authored the extremist “Don’t Say Gay” bill could face up to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday afternoon to federal felony fraud charges in a scheme to obtain $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds, according to Florida Politics‘ publisher Peter Scorsch.
Harding, 35, was a construction project manager who started his own lawn care company. He quickly became a right-wing darling after his anti-LGBTQ legislation, officially the Parental Rights in Education Act, was embraced by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed it into law.
Harding was charged in a December federal indictment with six counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in his plot to obtain $150,000 in COVID funds.He resigned from the legislature the following day. He originally pled not guilty.
READ MORE: ‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter
After Harding was charged and resigned, Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, responded via social media, saying: “So much harm to students, parents and teachers because of his raw political ambitions. He slandered entire communities and trafficked in lie after lie that has emboldened violent bigotry. He will have his day in court but his legacy is already a despicable one.”
Harding is not the only family member accused of criminal acts.
“Harding’s indictment follows a September guilty plea from his brother-in-law, Patrick Walsh,” Florida Politics reported in December. “As reported by Fresh Take Florida, Walsh pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges connected to his receipt of nearly $8 million in disaster relief loans.”
Unrepentant to the harm many feel he has done to children and the LGBTQ community, in a statement Tuesday Harding said: “During the past legislative session I have felt the support of millions of Americans while fighting for our shared concerns and for the rights of parents. I will never forget the support I received from every corner of this great country.”
READ MORE: 18 Attorneys General Blast Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Law as Unconstitutional
Harding will be sentenced in July.
Florida’s Voice also reported Harding’s guilty plea Tuesday.
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter
Ahead of a possible indictment of Donald Trump, law enforcement agencies are investigating “chilling” threats, including against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, according to top Washington Post investigative reporter Carol Leonnig.
Leonnig was careful to say she is not aware of any of the threats being deemed credible, but also noted that “all sorts of law enforcement agencies” seem to be taking much more interest than some agencies did in the weeks before the January 6, 2021 insurrection.
“I have received copies and screenshots and internal documents and emails flagging concerns about specific protests, investigations into specific online threats that have been made that are not yet determined to be ‘credible and likely to occur’ but have been chilling nonetheless in terms of the threats that have been made about killing certain people,” Leonning, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Deadline” White House.”
“Claims of, you know, ‘Alvin Bragg needs to needs to die,’ and claims online that could just be, you know, bravado, but are being seriously investigated and checked into this time around, ones that were not checked into as clearly at all in the weeks before January 6, despite significant warnings to the FBI about what these threats meant.”
Mirroring Leonnig’s reporting, Rolling Stone, citing law enforcement reports, on Tuesday noted: “Violent extremists are advocating lethal attacks and proclaiming their willingness to die for the cause.”
READ MORE: ‘All-Out War’: Trump’s Attorney Tells Kimberly Guilfoyle Ex-President Will Be ‘Loud and Proud’ When Showing Up for Indictment
“U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. Fusion Center, and the Federal Highway Administration have all circulated warnings about the uptick in online threats over the past 48 hours. The bulletins and threat assessments detail some of the online threats and discussions about the use of specific tactics and methods for carrying out attacks — including online discussions about lethal attacks if Trump is arrested.”
On Saturday in an explosive series of social media posts Donald Trump urged his supporters to “protest” and “take our nation back.”
That “announcement was met with an immediate increase in violent online rhetoric and expressed threats toward government and law enforcement targets perceived as participating in a political persecution of the former president, as well as calls for ‘Civil War’ more generally.”
The DC Fusion Center, which analyzes threats, in a report stated it “assesses that potential criminal justice actions taken toward a former US president — or actions perceived to be taken toward the former president — remain a ‘line in the sand’ for [Domestic Violent Extremist] communities and thus have the potential to manifest in violence toward government targets or political officials,” Rolling Stone added.
Missouri Supreme Court Refuses to Disbar Lawyer Who Sexually Assaulted Six Women: Report
An 86-year old defense attorney will be allowed to keep his law license after the Missouri Supreme Court in a 4-3 ruling refused to disbar him despite having sexually assaulted six of his clients, all women.
Attorney Dan K. Purdy will be “indefinitely suspended from practicing law but allowed to apply for reinstatement after a year,” The Kansas City Star reports.
“In September 2020, Purdy made sexual advances toward four clients in a Vernon County jail interview room, including touching and kissing, that were confirmed by video provided by the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office,” The Star reports. “Each woman was later interviewed by officers and told them Purdy’s advances were unwanted.”
In addition to jail interview roos, Purdy’s sexual advances took place in court and in his car. All were locations where his clients might have felt uncomfortable to complain.
READ MORE: Trump Calls for Congress to Investigate NY AG After Judge Refuses to Delay $250 Million Fraud Trial Against Ex-President
“Purdy’s clients either did not know or did not realize they could repudiate his sexual advances,” Justice George W. Draper III wrote in the majority opinion.
There are seven justices on the Missouri Supreme Court, four appointed by Republican governors, three by Democratic governors. Four are men, three are women.
The ruling was not along party lines.
“In my view, neither the race, gender, ethnicity, nor age of an attorney should be taken into consideration to determine appropriate discipline,” wrote Justice Zel M. Fischer in his dissent. “In my view, Mr. Purdy’s conduct, which was clearly and explicitly depicted in the video evidence, warrants disbarment.”
“As recognized by the principal opinion, not only did Mr. Purdy sexually assault six female clients, he ‘exhibited a continued pattern or practice of improper and disturbing conduct, which continued, even after the present case was filed against him,'” Fischer noted. [Bolding in original text.]
Image of Missouri Supreme Court via Wikimedia
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