An Open Letter To Representative Foxx
May 15, 2009
Dear Representative Foxx,
Itâ€™s been ten years, seven months, and fifteen days since the night Matthew Shepard was savagely beaten, tortured, pistol-whipped so badly his skull was crushed, and, yes, robbed, and tied to a fence for eighteen hours in freezing temperatures, during which he sank into a coma before dying five days later. Itâ€™s been two weeks and one day since you stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and delivered your now infamous speech to your fellow Congressmen, constituents, reporters, the media, and, yes, watching from the House gallery, Matthew Shepard’s mother.
On that hallowed floor, Ms. Foxx, you said, and I quote, â€œThe hate crimes bill thatâ€™s called the Matthew Shepard Bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery.Â It wasnâ€™t because he was gay.Â This â€“ the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but itâ€™s really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.â€
Facts, Representative Foxx, are facts. Theyâ€™re not malleable. They donâ€™t change based on your opinion or that of your sources. They are â€œpragmatic truthsâ€. And they canâ€™t be cherry-picked to flesh-out a version of events that suit oneâ€™s purpose. Ms. Foxx, when you stood in front of your country and the world, on that Wednesday afternoon two weeks ago, however, thatâ€™s exactly what you did.
You believe you have apologized, but you have not. You simply apologized for your choice of words. You apologized for semantics. You did not, however, apologize for the fact that you maligned the memory of a twenty-one year old, five-foot four-inch boy who weighted barely more than one-hundred pounds. You did not apologize for getting the facts wrong. You added your voice to a lie. And that is unacceptable.
It is unacceptable to millions of Americans, some of whom, in North Carolina, you represent directly. It is unacceptable to millions of people around the world who hold the memory, and the very idea of what Matthew Shepard represents, in our hearts. It is unacceptable to me. And it is unacceptable to the nearly two-thousand people, some of whom are your constituents, who very quickly after you spoke those now infamous, horrific words, joined a group dedicated to securing your resignation.
Representative Foxx, after reading your public statements, your voting history, and seeing the very manner in which you serve the people of North Carolina and this country, we do not believe that you understand the gravity of your actions, or the gravity of your office. You may be the elected representative of the Fifth District in North Carolina, but you are a United States Congresswoman. And as a United States Congresswoman, when you speak, America hears not the Representative from the Fifth District of North Carolina, America hears a United States Congresswoman.
We know you sent a letter of apology to Judy Shepard, and said, â€œIf I said anything that offended her, I certainly apologize for it and know that sheâ€™s hurting, and I would never do anything to add to that.â€ But, Representative Foxx, you did. And you wounded millions of Americans with your uninformed and ugly rhetoric, you violated the trust placed in an elected official of The United States, and you violated the memory of Matthew Shepard. Saying â€œifâ€ demonstrated, in yet one more poorly chosen word, your lack of understanding of the pain you have caused victims of hate crimes, their families, friends, and loved ones. Saying â€œifâ€ demonstrated your lack of understanding of the significance of your office.
How can you deny facts, so many facts, not set the record straight, not say you were wrong? Even Russell Henderson, one of Matthew Shepardâ€™s murderers, in the very ABC News 20/20 article you based your statement on, apologized. Ms. Foxx, we need a real apology, a real statement that says you understand the facts of the Matthew Shepard murder, and the reason it was, in fact, a hate crime. And we need you to understand that hate crimes are real crimes, far worse than isolated murders and violent attacks. As a lawmaker, you need to understand the difference between a crime and a hate crime.
A hate crime, in the words of conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, â€œis really two crimesâ€‰â€”â€‰one against the individual and another against the group to which he belongs. By that definition, Shepardâ€™s murder may be viewed as a terrorist act against all gays, who would have felt more fearful as a result.â€
Perhaps, Ms. Foxx, not having been part of an oppressed minority, it is difficult for you to understand what itâ€™s like to feel the fear of others who have suffered, knowing that, you, too, might one day befall the same fate, merely for the color of your skin, or your heritage, or for simply how you appear. What could possibly be worse than not supporting the idea of protecting those who need protection the most? Isnâ€™t that what America stands for? Isnâ€™t that the reason we, over the course of more than two centuries, have many times gone to war? How can you not support something so simple and so human as wanting to ensure all Americans feel free from the danger and harm that hatred can bring?
Representative Foxx, I invite you to reexamine your comments about Matthew Shepard. We need you to correct the record, apologize for the hurt and pain caused by not only your words, but by your position on the murder of Matthew Shepard and by your position on hate crimes. Apologize, and tell the truth: Matthew Shepardâ€™s murder was a hate crime. If you feel these requests are too unimportant, then, Representative Foxx, you should consider the needs of the people of North Carolina and America, and let someone else, anyone who has the temerity for truth, take your place. Because, if you cannot realize that your understanding of the Matthew Shepard murder was wrong, that your words and your response were hurtful, and that your position on hate crimes is hateful, you may still be qualified to “hold office,” but you are in no way qualified to represent any part of this great country.
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Republicans Kill Bill to Protect IVF After Claiming They Fully Support It
After the Alabama Supreme Court ruled two weeks ago that frozen embryos are “children,” causing several medical facilities to pause their in-vitro fertilization services, Republicans rushed to get ahead of the growing national outrage.
Many Republicans insisted that although they oppose abortion and support the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, they did not think it would have effects this far-reaching. And they insisted, repeatedly, on-camera, they absolutely support in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
“Once you pass a law or accept the view that life begins at conception, IVF & some forms of birth control are at risk, along with abortion. It was never ‘just’ about abortion & women pay the price for all of it,” wrote professor of law and MSNBC legal contributor Joyce Vance on February 23. Three days later she added, “It’s pretty simple. If life begins at conception, IVF is off the table. If you make an exception for IVF then we’re just having a conversation about who you’re willing to make exceptions for.”
Republicans insisted they were willing to make an exception for IVF.
For years, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who has given birth to two children with the help of IVF, has tried to pass legislation to protect IVF.
Republicans each time have killed the bills.
Her latest attempt was Wednesday.
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) on Wednesday spoke against the bill.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith blocks an attempt by Sen. Tammy Duckworth to enshrine access to IVF in federal law on Wednesday by saying it would legalize the creation of human cloning and “human-animal chimeras”
1) The bill does no such thing.
2) It’s not pronounced that way pic.twitter.com/0CbDd1LXGw
— Marcus Baram (@mbaram) February 29, 2024
Sen. Duckworth stamped out Hyde-Smith’s claims, saying, “She said at one point the bill would allow for chimeras — human-animal hybrids — it does nothing of the sort. All the bill says if you want to seek reproductive technology you can …”
Sen. Hyde-Smith then killed the bill by formally objecting to Duckworth’s bill on Wednesday, which the Illinois Democrat tried to pass via unanimous consent.
It was the second time in two years Sen. Hyde-Smith has killed that bill.
“They’re hanging this on Hyde-Smith. But the entire senate gop has now united to block a federal law to keep ivf legal,” observed Talking Points Memo publisher Josh Marshall. “They’re all coming out saying that frozen embryos are equal to living children.”
Also on Wednesday, the lone House Republican supporting legislation to protect IVF withdrew her sponsorship of that bill.
Rep. Anna Luna (R-FL), the only Republican in either chamber of Congress cosponsoring legislation to codify protections for IVF access nationwide, just withdrew her cosponsorship of the bill: pic.twitter.com/DaBAykcsri
— Aaron Fritschner (@Fritschner) February 29, 2024
The Biden campaign on Thursday blasted Republicans for claiming to support IVF then killing the bill that would have protected it.
NBC: Democrats, led by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, tried to expand IVF protections at the federal level, but Senate Republicans blocked the bill pic.twitter.com/ssq4fEQlKt
— Biden-Harris HQ (@BidenHQ) February 29, 2024
Watch the videos above or at this link.
‘Injustice’: Experts Condemn Supreme Court’s ‘Fundamentally Corrupt’ Trump Decision
Legal and political experts were stunned by the Supreme Court announcing Wednesday it will take up Donald Trump’s claim of presidential immunity, despite there being no contradiction in the lower courts. Compounding experts’ surprise and concern over granting certiorari was the length of time it took to announce the decision, and that they will not hear arguments until April 22.
“The Supreme Court heard and decided Bush v. Gore in THREE DAYS. THAT was expediting a case of national importance,” noted Tristan Snell, the former New York State prosecutor who led the successful investigation and $25 million prosecution of Donald Trump’s Trump University. “The Supreme Court apparently now thinks expediting means THREE MONTHS. Clearest evidence yet that SCOTUS is corrupt and broken.”
Professor of law and MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann, the former FBI General Counsel who served at DOJ for decades, asked: “Why on god’s green earth did the S Ct [Supreme Court] not take the case earlier when the Special Counsel sought review directly from the District Court? They have really played into Trump’s hands.”
He adds: “The Supreme Court is going straight for the capillaries: an issue the DC criminal case does not raise, namely the outer bounds of a presidential immunity doctrine.”
Weissman Thursday morning noted that the Supreme Court’s actions essentially make Trump “de facto immune.”
“By granting the stay, [SCOTUS] is essentially saying that [Trump] is de facto immune…And I think it ends up being that they’ve given a win to Trump here, and I think they’re gonna give a win to Trump in the Colorado case as well.”
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) February 29, 2024
Foreign policy, national security, and political affairs analyst and author David Rothkopf replied, “I think you have answered your own question. The only reason to handle this the way they did is to, at best, play Trump’s delay game and, at worst, set the stage for one of the most indefensible, corrupt decisions (or outcomes) in US history.”
“Those who did not understand the urgency of stopping the threat posed by Trump, MAGA and the dark money right, those who did not actively hold them accountable with every available institutional tool, may have been the undoing of American democracy…no matter their intentions,” he noted.
“Let’s not beat around the bush, decision by the Supreme Court to hear the Trump immunity case is outrageous and, at its heart, fundamentally corrupt,” Rothkopf also wrote. “The Appeals Court decision was bullet proof and there is no case Trump has any sort of immunity. The decision not to hear it until late April makes further significant trial delays likely. They are deliberately delaying the trial without any reasonable legal reason to do so. This is a political decision and, in my estimation, an ugly one.”
“If a special counsel had been appointed early in 2021,” Rothkopf also wrote, “if Trump obstruction of justice had be prosecuted, if Trump had not been granted special treatment on his theft of classified documents, if the classified documents case had been brought in DC as it should have been, Trump might very well be in jail now.”
He also pointed to this monologue from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, calling it “correct.”
.@chrislhayes: The SCOTUS order “was a clear unmistakable sign from the MAGA majority of the Trump-created court that they are with him. That they are going to use their power to make sure that he does not face trial in an election year for attempting to end American democracy.” pic.twitter.com/fgrrP0tEw0
— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) February 29, 2024
University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University Laurence Tribe blasted “the SCOTUS decision to slow-walk Trump’s outrageous immunity claim — the claim everyone knows would be rejected 9-0 by any self-respecting court.”
Noting the Supreme Court could have taken up the case back in December, Tribe told CNN, “There’s nothing new under the sun” in this case. “It doesn’t make any sense to stretch this out this way.”
“We can be sure that they want to use this case to settle a whole broad range of issues, contrary to their supposed practice of deciding no more than you must decide. In fact, the Chief Justice once famously said, if we don’t have to decide something, that means we have to avoid deciding it. He’s obviously violated that mandate here and the struggle within the court results in injustice for the nation.”
Tribe also slammed the Court for choosing to announce it will decide “the broadest possible question.” He suggests they could stretch it out even more, by taking the case, hearing it, then sending it back to the lower courts again.
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) February 29, 2024
Daily Beast columnist and “recovering attorney” Wajahat Ali observed: “A thoroughly corrupt Supreme Court with right-wing justices bought out by conservative billionaires and beholden to Christian nationalism should not be expected to side with justice, the rule of law, or democracy. Elections matter.”
CNN Senior Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic on Wednesday said, The fact that they delayed this order … suggests that they certainly did not embrace the urgency that Special Counsel Jack Smith tried to impose upon them, way back in December.”
“Former President Trump’s effort to run the clock has a partner in the Supreme Court at this point,” she notes.
“Former President Trump’s effort to run the clock has a partner in the Supreme Court at this point.” pic.twitter.com/bjgbTxA1RP
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) February 28, 2024
Watch the videos above or at this link.
Comer Announces Public Hearing After Hunter Biden Closed Door Testimony
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer announced he will hold a public hearing with Hunter Biden after the president’s son testified behind closed doors for most of Wednesday.
“I think this was a great deposition for us, it proved several bits of our evidence, that we’ve been conducting throughout this investigation, but there are also some contradictory statements that I think need further review,” Comer told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
“So this impeachment inquiry will now go to the next phase, which will be a public hearing. And that’s something that I think everyone in the media has been asking a lot of questions about. Something that I know that Mr. Biden and his attorney both demanded, just as I said, when we said we were going to do the deposition first, we will have a public hearing next.”
It’s unclear what other witnesses Chairman Comer and Chairman Jordan will present.
Comer claimed that parts of Hunter Biden’s testimony contradicted some of their previous witness’ testimony, although he refused to elaborate.
Hunter Biden stated in the opening remarks he released publicly Wednesday morning that Chairman Comer and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan had built their “entire partisan house of cards on lies told by the likes of Gal Luft, Tony Bobulinski, Alexander Smirnov, and Jason Galanis.”
“Luft, who is a fugitive, has been indicted for his lies and other crimes; Smirnov, who has made you dupes in carrying out a Russian disinformation campaign waged against my father, has been indicted for his lies; Bobulinski, who has been exposed for the many false statements he has made, and Galanis, who is serving 14 years in prison for fraud.”
Politico described Hunter Biden’s opening statement as “blistering.”
“I am here today,” the President’s son began, “to provide the Committees with the one uncontestable fact that should end the false premise of this inquiry: I did not involve my father in my business. Not while I was a practicing lawyer, not in my investments or transactions domestic or international, not as a board member, and not as an artist. Never.”
Watch Comer below or at this link.
Comer announces another impeachment public hearing pic.twitter.com/UjlWAs8zbb
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2024
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