A baker who closed her store afterÂ deciding she could not follow the law that mandated same-sexcouples not be discriminated against brook down in front of cameras at a conservative anti-gay conference.
Melissa Klein ownsÂ Sweet Cakes by Melissa. The Christian baker lost her case earlier this year, when Oregon’sÂ Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that she hadÂ unlawfully discriminated against a same-sex Portland couple, Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, because they are gay.
Klein last year refused to bake the couple a cake, citing her religious beliefs. Ultimately, she chose to move her business to the web, and her home,Â and close her Oregon storefront.
“For me personally,” Klein told the largely over-50 crowd, “when I would sit down with them I just would want to know everything about her wedding.”
“I’d want to know about the flowers, her dress, the centerpieces, her colors, the way her hair is going to be. I would even want to talk about ‘where are you going on your honeymoon?'” Klein said, describing her process ofÂ deciding what a cake should look like.
“I would just feel so honored to be part of such an amazing, special day,” Klein added, as she broke into tears.
Klein and her husband Aaron insist theÂ decision to not serve same-sex couples isn’t anti-gay, merely their First Amendment right.
The courts vastly disagreed with them.Â
Since they were unable to reach a compromise, the Kleins will have to pay about $150,000 in state fines.
In the original complaint, Klein is accused of calling the lesbian couple “abominations,” which she denies.
What’s important to remember is that every business is licensed by the state. When a business is granted a license it agrees to follow the laws of the state. Klein could have kept her business open but she made the decision to close and move to the web.
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‘Nightmare Scenario’ for Democracy: ‘Desperate’ GOP May Sink to New Depths to Fight Election Reform – With SCOTUS’s Help
While Republicans in state legislatures are proposing voter suppression bills all around the U.S., Democrats are pushing the For the People Act at the federal level — a comprehensive voting rights bill that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but now faces a steep uphill climb in the U.S. Senate. Democrats have a narrow majority and must contend with the filibuster for most legislation. Far-right pundits have been railing against the act, known as HR1, on conservative media outlets like Fox News, Fox Business and Newsmax, and observers warn Republicans will take extreme efforts to fight any such reforms.
Beutler contemplates various scenarios and how they could affect voting rights if they come to pass. Some scenarios to consider, Beutler writes, include 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court becoming available, Democrats losing their narrow Senate majority, and the court attacking voting reforms if Democrats somehow manage to get them passed in the Senate.
“Here’s a nightmare scenario I encourage everyone — but particularly, Breyer and Senate Democrats — to imagine having to endure,” Beutler writes. “Through illness or untimely death, Democrats’ 50-50 Senate ‘majority’ becomes a 49-50 Senate minority. They don’t retain the seat. Joe Biden loses reelection. We’re all left hoping Breyer can survive into his 90s so that the Supreme Court doesn’t swing from 6-3 to 7-2. Mitch McConnell gets Charlie Kirk fitted for a robe.”
He continues: “Now consider this less speculative nightmare scenario. Democrats let bygones be bygones, leave court reform out of their larger democracy-reform project, change the filibuster rules, pass both HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — and the existing Supreme Court takes a hatchet to it. We should know to expect this, because Republicans declared the For the People Act ‘unconstitutional’ sight unseen, as a kind of bat signal to their allies on the courts to make sure democracy reform can’t take effect.”
Beutler adds, “We can’t know in advance which provisions of these bills the Supreme Court would invalidate, but it’s trivially easy to step into the shoes of conservative justices and extend the same pseudo-constitutional arguments they’ve used to degrade American election law over the last decade to new reforms. Campaign-finance regulations? Well, those obviously violate the 1st Amendment. Non-partisan gerrymandering? The federal government can’t dictate that kind of thing to the states!”
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) April 16, 2021
But Democrats don’t just face dangers from the right-wing Supreme Court. Republicans controlling key state legislatures, oftened heavily gerrymandered to protect their majorities from swings in public opinion, are actively considering how to thwart efforts to make elections fairer.
Democracy Docket, in a “legislation alert” published this week, describes Texas House Bill 4507 — which has been proposed by Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives and would “essentially create a two-tiered voter registration system, in an effort to evade federal voting rights protections that could pass into law this year.”
Democracy Docket explains, “HB 4507 establishes two different registration processes: one for federal elections, which would be required to comply with national legislation such as the For the People Act — and one for state elections, which Texas Republicans claim could ignore these federal requirements. Any voter registering to vote in a federal election would not be automatically registered for local and state elections, unless they meet the much stricter and more exclusionary requirements of Texas’ election code. Instead, they would have to apply and register again separately for their local elections.”
On Twitter, attorney Marc E. Elias, founder of Democracy Docket, described HB 4507 as an example of “how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections”:
As HR1/S1 moved closer to passage, this is a tactic to watch for in a number of red states. It shows how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections.https://t.co/yTZ94oUuZH
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) April 15, 2021
After liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent tweeted Beutler’s Crooked Media column, law professor and election law expert Rick Hasan noted:
There's lots that can be done in the careful drafting of these election reform measures that can bolster their constitutionality. Hopefully when there is a proposal with a serious chance of passing, election law scholars will be consulted.
— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) April 16, 2021
Image via Shutterstock
Scandalous Scion Jerry Falwell Jr. Sued for $10 Million by Liberty University
Jerry Falwell, Jr. is being sued by the school his father founded. Liberty University has filed a $10 million complaint against its former president.
“The new suit, which alleges breach of contract and fiduciary duty, claims that Mr. Falwell withheld scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty’s board of trustees, while negotiating a generous new contract for himself in 2019 under false pretenses. Mr. Falwell also failed to disclose and address ‘his personal impairment by alcohol,’ the suit alleges, according to The New York Times.
But according to Talking Points Memo, which published the entire complaint, the lawsuit is far more scandalous.
“The evangelical institution claims in the suit, filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court in Virginia, that Falwell concealed his relationship with Giancarlo Granda from the university.”
“Had Liberty’s Executive Committee known in 2018 and 2019 that Granda was attempting to extort Falwell Jr. and thus planning to damage Liberty, and had it known the full circumstances of Granda’s extortion of Falwell Jr., then the Executive Committee would have refrained from entering into the 2019 Employment Agreement,” the suit states.
“The actions of Falwell Jr. and Granda have injured Liberty’s enrollment, impacted its donor base, disrupted its faculty, enabled the 2019 Employment Agreement that proved detrimental to Liberty’s interests, and damaged Liberty’s reputation,” the suit reads.
The suit also adds that “Granda had plenty of information that could have been deeply damaging to Falwell Jr. in the eyes of the evangelical community.”
Falwell, Jr.’s social media posts are infamous, and some are included in the lawsuit.
In August of 2020 before leaving Liberty, Falwell said his wife had had a “fatal attraction” extramarital relationship with the man identified as Giancarlo Granda.
“Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” Falwell claimed.
But Granda responded by accusing Falwell of being involved in that relationship.
“Jerry enjoyed watching,” Granda alleged.
This is a breaking news and developing story.
WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki Brilliantly Smacks Down Newsmax Reporter Trying to Get Black UN Ambassador Fired
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to a reporter from the right wing website Newsmax who asked if President Joe Biden will fire the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield joined the U.S. Foreign Service four decades ago, in 1982. Her extensive resume includes serving as United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Director General of the United States Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources, United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, among others.
She was confirmed for her current post by a highly partisan U.S. Senate in a strongly bipartisan 78–20 vote.
Newsmax White House Correspondent Emerald Robinson suggested President Joe Biden should bow down to any criticism or attacks from China, telling Psaki that Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield “essentially said that white supremacy is woven into our founding documents and principles.”
“This statement,” Robinson claimed, “is getting widely criticized as essentially parroting Chinese Communist Party talking points. So is the President going to remove her from her position as the representative before that body to promote United States values?”
Psaki, calmly, told her no.
“Is the President going to remove an African American woman with decades of experience in the Foreign Service who is widely respected around the world from her position as Ambassador to the UN? He is not,” Psaki replied. “He is proud to have her in that position. She is not only qualified, he believes she is exactly the right person in that role at this moment in time. I have not seen her comments, I will say that there’s no question that there has been a history of institutional racism in this country, and that doesn’t require the UN ambassador to confirm that.”
Robinson, apparently trying to shape U.S. foreign policy from the press briefing room, complained thast Ambassador Robinson’s remarks are “essentially the same lecture though that the Chinese delegation gave Secretary Blinken in Alaska last month. So does the President think our founding documents are racist?”
Undeterred, Psaki again responded, saying: “I would say that, I will, I will leave my comments to speak for themselves, and certainly I think most people recognize the history of systemic racism in our country, and she was speaking to that.”
As most Americans known, the founding documents are inherently racist, including but hardly limited to allowing slavery and counting slaves as only three-fifths of a person.
"Is POTUS going to remove an African American woman w/ decades of experience in the foreign service who's widely respected around the world from her position as ambassador to the UN? He's not" — Jen Psaki wasn't having a question about if Biden will fire Linda Thomas-Greenfield pic.twitter.com/VZOHKJDkOX
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 16, 2021
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