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Repeal, Replace, Reload: Indiana Lawmaker’s Bill Swaps RFRA For ‘Religious Liberty’ + Gun Rights Law

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GOP Lawmaker Wants ‘Concrete Guarantee‘ For ‘Right’ To Discriminate On Religious Grounds, Or Carry A Gun

Republican State Senator R. Michael Young (photo) has decided the international attention and outrage last year’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act earned lawmakers and the governor of Indiana was insufficient, so he wants a do-over. 

Sen. Young has authored SB 66, anti-gay legislation that would repeal the RFRA, including the legislative “fix” that had to state the law could not be used to discriminate against LGBT people. In its place, Sen. Young’s bill would codify into law the right to discriminate for any reason, including and especially for religious reasons, and the right to carry a gun.

Because Sen. Young used language so sweeping and broad, his bill is being described as the original RFRA “on steroids” by Freedom Indiana.

In addition to the already-protected First Amendment right to worship, Young wants the “right to free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions and the right of conscience,” offering no boundaries whatsoever. For some reason, Young believes the right to bear arms – the right to own and carry a gun – needs to be included under his legislation.

The bill defines “person” as an “individual, including a group or association of individuals,” and as any other “legal entity.” In other words, corporations, houses of worship, hospitals and schools owned by churches, stores, restaurants, etc., are people too my friend.

That means that you local neighborhood John’s Pizza, or Joan’s Garage, or even your cable company can deny you service on the grounds of “religious opinion” or “conscience,” period, and, further it means no Indiana governmental entity or official can stop them unless it is “in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest,” and – not or, but and – it “is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

Which means lawsuits. Lots of lawsuits.

Worse, it could mean that a government employee, say, a DMV worker, could refuse to give a teenager a driver’s test, if they perceive them to be LGBTQ. Or perhaps a police officer might decide to not respond to a domestic violence call because the couple is same-sex. Maybe an EMS worker would refuse to help a person they think is transgender because it goes against their religious beliefs.

How are these examples to be handled, in the moment, without the law being specific and explicit? And who is harmed while the courts battle it out?

Freedom Indiana today “condemned Senate Bill 66 as a dangerous piece of legislation that would thrust the state back into the national spotlight created by last year’s Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and bring about even more legal and reputational challenges for the state,” the LGBT civil rights group said today in a statement.

“Not only would it reopen the national and international wounds caused by last year’s discriminatory RFRA legislation,” Freedom Indiana campaign manager Chris Paulsen added, “it would make it easier to discriminate against any group currently or potentially protected under our civil rights law. Just when you thought lawmakers had learned a lesson from RFRA, a handful of them have decided to breathe life into a ‘Super RFRA.'”

Professor Robert Katz of the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law told the Indy Star Young’s bill “would effectively amend the Indiana Bill of Rights to create a two-tiered system of rights.”

Meanwhile, Professor Daniel O. Conkle of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington told the Indy Star the bill “goes well beyond religious freedom.”

Conkle “offered an example to illuminate how Senate Bill 66 could enhance protections for the right to bear arms. Under this legislation, if the government wanted to ban switchblades — as it did for decades — it would have to demonstrate a compelling interest for a statewide prohibition.”

The first question Sen. Young and other lawmakers should be forced to answer is, what’s happened all of a sudden that there’s a need for this legislation? 

And the first question Gov. Mike Pence needs to answer is, does he want to subject his state to another episode of international outrage, further damaging the Hoosier economy he wrecked last year, or will he send a message to lawmakers to place their attention on Hoosiers’ real needs?

 

Image: Screenshot via YouTube

 

 

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NUTS

100 Minutes of Whining: Here Are the 7 Most Absurd Moments From Trump’s Arizona Grievance Festival

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Donald Trump spoke for over 100 minutes during a long-winded speech at a “Rally to Protection Our Elections” in Phoenix.

Much of Trump’s speech was focused on repeating his debunked lies that he won the 2020 presidential election, when in reality he was defeated by Joe Biden.

But he also found time to bash much of America while praising the local extremists behind Arizona’s audit of the vote in Maricopa County and listing his many perceived grievances.

Trump attacked Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), all the Republicans who are “worse than Democrats,” Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), soccer’s United States Women’s National Team, and said his supporters have to “fight” against everyone who said he lost the election with language that echoed his speech that preceded the January 6th insurrection.

Much of the speech was just bizarre due to the combination of Trump brazenly lying about things that happened while also pontificating on the delusions that populate right-wing media.

Here are the seven most ridiculous moments from the speech.

7. Trump is so out-of-touch you thinks Americans must show their papers to purchase groceries

Despite being ridiculed when Trump spoke of this delusion in the past, Trump falsely claimed Americans need to show identification to purchase groceries as he pushed voter I.D. laws.

6. Trump imagined what he would do if he were Native American

Trump complained about the Cleveland Guardians baseball team and praised the racist logo the team retired. “If I was an Indian, I’d sue. Sue them Indians,” he said.

5. Trump argues America is becoming a communist country

“Like it or not, we are becoming a communist country. That’s what’s happening, that’s what’s happening,” Trump said without providing any evidence. “We are beyond socialism.”

4. Trump explains how it hurts Republicans at the polls when his supporters believe his election lies

Trump repeatedly mentioned during his speech his belief that when his supporters believe his false claims of election fraud, it makes them less likely to turn out to vote. Trump said this is how Republicans lost control of the U.S. Senate.

3. Trump explains how a politician repeating lies creates disinformation

During a speech that will keep fact-checkers busy, Trump explained disinformation in a way that seems to perfectly describe why he traveled to Arizona to repeat his “Big Lie” about election fraud.

2. Trump describes his unconstitutional fantasy of being reinstated as president

Despite both the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department warning this conspiracy could fuel more violence by Trump supporters, the former president discussed being reinstated.

1. Trump gaslights America by lying about his attacks on democracy and voters

Of the many lies Trump told, one of the most absurd had to be his claim that, “I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy— I am the one trying to save American democracy.”

 

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DISASTER

Republicans Boot Only Person With Elections Experience From AZ GOP’s $9 Million ‘Audit’ Fiasco: Report

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Republicans once referred to Ken Bennett as the “director” of their widely-panned audit of votes in Maricopa County, but he has reportedly lost his privileges to even enter the building where the fiasco is taking place.

Bennett, who served as Arizona’s Secretary of State and president of the state Senate, was the one person associated with the recount with experience in elections. He was officially listed as the liaison to the state Senate, which paid $150,000 of the $9 million the audit is reportedly costing.

“Questions are mounting about who is in control of the long-running partisan review of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results — the Arizona Senate, which ordered it, or the outside firms that are running it,” The Arizona Republic reported Friday evening. “On Friday, Ken Bennett, the Senate liaison to the audit, was not allowed into the building at the state fairgrounds where the audit is taking place, a day after he shared data with outside critics from an ongoing ballot count.”

“While this work is supposedly being overseen by Senate representatives, many times that oversight is not there,” the newspaper noted. “The Cyber Ninjas have for weeks resisted getting outside checks of the audit, insiders say.”

Reporter Ryan Randazzo explained why the outside review is threatening.

“The data Bennett provided to outside analysts, Larry Moore and Benny White, showed the results of the ongoing machine count of the ballots tracks very closely with the the county’s tally,” the newspaper reported. “If that trend continues, it may call into question the results of Cyber Ninja’s count, because [Senate President Karen] Fann has said that the Cyber Ninjas’ count did not match the county’s.”

The newspaper reported Cyber Ninjas spokesperson said any decision to ban Bennett was made by Fann’s office.

 

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CRIME

New Details Revealed in Florida Republican’s Plot to Disrupt the 2020 Election

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New details have been released in the investigation of former Florida State Sen Frank Artiles (R) over his involvement in running “scam” campaigns in an attempt to disrupt the 2020 election.

With his trial expected to begin August 30, prosecutors are firming up their case against the former GOP lawmaker in a political corruption case the Tampa Bay Times reports, “has roped in prominent players across Florida over the last several months, including a GOP-linked research firm in Gainesville, a top not-for-profit Miami hospital network and a veteran Republican operative who leads a Tallahassee-based political organization.”

According to the Miami Herald, new revelations show that Florida political operative Alex Alvarado — linked to Artiles — was funneling money to sham campaign officials in an effort to disrupt key 2020 state Senate elections.

The report notes that “documents released late Friday, provide new details into the breadth of the criminal investigation into Artiles and his longtime acquaintance, Alexis Pedro Rodriguez.”

“Prosecutors say Rodriguez was recruited by Artiles and paid some $44,000 to change his party affiliation from Republican to no party to qualify on the ballot and attempt to sway the outcome of the Miami-Dade Senate District 37 election. GOP candidate Illeana Garcia won the race by 32 votes. Rodriguez, who shared the same surname as the Democratic incumbent, received more than 6,000 votes,” the Herald reports. “Between June 15 and November 15, 2020, Artiles was under contract to work for veteran Republican political operative Pat Bainter for $15,000 a month, court documents show. Bainter paid Artiles $90,000 and reimbursed him for his travel, a courier service and $4,000 for ‘research,’ according to those documents.”

As part of the scam, one woman who was pregnant and desperate for money agreed to take $1,500 to chair a political committee with no plans to have her do any work.

In testimony 25-year-old Hailey DeFilippis, explained to investigators she was listed as the chair of “The Truth, a dark-money-funded political committee that spent $180,000 on political mail advertisements promoting sham candidates in key 2020 state Senate elections — two in Miami-Dade and one in Central Florida.”

She was later paid $2,500 more for the “inconvenience” after reporters called up asking about the group.

“Artiles signed a contract with Bainter on June 9, 2020. The next day, Rodriguez met Artiles at Artiles’ Palmetto Bay residence to fill out campaign forms, according to investigators who noted in an arrest affidavit that Rodriguez had ‘no prior knowledge as to what forms needed to be completed to qualify as a candidate for elected office and relied on Artiles’ instructions.,'” the report adds. “Neither Bainter nor Gardner have responded to phone calls or emails seeking comment since the Herald learned they were served subpoenas. The powerful GOP-linked research firm, based in Gainesville, also served as a general consultant for Republican Senate campaigns during the 2020 election cycle.”

You can read more here.

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