- Justice Sotomayor Blasts Majority Opinion Written by Chief Justice Roberts
- Justice Roberts Wrongly Says All That Banning State Funding of Church Facility Achieves Is “A Few Extra Scraped Knees”
- Reduces Church and State Separation
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday morning ruled 7-2 that the government cannot ban a religious organization from receiving taxpayer funds for programs that supposedly do not have religious intent. The case involves a Missouri church that was denied funds from a state program that gives funds for schools who resurface playgrounds with materials made from recycled tires or tire scraps.
In what some see as turning separation of church and state on its head, the court ruled that because an organization is based in religion, the government cannot discriminateÂ against it by denying it funds for projects or programs that are not religious in nature.
Sure, there is a public good in playgrounds for school children being safe, and the Missouri program presumably reaches that goal. But the church, Trinity Lutheran, or any religious institution that apparently is now able to use taxpayer dollars for “non-religious” programs easily could use that same playground to teach children the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination and gay people should be put to death.Â
NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams makes the Court’s ruling clear.
“The U.S. Supreme Court reduced the wall of separation between church and state Monday in one of the most important rulings on religious rights in decades,” Williams reports. “The decision could doom provisions in 39 states that prohibit spending tax dollars to support churches. The states defended the limits as necessary to keep the government from meddling in religious affairs.”
An anti-gay hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom, argued the case on behalf of the church. The case isÂ Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer.
Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion.
â€œThe exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution .â€‰.â€‰. and cannot stand.â€
ADF attorneyÂ David Cortman “argued that the government should be neutral toward religion,” Williams notes. “Blocking the church from a widely available public program, he said, ‘imposes special burdens on non-profit organizations with a religious identity’ and amounted to hostility toward religion.”
But Missouri had claimed that its constitutional provision did nothing to interfere with a church’s religious activities. James Layton, the state’s former solicitor general, said Trinity Lutheran “remains free, without any public subsidy, to worship, teach, pray, and practice any other aspect of its faith however it wishes. The state merely declines to offer financial support.”
In the minority were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the dissenting opinion. In a rare move for any justice, for only the second time in her eight years on the court Justice Sotomayor read aloud her dissent from the bench.
“To hear the Court tell it, this is a simple case about recycling tires to resurface a playground,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “The stakes are higher. This case is about nothing less than the relationship between religious institutions and the civil governmentâ€”that is, between church and state. The Court today profoundly changes that relationship by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church. Its decision slights both our precedents and our history, and its reasoning weakens this countryâ€™s longstanding commitment to a separation of church and state beneficial to both.”
“Properly understood then, this is a case about whether Missouri can decline to fund improvements to the facilities the Church uses to practice and spread its religious views. This Court has repeatedly warned that funding of exactly this kindâ€”payments from the government to a house of worshipâ€”would cross the line drawn by the Establishment Clause.”
In this excerpt Sotomayor diplomatically blasts the Chief Justice, who wrote the majority opinion:
“So it is surprising that the Court mentions the Establishment Clause only to note the par-tiesâ€™ agreement that it ‘does not prevent Missouri from including Trinity Lutheran in the Scrap Tire Program.’ …Â Constitutional questions are decided by this Court, not the partiesâ€™ concessions. The Establishment Clause does not allow Missouri to grant the Churchâ€™s funding request because the Church uses the Learning Center, including its playground, in conjunction with its religious mission. The Courtâ€™s silence on this front signals either its misunderstanding of the facts of this case or a startling departure from our precedents.”
â€” Andrew Seidel (@AndrewLSeidel) June 26, 2017
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‘Big Whop’: Even Right-Wing Critics Are Slamming Elon Musk’s ‘Underwhelming’ Hunter Biden Twitter Escapade
Right-wing Twitter users are weighing in to express their disapproval of the so-called bombshell “Twitter files” Elon Musk promised to deliver on Friday, December 2.
According to The Daily Beast, Musk was set to address Twitter’s decision to implement a policy that would restrict headlines and reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop from circulating on the social media platform. However, the leak ended up being a failure for many right-wing experts.
Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing radio host who previously served under the Trump administration, offered a critical response to Musk’s release after journalist Matt Taibbi shared a full Twitter thread about the findings.
“So far, I’m deeply underwhelmed,” Gorka said, adding, “We know the Dems in DC collude with the Dems in Palo Alto [Califonia]. Big Whop.”
He went on to reiterate his arguments when grilled by his far-right followers who were convinced that Musk’s Twitter files were some kind of “smoking gun.”
Per the news outlet: “Responding to a user claiming the Twitter company emails were ‘a clear violation of the 1st Amendment,’ the radio host fired back: ‘Err no, it’s not the DNC asking a private company to censor has nothing to do with the First Amendment.’”
Speaking to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine also disapproved of the release. “I feel that Elon Musk has held back some material,” she alleged. According to The Beast, Devine also claimed: “sinister forces were perhaps controlling Musk after the Twitter chief took a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the week.”
She added, “In particular, there’s a tweet in which Matt Taibbi says he hasn’t seen any evidence that law enforcement specifically warned off Twitter from our story. But that’s just not correct.”
Free Beacon reporter Joe Simonson also echoed similar sentiments on Twitter. “Twitter files [are] underwhelming so far,” Simonson tweeted. “Just revealing what we already knew: Twitter was staffed by democrats who did the bidding of Democrats.”
Musk’s Twitter Is ‘Welcoming With Open Arms’ a ‘Full-Fledged Nazi’ – and Recommending Users Follow Him: Reports
Elon Musk‘s Twitter on Friday allowed Andrew Anglin, the neo-Nazi behind the infamous Daily Stormer website to return to the social media platform after a nine-year ban. Several Twitter users reported the social media platform is now recommending they follow him.
“Anglin has publicly indicated that the goal of his operation and adherence to white nationalist ideology is to ‘ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated,'” reported Rolling Stone on Friday. “Anglin is a staunch supporter of Nazi ideology and regularly espouses Holocaust denail. In 2018, Anglin wrote that he ‘[hates] women. I think they deserve to be beaten, raped and locked in cages.'”
WUSA 9 investigative reporter Jordan Fischer tweeted a screenshot of the Twitter recommendation.
Twitter is currently recommending I follow neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin. Incredible stuff. pic.twitter.com/F2f9c75Tla
— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) December 2, 2022
As did other Twitter users.
— Camas Defense Alliance (@CamDefAlliance) December 2, 2022
Last month veteran journalist Nick Martin, who investigates hate and extremism, reported that “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared a thread calling on Elon Musk to reinstate an array of racists, conspiracy theorists and serial harassers. The list includes fugitive neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, white supremacist David Duke and British neo-Nazi Mark Collett.”
Earlier today, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared a thread calling on Elon Musk to reinstate an array of racists, conspiracy theorists and serial harassers. The list includes fugitive neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, white supremacist David Duke and British neo-Nazi Mark Collett. pic.twitter.com/FadEr3ZcUm
— Nick Martin (@nickmartin) November 23, 2022
At the top of that list is Milo Yiannopoulos, a right wing extremist and provocateur who has advocated for older men having sex with underaged teen boys. Yiannopoulos is also Greene’s intern who was reportedly part of the Kanye West–Nick Fuentes dinner with Donald Trump.
“Andrew Anglin is the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, which takes its name from the gutter Nazi propaganda sheet known as Der Stürmer,” the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported. “True to that vintage, Anglin is infamous for the crudity of his language and his thinking, a contrast to his sophistication as a prolific internet troll and serial harasser. Anglin’s organizing and harassment on the Daily Stormer led to lawsuits, and courts have awarded millions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs suing Anglin in recent years. But with his whereabouts unknown, Anglin has so far escaped full accountability for his actions.”
Indeed, just last month a federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Andrew Anglin, who is “accused of ignoring a $14 million judgment against him for orchestrating an antisemitic harassment campaign against a Montana woman’s family,” The Billings Gazette had reported.
SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah responded to Anglin’s return to Twitter by reminding him he still owes him “$4.1 million dollars for sending your Nazis to kill me. Do you have the $?! I want to donate it groups that counter the very hate you spew!”
“Musk is helping normalize a Nazi,” he adds.
Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA) called Anglin “a full-fledged Nazi who runs the Daily Stormer and, among many other things, was found liable for the Charlottesville violence in our lawsuit. A perfect example of the vile, violent extremists Musk is welcoming with open arms.”
Image: Elon Musk, photo by NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via Flickr
Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports
In the wake of the Colorado Springs hate crime mass shooting last month at an gay nightclub’s drag show event that left five people dead, the anti-LGBTQ slur “groomer” and other anti-LGBTQ hate speech posts on Twitter skyrocketed, “peaking at 885% over their highest level before the shooting,” NBC News reports.
“Barely 24 hours after the Colorado Springs hate crime attack,” Salon reported last week, “Elon Musk’s new Twitter responded to the massacre by reinstating the account of James Lindsay, the right-wing activist responsible for popularizing the anti-LGBTQ slur ‘OK groomer,’ which over the last 10 months has been used to imply that demands for LGBTQ rights or representation are tantamount to child molestation. In August, Lindsay was banned from Twitter for using a variation on the term, which under Twitter’s old regime was prohibited as a form of hateful conduct. But by Monday night, not only was Lindsay back, but ‘OK groomer’ was trending on the platform under its new ownership.”
Slurs against gay men on Twitter have increased by a daily average of 58% in the weeks following Elon Musk taking the critically influential social media platform private, firing its board, and welcoming back thousands of previously-banned accounts, according to information from NBC News and The New York Times.
“Travis Brown, an independent software developer in Berlin who tracks Twitter suspensions and screen name changes as part of a project studying extremism,” NBC News reports, shared data “that showed a wide variety of far-right accounts had been reinstated since Musk’s announcement” of a so-called “general amnesty.”
“In that time, Brown has logged an estimated 12,000 reversals of past bans, in a set that, while not a definitive list of reversals, provides a window into the types of users being welcomed back to the platform and leaving experts alarmed.”
In addition to “spammers, copyright rule-breakers, adult-content creators and high-profile accounts, Twitter has reopened the door to a growing and emboldened community of trolls, white nationalists, conspiracy theorists and extreme right-wing activists,” NBC adds.
Musk’s general amnesty “has restored hundreds of accounts of right-wing activists and QAnon adherents, according to data reviewed by NBC News. The reinstatement of far-right accounts has coincided with a series of bans of left-wing accounts, leaving users unsure of how the company is now applying its rules.”
The New York Times adds, “Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day.”
“Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day,” The Times reports. “And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.”
“I see good things about Hitler,” West told Jones. “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.”
Musk apparently personally had West’s Twitter account suspended when the artist who goes by “Ye” posted an image of a Jewish six-pointed star embedded with a Nazi swastika. The account, at least for now, remains suspended.
The Times reporting, which includes information from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, calls the increase in hate speech on Musk’s Twitter “unprecedented.”
“Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the U.S. government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back. Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy,” The Times reveals.
Musk himself set the stage. At the end of October he retweeted a false, anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory involving Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband, who had recently been bludgeoned in a “near death” attack in their San Francisco home, allegedly by a man who has promoted far right extremism. He later removed that retweet.
Just last week Bloomberg News reported Musk was “restoring a string of accounts previously suspended for harassing transgender people, rolling back protections for the LGBTQ community as the country confronts the aftermath” of the Colorado Springs mass shooting. “Advocates say the shooting… highlights the potential real-world violence that can stem from rhetoric against the trans community. They noted that anti-trans abuse has been mounting on the platform since the shooting.”
As Musk welcomes back thousands who were banned for various reasons, from hate speech to disinformation to spamming to attacks on minorities and more, NBC’s reporting makes clear that left wing activists are finding their accounts suspended for apparently no legitimate reason.
“Chad Loder is an independent journalist in Los Angeles with more than 137,000 followers whose reporting on the Jan. 6 riot has been cited in Justice Department charging documents. Loder, who uses they/them pronouns, recently had their account suspended, briefly reinstated and then suspended again without a clear reason.”
For his part, Musk took to Twitter to refute reports hate speech has increased dramatically.
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