Sends Speech to Right Wing Website
The Department of Justice has either ignored or refused requests from media outlets like Buzzfeed, and at least oneÂ progressive advocacy organization, People for the American Way, to hand over the text of a speech Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered in California behind closed doors to a group that appears on theÂ Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of active anti-gay hate groups.
The speech was given by Sessions to the Alliance Defending FreedomÂ on Tuesday. It was published Thursday afernoon by The Federalist, a right wing conservative website. Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden was the first to report Sessions would be delivering the speech. On Thursday Holden published his report on the speech, and via Twitter posted the Freedom of Information (FOIA) request he filed with the DOJ that was ignored.
Sessionsâ€™s office won’t release speech to religious anti-LGBT group Alliance Defending Freedom. Hereâ€™s my FOIA request for all the records: pic.twitter.com/5KzFfG9rX8
â€” Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) July 13, 2017
“A person familiar with the situation tells me the Justice Dept DID provide Sessions’s remarks to The Federalist,” Holden reports. It’s unclear why the DOJ chose a small right wing website rather than share the text with all who requested it, or why it did not just post the text on its site as a matter of course.Â
Was Sessions or the DOJ concerned about its content? They have good reason to be.
The DOJ’s refusal to release the text of his remarks has highlighted the group’s extremism, causing some on the right to lambast the hate group label. But the SPLC is clear in the criteria they use to define hate groups, and among them is the repeated spreading of false statements in an effort toÂ marginalize groups of people. The SPLC has produced a 949 word profile of the attacks on LGBT people made by the ADF.
All that said, now we have the text of the Attorney General’s speech, and much of it is of great concern.
Sessions talks about “the Western heritage of faith and reason,” and says, “I propose that in America our understanding of religious freedom can only be understood within that heritage.”
“Heritage” is a dog whistle term, especially concerning when people like Sessions â€“Â who has a long history of racist allegations tailing himÂ â€“ use it.
“So our freedom as citizens has always been inextricably linked with our religious freedom as a people,” Sessions says. But he does, surprisingly, add: “It has protected both the freedom to worship and the freedom not to believe as well.”
Sessions then laments, “the cultural climate has become less hospitable to people of faith and to religious belief. And in recent years, many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack.Â This feeling is understandable. Just last year, a Harvard Law professor publicly urged judges to ‘take aggressively liberal positionsâ€¦The culture wars are over. They lost; we wonâ€¦Taking a hard line is better than trying to accommodate the losers.'”
It’s clear in his speech that Sessions has taken sides, and is ill-prepared to see all Americans equally. His speech reveals an “us vs. them” approach, and as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, that is chilling.
And he doubles down, in a very partisan manner.
“I believe that this recent election was significantly impacted by this concern and that this motivated many voters. President Trump made a promise that was heard. In substance, he said he respected people of faith and he promised to protect them in the free exercise of their faith. This promise was well received.”
And then, it comes.
“In all of this litigation and debate, this Department of Justice will never allow this secular government of ours to demand that sincere religious beliefs be abandoned,” Sessions says. “We will not require American citizens to give intellectual assent to doctrines that are contrary to their religious beliefs. And they must be allowed to exercise those beliefs as the First Amendment guarantees.”
“We will defend freedom of conscience resolutely. That is inalienable. That is our heritage.”
What does Sessions intend to do when a religious belief contradicts the law?
Well, here’s the answer, a very partisan support ofÂ Donald Trump.
“Since he was elected, President Trump has been an unwavering defender of religious liberty. He has promised that under a Trump Administration, ‘the federal government will never, ever penalize any person for their protected religious beliefs.’ And he is fulfilling that promise. First, President Trump appointed an outstanding Supreme Court justice with a track record of applying the law as written, Neil Gorsuch. I have confidence that he will be faithful to the full meaning of the First Amendment and protect the rights of all Americans.”
And then, what progressives, liberals, LGBT people, women, minorities, and many others should see as a warning. The elevation of theÂ Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
“The president has also directed me to issue guidance on how to apply federal religious liberty protections. The department is finalizing this guidance, and I will soon issue it.”
The guidance will also help agencies follow the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Congress enacted RFRA so that, if the federal government imposes a burden on somebodyâ€™s religious practice, it had better have a compelling reason. That is a demanding standard, and itâ€™s the law of the land. We will follow it just as faithfully as we follow every other federal law. If weâ€™re going to ensure that religious liberty is adequately protected and our country remains free, then we must ensure that RFRA is followed.
Under this administration, religious Americans will be treated neither as an afterthought nor as a problem to be managed. The federal government will actively find ways to accommodate people of all faiths. The protections enshrined in the Constitution and our laws protect all Americans, including when we work together, speak in the public square, and when we interact with our government. We donâ€™t waive our constitutional rights when we participate fully in public life and civic society.
This administration, and the upcoming guidance, will be animated by that same American view that has led us for 241 years: that every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith in the public square. It has served this country well, and it has made us not only one of the tolerant countries in the world, it has also helped make us the freeist and most generous. Thank you.
Consider this fair warning.Â
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Supreme Court Responds Trump’s Request to Block Access to White House Records: ‘Denied’
The U.S. Supreme Court has ended Donald Trump’s multiple attempts to block access to documents from his years in the White House, telling the former president, request “denied.”
Trump had tried to block the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack from gaining access to those records. The Supreme Court, three of its six conservatives appointed by Trump himself, rejected his demand.
“Trump had lost efforts in two lower federal courts to block the panel from getting more than 700 pages of records,” CNBC reports. “He had argued that he had the authority as a former president to invoke executive privilege to prevent disclosure of the records.”
The vote reportedly was 8-1, with Justice Clarence Thomas the only one to side with Trump.
‘You Always Ask Me the Nicest Questions’: Biden Takes Down Doocy as Press Conference Nears End
About 90 minutes into President Joe Biden’s press conference, just as it was about to end, Fox News’ Peter Doocy called out a question and the President was only too happy to indulge him.
“You always ask me the nicest questions,” President Biden jovially responded to Doocy’s yelling, adding: “None of them make a lot of sense to me.”
Apparently desperate to prove him wrong, the Fox News correspondent declared, “Why are you trying in your first year so hard to pull the country so far to the left?”
President Biden didn’t get angry. He merely replied, “Well, I’m not.”
“I don’t know what you consider to be ‘too far to the left,'” President Biden continued, proceeding to rattle off a list of accomplishments that are pretty well-received and supported.
“In fact, we’re talking about making sure that we had the money for COVID making sure we had the money to put together the bipartisan infrastructure and making sure we’re able to provide for those things that in fact, we significantly reduced the burden on working class people but make them have to continue to work hard. I don’t know how that is pointed to the left. If you may recall. I, you guys have been trying to convince me that I am Bernie Sanders. I’m not, I like him but I’m not Bernie Sanders. I’m not a socialist. I’m a mainstream Democrat and I have been.”
“48 of the 50 Democrats supported me in the Senate on virtually every thing I’ve asked.”
President Biden then continued to take questions for a total of nearly two hours. The press conference is ongoing as of this publishing.
Fox News' Peter Doocy: "Why are you trying so hard in your first year to pull the country so far to the left?"
Biden: "Well, I'm not … I'm not Bernie Sanders, I'm not a socialist, I'm a mainstream Democrat." pic.twitter.com/m7bj4Hq1nU
— The Recount (@therecount) January 19, 2022
‘Name Me One Thing’: Biden Blasts Republicans for Not Being ‘For’ Anything
During his press conference Wednesday afternoon President Joe Biden blasted the Republican Party, suggesting they stand for nothing.
“Think about this: What are Republicans for?” the President asked. “What are they for? Name me one thing they’re for.”
“And so, the problem here is, I think what I have to do,” Biden said, noting a change in tactics, “I have to make clear to the American people what we are for,” referring to his Democratic Party.
Republicans during the 2020 presidential election literally stood for nothing: they didn’t bother to craft a 2020 platform.
“What are Republicans for? What are they for? Name me one thing they’re for.” — President Biden pic.twitter.com/b9V8NwUzwC
— The Recount (@therecount) January 19, 2022
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