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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‘Corruption of the Highest Order’: Experts ‘Sickened’ at ‘Definitely Bought’ Clarence Thomas and His ‘Pay to Play’ Lifestyle
Legal and political experts are expressing outrage and disgust after ProPublica’s latest investigation into the alleged unethical and unlawful actions of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, with some demanding his resignation and others calling it “corruption of the highest level,” “Pay. To. Play.,” and one simply saying, “This sickens me.”
“Is Clarence Thomas the most corrupt Supreme Court justice in our history? One of the most corrupt senior officials in our history? There is no doubt any more,” writes David Rothkopf, the foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator.
ProPublica is the nonprofit journalism organization that has exposed multiple instances of what experts have said is Justice Thomas’ corruption, abuse of ethics, contributions to the destruction of the high court’s reputation, and actual violations of federal law. Justice Thomas has either not commented or denied any wrongdoing.
“Clarence Thomas Secretly Participated in Koch Network Donor Events,” is the headline on Friday’s installment from ProPublica, which reveals: “Thomas has attended at least two Koch donor summits, putting him in the extraordinary position of having helped a political network that has brought multiple cases before the Supreme Court.”
The Koch network is a right-wing group of political organizations founded by “the Koch Brothers,” Charles and his late brother David.
“One of the Koch network’s most powerful allies,” is how ProPublica’s latest, lengthy investigation describes Justice Thomas The report begins with his arrival in Palm Springs International Airport to attend a “long weekend” that for Koch network members and supporters would include “strategizing, relaxation in the California sun and high-dollar fundraising.”
“The justice was brought in to speak, staffers said, in the hopes that such access would encourage donors to continue giving.”
“That puts Thomas in the extraordinary position of having served as a fundraising draw for a network that has brought cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most closely watched of the upcoming term.”
That case, ProPublica reports, is one that could greatly benefit Koch and America’s ultra-wealthy.
“The Koch network is among the largest and most influential political organizations of the last half century, and it’s underwritten a far-reaching campaign to influence the course of American law. In a case the Supreme Court will hear this coming term, the justices could give the network a historic victory: limiting federal agencies’ power to issue regulations in areas ranging from the environment to labor rights to consumer protection. After shepherding the case to the court, Koch network staff attorneys are now asking the justices to overturn a decades-old precedent. (Thomas used to support the precedent but flipped his position in recent years.)”
As with most of ProPublica’s investigations, this report includes both allegations of illegal actions and unethical behaviors.
Experts are voicing concern.
“Clarence Thomas might not be the finest Justice money can buy, but he’s definitely bought,” charges Moe Davis, the well-known retired U.S. Air Force colonel, attorney, educator, politician, and former administrative law judge.
Former federal prosecutor and legal commentator Mimi Rocah, who is now he elected District Attorney for Westchester County, New York expressed disgust.
“As a public servant who sacrifices donor $ (I don’t take donations from elected officials, PBAs, or attorneys with cases before my office), b/c I believe the justice system should be free from even the appearance of political influence, this sickens me.”
“Thomas and his billionaire pals have trashed the court’s reputation,” observed author Mark Jacob, a former Chicago Tribune editor.
“Corruption of the highest order,” is how Heather Cox Richardson, the well-known historian, author and professor of history described Justice Thomas’ alleged actions. “Personally, I’d go right to resign. It’s long overdue. And I’d revisit the cases he’s decided—including Citizens United and Shelby v Holder, which together handed our democracy to the rich—while we’re at it.”
“Does Justice go better with Koch?” mocked Jane Mayer, the award-winning author and investigative reporter at The New Yorker. “Clarence Thomas will judge a momentous case this term affecting all federal regulations after secretly partying for years with involved polluters.”
Journalist and conspiracy theory expert Mike Rothschild wrote: “Clarence Thomas hanging out with the Kochs and Harlan Crow at Bohemian Grove. No human sacrifice, no devil worship, just some old rich dudes scheming to take rights away from the rest of us. The conspiracy is in plain sight, and it doesn’t bother hiding.”
New York Times bestselling author, legal expert and senior editor at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick summed it up: “Pay. To. Play.”
‘Total Nonsense’: Joe Scarborough Pours Cold Water on Panic Over Kamala Harris in 2024
On Friday morning, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough rushed to Vice President Kamala Harris’ defense over hand-wringing in some Democratic quarters that Pressident Joe Biden should boot her as his running mate in On Friday morning, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough launched into a full-throated defense of Vice President Kamala Harris, stating that she should absolutely remain President Joe Biden’s running mate in 2024.
According Scarborough, a former Republican who served in the U.S. House of Representatives, the panic in some Democratic quarters over Harris is “total nonsense.”
“Well, there is this undercurrent, like she’s black and a woman, and that’s why people don’t like her because she’s a vice president. ‘What are we going to do? We need to change her.!” the aggravated “Morning Joe” host began. “I just go, where were you when Dan Quayle was vice president? Where were you? Nobody remembers this.”
“Every vice president, we hear this all the time: ‘Change your vice presidents,'” he continued. “I’m here to say, it’s total nonsense. Nobody has ever voted against any presidential candidate because of who their vice president was.”
“If you look at Kamala’s numbers, they’re not that far off from where every other mocked and ridiculed and loathed vice president has been,” he concluded.
‘Sexy’: Comer Obtains Unredacted Emails to VP Biden Revealing Women ‘Privately Mused’ They Found Him Attractive
Amid the chaos of what top Democrats are calling the GOP House’s “civil war,” infighting that threatens to shut down the federal government in nine days, Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer has been obtaining some of then-Vice President Joe Biden‘s emails from the National Archives.
Politico reveals Chairman Comer has been able to obtain several unreacted emails, including one which relayed a tidbit of hearsay, or, “private musings,” from 2009, after an overseas trip Biden took: “multiple” women said they found the Vice President “sexy.”
The emails “include schedules with ordinary family get-togethers,” Politico adds. “One shows Biden had lunch with Hunter Biden’s then-15-year-old daughters, Maisy and Finnegan. Another reveals that the Ukrainians were praising his now-deceased brother, Beau. And then there are the private musings of multiple Georgian women saying they found Joe Biden ‘sexy’ during a 2009 trip that also included a stop in Ukraine.”
“’Must-read email below,’ read an email forwarded by Biden’s then-national security adviser Tony Blinken to Joe Biden and his sons, Hunter and Beau. The email’s subject line: ‘Biden as new Georgian sex symbol.'”
Other emails from the National Archives’ trove include a “June 14, 2016 schedule card shows Biden was to meet with the prime minister of Ukraine. The newly unredacted portions show he was also scheduled to work out with his personal trainer, and to dine with Hunter’s then-15-year-old daughters, Maisy and Finnegan, in the vice president’s office.”
Politico, noting that “Republicans have yet to turn up direct evidence that Joe Biden benefited personally or that he took any official action as a result of those [Hunter Biden’s] connections, also reveals a “May, 27, 2016 schedule card includes a call with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Hunter Biden was copied on the day’s schedule. It’s already been reported that Biden was also due to attend the one-year anniversary of the passing of his son, Beau, back home in Delaware.”
“Comer had been pointing to this scheduling item, since it was also emailed to then-Vice President Biden under a pseudonym email address. Comer even said the vice president was sending a secret message to his son that he was about to fire the prosecutor. As recently as last week, Comer included that email on a list of ‘evidence’ of Joe Biden’s ‘involvement in his family’s influence peddling schemes.'”
Politico also notes that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy “and his allies insisted that opening a formal impeachment inquiry would empower them to dig deeper. Yet the emails are another example of the House GOP failing to turn up evidence they’ve assured the public exists and that will implicate Biden in some form of corruption that rises to an impeachable offense.”
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