Bill Barr’s Dept. of Justice is spreading its tentacles far and wide. While it has every legal right to do so, most might not expect the federal government to weigh in on a case filed in a state court, even a state superior court. And yet, it has.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana and the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division have filed a “Statement of Interest” telling the Indiana Superior Court it should rule against a teacher who is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis for firing him because he is gay and married to a man.
“The Archdiocese determined that, consistent with its interpretation of Church teachings, a school within its diocesan boundaries cannot identify as Catholic and simultaneously employ a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage,” the DOJ’s statement reads. “Many may lament the Archdiocese’s determination. But the First Amendment forbids this Court from interfering with the Archdiocese’s right to expressive association, and from second-guessing the Archdiocese’s interpretation and application of Catholic law. For these reasons, this action must be dismissed.”
The question many should have is why this case? And why did the DOJ feel the need to weigh in at all?
It seems the DOJ may be laying groundwork.
Attorney Mark Joseph Stern, who writes at Slate, offered this disturbing analysis:
The DOJ argues that the high school’s First Amendment right to “expressive association” allows it to fire a gay teacher.
That reasoning isn’t limited to religious schools. It would give many other schools—and businesses—a constitutional right to discriminate. https://t.co/abu6bi7pRA
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) September 27, 2019
Duhaime’s Law Dictionary defines “expressive association” as a “group that engages in some form of public or private expression,” and pulls this quote from a legal case:
“The courts have long understood as implicit in the right to engage in activities protected by the First Amendment a corresponding right to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends.”
The DOJ’s “Statement of Interest” uses the term “expressive association” twelve times.
Imagine where they might be going.
Forewarned is fair-warned.
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Far-Right White Evangelicals — Despite Impeachment and Ukraine Scandal — Still See Trump as ‘The Chosen One’
In the 1980s, the late Sen. Barry Goldwater — who was considered an arch-conservative in his day — famously asserted that the Republican Party was making a huge mistake by embracing the Christian Right, which he described as a “terrible damn problem” for the conservative movement. But President Donald Trump, on the other hand, enthusiastically welcomes the support of far-right white evangelicals — some of whom are declaring that the impeachment inquiry he is facing is against God’s will and that demonic forces are trying to remove the president from office.
On November 21, evangelist Franklin Graham (son of the late Rev. Billy Graham and a strident Trump supporter) discussed impeachment when he appeared on fellow wingnut Eric Metaxas’ radio show. Graham told Metaxas that it’s “almost a demonic power that is trying” to remove Trump from office — to which Metaxas responded, “I would disagree. It’s not almost demonic. You know and I know, at the heart, it’s a spiritual battle.”
When far-right evangelicals speak of a “spiritual battle,” they typically mean one between God and Satan — and clearly, Graham and Metaxas believe that Trump is working for God, while his political opponents are working for Satan.
Republican Rick Perry, secretary of energy in the Trump Administration and former governor of Texas, has also claimed that Trump is on a mission from God. Perry, during a recent appearance on Fox News, described Trump as “the chosen one” and claimed he has been “sent by God to do great things.”
Many of Trump’s critics have had a hard time understanding why he is so popular with the Christian Right, which wanted to see President Bill Clinton impeached in the late 1990s for having an extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Trump, according to his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, had extramarital affairs with a porn star (Stormy Daniels) and a Playboy model (Karen McDougal) and paid them hush money to keep quiet. But the Christian Right is extremist tribalist in its thinking; so, even though Trump has never been especially religious (he’s a non-practicing Presbyterian) and former President Barack Obama has a long history of going to church, far-right white evangelicals view Trump as an ally and Obama as an enemy.
Similarly, white Christian fundamentalists detest South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a churchgoing Episcopalian and Democratic presidential candidate who often talks about his faith. Buttigieg is obviously more religious than Trump, but he is a non-fundamentalist Mainline Protestant — and the Christian Right doesn’t see him as part of their tribe. In fact, the Christian Right view Obama and Buttigieg as infidels, not unlike Islamic fundamentalists who view non-jihadist Muslims as infidels.
Journalist Chris Hedges, a non-fundamentalist Christian who has written a lot about the role that faith can play in left-wing politics, uses the term “Christian fascists” to describe the Christian Right. Hedges considers the Christian Right a dangerous authoritarian movement, often stressing that Trump appeals to the Christian Right’s authoritarian tendencies.
Such tendencies were evident in October after the death of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who chaired the House Oversight Committee. Cummings was quite religious: his association with the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore spanned at least 40 years, and the Maryland Democrat would sing the Christian hymn “This Little Light of Mine” at civil rights marches. Yet some far-right evangelicals celebrated his death, insisting that God struck him down for opposing Trump.
Christian fundamentalist Stacey Shiflett, for example, said of Cummings, “Everything that he’s done has been nothing but trying to take this president out. I believe that God had had enough, and God moved.”
Hanna Selinger, in a November 26 article for The Independent, delves into the Christian Right’s unwavering adoration of Trump and explains why white Christian fundamentalists hold him in such high regard despite his not-so-Christian behavior.
“For evangelicals,” Selinger explains, “Donald Trump offers deliverables. The conservatives who follow the letter of the law when it comes to the Bible count among their most important issues ‘family values’: abortion, gay marriage, and so on. On these issues, Trump has offered a far-right tack. Despite who he actually is as a person, he checks the boxes — enabling evangelicals to look the other way and toward a perceived ‘greater good.’”
Christian Right voters, Selinger observes, “are willing to separate morals in a president from morals in a country. These voters will pull the lever for a man who prevaricates daily, who has had multiple wives and even more affairs. That’s because they believe that those characteristics outweigh the things they want done in Washington.”
Selinger adds, “Rick Perry is no different. He too is willing to overlook gross misconduct, of which he was part, simply because he likes the president’s policies.”
If a Democratic president had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a political revival and made that investigation a condition of military aid, far-right theocrats like Graham, Perry, Metaxas and Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell, Jr. would be demanding his impeachment. But because Trump become an honorary member of the Christian Right, he gets a pass.
The Christian Right, Selinger asserts, is unlikely to turn against Trump.
“This is the problem with Trump and his allies, and it begins with religion: what it means to follow God has been lost in a political game that places legislative wins over moral losses,” Selinger writes. “Will evangelicals ever see the light? As Rick Perry demonstrates in his ruthless sycophancy, the odds are slim.”
Tomi Lahren Furious Students Treated Melania Trump the Way She Treats Michelle Obama
Tomi Lahren is furious students disrespectfully voiced their disapproval of First Lady Melania Trump – despite having solid reasons to do so – while she has spent years disrespectfully attacking First Lady Michelle Obama.
Lahren is once again peddling her unique brand of trumped-up outrage served with a side of lack of self awareness. The Fox News conservative commentator blasted students who attended a Tuesday youth summit in Baltimore focused on raising awareness of opioid abuse.
First Lady Melania Trump was a guest speaker. As she was introduced and walked onto the stage waving her hand, students offered up a chorus of loud boos.
Lahren was furious, as Media Matters noted.
“This is an epidemic in this country, not just of people not liking anyone with the last name of Trump, but just with young people being completely disrespectful,” Lahren fumed on Wednesday’s “Fox & Friends.”
“Can you imagine if this were Michelle Obama, or can you imagine if Melania Trump was a Democrat or married to a Democratic president?” she asked.
“She is an immigrant and she is a woman. The first thing she would say if an immigrant woman was booed on stage is that is racist, that is sexist, that is anti-immigrant, that is bigotry, that is intolerance. Because it’s Melania Trump, people feel as though they get a pass. And it’s absolutely wrong, it’s despicable. Young people need to learn a lesson in this country, you just respect people.”
Fox’s Tomi Lahren attacks the “despicable” children who booed Melania Trump in Baltimore: “Because it’s Melania Trump, people feel as though they get a pass. It’s absolutely wrong. It’s despicable. Young people need to learn a lesson in this country, you just respect people.” pic.twitter.com/X4WjVRzbGm
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) November 27, 2019
“Tt’s absolutely wrong, it’s despicable. Young people need to learn a lesson in this country, you just respect people.”
Tomi knows a great deal about respecting First Ladies – when their name is Trump. Ironically, it’s when their name is Obama that Lahren sings a different tune. In fact, she was furious students treated Melania Trump the way she has treated Michelle Obama, for years. The difference: the students had every right to boo the First lady, given her support of her husband’s policies and platform – including his birtherism.
Here’s Lahren earlier this year calling now-former First Lady Michelle Obama “incredibly tasteless.”
Last year Lahren actually told Michelle Obama to “sit down.”
The former First Lady, urging Democrats to vote in the 2018 elections, told them that thanks to their efforts, Brack Obama was elected president. She added that voting is not something you can do just once – it has to be every time.
Lahren was furious, because Obama called her husband a “great president.”
“Michelle Obama said we ‘had’ a great president. By what measure?” Lahren tweeted. “Not in economic growth. Not in border enforcement. Not in strength on the world stage. Sit down, Michelle.”
Telling a former First lady to “sit down” is incredibly disrespectful.
Here are a few more examples of Lahren attacking Obama:
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) December 12, 2015
Michelle Obama is upset Melania never asked for advice on how to be First Lady. Michelle, besides ruining school lunches what did you do?
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) November 13, 2018
Here Are 5 One-Liners to Fight Back Against Your Trump-Supporting Family Members at This Year’s Thanksgiving Dinner
Thanksgiving dinners can be difficult if you’re headed to your family that has one of those annoying family members who think they know everything because they watch Fox News.
1. There’s no first-hand knowledge. It’s all hearsay.
I mean, except for Mick Mulvaney, who admitted it on live television.
2. Attempted bribery isn’t in the Constitution as a crime.
The Constitution cites “high crimes and misdemeanors” as a guide for impeachment. Attempted bribery falls under that. In fact, so does speeding in a school zone, which is considered a misdemeanor in some states.
3. He wasn’t successful, so it doesn’t matter.
That’s not how the law works. As John Oliver pointed out, if a terrorist tries to blow himself up on a plane and the vest doesn’t go off, that doesn’t mean he’s innocent.
4. Presidents make deals all the time.
President’s don’t make deals for their own personal benefit.
As “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver explained it, Teddy Roosevelt’s famous quote “speak softly and carry a big stick,” didn’t mean he wanted people to take all of the sticks for his own personal stick collection. Ronald Regan never mandated East and West Germany use his own private BobCat company to “tear down that wall.”
5. We should just let the election decide it.
That’s not how the law works, nor is it how the law should work. If you break the law, you face the consequences, whether you’re a child, a teenager, a Congressman, Felicity Huffman, a Vegas kick-line dancer, or the president of the United States. No person is above the law. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be like. If we want to start handing out loopholes for the rich, famous, and elected officials, let the GOP put that up for a ballot initiative in all 50 states.
If a guy running for Congress is caught embezzling millions for his campaign fund for his own personal business that is in bankruptcy, no one would say he shouldn’t be prosecuted, and we should just let voters decide.
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