Connect with us

News

A Texas Judge Is Trying to Use the SCOTUS Anti-LGBTQ Ruling to Refuse to Marry Same-Sex Couples

Published

on

In 2019, Waco, Texas Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley received an official “public warning” from the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct for refusing to officiate weddings for same-sex couples.

The warning, while public, did not come with any fine nor any severe sanctions or censure, as NCRM reported at the time, yet Judge Hensley sued. She retained a far-right wing anti-LGBTQ Christian activist group with ties to Trump, First Liberty Institute, to represent her in her $10,000 lawsuit for damages.

Three years later, almost to the day of her warning, a Texas bipartisan appeals court panel in Austin ruled against her.

“She failed to make her case, the three-member panel wrote,” The Dallas Morning News reported.

Her case essentially was “that the State Commission on Judicial Conduct [had] violated her religious freedom by reprimanding her for performing weddings solely for heterosexual couples,” the paper explained.

READ MORE: Abortion, Diversity, Drag Shows, EVs, and Trans People: Tennessee AG Waging Massive Multi-State Culture War

Hensley was not merely asking that she be allowed to refuse to wed same-sex couples, she was asking the Commission and its members be prevented “from investigating or sanctioning judges or justices of the peace who recuse themselves from officiating at same-sex weddings on account of their sincere religious beliefs.”

In their public warning, the Commission on Judicial Conduct had cited the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, which states that a “judge shall conduct all of the judge’s extra-judicial activities so that they do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge.”

The Commission determined Hensley “should be publicly warned for casting doubt on her capacity to act impartially to persons appearing before her as a judge due to the person’s sexual orientation in violation of Canon 4A(l) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct.”

The Dallas Morning News later added that “Hensley, who is represented by former Texas solicitor general Jonathan Mitchell, indicated on Dec. 19 that she intends to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.”

Jonathan Mitchell is the attorney who devised the legal mechanism, the basis for Texas’ controversial “vigilante,” or “bounty hunter” abortion ban that relies not on government officials but instead, “deputizes ordinary citizens to enforce an effective ban on abortions — and offers them a financial incentive to do so” as The New York Times explained.

READ MORE: Architect of Texas Abortion Ban Also Criticized ‘Court-Invented Rights to Homosexual Behavior and Same-Sex Marriage’

Attorney Mitchell, The Dallas Morning News also reported, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, set his “sights on gay marriage.”

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court in 303 Creative ruled last month in favor of a private business owner who claims her personal religious beliefs prevent her from designing wedding websites for same-sex couples despite having never formally been asked to do so, Hensley is once again suing for the “right” to not marry same-sex couples.

And Mitchell is reportedly once again her attorney.

Hensley’s new “lawsuit alleges that the commission violated her rights under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Her lawsuit was dismissed by a lower appeals tribunal, but last month, the Texas Supreme Court said it will hear arguments on whether to revive the state judge’s lawsuit,” The Texas Tribune reports.

Hensley “argues that though the Supreme Court used the First Amendment and not state law in the 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis case, the decision is also applicable in her lawsuit.”

Some legal experts have told The Texas Tribune the Supreme Court’s 303 Creative case is far different from Hensley’s case.

READ MORE: GOP Senators and Right-Wingers Freak Out Over Biden Ordering 3000 Reservists to Ready for Possible Deployment to Europe

“The law of the land is marriage equality. It’s as simple as that,” Johnathan Gooch, a spokesperson for Equality Texas told the Tribune. “If judges and justices of the peace were empowered to only enforce the laws that they agreed with, we would quickly descend into anarchy.”

Meanwhile, Jezebel also points out that “Hensley’s lawyer is none other than Jonathan Mitchell, the architect of Texas’ bounty hunter abortion ban known as S.B. 8 and counsel for the Texas man suing his ex-wife’s friends for allegedly helping her obtain abortion pills. Unsurprisingly, Mitchell opposes gay rights and said in a Supreme Court brief that Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 ruling that legalized marriage equality, is a court-invented right that is just “as lawless as Roe [v. Wade].” He also attacks LGBTQ rights more broadly: In 2018, Mitchell represented a group seeking exemptions to anti-discrimination rules so they could refuse to hire LGBTQ people it if countered their religious beliefs and he’s the lawyer arguing that insurance shouldn’t have to cover PrEP drugs.”

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

Biden Campaign Hammers Trump Over Infamous COVID Comment

Published

on

Four years ago today then-President Donald Trump, on live national television during what would be known as merely the early days and weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggested an injection of a household “disinfectant” could cure the deadly coronavirus.

The Biden campaign on Tuesday has already posted five times on social media about Trump’s 2020 remarks, including by saying, “Four years ago today, Dr. Birx reacted in horror as Trump told Americans to inject bleach on national television.”

Less than 24 hours after Trump’s remarks calls to the New York City Poison Control Center more than doubled, including people complaining of Lysol and bleach exposure. Across the country, the CDC reported, calls to state and local poison control centers jumped 20 percent.

“It was a watershed moment, soon to become iconic in the annals of presidential briefings. It arguably changed the course of political history,” Politico reported on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s beach debacle. “It quickly came to symbolize the chaotic essence of his presidency and his handling of the pandemic.”

How did it happen?

“The Covid task force had met earlier that day — as usual, without Trump — to discuss the most recent findings, including the effects of light and humidity on how the virus spreads. Trump was briefed by a small group of aides. But it was clear to some aides that he hadn’t processed all the details before he left to speak to the press,” Politico added.

READ MORE: ‘Cutting Him to Shreds’: ‘Pissed’ Judge Tells Trump’s Attorney ‘You’re Losing All Credibility’

“’A few of us actually tried to stop it in the West Wing hallway,’ said one former senior Trump White House official. ‘I actually argued that President Trump wouldn’t have the time to absorb it and understand it. But I lost, and it went how it did.'”

The manufacturer of Lysol issued a strong statement saying, “under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),” with “under no circumstance” in bold type.

Trump’s “disinfectant” remarks were part of a much larger crisis during the pandemic: misinformation and disinformation. In 2021, a Cornell University study found the President was the “single largest driver” of COVID misinformation.

What did Trump actually say?

“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out, in a minute,” Trump said from the podium at the White House press briefing room, as Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx looked on without speaking up. “Is there a way we can do something like that? By injection, inside, or almost a cleaning, ’cause you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. You’re going to have to use medical doctors, right? But it sounds interesting to me.”

READ MORE: ‘Rally Behind MAGA’: Trump Advocates Courthouse ‘Protests’ Nationwide

Within hours comedian Sarah Cooper, who had a good run mocking Donald Trump, released a video based on his remarks that went viral:

The Biden campaign at least 12 times on the social media platform X has mentioned Trump’s infamous and dangerous remarks about injecting “disinfectant,” although, like many, they have substituted the word “bleach” for “disinfectant.”

Hours after Trump’s remarks, from his personal account, Joe Biden posted this tweet:

Tuesday morning the Biden campaign released this video marking the four-year anniversary of Trump’s “disinfectant” remarks.

See the social media posts and videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Election Interference’ and ‘Corruption’: Experts Explain Trump Prosecution Opening Argument

Continue Reading

News

‘Cutting Him to Shreds’: ‘Pissed’ Judge Tells Trump’s Attorney ‘You’re Losing All Credibility’

Published

on

New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan heard arguments in court Tuesday morning without the jury present after prosecutors in District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office accused Donald Trump of violating his gag order ten times, via posts on his Truth Social account.

Judge Merchan did not rule from the bench, but is expected to announce his ruling possibly as early as later Tuesday. Prosecutors asked for Trump to be held in contempt, and outlined four possible responses. Merchan refused one response but agreed three were possible.

Among them, Merchan might fine Trump and issue a stern warning that could threaten jail time if he violates the gag order in the future.

From the bench, Merchan had directed attorneys to create a timeline of events to show if Trump was reacting to what the ex-president’s attorneys called “attacks.”

“We’re gonna take one at a time, otherwise it’s going to get really confusing,” Judge Merchan said to Trump lead attorney Todd Blanche, as Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien reports. McBrien noted the judge “wants to get the timeline of these posts, reposts, and replies clear.”

RELATED: Fox News Host Suggests Trump ‘Force’ Court to Throw Him in Jail – by Quoting Him

Trump’s attorneys appeared to suggest if his posts are “political” they should not be subjected to the gag order, which bars Trump from making “public statements about known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses concerning their potential participation in the investigation or in this criminal proceeding.”

“Blanche says that the witnesses are making money, documentaries, TV interviews about Trump, all while Trump is gagged and threatened with jail if he responds,” McBrien also reported. “Merchan wants to get into what was actually said rather than interpret and ‘read between the lines.'”

Blanche earlier had insisted Trump was aware of what the gag order requires.

“‘Just to set the record very straight and clear: President Trump does know what the gag order’ allows him to do and not do,” MSNBC contributor Adam Klasfeld reported.

One of the larger issues discussed appears to be Fox News segments made by host Jesse Watters. One aired hours before then-juror number two asked to be excused, saying they no longer felt they could be impartial.

RELATED: Judge Warns Trump to Not Incite Violence or Make Threats to Officials as Jr. Posts Link Featuring Photo of Judge’s Daughter

MSNBC’s Katie Phang posted this exchange between the judge and Trump’s lead attorney:

“Now, Merchan asks Blanche about what Jesse Watters, in fact, said.

Blanche: No.

Merchan: “So your client manipulated what was said and put it in quotes?

Blanche: I wouldn’t say it was a manipulation.

Merchan: This isn’t a repost at all. Your client had to type it out. Use the shift-key and all.”

It did not go well for Trump and his legal team.

At one point Judge Merchan told Blanche, “You’re losing all credibility.” McBrien reports when Merchan said that, “there was an audible gasp from the press.”

Former U.S. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal weighed in:

“This isn’t quite like watching a full blown car accident, but it’s certainly like watching a fender bender,” McBrien also noted.

“This is going very badly for Trump already,” reported Courthouse News’ Erik Uebelacker. “Judge Merchan is losing his patience with Blanche, who can’t seem to prove that any of Trump’s attacks are ‘responses.'”

Attorney George Conway went further: “Blanche is flailing. This is painful to watch. Merchan is cutting him to shreds.”

Continuing, Conway wrote (not in quotation marks) Merchan said: “I’ve asked you several times to show me the post that the defendant was responding to. You haven’t done so once.”

He called the judge’s remark “BRUTAL.”

READ MORE: ‘Rally Behind MAGA’: Trump Advocates Courthouse ‘Protests’ Nationwide

“Basically, Blanche is pretty much arguing there’s a ‘running for president’ exception to the gag order that has been specifically directed at the man running for defendant,” Conway adds. “Merchan now getting pissed at Blanche’s unresponsiveness and evasiveness.”

Klasfeld also characterized the exchanges as “brutal.”

“Merchan says he’s going to ‘reserve decision on this,’ after brutal arguments for the defense.”

Trump has been criminally indicted in four separate cases and is facing a total of 88 felony charges, including 34 in this New York criminal trial for alleged falsification of business records to hide payments of hush money to an adult film actress and one other woman, in an alleged effort to suppress their stories and protect his 2016 presidential campaign, which could be deemed election interference.

Image via Shutterstock

Continue Reading

News

‘I’m Not Suicidal’: Kari Lake Pushes Hillary Clinton Murder Conspiracy Theory

Published

on

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake is promoting a conspiracy theory suggesting Hillary Clinton wants to assassinate her. Her remarks came just one day before she lost her attempt to have the Supreme Court review what some have called her conspiracy-theory fueled lawsuit about electronic voting machines.

“Lake, who filed the lawsuit during her failed campaign for governor in 2022, challenged whether the state’s electronic voting machines assured ‘a fair and accurate vote.’ Two lower courts dismissed the suit, finding that Lake and former Republican state lawmaker Mark Finchem had not been harmed in a way that allowed them to sue,” CNN reported Monday.

Also on Monday Law&Crime reported that when she filed her lawsuit, a Dominion Voting Systems spokesperson “rejected Lake’s cybersecurity claim, telling Law&Crime it was ‘implausible and conspiratorial.'”

Democracy Docket, founded by top Democratic elections attorney Marc Elias, called it “the end of the road for a conspiratorial lawsuit,” and Lake and Fincham, “election deniers.”

READ MORE: ‘Old and Tired and Mad’: Trump’s Demeanor in Court Detailed by Rachel Maddow

Lake, a far-right conspiracy theorist who has yet to concede the 2022 election, which she lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs, has a history of pushing exaggerated and baseless claims.

On Sunday, as MeidasTouch Network reported, Lake promoted an old, anti-Clinton conspiracy theory but twisted it to try to make it appear she was in danger from former U.S. Secretary of State and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Lake on Newsmax listened to a clip of Secretary Clinton calling Trump’s fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin a “bromance,” and saying the ex-president is “just gaga over Putin, because Putin does what he would like to do: kill his opposition, imprison his opposition, drive, you know, journalists and others into exile, rule without any check or balance.”

Then Lake promoted a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory by responding, “Oh, boy. Oh, that’s really rich coming from a woman like Hillary Clinton, who’s, how many of her friends have just like, mysteriously died or committed suicide?”

“I mean, honestly, that’s rich of her. What President Trump wants is to root out the corruption and deliver our government back to We The People and she looks very nervous. She talked about her friend Mark Elias, Mark Elias has meddled in in his and his cohorts have meddled in the elections.”

She called Democratic policies, “destructive, deadly and frankly, in some ways, diabolical,”and added, “it’s almost comical that Hillary Clinton is talking about Trump wanting to kill his opponents.”

READ MORE: ‘Election Interference’ and ‘Corruption’: Experts Explain Trump Prosecution Opening Argument

“I just want to say as I’m as I’m speaking about this topic, I want everyone out there to know that my brakes on my car have recently been checked and they work. I’m not suicidal. And Hillary, I don’t mean any harm to you. Please don’t send your henchmen out to me. We understand what you’re about. ”

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Rally Behind MAGA’: Trump Advocates Courthouse ‘Protests’ Nationwide

 

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.