detainees

J. Christian Adams Attacks Loretta Lynch For Acknowledging That Structural Racism Exists

The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing today on Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be U.S. attorney general, which Senate Republicans mostly used as an opportunity to attack current Attorney General Eric Holder and to try to extract promises from Lynch that she would break course from Holder on issues like immigration enforcement.

But it might be tough for Lynch to completely appease Holder’s critics on the Right, who have repeatedly attacked the attorney general for working to fight racially discriminatory voting laws and acknowledging racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

In fact, J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department official who has become one of Holder’s most prominent critics on the Right, attacked Lynch today for her statements implying that structural racism exists in areas like voting rights and law enforcement.

“I think that Lynch buys into this same grievance industry about structural racism in the United States, about how minorities cannot get a fair shake ever, that the system is stacked against them, that it’s a collectivist, anti-individual approach to things,” Adams warned the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios.

“I think that Lynch is going to sound a lot like an Eric Holder mini-me when it comes to election issues and voter ID,” he said.

Earlier in the interview, Adams discussed an article he co-wrote with the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky yesterday urging Republicans, as he told Rios, to use the Lynch hearings to “extract course corrections out of the Justice Department.”

In particular, Adams wants the Justice Department to stop hiring attorneys who have previously provided legal representation to terror suspects. (Similar attacks on DOJ attorneys by Liz Chaney in 2010 were condemned by a group of Bush administration officials as “shameful” and “unjust.”)

“We’ve had an attorney general who has turned toward lawyers who have worked for Al Qaeda terrorists, who were their attorneys, to then work at the Justice Department,” Adams said.

“That’s how crazy it’s gotten in the last six years, where it seems that one of the top qualifications to become a lawyer working for the Justice Department is that you used to work at Al Qaeda, or for Al Qaeda detainees.”

Adams demanded that Republicans “get a commitment out of [Lynch] to stop catering to this far-left-wing legal world that hates U.S. foreign policy, that hates detainee policy, that hates Gitmo, that that hates our war on terror.”

Peter King Witness Called Groups Defending Gitmo Detainees "Anti-American," "Al Qaeda's Useful Idiots"

Rep. Peter King (R-NY recently announced the third in his series of hearings on the “radicalization of the Muslim-American community”—the GOP’s premier venue for demonstrating the kinds of attacks highlighted in PFAW’s latest Right Wing Watch: In Focus report “The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.” As part of his hearings, King plans to call Thomas Joscelyn of the staunchly neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies as a witness. Joscelyn, from his platform as a writer for the neoconservative Weekly Standard, has questioned the patriotism of organizations and individuals who spoke out against the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, calling the ACLU “Al Qaeda’s useful idiots” and claiming that lawyers who represented accused terrorists “openly opposed the American government.”

In a 2009 column, Joscelyn called the American Civil Liberties Union “Al Qaeda’s Civil Liberties Union” and “al Qaeda’s useful idiots” because the group produced the video “Justice Denied: Voices From Guantanamo,” which featured five Muslims who were imprisoned and abused in Guantanamo Bay and never faced charges. “The ACLU has worked diligently to undermine America's stance in what was formerly known as the ‘war on terror,’” he wrote, “and has even been willing to disseminate propaganda on behalf of our jihadist enemies.” He went on to criticize the ACLU and the Obama administration for opposing the use of military commissions and supporting the right of due process under the law for accused terrorists: “The ACLU cannot tell the difference between us and our enemies--as its own propaganda shows. Therefore, it does not bode well for America's counterterrorism efforts that the Obama administration is in agreement with al Qaeda's useful idiots.”

Joscelyn also jumped on the right-wing smear campaign against Justice Department lawyers who once represented accused terrorists, writing: “Now, we don’t know what assignments these lawyers have taken on inside government. But we do know that they openly opposed the American government for years, on behalf of al Qaeda terrorists, and their objections frequently went beyond rational, principled criticisms of detainee policy.”

Joscelyn also charged the Center for Constitutional Rights with “crude anti-Americanism” because the group condemned bias against Muslim Americans. He also questioned whether accused terrorists should receive any legal representation at all:

CCR’s statement calls to mind the debate some months ago about the role of lawyers in the war on terror. Some have argued that by representing “unpopular” clients they are merely adhering to a noble legal tradition in the same manner as John Adams, who defended British soldiers years prior to the Revolutionary War. Granted, some lawyers probably are compelled by their own notions of legal principle. But not all of them are.

John Adams sought to create a free society in which all faiths can be practiced and none are enforced by the state. He succeeded.

This nation’s second president probably would not appreciate CCR’s smear of the nation he helped found. And CCR is not just standing up for the “right” of a terrorist to receive a fair trial. The organization doubts whether John Adam’s America can be fair to Muslims at all.

CPAC: Merit Selection for Judges is an Evil Leftist Plot

A group of right-wing legal advocates warned CPAC participants – or more accurately, a tiny subset of CPAC participants – about “The Left’s Campaign to Reshape the Judiciary.”

Panelists discussed the meaning of “judicial activism” and why the kind of right-wing judicial activism we’ve seen from the Supreme Court doesn’t qualify. (Overturning health care reform? Also not judicial activism.) But the main thrust of the panel was the supposedly dire threat posed by efforts at the state level to replace judicial elections with a merit selection process. 
 
The increasing tendency of judicial elections to become big-money affairs funded by individuals and groups who regularly appear before judges has increasingly raised concerns about judgeships – including state supreme court justices – being for sale to the highest bidder, such as corporate interests looking for courts that won’t hold corporations accountable for misconduct.
 
But today’s panelists – Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackleford, American Justice Partnership’s Dan Pero, the Center for Individual Freedom’s Timothy Lee, and the American Civil Rights Union’s Ken Klukowski, warned against merit selection, a nonpartisan alternative that is employed in a number of states and under consideration in others. Pero called merit selection “a power grab by the liberal left,” citing People For the American Way, among others he said were liberals trying to use the courts to impose their vision on America.
 
Timothy Lee, perhaps mindful of the small crowd drawn to the panel, urged participants to explain to others why the courts were important, no matter what other issue they cared about. For example, he said, the Citizens United decision overturning Supreme Court precedent and substantially crippling the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law rested on the fact the Samuel Alito had replaced Sandra Day O’Connor on the high court.
 
Klukowski echoed Lee’s call, saying that the fight for “constitutional conservatism” can’t succeed without the right judges in place: “The U.S. Constitution is only as good as the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court that interpret it.” He complained about the Supreme Court’s rulings that Guantanamo detainees have habeas corpus rights and about other federal courts recognizing marriage equality and ruling against the ban on gay servicemembers.
 
And while panel members celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, Klukowski said it’s not clear that there’s a majority in the Court for overturning other gun restrictions. He specifically complained that it is a felony for someone who went through a “messy divorce” and was under a restraining order to have a gun.
 
Klukowski said that he and Ken Blackwell have written a book called Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservativism can Save America and made an appeal for all stripes of conservatives – social, economic, and national security – to stop fighting each other and work together.

CPAC: Merit Selection for Judges is an Evil Leftist Plot

A group of right-wing legal advocates warned CPAC participants – or more accurately, a tiny subset of CPAC participants – about “The Left’s Campaign to Reshape the Judiciary.”

Panelists discussed the meaning of “judicial activism” and why the kind of right-wing judicial activism we’ve seen from the Supreme Court doesn’t qualify. (Overturning health care reform? Also not judicial activism.) But the main thrust of the panel was the supposedly dire threat posed by efforts at the state level to replace judicial elections with a merit selection process. 
 
The increasing tendency of judicial elections to become big-money affairs funded by individuals and groups who regularly appear before judges has increasingly raised concerns about judgeships – including state supreme court justices – being for sale to the highest bidder, such as corporate interests looking for courts that won’t hold corporations accountable for misconduct.
 
But today’s panelists – Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackleford, American Justice Partnership’s Dan Pero, the Center for Individual Freedom’s Timothy Lee, and the American Civil Rights Union’s Ken Klukowski, warned against merit selection, a nonpartisan alternative that is employed in a number of states and under consideration in others. Pero called merit selection “a power grab by the liberal left,” citing People For the American Way, among others he said were liberals trying to use the courts to impose their vision on America.
 
Timothy Lee, perhaps mindful of the small crowd drawn to the panel, urged participants to explain to others why the courts were important, no matter what other issue they cared about. For example, he said, the Citizens United decision overturning Supreme Court precedent and substantially crippling the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law rested on the fact the Samuel Alito had replaced Sandra Day O’Connor on the high court.
 
Klukowski echoed Lee’s call, saying that the fight for “constitutional conservatism” can’t succeed without the right judges in place: “The U.S. Constitution is only as good as the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court that interpret it.” He complained about the Supreme Court’s rulings that Guantanamo detainees have habeas corpus rights and about other federal courts recognizing marriage equality and ruling against the ban on gay servicemembers.
 
And while panel members celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, Klukowski said it’s not clear that there’s a majority in the Court for overturning other gun restrictions. He specifically complained that it is a felony for someone who went through a “messy divorce” and was under a restraining order to have a gun.
 
Klukowski said that he and Ken Blackwell have written a book called Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservativism can Save America and made an appeal for all stripes of conservatives – social, economic, and national security – to stop fighting each other and work together.

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 10/26/10

Newt Gingrich

2010: Campaigns with GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich in Ohio (Columbus Business First, 10/25).

Iowa: Holds “American Solutions” rally in Sioux City, Iowa (Sioux City Journal, 10/22).

Mike Huckabee

GOP: Defends Christine O’Donnell and hits “elitist” establishment (Raw Story, 10/25).

Religious Right: Sarah Posner looks into Huckabee’s ties to anti-gay groups (Religion Dispatches, 10/25).

Economy: Defends the “Fair Tax” on Fox News (Fox News, 10/25).

Sarah Palin

2010: Slams Lisa Murkowski, lauds Joe Miller, in facebook post (Facebook, 10/25).

Arizona: Sheriff Joe Arpaio presents her “pink underwear” as gift (Washington Independent, 10/25).

2012: New York Magazine says that Palin is gearing up presidential campaign (New York Magazine, 10/24).

Tim Pawlenty

Iowa: Has donated over $114,000 to Iowa Republican candidates (Des Moines Register, 10/26).

2010: Stumps for gubernatorial candidates in eight states before election (CNN, 10/25).

2012: Trails Obama in Minnesota in hypothetical race (GOP12, 10/25).

Mitt Romney

Tea Party: Hopes to pursue economic message with Tea Party activists (WSJ, 10/25).

Fundraising: Mega-donors line up behind Romney (Politico, 10/23).

Rick Santorum

Iowa: Campaigns for a GOP majority in the Iowa State House (KTIV, 10/25).

Religious Right: Speaks to Tennessee Right to Life Convention (Knoxville News, 10/21).

Judges: Joins bus tour with NOM, FRC, others to oppose retention for judges who backed same-sex marriage (On Top, 10/21).

Values Voter Summit: Friday Night Battle of the Bullies

The closing session of Day 1 at the Values Voters conference had the feel of an emotional roller coaster. The evening kicked off with stand-up comedy by Steve Bridges, whose impersonation of President Bush is uncanny - every shrug, eyebrow raise, hand gesture, whisper, squint, smirk, and laugh were instantly recognizable. The performance had people rolling in the aisles, even though there was a lot of good-natured humor playing on the very-popular-in-this-crowd president's difficulties with the English language and his reputation for not being, as he said, "the brightest bulb in the knife drawer." The tone shifted dramatically darker with the next two speakers, Religious Right strategist and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer and notorious pundit Ann Coulter. Bauer focused on "two wars"- the war against "Islamo-fascists" and the battle over values. Coulter's theme was "two evils" to be fought - Islamic terrorists and the Supreme Court. Both mocked concerns about mistreatment of detainees at Guantanamo. Bauer particularly seemed to take offense at the very notion that detainees would be treated humanely, which he said sends a signal of weakness to our enemies. He derided Republican Sens. McCain, Warner and Graham for trying to ensure that the U.S. retained its commitment to the Geneva Convention's requirement for humane treatment of prisoners of war. And he slammed the "left wing of American politics," which he said "appears to hate you and me and George Bush more than they hate the Taliban and Osama bin Laden." Bauer described the values battle - over abortion and marriage - in equally pugnacious terms, insisting that Roe will soon be overturned and declaring that "we are putting the radical gay rights movement on notice. You will not defeat us. We will defend marriage." Bauer closed by invoking the memories of people in the twin towers who called loved ones in their final moments, and of the passengers on flight 93 who sacrificed their lives to prevent another terror attack. He called on the image of those passengers charging up the aisle to shame anyone who stays out of the culture war or doesn't find time to vote. Bauer, of course, gave no sign of recognizing that among those callers and passengers were gay Americans with their own loved ones and families. Coulter, while extremely popular with the crowd, seemed a bit off, rushing through her speech in order to get to the book signing table, but not so quickly that she didn't throw out some tradmark outrageousness designed to delight right-wing audiences: liberals don't want to go to war with Islamic fascism, and the killing of doctors who provided abortions was basically the fault of the Supreme Court's decision in Casey. She derided Supreme Court decisions that "read like newsletters from NAMBLA" and asked when the other branches of government would finally start ignoring "absurd" Supreme Court decisions. (She suggested that Bush and Congress should have ignored decisions on the rights of detainees.) Without a trace of irony Coulter declared the war in Iraq a "magnificent success," made light of the massive looting that took place there ("broken pottery") and dismissed concerns about the conditions in Iraq raised by the "treason lobby." Now let's sell some books.

McCain Alienates Religious Right – Over Detainees?

Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition want him to fall in line with Bush.

Unable to Find Votes, Right Looks to Court Stripping

As the House is set to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage—even after the amendment failed to get a simple majority in the Senate, much less the required two-thirds majority—Rod Parsley’s Center for Moral Clarity reminds us that the point is politics and the upcoming elections.

“This important House vote will put every member of Congress on record as either supporting biblical marriage or siding with activist judges and others who would expand the definition of marriage," said Pastor Rod Parsley, founder and president of the Center for Moral Clarity. "Undoubtedly, many members of Congress would prefer not to cast this vote so close to an election – but it’s important that voters know where they stand on this critical issue."

But others are looking to unconstitutional tricks to get around the amendment process. The goal of “court-stripping” legislation is to simply declare that federal courts are no longer allowed to hear the claims of citizens that their rights are violated. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins--decrying the “judicial activism” behind the Supreme Court decision finding unconstitutional Bush's military commissions to try Guantanamo detainees--encourages court-stripping, along with right-wing judicial nominees, as a long-term strategy, citing two court-stripping bills in the works:

Congress needs to resist this judicial activism. One way to constitutionally check the courts is with measures like the Pledge Protection Act sponsored by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) and another way is Cong. John Hostettler's (R-IN) Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA). Finally, we can give a fair up or down vote to judicial nominees like William J. Haynes.

Now, even as the House vote on the anti-gay marriage amendment looks to fail, Human Events endorses a court-stripping bill to circumvent the Constitution on the issue of marriage:

Unfortunately, the [marriage] amendment failed in the Senate last month, receiving only 49 votes. It is also destined to fail in the House: In the last Congress, it received only 227 votes, more than 60 shy of the super-majority needed. But there is a way Congress can act this year to protect state marriage laws from activist liberal judges. Rep. John Hostettler (R.-Ind.) has proposed a bill that would strip all federal courts, including the Supreme Court, of jurisdiction to hear any challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). …

Hostettler’s Marriage Protection Act has practical and political advantages. For starters, unlike the constitutional amendment, if pushed by the Republican leadership, it has a real chance of becoming law. … Secondly, it is a tougher political test for Democratic congressmen trying to convince voters they are not out of touch with traditional American values. … Precisely because the Marriage Protection Act can become law, Democratic leaders are fretful of letting even Red State Members vote for it--if they can help it.

Perhaps soon the Right will come up with a bill to ban blogs, and declare that we can no longer defend our rights in court. It’s certainly a convenient strategy to avoid that pesky Constitution.