The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)

ATLANTA — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling this month that could legalize same-sex marriage would provoke a sharp response from many conservative lawmakers, who predict sustained legal and political combat in 2016 and for decades to come.

Within several months, such a ruling is sure to fuel the fight for “religious liberty” legislation that has failed to pass the last two years amid opposition from business interests. It’s also likely to spur a new wave of election-year proposals aimed at protecting those with moral objections to same-sex weddings.

Social conservatives are branding a potential nationwide legalization as a “Roe v. Wade for marriage.” They forecast a campaign that mirrors the continued fight over the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling 42 years ago.

Among the more immediate possibilities conservative lawmakers are considering: legislation to enable some government officials to opt out of gay wedding ceremonies if it violates their faith; another to safeguard faith-based adoption agencies that reject gay couples; and another to enact a “covenant marriage” statute that is harder to dissolve and appeals to the deeply religious.

“I anticipate if the court moves in this direction, we’re going to see a bunch of legislation related to religious liberty and around same-sex marriage,” said Georgia state Sen. Josh McKoon, a Columbus Republican who sides with opponents of gay marriage.

They will be met with staunch opposition from some leading Republicans, Democrats and business boosters, who fear the legislation would hamper Georgia’s economic development and amount to discrimination. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, for one, said the people who support “religious liberty” and its spinoffs are “on the wrong side of history.”

The fight over religious liberty is expected to figure prominently in next year’s debate, regardless of what the court decides. The boosters of Senate Bill 129 depict it as a state version of federal legislation that protects religious beliefs against government intrusion. Critics say it enables businesses to discriminate against gay customers.

The proposal died in April amid opposition from the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Delta Air Lines and establishment Republicans who were mindful of the backlash over similar bills in Arkansas and Indiana, which led to threats of boycotts and international criticism.

Gov. Nathan Deal and other GOP leaders urged for the proposal to include non-discrimination protections to appease critics, creating a sharp divide within the party. Deal backtracked on his demand days after Georgia GOP delegates endorsed a version of the legislation without those protections.

The proposal’s staunchest supporters are careful to say gay marriage has nothing to do with the push for the law. McKoon, the measure’s sponsor, said about half the states where same-sex marriage is legal also have passed similar legislation. Other backers, though, see them as intrinsically connected.

“They are absolutely intertwined,” said state Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan. “Ultimately at the end of the day, the Supreme Court is ruling on what God says is valid or not. And this is very much a question of faith.”

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, a Cassville Republican, cast religious freedom measures as an “anti-government bullying bill” that in some instances has to do with gay marriage — such as the archetypal baker who refuses to make a cake for a gay wedding.

That’s just the tip of the spear, though. Several lawmakers predicted proposals that would restrict state tax credits and housing benefits for same-sex couples, as well as an effort modeled on proposals in South Carolina and Virginia that enable court officials to opt out of same-sex nuptials.

“It’s hard to see where it ends,” said Crane, the Newnan state senator. “It will revamp how it affects so many areas of our life. It’s going to set off a chain of events that’s going to be very far-reaching.”

The election-year proposals would serve up red meat to some Republican lawmakers who are wary of primary challenges. It could also put leaders like Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens in a bind.

Both have pledged to support the court’s ruling, regardless of what it is, but they will have to weigh that pledge against proposals that seek to circumvent or undercut the decision.

A similar tension is at work at the national level. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has tried to skirt the debate, but it’s fast become a talking point for Republicans on the presidential campaign trail as they seek out social conservative voters.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he would support a constitutional amendment enabling states to enact their own same-sex marriage bans, though the chances of such an effort earning two-thirds majorities in each house of Congress are remote, at best.

(c)2015 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Married couple Joe and Frank Capley-Alfano of California, kiss in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on April 27, 2015, a day away from arguments to be heard concerning gay marriage. (©afp.com / Johnny Bivera)

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}