Evangelicals Push for More Palaver on Abortion

Andy Birkey

As the electorate focuses on economic downturn, high energy prices and war, evangelicals are promising to turn the election rhetoric to abortion and gay marriage.

As the electorate focuses on economic downturn, high energy prices and
war, evangelicals are promising to turn the election rhetoric to
abortion and gay marriage. While McCain and Obama are both journeying
to Rick Warren’s California megachurch on Saturday, thousands of
evangelicals are heading to Washington, D.C., for "The Call." The purpose, said organizer Lou Engle, is to “drive the issue of abortion like a wedge into the soul of the nation.” Mike Huckabee will
be featured prominently at the event.

The group has put together a video touting "50 million babies
murdered" (see below) and claiming that the 9/11 attacks have biblical roots.

Engel and other religious right leader are calling on McCain to be more
zealous in espousing social conservative talking points —
specifically, by calling for a constitutional amendment to block gay
marriage and denouncing his own past support for stem cell research. “I don’t trust John McCain,” said Engle.

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi profiles McCain’s religion and his relationship to the religious right.
McCain recently started regularly attending church, or at least that’s
the impression his campaign gave reporters. According to Taibbi, "Yeah,
they started telling us he was going to church about a month ago," one
McCain-beat reporter chuckled to me on the Straight Talk Express.
"Like, Oh, by the way, he’s going to church again. At this address, if
you want to check. . . ."

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Some nuggets from the story: McCain is not born again. He has not been
baptized in his Baptist church. Baptism being a central tenet of
evangelical faith, the revelation could spell trouble in some
fundamentalists eyes.

But, the McCain campaign is nonetheless working hard to curry favor among the evangelical set. McCain is courting former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed,
who will be headlining a fundraiser for the presumptive Republican
nominee. (Reed also serves to remind voters of the Republicans’
involvement in the Jack Abramoff scandal — Reed took Abramoff’s
scandal tainted money to do PR work.)

The Rev. Jerry Falwell may have passed on, but his spirit is still alive
in McCain’s mind. He keeps an autographed copy of Falwell’s picture in
his office. In fact, it’s the only politically oriented picture in his
office. The signature from Falwell reads, "You are a great American, a
national treasure and I am glad to say my good friend." Apparently,
attitudes change: during the 2000 presidential campaign, McCain called
Falwell an "agent of intolerance."



Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Clinton Calls for ‘Gender-Responsive’ Prison Policies, Trump Unleashes ‘Sexist’ Attack on Clinton

Ally Boguhn

Clinton published an opinion piece for CNN Wednesday on the costs of prison for women, calling for reforms that address the unique experiences women in the system face.

On the campaign trail this week, Hillary Clinton penned an opinion piece outlining her plans for addressing the experiences of women in prison, and Donald Trump lashed out with what many are calling a “sexist” attack on Clinton.

Clinton Calls for “Gender-Responsive” Prison Policies

Clinton published an opinion piece for CNN Wednesday on the costs of prison for women, calling for prison reforms that address the unique experiences women in the system face.

“Mass incarceration has torn families apart, impoverished communities, and kept too many Americans from living up to their God-given potential. But mass incarceration’s impact on women and their families has been particularly acute—and it doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” wrote Clinton. “We can’t go on like this. It is time we reform our broken criminal justice system.”

The Democratic presidential candidate went on to outline a series of reforms meant to address the experiences women face when it comes to imprisonment.

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“First, we need to reform policing practices, end racial profiling, and eradicate racial disparities in sentencing,” suggested Clinton. “Second, we need to promote alternatives to incarceration, particularly for nonviolent and first-time offenders, so families aren’t broken up. We need to improve access to high-quality treatment for substance abuse, inside and outside the prison system, because drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a crime-and we need to treat it as such.”

The op-ed went on to call for “gender-responsive” policies for women in prison, noting that “we need to be deliberate about understanding the different paths that can land women in prison, be more attentive to women’s unique needs while they are incarcerated, and do more to support women and their families once they are released.”

Clinton vowed to implement such policies on a federal level, and to encourage states to do the same in their prisons and jails.

Ending mass incarceration has been a key component of Clinton’s platform on the campaign trail since she pitched criminal justice reforms in April 2015, though some have questioned the sincerity of those promises. Many criminal justice reform advocates point out the role the 1994 crime bill, put in place during the Bill Clinton administration, played in exacerbating mass incarceration. Clinton’s op-ed did not address that bill.

Trump Says Clinton Is Playing the “Woman’s Card”

Trump spent much of the week accusing Clinton of playing the “woman’s card” in order to get ahead in the presidential race, generating serious backlash for what critics say is “sexist” rhetoric.

“If Hillary Clinton was a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote,” Trump said in a Tuesday night victory speech celebrating his primary wins, according to the New York Daily News. “The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card.”

Clinton fired back on Tuesday during her own speech celebrating her primary victories, saying, “If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”

Trump was at it again by Thursday, doubling down on his statement during an interview with NBC’s Today, saying, “She’s playing that card like I’ve never seen anyone play it before.” The Republican presidential candidate went on to claim, “All I’m doing is bringing out the obvious, that without the woman’s card, Hillary would not even be a viable person to even run for a city council position.”

Critics blasted Trump’s rhetoric as “brutally sexist,” sparking backlash against the candidate on social media. As ABC News reported, “Trump’s remarks prompted social media hashtags like #dealmein and #womancard, the latter ranking among the top 10 global trending topics on Twitter Wednesday, with more than 45,000 tweets by late afternoon.”

What Else We’re Reading

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), who lost a tight race for retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) seat to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in Tuesday’s primary, called out Maryland voters for failing to vote for women and people of color in a state that views itself as progressive.

The Nation‘s Joan Walsh asks: “Why Donna Edwards Lost-and Why It Matters for the Future of the Democratic Party.”

Speaking during an MSNBC town hall on Monday, Clinton told the audience that she is “a feminist because I believe that women deserve the same rights as men in every aspect of our economy and our society, here at home and around the world.”

About 58 percent of Clinton’s advertising dollars—three out of every five dollars spent—are going to ads that reference “women’s rights, gender equality or equal pay,” reports AdweekCandidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) ads largely don’t address abortion, but about 33 percent of them do discuss equal pay.

Vermont became the fourth state to pass automatic voter registration on Wednesday. The new law will automatically register eligible voters who go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a driver’s license, and could add up to 50,000 new voters to the state’s rolls in the next four years.

A federal judge upheld North Carolina’s voter identification law.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) restored voting rights to more than 200,000 people in the state who were previously convicted of a felony, noting that provisions banning them from voting disproportionately disenfranchise people of color. “There’s no question that we’ve had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to African-Americans—we should remedy it,” McAuliffe said in an interview on the matter last Thursday according to the New York Times. “We should do it as soon as we possibly can.”

Trump called Virginia’s move to restore voting rights “crooked politics,” claiming that the move was politically motivated in order to get more Democratic votes. “That’s how disgusting and dishonest our political system is,” claimed the Republican presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic‘s Matt Ford explored the “racist roots” of Virginia’s law, saying McAuliffe’s action “marks an exorcism for one of Jim Crow’s last vestiges in Virginia’s state charter—and a reminder of how many of its legal aftereffects still linger today.”

News Law and Policy

Obama Nominates Merrick Garland for Supreme Court Amid Major Abortion Rights Case

Jessica Mason Pieklo

Garland would be the third former prosecutor on the bench, alongside Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito.

Read more of our articles on Justice Antonin Scalia’s potential successor here.

President Obama on Wednesday nominated D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

The announcement comes as Senate Republicans insist they will not consider a replacement for Scalia until after the presidential election in November.

Garland, 63, was first appointed to the United States Court of Appeals in April 1997 and became chief judge of the circuit in February 2013. Garland is a graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

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Following graduation, he served as law clerk to Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Garland then became the special assistant to then-Attorney General Janet Reno. Following a short time in private practice, Garland returned to the public sector, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992, and as deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice during the Clinton administration.

Garland has a reputation as a moderate, though conservatives are likely to attack Garland on his record on gun rights. Garland, while on the D.C. Circuit, voted to overturn a panel decision striking D.C.’s ban on handguns. That case would eventually find its way to the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority in D.C. v. Heller would find the ban unconstitutional in an opinion authored by the late Justice Scalia.

Garland’s record on reproductive rights is less clear, as is his record on civil rights cases. SCOTUSblog reports that when Garland was called to rule in civil rights cases, he generally sided with plaintiffs alleging rights violations. Garland served in the Justice Department during the initial implementation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. President Clinton nominated him to the D.C. Court of Appeals soon after.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue in a statement criticized GOP senators for refusing to hold hearings for any Obama nominee, as the Roberts Court considers reproductive rights cases that will have a lasting impact on abortion access throughout the country.

“This year, monumental cases will be decided by the Court on abortion access specifically and reproductive rights generally,” Hogue said. “Judge Garland does not have a public record on reproductive rights and Senate Republicans’ obstruction denies all of us our right to know where this nominee stands on core constitutional questions of women’s privacy, dignity, and equality. With seven in ten Americans supporting legal access to abortion, we have a right to know where our justices stand on this important issue. It’s time for Republicans to stop putting their party’s interests ahead of our nation’s.”

Garland served with Chief Justice John Roberts on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the two are said to be friends, a fact that could be designed to move conservatives on his nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said of the nomination in his Senate floor speech: “It seems clear that President Obama made this nomination not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for the purposes of the election.”

“What the president has done with this nomination would be unfair to any nominee,” McConnell continued. Instead of spending more time debating an issue where we can’t agree, let’s keep working to address the issues where we can, he said, closing with a plea to let the American people decide who the next nominee should be.

Seven current Republican senators voted in favor of confirming Garland to the United States Court of Appeals in 1997, as reported in the Washington Post. Those senators include Susan Collins (R-ME), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), James Inhofe (R-OK), John McCain (R-AZ), Dan Coats (R-IN), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Pat Roberts (R-KS).

“As president, it is both my constitutional duty to nominate a justice and one of the most important decisions that I—or any president—will make,” Obama said in an email to supporters Wednesday morning in advance of the nomination announcement. “In putting forward a nominee today, I am fulfilling my constitutional duty. I’m doing my job. I hope that our senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee.”