Decorated Combat Commander’s Career destroyed due to ‘political correctness’, case goes to Supreme Court

ANN ARBOR, MI—On Monday, September 11, 2017, the Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the United States Supreme Court to correct the injustice done to Lieutenant Colonel (“LTC”) Christopher Downey after the United States Army violated its own regulations, effectively ending his stellar career.

In a footnote, the U. S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the Army applied the incorrect burden of proof to LTC Downey’s case, contrary to its own regulations.  However, it shrugged off this fundamental error. LTC Downey’s petition to the Supreme Court points out that the error was so manifest and so serious that nearly every other appellate court in the land would have required the Army’s final review board to rehear his case.

TMLC attorney, Jay Combs, the principle author of the Petition to the Supreme Court, commented: “The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals threw away the exceptional career of Lieutenant Colonel Downey in a footnote.  The issue that the Fourth Circuit so cavalierly disposed of in a footnote was so serious that nearly every other circuit in the United States, on this issue alone, would have reversed the entire Army Board process without the need to even address any of the other issues in the case.  Most circuits recognize that the rule of law is dealt a crippling blow if an agency does not have to follow its own regulations.”

Combs was assisted by attorney Erin Kuenzig, who had handled the District Court and Fourth Circuit arguments.

LTC Downey’s troubles began in 2012 when he made the “politically incorrect” effort to prevent two lesbian female officers under his command from violating Army regulations regarding public displays of affection. The two officers, a Captain and a Lieutenant, were in uniform at a formal military ball and were on the dance floor engaged in prolonged French kissing, publicly taking off each other’s uniform jackets, and other intimate and salacious conduct.  Once he became aware of the situation, LTC Downey took immediate action to stop the inappropriate behavior.  He also attempted to prevent other soldiers from photographing and videotaping the officers’ inappropriate conduct, which he believed would embarrass the unit as well as the offending officers. In the process of lowering the camera of an enlisted soldier, the camera accidentally made contact with the soldier’s nose. As a result, despite the recommendations of LTC Downey’s immediate superior, General Mark Milley ordered an investigation and a subsequent Article 15 hearing where he acted as the presiding officer on charges of assault consummated by battery and violation of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The Article 15 proceeding, which lasted approximately 5 hours, was more concerned about offending homosexual advocacy groups than the guilt or innocence of LTC Downey. General Milley found LTC Downey guilty of the charge of assault consummated by battery. LTC Downey was issued reprimands for both violations, relieved of command, issued a negative Officer Evaluation Report, and removed from the attendance list of the National War College.

A formal board hearing was convened to review the same matters to decide whether LTC Downey should be retained in the Army. The formal board, unlike General Milley in the Article 15 proceedings, conducted an exhaustive adversarial hearing in which the Army was represented by an attorney and LTC Downey was also represented by counsel.  The hearing board listened to the testimony of multiple witnesses, reviewed evidence, and listened to the arguments of government and defense attorneys. Afterwards, the formal board unanimously determined the allegations against LTC Downey were not supported by even a preponderance of the evidence.

Despite the unanimous decision of the formal board of officers, the prior contrary findings of the Article 15 hearing remained a part of LTC Downey’s official record, destroying the further progression of his stellar career and tarnishing his good name.

Downey was well on his way to becoming a high-ranking officer in the Army, as evidenced by the glowing remarks from his commanding officers. In early April of 2012, Downey received a prestigious award recognizing him and the unit that he commanded as the best aviation battalion in the United States Army. He has been awarded 3 Bronze Stars and 7 Air Medals, one with a “V” device for valor in combat. The Air Medal with “V” device was awarded for valor he displayed on May 25, 2011, in “complete disregard for his own safety while initiating multiple engagements against an enemy with superior fields of fire over friendly forces.  His actions were decisive in saving the lives of soldiers on the ground.”

His performance reviews uniformly painted a picture of one of the Army’s most skilled and accomplished combat aviators.

Former Secretary of the Army, Louis Caldera, wrote of Downey:

“As former SecArmy I had the honor of working with strong officers daily, Chris Downey stands out among them. A clearly superior performance by a leader with phenomenal potential.”

White House Military Office Operations Director, Marcy Steinke-Fike:

“He is clearly in the top 1% of the handpicked officers of the White House Military Office Operations Directorate and in all of the Lieutenant Colonel’s I have known in my 20 years of military service. Chris planned the most sensitive and complex missions in support of the President, Vice President, First Lady and other White House delegations. Absolutely unlimited potential – a future General Officer!”

Commanding General John F. Campbell:

“Lieutenant Colonel Chris Downey’s performance in combat has been spectacular, he is my best aviation task force commander among the top three out of 70+ commanders that I senior rate. Strong General Officer potential.”  

The Administrative Board Applied the Wrong Burden Of Proof

In order to remedy the injustice caused by the erroneous Article 15, LTC Downey appealed to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records (“ABCMR”). Unfortunately for LTC Downey, the ABCMR applied the wrong burden of proof to his case. The Board is governed by 32 C.F.R. § 581.3(e)(2) which provides: “Burden of proof. The ABCMR begins its consideration of each case with the presumption of administrative regularity. The applicant has the burden of proving an error or injustice by a preponderance of the evidence.” (emphasis added). Rather than holding LTC Downey to the correct burden of proof, the Board held him to the much more difficult burden of proving an error or injustice by clear and convincing evidence.  Finding that LTC Downey had not met this illegitimately high standard, the Board denied him relief.

Richard Thompson, President and chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commenting on what happened to LTC Downey, stated: “There is no question in my mind that Lieutenant Colonel Downey was a victim of the military’s efforts to appease homosexual advocacy groups. As a result of political correctness gone amuck, America lost an outstanding combat commander who had given his country over 24 years of loyal service.”

Click here to read the Petition

How a Fraudulent Guardianship/Conservatorship Commences and Continues

This column examines conditions in Florida but the same problems exist in many states.

Step One: Eminent danger —The initial court petition

The professional guardian [or conservator], with the assistance of her attorneys, commences the embezzlement process by filing an emergency petition in the probate courts to become the “emergency” “temporary” guardian.

Florida guardianship statutes (Chapter 744), like many states, require that there be an “eminent danger” in order for the petitioner to become the “emergency temporary guardian.”

The guardian oftentimes fabricates the “eminent danger” by stating that there is a neighbor or relative or stranger who is taking advantage of the elderly person. In some cases, this may be a somewhat true statement, albeit an exaggerated claim. In most cases, upon further investigation, there has been no “eminent danger”whatsoever.

Step One takes away all of the victim’s civil rights and therefore gives the guardian and her attorneys full control over the victim and his or her assets.

Step Two: The examining committee

Once the professional guardian has taken control of the victim on a temporary basis (the emergency temporary guardianship order expires in 60 days [in Florida]) an examining committee of three medical “professionals” steps in to verify the allegation of mental incapacity. Oftentimes, the victim is administered a cocktail of psychotropic drugs to enhance the claims that he or she is incompetent.

“Ward” Elizabeth Faye Arnold, for instance, stated, “They put me on drugs that made me feel very drunk. I couldn’t even remember my name. Now that they have all my money, they don’t medicate me that way anymore.” One of the three medical professionals must be a psychiatrist and the victim is generally always found to be mentally incapacitated. The guardian usually has her own set of medical professionals that she utilizes on a regular basis. For instance, one professional guardian is married to a medical doctor and therefore has an entire fleet of medical professional associates available to her.

Back in the courtroom, soon after the three medical professionals file their reports, there is a capacity hearing. The victim seldom is permitted to attend this hearing. The judge quickly scans the medical examinations that “verify” that the victim is “mentally and/or physically incapacitated.” The judge then signs an order that gives the professional guardian full and permanent legal authority over the victim’s person and property.

Step Three: The “feast” begins

Property is sold for below market value and the deeds switch and switch several times. (kick backs are suspected). Bank accounts, annuities, stocks, and Certificates of Deposit are liquidated into one big guardianship account.

Out of this large bank account, the guardian is expected to pay all the victim’s, but bills oftentimes go unpaid.

How the victim’s money is spent

1. Attorney’s fees and guardianship fees for “services rendered to ‘Benefit’ the ‘Ward.”

A large part of the victim’s money is spent on attorney’s fees and guardian’s fees. As long as there is ample money in the victim’s guardianship account, the guardian and her attorney cohorts will file motion upon motion after motion to the courts, such as:

  • A motion to sell the ward’s furniture.
  • A motion to liquidate stocks and Certificates of Deposit.
  • A motion to transfer the ward to a different nursing home.
  • A motion to sell the ward’s homesteaded house.
  • A motion to open up a safety deposit box.

Each motion can cost the “ward” in excess of $2,000 because the motion must be written, researched, filed, and then a hearing is scheduled. Oftentimes, the motions cost more than what is being petitioned for.

2. Puffing the monthly budget

The guardian frequently doubles the monthly expenses then keeps the remainder.

3. Selling the “Ward’s” personal belongings for below market value then pocketing the difference

The guardian underestimates the amount of the sale of personal items, such as jewelry, paintings, and antiques, for the purpose of the court record inventories, then is free to keep the difference. There is little and often no court oversight.

4. Bills are simply not paid

Often times, the bills of the “ward” are not even paid. When the “ward” dies, the guardian simply places an ad in an obscure newspaper, if there is money left for an estate to be probated.Assuming creditors do not see the ad and file a claim against the estate within 30 days, their claims are forever barred and so the guardian was able to fool creditors and abscond with the money and not have to pay any of the bills. If she is caught, she simply pays the bills of the creditors who caught her. This frequently includes Medicaid.

5. Accounting is not accurate

The guardian can claim a much lower amount of liquid assets than what the victim is actually worth and then pocket the rest.

  • Julie Sweeten–$400,000.00 estate with an alleged $80,000.00 remaining when Sweeten died. More than $300,000.00 was spent in three years.
  • Louise A. Falvo started off with approximately $800,000.00. Two months into the guardianship, her guardian filed an accounting with the court stating that Falvo was worth only $672,000.00. Shortly thereafter, a bank statement from Bank of America stated that Falvo now had $449,000 after all accounts had been liquidated. So, approximately $200,000 turned up missing.

6. Fake wills

In this scenario, the guardian claimed that Julie Sweeten desired to leave her estate to her bank. A forged will was entered into the record. Wachovia Bank trustee was then given $80,000 from the uncontested, probated estate.

Step Four: The mysterious deaths

Once the funds have been spent, the “ward” oftentimes suddenly dies.

The “ward” dies when there is still plenty of money — if a huge probate battle can commence, thereby further enriching the attorneys and guardian.

Examples:

  • Carlisle Bosworth died soon after his $250,000 had been spent.
  • James Deaton — $5 million, three years in probate — $3 million in attorney’s fees with a pittance finally paid out to his family members.
  • Louise A. Falvo — suspected morphine sulfate overdose as cause of death; huge probate battle to enrich attorneys ensued even though her bank accounts were all Pay On Death/In Trust For (POD/ITF) to her daughter, so probate should have been completely unnecessary.

NASGA, National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse, has adopted a three part theme to succinctly describe the legally sanctioned exploitative guardianship process:

Isolate, Medicate, Take the Estate.”

Predatory guardians: How courts are allowing professional guardians/conservators to rob your assets

Examples:

  • Marie Long was worth $1.3 million when she suffered a stroke and came under the “protection” of a professional guardian. Three short years later, she is penniless and subsisting off of a meager social security pension and Medicaid.
  • Louise A. Falvo, 91, had accumulated nearly one million dollars when she was placed under a guardianship that was commenced with a forgery of her daughter’s signature by a probate attorney. Within three months, Louise A. Falvo was dead. Two and a half years later, the guardianship remains open. The guardian and her attorneys have, to date, been awarded by the judge more than $350,000.00 of Falvo’s estate — “to benefit the ‘ward'” — who is deceased.
  • Corretta Brown was placed under guardianship when the Department of Children and Families discovered that her home was uninhabitable. Today, Brown is deceased, her assets have disappeared (more than $100,000), and all of her debts — totaling more than $75,000 in nursing home costs, remain unpaid. The professional guardian, it was discovered, was not licensed and has since fled the state of Florida with Brown’s assets.
  • Marie Sandusky signed a power of attorney to guarantee that her beloved daughter, and not her rejected son, would manage her financial affairs and health care directives. Today, Sandusky has a court-appointed guardian who has spent more than $300,000 of Sandusky’s money in attorney’s fees. The reason? Sandusky’s rebuked son hired an attorney and together they made false allegations against Sandusky’s beloved daughter. As the “wheels of justice” move forward, Sandusky’s money is legally used to fund the frivolous feud.
  • Debra Duffield, 58, has been under the control of a professional guardian for the last four years. She was only 54-years old when an involuntary guardianship was petitioned against her by a professional guardian who gleefully discovered (tipped off by a social worker) Duffield’s substantive worth when Duffield was hospitalized for anorexia and a broken hip. During the last four years, the vast majority of her assets have been converted to attorney and guardian fees. Duffield, who was diagnosed as merely bipolar, had allegedly been financially exploited by a friend — hence, the rationale for the guardianship. She is confined to a nursing home without rehabilitation. She sits in a bed, smelling of urine and fecal matter, watching television. The guardian and her attorney regularly and steadfastly bill her account for merely “reading her file” or checking on the latest whereabouts of her former girlfriend. Soon, Duffield, who once owned a fabulous house complete with expensive antiques, valuable imported rugs and fine paintings, will be penniless.

When you hear the word “professional guardian,” what do you think? Do you think of someone who protects the elderly? Assists them with their daily needs? Guarantees they are protected from financial exploitation and physical neglect?

Think again.

The pristine image of professional court-appointed guardians who allegedly protect the elderly is being challenged. Grass root organizations, such as the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (N.A.S.G.A.) and Advocates for National Guardianship Ethics and Reform (A.N.G.E.R.) are claiming that professional guardians, their attorneys — and even judges — need to be watched.

May 25, 2010. Latifa Ring of Elder Abuse Victims Advocates addressed the Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security stating, “… exploitation in guardianships is rampant. It is largely kept out of the public eye under the guise of ‘protection.'”

“Family members are portrayed as “Osama Bin Laden” or the devil incarnate,” David Newman said, a guardian reform advocate.

These “unproven and often false allegations” commence a flurry of legal activity that can only be likened to Charles Dickinson’s Bleakhouse. While family members are forced to spend thousands of dollars defending themselves against the false accusations, these same accusers — oftentimes, the professional guardians– handsomely profit from the legal havoc they create.

The guardians need to be watched

Take, for example, the recently widely publicized case of Clay Greene and Harold Scull, a gay couple who had cogently cohabitated together for more than 20 years, rendering mutual durable powers of attorney, wills, and other legal declarations upon one another. When Scull, 89, unexpectedly fell onto a stone patio, paramedics were called and the local sheriff department hastily alleged that Greene had intentionally shoved Scull to the ground. Yet, despite the fact that all charges were subsequently dropped, the public guardianship office for Sonoma County used the already disproved physical abuse allegation to commence an involuntary guardianship against Scull. Scull was removed to a nursing home, isolated him from Greene, and the couple’s jointly owned property which included valuable paintings, expensive Persian rugs, antiques, silverware, jewelry, and real estate — was sold for far less than appraised value — at least according to the court records. It was later discovered that the items had been sold for far more by the public guardianship office.

These types of guardianship irregularities have sparked a guardianship task force Special Committee on Aging, which reported, “…guardianship…has the potential of harming older adults rather than protecting them…The…continuing reports of the failure of courts…to prevent [financial] exploitation of incapacitated adults by their guardians have long been of concern to this Committee.”

Greene sued the public guardianship office who settled with him for approximately $600,000.00 just days before trial. Amy Todd-Gher, Greene’s attorney, stated:

“This victory sends an unmistakable message that all elders must be treated with respect and dignity…and that those who mistreat elders must be held accountable. [But] Even as we celebrate this victory…we are deeply troubled that the Sonoma [County] continues to refuse to take responsibility for their egregious misconduct…We urge every citizen…to demand more oversight of the Public Guardian’s office. They need to be watched.”

An alarmingly common practice

Is elder financial exploitation by professional guardians and their attorneys a commonplace occurrence? According to John Caravella, a former detective and office manager for Seniors vs. Crime, a special project of the Florida Attorney General’s Office, Gainesville, Florida, the answer is “Yes.”

Caravella became simultaneously intrigued and disturbed by the court-sanctioned practices of professional guardians on their “wards” (the legal term dubbed to those who have lost all of their civil rights under court-mandated guardianship) when one of his neighbors mysteriously disappeared shortly after receiving an inheritance of more than a quarter of a million dollars. The neighbor, referred to as “Adelle” in Caravella’s book, Marked for Destruction, had been falsely induced by a stock broker, whom she had consulted about her fledgling inheritance money, to sign papers that authorized a professional guardian and her attorney to manage Adele’s finances — if she should become mentally incapacitated. Within a few weeks, the guardian and her attorney petitioned the court alleging that Adele was not competent to manage her own affairs. The court authorized that she be stripped of all of her civil rights and placed in a nursing home. Soon thereafter, Adele’s recently acquired $250,000+ was quickly consumed by the attorney and guardian for “professional services” fees. And Adele soon passed away.

How it all begins

Kevin Gallagher had a trusted, longstanding pact with his beloved parents: When the time was “right,” he would make arrangements for their safe return to Maine where they would reside in assisted living. That “right time” came unexpectedly one day after Sunday services when Robert and Elsa Gallagher became slightly disoriented in traffic when they happen chanced upon orange cones in a road detour. Kevin and Lisa, delighted to hear that their parents were ready to journey home, began making all of the necessary arrangements. Kevin even phoned his estranged Orlando-based sister, Lori, and asked if she would simply “telephone” Mom and Dad during the interim. The sister, however, consulted the Yellow Pages and telephoned a company, Geriatric Care Management, that specializes in elder care.

The sheriffs arrive

Within 48 hours a professional guardian, and owner of the elder care company, arrived at the Gallagher’s doorstep with a court order and two deputy sheriffs. She had hastily petitioned to become the couple’s “emergency temporary guardian” after learning of their substantive assets. Upon her arrival, the couple were forcefully removed from their home and placed in separate nursing home facilities. Mrs. Gallagher, hysterical, secretly phoned her daughter-in-law, her speech slurred, crying for help. She had been forcibly administered psychotropic drugs. Three medical professionals quickly examined her while under the influence of the narcotics, and declared both she and her husband simultaneously 100% mentally incapacitated. The temporary guardian was then quickly appointed the permanent, plenary guardian.

The guardians first move was to encumber all of the couple’s assets.

The legal contest commences

Instead of making arrangements for their safe return home, Kevin Gallagher suddenly found himself furiously searching for Florida attorneys. Meanwhile, the guardian’s legal counsel quickly filed papers to block Kevin’s attempts at removing his parents from Florida to Maine. A hotly contested guardianship soon commenced with attorneys from both sides legally authorized to generously pay themselves from the Gallaghers’ assets.

“The story is always the same,” states Newman, a guardianship reform advocate. “A family member fights the guardianship; then the family member later ‘wins’ the contest — when all the assets have been spent in attorneys’ fees.”

Three years passed. Kevin found himself switching attorneys four times in an attempt to get the legal nightmare to stop

Then, suddenly, it did stop. Kevin was declared the winner of the contest.

All of the assets had been spent.

“They then placed my parents on a airplane with a single suitcase with a broken zipper,” Kevin stated. “Inside the suitcase were tattered clothes that had the names of other people in Magic Marker inside the clothes. Everything they had owned — even their clothes — had been sold or trashed by the guardian.”

Both Elsa and Robert died shortly after returning to Maine.

Family feud — or — an open invitation for fraud?

Corrine Branson, 82, had been happily living in Miami Beach with the daily assistance of a CNA when her grandson secretly petitioned the court to become his grandmother’s guardian. When Branson learned that she was to be moved into a nursing home, she quickly phoned her beloved daughter, aunt to the grandson, who had been granted a springing power of attorney many years before. Bonnie Reiter, with little knowledge of guardianships or guardianship law, quickly hired an attorney who suggested that a “professional guardian” be appointed during the interim legal contest.

It turned out that the guardian he suggested works with him on a regular basis. Reiter fired her attorney, hired another, and then moved for a court hearing which her mother planned to attend.

“Two weeks prior to the hearing, my mother ended up mysteriously dead,” Reiter stated.

The guardianship remained open after Branson’s death with Reiter, alone, having spent $130,000.00 in attorneys’ fees.

“They took more than $800,000 of my mother’s money in attorneys’ fees. The guardianship, in which my mother had never even been declared mentally incapacitated, lasted less than three months. This is a racketeering scheme that needs to be investigated. The F.B.I. should step in.”

Different names, same story

  • An Orange County court auditor discovered $50,000.00 missing three days before the ward died. The judge ordered an “Order to Show Cause.” Prior to the hearing, the guardian and her attorney simply brought back the missing money and placed it back with the court. The judge dropped the scheduled hearing.
  • Court records show that the guardian received $12,000 a month to pay the nursing home bills for Carlisle Bosworth. However, the skilled nursing home facility where he was placed charges only $6,000 a month. No investigation has ever been conducted regarding what happened to the extra $6,000 per month. Bosworth died shortly after all of his money had been spent.
  • Marion Copley was placed on Medicaid — even though her guardian sold her home for more than $250,000.
  • In another case a professional guardian petitioned the court to become an elderly woman’s guardian when she discovered the woman had no living relatives. She told the judge that the woman, who was still living independently in her home, had “bats flying all over the inside of the house.” The allegation resulted in a guardianship and the victim was removed from her home. Neighbors later stated that they had never seen “bats flying all over the house.”
  • In yet another case a professional guardian obtained a guardianship over Christian Van Beekum stating that neighbors had exploited him. A quick search of the property records showed that the neighbors who had allegedly exploited Van Beekum had actually sold their home and moved to another state six years prior.
  • James Deaton had owned an extensive coin collection, an expensive baseball card collection, and his deceased mother’s diamond rings and pearl necklaces, according to relatives. None of these items were ever listed on the guardian’s inventory report.
  • The Denver Post has several times( 2010, 2011 ) published investigative reports exposing the problems with the probate court there.
  • In July 2012 World News posted a video by Lisa Flurie and story about what has been done to her brother Mark in Florida probate courts. Links to many other stories of guardianship/conservatorship fraud are available there as well.

Law enforcement agents, social workers, and judges have been trained to maintain a watchful eye over exploitative family members. Yet no one seems to be guarding the guardians. Family members have complained to local law enforcement, the state attorneys’ office, and even the F.B.I.without any significant action being taken.

The problems grow worse with time as the courts become ever more dysfunctional.

The Hospital Gestapo: You May Never See Home Again

American hospitals have devised a scheme to guarantee they never get stuck with an unpaid bill.  It’s called guardianship.

Thinking of checking into a hospital?  Think again.  You may never see home again.

  •  Ginger Franklin, Hendersonville, Tennessee, fell down the stairs in her condo and suffered a bump on her head.  She was declared “temporarily mentally incapacitated” and a guardian was appointed through the courts.  Within six weeks, the guardian had sold Franklin’s home, car, furniture, and drained her bank account. Today, Franklin has her freedom back, but she is having to start all over.
  • Michael Kidd, 72, of Richardson, Texas, fell in his yard and broke a hip.  Now, he is living in Countryside Nursing Home with his wife.  Both were removed from their home when the state of Texas petitioned the courts claiming that the Kidds were mentally incompetent.  Their house sits vacant and neglected, with rotting food still remaining in the refrigerator.  The Kidds have been confined to a single room in the nursing home, while the state appointed guardian burns through their money an gives them a mere $60 a month spending allowance which they have been using to buy “real” food.
  • Robert Milton (not his real name) was taken to the hospital because he fell “one time too many” at his home, and although his stepson had been given power of attorney to make all of his health care decisions, a court-appointed corporate guardian placed Milton against his will in a nursing home where he is now isolated from his family and friends.  Meanwhile, his money is being spent as quickly as possible by the Orlando-based guardian and her attorneys.

Elderly couple kidnapped by Texas Adult Protective Services:

How It Commences

Joseph Niedesky (not his real name) was air lifted to a hospital in Orlando from Ocala by helicopter after he was the victim of a motorcycle crash.  But something went terribly wrong during Niedesky’s surgery and he aspirated on his own vomit, causing some brain injury. That’s when a corporate guardian was contacted by the hospital and appointed by the court as Niedesky’s full plenary, permanent guardian.

What Happens Next

The corporate guardian who petitioned the court stated in the court papers that Niedesky had no family.  In reality, Niedesky had been married for more than 20 years and had four teenage children.  It took more than two months for Niedesky’s wife to discover what had happened to her husband and where he was located.

The Family is Always Portrayed as the “Devil Incarnate”

What happened to Niedesky is becoming a commonplace occurrence in America.  A family member is rushed to the hospital.  Surgery occurs and something sometimes goes terribly wrong.  However, by quickly petitioning the courts for guardianship, the hospital avoids any kind of lawsuit for negligence or wrongful death.  Niedesky’s wife wanted to bring him home and get him out of the guardianship.  The guardian, however, kept moving Niedesky from location to location, city to city, until the statute of limitations for suing the hospital had expired.  Shortly after the statute of limitations ended, Niedsky just happened to die.

“The hospital saved itself millions in a lawsuit.  It is typical that shortly after the statute of limitations runs out, the ward just happens to suddenly die,” stated David Newman, Gainesville, Florida, a civil rights guardianship reform advocate.

Niedesky’s wife was portrayed in the court record as uncaring, incompetent, over-meddling, and negligent, and although these descriptors seem to be a contraction of terms, you will typically find the most cynical descriptions of family members in most court files where an involuntary guardianship has been granted by the courts to a total stranger.

For example, in Milton’s case, Milton’s stepson had been named long ago as his power of attorney and health care surrogate.  That designation, however, was destroyed by the court and the corporate guardian even accused the stepson of stealing several thousands over the years from his stepfather.  Today, Milton’s stepson, a 65 year old retired veteran, finds himself in a legal nightmare gathering bank records and hiring attorneys and forensic accountants to prove his innocence.  Meanwhile, the corporate guardian is spending Milton’s money like water.

The Other Scenario

Tom Griffith (not his real name) wonders why an Orlando-based corporate guardian would be interested in his father at all.

“He has no money.  All he gets is a small monthly cheque from Social Security of about $800.00.”

I explained to Griffith that his father has been marked for destruction and will mostly likely not be among the living in a very short period of time.  “We live in a country that is ruled by corporations, not the U.S. Constitution.  If there is not enough money for the nursing home to cover its expenses, there is ‘no reason’ to keep your father alive.”  I explained to Milton how Thomas Chada’s father was sent to him as a box of ashes and how other wards seem to always turn up “expired” shortly after a corporate guardian and her attorneys have burned through all of an elderly person’s money.

But in this case, Griffith said there was no reason to destroy his father.  “There is no money to gain.”

“Yes, but that is the point.  The corporate guardians have a symbiotic relationship with the nursing homes.  Sometimes, the nursing home gives them a wealthy resident that they can bilk.  At other times, the corporate guardian does them a favor by making premature end-of-life decisions when there is not enough finances to cover the elderly person’s day-to-day expenses.”

In the case of Griffith’s father, who just received quadruple open heart bypass surgery, it was determined that the ward, age 74, now needed dialysis, a very costly ongoing treatment.

“The doctors said my father does not want dialysis,”Milton stated.  “But I know my father wishes to live; he is only 74.”

“They probably got your father to sign such a statement without him even knowing what he was signing,” I explained.

Milton wanted to know what he could do to rescue his father out of this dangerous and life-threatening situation.

“You can hire an attorney, but you might end up spending more than $500,000.00 of your own money to become your father’s guardian.”

“I don’t have that kind of money,”Griffithdeclared, shocked.

It was obvious that the scenario I was describing was greatly upsetting Griffith.   Those of us who have already lived this scenario remember going through the predictable stage of “mental shock” followed by the overwhelming urge to seek justice—at any cost.  I explained to Griffith that he may find himself bankrupt as a result of trying to help his father out of this doomed guardianship situation.

My phone continues to ring as victims, desperate to find a solution, want to know what they can do.

In a country that is ruled by corporations and corporate greed, there will be no solution to The Guardianship Nightmare until a public uprising is so severe that these kinds of abominable– yet commonplace situations– will no longer be able to occur.

Can a Christian Serve as a Judge Anymore?

Earlier this month, during a judicial confirmation hearing for 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Barrett, who is a Catholic law professor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., questioned whether Barrett could be a Christian and a judge at the same time:

Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that—you know, dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.

What caused Barrett to draw such a charge?

Feinstein appeared to be questioning Barrett based on a scholarly article she wrote exploring what a Catholic judge should do when the law required something that went against their faith.

What did Barrett say in the article? Based on Feinstein’s question, one would think she brought down the theological cudgel and sided with faith over the law.

Hardly so. Barrett actually wrote that the judge should recuse him or herself in such cases, as “[j]udges cannot—nor should they try to—align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.”

Let us assume that Feinstein actually read the article. Instead of questioning her over such sentiments, Feinstein should be happy that Barrett would bind her public service by moral principles. Does she want judges who are not so bound?

Perhaps Feinstein should direct her own question toward herself. What is her own dogma? Her own beliefs obviously cause her “concern” that someone of serious Christian faith would hold a position of public service.

The point is that everyone has private beliefs that guide the way they live their lives. The only question is what those beliefs are.

As the writer David Foster Wallace noted during a commencement speech to Kenyon College graduates many years ago, “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”

So, what does Feinstein worship? What personal beliefs guide her? It sounds like she believes in a public square scrubbed clean of Christians. If so, what gives her the right to impose that “dogma” on Barrett and others?

Feinstein should be happy that Barrett has a moral code by which she will act ethically. Why would anyone want a judge who lacks such a code?

The more people believe there is a higher power watching their actions and requiring them to do the right thing (such as telling the truth and refusing a bribe), the less likely they are to act unethically—a crucial quality for judges and other public servants.

Later in the same hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.,—not to be outdone—jumped in with his own inquisition into her religious beliefs and asked Barrett: “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this type of anti-religious grilling resurface in our modern political era.

When Russell Vought was nominated for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget earlier this year, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., thought it appropriate to quiz him about a blog post he wrote defending the Christian view of salvation in the context of a private theological debate.

As I wrote at the time, Sanders’ views­—refusing to approve of a nominee for nothing but his private religious beliefs—were the ones that were bigoted, not the other way around.

Durbin should realize his intolerance is showing in this case.

Regardless, this whole episode exposes a flaw in thinking about the connection between one’s core beliefs and the law. Everyone has beliefs that guide their lives. The only question is what they are.

As a society, we should want people in positions of public trust who have principles guiding them to act ethically and serve the public well. No American should ever be forced to choose between their faith and public service.

If Feinstein and Durbin realized that, they would vote to confirm Barrett immediately.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Travis Weber

Travis Weber is the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, where he focuses on all manner of legal and policy issues pertaining to religious freedom. Twitter: .

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.
Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.
Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.
Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.
The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.
Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.
Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.
You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.
Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

RELATED ARTICLE: Report: Religious Freedom At Risk In America

EDITORS NOTE: Several leading Democrats have explicitly raised concerns about the religious views of judicial nominees (Photo: iStock Photos). Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

Trump Continues to Remake the Federal Judiciary

President Donald Trump submitted another slate of judicial nominees to the Senate Thursday, naming candidates to the powerful federal appeals courts based in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, California.

The White House announced that Trump has named Gregory Katsas to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the nation’s second most powerful judicial panel, and Ryan Bounds to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the West Coast appeals court and primary antagonist of the early days of the Trump presidency.

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Katsas’ nomination was widely expected. He currently serves as deputy White House counsel and has played a major role in the administration’s early judicial nominations.

Before entering government service, he practiced in the Washington offices of Jones Day, a white-shoe practice intimately connected to Trump from the earliest days of the campaign. Katsas is a seasoned appellate practitioner and clerked on the Supreme Court for Justice Clarence Thomas after graduating Harvard Law School.

Leonard Leo, the White House’s judicial selection guru, lavished praise on the nominee.

“I have known Greg Katsas for nearly 30 years and he is among the most honest, fair, humble, and intelligent people I have ever met,” he said in a statement. “He understands the awesome responsibility associated with wearing a judicial robe and I have no doubt that he will always place the search for truth, fairness, and justice first.”

Bounds is a federal prosecutor with a glittering resume, which made him an earlier front-runner for the 9th Circuit seat vacated by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, the conservative stalwart for whom he clerked after graduating Yale Law School.

Bounds is a veteran of the Bush administration where he served in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, the unit charged with coordinated judicial nominations and advising the attorney general on policy initiatives. Above the Law’s David Lat characterized Bounds as a strong contender for a 9th Circuit appointment given his West Coast roots and D.C. ties.

The nomination is Trump’s first to the 9th Circuit, the country’s largest appellate court, which has continually stymied administration priorities. There are currently four vacancies on the court.

Other nominees the president named include Judge Lisa Branch of the Georgia Court of Appeals for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and 13 nominees for district courts in Alabama, Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Georgia, and the District of Columbia.

Kevin Daley

Kevin Daley is a legal affairs reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation. Twitter: @kevindaleydc.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

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EDITORS NOTE: Among judicial nominees submitted to the Senate Thursday is President Donald Trump’s first nominee for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the country’s largest appellate court, which has continually stymied administration priorities (Photo: Douliery Olivier/Sipa USA /Newscom). Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

VIDEO: Farmers Banned From Farmers Market Over Religious Beliefs Get Their Day in Court

The case of a Michigan city that banned family farmers from selling their goods at a local farmers market due to their religious beliefs about marriage headed to court Wednesday, where lawyers from both sides argued before a federal district judge.

Lawyers for Steve and Bridget Tennes, owners of Country Mill Farms in Charlotte, Michigan, asked the court to grant the Tennes family a preliminary injunction, a temporary order that would allow them to sell their produce at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market while the case proceeds.

“Since June 1, we’ve already missed three and a half months of being able to attend East Lansing Farmer’s Market, where we’ve served everyone for the last seven years,” Steve Tennes told The Daily Signal by phone after the hearing.

“Now we only have about six weeks left of the market to be able to sell, and the … East Lansing Farmer’s Market was the largest farmers market [where] our family sold organic apples and cider.”

In May, the Tenneses filed a federal lawsuit against East Lansing after the city banned them from selling produce at its farmers market because they said on Facebook that they don’t host same-sex weddings on their farm.

“Due to our religious beliefs, we do not participate in the celebration of a same-sex union,” they wrote in part on Facebook in August 2016.

The city responded by filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Both motions were heard for an hour Wednesday before Judge Paul Maloney.

Maloney did not issue an oral decision, but is likely to issue a written order in coming weeks.

Country Mill Farms is located 22 miles from East Lansing in the neighboring town of Charlotte. The Tenneses, who never received a discrimination complaint, say selling their apples and other goods at the city’s farmers market was an important source of income.

The Tenneses are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal nonprofit that also represents Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker whose case is going to the Supreme Court after he declined to create wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

John Bursch, a Michigan lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court in favor of that state’s ban on same-sex marriage in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case, recently joined Alliance Defending Freedom in defending the Tenneses.

East Lansing officials argue that the Tenneses’ policy violates the city’s anti-discrimination law.

The Daily Signal sough comment from city officials but did not receive a response by publication time. In an interview with the Lansing State Journal, East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said businesses need to “act in a certain way” to sell their goods on city property.

“It has nothing to do with free speech,” Meadows said. “They can say whatever they want, but their corporation needs to act in a certain way to qualify to sell products at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market on publicly owned land.”

Lawyers on both sides vowed to appeal if necessary. Because only a few weeks remain for the Tenneses to sell produce, they are hoping for a swift decision.

“We think the law is fully behind us, that the city has reached beyond its borders to specifically punish one farmer because of his beliefs,” said Kate Anderson, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom who argued the Tenneses’ case.

“No one should have to censor their views to participate in a market and no one should have their economic freedom threatened just because of what they believe,” Anderson said. “We’re hopeful the judge will rule quickly on that basis.”

This article was updated to correct the month the Tenneses filed their lawsuit.

Kelsey Harkness

Kelsey Harkness is a senior news producer at The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kelsey. Twitter: @kelseyjharkness

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Steve and Bridget Tennes own a 120-acre farm in Charlotte, Michigan, where they raise their five children (Photo: The Daily Signal). Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

VIDEO: The missing memos of James Comey

Below, is the latest edition of “Inside Judicial Watch,” with Mark Tapscott, executive editor at the The Daily Caller, on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, where Mark discussed the missing memos of James Comey and the controversy surrounding the former FBI director.

DayWatch Update: 

Judicial Watch Announces an Expert Special Panel Presentation: ‘Exposing the Deep State’​
-Judicial Watch announced today that it is hosting special educational panel on Friday, September 15, 2017, from 2 to 3 pm ET to discuss “Exposing the Deep State.”

Contribute

How to Stop Democrats From Stonewalling Judicial Nominees

Oregon’s two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, have announced they will seek to block the confirmation of 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Ryan Bounds.

Last week, the senators announced they will not return blue slips to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, for Bounds, whom President Donald Trump nominated to a judgeship based in Portland.

In a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn, the senators explained their intention to block any nominee who has not been approved by Oregon’s judicial selection committee. In essence, these senators are looking to stonewall the nomination.

The Constitution gives the president the power to appoint judges, with the advice and consent of the Senate. So how is it that two senators can bring a nomination to a halt?

Since 1917, the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked senators from a nominee’s home state for their opinion before holding a hearing or further evaluating the nominee. Senators select “I approve” or “I object” on a blue slip of paper.

Except for a brief period in the 1960s and ‘70s, blue slips were never used as a way to veto nominees. And for much of the blue slip’s history, senators had one week to return the form—otherwise the Judiciary Committee would assume their agreement.

Senators have been able to use the threat of returning a negative blue slip to persuade the president to select their preferred nominees.

During the Obama administration, for example, Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, both Republicans, struck a deal with the president in which they agreed to return positive blue slips on seven nominees in exchange for President Barack Obama nominating one individual they supported.

But unsurprisingly, their nominee of choice was ultimately blocked by the Democrat-controlled Senate.

After dragging their feet, Democratic senators from Indiana, Michigan, and North Dakota have returned blue slips for Trump’s judicial nominees from their states, allowing the nominations to move forward. Democratic senators from Colorado, Illinois, and Pennsylvania have not yet returned their blue slips, but neither have they officially announced their intent to withhold them.

Now, Wyden and Merkley join Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in refusing to even return their blue slips for a conservative nominee. The Oregon duo accuse the Trump administration of “return[ing] to the days of nepotism and patronage that harmed our courts and placed unfit judges on the bench.”

Wyden and Merkley failed to mention Bound’s impeccable credentials. They simply appear miffed that the president didn’t pick their nominee of choice.

But a closer look at Bounds shows that he is superbly qualified for the job.

A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, Bounds clerked for Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain—who has been called “a leading light of the federal judiciary”—on the 9th Circuit in Oregon.

If confirmed, Bounds would fill the seat left vacant by his former boss. This seat is one of 60 vacancies that are considered “judicial emergencies,” where there aren’t enough judges to manage the caseload.

Currently, Bounds prosecutes fraud and environmental crimes as an assistant U.S. attorney in Oregon, where he has served since in 2010.

Previously, he served in the George W. Bush administration as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, a special assistant to the president for domestic policy, and a special assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

While at the Office of Legal Policy, Bounds worked on the Supreme Court nominations of Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. He also coordinated the Justice Department’s policies on intellectual property, immigration, and the rights of crime victims.

Bounds has argued before several appellate courts, and previously worked in private practice in Portland for several years before entering government service.

This is hardly a resume that smacks of nepotism or a lack of fitness to be a judge.

Now, it’s up to Grassley to decide what to do about Franken, Wyden, and Merkley’s resistance.

One easy fix would be to ditch the blue slip process for appeals court nominees and just use it for district court nominees. Such a policy would be based on a logical distinction: District court judges only hear cases from the state where they sit, whereas appeals court judges are based in one state but hear cases from all the states within their circuit.

Home state senators’ opinions are therefore more relevant when it comes to considering district court nominees.

Though the Senate has used blue slips for over a century, the practice has varied depending on who occupies the White House and who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

With over 160 court vacancies to fill, it makes little sense to allow Democrats to abuse blue slips for political gains. At least with respect to appellate nominees, it’s time to ditch the blue slip.

COMMENTARY BY

Elizabeth Slattery

Elizabeth Slattery writes about the rule of law, the proper role of the courts, civil rights and equal protection, and the scope of constitutional provisions such as the Commerce Clause and the Recess Appointments Clause as a legal fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read her research. Twitter: 

Portrait of Tiffany Bates

Tiffany Bates

Tiffany Bates serves as legal policy analyst in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: 

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Sen. Ron Wyden is one of two Oregon Democratic senators seeking to block Ryan Bounds’ appointment to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Photo: Mike Theiler/UPI/Newscom). Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

Betsy DeVos Stands Up for Due Process Rights in Campus Sexual Assault Cases

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced in a speech Thursday that she will roll back an Obama-era “guidance” document that drove colleges to implement Star Chamber-like tribunals to mishandle sexual assault cases.

The guidance forced colleges to weaken already minimal due process protections for those accused of rape and sexual assault, and threatened schools that refused to do so with losing federal funding.

The Education Department will seek “public feedback and combine institutional knowledge, professional expertise, and the experiences of students to replace the current approach with a workable, effective, and fair system.”

DeVos highlighted a proposal by two former prosecutors for states to set up specialized centers with trained professionals for investigation and adjudication of sexual assaults.

Another proposal is mandatory reporting of sex crimes to law enforcement as a condition of federal or state funding.

States already do this in the context of child and elder abuse, requiring teachers, administrators, school nurses, and coaches to report suspected abuse to appropriate law enforcement agencies. Failure to report can trigger civil and criminal penalties against the individual and penalties against the institution.

These proposals would take the pressure off colleges to conduct quasi-criminal proceedings, which college administrators are ill equipped to do. No one would expect a college tribunal to handle a murder on campus.

It makes no sense for a college to handle other serious crimes such as sexual assaults and rapes. Rapists are criminals, not just college students who violate a school’s honor code. They should be prosecuted in criminal court, and if found guilty, punished accordingly, including having to register as convicted sex offenders.

But the Obama-era guidance led colleges to steer students away from reporting crimes to the authorities, and required use of the low “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof when investigating and disciplining students accused of sexual assault.

This led to colleges barring an accused student from reviewing the evidence against him or cross-examining his accuser; refusing to allow an accused to hire an attorney or, when attorneys were permitted, prohibiting them from speaking on the accused’s behalf; and implementing other procedures that fly in the face of the protections typically afforded to someone accused of a crime.

The guidance letter received criticism from liberal and conservative quarters, from law professors to think tank scholars to members of Congress and many others.

Law professors at the University of Pennsylvania wrote that this “approach exerts improper pressure upon universities to adopt procedures that do not afford fundamental fairness,” and that “due process of law is not window dressing.”

Harvard law professors similarly decried the procedures as “overwhelmingly stacked against the accused” and which were “in no way” required by federal law. It also led to numerous lawsuits filed by students who were punished in these kangaroo courts.

In her speech, DeVos stated, “The notion that a school must diminish due process rights to better serve the ‘victim’ only creates more victims.”

Instead, due process must be “the foundation of any system of justice that seeks a fair outcome. Due process either protects everyone, or it protects no one.”

Sexual assault investigations and adjudications are serious issues that involve complicated procedures designed to get at the truth and prevent further harm to victims and those falsely accused.

Compound this complexity with a massive federal bureaucracy and various interest groups with their own agendas, and it is little wonder that alleged victims, alleged perpetrators, and universities themselves are often left with no clear idea of their rights and responsibilities under the law.

Reversing the ill-advised Obama-era guidance is the first step to ensure that sexual assaults are properly investigated and adjudicated by trained professionals, leaving college administrators, as DeVos said, “to focus on what they do best: educate.”

Portrait of Hans von Spakovsky

Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative. On Twitter: Read his research.

Portrait of Elizabeth Slattery

Elizabeth Slattery writes about the rule of law, the proper role of the courts, civil rights and equal protection, and the scope of constitutional provisions such as the Commerce Clause and the Recess Appointments Clause as a legal fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. On Twitter: Read her research.

RELATED ARTICLE: Read more about campus sexual assault, and how to fix the problem.

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

EDITORS NOTE:  Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

Immigration and the Unlearned Lessons of 9/11

Politicians and the courts block Trump administration’s efforts to safeguard America.

It is hard to believe that it has been 16 years since four passenger airliners were used as de facto cruise missiles to carry out the most horrific terror attack in the history of the United States.

That attack was against the entire United States of America, however, for those who were in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on that day, the attack was also personal — all too personal.

I will never forget the sight of the ashes from the conflagration at what came to be known as “Ground Zero” fluttering down on my neighborhood in Brooklyn on that day.  I will never forget my neighbors screaming and wailing as they watched the televised coverage of that act of violence and destruction playing out just miles from our homes, knowing that their loved ones and friends went to work only an hour or two earlier at the World Trade Center, or in one of the buildings near the World Trade Center complex.

I will never forget what I came to think of as the “stench of death,” the horrible, sickening odors emanating from the smoldering debris at Ground Zero that lasted for months, permeating the air in New York City.

So many of us still suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. How could we not?

Today the death count from 9/11 continues to climb as more people, especially first responders, slowly and torturously succumb to the diseases that were caused by their exposures to and ingestion of the toxins released when the World Trade Center collapsed.

In fact, the expenses associated with the massive number of those who were sickened by those toxins will be borne through the passage of legislation known as H.R.1786 – James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.  That bill was named for NYPD Detective James Zadroga, one of the first responders who perished because of his exposure to those toxins.

For nearly every year since the attacks of 9/11 I have written retrospectives to lay out how both the Bush administration and especially the Obama administration failed to take the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission into account, particularly where the issue of immigration was concerned.

I provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission about the nexus between the terror attacks of 9/11 and multiple failures of the immigration system.

Last year my article, Reflections On 9/11’S Vulnerabilities” made my frustrations with the Obama administration crystal clear.

My 2014 article The 9/11 Commission Report and Immigration: An Assessment, Fourteen Years after the Attacks provided and in-depth analysis of the many ways that the Obama administration had not only not acted in accordance with the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, but actually acted in direct opposition to those findings and recommendations.

Today, thankfully, Donald Trump is the President of the United States and the Attorney General is not Loretta Lynch but Jeff Sessions.

Trump and Session are both clearly committed to enforcing our immigration laws, securing our nation’s borders and addressing the immigration failures and vulnerabilities that the 9/11 Commission identified.

For the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001 I truly believe that the President of the United States is determined to use the The 9/11 Commission Report and official companion report, “9/11 and  Terrorist TravelStaff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” as the starting point for formulating immigration enforcement strategies and policies.

However, don’t break out the champagne just yet.

At every turn the measures taken by the Trump administration to secure the borders of the United States and effectively and fairly enforce our nation’s immigration laws are being thwarted, hobbled and even blocked by politicians from both political parties in Washington and elsewhere.

“Sanctuary Cities” harbor and shield illegal aliens from detection by ICE enforcement personnel.  Among these illegal aliens are criminals, fugitives and terrorists. Without access to smuggled aliens ICE is unable to identify and act against human traffickers.

Incredibly some Sanctuary Cities have decided to solve the problem of “undocumented aliens” by providing them with documents often referred to as municipal IDs.  The term “Undocumented Immigrant” is an artifice created by President Jimmy Carter to blur the distinction between illegal aliens and lawful immigrants.  In the years since further blurring of distinction has served to minimize the distinction between citizens and aliens.

Meanwhile the idea of providing illegal aliens whose true identities, backgrounds and even entry data are unknown and unknowable are being provided with the illusion of legitimacy by being provided with those municipal identity documents which also runs contrary to the REAL ID Act passed by Congress to address issues identified by the 9/11 Commission.

Nearly five years ago the NY Times published an important and illuminating article, Roosevelt Avenue, a Corridor of Vice that reported on the nexus between illegal immigration, crime (including human trafficking, prostitution, narcotics) and the use of false identity documents.

The courts, including the Supreme Court, has acted to gut Presidential authority to prevent the entry of terrorists and into the United States.  Other court decisions have blocked the implementation of laws that would punish Sanctuary Cities.

Finally, supposed “journalists” who could be gainfully employed by Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in his novel “1984” castigate the President and anyone who would dare suggest that the United States not welcome every single foreign national irrespective of how they enter the United States.

They routinely refer to anyone who draws a distinction between lawful immigrants and illegal aliens as being “Anti-Immigrant” while those who advocate for pure immigration anarchy are kindly looked upon as compassionate and refer to them as “Pro-Immigrant.”

When President Obama issued his Executive Orders on immigration the media immediately and accurately published the actual name of the Executive Order.  Today the term DACA (Deferred Action- Childhood Arrival) is well-known because the media published the actual name of Obama’s Executive Order.

The media reported that the Executive Order would benefit “young undocumented immigrants” even though illegal aliens as old as 31 years of age could participate in this wrong-headed and dangerous program, if they claimed that they entered the United States prior to their 16th birthdays.

With no in-person interviews and no field investigations, however, fraudulent claims were extremely unlikely to be uncovered by the adjudications officers at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

The 9/11 Commission identified immigration fraud as the key entry and embedding tactics of terrorists.  I have therefore come to refer to this issue as Immigration fraud: the lies that kill.

In the years since 9/11 still more terror attacks have been committed in the United States by aliens who committed visa fraud and/or immigration fraud.

Case in point, the Tsarnaev brothers who were granted political asylum and subsequent lawful status before they carried out the deadly terror attack on the Boston Marathon.

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are determined to identify and prosecute  aliens and co-conspirators who engage in visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud and end Sanctuary City policies.

Additionally, President Trump promulgated an Executive Order that has universally been reported as the “Travel Ban” that purportedly was focused on citizens of “Muslim majority countries.”

All of the supposed controversy surrounding President Trump’s Executive Order is contrived and would end overnight if the media simply published the actual name of President Trump’s Executive Order:

Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States

For Americans who are justifiably concerned about the dangers posed to America and Americans, especially in the wake of a series of worrying reports about terror attacks carried out overseas, the title of President Trump’s Executive Order would be comforting and reassuring.

A review of that Executive Order makes it clear that its purpose is not to single out aliens by religion but by the potential threat that they pose to national security and public safety and that where this Executive Order is concerned, “beauty is more than skin deep.”

Other Executive Orders issued by President Trump call for ramping up the enforcement of our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States to identify and remove criminal aliens and aliens who are members of violent gangs such as the notorious MS-13.

Sanctuary Cities obstruct these important efforts.

What has also not been reported by the media is that while President George W. Bush and his Secretary of Homeland Security issued an improper Executive Order to protect illegal aliens under the Privacy Act, even though that law, as enacted, only protects United States citizens and lawful immigrants, President Trump has issued an Executive Order that rescinds the Bush Executive Order.

President Trump has been acting in the best interests of America and Americans.

The bottom line:  Opposition to President Trump’s immigration policies is opposition to national security and public safety.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in FrontPage Magazine.

Governor of Virgin Islands Orders National Guard to Seize Americans’ Firearms

With hurricane season now upon us, U.S. states and territories are preparing for a barrage of potentially damaging weather. In the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), however, those preparations include an order by Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp for the National Guard to seize residents’ lawfully-owned firearms and ammunition, ostensibly as a means of promoting public order and protecting life and property during Hurricane Irma.

The order states in no uncertain terms that the Adjutant General of the U.S. Virgin Islands National Guard is “authorized and directed to seize arms, ammunition, explosives, incendiary material and any other property” deemed necessary to the mission of maintaining or restoring order during the storm.

Certainly, the rest of America’s thoughts and prayers are with the USVI as they recover from the damage Irma caused. Nevertheless, Gov. Mapp’s Sept. 4 order was an inexcusable incursion on the right of the U.S. citizens who reside on the USVI to protect themselves from the all-too-predictable outbreaks of looting and crime that can occur when normal emergency services are over-taxed by an extraordinary event. Simply put, it violated the U.S. Constitution and threatened to put innocent people at further risk.

America has seen similar overreaches in the past, most notoriously during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when local officials ordered the confiscation of lawfully-owned firearms from New Orleans residents. First responders had been overwhelmed by the demands of the storm, and those who had not managed to evacuate were dealing with virtual anarchy.  For many gun owners, the shocking site of a frail woman being slammed to the ground in her own home by police enforcing the post-Katrina order remains an indelible image of the very sort of violent firearm seizures that some claim could never happen in the U.S.

The NRA intervened in federal court and was able to halt the New Orleans confiscations and obtain an order requiring the return of the seized firearms. Nevertheless, the city delayed compliance with the order for as long as it could, including requiring unrealistic documentation from gun owners whose lives had been turned upside by the storm. Only in 2008 did the NRA and the city agree on mutually acceptable terms for the return of the unlawfully confiscated property.

The NRA also promoted legislation to prevent government officials from using their emergency powers as a pretext for disarming the citizenry. In 2006, Congressman Bobby Jindal (LA) led the fight to protect America’s gun owners against these abuses by introducing H.R. 5013 in the House, a final version of which was signed by President George W. Bush in October of that year.  Now codified at 42 U.S.C. § 5207, the law prohibits persons acting under color of federal law, receiving federal funds, or acting at the direction of a federal employee from seizing or authorizing the seizure of lawfully-possessed firearms during a state of emergency. The majority of U.S. states now have similar laws.

The NRA quickly condemned Gov. Mapp’s order and pledged to take any necessary legal action to ensure that the people of the USVI were not deprived of their constitutionally protected arms when they might need them the most.

Barely 24 hours later, Gov. Mapp appeared before a national audience on the Tucker Carlson Show and furiously backpedaled, bizarrely claiming that the order simply meant that Guard units could purchase necessary emergency supplies at retail without the formalities of normal procurement procedures. “This is not about seizing anybody’s personal property,” he insisted.

That on-the-fly revision was too much even for the “fact-checking” (and typically antigun) website Snopes, which acknowledged there was no support for this interpretation in the actual words of the order itself.

Just what Gov. Mapp meant to do or thought he was doing with his “seizure” order remains unclear. To date, the NRA has received no information that any actual seizures have occurred.

Nevertheless, the incident should serve as a wake-up call for those who insist that the threat of civilian firearm confiscation is a scare tactic invented by the NRA. Americans saw it themselves this week, stamped with the gold seal of officialdom.

As ever, your NRA will remain vigilant and prepared to act so that no law-abiding American is forced to face danger without the protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

9th Circuit, once again, throws monkey wrench into U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

Groups like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and International Refugee Assistance Project, with their lawsuits through friendly courts, have so perverted the legal process that has been in place since 1980 for admitting refugees that there is even more reason for President Donald Trump to simply suspend the USRAP for FY18 which begins in 22 days.

Here is the latest crowing at the New York Times about how the recent 9th Circuit decision will allow more refugees to be admitted to the US.

But, but, but….

No where does the NYT article mention that the Supreme Court did affirm the President’s legal right to set a CEILING for the fiscal year and that Trump did set it once he was sworn in at 50,000.  We are now at 51,726 (as of this writing).  This is the first time in the history of the program that the ceiling has been exceeded. 

Any day now Donald Trump could set the CEILING for Fiscal year 2018 that begins on October 1 making moot so much of this legal wrangling.

All of this language created out of thin air by the Supreme Court—this “bona fide relationship” BS—is not in refugee law.

My argument again is that since the courts (including the Supremes) have so mangled refugee law (with the help of these political agitators) that the program should be suspended beginning October 1 to give CONGRESS and the President time assess the program and to regain their Constitutional authority to write and administer law!

The Refugee Act of 1980 does not mandate any number that a President must admit.  He can set the level at zero! He can do that without any executive order via his September ‘determination’ required under the Act!

If he sets the level at zero at the outset, he also takes away any claim the contractors have to having been promised (via contract/agreement) by the Dept. of State that they will be getting a certain number of paying clients (aka refugees) in the coming year.

Here is the New York Times helping to further muddy the public’s understanding of how refugee admissions to the US are processed.

Rebecca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project.

LOS ANGELES — A federal appeals court on Thursday reopened the country’s door to thousands of refugees who had been temporarily blocked by President Trump’s travel ban, and also upheld a lower court decision that had exempted grandparents and other relatives from the ban. [Thousands in 22 days?—ed]

The ruling, from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Seattle, was cheered by refugee resettlement organizations,*** and clarified, for now, who was covered by the ban.

In June, the Supreme Court allowed parts of President Trump’s executive order temporarily barring all travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries, and all refugees, to take effect while the court considered arguments over whether such a ban was constitutional. But the court said the government should let in travelers and refugees with a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” without fully defining what that meant.  [There is no “bona fide” relationship standard in refugee law! Bona fide dies when the executive order dies unless Congress rewrites the law and the President signs it!—ed]

[….]

They also said that working with a resettlement agency*** meets the standard for a “bona fide” relationship with an entity in the United States.

[….]

The United States refugee resettlement program virtually ground to a halt at the end of June as a result of the travel ban. Since then, the government has frozen the applications of individuals already assigned to a resettlement agency, unless they could show ties to a close family member in the United States. Some 24,000 refugees were affected, the court noted in its opinion.

The court mandated that the government resume resettling refugees in the United States beginning in five days.

Becca Heller, director of International Refugee Assistance Project, an organization that provides free legal assistance to refugees abroad and has sued the government over the ban, said Thursday, “I am thrilled that two courts have now recognized the importance of the decades-old relationship between refugees and the American families, communities and organizations that help them resettle.”

More here.

The Dept. of Justice said they will appeal (to the Supreme Court) this latest legal overreach by the 9th Circuit.

If the Leftist resettlement agencies*** had never gotten involved, accepted the 120-day moratorium, it would be long over now and they would be back to their normal process.

And, so since this whole exercise will be moot shortly, what have the refugee advocacy and contracting agencies*** gained from these legal machinations?

They have gained an enormous anti-Trump media campaign, that’s what!

Tell the President and Congress that the US Refugee Admissions Program should be suspended for fiscal year 2018!

*** For new readers, these are the Federal contractors/middlemen/employment agencies/propagandists/lobbyists/community organizers? paid by you to place refugees in your towns and cities listed below.  Under the nine major contractors are hundreds of subcontractors.

The contractors income is largely dependent on taxpayer dollars based on the number of refugees admitted to the US, but they also receive myriad grants to service their “New Americans.”

If you are a good-hearted soul and think refugee resettlement is all about humanitarianism, think again! Big businesses/global corporations depend on the free flow of cheap (some call it slave) labor.  It is for this reason that Republican leaders of Congress are supportive of an uninterrupted flow of refugees into America.

The only way for real reform of how the US admits refugees is to remove these contractors/Leftwing activists/big business head hunters from the process.

As far as I know, all of the contractors below supported the lawsuits that Ms. Heller and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society filed.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

HIAS conference call informative; but appears to be in the dark about FY18 Presidential determination on refugees

Letter to media: “discredited” SPLC should be ignored

San Diego IRC office gets slap on wrist from U.S. State Department

Yes, the Alt-Left Exists and It’s Terrifying by Keri Smith

For those self-identified liberals who may have been seduced by this belief system, by its propaganda, and are fuming at this piece, thank you for reading. — Keri Smith Keri Smith

When writing this piece, a quote kept rattling around in the back of my head. It was the title of the opening chapter of “The Feminine Mystique,” Betty Friedan’s seminal 1963 feminist manifesto: The Problem That Has No Name. Apologies in advance, for appropriating and altering three of the quotes I find most meaningful from that chapter, for my own purposes here:

The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American liberals…

Even so, most liberals still did not know that this problem was real. But those who had faced it honestly knew that all the media dismissals, the academic justifications, the intellectualized double speak and the manufactured outrage were somehow drowning the problem in unreality…

How can any person see the whole truth within the bounds of one’s own life? How can she believe that voice inside herself, when it denies the conventional, accepted truths by which she has been living? And yet the liberals I have talked to, who are finally listening to that inner voice, seem in some incredible way to be groping through to a truth that has defied the media.”

How can we discuss something we cannot refer to by name?

The Alt-Left Is Real

There is an effort underfoot, in the media and in academia, to declare the Alt-Left a myth, to sweep it back under the rug, to reduce it, in effect, back to being a sickness not spoken of, a problem that has no name. I have had well-meaning friends tell me I should not use the term Alt-Left (or any of its synonyms: Regressive Left, CTRL-Left, SJWism) because they are ‘pejoratives’ used only by the right to attack the left.

In my experience, this is not true. Like canaries in the coal mine, liberals who do not (or no longer) subscribe to the Alt-Left ideology have been sounding the alarm about this creeping plague of repressive groupthink for quite a while now. I believe this attempt to dissuade our use of the term Alt-Left is purposeful (even if not consciously recognized by individuals who are doing it) — for how can we discuss something we cannot refer to by name?

When asked to define Alt-Left, I would describe it as a leftist but illiberal authoritarian ideology rooted in postmodernism and neo-Marxism that supports censorship, condones violence in response to speech, is obsessed with identity politics (much like the Alt-Right), and functions like a secular religion that gives its believers a sense of moral self-worth.

It masquerades as a form of liberalism, but it has more in common with authoritarianism than its true believers can (or want to?) admit. It claims to speak for the marginalized, but it either ignores or attempts to hatefully shame members of marginalized groups who do not subscribe to the ideology.

It is not simply Antifa; it is the ideology that undergirds Antifa, and it has swallowed much of BLM and intersectional third wave feminism. It wishes to swallow the whole of the left, the country, the world. It is rooted in nihilism, resentfulness, and arrogance, though it presents itself as being rooted in equality, justice, and morality. It favors collectivism over individualism, statism over liberty, forced equality of outcome over freedom.

Now…imagine if I had to say that mouthful every time I wished to talk about the Alt-Left because I bought into the notion that to give it a name it would be insulting to fellow liberals. No, to speak of it by name is to out it for what it is and to reduce some of its power.

What’s in a Name?

I can’t tell you how good it felt when I first discovered the work of Dave Rubin, a reasonable liberal, and realized I wasn’t alone in seeing this pernicious belief system for what it really is.In his video, Rubin offers that it doesn’t matter which term we use, what’s important is that we are allowed to identify the problem. “Whatever name you use for this well-meaning yet painfully misguided set of ideas is largely irrelevant. We needed this phrase to identify this backward ideology which puts groups before people. And sometimes you need a label to get people to understand an idea.”

Reasonable liberal Maajid Nawaz, widely credited with coining the term Regressive Left, also made the following observation last year:

Today’s active, organized left is no longer liberal. A liberal will always prioritize free speech over offense. This behavior, censorship on the organized left, post factual behavior, violence being seen as an option and prioritizing group identity over individual rights. That isn’t liberal.”

Do yourself a favor and watch the whole video:

Yet another reasonable liberal, Tim Pool, points out that one of the few things Politico gets right about the Alt-Left is that it is a term used by centrist liberals. Pool says, “Yes, I use the term Alt-Left because I want to make sure everybody knows when I say I’m left-leaning, I’m not the kind of person that’s gonna go out and punch somebody in the face or take away their rights because I think mine are more important.”

I’m also a liberal who’s been using the term Alt-Left since I first learned to trust that voice within myself, that voice that denies the conventional, accepted Alt-Left “truths” by which I had been living.

The first time I used it in a public piece of writing was back in May while attempting to articulate my transformation in belief systems in an essay called On Leaving the SJW Cult and Finding Myself. The essay itself was a long time coming. I started to wake up to the creeping authoritarianism and endless internal hypocrisies of the accepted Alt-Left ideology over a year ago. But leaving behind a belief system to which you’ve subscribed for twenty years is a bit like razing your house to the ground and rebuilding from the ground up.

Suddenly you are starting with nothing; everything you thought you knew is suspect. It takes a long time to evaluate each previously held belief and try to discern which ones hold substance. Where before my house had foolishly been built on the shifting sands of postmodernism, this time I want to ensure that, as Dr. Jordan Peterson might say, my house is built on rock.

It makes me think of George Lakoff’s “Don’t Think of an Elephant,” my first introduction to the concept of framing. Lackoff said “Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world….Neuroscience tells us that each of the concepts we have — the long-term concepts that structure how we think — is instantiated in the synapses of our brains…If a strongly held frame doesn’t fit the facts, the facts will be ignored and the frame will be kept.”

I devoured this book when a young SJW. It helped me understand how people could vote Republican and why my right-wing Aunt didn’t seem to be swayed to my point of view no matter how many facts I threw at her. What I didn’t think too much about was how this human tendency is just as prevalent on the left as it is on the right.

The Frog and the Pot

I am of the opinion that a lot of well-meaning people have become converts to the Alt-Left ideology without even realizing it. Like the parable of the slow boiling frog, if you had told me at the beginning that one day I’d be expected to perform mental gymnastics in order to defend censorship and violence in response to speech, I would have leaped from the pot.

Instead, I was conditioned to accept as gospel each new tenet of SJWism over a period of twenty years. I believed in the essential goodness of the ideology, and in my own essential goodness in preaching it. When facts about the direction it was taking me made themselves known to me, I rejected them because they did not fit the frame. As the ideology became more noticeably toxic, hypocritical, and authoritarian, so too did the tactics of the true believers. Whether in academia, in the media, at Google, or online — the message is clear: dare to step out of line or express an independent thought, and a mob of zealous SJW zombies will come for you. The fear of losing one’s job, status, friends or personal safety is a strong motivator in forcing reasonable people to remain silent.

I have received a lot of positive feedback about the sentiments expressed in my writing about SJWism from people all over the political spectrum. Most meaningful to me of these might be the messages I get from fellow liberals who are going through the same realization, confusion, and fear.

In addition to the public responses you can read yourself, I have received private messages from people in academia, journalism, and entertainment — many of them liberals — expressing that the piece resonated with them and that they were afraid to share it (or presumably in some cases, to express themselves about anything at all). Excerpts from a handful of these are below:

I honestly was scared to tweet that…that’s how bad things have gotten. I’ve nearly lost work…The world has gone mad.”

“I have definitely taken notice of so many of my friends on the left going to a dark place.”

“It is totally wild. These people are my friends — my community….They’re so angry.”

“…your piece on the social justice cult affected me more than words can say. After being called ‘violent’…because I used a word that someone decided was offensive…I had a bit of an existential crisis about my life and self-worth. Thus, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit… I remain committed to the idea that privilege exists and it should be combated through both self-reflection and system action. I also am a proud liberal, and that hasn’t lessened. That said, I can’t get behind the individual scapegoating, shouting and intimidation in the name of fighting hate, or defining sharing a point of view as “educating” and “labor.” Ultimately, the world needs more compassion….I’m trying to get there on talking and writing about some of this a little more publicly, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet (also, the fact that I’m on the academic job market makes me a bit hesitant).” 

“I saw your posts and they were refreshing. I hate politics but free speech is so important to me….but then I remember I work in TV and Music and I can’t say anything that’s going to make me lose my job. It’s crazy what’s going on right now.”

“Just wanted to let you know I’m one of those people who greatly appreciates your voice on social media, but am too afraid of the thought police to voice my support.”

If the Alt-Left doesn’t exist, why are so many liberals and centrists afraid of expressing themselves?

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

If the Alt-Left doesn’t exist, why are so many liberals and centrists afraid of expressing themselves? Why are so many people self-censoring for their own sense of safety? I was fascinated by the James Damore story, not because I have an opinion on the legality of his dismissal, but because his online stoning and subsequent firing confirmed for me what I already suspected: Google, like most of the tech space, the entertainment space, the academic space and the media space has become a panopticon of Alt-Left groupthink, self-censorship, and fear.

I know this fear intimately. As I started waking up to the illiberal nature of the growing Alt-Left ideology, I held my tongue for a long time out of fear of losing job opportunities, the safety of anonymity, and friends. After all, I built my career, and by proxy a lot of my friendships, from this SJW frame. I don’t judge anyone for subscribing to this ideology out of misplaced idealism and a desire to do good; I did for twenty years. Likewise, I don’t judge anyone who is currently waking up from it but is constrained by fear. As I tell folks who write me about it: I don’t know the exact way to get over it. I suspect it’s different for every person. But trust me when I tell you, it is so liberating on the other side.

For those self-identified liberals who may have been seduced by this belief system, by its propaganda, and are fuming at this piece, thank you for reading this far. I believe a part of you is struggling to wake up if you stuck it out this long. I encourage you to start listening to that small voice inside yourself, the one that tells you when something doesn’t seem quite right or reasonable, no matter if it’s accepted by all of your peers.

Take a look at who was really at the Free Speech Rally in Boston for starters. This, for example, is Shiva Ayyadurai. You may decide you don’t like him because he’s conservative, but to call him a “white supremacist” is a dangerous Alt-Left falsehood.

Take the time to listen to Will Johnson and Joey Gibson, two of the organizers of the Patriot Prayer Rally in SF this past weekend. Their rally was canceled after successful media (and political) attempts to smear them as “white supremacists” caused subsequent threats of violence from the Alt-Left. Ask yourself if it’s not odd that so many so-called liberals are now smearing people of color with whom they don’t agree as “white supremacists” (Charles Barkley is apparently one now too, so Johnson, Gibson, and Ayyadurai are not alone).

Then ask yourself if these people, or these people, or these people, or these people, or these people, or these people, or these people, or these people or these people, or these people, or these people, or these people, or these students, or these students, or these students, or these students are really fighting fascism, or if they are acting as footsoldiers (some witting, some unwitting) for a pro-censorship and pro-violence ideology. These facts may not fit your frame, but — do the actions depicted here reflect your liberal values?

I read a C.S. Lewis quote some time ago, that has stuck with me during my transformation in thought. Perhaps it will stick with you:

“Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.”

Keri Smith

Keri Smith

Keri is Co-Founder of Whitesmith Entertainment.

Southern Poverty Law Center Distorts the Legacy of Confederate Statues

In the wake of the ongoing controversy over Confederate monuments, many who would like to see them removed immediately have pointed to one chart that shows when the statues were put up, presumably to prove they are inherently hateful.

widely cited study, created by the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center, claims that most of the Confederate statues were constructed specifically in the period under “Jim Crow” laws that targeted black Americans, or in opposition to civil rights.

The fact that they were erected during these two time periods supposedly proves the case that they were meant to intimidate or to “remind” Southern blacks of continuing white supremacy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center then further implies that defending these statues amounts to buoying hate groups, like the one that caused a riot in Charlottesville. The far-left group then one-upped itself by warning that the continued existence of Confederate monuments and symbols could “unleash more turmoil and bloodshed.”

This is an astoundingly paranoid claim given how few people even noticed or cared about the existence of the statues until about a month ago.

Moreover, by making unverified claims about the reasons the statues were built, the Southern Poverty Law Center simplifies the meaning of thousands of monuments that were actually built for a variety of reasons, simply to impugn the motives of a majority of Americans who don’t want to see them removed.

According to a Marist poll, a large majority of Americans (62 percent) favor keeping the Confederate statues, while only 27 percent said they want to take them down. Even a plurality of black Americans also believe the statues should stay.

It would likely shock the 44 percent of black Americans who support keeping the statues to learn that they are supporting white supremacy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been careless in the past about the way it labels “hate groups,” lumping in mainstream conservative organizations with neo-Nazis, which at least in one case has led to actual violence.

The broad brush with which it treats these statues is yet another example of how it muddles reasonable differences of opinion. While some monuments were undoubtedly built for sordid and ugly reasons, many others were not, or leave a more complicated legacy than the Southern Poverty Law Center wants to portray.

Rebuilding Civilization

The Confederacy died when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.

Nevertheless, the story of the Americans who fought on both sides of that conflict did not begin or end in the horrible four years of war that nearly destroyed our nation and killed 1 in 4 fighting-age men in the country.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the global consensus was that America was finished. Even after the Union triumph in 1865, there were extreme doubts that the country could reunite.

It’s a miracle that it did.

In the years immediately after the war, the period when the Southern Poverty Law Center seems to suggest erecting monuments made the most “sense,” most Americans had bigger priorities than statue building.

But as time went by, many in both the North and the South wanted to pay tribute to the generation that went through perhaps the most defining moment in our nation’s history.

Much of the bitterness toward old foes began to dissipate, and many tried to rebuild an American consensus.

The anger that existed between the North and South cooled, and the wisdom of President Abraham Lincoln’s famous second inaugural address—“with malice toward none and charity for all”—began to take hold in earnest as decades passed.

As the country began to truly heal from the scars of the Civil War, the monuments and memorials it built varied, and in spite of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s insinuations, were not all created as symbols of white supremacy or to glorify the cause of the Confederacy.

For instance, Charles Francis Adams Jr., a direct descendent of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, was born in Massachusetts and fought for the Union Army.

Adams was an anti-slavery man who had put his life on the line to destroy the Confederacy, but in a powerful speech delivered at Harvard University in 1903, he argued that it would be reasonable and positive to build a statue of Lee in the nation’s capital.

He noted that Lee was not the one-dimensional bogeyman that he and many in the North thought of when they fought his Army of Northern Virginia.

Though the war had, thankfully, banished the twin evils of slavery and secession, Adams argued that it was important to remember that good men often fought for bad causes, and to give dignity even to the defeated.

Ultimately, in the end, Lee and the boys who fought in grey “were our countrymen.” Adams argued that depicting Lee atop his steed in Confederate uniform would be educational, and show a once “dreaded and respected” opponent accepting the consequences of defeat.

Rather than a glorification of the Confederacy, some monuments are rightly understood as tributes to the greatness and endurance of the United States, which had come through a bloody trial still capable of reuniting Americans on the same side once more.

A statue to Confederate Gen. Joe Wheeler stands in the Capitol Building and was recently targeted by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi as one of the monuments that needs to go.

But, like many of the targeted monuments’ subjects, Wheeler’s legacy is complicated. After the Civil War, he rejoined the United States military and fought for our country with distinction in the Spanish-American War. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Shall Americans destroy a statue to a man buried in our most hallowed ground?

The Atlanta monument attacked by protestors in the days after the Charlottesville incident is yet another good example of how extremism and dehumanization of history leads to misdirected rage and destruction.

The monument, constructed in 1911, depicts a Confederate soldier being guided by an angel to lay down his arms in a sign of peace and unity, not glorification of the Confederate cause. The construction had been spearheaded by former Southern soldiers who had toured the North and wanted to create a symbol of healing.

It was among the many monuments built during the supposedly racist spike that the Southern Poverty Law Center pinpointed, which, by the way, also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the war. Americans wanted to pay tribute to their parents and grandparents in much the same way modern generations do for the World War II generation that is now passing on.

Is this a symbol that deserves destruction?

Adams and many others who erected or supported the statues across the battlefields and once war-ravaged cities that dot the South hoped they would stand for more unity, not less.

They knew the price of fraternal feud more than we, hopefully, ever will. But still, they chose forgiveness.

Once Confederate, Now American

The legacy of many Civil War monuments, both Northern and Southern, extends far beyond the four years of the Civil War.

Unionist regions, which recovered faster from the war, began building monuments within several decades. The massive statues to Union generals that rise over the streets and squares of New York City and Washington, D.C., are the legacy of this movement.

The South rode the coattails of Northern industrial monument construction, relying on its new and cheaper mass-production techniques to construct the monuments themselves at a more affordable expense to small groups and towns. This explains the curious fact that statues to soldiers in the North and South often look identical.

Southerners were buying statues mass-produced in Northern factories—an almost comical symbol of how the regions were rebuilding a national consensus.

It’s clear from the opinion of most Americans that our society still sees value in keeping Confederate monuments. Whether honoring fallen ancestors, seeing the humanity in foes, or in remembering the evils of slavery, they can serve many purposes to our generation, and future ones who will undoubtedly interpret the statues in different ways than we will.

A few heinous extremists don’t deserve to define the debate for the rest of the country, and the Southern Poverty Law Center does a disservice to paint Americans—of many generations—with such sweeping and one-dimensional strokes.

Portrait of Jarrett Stepman

Jarrett Stepman is an editor for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Jarrett. Twitter: 

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In Misguided Response to Charlottesville, Apple Donates to Liberal Group That Endangers Conservatives

Why Cities Shouldn’t Take Down Confederate Statues

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Media Conspicuously Omits D.C. Metro Shooter’s Immigration Status

A disturbing incident involving a shooting inside a busy Washington D.C. metro station has received a lot of media attention, but all the reports conspicuously fail to mention if the suspect is an illegal immigrant. A man was captured on camera firing a gun down the escalator of the Columbia Heights Metro station in Northwest Washington in the middle of the afternoon on August 25. He eluded police for days and authorities needed help capturing him so they revealed he had an extensive criminal history and identified him as 22-year-old Cesar Morales, Hispanic with brown eyes, black hair and facial and neck tattoos common among members of violent street gangs.

Law enforcement bulletins warned that Morales was armed and dangerous and local media outlets included screenshots of the Metro D.C. Police Department’s social media alert asking for the public’s help in apprehending Morales. It includes a mug shot of the suspect, who has four tattoos on his face and a large one across his neck. It turns out that Morales had just served a five-year sentence after getting convicted of several gun charges involving the 2013 shooting of a D.C. man. Washington D.C.’s mainstream newspaper reported that the Federal Bureau of Prisons said Morales walked away form a halfway house overseen by the Baltimore Residential Reentry Management Office, which supervises facilities in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware and D.C. Morales was moved to the halfway house as part of a system to help inmates transition back into society. If Morales is in the U.S. illegally, he should have been deported not transitioned back into society.

“Witnesses were unnerved at that brazenness of a man opening fire at 12:15 p.m. in what normally is a bustling transit stop adjacent to a shopping center,” the article states. Another local news report describes “alarming video” that shows two men chasing someone in the station. The shooter left behind a gun, the report says, and the intended target fled. Other coverage mentions a brief foot pursuit before police lost Morales on the day of the shooting and detailed physical descriptions of the suspect, between 5-foot-2 and 5-foot-5, around 150 pounds. This information is just at pertinent as the suspect’s legal status yet no media outlet bothered to include it. Why is it being completely left out of all the news coverage? Even the local Fox news affiliate left it out of a follow-up piece about Morales getting apprehended by Montgomery County Police in Maryland days after the metro station shooting. The information is attributed to Montgomery Police Captain Paul Starks, who offered no further details. Judicial Watch reached out to the D.C. and Montgomery police departments to inquire about Morales’s legal status but neither returned calls.

Montgomery and D.C. protect illegal immigrants from federal authorities by offering them sanctuary. Earlier this year, local government in the nation’s capital took it a step further by launching a defense fund to help illegal aliens facing deportation. D.C.’s new taxpayer-funded initiative is called Immigrant Justice Legal Services (IJLS) and it pays organizations and law firms to help illegal aliens apply for asylum, represent them in deportation proceedings and conduct “know your rights” briefings and workshops, among other things. “In Washington, DC we embrace our diversity and strive to be more inclusive,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in an announcement when she launched the new defense fund, adding that months earlier she “reaffirmed” Washington D.C.’s status as a sanctuary city. “We must ensure that all District residents can take advantage of their federal and constitutional rights,” Bowser said. “Through the Immigrant Justice Legal Services grant program, we are ensuring that if immigration enforcement changes and problems arise, DC’s immigrant population will have our support and the support of DC’s legal community.”

In Montgomery, an affluent Maryland county, a longtime sanctuary policy led to a series of high-profile murders and other heinous crimes committed by illegal immigrants who had been arrested by local police and released. Under the county’s sanctuary policy, the offenders were not reported to federal authorities for deportation despite their criminal histories. In one year alone, illegal aliens who had been previously arrested in the area committed four murders, including that of a high school honor student and an elderly woman. Two of the killings involved members of the notoriously violent MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha gang, whose crime sprees have been enabled by the Montgomery County Police Department’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell immigration policy. This hasn’t stopped Montgomery, where this latest metro shooter was captured, from helping illegal immigrants. Even after the illegal alien crime spree, the county dedicated $100,000 to provide “application assistance” to illegal immigrants spared from deportation under President Obama’s backdoor amnesty plan.

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