The Supreme Court Helps the EPA Shut Off Electricity in America

April 2014 seems to be the month in which the Supreme Court devotes itself to decisions that have no basis in real science and can do maximum damage to the economy. Invariably, the cases are brought against the Environmental Protection Agency and are decided in its favor.

In April 2007, the Court decided that carbon dioxide, the second most essential gas for all life on the planet was “a pollutant”, the definition the EPA had applied to it in order to regulate it. Now comes word that the Court had concluded that the EPA may regulate power-plant emissions that blow across state lines as per a 2011 regulation, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. Not content having put nearly 150 or more coal-fired power plants out of commission, the Court’s rule now gives them the authority to do the same thing to about a thousand power plants in the eastern and western regions of the U.S. that will have to adopt new pollution controls or reduce operations.

In effect, the Court has just agreed to a regulation that represents a major increase in the cost of electricity in 28 states deemed to be polluting the air in those around them. The EPA’s claims that this will save lives they attribute to the alleged pollution is as bogus as all the rest of their claims, the purpose of which is to undermine the nation’s economy in every way it can.

Power Lines3James M. Taylor, the Heartland Institute’s Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy said of Tuesday’s decision that “It is a shame that the U.S. Supreme Court continues to empower EPA to issue nonsensical interpretations of statutes with the primary goal of amassing more money and power.”

Every day the press is filled with reports of environmental groups suing to ensure that no new providers of electricity can be built. The Environmental Protection Agency has instituted all manner of regulations intended to shut down coal-fired plants and they are based on the total lie that carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” are causing the Earth to warm. The science cited is entirely without merit and the Earth is cooling, not warming, and has been for the past seventeen years.

As winters grow colder, it is putting a tremendous demand on the nation’s electrical grid. In a recent commentary, Steve Gorham, the author of “The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania”, quoted Philip Moeller, Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, “the experience of this past winter indicates that the power grid is now already at the limit.”

“EPA policies,” said Gorham, “such as the Mercury and Air Toxics rule and the Section 316 Cooling Water Rule, are forcing the closure of many coal-fired plants, which provided 39 percent of U.S. electricity last year. American Electric Power, a provider of about ten percent of the electricity to eastern states, will close almost one quarter of the firm’s coal-fired generating plants in the next fourteen months. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of the power scheduled for closure was needed to meet electricity demand in January. Not all of this capacity has replacement plans.”

Before Obama was elected, coal-fired plants provided fifty percent (50%) of the nation’s electricity.

What is the Obama administration’s response to this? It is pouring billions into the wind and solar energy sector that provides barely one percent of all the electricity used in the nation and can never begin to replace traditional plants.

In an April 25 letter from the American Energy Alliance, joined by thirty other organizations, to the House Ways and Means Committee, opposition to the Wind Production Tax Credit was expressed: “The PTC has been a failure for taxpayers and ratepayers. In exchange for tens of billions of dollars in handouts to wind producers, the states with the highest wind production have seen their electricity rates increase nearly five times faster than the national average. In fact, states with at least 7 percent wind power have seen their electricity rates increase at an average of 17.4 percent over the last 5 years compared to an increase of only 3.5 percent for the U.S. as a whole” Why, indeed, are taxpayers being required to sustain providers of wind power that would not be able to stay in business otherwise?
In addition to the fact that you cannot manufacture anything without the use of electricity, a deliberate effort is being made to ensure that vast sections of the nation will not be able to receive electricity to warm homes and businesses in the winter and cool them in the summer. Simply put, people will die for lack of the warmth and coolness needed, not from the phony pollution the EPA cites.

This is the heart of an environmental agenda that views the human population as “a cancer” that needs to be vastly reduced. This agenda is directed from the United Nations and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that falsely claims that humans have a vast impact on the climate. They do not. Human activity barely, if at all, affects the climate. What does? The Sun! Add in factors that include the Earth’s oceans and volcanic activity, and it should be obvious that everyone is being targeted for extinction.

In an article, “The EPA’s Science Problem”, Arnold Ahlert, noted in early April that “In a stunning admission, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy revealed to House Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that the agency neither possesses, nor can produce, all the scientific data used to justify the rules and regulations they have imposed on Americans via the Clean Air Act. In short, science has been trumped by the radical environmental agenda.”

The Obama administration has done everything in its power to restrict and slow down access and use of America’s huge energy reserves, enough to ensure all the electrical power we will need for hundreds of years to come. The same policy applies to transportation’s petroleum needs. Oil and gas production on federal lands is down 40% compared to ten years ago.

According to the Institute for Energy Research notes that “North America has enough oil to fuel every passenger car in the U.S. for 430 years, enough natural gas to provide the U.S. with electricity for 575 years, and enough coal to provide electricity for about 500 years.” And that’s based on known reserves. They are, however, of little use if the Obama administration continues its efforts to restrict access to them.

In an August 2013 Washington Times commentary, Ben Wolfgang warned that the EPA, the Energy Department, and other agencies’ “working group” quietly raised “their estimated social coast of carbon from $21 per ton of emissions to $35 per ton”, noting that “The dramatic increase greatly alters cost-benefit analyses offered by the EPA when floating rules, allowing the agency to claim that billions of dollars will be saved over a period of decades as a result of proposed limits on power plant emissions, tougher fuel economy standards and other steps.”

The “social cost” is a complete invention, a fiction without any basis in fact. It is a device to further restrict access and use of all fuel sources.

Americans had better wake up to the fact that their government—the Obama administration—is doing everything in its power to cut off the provision of electrical power and access to transportation fuel that it can. And the Democrats in Congress, particularly Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader, is doing everything to advance this agenda by blocking any legislation generated in the House to counter this agenda.

In November, the midterm elections offer an opportunity to elect enough Republicans to secure control of the Senate and increase its strength in the House.

Let me end with the good news. Despite what the enemies of energy are doing, the energy sector—coal, oil, and natural gas—in the decade ahead is going to grow, going to generate many new jobs, and is going to help dig us out of the huge government debt that too much borrowing and spending has generated.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything by George C. Leef

Our Legal System Poses a Grave Threat to Our Liberty.

In the gigantic theater that is American politics, one of the favorite roles for politicians to play is that of the tough guy who is determined to “crack down” on something or other. Such actions are predictably cheered by whatever voting groups the politician wants to curry favor with. An often-heard campaign line is, “Vote for me and I’ll push legislation to make it a crime to. . . .” We already have an enormous criminal code, but adding one more thing to it serves to show the voters that the pol really means business.

Like most features of our politics this mania for the criminalization of behavior is harmful. As is usual with government, the unseen problems dwarf the seen benefits. The more we criminalize conduct that voters dislike, the more we put people who never intended any wrongdoing into the quicksand of criminal prosecution. With legions of prosecutors who are more interested in making names for themselves than in doing justice, Americans are living in an increasingly dangerous country.

That’s the point of Go Directly to Jail, edited by lawyer and Cato Institute writer Gene Healy. “At one time,” he writes, “the common law doctrines of mens rea (“guilty mind”) and actus reus (“guilty act”) cabined the reach of criminal sanctions, but those protections have eroded dramatically over the past 50 years. Today it’s possible to send a person to prison without showing criminal intent or even a culpable act. . . .”

Consider this case. Edward Hanousek worked for a railroad in Alaska. One day, a backhoe operator working under his supervision accidentally ruptured an oil pipeline while removing some boulders from the tracks. Hanousek, who wasn’t even at the site of the accident, was nevertheless prosecuted for having violated the Clean Water Act, which makes it a crime if a “negligent failure to supervise” leads to any discharge that might pollute water. Hanousek was convicted for someone else’s accident. His case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which declined to review this legal abomination. Americans must now worry about criminal prosecution for all sorts of conduct that a few decades ago hardly anyone would have thought should be illegal.

The book has six chapters by different authors. Erik Luna’s “Overextending the Criminal Law” explores the unfortunate tendency for politicians to use criminal sanctions as an all-purpose tool of social control. It’s impossible to disagree with Luna’s assessment that “When the criminal sanction is used for conduct that is widely viewed as harmless . . . the moral force of the penal code is diminished, possibly to the point of near irrelevance. . . .”

In the second essay, “The New Criminal Classes: Legal Sanctions and Business Managers,” James V. DeLong observes that the spread of criminalization means that nearly anyone can fall victim to prosecution for some regulatory crime, and often the defendant finds that the law accords him a lower degree of protection for his rights than do old-fashioned criminals who rob and murder. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments have been subverted in the crusade to send people like Ed Hanousek to jail.

Legal scholar Timothy Lynch, in “Polluting Our Principles: Environmental Protection and the Bill of Rights,” shows that the incentives for environmental regulators to produce “results” (that is, convictions to prove how dedicated they are to safeguarding the environment) lead to terrible travesties of justice. The vagueness of many environmental regulations gives the enforcers almost unfettered discretion to prosecute business people. Lynch notes that individuals accused of environmental crimes are often subjected to procedures that the courts would not tolerate for normal criminal defendants. He calls it the “environmental exception to the Bill of Rights.”

Galen Institute president Grace-Marie Turner discusses criminalization in medical care, specifically, the dangerous trend toward criminal prosecution in the futile crusade against Medicare and Medicaid fraud. An especially frightening feature of the law here is that the enforcers get to keep a percentage of the fines they impose.

Editor Healy contributes a chapter on the rampant federalization of crime. To provide just one example, President Bush’s Project Safe Neighborhoods has led to a surge in federal prosecutions for illegal firearms possession. Healy writes that this law “violates the Tenth Amendment, clogs the federal courts, encourages a mindless zero tolerance policy and opens the door for every special interest group in Washington to politicize criminal justice policy.”

The book’s final chapter, again by Erik Luna, examines the nation’s sorry experience with federal sentencing guidelines, which he argues “saps moral judgment from the process of punishment.”

The U.S. is off track in many, many ways. Go Directly to Jail leaves no doubt that our legal system is careening out of control and poses a grave threat to our liberty.

ABOUT GEORGE C. LEEF

George Leef is the former book review editor of The Freeman. He is director of research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

RELATED STORY: ‘She’s Just a Child’: 9-Year-Old Taken Away in Handcuffs

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

4 Things You Should Know About Mass Incarceration by Daniel J. D’Amico

It’s now common knowledge: The United States is the world’s leading nation when it comes to imprisonment. With an estimated 1,570,400 inmates by the end of 2012—and an incarceration rate of 716 prisoners per 100,000 citizens—the United States holds more human beings inside cages, on net and per capita, than any other country around the globe (and throughout history). In general, we build more prisons, we spend more money on prisons, we employ more prison workers, and we utilize imprisonment for a wider variety of behaviors than anyone else.

Nations like China and Russia likely use more corporal punishment and execute more people. Removing that context from their incarceration rates might make them look less punitive than they really are. Still, it is revealing that only totalitarian regimes, past and present, are serious contenders with the “land of the free” when it comes to the business of incarceration.

Today’s total American prison population exceeds the estimated amount of citizens detained within the Gulag system under the former Soviet Union. If we include those sentenced but not yet incarcerated, as well as those released upon probation and parole, there are more young black men embroiled in the American criminal justice system than were estimated to be enslaved in America circa 1850. These statistics are not to say that the United States is totalitarian, or based on chattel labor. Instead, these numbers emphasize that, insofar as despotism requires enforcement, our own government is more than capable of imposing serious and pervasive social control.

The terms “mass imprisonment” and “mass incarceration” typically refer to the uniquely modern characteristics of the contemporary prison system, including its rapid growth and racial disparities. The United States is the archetypical case. While the recent media attention given to mass imprisonment is a step in the right direction, facets of mass incarceration still remain relatively misunderstood and unrecognized.

Here are four things those interested in free market economics and the classical liberal tradition should keep in mind when thinking critically about modern global prison trends.

1. Private prisons did not cause mass imprisonment.

Private prisons are derided for profiting off of high crime and for creating corporate incentives to foster tough punishment policies. These statements are both true and disconcerting. But private prisons don’t, by themselves, explain the origins, extent, or long-term effects of America’s mass incarceration.

For starters, there just aren’t that many private prisons as a proportion of the American total. Of the over 1.5 million inmates recorded in 2012, only 128,300 (approximately 8 percent) were held in private facilities, 96,800 of them federally as opposed to state-contracted facilities. Several other nations with significantly lower total incarceration rates utilize private contractors at higher percentages: for example, England and Wales 14 percent, Scotland at 17 percent, and Australia at 19 percent.

Private prisons do stand out, though, because the most pronounced area of prison growth has occurred at the federal level—which is where most of the privatization is concentrated.

At both the state and federal levels private prisons represent a sort of budgetary coping mechanism. With high rates of sentenced inmates, but thin budgets incapable of supporting new prisons or their labor forces, states turn to contractors as cost-saving alternatives without significant quality degradations. “Private” (read: state-contracted) prisons tend to hold specialized populations such as juvenile offenders, aging inmates with more extensive medical needs, illegal immigrants, and organized crime leaders because these groups have unique logistical needs that regular facilities can’t always accommodate. When objectively compared on a variety of performance margins, there’s almost no quality difference between public and private prisons. What matters is the quality of monitoring, accountability, and liability processes. For private firms, running afoul of those constraints often means losing contracts to alternative agencies. For public workers placed by appointment and sometimes election, though, necessary feedback can be vague and ineffective.

While for-profit prison models do appear conspicuous for creating incentives to lobby for tougher penalty regimes, the incentives that public employees face throughout the criminal justice system are not systematically different. There’s no group larger, more concentrated, or more vested in tougher penalties than the employees of service industries surrounding publicly financed and managed criminal justice institutions and penitentiaries.

2. Marijuana legalization is not a panacea.

Drug sentencing has accounted for about a third of the new American prison growth since the late 1970s. Marijuana charges produced a significant proportion of those sentences. But it does not follow that marijuana legalization or clemency would alleviate the problems associated with mass imprisonment. First, even if nonviolent marijuana violators were released, America would still be a world leader in incarceration rates and expenditures. Second, simply put, people adapt.

Marijuana legalization, without broader judicial, legislative, and or penal reform, may create new opportunities for drug production, consumption, and enforcement, thus shaping outcomes in unforeseeable ways. From the perspective of drug sellers and users, the risks of arrest and incarceration are obviously costs; but complying with formal regulations and licensure under a more legalized regime may also be costly. Higher costs means less of a behavior and visa versa. But the relevant question is whether a new, legalized regime would be perceived as a higher or lower cost for buyers and sellers than status quo prohibition. It’s difficult to predict the outcome with precision. But such a regime would differ structurally from the current one. It wouldn’t simply cut marijuana arrests out of the total number.

Take medical marijuana. People with ailments that marijuana can alleviate will benefit from a regime that allows for prescriptions rather than across-the-board prohibition. But a decriminalization regime for just marijuana will shift supply and demand in other markets. For example, current users who are underage under the new regime may end up facing more difficulty accessing weed relative to the status quo. That could lead to decreased consumption, or it could lead them to substitute other drugs. Similarly, current black-market sellers will likely face lower prices and smaller profit streams for producing and selling pot with competition from legal sellers, making other drug markets more appealing. Just as pot becomes harder for some people to get, other drugs—such as prescription painkillers or mood-altering drugs (such as Xanax)—could become more readily available.

This last point seems also bolstered by the fact that a new network of legal and regulated marijuana sellers will represent a newly concentrated and vested interest group in favor of suppressing the illegal production and distribution of marijuana. I doubt current illegal pot growers and sellers will be the same individuals awarded the privilege of growing and selling weed under legalization. If legitimate production is to be regulated, regulation will require enforcement. It could be the case that enforcement costs and complexity will grow amid marginal decriminalization.

Last, targeted legalization to individual substances without matching fiscal, legislative, and or penal constraints may simply free up enforcement resources for tougher enforcement of the remaining prohibitions. The potheads freed from prison might simply be replaced by more junkies and cokeheads and their suppliers. Hence the associated inefficiencies and social consequences of prohibition in those drug markets will likely grow, adapt, and tend toward unique and unforeseeable equilibriums.

Prohibition against the pot trade is riddled with bad incentives and inefficiency and should be addressed as such; but many of the most challenging aspects of the criminal justice system—especially mass imprisonment—seem to transcend the relatively smaller issue of illegal weed. Simply legalizing marijuana does not untangle the myriad, complex incentives that allowed for prohibitions initially or the ballooning of the War on Drugs. This tangle of incentives explains the lag between policy reform and the advent of significant public approval for legalization and decriminalization. As long as those incentives and opportunities persist, we should expect political entrepreneurs to manipulate policies and resources for private gain.

3. The problems of prison growth transcend drug prohibition.

Again, at first glance much of America’s prison growth appears to have come in lockstep with the War on Drugs. But other trends suggest drug prohibition is neither the only, nor the essential, cause of mass imprisonment. Repealing prohibition across substance types would eliminate many of the adaptive problems at play with piecemeal legalization, but that doesn’t have enough public-opinion support to make it politically viable. After all, drug prohibition came into being in part because enough of the public wanted it.

Assuming political opinion away for the moment, drug legalization still does not fully resolve the challenges of mass imprisonment. After releasing all nonviolent drug offenders, the United States would retain an extremely large and expensive prison-industrial complex, a bloated and inefficient criminal justice system, and a political process that systematically leverages the tendencies of a largely vengeful public. Instead, some theory and evidence suggests that both drug prohibition and prison growth are likely similar symptoms of broader trends surrounding governments’ power to administer violence and regulate social behaviors.

Everyone around the world criminalizes drugs. Only the United States literally fights a war on drugs, and fights it at the federal level both financially and managerially. The production, distribution, and usage of the standard list of illegal drugs (marijuana, heroine, cocaine, methamphetamines) is generally illegal everywhere on Earth (save for Portugal and Amsterdam). What sets the United States’ relationship with drugs and drug enforcement apart, however, is how we organize our legal and enforcement processes surrounding prohibition.

Crime has been a relatively local issue in most nations throughout time. Neighborhoods, counties, and other smaller jurisdictions generally finance and manage police forces, criminal court systems, and even prison construction and operation. In the United States, the war on drugs is one of several federally managed criminal enforcement strategies, along with immigration controls, homeland security, and tax enforcement. The federal government incarcerates more inmates in federal facilities than does any individual state, and its activities represent one of the largest sectors of prison expansions in recent decades. Second, if one looks at which states are most plagued by mass incarceration, it is easy to notice they are most often border states like Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and California. Those states must enforce their own laws as well as federal sanctions pertaining to drug importation and immigration.

In short, imprisonment patterns and trends lag behind policy and strategic changes. At the same time, central financing and management of the criminal justice system produces harsher prohibition regimes and sets the trend for drug policy.

4. Mass imprisonment transcends the American experience.

Contemporary prison growth has been a relatively global phenomenon. From 1997 through 2007, prison populations grew in 68 percent of nations researched around the world. Developed, Western nations have led this growth in incarceration rate. So what does this mean?

Maybe there’s something about American society that just requires more prisons. Or, given similarities in crime trends across countries, maybe the United States is simply overpaying somehow.

Or maybe the United States isn’t all that unique, considering just the countries that have experienced a proportionally similar increase in prison populations. Maybe this group of countries shares a characteristic feature that relates to imprisonment.

Recent scholarship on crime, punishment, and mass incarceration has converged upon a mild conclusion familiar to modern macroeconomists: Institutions matter. Nations with similar institutions tend to foster similar cultures, similar criminal justice regimes, and similarly sized prison populations. But the question remains: What particular institutional arrangements have contributed to the prison status quo and associated problems? And how can they be reformed?

Conclusions

Mass incarceration is not an isolated social problem to be understood devoid of context. The fiscal and quantitative trends surrounding mass imprisonment are paralleled by similar growth trends in drug enforcement, the length and complexity of the criminal code, military interventionism abroad, the adoption of militarized police equipment and tactics domestically, the governmental gathering and storage of information about citizens without warrant or consent, and several other similar trends.

The financing and administration of violent power, measured by all of these trends, has pointed to increased governmental authority. This was true throughout the twentieth century, and became especially true in recent decades. Since the beginning of the 21st century, such centralization has been mirrored throughout the size and scope of government. Hence measured estimates of economic freedom have sharply declined in recent years, particularly in America.

Various research and theories regarding the causes of crime and punishment imply that they’re predominantly shaped by unplanned and complex social factors. Adam Smith and other early writers in the classical liberal tradition believed simple prosperity was the factor most responsible for maintaining low crime rates. Broken-window theories and eyes-on-the-street models suggest these early liberals were correct. When streets are clean, well lit, and filled with commercial and civic activity, there is little opportunity for crime to occur and strong incentives for citizens to participate in the justice process. Steven Levitt infamously demonstrated a statistical correlation between abortion policies and lower violent crime rates. John Lott and Bruce Benson tend to emphasize private activity, like growing gun ownership and increased investment in the security industry.

All imply similarly that punishment policies are probably very difficult to plan strategically, effectively, or optimally. Again, such pervasive trends in the growth of government are not unique to the American context. So changes in particular policies and/or changes in partisan power are likely limited in their abilities to bring full or effective reform. For example, a candidate taking office who is opposed to marijuana prohibition is not likely to change the very real and vested incentives that have allowed the War on Drugs to escalate as it has. Mass imprisonment seems more an endemic feature of how governmental institutions are arranged and have changed throughout the modern era. To promote reform and social change regarding imprisonment will first require a sound and thorough understanding of how institutions, individual behaviors, and social processes relate.

ABOUT DANIEL J. D’AMICO

Daniel J. D’Amico is William Barnett Professor of Free Enterprise Studies and an Associate Professor of Economics at Loyola University. He writes about the intersection of Austrian Economics, Public Choice Theory and New Institutional Economics, as well as current trends in incarceration.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Brief Filed Supporting Traditional Marriage on Behalf of Black Pastor

Yesterday, with the battle cry “the fight is on,” a coalition of over 100 Black pastors from Detroit, Outstate Michigan, and Ohio representing several hundred additional pastors,celebrated the amicus brief which was filed by the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) on their behalf challenging the recent Federal District Court decision overturning Michigan’s 2004 constitutional amendment.  Michigan’s Marriage Amendment (MMA) preserves traditional marriage between one man and one woman.

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, filed the amicus brief in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Attorney General Schuette’s appeal of the District Court’s decision.

Shortly after the decision overturning the Michigan Marriage Amendment, Minister Stacy Swimp contacted TMLC on behalf of the Coalition of Black Pastors asking whether the Law Center would be willing to file a brief on their behalf.  Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, replied that it would be their privilege.  A subsequent meeting with several Pastors, Thompson and Erin Mersino of the Law Center, was held to discuss the ruling and the Pastors’ specific objections so that the brief would reflect their objections within a legal context in order to aid the appellate judges.

Erin Mersino, the principal drafter of the amicus brief, assisted by Lansing attorneys William Wagner and John S. Kane, captured the Pastors’ objections: the comparison drawn by courts and by society that the homosexual push to legalize their marriages is on par with the civil right movement of Black Americans is false; marriage between one man and one women is Biblically based and a part of America’s Judeo-Christian moralityand tradition, and the legal precedent used to overturn the MMA, which was approved by over 2.7 million voters, was unsound.

Said Mersino: “It has been an honor working with the coalition of pastors closely to ensure that their unique voice is heard.  The coalition was upset with the notion that the voice of 2.7 million Michigan voters could be silenced by the opinion of one federal court judge.  The court drew upon legal precedent which rightfully allowed interracial couples to marry, inherently raising similarities between racial equality and same-sex marriage.  The coalition has made clear that they believe this comparison is offensive. ”

Minister Swimp stated:  “We want to make a statement to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that the people of the state of Michigan, particularly Black Pastorsand Christians, continue to stand by the Marriage Protection Act.”

According to Minister Swimp,the comparison of the push for the redefinition of marriage to the Black Civil Rights struggles is “intellectually empty, dishonest, and manufactured.”

Excerpts from the Law Center’s Brief:

  • “Comparing the dilemmas of same-sex couples to the centuries of discrimination faced by Black Americans is a distortion of our country’s cultural and legal history. The disgraces and unspeakable privations in our nation’s history pertaining to the civil rights of Black Americans are unmatched. No other class of individuals, including individuals who are same-sex attracted, have ever been enslaved, or lawfully viewed not as human, but as property. Same-sex attracted individuals have never lawfully been forced to attend different schools, walk on separate public sidewalks, sit at the back of the bus, drink out of separate drinking fountains, denied their right to assemble, or denied their voting rights. Id. The legal history of these disparate classifications,i.e., immutable racial discrimination and same-sex attraction, is incongruent.”
  • When the lower court said it was rejecting morality as a basis for Michigan’s codification of its traditional marriage rule, it was not being entirely forthright. . . .What it actually did was to supplant the tried and true morality of the Judeo-Christian tradition upon which our country was founded with the trendy, relativist morality of political correctness.”
  • “There is no surer way to destroy an institution like marriage than to destroy its meaning.  If “marriage” means whatever one judge wants it to mean, it means nothing. If it has no fixed meaning, it is merely a vessel for a judge’s will. It is used as a subterfuge for judicial legislation.”
  • Pastor James Crowder, president of the Westside Minister Alliance, said, “Judge Friedman is sanctioning the staging of a false story. On stage are many actors who pretend that redefining traditional marriage is as valid as Blacks fighting against the carnage of chattel slavery and the humiliation of Jim Crow. Never have I been so insulted. The curtain must be pulled down on this play of disinformation.”

Click here for entire Brief Filed by TMLC

same sex marriage map

Injustice in the name of Justice!

Harvey  Ruvin

Harvey Ruvin, Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts.

MIAMI, FL – Today, the Christian Family Coalition Florida (CFCF), Florida’s premier human rights and social justice advocacy organization, denounced Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts, Harvey Ruvin, for deliberately going behind voters backs and secretly withdrawing a motion to abate on the discriminatory anti-voter rights lawsuit seeking to overthrow Florida’s constitutional respect for marriage as one man, one woman.

“Harvey Ruvin has made a grave mistake by failing to discharge his duties as Clerk of the County, under his signed Candidate Oath, he is obligated to support the Constitution of the United States and Constitution of the State of Florida. His actions are unethical and deplorable.”

View Harvey Ruvin’s Candidate Oath here. (See page 2)

Motion to Intervene:

Simultaneously, Liberty Counsel, an international pro-constitutional rights law firm argued for a motion to intervene, that is allowing human rights organizations like People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE) and the Florida Democratic League (FDL), to be parties to the case and argue in defense of the eight million voters who cast their ballot in the historic 2008 election which enacted Florida’s constitutional respect for marriage as one man, one woman.

Amazingly, in a brazen display of hypocrisy, homosexual extremists have asked Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel to DENY marriage advocates their day in court. “We fully expected extremists to try to deny marriage advocates their Constitutional right to equal protection and due process rights to intervene in this discriminatory anti-voter rights lawsuit. You cannot on the one hand, play victim, and claim that your Constitutional rights being denied, then turn right around and ask the very same court, to deny others their Constitutional rights.”

ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY COALITION (CFC)

The Christian Family Coalition (CFC) is a widely acclaimed human rights and social justice advocacy organization serving Florida’s children and families for over 10 years. Through its daily community outreach, political education programs, and voter registration, CFC effectively mobilizes thousands of fair-minded voters across the state and actively works with municipal, county, state, and federal elected officials to advance common sense, family-friendly, non-discriminatory values and public policies. The CFC is highly respected for its sought-after, educational voter guides consulted by thousands of houses of worship and their voters all across Florida.

An Immigration question for you smart people in Washington, D.C.

President Obama gave a speech to law enforcement officers stating illegal aliens are here simply to better their families ignoring they created a criminal act to get here and another criminal act if they are employed and another criminal act if they are driving a car etc.

As if wanting to emphasize his point ICE released a total of 36,007 illegal aliens that were being held for mundane infractions of the law.

According to the report, the 36,007 individuals released represented nearly 88,000 convictions, including:

  • 193 homicide convictions
  • 426 sexual assault convictions
  • 303 kidnapping convictions
  • 1,075 aggravated assault convictions
  • 1,160 stolen vehicle convictions
  • 9,187 dangerous drug convictions
  • 16,070 drunk or drugged driving convictions
  • 303 flight escape convictions

I know all this has happened while you have been on vacation so it will be old news by the time you get back to “work” but if it happened while you were here would you: Applaud his speech and actions taken as something that should have happened long ago or do you think the action constitutes an “impeachable offense?”

RELATED VIDEO: On September 22, 2013 Christian Ziegler, State Committeeman for the Republican Party of Sarasota County, FL took part in the Fox News Post-Republican Presidential Debate Frank Luntz Focus Group on immigration.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/cVu-FWBhXYI[/youtube]

RELATED STORIES:

Feds released hundreds of immigrant murderers, drunk drivers, sex-crimes convicts…
REP: Obama supports ‘worst prison break in American history’…
Impeachable?
36,000 criminals freed while awaiting deportation…
Obama: Amnesty Push Coming in Next ‘Two to Three Months’…

Salon Publishes Libelous Hit Piece on Peter LaBarbera by Gina Miller

Spring has sprung with a vengeance on Americans for Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera, although it’s not Spring’s fault, nor is it Mr. LaBarbera’s.  The vengeance comes from anti-Christian activists and purveyors of “tolerance” and lies who have caused Mr. LaBarbera quite a bit of trouble since April.  After being invited to Canada to speak to a pro-life group, and overcoming efforts to block his entry into the country, he was then arrested there for “trespassing” while he was standing for free speech on a public college campus, a charge which was later changed to “mischief” and is still pending.  You see, our neighbor Canada has laws against “hate speech,” and they consider telling the truth about homosexual behavior to be “hate speech,” and that’s why they targeted Mr. LaBarbera.

On April 9th, just before he left for Canada, he was invited by the Traditional Values Club to give a speech at Sinclair Community College (SCC) in Dayton, Ohio on the topic of the radical homosexual movement.  A couple of intolerant, pro-homosexual teachers, who are apparently obsessed with hatred for the Traditional Values Club, organized a large walk-out of his speech, which he handled with an abundance of grace.  One of the teachers, Kate Geiselman, subsequently decided to write a column, published on April 16th by Salon.com, which calls him an “anti-gay bigot” in the headline.  In it, she claims he was “angry” at the walk-out, and as the teachers and students filed out of the room, she declares that he said, “You’re leaving?  Are you effing kidding?”

One small, but important detail, however:  Peter LaBarbera never said that, which makes her column pure, actionable libel.  He did say “effing,” but it was in response to a heckler who flung the actual F-word at him during the walk-out, and Mr. LaBarbera was repeating to the audience what he heard the guy say (replacing the guy’s F-word with the euphemistic “effing”) in illustration of the “tolerance” of those walking out.

Another of the teacher collaborators, Rebecca Morean, posted a comment at the Salon column, stating in part:

LaBarbera certainly said “Effing.” I, and many others heard it, as we were the first to eject ourselves. I’d rather be accused of saying that btw than being a bigot.  Odd sense of outrage.  There are other tapes, and the fact that the one posted means he didn’t say it is silly.  The mic wasn’t by his face.

Another small, but large, detail:  a two-minute clip of the walk-out reveals that Mr. LaBarbera was holding the mic and speaking into it the entire time, so the mic was indeed “by his face.”  It would appear that Ms. Morean is not concerned with telling the truth, because videos of it also reveal what Mr. LaBarbera said, which does not include, “You’re leaving?  Are you effing kidding?”

Here is what he said, as transcribed from video recordings:

“I suppose this is a walk-out.  Well, this is, this is what I say, not, not even people willing to hear from the other side.  I think this is, this is regretful. [heckler interjects F-word]  ‘Your message is ‘effing’ garbage,’ that guy just said.  Yeah, yeah this is a shame, but, well, those of you who remained are exhibiting true tolerance…  I mean this is—this is the Left in action; I’m sorry.  You know, tolerance for me but not for you.  Don’t even want to hear a viewpoint.  That’s their right, and I just think it’s immature…”

So, a heckler flings the real “F-word” at Mr. LaBarbera, and he responds to the heckler by saying, “‘Your message is ‘effing’ garbage,’ that guy just said.”  This is quite a different story than what Ms. Geiselman claims, as does Salon in publishing her column.

I also obtained statements from witnesses who were in the audience and testified that Mr. LaBarbera did not say what the two teachers claim.

Al Giambrone, a co-founder of the Traditional Values Club, wrote:

I was present for the entire event…  I was sitting in the third or fourth row on the end seat next to the center aisle directly behind one of the instructors who lead the walkout.  I had a perfect view and was well within earshot of Mr. LaBarbera (even if he hadn’t had a mike) when the walkout occurred.  I paid careful attention to his reaction and what he said when they walked out because I was curious to see how he would handle it. I knew it was coming.  I was quite impressed by the way in which he responded, by his presence of mind and by his effective but respectful demeanor, not only during the walkout but through the entire event.  At no time did I hear him use any inappropriate language nor did I see him display any contentious reaction even when hostile members in the audience gave him what many would consider good reason to do so.

Traditional Values Club President Bonnie Borel-Donohue also concurred with Mr. Giambrone.

SCC Prof. Rebecca Morean leads the "walkout" of Peter LaBarbera's speech at the college. Morean was obsessed in her contempt of the Traditional Values Club and later gave credence to fellow SCC professor Kate Geiselman's lie.

LEFTIST INTOLERAnCE: SCC Prof. Rebecca Morean leads the “walkout” of Peter LaBarbera’s speech at the college. Here she stands up as LaBarbera is talking, followed by dozens of students. Morean was obsessed in her disdain for the Traditional Values Club at SCC and later gave credence to fellow SCC professor Kate Geiselman’s “effing” lie about AFTAH’s Peter LaBarbera.

The teacher-led walk-out is one thing, and it could’ve ended there, but Ms. Geiselman decided to pen a libelous column on top of it, claiming she heard him say something he didn’t say.  There are two possibilities.  Either she genuinely misheard what he said, or she took his quoting of the heckler and maliciously turned it into a fabricated statement to defame him.

The story gets stranger when we read what she said in another Salon column from two years ago (which is, incidentally, about a different time she was involved in protest-targeting a speech presented by the Traditional Values Club at Sinclair):

The acoustics were poor.  Students nearby were whispering to each other.  My hearing is bad and I was far away, so I admit that I had trouble getting every word he was saying.

Interesting!  Ms. Geiselman admits she is hard of hearing, and yet she goes on record asserting she “heard” Mr. LaBarbera say something in a noisy room as she was walking out, most likely with her back to him—certainly not the most optimal conditions for hearing, even with the keenest of ears.

By the way, I sent an e-mail to two of Ms. Geiselman’s accounts (one at Sinclair and one listed on her website) requesting a comment on this event, but she did not reply.

Regardless of how she came up with the story, Ms. Geiselman and Salon’s editor, Cindy Jeffers, are now the recipients of a demand letter presented to them on Friday by Attorney Charles LiMandri.  It gives them ten days to issue an apology and a retraction of the defamatory statements made by Ms. Geiselman in her column and on Twitter.  In part, the letter states:

The audio on the two minute video makes it perfectly clear that Mr. LaBarbera did not utter the unprofessional and defamatory words that you attribute to him. This has been confirmed by multiple witnesses who were in immediate proximity to Mr. LaBarbera during his entire presentation. You further falsely accused Mr. LaBarbera of being “a person who makes his living telling lies” in the internet posting attached above. You did so even though you did not even have the decency to listen to his remarks before publicly excoriating him.

… By your false and defamatory statements you have maliciously sought to injure Mr. LaBarbera in his reputation and to expose him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame or disgrace. You have also sought to injure him in his trade or profession. We hereby demand that you issue a public retraction of, and a public apology for, your false and defamatory statements made against Mr. LaBarbera.

This entire story is yet another in the myriad examples of how those on the Left lie to further their agenda.  The fact is that truth is not on their side, so in their self-deception, all they have are lies and defamation with which to wage their battles.

I requested a statement from Mr. LaBarbera, and he wrote:

What happened at Sinclair Community College is just another example of the Left’s penchant for using dirty tactics, half-truths and cheap stunts to discredit and demonize their opponents.

Kate Geiselman and Salon must be held accountable for creating and promoting a lie to advance their intolerant, conservative-bashing agenda.  I absolutely did not say the “effing” line reported by SCC prof Kate Geiselman. It is simply absurd to say that I would say that in front of a bunch of students and pro-family advocates whom I had just met!

This is a bad and implausible lie that this ‘writing’ instructor came up with. Geiselman was writing fiction, and it’s bad fiction at that.

Another thing that strikes me about the Left’s “anti-hate” myth directed at mostly Christian conservatives—and stoked by the SPLC—is that it pretty much gives them carte blanche to engage in all kinds of vicious and deceitful attacks against their foes.

After all, if the Left is really battling HATERS on a moral par with the KKK (the SPLC claim), then do details and facts matter as much as ASSAILING THE HATERS?  And is being fair to, and truthful about, the target that important—since in their minds they are dealing with despicable extremists?

This is a dangerous game by the Left: in their arrogance and pride, they have decided for everyone that there is no legitimate opposition to the LGBT agenda—and then they distort reality according to that model. If the liberal media doesn’t hold them accountable, conservatives must step up and expose the Left’s systematic campaign of misinformation.

Not only are these people vicious liars, but they’re also intellectually dishonest.  They always claim to support “diversity,” yet they bust their rears to shut down those with views that are diverse from theirs.  They  demand “tolerance,” but they are the most intolerant people among us, plugging their ears as they shout, “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!  I CAN’T HEAR YOU, ‘HATER’!”  If they had a shred of intellectual honesty, if they truly believed their ideas on homosexuality were solid, right and true, then why would they be threatened by someone presenting the other side of the debate?

The real losers here are those college kids who were led by the nose by the conniving, lying teachers—those kids who did not get to hear Mr. LaBarbera tell the truth about the dangers of homosexual behavior and the lies the activists tell to push their freedom-robbing agenda.  The kids are the real losers, because they’re learning the same, age-old fascistic techniques of socialist-communist regimes throughout history that have worked to silence the voices of those who tell the truth about the tyranny of their evil schemes.

Florida: Sheriff Jim Manfre from Flagler County wants to ban your rifle!

Sheriff Jim Manfre from Flagler County in Florida wants to ban your rifle and leave you defenseless against the tyranny flowing from Washington D.C. He calls these rifles “assault weapons.” My AK-47 sits happily in the closet and it has never assaulted anyone. Only people assault other people. Whether its with guns, knives, hammers or bottles.

According to Lee Williams of the Herald-Tribune:

At a meeting Tuesday night of the The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida held in Palm Coast, Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre called for a ban on “assault weapons,” said he wanted tighter regulation on private firearm sales, and called for changing existing laws on background checks.

According to a news story written about the meeting written by a reporter at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the sheriff also said his “sensible gun control” ideas were supported by the Florida Sheriff’s Association.

Yesterday, Nanette Schimpf, spokesperson for the Florida Sheriff’s Association, told me the news story was inaccurate. The FSA has never called for ending private sales, banning “assault weapons” or changing background check laws.

Manfre also supports the legalization of marijuana, something the Florida Sheriffs Association is against. Indeed Sheriff Jim Manfre is just another Obama supporter who needs to voted out of office. He is unwilling to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and Florida, as he has sworn to do.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has the solemn duty of serving and protecting the citizens of our great state. The following is contact information for Sheriff Manfre:

Address: 1001 Justice Lane, Bunnell, FL 32110
Email: jmanfre@flaglersheriff.com
Phone: (386) 437-4116
Fax: (386) 586-4820

Notice how his disclaimer is to protect the citizens, yet he wants to disarm law abiding citizens, so his disclaimer is a lie. This man is another example of Obama’s reach into the great State of Florida.

I will not disarm. I will not give up my 2nd Amendment rights to some Sheriff. He has betrayed his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and must be removed from office. I told him so in an email.

As for my weapons nobody will take them. I am protected under the 2nd Amendment. I gave sheriff Manfre my cell phone number. Lets see if he has the guts to call me back.

PA Attorney General Charges and Arrests Test Cheaters — FL AG Bondi Missing in Action

Taking a cue from former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers (R) and former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) charged and arrested a principal and four teachers for cheating on standardized tests at Cayuga Elementary School in Philadelphia over a four year period (2008-2012).

Kane said the educators changed student answers, provided test answers to students and improperly reviewed Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test questions before giving the tests. After the cheating stopped in 2012, the schools test scored dropped dramatically, Kane noted.

In 2008-09 state proficiency tests, Cayuga’s fourth graders excelled: 88.8% pass math and 83.9% pass reading. By 2012-13, the most recent numbers available, fourth graders at the school struggled with 31% passing math and 25% passing reading.

Those charged are:

  • Evelyn Cortez, 59, Dresher, Montgomery County;
  • Jennifer Hughes, 59, Jeffersonville, Montgomery County;
  • Lorraine Vicente, 41, Philadelphia;
  • Rita Wyszynski, 65,  Philadelphia; and
  • Ary Sloane, 56,  Philadelphia.

In Georgia, numerous teachers, and principals were convicted or took plea deals and are in prison. Superintendent Beverly Hall had her plea deal rejected and awaits trial in August 2014.

Unfortunately for Florida students and taxpayers, Attorney General Pam Bondy and Governor Rick Scott took a different course of action in response to test cheating: they did absolutely nothing.

Hard evidence was sent to both of these Constitutional officers and elected officials concerning various violations concerning professional development fraud, teacher certification fraud, teacher observation and evaluation fraud, and test cheating – all of which were documented in a state report issued by the Auditor General of Florida and the Miami-Dade OIG Final Report which concluded that, “Miami Norland has benefited in the form of attaining a higher school grade and may have received financial compensation or other benefit resulting from its high pass rate on the industry certification exams” (page 13).

Katherine-Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade State Attorney of the 11th Judicial Circuit, did not respond nor take action on these allegations, stating she can do nothing per “local control,” and that the responsibility for investigation and resolution rests with the employee of the perpetrators – Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

After appearing before investigators with the Office of the Auditor General for the State of Florida and the Miami-Dade Office of Inspector General in April and May 2012, in which sworn statements, evidence, and produced two witnesses (teachers who corroborated the test cheating) were given, to ensure that these investigations would be acted upon by the state, the findings were sent to Governor Rick Scott for action.

Governor Scott’s Inspector General emailed a written response declining assistance for lack of jurisdiction and deferred to the Miami-Dade OIG, who declined to investigate this particular matter as the Auditor General’s Office was investigating it.

On February 6, 2013, the FLDOE OIG, sent a written response claiming “lack of primary jurisdiction.” One would think they would have a secondary jurisdiction to investigate violations of state law pertaining to test cheating and any and all related frauds (money) to protect students, teachers, and taxpayers.

Worse yet, I emailed Florida’s and Miami-Dade’s chief law enforcement officers, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle respectively, and the response was disappointing.

On March 8, 2013, Attorney General Bondi emailed the whistle-blower, Trevor Colestock, back basically citing lack of jurisdiction and passing the buck to the school district of all places and various local and federal agencies.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney did not respond whatsoever, though she did prosecute teachers and school administrators in the MOTET teacher certification scandal 8 years earlier.

These improprieties and related crimes (using computers to commit fraud, wire fraud, malfeasance, test cheating, and 20,000+ counts of record tampering and teacher certification fraud) were reported on by multiple media outlets. However, Governor Scott, Attorney General Bondi, FLDOE bureau chiefs and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle appear to have a “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil” when it comes to stopping cheating and fraud in Florida’s public schools.

Though the state has inherent police and supervisory powers to enforce and regulate its laws, Florida (unlike the States of Georgia, Texas, and Pennsylvania) has been a passive spectator concerning school districts and test cheating to the detriment of Florida students, teachers, and taxpayers.

Perhaps it is time for Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi to stop passing the buck and stand against cheating in Florida’s public schools?

CAIR and Lawfare: An Interview with Brooke Goldstein

The month of April witnessed the Muslim Brotherhood front group, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) attacking free speech in films and in academia. CAIR, a self-styled Muslim civil rights group, grew out of a support network for Hamas, a terrorist group designated by our State Department.  It was one of several Muslim Brotherhood linked groups listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas,Texas.

CAIR and the other groups were found to have funneled tens of millions in funds  to Hamas. As the month began a CAIR spokesperson attacked the Clarion Project film, the Honor Diarieswhich portrays a group of both Muslim and non-Muslim women addressing the problems of misogyny in Muslim majority countries with honor-shame cultures. These cultures follow Islamic doctrine devaluing the rights of women, condoning child and forced marriages, female genital mutilation and violence against women including honor killings.

CAIR singled out the film’s executive producer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Somali Dutch politician, now an American citizen and acclaimed author of best sellers Infidel and Nomad. Ms. Ali is a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a member of The Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. As a girl she was subjected to female genital mutilation and as young woman, escaped from an arranged marriage. Ali, an apostate from Islam, was called an Islamophobe by CAIR. A term which an official of the Runnymede Trust in the UK admitted has no legal definition at a 2013 Warsaw Conference of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe.

Brooke Goldstein, director of Manhattan-based Lawfare Project, used the bully pulpit of The Fox News program, The Kelly Files with host Megyn Kelly, to confront a CAIR spokesperson during the broadcast on the Honor Diaries controversy. She accused CAIR of engaging in stealth anti-Semitism against the leadership of the film’s sponsor, the Clarion Project because they were “Jewish.” Moreover, CAIR national spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper had demanded a retraction from Fox News program host Kelly of her comments about CAIR’s intimidation during the episode. Kelly refused.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/684u2WyNIQg[/youtube]

CAIR’s attack on the Honor Dairies led to cancellation of showings at three midwestern universities. CAIR didn’t stop with that episode. It next turned to a campaign that ultimately forced the President of Brandeis University to withdraw a commencement honorary doctorate and address by Ms. Ali. Pressure for President Lawrence’s withdrawal of Ali’s honor was exerted by the Muslim Student Association and by what many critics deemed a veritable lynch mob of 86 signatories of a letter by the members of the Near Eastern and Judaic Students faculty at Brandeis. CAIR’s Hooper attacked Ms. Ali’s anti-Islam views trumpeting Brandeis’ capitulation on a Kelley File exchange. Fox News host Megyn Kelly gave Ms. Ali an opportunity to respond to both Brandeis and Hooper on the same segment. Watch here.

As to the definition of Islamophobia, note Goldstein’s comment:

Islamophobia … is a contrived term that was invented by the Muslim Brotherhood with the sole purpose of stigmatizing those who are engaged in dialogue about militant Islam.

Watch this Fox News The Kelley Files You Tube video of the exchanges among host Megyn Kelly, CAIR Chicago representative Ms. Agnieszka Kasroluk and Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare project on the Honor Diaries controversy:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/8KD_ym1Mb2I[/youtube]

When New York Police Commissioner William Bratton held a press conference in April and announced the disbanding of a 12 person unit to monitor Muslim communities for possible extremists, CAIR welcomed the move. CAIR New York Board Chairman, Ray Mahoney said:

CAIR-NY welcomes the closing of the NYPD Zone Assessment Unit. This is an important first step. However, the damage of unconstitutional mass spying on people solely on the basis of their religion has already been carried out and must be addressed. We need to hear from the mayor and NYPD officials that the policy itself has been ended and that the department will no longer apply mass surveillance or other forms of biased and predatory policing to any faith-based community.

We asked Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project about the NYPD surveillance program, she said:

What I can say is that from my dealings with the NYPD, they were not targeting Muslims and engaging in discrimination based on race or religion. What they were doing was targeting institutions that have a connection to terrorism and those groups happen to be Islamist. … Simply because of the fact they have a theological justification has now opened up the NYPD surveillance program to accusations of so-called Islamophobia which are absolutely baseless and ridiculous.

As the month waned, there was another confrontation over a seven minute film produced by the National September 11 Memorial Museum in lower Manhattan given criticism by an interfaith panel. The New York Times noted:

The film, The Rise of Al Qaeda, refers to the terrorists as Islamists who viewed their mission as a jihad. The NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who narrates the film, speaks over images of terrorist training camps and Qaeda attacks spanning decades. Interspersed are explanations of the ideology of the terrorists, from video clips in foreign-accented English translations

The controversy was created by a review of the film by a panel from the Interfaith Center in New York led by its executive director, Rev. Chloe Breyer, an Episcopal priest and daughter of US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. She had ministered to the injured and families of survivors following 9/11. The controversy followed the comments in a letter to the Museum’s director by a panel member Sheik Mostafa Elazabawy of the Masjid Manhattan Mosque who wrote:

The screening of this film in its present state would greatly offend our local Muslim believers as well as any foreign Muslim visitor to the museum. Unsophisticated visitors who do not understand the difference between Al Qaeda and Muslims may come away with a prejudiced view of Islam, leading to antagonism and even confrontation toward Muslim believers near the site.

In a separate interview, Elazabawy was reported to have said:

Don’t tell me this is an Islamist or an Islamic group; that means they are part of us. We are all of us against that.

Megyn Kelly, host of Fox News’The Kelly Files, weighed into the controversy of the Museum 9/11 film, especially the obsessive public correctness of the Interfaith Center panel and its leader, Rev. Chloe Breyer.  Kelly, who had previously tackled the Honor Diaries  and the CAIR contretemps, brought back into the discussion Goldstein of the Lawfare Project. She ably contested the arguments by Breyer and Sheik Elazabawy of the Interfaith Center panel. The contrasts between the positions of Rev. Breyer and Goldstein were stark. Breyer supported the Interfaith panel and Elazabawy’s requests for redaction of the Museum film, while Goldstein vigorously and effectively argued that you cannot deny the truth of the extremist Islamic doctrine that motivated the 9/11 perpetrators to commit mass murder. Watch the Kelly File segment with Rev. Breyer and Ms. Goldstein, here.

Brooke Goldstein, director of The Lawfare Project is a Montreal native, graduate of McGill University and holds a JD from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law. She is a New York City human rights lawyer.  The Lawfare Project addresses the abuses of the justice system for the express purposes of using it as the equivalent of a weapon of war. Goldstein is also the producer of the acclaimed 2006 documentary, Making of a Martyr, concerning the indoctrination of Palestinian children at UN-sponsored schools in the West Bank and Gaza. That is a mean of recruiting them as state sponsored suicide bombers and human shields. Goldstein is the founder and director of the Children’s Rights Institute(CRI), “a nonprofit organization whose mission is to track, spotlight, and legally combat violations of children’s basic human rights around the world.” She has been a frequent commentator on these topics at FoxNews, CNN and in columns of the New York Sun, New York Daily News, and Commentary among other media outlets. Goldstein was the 2007 recipient of the E. Nathaniel Gates Award for Outstanding Public Advocacy and the 2009 Inspire! Award bestowed by the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Against this background we interviewed Ms. Goldstein.

Jerry Gordon:  Thank you for accepting our invitation for this interview.

Brooke Goldstein:  Thank you for inviting me.

Jerry Gordon:  We’re here with Ms. Brooke Goldstein, human rights attorney and Director of the Lawfare Project. Brooke, we are discussing some fairly serious invasions of free speech rights by a group called the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The first incident involved its accusations of “Islamophobia” against a film by the Clarion Project called Honor Diaries and its Executive Producer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is a noted women’s advocate and former Muslim. Brooke, what is The Lawfare Project and its mission and range of activities?

Brooke Goldstein:  The Lawfare Project is a legal think tank that is based in New York City and we have a dual mission. The first part of our mission is to track, monitor, combat, and raise awareness about the phenomenon of lawfare—the use of the law as a weapon of war against liberal democracies as it affects free speech rights and undermines the ability of liberal democracies to engage in self-defense in the war on terrorism. The second function we perform is we arrange for pro bono counsel and financial support to anybody who is on the receiving end of a frivolous lawsuit aimed at silencing their exercise of free speech when it comes to issues of national security and public concern. Issues of public concern and national security include the imminent threat of militant Islam, and that is how we came to know CAIR. It is a particularly litigious group that has filed several lawfare lawsuits and engages in bullying tactics and intimidation against anyone brave enough to speak openly and publicly about militant Islam and CAIR’s own connections to terrorism. The type of speech lawfare proponents like CAIR aim to stife includes raising awareness about human rights violations occurring in Islamist countries, against Muslim women (and children). That is precisely what the documentary film Honor Diaries is all about, the treatment of Muslim women under Sharia law. CAIR has engaged in a variety of intimidation and bullying tactics against students and universities that are hosting screenings of Honor Diaries, which features Muslim women talking from firsthand experience about Islamist Sharia law and how it is currently applied to women both in Islamist countries and the West. The film is about incidents of female genital mutiliation (FGM), so-called “honor killings,” and child marriage, and features women with firsthand experience with Sharia law, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was subjected to FGM and escaped a forced marriage. CAIR has bragged about encouraging the cancellation of screenings of this film, attempting to undermine the message that Muslim women deserve human rights. At the same time, CAIR is going around demanding the 9/11 memorial museum censor the screening of a seven minute film about Al Qaeda, which it deems offensive to Muslims becaue the film describes Al Qaeda, accurately, as an Islamist jihadi terror group! CAIR has in the past refused to condemn Al Qaeda and has objected to billboards describing Al Qaeda as an enemy of the United States.

Gordon:  Is CAIR a Muslim civil rights group?

Goldstein:  CAIR often misrepresents itself as a civil rights group; it is anything but. It claims to be a self-appointed representative of the Muslim community in the United States but it really does not represent them at all. In fact, it was founded as the operational arm, the public relations arm, of the Muslim Brotherhood and of Hamas. It has ties to the designated terror group Hamas. CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas funding trial, the Holy Land Foundation case. It received seed money from Saudi Arabia and from the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). CAIR called the successful prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for its material support for terrorism “unjust,” even though HLF was funneling money to terrorism! CAIR’s mission is basically to launch a coordinated legal and public relations campaign that punishes and demonizes speech that exposes Islamist terrorism and its sources of financing. It does so by filing frivolous lawsuits and defaming anyone brave enough to discuss the topic. It frequently stereotypes Jews. It defames the counter-terrorism community and it is engaged in abuse of the legal system as a major proponent of lawfare.

CAIR’s comprehensive ties to Islamist terrorism are numerous, information about which is widely available in print and online. The FBI’s former chief of counter-terrorism, Steven Pomerantz, described CAIR, as “effectively giving aid to international terrorist groups.” Senator Chuck Schumer has called out CAIR co-founders Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad for having “intimate links with Hamas,” and “ties to terrorism.” According to the FBI, CAIR director, Muthanna al-Hanooti, “collected over $6 million for support of Hamas,” and was sentenced to one year in federal prison for violating U.S. sanctions against Iraq. Communications specialist and civil rights coordinator for CAIR, Randall Todd Royer, trained with Lashkar-I-Taiba, an al Qaeda-tied Kashmir organization and was sentenced to twenty years in prison after being indicted for conspiring to help al Qaeda and the Taliban kill US soldiers in Afghanistan. CAIR fundraiser Rabih Haddad was arrested and deported for working as Executive Director of the Global Relief Foundation, an organization that financed al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Abdurahman Alamoudi, one of CAIR’s former directors, is a supporter of both Hamas and Hezbollah, and is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for terrorism-related convictions. CAIR’s Community Affairs Director, Bassem Khafagi, who has publicly encouraged Muslims to carry out suicide bombings within the U.S., pled guilty to fraud and was deported to Egypt for facilitating the transfer of funds to terrorism. Ghassan Elashi, a founding Board member of CAIR’s Texas chapter, was convicted of providing material support to state sponsors of terrorism and knowingly doing business with Hamas, to which he illegally transferred more than $12.4 million dollars. Not surprisingly, CAIR characterized Elashi’s indictment as “a war on Islam and Muslims.”

The facts about CAIR make it all the more disturbing. Members of CAIR have been frequent guests at the State Department and White House. The group has intimidated local law enforcement to provide “sensitivity training.” CAIR has worked with the ACLU, Amnesty and the NAACP and received funding from the Tides Foundation. It  enjoys access to American public schools. It masquerades as a tax exempt “charitable” organization while enjoying regular access to media outlets. As Senator Jon Kyl aptly noted, CAIR’s Saudi backing and aggressive tactics have effectively “forced out” moderate American Muslims from public dialogue, replacing them instead with a terror-connected institution who claims to speak for them but doesn’t, and levels charges of “Islamophobia” at anyone who does.

Gordon:  What specifically did CAIR accuse the producers and several prominent Muslim and a few non-Muslim women of doing in this production?

Goldstein:  As usual, CAIR is accusing the film, the filmmakers, and the Muslim women featured in the film of being “Islamophobic.” What constitutes being Islamophobic in this case according to CAIR? Raising awareness about human rights violations against innocent Muslim women. CAIR’s opposition to the film is quite telling because it really exposes who CAIR is. CAIR has come out against a film featuring Muslim women who themselves have been victims of the most brutal form of Sharia law. They have been threatened on a daily basis with violence from radical Islamists and they’ve exposed CAIR as a group that is not interested in protecting the human rights of the Muslim community, here or abroad. CAIR wants to silence public dialogue about these issues and it has done so by leveling charges of Islamophobia and pressuring schools to cancel the movie, purposefully diverting attention away from the issue of womens rights to the film being “anti-Muslim.” By the way, the term “Islamophobia” was invented in the ’90s by the Muslim Brotherhood. It is the same term the Iranians use to stigmatize anyone who talks about the militant Islamist nature of the Iranian regime. It is the same term the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a 57-member voting bloc at the United Nations, uses when it co-opts the Human Rights Council to pass, every year for the past twelve plus years, resolutions declare criticism of Islam a crime in international law. It is a term that is merely used to silence and to stereotype anyone who speaks about human rights violations in the Muslim world and the threat of Islamist terrorism. CAIR regularly accuses the American people of being anti-Muslim. They play this victim card but what they are trying to do is intimidate Americans into silence. In 2010, CAIR even established its own “Islamophobia Department” whose sole purpose is to attack our First Amendment free speech rights. They successfully managed to get screenings of Honor Diaries at University of Michigan (Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses) and the University of Illinois cancelled. They have filed complaints with the FEC and they have filed numerous lawsuits—against members of Congress, the FBI, film producers, activists—all in attempts to raise the price of free speech in this country. That is exactly why we have set up The Lawfare Project, so that American people know that if they are on the receiving end of these types of intimidation tactics or do find themselves the victim of a frivolous lawsuit alleging defamation for speaking the truth about issues of national security, that we will help them. We will help them find pro bono counsel and financial support so they can continue with their important work, writing and talking about these issues publicly.

Gordon:  You were on several segments of Megyn Kelly’s program on FOX News, The Kelly File, about this problem that erupted over the documentary Honor Diaries. In one instance you had a CAIR spokesperson contesting you on a panel. What were the points in contention and what was the demand on the part of their national spokesperson, Ibrahim Hooper, that lead to contretemps?

Goldstein:  CAIR realized very quickly that attacking a film that highlights abuses against Muslim women is a losing position to take when it comes to public relations. Therefore, it quickly decided that it was going to start a character assassination campaign against the filmmakers and the women in the film, and it started to attack the Clarion Fund for employing Jews (!!), and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, calling her a bigot. Ayaan Hirsi Ali herself is a victim of Sharia law, female genital mutilation, and forced marriage. CAIR called the producers that she worked with “Islamophobes” and engaged in a disgusting attack of anti-Semitism against the film’s producers by tweeting an article from a lunatic blogger claiming that Jews behind the film are only producing this film because they’re engaged in a plot to defame Islam. CAIR suggested that there was no way Jewish producers could possibly make a movie that aims to protect the human rights of Muslim women. Of course, CAIR’s assertion is absolutely absurd and goes counter to any notion of interfaith dialogue that CAIR claims to champion. What CAIR is trying to do with Ayaan is engage in a smear campaign against her and other Muslim women, further victimizing them; it’s shameful. Frankly, If CAIR comes out against a film, you should take it as a cue to go see it, because obviously there is truth contained therein and it’s a truth that terror-connection CAIR doesn’t want us to talk about publicly. The goal of this Muslim Brotherhood organization, which has tax-exempt status in the United States, is to make the price of dialogue about these issues so high that we can’t talk about them. To shame students and schools into not teaching about human rights abuses against women, if it makes Islam look bad. Because they know, that when we can’t talk about Islamist terrorism, we can’t understand Islamist terrorism, and if we can’t understand it we can’t defeat it, so that’s CAIR’s ultimate goal.

Gordon:  Ayaan Hirsi Ali was attacked by CAIR recently when Brandeis University had announced that it was going to confer an honorary doctorate on her at the May commencement. That led to a firestorm of criticism of the University’s President Frederick Lawrence and essentially his withdrawal of that award and honor. What did that illustrate about the banning of free speech in academia?

Goldstein:  It was a cowardly move. It is a hypocritical move on behalf of Brandeis and they should be ashamed of themselves. Brandeis has hosted anti-Semites, from Desmond Tutu to Max Blumenthal, it accommodates the dishonest Israeli Apartheid Week, but it shies away from honoring a black woman whose mere testimony of abuse inspires rage from a terror-linked organization.

CAIR by accusing Ayaan of being “Islamophobic” and engaging in a character defamation campaign, is attempting to distract us from the horrific treatment of women under Sharia law. Here in the West we have seen victims of so-called honor violence. CAIR wants to deflect the audiences’ attention away from this pressing issue and attack the people who are telling the truth because CAIR does not want America to know what the truth is. They don’t want Americans to know that innocent Muslim women are being victimized. CAIR thinks it can go around and play “Islamic speech police,” but this isn’t Saudi Arabia. CAIR has no authority to censor what Americans can and cannot see. Americans have every right to see this film, and hear Ayaan’s story and the stories of the myriad of Muslim women in the film. We cherish our free speech in this country; we cherish our women, and we don’t punish dialogue about how theology is used to justify the murder of women. One is free to engage in truthful dialogue no matter how offensive it is, to any religion, and especially when it concerns saving lives.

And we must remember that it was not the filmmakers who brought Islam into the conversation about womens rights; it is those who commit crimes against women, children, and other innocents in the name of Islam that have tarnished the theology. It is those who engage in female genital mutilation and who murder women in the name of Islam who have brought the religion into the dialogue and that’s exactly what this film is about. Talking about these things openly, regardless of whether people may find it offensive, takes courage and, anyway, who do you think are the type of people who find a movie about human rights violation offensive? Should we even care that we are offending these types of people? Those who support and who feel that these human rights violations are justified are the ones who are offended by such a film! CAIR puts itself in that camp and this terror-connected organization has no right to intimidate American students in American schools into cancelling screenings for American audiences.

Gordon:  CAIR has also been engaged in attacking the American law for American courts legislation that has been passed in several states and is pending here in Florida. CAIR calls this “bullying legislation” when in fact all it does is affirm the constitutional rights of citizens against intrusion of foreign laws in certain cases. What is behind CAIR’s accusations against these legislative proposals?

Goldstein:  CAIR often accuses Americans of doing what CAIR is guilty of. CAIR’s goal is to undermine the human rights afforded by the U.S. Constitution. You merely have to look to Omar Ahmad, co-founder of CAIR who himself has ties to Hamas, who famously said, “Islam is to be the dominant authority in America. It is to replace the current government.” CAIR does not believe in upholding the U.S. Constitution. CAIR has come out against legislation that reaffirms the Constitution as the supreme law of this land in Kansas and Florida. CAIR has also refused to blame Osama Bin Laden for the terrorist attacks on 9/11. It protested a billboard that depicted Osama Bin Laden as an enemy of the United States. It has justified acts of terrorism and, at the same time, it makes false claims that Muslims are being targeted unconstitutionally. In 2002, it claimed falsely that thousands of Muslims were being rounded up, detained, and have disappeared in this country, which is simply untrue. CAIR spews lies, engages in intimidation, and attempts to mislead the public that terrorists like Osama Bin Laden are not the real threat to America but the U.S. Constitution is. The fact that CAIR enjoys IRS-approved 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status while it actively opposes the U.S. Constitution is outrageous

Gordon:  In 2008 in Fairfax County, Virginia, we were involved with the intimidation of a local police officer who detained a Muslim physician on his way to services at Dar Al-Hijrah, an infamous mosque where the late Anwar al-Awlaki was a preacher. The police department and the officer were intimidated to agree to a request by CAIR National to undergo “diversity training.” That lead to development of national legislation, introduced in 2009 and subsequently based on a theme from the New York Police Department’s “See Something, Say Something” subway campaign. That legislation has been stalled for nearly five years. Why is that?

Goldstein:  We have an environment in the current State Department and the current administration that seems to hold those who accuse law enforcement agencies of Islamophobia in a higher regard than those who are in law enforcement who are attempting to protect us from Islamist terrorism. We saw this starting back in December 2011 when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a three day closed door meeting with the head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and came out announcing that we were co-signing Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 with the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, and working with the OIC to implement that resolution within our borders. The resolution itself condemned the use of the media to criticize religion and it was the latest in a series of Resolutions that the Human Rights Council has passed attempting to ban, not just criticism of Islam or writings of Islam, but also thinking thoughts and the ideas that are deemed to be offensive to muslims. What followed? The State Department began redacting anything offensive to muslims from the Department of Defense Counter-Terrorism Manuals, the words Islam and Jihad were wiped out. FBI officials who were deemed “Islamophobic” got fired. The Fort Hood massacre was reclassified as workplace violence, as opposed to theologically motivated terrorism (note Major Nidal Hasan screamed “Allah Akbar” meaning “Allah is great” before he opened fire). A few months before that, Hasan had written an essay arguing for the painful liquidation of non-Muslims.

There is a complete and intentional denial within this administration of the threat of theologically motivated terrorism and groups like CAIR have manufactured this so called “war on Islam” in our counter-terrorism efforts. Thus, our law enforcement is simply not able to do its job. CAIR took it one step further when it brought a class action lawsuit with the ACLU in 2011 against the FBI, alleging illegal surveillance of the Muslim community in southern California. At the same time, CAIR San Francisco was working actively to hamper federal investigations into terrorism by printing and publicly distributing fliers and posters warning Muslims to “build a wall of resistance” and not talk to the FBI. The federal district court judge dismissed the class action suit and held that allowing the case to proceed would risk the disclosure of government secrets.

Gordon:  In February this year in a Newark federal district court, a decision was handed down against a Muslim legal advocacy group regarding intrusive community profiling in New Jersey by the New York Police Department. That case was considered to be fairly significant, particularly in light of the attempt on the part of other police forces and the U.S. Department of Justice to prevent such activities. Do you think that decision will stand or do you think it will be overturned?

Goldstein:  What I can say is that, from my dealings with the NYPD, they are not targeting Muslims and engaging in discrimination based on race or religion. What they are doing is targeting institutions that have a connection to global organized terrorism and, in this day and age, the majority of groups being targeted are Islamist due to the fact that there are a lot of Islamist terror networks that have penetrated the USA. The fact that organizations under surveillance are run by Muslims has nothing to do with the reason they are being surveilled by the NYPD. They are being surveilled because the police want to stop acts of murder regardless of what theological justification these groups have. The mere existence of this theological justification, that has been declared by the terrorists themselves, has now opened up the NYPD surveillance program to accusations of so-called Islamophobia, which are baseless.

Gordon:  There has been a development recently concerning the abduction and removal of American children by Saudi fathers to Saudi Arabia against their will. This matter was in fact a subject of series of hearings by former Republican U.S. Representative Dan Burton of the Government and Reform Committee back in 2002. We recently interviewed two victims, a mother who lost her daughter at the age of five and a young woman in southern Florida who had been abducted by her Saudi father at age 11 and subjected to physical and mental abuse while in Saudi Arabia, but was rescued through her family’s resources. The penalties involved do not seem to be material to prevent the abduction of these children under Sharia by their foreign Muslim fathers. What do you believe can be done about it?

Goldstein:  I think that we need to support law enforcement, as they apply the law equally to all children and women regardless of their race, their national origin, their ethnicity, or their religion. Children are innocent. I did a movie about the abuse of children by Islamist terrorists called The Making of a Martyr where I exposed the illegal indoctrination and recruitment of innocent Palestinian children to become suicide-homicide bombers and how they are used as human shields by terrorist groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas. I pointed out that, despite the fact that this crime is widespread, it is ongoing and occurring out in the open, no human rights group—from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch—has consistently and coherently condemned this practice as a form of child abuse. In 2004, when I started filming my movie, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers actually came out with a report denying that Palestinian terrorist groups recruit children for armed activities. This was a slap in the face to these children who are being abused and who deserve protection, and this is what I call the real Islamophobia. It amounts to turning a blind eye, by the human rights community and by politicians, to the plight of Muslim women and children, basically sending a green light to radical Islamists to abuse them. Such a blind eye sends the message: Go ahead, continue abusing Muslim children and women with impunity, we don’t care, they don’t deserve human rights. That is the real Islamophobia  Being irrationally scared of advocating for Muslim women’s equal rights. The real Islamophobes think we will not raise awareness about this issue because we are too afraid to do so. We are too politically correct and we are afraid of being called “anti-Muslim” even when the charge is ridiculous on its face. When New York Congressman Peter King held his radicalization hearings and put Somali Americans on the stand—who testified with tears in their eyes about how their Somali American relatives and children were being practically kidnapped by Al-Shabaab, flown across the border, and trained as Mujahideen abroad—Rep. King was called an Islamophobe for advocating that the human rights of the Somali American community be protected. When ABC Family Channel recently announced a series, Alice in Arabia, about an American who was kidnapped and taken to Saudi Arabia, CAIR bullied and intimidated ABC into dropping the series. We have Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV network and Hamas’s Al Aqsa TV, both run by designated terrorist groups that engage in the recruitment of Muslim children and target Muslim women under very brutal interpretations of Sharia law. Both networks, Al Aqsa and Al Manar, are unlawfully being broadcast within the United States by corporations like NileSat IPTV, based in New Jersey, and by ArabTV4All, based in California. They air daily sermons from radical Islamists and cartoons and television programs that teach children to engage in violent activities. They are airing such jihadi recruitment propaganda in this country, illegally, and nothing is being done about it. We are complicit by turning a blind eye to these issues because we are allowing this to continue within our borders without a real coordinated law enforcement response and, when law enforcement does respond, they are crippled by political correctness.

Gordon:  There have been indications in Congress about the possibility of legislation that might designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group here. Normally, that is done by our State Department. What is behind that movement and how realistic is it to see this eventuate in the form of legislation?

Goldstein:  I think it is a long overdue recognition that the Muslim Brotherhood is the mother of all terrorist organizations and is active and operating within our borders to our detriment. There has been significant push-back from the Justice Department in exposing these issues. Texas Representative Louie Gohmert has been trying to get the documents about CAIR, which is the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated public relations front here in the United States. Gohmert has tried unsuccessfully for three years to get the Department of Justice to release the files on CAIR from the Holy Land Foundation Trial. We are receiving a clear message from the State Department , the Justice Department, and the Administration that not only are they simply not willing to expose these issues and to work with Congress but also they’re working with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Gordon:  One of the more troubling developments has been the complicit activities of certain Jewish defense groups in bolstering the positions of certain Muslim advocacy groups, allegedly on the grounds of free speech and free worship. What is your response to that?

Goldstein:  Groups that come out and are complicit in these false accusation of Islamophobia are either intentionally attempting to stifle public dialogue, or are unintentionally being misled to believe that there is a campaign against Muslims in this country. I think this is completely inaccurate. Islamophobia, as we mentioned before, is a contrived term that was invented by the Muslim Brotherhood with the sole purpose of stigmatizing those who are engaged in dialogue about militant Islam. If you look at the people who have been accused of Islamophobia, these are very well respected counter-terrorism experts and there is no utility whatsoever in calling people names and trying to intimidate people into silence. The United States thrives on open dialogue and debate about issues that affect our society. The role of Islam and Sharia law in honor killings and female genital mutilation, the threat of militant Islam, the sources of financing for Islamist terrorist groups, these are all very real issues that have to be hashed out through public awareness and debate. There is absolutely no utility in attempting to intimidate those who are engaging in this dialogue by calling names. That’s not how adults who are concerned about the safety of American citizens behave.

Gordon:  Brooke Goldstein, I want to thank you for this engrossing and comprehensive discussion about an important topic that the U.S. needs to address. We thank you.

Goldstein:  Thank you. I also want to mention a book that came out by Citizens for National Security. It is called the Council of American Islamic Relations: Its Use of Lawfare and IntimidationIt contains examples of attempts by CAIR to bully and sue Americans and U.S. law enforcement into silence. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to study CAIR’s role in undermining the First Amendment right of free speech and our national security. The Lawfare Project also published a book entitled Lawfare: The War Against Free Speech. It is a guide for any American who wants a primer on what their free speech rights are in this country, what the First Amendment protects, what is considered defamation, and how to protect yourself against a lawfare lawsuit. Your readers should feel free to contact The Lawfare Project if they are being intimidated. You can visit our website at www.thelawfareproject.org. Thank you so much Jerry for giving this issue the attention it deserves. We appreciate it.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. Also see Jerry Gordon’s collection of interviews, The West Speaks.

Miami-Dade: Student, Not Teachers, Feels Heavy Hand of Justice

In Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), there exists a double standard by the school system and its police department when dispensing justice between students and teachers.

For evidence of this, examine the circumstances between a student, Jose Bautista, an 18 year old senior at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School, and Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, two teachers at Miami Norland Senior High School. Each did something terribly wrong, each was treated very differently.

The question: Has justice been served?

According to a local news report, Mr. Bautista, was arrested and charged with eight felonies counts for allegedly obtaining the principal’s network password and offering to change grades for four students for an unknown sum of money. He was on track to graduate with his class at the end of May. On Friday, May 2nd, a judge set Bautista’s bond at $20,000 and ordered him to be placed under house arrest with a GPS monitor. He has since been released from jail.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools released a statement saying, “The school district takes incidents like this very seriously.  In addition to the arrest and ongoing criminal investigation, the Code of Student Conduct provides for corrective strategies up to and including recommendation for expulsion.”

It is unclear if Bautista will be allowed to graduate.

During the 2011-2012 school year, Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick gave the answers to standardized tests, industry certification exams, to a large number of students. Seventeen students confessed to this, some saying whole classes received the answers.

The Miami-Dade OIG Final Report concluded that, “Miami Norland has benefited in the form of attaining a higher school grade and may have received financial compensation or other benefit resulting from its high pass rate on the industry certification exams” (page 13).

With the assistance of cheating, undertaken by Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, Miami Norland’s school grade went from a “C” for the 2010-11 school year to an “A” for the 2011-12 school year.

As a result, total federal funds (SIG, RTTT) given out due to a grade influenced by cheating was $100,560; the total state funds per FSRP was between $130,000- $140,000; the total overall combined federal and state incentive funds were $230,560- $240,560.

Each teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School received $1730.41 from all three payouts.

On October 16, 2013, the Miami-Dade School Board voted to terminate Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin for his role in what has become known as Adobegate.

On November 19, 2013, the Miami-Dade School Board voted to suspend Mrs. Brenda Muchnick for 30 working days without pay for her role in Adobegate.

Mr. Fleurantin is still awaiting the results from his Department of Administrative Hearings case, and Mrs. Muchnick served her inconsequential 30 day suspension without pay and has been back to work at Norland Since January 8, 2014, whereas the whistle-blower, Trevor Colestock, was illegally removed from Norland and has yet to be returned.

Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick were both investigated by M-DCPS and Schools Police, but unlike the student Jose Bautista, both were not charged, handcuffed, or appeared before a judge.

How does Bautista, a student who did something juvenile yet serious, gets charged, cuffed, goes before a judge, has a $20,000 bond, confined to home with a GPS monitor, local media scrutiny, and now has a felony record for the rest of his days, but yet two teachers who should have known better were never charged, cuffed, appeared in court despite unduly influencing the school grade and caused, or attempted to cause, an erroneous $250,000 payout of state and federal incentive funds?

Fleurantin and Muchnick engaged in far more serious crimes than Bautista: multiple potential counts of using a computer to commit and perpetrate a fraud, wire fraud, defrauding (or attempting to defraud) an out of state corporation (Certiport, the test vendor), and defrauding (or attempting to defraud) the State of Florida and the federal government and the taxpayers thereof.

Perhaps Fleurantin and Muchnick got off easy because they were doing what they were told and/or their actions benefited the school district and school/district administrators across the board in terms of recognition, promotion, and pay, and Bautista gets the heavy hand of justice because his actions only benefited himself and not M-DCPS whatsoever.

RELATED STORY: Teacher caught on video manhandling kindergartner will make your blood boil

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of the Miami-Dade Sheriff’s office.

Does a Benghazi Select Committee Matter? by Amy Payne

House Republicans are moving to set up a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks. The House could vote this week on establishing the panel, which House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said would be led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a former federal prosecutor.

Helle Dale, a Heritage expert who has followed the Benghazi scandal closely, said this “could be a giant step toward unraveling the real story behind the Benghazi attack, which cost four brave Americans their lives, and the cover-up that has denied Americans the truth.”

See four essential questions the Benghazi select committee should tackle

What is a select committee, and is this move useful? The Foundry asked Heritage legal expert Hans von Spakovsky.

The Foundry: What is a congressional select committee?

Hans von Spakovsky: Select committees can be set up to perform a particular function, often to perform a specific investigation. They are usually created by a resolution that specifies the duties and powers of the select committee, including when its authority will expire. Such committees are particularly useful when jurisdiction over a particular subject is shared by several regular committees, which can lead to confusion and conflicting actions.

Who sets it up, and what jurisdiction/authority does it have?

In this case, Speaker John Boehner has announced his intention to set up the committee and appoint Rep. Trey Gowdy as its head. The House still has to vote to establish the committee. The resolution setting it up (which hasn’t been released yet) will establish its jurisdiction, but in general, select committees can subpoena and depose witnesses, call them to public hearings, and hire lawyers to work as special investigators.

How does a select committee differ from appointing a special counsel to investigate something?

Only the Attorney General can appoint a special counsel to investigate a matter. For example, House Republicans are also talking about asking for a special counsel to look into the IRS’s targeting of conservative nonprofits. The chances of Eric Holder granting that are just about nil.

Does it have the power to punish people?

If, for example, they decided to vote someone in contempt of Congress—for failing to appear or provide testimony—the full House would have to approve that. If Congress had to enforce a contempt citation in federal court, a judge could order the witness who is in contempt to provide testimony, and if the witness doesn’t, the judge could impose jail time or a civil fine. You know, it probably hasn’t been done since the 1800s, but the House does have the power to seize someone who is in contempt of the House. The sergeant-at-arms can seize someone and put them in a jail cell in the House.

What kind of results have select committees produced in the past?

One of the most well-known select committees was the Church Committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho) in 1975 that investigated intelligence gathering by the CIA, NSA and FBI. Its findings led to new laws imposing restrictions on how we gather intelligence, which some believe are at least partly responsible for the intelligence failures related to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

So are select committees focused on producing new laws?

On Benghazi, I think this committee would be driving toward finding out exactly what happened; why the security of the consulate in Benghazi was so inadequate; what failures there were at the State Department and potentially the Pentagon for not being able to respond once the attack started; and coming up with recommendations to prevent anything like this from happening again. In addition to legislative recommendations, they could make recommendations for disciplining or terminating employees if they find wrongful behavior.

It’s been some time since the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11, 2012. Is it helpful to start the investigation now?

A select committee would not have to start from scratch; it would have the benefit of all of the information uncovered to date by the committees in the House of Representatives that have been investigating these matters. But this committee would have the advantage of a single-minded focus on the issue—including dedicated staff—as compared to the regular House committees that have numerous other responsibilities and duties in many different areas.

I had thought this would have happened sooner, but thank goodness it’s finally happening.

Is this just for show, or will it have substance to it?

I think it will have substance to it. And it’s important because four Americans were killed, and it looks like they were needlessly killed—that if the right security steps were taken, they would not have died. I think this is very important for the future safety of American diplomatic personnel.

Remembering Benghazi: A Timeline in Photos

RELATED STORY: Poll: 72% want the truth about Benghazi

Florida: Court collision pushing Pinellas Term Limits case toward Supreme Court

Crash!

The April 16 decision by the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeals excusing Pinellas County from enforcing its voter-approved 8-year county commission term limits law collided head on with a 2011 decision from the 4th DCA which required that they be enforced. Indeed, after the Florida Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the 4th DCA decision, every county in Florida is enforcing their county term limits except Pinellas.

Why is Pinellas so special?  In its April 16 decision, the 2nd DCA did  not answer that question. In fact, its only response was: “Affirmed.” No explanation was given at all!

That won’t do. It is pretty clear this case must be settled in the Florida Supreme Court as the conflict between the two decisions are so stark.  Must counties enforce their voter-approved charter amendments or not?

It is an important question that affects all 20 of Florida’s charter — or ‘home rule’ — counties, not just the 12 whose voters have opted to impose term limits on their county politicians.

On this basis, the Pinellas citizens who have been defending the Pinellas term limits law in court have filed for a rehearing, requesting the court revisit its decision or at least provide an explanation that they can bring to the Supreme Court.

It is difficult to see what the defense the county politicians have. The case set out in the good guys’ Motion for Clarification appears incontrovertible:

  1. Voters overwhelmingly approved 8-year term limits on county commissioners and constitutional officers in 1996.
  2. In Cook (2002),  the Florida Supreme Court (in a split decision) struck down the term limits on constitutional officers, but did not address county commission term limits.
  3. The Pinellas charter’s severability clause (7.01) clearly provides that if one section of the charter is found unconstitutional, others survive.
  4. As an example of this under Florida law, Florida voters approved in 1992 term limits on both federal Congress members and state legislators. When the U.S. Supreme Court shot down Congressional term limits in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1995), the Congressional term limits were nullified but — per Florida’s Ray v. Mortham (1999) — the state legislative term limits still stand.
  5. In 2011-12, the 4th DCA and then the Florida Supreme Court both unanimously affirmed the constitutionality of county commission term limits and also reversed their earlier decision regarding constitutional officer term limits as well.
  6. All Florida county term limits on the books today have been ruled constitutional and are being enforced, except in Pinellas County. There is no reason why Pinellas should be treated differently.

Due to the conflict between the DCAs, appellants Maria Scruggs and H. Patrick Wheeler argue the 2nd DCA owes the public — and the Supremes — an explanation. If we get one, it will be due to the hard work and personal sacrifice of these two individuals.

Florida’s In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens Violates Federal Law

While I am a strong believer in states rights under the 10th Amendment, I also believe that states should follow existing federal laws. Following and enforcing immigration laws, for example, has been the rallying cry for Republicans and some Democrats. If Florida is harmed by  an immigration law then Governor Scott should work with the state congressional delegation to alter or abolish the law. The Florida legislature should not pass and Governor Scott sign a law that violates federal immigration law.

Case in point is the Florida legislature passing HB 851 giving illegal aliens in-state college tuition. This effort has been fully embraced by Governor Rick Scott, former Governors Jeb Bush and Bob Martinez  in the name of “lowering the cost of tuition for all Florida students.” The problem is HB 851 violates federal immigration law and requires Florida to provide the same in-state college tuition rate to all citizens of the United States.

According to  Hans A. von Spakovsky and Charles D. Stimson giving in-state college tuition to illegal aliens violates federal law. The following is the full text of their November 2011 column titled “Providing In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens: A Violation of Federal Law“:

Federal law prohibits state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State”—unless the same in-state rates are offered to all citizens of the United States. Today, 12 states are circumventing this federal law, and the legal arguments offered to justify such actions are untenable, no matter what other policy arguments are offered in their defense. Because at least one federal court of appeals has held that there is no private right of action under the specific statute in question—§ 1623 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996—the U.S. Department of Justice must enforce this statutory provision against states that have violated federal law. Yet even as it sues states like Arizona and Alabama for trying to assist the enforcement of federal immigration law, the U.S. government refuses to sue states that are incontrovertibly and brazenly violating an unambiguous federal immigration law. Such inaction is unacceptable: The President and the Attorney General have an obligation to enforce every provision of the United State’s comprehensive federal immigration regulations—including the federal law prohibiting state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State.”

In 1996, Congress passed—and President Bill Clinton signed into law—the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).[i] Section 1623 of this federal statute prohibits state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State” unless the same in-state rates are offered to all citizens of the United States.[ii] Today, 12 states[iii] allow individuals who are in the United States illegally to pay the same in-state tuition rates as legal residents of the states[iv]—without providing the same rates to others. By circumventing the requirements of § 1623 these states are violating federal law, and the legal arguments offered to justify such actions are untenable, no matter what other policy arguments are offered in their defense.

A Nation of Laws, Not of Men

The United States is a country of immigrants—men and women who sought opportunity and freedom in an exceptional new land. Americans take pride in their heritage and this country’s generous policies regarding legal immigration. Yet, as citizens of a sovereign nation, Americans retain the right to decide who can and cannot enter this country—and what terms immigrants and visitors must accept as a condition of residing in the United States. As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, Congress sets America’s immigration policy. State officials have considerable influence in Congress over the crafting of immigration laws, and they may take steps to help enforce federal law.[v] However, state officials cannot act contrary to a congressional statute.

America is a “nation of laws, not of men,” and thus her citizens must abide by the rule of law. But even if the operation of the rule of law was not imbedded in the U.S. Constitution and legal system, every generation of Americans should re-affirm its virtue and security. These concepts, ancient as they are, and quaint as they may sound to some, provide the bedrock principles of this nation’s constitutional republic. To abandon them in individual cases—where, for example, it seems opportunistic or personally appealing—is to render them unavailable in the preservation of all other rights.

The Constitution, the States, and Immigration

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 of the United States Constitution provides that Congress has the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” Over the decades, Congress has done just that, imposing a variety of conditions on those who wish to immigrate (e.g., such individuals must do so openly and in accordance with established legal process) and on those who might be visiting (e.g., such individuals must not overstay their authorized visit).

Unambiguous federal law regarding who may receive the benefit of in-state college tuition is part of these conditions. Specifically, § 1623 of IIRIRA provides that

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizens or national is such a resident.[vi]

Thus, it is obvious that Congress meant to prohibit state colleges and universities from offering in-state tuition to illegal aliens unless the state institutions also offer in-state tuition to all students, regardless of whether they live in the state or in another state. Congress may have assumed that state colleges and universities would not be able to “afford” offering in-state rates to everyone because these schools rely on the higher tuition from out-of-state students to help subsidize public colleges, and thus they would not offer in-state rates to illegal aliens.[vii] But the law itself provides a choice and only requires states to treat out-of-state citizens and illegal aliens equally.

IIRIRA, once signed into law by President Clinton, should have settled this issue. But some states have continued to offer lower tuition to illegal aliens without offering the same to all students—a direct violation of federal law. Specifically, 12 states have circumvented the express language and clear intent of the statute by erecting proxy legal justifications for offering in-state tuition to illegal aliens. These states have asserted these legal arguments in courts and forced others to waste time and resources in litigation to try to enforce federal law. Such state policies not only violate federal law; they also:

  • Encourage illegal immigration;
  • Are fundamentally unfair to students from out-of-state who are U.S. citizens; and
  • Force taxpayers to subsidize the education of illegal aliens.

Beyond these immediate concerns, there is another, larger issue at stake: the federal government’s preeminent power to regulate immigration. The Supreme Court has held that the “[p]ower to regulate immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power.”[viii] However, not every state action “which in any way deals with aliens is a regulation of immigration and thus per se pre-empted by this constitutional power, whether latent or exercised.”[ix] In order for a state statute affecting immigrants (legal or illegal) to be valid, it cannot be expressly preempted by federal immigration law and must “not otherwise conflict with federal law.”[x]

State laws that provide in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens are both expressly preempted by, and in conflict with, § 1623—unless the state also provides in-state tuition rates to all other American students regardless of their state of residence. However, none of the states that provide in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens have changed their state laws to provide such tuition rates to out-of-state students who are U.S. citizens.

Circumventing Federal Law 101

To avoid IIRIRA’s mandate that in-state tuition be determined “on the basis of residence within a State,” some state lawmakers have created alternative criteria through which students might qualify for in-state tuition. Such alternative criteria are intended to act as a substitute for actual residence, which, in turn, creates the patina of compliance with the federal statute: Since residence is not at issue, there is, so these states argue, no conflict between federal and state law. In reality, however, the states are targeting illegal aliens for in-state tuition.

Maryland’s Senate Bill 167, which was signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley (D), is a typical example of such chicanery. This bill exempts individuals, including “undocumented immigrants,” from paying out-of-state tuition if the person attended a secondary school in the state for at least three years, graduated or received a GED in the state, proves that he or his parents have filed Maryland income tax returns annually for the three years the student attended school in Maryland, and states that they will file an application to become a permanent resident.[xi]

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler provided a dubious legal opinion regarding Senate Bill 167 to Gov. O’Malley on May 9, 2011. Gansler concluded that federal law (in particular, 8 U.S.C. § 1623(a)) does not preempt Senate Bill 167. The opinion suggests that Senate Bill 167 is not subject to the preemptive effect of § 1623(a) because the former “looks to factors such as time of attendance in Maryland schools and graduation from Maryland schools to define an exemption from nonresident tuition” [xii] and not residence. There are at least two problems with that legal analysis.

First, federal law permits a state to grant in-state college tuition to an illegal alien only if the state affords the same benefit to non-Maryland residents. The purpose of that law is to allow a state to treat illegal aliens like nonresidents for college tuition purposes: If the state does not charge more to the latter than to in-state students, then it may charge the same amount to illegal aliens (who, in an abstract sense, are akin to non-Marylanders). But Maryland’s law does not use that formula; Gansler claims that the bill does not require “residence” in Maryland to attend college and receive in-state tuition since it looks to “time of attendance” in Maryland high schools.

However, the regulations of the Maryland Board of Education authorize local schools to require “proof of the residency of the child” for admission into public schools for kindergarten through high school.[xiii] In fact, the Web site for the Prince George’s County Public Schools says that “proof of residence shall be a prerequisite of admission to the public schools” and parents and guardians who are registering their children for school the first time must file an “Affidavit of Disclosure as required by law, verifying their legal residence in Maryland.”[xiv] Montgomery County also tells parents enrolling their children for the first time that “all students…must provide verification of age, identity, residency, and immunizations.”[xv]As the state’s attorney general, Gansler has constructive knowledge of this residency requirement. The fact that he ignores it throws into question the premise on which his entire legal opinion rests.

No one who lives in, and went to high school in, for example, Wyoming, could satisfy the eligibility requirements of Senate Bill 167; the new law does not apply to non-Marylanders. As such, because the Maryland bill does not put non-Maryland residents on a par with Marylanders, the bill cannot give illegal aliens a break on state tuition.

Second, Gansler’s letter states that “the entire purpose of the bill is to design a law that will enable the State to continue to provide services to young undocumented aliens.”[xvi] The purpose of the bill, therefore, is to achieve the result that Congress outlawed in 8 U.S.C. § 1623(a)—granting in-state college tuition to illegal aliens without also granting that benefit to non-Maryland residents.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down state legislation enacted to evade federal statutory or constitutional requirements. Indeed, the Court has rejected such legislation even when state lawmakers do not reference a suspect or disfavored classification:

The states have no power, by taxation or otherwise, to retard, impede, burden, or in any manner control, the operations of the constitutional laws enacted by Congress to carry into execution the powers vested in the general government.[xvii]

For example, in 2000, the Court struck down a Hawaiian statute that limited voting in certain elections to individual descendants of those who lived in Hawaii prior to 1778.[xviii] The statute’s eligibility requirements made no mention of race but were an obvious pretext for Polynesian heritage.

These state statutes that are intended to provide in-state tuition to illegal aliens are similar pretextual attempts to evade the federal immigration statute.

The Martinez Legal Fig Leaf

The few federal cases on this issue filed by citizen university students and their parents against such state laws have not reached the substantive merits of the preemption issue because the courts have held that individuals do not have standing to sue under this statutory federal provision.

For example, in Day v Bond, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit brought by nonresident citizen university students and their parents against the state of Kansas. Section 1623 does not create a private right of action and the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring an equal protection claim.[xix] The court held that the injuries claimed by the plaintiffs failed to satisfy “the requisite standing criteria.” These injuries included:

  1. The denial of equal treatment caused by the Kansas law that made it impossible for nonresident U.S. citizens to obtain the same in-state benefits;
  2. The increased tuition faced by the plaintiffs since the burden of subsidizing illegal alien beneficiaries is passed along to other students through tuition hikes;
  3. The harm that results from competition for scarce tuition resources; and
  4. The extra tuition paid by nonresident plaintiffs during the academic year over the in-state tuition paid by nonresident illegal aliens, as a consequence of the discriminatory law.

On the other hand, illegal aliens who have sued states for denying admission to post-secondary institutions as a violation of their constitutional rights have had their lawsuits thrown out on the merits. InEqual Access Education v. Merten,[xx] a Virginia federal district court held that, although illegal aliens had standing to bring suit, Virginia was under no obligation to allow illegal aliens to attend Virginia colleges and universities. Virginia’s law was not preempted by federal law and did not violate due process: “It defies logic to conclude that…Congress left states powerless to deny admission to illegal aliens.”[xxi] The court concluded that the “persuasive inference to draw from § 1623 is that public post-secondary institutions need not admit illegal aliens at all, but if they do, these aliens cannot receive in-state tuition unless out-of-state United States citizens receive this benefit.”[xxii]

As the National Conference of State Legislatures notes in a report on in-state tuition for illegal aliens, in order to try and “maneuver around the [§ 1623] requirements, the eleven states that have enacted laws granting in-state tuition rates to undocumented students have tried to word the legislation so that it is contingent on high school attendance and graduation, and not based on residency within the state.”[xxiii]But Texas bases its definition of residency for college admission on an individual (or his parent) establishing domicile in Texas not later than one year before the academic term in which the student is enrolled in college or graduating from a Texas high school who “maintained a residence” continuously for three years before graduation.[xxiv] Similarly, California bases residency on high school attendance in California for three or more years and graduation from a California high school.[xxv]

The California Supreme Court bought into this legally questionable argument in Martinez v. Regents of the University of California.[xxvi] The court recognized that the question of federal preemption of California’s residency law depended on whether the three-year high school attendance requirement is an “exemption based on residence within California.” However, the court held that the requirement that a student attend a California high school for three years and graduate was not a residency requirement. It overturned the California Court of Appeals, which had come to the legally straightforward conclusion that the California law was intended to benefit illegal aliens living in the state and the “wording of the California statute…creates a de facto residence requirement.”[xxvii] The court of appeals did not consider it relevant that the eligibility criteria did not correlate 100 percent with residency.

The California Supreme Court made the illogical claim that because § 1623 is not an “absolute ban” on illegal aliens receiving such tuition benefits, that section of federal law is not in accord with the expressed intention of Congress in its immigration legislation to “remove the incentive for illegal immigration provided by the availability of public benefits.”[xxviii] The court also ignored the fact that the state had adopted the law specifically to benefit illegal aliens living in California and that the overwhelming majority of those who qualified for the benefit were only illegal aliens.

While this legally erroneous decision may be the law in California (at least for the time being), it is not the law anywhere else in the country. Although the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition of certiorari filed by the plaintiffs, it is black letter law that such a denial has no precedential effect whatsoever;[xxix]this issue has not yet been decided on the merits by any federal court.

And yet, offending states continue to ignore the clear language provided by a federal court in the Mertendecision, and instead rely on the preferred outcome found in a state supreme court ruling—a shortsighted and legally specious approach to governing.

Unwise Public Policy

Giving illegal aliens a financial break at state colleges and universities is not only illegal; it is also immensely unpopular with American taxpayers. An August 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 81 percent of voters oppose providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens. Seventy-two (72) percent of voters believe parents should be required to prove their legal residency when registering their children for public school.[xxx]

These results, however, should hardly come as a surprise: In 2005, it was estimated that the cost to taxpayers of providing in-state tuition in California was between $222.6 million and $289.3 million, while the cost to Texas taxpayers was between $80.2 million and $104.4 million.[xxxi]

Granting financial preference to illegal aliens also discriminates against otherwise qualified citizen students from outside the state. Furthermore, states that offer in-state tuition to illegal aliens act as a magnet for more illegal aliens to come to the state. Arguments to the contrary are unpersuasive, and not supported by the facts.

An Obligation to Enforce Federal Law

States that offer in-state tuition for illegal aliens are in violation of federal law. In doing so, these states are also acting against the will of the American people.

The applicable statute and the case law are clear: If there is no private right of action under § 1623, the U.S. Department of Justice must enforce this statutory provision against states that have violated federal law. Yet even as it sues states like Arizona and Alabama for trying to assist the enforcement of federal immigration law, the U.S. government refuses to sue states that are incontrovertibly and brazenly violating an unambiguous federal immigration law.

The President and the Attorney General have an obligation to enforce the provisions of the United States’ comprehensive federal immigration regulations—including the federal law prohibiting state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State.”

ABOUT HANS A VON SPAKOVSKY AND CHARLES D. STIMSON

Hans A. von Spakovsky and Charles D. Stimson are both Senior Legal Fellows in the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation;  von Spakovsky served as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Justice Department (2002–2005) and Stimson was a federal prosecutor and later Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (2006–2007).

Florida Legislature Passes Two Landmark Bills: Textbooks and American Laws for American Courts

Senator Hays

Florida Senator Alan Hays.

After four years of trying in the face of misinformed opposition, an amended version of American Law for American Courts (ALAC) SB 386 passed the Florida Legislature this week.  The Senate sponsor of SB 386, Senator Alan Hays, Republican of Umatilla, said on Monday, April 28th when the Senate voted to pass the measure by 24 Republicans to 14 Democrats:

I am delighted that my colleagues in the Florida Senate passed SB 386 – The Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases -this morning.

It is my fervent desire to make sure everyone in a Florida courtroom is  protected from the imposition of any foreign law that may diminish the rights of that person which are afforded by our US and Florida Constitutions.  This bill codifies case law to offer those protections and is a welcome addition to the statutes of our state.

I sincerely appreciate the efforts of many others who assisted in the passage of this landmark legislation.

Fl. Rep. Mike Hill

Florida Rep. Mike Hill

House Rep. Mike Hill, Republican from Pensacola, a member of the Subcommittee on Civil Justice, following   House approval on April 30th of HB 903 by 78 Republicans to 40 Democrats, said:

I am honored to join my colleagues and vote ‘yes’ on the bill that passed the Florida House today codifying that American law only will be used in Florida courts.  It is our duty to do so as I took an oath to protect the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Florida.

The Amended version of SB 386 was adopted to overwhelm five Amendments put up by opposition minority Democrats prior to the floor debate that began last Friday, April 25th.The compromise reached was to take up an Amendment formerly offered and waived by Republican Senator David Simmons of Altamonte Springs in previous House and Senate Committee hearings. The Simmons Amendment would codify Florida case law. However, it would assist in addressing Sharia compliant parental abduction in violation of Florida, US and international law.Given Florida legislative procedures, the House passed the Senate version.Now the measure awaits enactment into law upon review by Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Rabbi Jonathan H. Hausman small

Rabbi Jonathan Hausman

Rabbi Jonathan Hausman and I were in the Florida House Public Gallery on Tuesday, April 29th witnessing the floor debate with questions from opposition Democrats to House bill sponsor Rep. Neil Combee.   Misinformed, they persisted in asking why the measure was necessary and alleged conflicts over recognition of Israeli rabbinic divorce decrees and business contracts.Rep. Combee cited both lower court and appellate level cases in which foreign law had been recognized that did not comply with the comity principles under Florida practice as justification for passing the measure.

The alleged problems cited by Democrat members of the Florida House; i.e., non-recognition of Israeli family court decisions had been investigated and found misleading. That effort was based on published research by Professor Daphna Hackner, a Tel Aviv University Family law expert and arguments presented in a video and letter to Florida legislators by Rabbi Hausman, a member of two state bars and expert in both Jewish Halacha and Islamic Sharia.

Prior to the Senate and House deliberations on SB 386/HB 903 we suggested to the bill sponsors that the Amended version be reviewed by Stephen M. Gelé, Esq. of the New Orleans law firm of Smith Fawer LLC.  Today, despite his being on vacation, Gelé sent his assessment on the legislation that we received via Christopher Holton of ACT!  Gelé said:

The Florida Legislature recently passed SB 386, a bill that will help protect Floridians from foreign law that is inconsistent with American values, such as Islamic Sharia law.  When hopefully signed into law by Governor Scott, the bill will: help protect Florida parents who face loss of their children to a foreign custody judgment; help protect spouses who face unfair foreign judgments of divorce, spousal support, or marital property distributions; help protect parents and spouses from marital contracts (including Islamic marital contracts often named mahrs) that would force decisions regarding child custody, spousal support and marital property distributions to be decided in foreign courts or under foreign law in American courts; and, help protect parents and spouses from having disputes regarding child custody, spousal support and marital property distributions from being dismissed by Florida courts in favor being decided in  foreign courts.

Although American and Florida courts have held in the past that foreign law should not be applied when the foreign law offends public policy, this concept has not previously been strengthened by statute. Further, under current Florida child custody statutes a judge can refuse to enforce a foreign custody judgment only “if the child custody law of a foreign country violates fundamental principles of human rights.”  Unfortunately, statements by the U.S. State Department suggest that “fundamental principles of human rights” should be interpreted more narrowly than most Americans would interpret the phrase.  However, SB 386 allows a Florida judge to refuse to enforce a foreign custody judgment under the much broader standard of whether the judgment offends the public policy of Florida.

Therefore, the most important effect of the change in the law would be to protect parents from losing their children to foreign custody decrees, which has happened before.

Margaret McLain

Prof. Margaret McLain

Gele’s comments are reflective of a new theme adopted based on the recommendation by Kansas House Speaker Pro TemporeRep. Peg Mast. Mast successfully secured bi-partisan support for passage of ALAC in the 2012 session in Topeka. She suggested emphasizing protection of “fundamental Constitutional rights” for Florida women and children. That meant putting a human face to the theme of the foreign law war on women and children. This was reflected in New English Review  interviews with two women.

One interview was with retired Arkansas State University Professor Margaret McClain. She spoke in Tallahassee on March 13, 2014 to a group of citizen lobbyists about the abduction and removal of her five  year old daughter Heidi to Saudi Arabia by her Saudi ex-husband in violation of state, federal and international law, but condoned under Sharia

Yasmeen A_ Davis  NER interview 3-17-14

Yasmeen A. Davis

Then there was the interview with Floridian Yasmeen A. Davis who told about her abduction by her Saudi father at age 11 and her treatment under Sharia in his home in Saudi Arabia until rescued by her family at age 13.  Now 28 she still suffers PTSD from the episode.

One of the premiere groups in providing ground forces to obtain commitments for the legislation is the Christian Family Coalition (CFC) of Florida led by its highly effective executive director, Anthony Verdugo. CFC has more than 5,000 members and supporters working with over 1,000 Churches in the state. CFC demonstrated its prowess by supporting social issue legislation that passed the Florida legislature and a bi-partisan Support for Israel resolution in 2012.  CFC made the legislation a priority for passage in 2014 and held several training sessions with members to equip them with FAQs documents and arguments as to why the bills should be passed countering the misinformation of opponents.  On March 13, 2014  following talks by both Senator Hays and Professor McClain at the CFC’s Annual Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Tallahassee, 75 citizen-lobbyists fanned out buttonholing Senators and Representatives presenting the rationale behind  the CFC legislative priorities.  By the afternoon of March 13th, these CFC citizen lobbyists had successfully obtained 39 commitments in support of bills and other CFC legislative priorities.

Fl Rep Matt Gaetz

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz

Without the dogged determination of the legislation’s sponsors like Sen. Hays and Rep. Combee with the support of advocates in the House Reps. Mike Hill, Larry Metz and Matt Gaetz, what occurred this week might not have happened.

That was abetted by a new and important theme, protecting the Constitutional rights of women and children.  This was assisted by able ground forces from the CFC and other concerned citizen activists securing legislator commitments.

But that is not all that occurred in Tallahassee this week.

Earlier this month, Sen. Hays had also deftly maneuvered a companion measure directed at text book review, SB 864, passed the Senate with a thin vote tally of 21 Republicans  to 19 Democrat. The measure would reverse State Department of Education control over selection of textbooks returning that role to Florida’s 67 school districts, requiring open public hearing on texts used in courses.  SB 864 was largely prompted by a different issue; objections of parental groups in several Florida counties about the treatment of Islam and Muslim culture in world history textbooks that are on the Florida State Department of Education list of approved texts.

Today, the House passed the amended SB864/HB 921 by a resounding bi-partisan 117 yeas with 2 not voting.

Fl Rep_ Larry Metz

Florida Rep. Larry Metz

Like the experience with SB 386, SB 864/HB 921: “on K to 12 instruction materials”, was amended following a conference with both Senate and House sponsors and consultation with the Governor’s office.  While it may require clarification that standards of fact-based accurate depictions in world history texts should be adhered to, the legislation does create a process giving parents relief who object at the school district  level  to specific instructional material triggering  a public hearing.  The legislation  also adds requirements that instructional materials “accurately portray the religious and physical diversity of our society”. Further, it makes the school district boards responsible for the content of all instructional materials used in the classroom.  One important requirement is that the amended legislation would add a new topic in the curriculum specified in 1003.42, F.S. –“the events surrounding the terrorist attacks occurring on 9/11/01 and the impacts of those events on the nation”.

Those of us who have been involved with the support of both measures consider them landmarks for possible consideration in other US states.  This might not satisfy all of the concerns in certain quarters; however, they reflect two well turned precepts.  Voltaire wrote: “a wise Italian says that the best is the enemy of the good”.   German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck said:  “politics is the art of the possible”.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.