The Peach

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Saturday, September 18, 2004

Right-Wing Assault on Democracy -- Where Was the Press?

We just saw this item posted on DailyKos and could not believe that this story has recieved no media attention whatsoever. A bill has been introduced in the House and the Senate that represents a profound threat to our democracy -- actually, it was introduced last February -- but you'd never know it from reading the papers.

Senators Zell Miller, Richard Shelby, Sam Brownback, Lindsay Graham and others have sponsored the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004, which prevents the Supreme Court and federal courts from hearing cases that involve actions by an elected or appointed official undertaken on the basis of that official's belief in God. An identical bill has been introduced in the House.

Backers insist that the legislation is designed to prevent the courts from reviewing cases involving public nativity scenes, displays of the Ten Commandments and the like. But Yurica Report notes that "the law is drawn broadly and expressly includes the acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law by an official in his capacity of executing his office." Thus any if a public official cites his religious beliefs as the basis for a decision, action or piece of legislation (presumably including this law itself) then the decision or action would be exempt from judicial review .

A key section of the law reads:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.

The legislation was allegedly drafted by Herb Titus, the attorney for Judge Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore, on behalf of a group known as "Dominionists" that includes members of Congress. Titus was also the first dean of Pat Robertson's school of public policy. Robertson himself is allegedly a key theorist of Dominionism, and he has been explicit in his belief that Christians can and should take control of the government and limit the power of the courts. The "restoration" referred to in the legislation's title is thus the restoration of the Constitution to what Dominionists believe is an appropriate subservience to biblical law.

Think it can't happen here? The bill already has 34 sponsors in the House and seven in the Senate. It is currently in committees and we are following up on the current status of the discussion.

Get into the subject on TheocracyWatch if you want to really get chills -- especially the part that draws out connections between these Dominionists and aspects of the Texas Republican Party platform which includes calling for an end to criminal penalties for people who "oppose homosexuality" for religious reasons -- essentially decriminalizing hate crimes against gay people, abortion providers, etc.

You are mopping the cold sweat off your brow and thinking, even if this passed somehow, the Supreme Court would never allow it to stand. Well, consider the fact that at least two justices are nearing retirement. It is extremely likely that Bush will pack the Supreme Court in the next four years.

Can you hear us screaming from here to wherever you may be sitting?


At 10:41 AM, Blogger wanderindiana said...

Saw your post on is the link to the Bill Summary & Status page for S. 2323, also known as the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004.

This bill has 7 co-sponsors and is in the Judiciary committee. There is a similar Senate Bill, also authored by Richard Shelby, S. 2082. It has 5 co-sponsors and is also parked in the Judiciary committee.

The House version, H.R. 3799, was introduced by a Rep. Robert B. Aderholt of Alabama, and has 34 co-sponsors. It is in the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, where hearings on the bill were held 9/13/2004.

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Blue said...

Thanks so much for the info. We have updated the article accordingly. Can you explain a little about the implications of these bills being parked in committees, etc.? Does that mean that the Republicans are busy hammering out the details or what? Thanks again for getting us smarter about this issue.

At 9:23 PM, Blogger batya said...

Loud and clear! And we're not sitting. We're packing for our move to Canada!

At 12:03 PM, Blogger wanderindiana said...

Committe hearings are a chance for either Representatives or Senators to hear testimony and arguments about proposed legislation before sending them to the respective floor for a vote.

I could not find transcripts yet of the 9/13/2004 House Subcomittee hearings on H.R. 3799, but I did find a witness list of the hearing. The Subcomittee heard from the following individuals:

The Honorable Roy S. Moore, Foundation for Moral Law, Inc.
The Honorable William E. Dannemeyer, Member of Congress, 1979-1992
Professor Arthur D. Hellman, Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Professor Michael J. Gerhardt, Professor of Law, William & Mary Law School

I know for a fact that Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore is infamous for defying a higher court order to remove a stone tablet of the Ten Commandments from his courtroom. I am going to post a bit of his testimony at a Senate hearing this past summer to give people an idea of where he is coming from. Of course, he was involved in the drafting of the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004.

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