Family Research Council


The Seventh Circuit Stretch

April 05, 2017

If Congress won't rewrite the law, liberals will find a court who will! That's been the M.O. of the Left for decades: packing the bench with wannabe legislators who'll impose the agendas they could never pass democratically. It worked on school prayer, abortion, and marriage, as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) bragged last year. Now, the Left is using the same playbook on the gender debate -- knowing full well that it's the only way they can force their vision on an unwilling America. Fortunately, there are some judges who agree with us that if the Left wants to change the definition of discrimination, it's asking the wrong branch of government. Unfortunately, those judges aren't in the majority on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. In a mind-boggling decision yesterday, the judges not only stole Congress's job -- they admitted they were doing it!

For years, liberals have tried to pass legislation making "sexual orientation" a protected category under the Civil Rights Act -- first with ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) and then with the "Equality Act." The House and Senate rejected them every time. They recognized, as we do, that sexual orientation wasn't on the minds of legislators 53 years ago when it was trying to weed out prejudice -- and more importantly, it wasn't in the text of the law that passed! No bother, liberals said. We'll just rewrite the policy through our activist courts.

And Tuesday, the 7th Circuit was more than willing to comply. "For many years," Chief Judge Diane Wood admitted, "the courts of appeals of this country understood the prohibition against sex discrimination to exclude discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation." So by her own admission, there's absolutely no justification for rewriting the law. Still, she goes on, it's the court's responsibility to take a "fresh look" at its position. And in doing so, she writes, "we conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination."

The decision, an 8-3 bombshell, was astounding because it bucked -- not just the 7th Circuit's precedent, but every circuit's precedent. Judge Diane Sykes was just as shocked as we are. "Any case heard by the full court is important," she wrote in her dissent, "This one is momentous. All the more reason to pay careful attention to the limits on the court's role... We are not authorized to infuse the text with a new or unconventional meaning or to update it to respond to changed social, economic, or political conditions." In a powerful rebuke, she warns her colleagues that they've crossed into dangerous new territory.

"Our role is to... [interpret] the statutory language as a reasonable person would have understood it at the time of enactment. When we assume the power to alter the original public meaning of a statute through the process of interpretation, we assume a power that is not ours. The Constitution assigns the power to make and amend statutory law to the elected representatives of the people. However welcome today's decision might be as a policy matter, it comes at a great cost to representative self-government."

Translation: If you want to be a legislator, run for office! Stop "smuggling in" your own agenda, Sykes writes, "under cover of an aggressive reading of loosely related Supreme Court precedents." Legislative change, she recognizes, "is arduous and can be slow to come. But we're not authorized to amend Title VII by interpretation." Despite what the Left would have you believe, impatience with Congress is no reason for throwing the separation of powers overboard! A panel of the 11th Circuit Court argued the same point in a similar case three weeks ago. Led by Judge William Pryor, they came to the opposite conclusion on the Civil Rights Act, upholding it the way it was written. Unlike Judge Wood, they understand that if liberals want to make the workplace an incubator of their radical agenda, they'll have to persuade America the old fashioned way: democratically!

Of course, the backdrop for both decisions is the ongoing debate over Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch. Is it any wonder the knives are coming out for the president's nominee? The 49-year-old has been adamant about respecting the court's limited role. Trust me, that's not what the Left wants to hear. They're in the market for an undercover legislator. And if this case has illustrated anything, FRC's Peter Sprigg points out, it's "how important it is to appoint judges who understand their limited role in our constitutional system, who will exercise judicial restraint, and who will interpret both the Constitution and federal statutes in accordance with their original meaning."


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Crime and Target's Punishment

April 05, 2017

Families in Palatine, Illinois didn't need to be reminded about the dangers of Target's gender-free bathroom policy. They're already fighting it in the local school district. And an incident in an area store is giving their side plenty of fresh ammunition. Two weeks ago, a girl at the Palatine Target told authorities she was in the changing room when she saw a cell phone under her door filming. She screamed, a local CBS affiliate reports, and the man ran away. Like the high schoolers in town who are being forced to change in front of boys as part of the city's genderless guidance, this girl was under 18. Police are still searching for the man.

Unfortunately for the Target PR team, that was just the beginning of a string of voyeurs caught taping women in stores across the country this week. News channel WBIR in Tennessee interviewed Leigh Hamby, who was also in the women's dressing room in a Target when she "looked in the mirror and saw something under [her] door." She said her stomach dropped when she realized a man was taking pictures. "I feel so violated," she said. "It's dehumanizing in a sense that someone feels they can come into my dressing room and take something that doesn't belong to them. It's a violating and humiliating feeling." And tragically, Leigh wasn't the only one. Authorities looked through surveillance tapes and found the man peeping on several women.

At a Delaware Target on Friday, a man committed what police called "lewd acts" in front of female customers. "The potential dangers of a person committing such acts is what they are potentially building up to," Cpl. Mark Hoffman warned. "The acts by this suspect may have been a way for him to build up courage or confidence to commit more severe crimes, sexually-related." For Target, it's just another day in the life of a floundering business. With stories like these piling up almost faster than the retailer can stock their shelves, it's no wonder customers are staying away. They understand that while Target may offer a lot of things, privacy and safety isn't one of them.

In fact, the crimes are becoming so commonplace that the company is sending out a boilerplate press release for each incident, claiming their guests "are at the center of everything we do and our commitment to creating a safe and secure shopping environment in our stores is unwavering. As a part this commitment to safety, we have robust procedures, policies and trainings in place to ensure that our stores are safe places to shop and work. As soon as this incident was brought to our attention, we immediately partnered with local law enforcement."

But actions speak louder than words, most Americans would agree. And the stubborn refusal to inject some common sense back into its bathroom and changing room rules has been a punishing lesson for Target to learn. In just the last 30 days, the company's stock plunged another 4.6 percent -- bringing the shares to a two-year low. But I think most shoppers would agree: the biggest low may be what the store is willing to stoop to in its futile attempt to please the radical Left.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Yes, Virginia, There Should Be a Safety Clause

April 05, 2017

If Ed Gillespie is trying to win over Virginia voters, he picked the right issue to do it on. This past weekend, Gillespie, one of the three candidates to succeed Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), was blunt about the need to protect people's privacy. When he was asked about North Carolina's HB 2, Gillespie suggested the Commonwealth would be wise to pass something similar. "This isn't about bathrooms alone," he told the crowd at a GOP dinner. "It's also about compelling teenage girls to share locker rooms with teenage boys. It's about compelling teenage girls to have to stay in a hotel with a teenage boy on an overnight band trip. And the fact is, we have to make clear, that we are going to protect our children from that. We are not going to allow for that to happen."

The media seemed surprised that a self-described "moderate" would support such a policy. But maybe they haven't been paying attention to the polling, which shows that this isn't an ideological issue for most -- it's a safety issue. Liberals from everyday moms to ACLU chapter heads have spoken out forcefully against this phony attempt at tolerance. At Disney, one parent's encounter with a "burly man" in the restroom has made her an outspoken opponent of the movement.

"When the transgendered came out swinging for the right to use whatever bathroom they want to," she wrote, "some of us said this is not a good idea. And our reasons weren't that we don't want men who live as women to feel comfortable or safe but because we knew (those of us who were born women and live with the very real threat of male violence every day) that predators would take advantage of this new 'anything goes' policy and waltz into our safe spaces to violate us and no one would be able to do anything about it."

She goes on to describe one mother's horrifying encounter led her to warn every woman about the danger of being silent. With her young sons by her side, she asked herself when the man invaded the women's restroom, "'Am I the only one seeing this?' I surveyed the room and saw roughly 12 women, children in tow, staring at him with the exact same look on their faces. Everyone was visibly uncomfortable. We were all trading looks and motioning our eyes over to him...like 'What is he doing in here?' Yet every single one of us was silent. And this is the reason I wrote this blog."

If this had been 5 years ago, you bet your [life] every woman in there would've been like, 'Ummm what are you doing in here?' But in 2017? The mood has shifted. We had been culturally bullied into silence. Women were mid-changing their baby's diapers on the changing tables, and I could see them shifting to block his view. But they remained silent. I stayed silent. We all did... I saw two women leave the line with their children. Still nothing was said. An older lady said to me out loud, 'What is he doing in here?' I'm ashamed to admit I silently shrugged and mouthed, 'I don't know.' She immediately walked out from a bathroom she had every right to use without fear.

Folks, that's what this debate is all about -- the fundamental safety of our women and children. A handful of politicians may be willing to sacrifice that right on the altar of "tolerance," but thank goodness Ed Gillespie isn't one of them.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.



Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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