Family Research Council


Trans Ruling Booed by Legal Experts

October 31, 2017

It may be Halloween, but Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly didn't bother disguising her activist agenda. In a stunning ruling on Trump's military policy, Kollar-Kotelly thrilled liberals by putting the brakes on the president's July order that stopped people who identify as transgender from serving. Although it's the same policy Barack Obama held for seven years, it's apparently unconstitutional now that Donald Trump is president.

Most Americans will probably never get used to judges substituting their own opinion for the law, but it was especially jarring yesterday when this one declared herself the final authority on U.S. military policy, despite never being elected for the job. As any credible legal expert would tell you, Kollar-Kotelly's opinion was amazingly presumptuous for an unelected district judge, who -- without the benefit of internal intelligence, the service chiefs' counsel, and Defense Department data -- is quite content telling the White House how to defend America.

It was a jaw-dropping move, suggesting that she knows better than the commander-in-chief, but that's the unfortunate climate of America's courts. Liberal judges have gone from rewriting the law to second-guessing our president in areas like national security, where the courts almost always defer to the executive branch. And this court doesn't tiptoe -- it leaps over the White House's authority on military issues. To try to justify her overreach, Kollar-Kotelly argues:

"The Court by no means suggests that it was not within the president's authority to order that additional studies be undertaken and that this policy be reevaluated. If the president had done so and then decided that banning all transgender individuals from serving in the military was beneficial to the various military objectives cited, this would be a different case."

FRC's Travis Weber was just one of the people stunned by Kollar-Kotelly's ruling. "This type of judicial activism gives the court a self-conferred 'veto' of any presidential decision concerning the military the court simply thinks is unlawful. That's not the way our constitutional order works." Not to mention, he goes on, "This kind of judicial presumption is doubly harmful when done in the military context. The court acted as if all the objective facts supported its conclusion, but then naively relied on the legal filings of ideologically-driven interest groups to come to this conclusion:

"Contrary to Defendants' assertion, this does not appear to be a case where the Court is required to pick sides in a 'battle of experts.' ...To the contrary, the record at this stage of the case shows that the reasons offered for categorically excluding transgender individuals were not supported and were in fact contradicted by the only military judgment available at the time. Accordingly, unlike the district court in Rostker, the Court's analysis in this opinion has not been based on an independent evaluation of evidence or faulting of the president for choosing between two alternatives based on competing evidence."

At one point, the court actually suggests that people confused about their gender lack "the sort of political power other groups might harness to protect themselves from discrimination." One look at the amicus briefs in this case -- or corporate America's fierce lobbying on the issue -- shows how out of touch her argument is.

In one of the more astonishing parts of her 76-page liberal manifesto, Kollar-Kotelly single-handedly invents a new protected class for people who identify as transgender, despite admitting she "is aware of no binding precedent on this issue." "Transgender individuals have immutable and distinguishing characteristics that make them a discernable class," she insists. The "defining characteristic of a transgender individual is that their inward identity, behavior, and possibly their physical characteristics, do not conform to stereotypes of how an individual of their assigned sex should feel, act and look." There's just one problem: An unelected U.S. district court judge has absolutely no authority to create a special legal category for anyone! So while the Left is busy celebrating, rest assured. This case is just beginning.

Here's another important point, FRC's Peter Sprigg explains. "The judge fails to acknowledge that there is no 'right' to serve in the military. Almost all the precedents she cites are outside the military context, where there should be much greater deference to the chain of command, beginning with the president." Just as importantly, Peter goes on, "she completely ignores the fact that the pre-2016 policy was based on physical and mental health issues. She approaches the whole issue of people who identify as transgender as being a 'class' that is being discriminated against, without even addressing the relevance of their health condition to their fitness for service."

Kollar-Kotelly seems to think the military is just your run-of-the-mill office environment -- when in fact, it's a physically-demanding, life-threatening battleground. The goal isn't to advance "tolerance" or help people on the path to self-actualization. It's to fight and win wars. And that mission is severely compromised when activist courts try to force the military into accepting unstable recruits in the name of "fairness." I've got news for liberals: the military isn't fair! If you don't believe me, try to enlist with a mouthful of cavities or flat feet. In the end, it's not our leaders' responsibility to turn Americans into people fit to serve. It's the military's job to find people who already qualified to do so.

That's not discrimination. That's war.


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


Inspectors Stumble on Ghoulish Scene at Abortion Chain

October 31, 2017

In the abortion debate, there aren't many areas where the two sides agree. But shouldn't women's safety be one of them? Whole Woman's Health doesn't think so, and its latest inspection report proves it. The company's network of abortion centers is making headlines in Texas for subjecting mothers to third-world conditions that show just how little respect the industry has for the women it claims to protect.

Over a six-year period, the Texas Department of State Health Services stumbled on one horrifying scene after another in the group's chain of facilities. Despite raking in millions from its abortion business, Whole Women's Health didn't spend any of it ensuring that women had a safe or clean experience. They were grisly scenes for investigators, who, unfortunately, are used to the disgusting conditions of many abortion businesses. Health workers found dirty and rusty equipment, tools that had been used on multiple patients without being disinfected, bloody suction machines, and staff that weren't trained or licensed for the procedures they were performing.

"A 2016 report on the McAllen, Texas facility notes a counter so warped it 'was no longer a wipeable surface, which could harbor bacteria and infectious matter.' The reports also show cracks, rips, and tears on exam tables' covers" and other holes that inspectors thought rodents were using to enter the facility, the Washington Free Beacon reports. Lethal prescriptions in one of the Austin locations were completely unaccounted for, and a Beaumont center didn't even have a registered nurse on staff -- a blatant violation of Texas law.

As FRC's Arina Grossu points out, this is what happens when restaurants and tanning salons are more closely regulated than the abortion industry. "Anyone who cares about women's health and safety should want abortion facilities to be frequently inspected, no matter what their position is on abortion... [J]ust because it has to do with a hot-button topic doesn't mean that the abortion industry should get a free pass."

Like most of the industry, groups like Whole Women's Health say they care about women but refuse to prove it with common-sense standards. Other abortion tycoons, like Planned Parenthood, refuse to spare the money to upgrade their systems and instead blow millions of dollars in court fighting to keep their business's shoddy standards in place.

While the CEO of Whole Women's Health has insisted "there is no safety problem around abortion in Texas," her own network is exposing mothers to an environment most people wouldn't want their pets in. Unfortunately, these are the effects of the gradual dulling of the senses for people in the abortion industry. If you destroy innocent lives day in and day out, how could you possibly care about the condition of patients? In the end, the only way to justify taking lives is to become calloused to them.

According to Texas officials, agents have flagged and cited this same company for violating safety standards, "some dozens of times." It's time for Washington stop running when the Left yells about a "war on women" and start putting the responsibility for this war where it belongs: on the abortion industry and the pandering politicians who do their bidding.


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


Columnist: 'If you want to understand why people like Trump, watch VVS'

October 31, 2017

Long after we pack away the podium from another Values Voter Summit, we're always amazed at the long-term impact the event has. People are sincerely affected by what they see and hear at VVS -- and not just conservatives! In a fascinating piece for the Kansas City Star, columnist Robert Leonard openly talks about how the Summit helped open his mind about a president he could barely stomach. In Iowa, he explains, "Trump is ascendant" -- a trend he could never quite understand, given how brash and outspoken the president continues to be.

The answer, he writes, came to him on a Saturday morning at his local coffee shop.

"My friend Mark said something like, 'Hey Bob, if you want to understand why rural conservatives like Trump, watch the speech he gave at the Values Voter Summit.' I replied, 'Just tell me why,' not wanting to tell Mark I can hardly stand to watch or listen to Trump... 'No, you have to watch it first. Then we'll talk,' he said."

"While I couldn't bring myself to actually watch the speech, I read the transcript provided by the White House. Looking only at the written word, and putting Trump's arrogant off-script comments aside, it was a beautiful speech. Powerful. Inspirational. Brilliant even."

"That's not what I took from the reporting -- which may well be the fault of my selective reading and viewing -- but if President Barack Obama had given a similar speech I know much of the media would have lauded it, leaving me with a completely different perspective of the speech, and likely the man."

That's an amazing testimony about the importance of the event from someone who wasn't even there! Twelve years ago, when we hosted the very first VVS, our goal was to plant a flag for conservative values that the media and Republican Party couldn't ignore. More than a decade of Summits later, the liberal press has gone from trying to write values voters out of existence to admitting that they were the difference in Donald Trump's historic election.

For every person who traveled to D.C. to see the event live, there were thousands more watching the speeches on cable news and live web streams. Now, that impact lives on -- even in the coffee shops of small-town USA. So the next time you wonder if you're making a difference, think about the Values Voter Summit. None of it would have been possible without the support of people like you. Consider partnering with us as we plan for the next year of defending faith, family, and freedom. Help us give a voice to millions of Americans -- and continue changing the minds of people in the process. Give a generous gift today -- or sign up to become a monthly family partner!


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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