Don't Rush to Judge
A lot can happen between now and Congress's August recess -- and that's exactly what conservatives should be concerned about. Senate Democrats seem to be banking on the fact that Americans are on vacation and not paying attention, because liberal leaders are trying to slip in a quiet confirmation hearing for Cornelia "Nina" Pillard. A Georgetown law professor, Pillard is the President's latest nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals -- and only the second one since President George W. Bush to wait less than two months for a hearing.
Why the rush? Ed Whalen of NRO's Bench Memos suspects that Pillard (who's been described to him as "less moderate" than the most activist liberal in appellate court history) wouldn't survive intense scrutiny. The hurry, Whalen warns, "seems designed to prevent a careful review of their records. Obama himself has taken forever to make nominations to the D.C. Circuit, and that court remains underworked, so it is difficult to see the justification for the sudden rush."
Unfortunately for Americans, the Senate won't have to dig too deep to uncover some of Pillard's shockers. Among some of her greatest hits, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General argues that abortion is necessary to help "free women from historically routine conscription into maternity." As if her militant feminism wasn't apparent enough, she takes the opportunity in some of her writings to slam anyone who opposes the abortion-contraception mandate as "reinforce[ing] broader patterns of discrimination against women as a class of presumptive breeders."
Those ideas bleed into Pillard's extreme pro-abortion views, which suggest that technology is somehow manipulating Americans to consider the personhood of the unborn. In one of her most jaw-dropping statements, the President's nominee even criticizes the ultrasound. She believes it manufactures "deceptive images of fetus-as-autonomous-being that the anti-choice movement has popularized since the advent of amniocentesis."
As crazy and outrageous as her other comments are, this one is a denial of basic biology! She actually rejects modern science on human development because it conflicts with her hard-core ideology. If that doesn't disqualify someone from the second most prestigious court in America, I'm not sure what does. Except maybe this: Pillard is so fiercely opposed to abstinence education that she has said publicly she would declare it unconstitutional. In "Our Other Reproductive Choices," Nina argues that abstinence-only curriculum is "permeated with stereotyped messages and sex-based double standards" which, in her mind, makes it "vulnerable to an equal protection challenge."
"Egalitarian sex education... should reaffirm the value of sexual pleasure for females as well as males." She argues that too many Christian conservatives see "men's sex drive and sexual satisfaction [as] privileged, while women's is demonized or ignored." That just proves how little Pillard knows about the people she's criticizing. FRC, ironically, just made quite a few headlines talking about sexual satisfaction -- and how it's greater for both men and women when enjoyed in the confines of a lifelong, monogamous, man-woman marriage.
America can't afford to give a lifetime appointment to a radical ideologue! Contact your senators and urge them to vote no on Nina Pillard.
Socially Acceptable to the GOP...
Paging the GOP! According to a new study, social conservatives are actually more important to the Republican base than economic conservatives. The findings couldn't come at a better time, particularly as more moderate Republicans try to push social issues into the background. As part of the collaborative "2013 Economic Values Survey" by two (decidedly not conservative) groups, the Public Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, researchers found that fiscal conservatism "has the weakest hold in American public opinion." Based on the response of conservatives, 38% of Americans are theological conservatives, 29% are social conservatives, and only 25% are economic conservatives.
Interestingly enough, the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne affirms what I've been saying for a number of years, which is that social issues may be the greatest bridge to Democrats -- 19% of whom describe themselves as social conservatives. The panel of largely liberal experts agreed: "Conservatives can't win without social conservatives." If you look at the data, Dionne points out, "it turns out that social conservatives loom larger as part of that conservative constituency and more consistently than economic conservatives do."
Hopefully, the results are instructive for the national Republican Party, which has sown division in the GOP by retreating on key planks of the platform. As the numbers show, the Republican Establishment cannot continue to relegate social conservatives to minority status in the national party, when we're the majority in most states.
As the heads of 13 pro-family organizations (including FRC) reminded the Republican National Committee in April, it would be a "huge historical mistake" if the GOP dismantles the conservative movement by marginalizing social conservatives. And based on these findings, that's no longer conjecture.
Hobby Lobby: Do Make a Federal Case out of It!
The days may be numbered for the President's outrageous abortion-contraception mandate. On Friday, a federal court dealt a huge blow to the White House, granting Hobby Lobby Stores a preliminary injunction against the HHS's outrageous order that employers have to pay for drugs that violate their faith. One of 63 separate lawsuits against the mandate, the Hobby Lobby case shows the most promise for making it to the Supreme Court, where FRC's Ken Klukowski thinks the Green Family has a good chance of destroying the policy for good.
The Hobby Lobby company, represented by the Becket Fund, had already won a significant victory when the Tenth Circuit Court agreed that a) the basis for the Greens' suit, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, applies to corporate entities -- not just individuals; and b) that the HHS mandate is a substantial burden on orthodox Christian belief. Friday's decision in U.S. District Court is equally important, because it almost certainly puts the mandate on a direct track to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"There is a substantial public interest," the court said, "in ensuring that no individual or corporation has their legs cut out from under them while these difficult issues are resolved." Congratulations to the Green Family, the Becket Fund, and our allies in cases across the country, who are fighting to guarantee companies and organizations the freedom to manage their businesses without violating their consciences.
Ultimately, it will be up to Congress, not the courts, to protect the rights of Americans. That's why FRC and more than 65 Christian leaders and pastors sent a letter to Congress and urging them to support a vote on conscience-protecting legislation, H.R. 940, sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.). Contact your representative and ask them to join the effort!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.