Barrett Hearing: Questions Reveal More than Answers

Barrett Hearing: Questions Reveal More than Answers

Barrett Hearing: Questions Reveal More than Answers

October 13, 2020

Day Two of Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing was supposed to be when the probing questions about her fitness for the bench would begin. Instead, we were treated to more of the same from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- a public charade that seemed like a healthcare campaign event for liberal policy priorities.

Ranking Democrat Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), who famously accused Barrett several years ago of having a "dogma" that lived loudly within her, opened with a blunt defense of the Left's sacred cow. "Do you agree that [Roe v. Wade] was wrongly decided?" she asked Barrett. To her credit, Judge Barrett wisely declined to take the bait -- but even then Feinstein wouldn't let up, continuing to push her on the issue.

The posturing by Democrats rarely cracked throughout the day. After being quizzed by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) ad nauseum over gun rights and other issues, Judge Barrett politely pushed back. "To the extent, Senator Durbin, that you're suggesting that I have some sort of agenda on felon voting rights, or guns, or campaign finance, or anything else -- I can assure you and the whole committee that I do not." Right after spending his entire time of questioning implying that she had an agenda, Durbin had to backtrack: "I didn't say that, and I wouldn't say that."

Throughout the day, Barrett showed an empathetic, compassionate firmness throughout the questioning, identifying with the questioner but refusing to be bulldozed.

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) finally highlighted what needed to be raised: the legal and constitutional maze on abortion created by the courts over decades. "Have we created a monster," Lee asked? "Have we ourselves through our own inaction . . . created the . . . circumstances....causing people to protest outside of a nonpolitical entity? I think we have to ask ourselves that question from time to time." The source of tension, as Lee pointed out, is that the people have been cut of out of the process on one of the most fundamental of rights -- the right to life.

As if it wasn't bad enough that Democrats were trying to spin the notion of court-packing, Sen. Lee pointed out, "[i]n recent days I've seen some in the media, some in this body, try to redefine what it means to pack the court... [which would do] immense political and constitutional harm to our system of government." He was right to point this out.

After Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) spent his allotted time on a tirade about "dark money," Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pointed out the hypocrisy, since the biggest spenders in this election are overwhelming giving to Democrats. "Of the top 20 organizations spending money for political speech in 2016, 14 of them gave virtually all of their money to Democrats," Cruz argued. "Only three of the top 20 gave to Republicans. What did that mean in practice? That meant the top 20 Super-PAC donors contributed $422 million to Democrats and $189 million to Republicans."

But Cruz wasn't done. "Joe Biden, although he refuses to answer just about anything about whether or not he will pack the Court, he did tell the American people the voters do not deserve to know whether he is going to pack the court. Truly a statement of disrespect and contempt for the voters, unusual in our political process." As the Texas senator reminded us, we are "one vote away from the Second Amendment being erased from the Bill of Rights. None of our Democratic colleagues admit that that is their agenda yet those are the justices that Democratic presidential nominees are promising they will appoint, justices who will take away your right to criticize politicians, who will allow censorship, who will allow movies and books to be banned, who will erase the Second Amendment from the bill of rights. And how about religious liberty," Cruz continued, before listing a whole host of ways in which the courts had twisted the meaning of the First Amendment.

Later in the day, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) shamed Senate Democrats for engaging in religious tests in recent years and highlighted other issues with fundamental constitutional rights like religious freedom sure to come before the Court again.

All in all, Barrett continues to show herself fully worthy of confirmation. Indeed, we are one vote away in so many key cases, and that's why it's so important to confirm Barrett and fill that seat!

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

Bible Probe a Testament to HUD's Priorities

October 13, 2020

On Facebook, Wilhoit Properties says, "It is our sincere desire to do everything possible to make your stay here a long and happy one." Unless, older residents found out, that stay includes the Bible. In Oklahoma, one of the 16 states where Wilhoit runs a senior living facility, a controversy has been brewing since March, when one of the tenants said all of the religious material in the common areas disappeared. A resident had complained about an angel decoration at Christmas, and that was apparently enough to scrub 116 properties clean of anything remotely religious. At least until Secretary Ben Carson got involved.

"Religious liberty is at the core of our nation's identity and will be upheld under the Fair Housing Act," Secretary Carson warned on Friday. "Barring religious materials infringes upon this right, and the Trump administration will not stand for discrimination against any group for practicing their religious traditions." Wilhoit, along with Vintage Housing, Inc., will be the subject of a HUD investigation, Dr. Carson announced, after receiving complaints from residents who have been angry at the purging of Christian literature.

"If this isn't stopped," a family member said to a reporter back in March, "it will escalate...there is power in numbers. All I want is for this to be reversed and the books to be returned to the empty shelves." According to the resident, books, puzzles, and decorations were all stripped from the libraries and gathering places. If that's true, Carson's team says, and there is obvious religious discrimination in this case, then they'll demand a resolution -- or refer the charges to the Department of Justice.

Either way, it's refreshing to see Secretary Carson go to bat for religious liberty. With just 21 days until the election, it's also another important reminder of what November 3rd is all about. What's at stake is nothing less than our First Freedom. And we all need to ask ourselves: will it be safer under President Trump or Joe Biden? Read our platform comparison to find out.

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

The NBA's Airball on Human Rights

October 13, 2020

Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban was pressed to answer why, exactly, he along with the entire National Basketball Association (NBA) claimed to promote human rights, but looked the other way concerning China's gross human rights abuses. His justification was simple -- for money.

He told Megyn Kelly on her podcast Monday that, "They are a customer of ours, and guess what, Megyn? I'm OK with doing business with China. And so, we have to pick our battles. I wish we could solve all the world's problems. But we can't." Apparently for Mark Cuban, China's campaign of suppression against Uyghur Muslims through mass internment and forced labor is not enough to warrant his criticism, though he's happy to "put a priority on domestic issues."

As Uyghurs in Xinjiang are enduring what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rightly calls the "stain of the century," the NBA is happy to stay silent because China is a "customer."

But fans are done buying the NBA's hypocrisy -- literally. Viewership of the NBA Finals this year are down 66 percent from 2019.

That is a major loss for the NBA and surveys indicate the league's political hypocrisy is partially to blame. In September, a poll found that 39 percent of respondents who identified themselves as sports fans said the league was too political. Another 19% indicated they disliked the NBA's ties to China.

The NBA has proven too cowardly to stand for the most basic human rights when faced with the possibility of losing Chinese profits.

Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert recently made headlines by sharing a post on his Instagram Story that read, "Wrong is wrong." The caption of the original post Gobert shared exposed China's re-education camps for Uyghur Muslims: "Millions of Uyghur Muslims are detained and tortured in concentration camps in China. Not for what they do, but for who they are."

With the simple act of sharing an Instagram Story which only lasts 24 hours, Gobert became the first NBA player to publicly acknowledge China's human rights abuses against Uyghurs.

This is such a small stand for what is right, and under normal circumstances it would not warrant national headlines. However, loyalty is prized in the NBA, and Gobert probably knew the cost that might come with acknowledging any wrongdoing by the Chinese government.

When Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey posted a Tweet in support of Hong Kong last year as the city was facing Chinese aggression, Chinese broadcasters immediately threatened to cut ties, pressuring Morey to retract his Tweet and securing an apology from NBA.

Millions of viewers watch the NBA in China. But to keep that viewership, the NBA must affirm the authoritarian Chinese government even as it enforces Mao-like crackdown campaigns on religious minorities. Mark Cuban and the NBA have shown that this is a trade they are willing to make.

Rushan Abbas, Founder of Campaign for Uyghurs, expressed her disappointment in Cuban's comments, saying, "Those who cannot condemn something so blatantly evil have clearly chosen money over human lives, and Mark Cuban's statements are in contrast to the values of humanity. A responsible leader would use such a platform to do the right thing rather than line his own pockets."

Rushan Abbas knows first-hand the tragedy of the Chinese government's blatant abuses against Uyghurs. In 2018, just days after she spoke on a panel event in Washington D.C. about human rights in China, Rushan received word that her sister who still lived in Xinjiang was "disappeared" by the Chinese government. Over two years later, Rushan still does not know where her sister is or how she is doing.

Rushan's sister, and the millions of other religious believers increasingly oppressed by China, are exactly the people Mark Cuban refuses to acknowledge. The way China is treating its religious minorities is reprehensible, and it should not take a lot of courage to say that. The NBA prides itself on its activism and progressive values. But if they truly want to make a difference, they should target the largest human rights violator in the world today, the Chinese government. Profits must never be valued over people, and human rights should never be for sale.