Internet Gambling Puts Governors at Odds
Legalizing online gambling is an all or nothing proposition, even the American Gaming Association (AGA) knows this. Yesterday, the industry group representing the nation's casinos decided to withdraw its support of online gambling, citing differences between casino operators. They know from a strictly business perspective, online gambling would change the face of their industry and so it makes sense to be united moving forward. Unfortunately, another more important association thinks differently. The National Governors Association (NGA), the "collective voice of the nation's governors," issued a letter earlier this week to Congressional leaders raising concerns that a nationwide ban on internet gambling would, as authors Gov. Robert Bentley (R-Ala.) and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-W.Va.) see it, interfere with state's abilities to regulate the issue themselves.
Internet gambling had been illegal until 2011, when the Department of Justice unilaterally reversed a decades-old law known as the Wire Act. FRC is supporting bipartisan legislation right now restoring this ban offered by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Allowing gambling on every smart device and tablet would radically change how America gambles and the price the nation pays for it. We know for a fact that Governors Bentley, Tomblin and the rest of the NGA do not speak for all the governors. Governors Nikki Haley (R-S.C.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Pence (Ind.) and even Rick Perry (Texas) have all come out in support of restoring the ban on online gaming nationwide.
Tenth Amendment-style arguments for protecting state rights may sound conservative, but in situations like this they serve no one. Writing on National Review Online yesterday, Gov. Perry -- no state's rights slouch -- laid out his argument in support of a national ban. "I believe in the U.S. Constitution and in the rights of states as spelled out by the Tenth Amendment. But by its nature, the Internet is a global network transcending state boundaries. Fifty states with 50 different laws regulating the Internet would put up digital roadblocks at every state border, putting a huge burden on commerce."
The nation needs to pick a side in the debate over online gambling, and the choice for families is obvious. I authored one of the nation's first state bans on internet gambling because the societal costs are just too high. The increase in crime, financial hardship, lost work and the break-up of families have lead Baylor's Earl L. Grinols to estimate the costs of gambling to outweigh its benefits 3 to 1. Unleashing unfettered, 24/7 access to gambling upon vulnerable Americans is a bridge too far.
Marriage is Still the Life of the Party
Three years ago, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) took an oath to "discharge the duties of my office with fidelity." Yesterday, he abandoned his oath when he refused to appeal a lawless court ruling imposing a redefinition of marriage on the state of Pennsylvania. He is following the lead of both the Pennsylvania attorney general and the U.S. attorney general in showing contempt for self-governance and the right of citizens to decide the fate of marriage. "The court has spoken," explained Governor Corbett. His reasoning is enough to make one wonder why even bother to have legislative and executive branches? If Governor Corbett can pick and choose which laws to defend, is it time for everyone else to pick and choose which laws they want to follow?
Media reports suggest that the governor's decision not to appeal was motivated by his desire to expand his support among Democratic voters. However, polling consistently shows that Republican voters are overwhelming in support of natural marriage and it remains critical to deciding their vote.
Playing both sides of the marriage debate is a losing campaign strategy and will only succeed in depressing voter turnout among Republican voters. Last month, FRC commissioned a survey that found 82 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents believe marriage "should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman" -- a statement with which 74 percent strongly agreed. Yesterday, a Gallup survey found that just 30 percent of Republican voters support "legal same-sex marriage." Hot Air blog pointed out that support for redefining marriage is "just barely higher than it was three years ago" despite the recent string of court rulings.
The reality is that these issues are non-negotiable to the base of the party. The Nevada Republican Party found this out the hard way after its party leaders removed the life and marriage planks from their platform. The plank stripping stunned Republicans around the country and caused many within the party to pull back from giving consideration to Las Vegas as the host site for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Today, the RNC announced that Las Vegas is no longer on the short list of possible host cities. Republicans like Governor Tom Corbett can continue to rip up these planks but they will only succeed in building the GOP a boardwalk to a permanent minority.
Justice Looks Right
Right on Crime, the national campaign launched by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, yesterday convened more than one hundred conservative policy leaders, elected officials, faith and state-based leaders in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to improve the criminal justice system, such as reducing spending and decreasing the chance of recidivism.
Right on Crime is responsible for raising this issue as one that must be addressed by conservatives. Its statement of principles, to which I am a signatory, states that having an "ideal criminal justice system works to reform amenable offenders who will return to society through harnessing the power of families, charities, faith-based groups and communities."
The need to truly reform criminal offenders is a serious one. We know from the rising rate of incarceration, its associated costs and the continued rise in crime, the government does not have the answers to fix the problems. In his remarks to the gathering, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich noted that prisoners have very low literacy skill and that inmates should be taught to read while incarcerated. The majority of prisoners will return to the streets. The question is whether they have the support network, churches and families to help them leave the life of crime and be productive members of society.
It is important that we work on solutions to these issues. FRC's Ken Blackwell and FRC Action's Josh Duggar participated in the discussion that is the first major gathering to look at how we tackle these issues. Right on Crime has started the discussion that must continue in the states and at the federal level.
** Nearly 700 pastors have converged upon the nation's capital to take part in FRC's Watchmen on the Wall 2014 National Briefing. Today, we heard from moving speakers like Duck Dynasty's Al Robertson, Bishop E.W. Jackson, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Fox News' Todd Starnes, FRC's Craig James, Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., Pastor Rafael Cruz, and more. Click over to the event's web stream to watch live and archive coverage as the event continues tonight and tomorrow, and see how pastors are becoming equipped to stand for faith, family, and freedom in churches across the nation.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.