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Christian Science Monitor: “If there has been any uproar about this, I’ve missed it . . . Obama did a back-door card check by adding thousands of soon-to-be dues-paying government workers at no cost to big labor. Two unions are fighting for the $18 million in annual dues that the TSA crew will provide . . . ”
Blog of the Legal Times: “Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. faced questions today about whether he plans to abandon the legal defense of any other federal laws, after the administration’s decision last week not to stand up for the core of the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Charles A. Donovan writes at the Bellingham Herald: “However, the decision to openly switch sides comes midstream in the judicial process. That creates real uncertainty about who will represent the Congress of the United States and the law before the courts. Our judicial system depends completely on a genuine adversarial process. The courts do not accept controversies unless they are just that: important legal matters about which the contending parties deeply disagree. This holds for criminal cases as well as for issues of statutory and constitutional law. When one side of a case is actively helping the other, or putting up a token defense, the courts and the people of the United States suffer a grave disservice. Even more offensive is the fact that, while serving up this legal surrender, the president and his team are slandering millions of Americans who clearly disagree with redefining marriage.”
FRC: “Last week, I shared with you our concern that President Obama is ignoring his responsibilities as President and refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court. But what’s even more troubling about the situation is how quickly litigants trying to overturn Proposition 8 in California filed a “Motion to Vacate Stay” in the Ninth Circuit after Attorney General Eric Holder announced that DOMA would be left undefended. Within just a few hours of the DOJ’s statement, Ted Olson’s team filed a 23-page document that quoted from the Attorney General’s letter twice.”
Paul Benjamin Linton legal analysis: President overlooked Supreme Court ruling, Baker v. Nelson, in refusing to defend DOMA
“Under well established precedent, the dismissal of the appeal in Baker for want of a substantial federal question constitutes a decision on the merits that is binding on lower courts on the issues presented and necessarily decided.”
LifeNews: “The administration of President Barack Obama filed legal papers on Monday officially appealing the decision of a federal judge in Virginia who struck down the main portion of the Obamacare law that could allow taxpayer funding of abortions.”
ADF attorney Jim Campbell appeared on the Zeb Bell Show to discuss the situation. | MP3 audio 10:26 mins | Related: ADF statement in response to DOJ letter on Defense of Marriage Act
National Catholic Register: Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of Christian attorneys, said he was disappointed to see “public officials cast aside their duties and responsibilities in favor of playing politics.” “The executive branch of the government is supposed to defend the laws, not undermine them,” Nimocks said. “This decision clearly does the latter, and the American people are the ones who suffer as a result.”
SCOTUS Blog: The Obama Administration tells a federal judge it will not arrange for health care coverage for the same-sex spouse of an employee of the federal courts even though it believes the ban on such coverage is unconstitutional.
Charles G. Koch writes at the Wall Street Journal: “Crony capitalism and bloated government prevent entrepreneurs from producing the products and services that make people’s lives better.”
Heritage Foundation: President Barack Obama knows all of this, which is why he told the visiting National Governors Association at the White House yesterday that he supports changing the date that states can begin applying for waivers from some Obamacare mandates from 2017 up to 2014. Specifically, the President endorsed legislation by Senators Ron Wyden (D–OR) and Scott Brown (R–MA), claiming: “It will give you flexibility more quickly while still guaranteeing the American people reform.” President Obama is at least half right here. Wyden–Brown would give states some flexibility—but only the flexibility to implement a government take over of health care faster.
Matthew J. Franck writes at Public Discourse: “From every angle–political, moral, and constitutional–Mr. Obama’s low cynicism is breathtaking. Perhaps the advocates of same-sex marriage are content with “any means necessary.” But no one, on either side of this issue, should confuse our current president with his great predecessor from Springfield.”
“With Republicans upset at the Obama administration’s abandonment of the Defense of Marriage Act, Representative Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican and majority leader, said on Monday that the House would take action by the end of the week to make certain the law is defended against legal challenges.”
The Hill: “Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), the sixth-ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said the Obama administration’s decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act is a “dereliction of duty,” and indicated that congressional oversight may be coming.”
Politico: “U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson has already dealt the Obama administration a staggering blow on health reform, and this week the administration may get another one from the fiery Florida judge.”
The Hill: “The law allows states to request a waiver for the requirement in 2017, but Obama said he will support moving the date up to 2014, when the so-called individual mandate goes into effect.”
David French writes at National Review Phi Beta Cons Blog: “The outrage of the administration’s DOMA decision comes not from articulating this principle but from its declaration that, essentially, there are no reasonable constitutional arguments in support of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. This is a truly astonishing assertion given the great weight of legal authority — some of which is outlined in the attorney general’s own letter. In fact, that political (rather than legal) calculation underlying this determination is given away by the administration’s continued enforcement in spite of its alleged conviction that the act has no reasonable constitutional support.”
Christian Post: Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Austin Nimocks said the administration is “playing politics with marriage” and has left DOMA virtually defenseless. “With the Department of Justice now refusing to defend any and all lawsuits against the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the federal definition of marriage has been placed in great legal peril,” he declared. [more quotes]
Waxahachie Daily Light (Subscription): “In response to a letter from the US Department of Justice informing the speaker of the House that the DOJ and President Obama will no longer defend a key component of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the Alliance Defense Fund is …”
Chuck Colson writes at the Christian Post: . . . you can get the link to it at our website, breakpoint.org. You can also get at breakpoint.org a link to the Alliance Defense Fund, which is doing some heroic work in this area and has produced a brilliant and insightful paper. Holder’s decision is but the latest in a series of steps intended to intimidate us, to shut off debate, and to keep us out on moral issues: first the California case, then the huge corporation Apple taking down the Manhattan Declaration app from its iTunes store, and now this decision by Holder. The ACLU has hailed Holder’s decision as “the tipping point in the gay rights movement.” Sadly, that may well be the case unless we speak out loudly and quickly. Do not be intimidated.
Law Professor Gerard V. Bradley writes at Public Discourse: Most tellingly, the Attorney General advanced no argument—“professionally responsible” or otherwise—for the Department’s rejection of (what he called) “procreational responsibility” as a justification for traditional marriage. He said curtly that “the Department has disavowed already” this justification as “unreasonable.” Maybe so. But to “disavow” an argument is not to refute it. And no one in the Obama Administration (or anywhere else, for that matter) has successfully refuted the claim that marriage is intrinsically connected to procreation, such that only opposite-sex couples may marry.
FT.com: Mr Buckley, who has run the diversified manufacturer since 2005, said: “There is a sense among companies that this is a difficult place to do business. It is about regulation, taxation, seemingly anti-business policies in Washington, attitudes towards science.”
ADF President and General Counsel Alan Sears writes at the Chuck Colson Center: “We wanted to update you on the litigation involving the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA – which essentially is the law that defines marriage to include one man and one woman for federal government purposes, and allows each state to define marriage without imposing any re-definition on another), and especially the impact of Eric Holder’s unprecedented announcement yesterday that the Department of Justice will no longer defend the law (and in fact actively oppose it) . . . ”
Lambda Legal: “A federal judge has requested the U.S. Department of Justice to explain how it plans to defend denying spousal health benefits to a lesbian federal employee, following an announcement yesterday by the Obama administration that it believes the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White has given government attorneys until Monday, February 28, to respond.”
Jeffrey Lord writes in the American Spectator: “Barely twenty-four hours after her inauguration as America’s first woman chief executive, President Sarah Palin announced today that Attorney General Mark Levin has been instructed to stop defending Roe v. Wade and abortion in a wave of fresh lawsuits filed in federal courts around the country.”
ADF attorney Jim Campbell appeared on the radio to discuss the Obama administration’s refusal to defend the Federal DOMA. | The Hugh Hewitt Show; MP3 audio 8:32 mins | Janet Mefferd Show; MP3 audio 19:17 mins
One News Now: “Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness (CMR), says the declaration contradicts Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ pledge to Congress and the military service chiefs last year, when he said DOMA’s existence would prevent the military from providing housing and benefits for same-sex couples who live together as “married” or “committed partners” on military bases.”
“There is one silver lining in the President’s decision to call the vast majority of Americans who believe in traditional marriage bigots: Congress now has the opportunity to offer a real defense of marriage in court.”
World Magazine: When Congress enacts laws on behalf of the American people, the American people have the right to expect them to be defended when they’re challenged,” said Senior Legal Counsel Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund. “How the attorney general’s constitutional duty to protect and defend the laws of the United States becomes optional is a great mystery.”
IOL News: Angered conservatives are vowing to make same-sex marriage a front-burner election issue following the Obama administration’s announcement that it will no longer defend the federal law denying recognition to gay married couples . . . Staff counsel Jim Campbell of Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group, said: “The ripple effect nationwide will be to galvanise supporters of marriage.” [This article is widely reprinted, see e.g., Washington Post]
Christian Post: Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Austin Nimocks said the administration is “playing politics with marriage” and has left DOMA virtually defenseless. “With the Department of Justice now refusing to defend any and all lawsuits against the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the federal definition of marriage has been placed in great legal peril,” he declared.
One News Now: “A coalition of 34,000 black churches is blasting President Barack Obama’s decision to stop defending the federal law that bans recognition of gay marriage.”
Do Presidents Have a Duty to Defend the Constitutionality of Laws they Believe to be Unconstitutional?
Ilya Somin writes at the Volokh Conspiracy: “I’m not a fan of either the Obama Administration or some of the legal arguments they have made in support of the claim that DOMA is unconstitutional. But I do think that they made the right call here. If a President genuinely believes that a federal statute is unconstitutional he has a duty not to defend it.”
Federalist Society Podcast on the Government’s Duty to Defend the Law — And A Few More Thoughts on the Decision Not to Defend DOMA
Orin Kerr writes at the Volokh Conspiracy: “The Federalist Society had an interesting podcast on the issue back in October that you can listen to here. It lasts 40 minutes, and it features Walter Dellinger, John Eastman, John Baker, and Dean Reuter.”
Bob Egelko writes at the San Francisco Chronicle: “President Obama’s decision Wednesday to stop defending a law banning federal marital benefits for same-sex couples will boost an array of court challenges to the measure, including two in the Bay Area by gay and lesbian government workers seeking insurance coverage for their spouses.”
Lisa Keen writes at theWindy City Times: It is possible—just as happened in California—that some other entity might attempt to mount its own defense of DOMA in the pending cases. Last October, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, filed a motion in the two First Circuit cases, seeking to be named intervenor-defendant. Smith, aided by the right-wing Alliance Defense Fund, said at the time that the Justice Department was providing “no defense at all” for DOMA. He withdrew his motion a few weeks later, without comment. [this report contains a lengthy list of responses from homosexual groups]
World Net Daily: Austin Nimocks, a senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said the move raises a lot of questions. “One of the reasons we have a Constitution is to prevent opinions from getting in the way of duties. The American people have a right to expect their laws will be defended by the people whose responsibility it is to do so,” he told WND. “One’s constitutional duty should not be optional.” [many more quotations and references to ADF and many other pro-family groups and lawyers] . . .
World Magazine: “When Congress enacts laws on behalf of the American people, the American people have the right to expect them to be defended when they’re challenged,” said Senior Legal Counsel Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund. “How the attorney general’s constitutional duty to protect and defend the laws of the United States becomes optional is a great mystery.”
Marcia Coyle at the Blog of the Legal Times: “A spokeswoman for Smith said his lawyers would need to review the cases pending in the 2nd Circuit before making any decision to try to intervene. Representing Smith in the 1st Circuit were three lawyers from the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, including senior counsel Brian Raum, and a solo practitioner from Salem, Mass., Philip Moran. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), to whom Holder addressed a letter explaining the administration’s decision, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”
TPM: The Alliance Defense Fund, which asked a federal court for permission for Rep. Smith to serve as an intervenor-defendant in the DOMA cases in the past, issued a statement Wednesday that said it “will not waver in its ongoing defense of marriage nationwide.” “Either the House of Representatives or the Senate have the legal authority to intervene in pending lawsuits to defend the federal DOMA statute,” Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks said in a statement.
Charisma Online: “Marriage is a unifying issue in America. The federal Defense of Marriage Act reflects the reality that 90 percent of states protect marriage and that the citizens in those states believe in marriage as a union only between one man and one woman,” says Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks. “Tragically, the Department of Justice has chosen to appease a small—but vocal and wealthy—constituency and abandon its duty to the people.”[additional quotes by Austin]
Michael Foust writes at Baptist Press: aptist Press asked Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund — a Christian legal group — to explain the importance of the Justice Department’s decision. Following is a transcript:
WTEN.com (Albany, NY): Those against gay marriage, like the Alliance Defense Fund, reacted to this news by saying, “90 percent of states protect marriage and that the citizens in those states believe in marriage as a union only between one man and one woman. Tragically, the Department of Justice has chosen to appease a small–but vocal and wealthy–constituency and abandon its duty to the people.”
Cal. Catholic Daily: In response to a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice informing the speaker of the House that the DOJ and President Obama will no longer defend a key component of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the Alliance Defense Fund is issuing the following statement from ADF Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks . . . [ADF Press release quoted]
One News Now: “The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) says the executive branch of the government has upped the ante by refusing to show up in the existing court cases, which is ultimately a disappointment to most Americans. (Listen to audio report) . . . “The Department of Justice has a constitutional duty to defend the laws duly enacted by Congress,” notes ADF attorney Austin R. Nimocks. “And the refusal of the attorney general to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act just because they don’t like it politically is really inexcusable.”
Warren Richey of the Christian Science Monitor via MinnPost.com: “This only confirms what has appeared to be the case in several recent lawsuits. In those defense-of-marriage cases, the [Justice Department] has undermined rather than defended DOMA,” said Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund. “The American people have a right to expect their laws to be defended by the very people whose job it is to do so: their government officials,” he said. “But the administration is making clear that they are simply not going to defend marriage.”
The Hill: Unions are not the cause of the country’s economic woes, Vice President Biden said Wednesday. “Public employees are not the problem. The problem is much deeper,” Biden said during a fundraiser in New York for Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).
The Hill: “The 26 states and a business group that successfully challenged the healthcare reform law in federal court said the judge clearly meant to halt implementation of the healthcare overhaul.”
AP: “One way for President Barack Obama to win the future, it seems, is to have his administration stop defending a federal law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage.”
AP: “The Obama administration announced it no longer will defend the constitutionality of a federal law that bans recognition of gay marriage. Here, in question-and-answer form, is a look at the Defense of Marriage Act and the impact of the administration’s policy reversal on this 15-year-old law . . . ”
Liberty Counsel: “Today President Barack Obama instructed the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, and the Department of Justice to cease defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). “This is outrageous and unthinkable that the President would abandon the defense of marriage,” said Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “President Obama has betrayed the American people by his refusal to defend the federal law that affirms what many courts upheld as constitutional, namely, that marriage is between one man and one woman,” said Staver.”
“The American people have a right to expect their laws to be defended by the very people whose job it is to do so: their government officials. But the administration is making clear that they are simply not going to defend marriage.”
Rebecca Hagelin writes at Townhall: “It’s been brewing for a while, but now it’s official. Last week, the Obama Administration jettisoned a Bush-era regulation that protected the conscience rights of health care workers, replacing it with a stripped-down version.”
The Hill: “Virginia Democrats believe Tim Kaine is their best hope for holding on to their state’s Senate seat, and they see President Obama as the one person who can deliver their dream candidate.”
Washington Examiner: “But even the claim that AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, or even the SEIU, are representative of some kind of grassroots movement denies everything we know about unions. First is their political access: Then-SEIU president Andy Stern not only served on the president’s deficit commission, he was also the top visitor to the White House in 2009, the first year Obama was in office. Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO’s head boss, is on tape saying that he talks to someone at the White House every day. There’s a word for this, and it’s not “grassroots.”
ADF Attorney Matt Bowman appeared on the Zeb Bell Show to discuss recent Department of Health and Human Services rules that undermine the conscience rights of healthcare providers. | MP3 audio 12:18 mins | Related ADF Media
Weakened protections: The Obama administration strikes elements of conscience protections for pro-life medical providers
World Mag: . . . The changes do not go as far as the administration originally intended or as conservatives feared: wiping out protections in their entirety. But, according to Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, it “leaves the how and if of enforcement of conscience protections completely under the discretion of an agency which says it agrees with Planned Parenthood.”
WorldNetDaily: The court has confirmed that it has distributed a petition for rehearing in the case brought by attorney John Hemenway on behalf of retired Col. Gregory Hollister and it will be the subject of a conference on March 4. It was in January that the court denied, without comment, a request for a hearing on the arguments. But the attorney at the time had submitted a motion for Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who were given their jobs by Obama, to recuse. Should Obama ultimately be shown to have been ineligible for the office, his actions, including his appointments, at least would be open to challenge and question. At the time, the Supreme Court acknowledged the “motion for recusal” but it changed it on official docketing pages to a “request.” And it reportedly failed to respond to the motion . . . He also argued that if court members continue to “avoid” the dispute they effectively will “destroy the constitutional rule of law basis of our legal system.”
LifeSiteNews: “Riding nationwide Tea Party exasperation with the administration’s spending habits, House GOP members have crafted a budget bill that not only slashes spending, but powerfully throws down the gauntlet to the president’s progressive ideas on life and family issues.”
John Fund writes at the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Walker’s argument—that public workers shouldn’t be living high off the hog at the expense of taxpayers—is being made in other states facing budget crises. But the left observed the impact of the tea party last year and seems determined to unleash a more aggressive version of its own by teaming up with union allies. Organizing for America is already coordinating protests against proposed reforms in Ohio, Michigan and Missouri.”
LifeNews: “So, you know, my bottom line is, that uh, I think that Planned Parenthood in the past has done good work. If there was a specific problem at this center, it should be addressed,” Obama continued.
National Catholic Reporter: ”I am delighted to present an incisive look at the new conscience regulations from Professor Robert Vischer, law professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis. Vischer is also the author of Conscience and the Common Good: Reclaiming the Space Between Person and State (Cambridge Univ. Press 2010).”
USA Today: “Senate Democrats, who blocked a GOP effort last month to repeal the health care law, will try to remove these provisions when the spending bill goes to their chamber after the President’s Day recess. President Obama has vowed to veto the House bill, which seeks to cut at $61 billion in federal spending for this year.”
LifeNews: “Today, the administration rescinded part of the protections today with the Health and Human Services Department scrapping a portion of the rule, which it called “unclear and potentially overbroad in scope.” Obama officials put a new rule in place that leaves in place protections on abortion but offers no protection for medical workers who have moral or religious objections to dispensing or giving to women the Plan B drug or other emergency contraception that could act in some cases as an abortion drug.”
Heritage Foundation Morning Bell: “Let no one be confused, the stakes in Wisconsin are high and the Badger state could turn into the crucial battle ground between progressivism and the new Tea Party majority in the country. Issues as important as public sector compensation, bulging state deficits, union power, federalism, education, federal entitlements as well as others are being fought over.”
The Hill: Walker said demonstrators who filled the state capitol building in Madison and the boycott by state Senate Democrats — some of whom fled the state in protest — have steeled the resolve of members of his party . . . Walker also fired back at President Obama, who sided with the public employees, saying on Fox News Friday, “We are focused on balancing our budget. It would be wise for the government and others in Washington to focus on balancing their budgets, which they are a long way off from doing.”
NY Times: “The Obama administration said Wednesday that it had granted broad waivers to four states allowing health insurance companies to continue offering less generous benefits than they would otherwise be required to provide this year under the new federal health care law.”
“The bill, which also bans collective bargaining rights for teachers, requires educators to contribute 5.8 percent to their pensions and 12.6 percent to their health care. Currently, educators pay 0.2 percent for their pensions and 4 to 6 percent of their health care costs.”
The Hill: “House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday ruled out a short-term government-funding bill that maintains “current levels” of federal spending, escalating a showdown with Democrats and President Obama.”