Without a Script, Chris Christie Plunges Into 2016 Presidential Race

Ken McIntyre /

Forsaking notes and teleprompter to highlight a give-it-to-you-straight style, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie this morning became the 14th Republican candidate in the 2016 race for president.

Christie, 52, sought to walk the talk of his campaign slogan, “Telling It Like It Is,” in declaring his long-expected entry into the race in the gym of Livingston High School, where he graduated in 1980 after three years as class president.

“America is tired of weakness and handwringing in the Oval Office,” Christie said, microphone in hand and pacing the stage in a tight circle. “I mean what I say and I say what I mean, and that’s what America needs right now.”

Near the end of his 27 minutes of remarks, he said:

I don’t seek the presidency for any other reason than I believe in my heart that I am ready to work with you to restore America to its rightful place in the world and to restore the American dream for our children.

Standing just behind the governor were his wife of almost 30 years, Mary Pat (“a politician just as good as me”), and their four children.

“Everything started here for me,” Christie said. “I had to come home, and Livingston is home for me.”

Christie, wearing a gray suit and purple tie, outlined how his parents moved to Livingston as the first in their families to leave Newark. His father had to walk away from admission to Columbia University after his own father died, and instead went to work in an ice cream plant. He eventually took night classes at Rutgers for six years to earn an accounting degree—and become the first college graduate of either family.

Christie said his mother, six months pregnant with him at the time, would instill a belief that he, his brother and their sister could do anything if they worked hard enough. The greatness of America, Christie said, is seen in the fact that he could go on to become governor.

“This country has to work together again, not against each other,” Christie said, ticking off accomplishments as governor that he said included refusing to raise taxes while balancing six state budgets and making “hard decisions” to improve education while reforming teacher tenure, pensions, and health benefits.

The media get it wrong when they describe Americans as “angry,” Christie said, when Americans actually are “filled with anxiety” because they have “bickering leaders” and “both parties have failed their country.”

“That anxiety,” he added, “can be swept away by strong leadership and decisiveness.”

In five broad strokes, Christie pledged his campaign and White House would:

  1. Insist that “we tell each other the truth” about both problems and solutions. His will be a campaign of “big ideas, hard truths, and real opportunities.” Of government spending and debt, he said: “The lying and stealing has already happened, the horse is already out of the barn; we gotta get it back in, and we can only do it by force.”
  2. Get the economy growing by “4 percent or more” a year. Getting there means simplifying the tax system and cutting regulations on businesses so “they invest in America again” and not overseas.
  3. Make the United States the “one indispensable force for good” in a dangerous world by reversing what he called “a weak and feckless foreign policy.” The nation, Christie said, has to “stop worrying about being loved and start caring about being respected.”
  4.  Concentrate on doing what is right, not what is popular. That means fighting special interests and reaching out to Democrats who have “good ideas,” Christie said. “If Washington, Jefferson, and Adams believed compromise was a dirty word, we’d still be under the crown of England,” he said.
  5. Work to be a president “who not only speaks to [Americans] but hears them.” Christie said he tells visiting schoolchildren that the best part of being governor is getting “to wake up every morning knowing I have the opportunity to do something great.” He hopes not only to do that to benefit more people, Christie said, but to “wake up with ears and arms open.”

In recent months, Christie outlined a plan to reform Social Security and other federal entitlements and pledged to scrap Common Core national education standards in his state in favor of “higher, New Jersey-based standards” to be developed by year’s end.  A Roman Catholic, he has underlined that his pro-life stance includes helping those addicted to drugs to get back on their feet.

Christie, who released a video in the run-up to his announcement, was elected governor in 2009 and re-elected in 2013. He previously served seven years as U.S. attorney for New Jersey, a post to which he was appointed by President George W. Bush.

A crowd of protesters estimated at more than 100 gathered outside the high school to slam the governor on issues ranging from teachers’ pensions to unrepaired damage to homes after Hurricane Sandy.

Aides believe the “town hall” format, usually featuring Christie’s often-blunt answers to questions from the audience, has served him well as governor.

Christie, whose campaign website recently went live, was scheduled to head straight to Sandown, N.H., for a town hall-style event in the evening. New Hampshire is the site of the nation’s first primary next February, and events in Ashland, Rochester, and Portsmouth also are on the governor’s schedule going into Independence Day.

C-SPAN’s video of Christie’s remarks may be found here.

Drones Provide Abortion-Inducing Pills to Polish Women - The Daily Signal

Drones Provide Abortion-Inducing Pills to Polish Women

Ken McIntyre / Diana Stancy /

Last Saturday, abortion-inducing medication flew from Germany to Poland on the world’s first abortion drone in order to help women gain “access to safe abortions” in Poland, where strict abortion restrictions exist.

The campaign was launched by several reproductive rights groups, including Women on Waves, an abortion support group for Polish women, along with several other European women’s rights groups.

According to Rebecca Gomperts, founder of Women on Waves and former Greenpeace activist, this initiative could possibly open up greater technological avenues for women to access abortions in Europe.

“We’re very interested in the new developments around drones,” Gomperts told The Telegraph in an interview. “In a sense it’s a campaign to call attention to the reality for women in Poland. But there’s a future for it as a delivery model. We might do it in Ireland.”

Despite Poland’s abortion laws, the drones are legally acceptable because they will be leaving from Germany, where abortion is legal. Additionally, since the drone is lightweight and not flying under commercial interests or controlled airspace, government approval from Poland or Germany is not required.

Gomperts said that this campaign is important because it facilitates independence for women and reduces dependence upon doctors.

“You don’t need to be dependent on other people. All of the women can do it themselves, if they have the medication and know how to use it,” Gomperts told ThinkProgress in an interview. “I think that is what makes medical abortion so significant, and so revolutionary and so important. You don’t need a doctor to take some pills. That’s the bottom line.”

This is not Gomperts’ first campaign to provide women with greater accessibility to abortions. After serving as a physician on one of Greenpeace’s ships, she launched Women on Waves to “provide contraceptives, information, training, workshops, and safe and legal abortion services outside territorial waters in countries where abortion is illegal.” Women on Waves sails around the world to provide these services to women.

The abortion-inducing medication used by Gomperts—mifepristone and misoprostol—have been approved by the World Health Organization as an “essential medicine” since 2005. Approximately 1.5 million women in Europe have aborted their pregnancies using these medications. In the United States, however, there have been attempts from states to create restrictions concerning the usage of these abortion-inducing pills.

Iran Nuclear Talks Extended After Negotiators Miss Key Deadline - The Daily Signal

Iran Nuclear Talks Extended After Negotiators Miss Key Deadline

Ken McIntyre / Diana Stancy / Natalie Johnson /

Negotiations between Iran and six world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program have been extended into July as diplomats failed to bridge differences on key components of the talks.

Today had been the self-imposed deadline for the United States and its negotiating partners to complete a final agreement to contain Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, but the parties now have until July 7 to cinch a deal.

For the U.S., if a final agreement is not submitted to Congress by July 9, lawmakers would have 60 days to review the deal—a longer window than the 30-day review period required if a deal was struck before then.

The Obama administration has said they want to avoid a lengthy congressional delay, which government officials fear will open a window for the deal to crumble.

“The U.S. negotiators will have an extremely difficult task in extracting enough concessions from Iran to cobble together an acceptable nuclear agreement by July 7,” said James Phillips, The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs.

Despite predictions from all sides that negotiations would extend beyond Tuesday’s original deadline, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, returned to Vienna early today from Tehran.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, and Hossein Fereydoun, the brother and adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, accompanied Zarif to Vienna to help negotiate. Their arrival indicated increased pressure in finalizing the talks as time dwindled.

“I am here to get a final deal, and I think we can,” Zarif told reporters early in the day.

He met independently with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before widening negotiations with the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China.

The deal seeks to restrict Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifted sanctions, but fundamental proposals remain in dispute. Iran is demanding sanctions to be immediately lifted upon the deal’s passage, but the West remains adamant in pushing for gradual removal.

Western powers are also pushing for U.N. sanctions to be automatically reinstated if Iran violates the deal, but Russia and China refuse to restrict their veto powers on the U.N. Security Council, making automatic sanctions less likely.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, further hindered negotiations last week after drawing multiple red lines that he threatened Western negotiators not to cross.

Khamenei repeated that Tehran would reject any deal restricting Iran’s research and development of advanced centrifuges.

He said he also would not allow international inspection of military bases.

Phillips said prospects of a final deal would be killed if Iran adheres to the Ayatollah’s demands.

“To complete a deal, Iran must allow robust inspections, including facilities at military bases; greatly reduce its store of enriched uranium; agree to dismantle its Arak heavy water reactor, which would be a plutonium bomb factory; agree to phased sanctions relief linked to verification of Iranian compliance; and agree to restrictions on numbers and types of centrifuge,” Phillips said.

He continued:

“I think there is a very good chance that the negotiations will miss yet another self-imposed deadline on July 7.”

How to Preserve Religious Freedom After Supreme Court’s Activist Decision on Marriage - The Daily Signal

How to Preserve Religious Freedom After Supreme Court’s Activist Decision on Marriage

Ken McIntyre / Diana Stancy / Natalie Johnson / Sarah Torre /

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on Friday redefining marriage across all 50 states will likely have many serious, even unintended, consequences for the rule of law, democratic self-governance, and—in particular—religious freedom.

Before the ink was dry on the court’s activist decision, a columnist for The New York Times was already calling for the end of non-profit tax status for churches, charities, and other religious institutions. Just days earlier, the American Civil Liberties Union urged Congress to “amend” (read: gut) the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act—a commonsense, federal law that protects Americans’ free exercise of religion from unnecessary government interference and one the ACLU lobbied Congress to pass in the first place.

These calls to strip people and institutions of faith—with long-standing legal protections—are outrageous, but not unexpected. Numerous friend-of-the court briefs detailed the potential ramifications of redefining marriage for religious liberty, yet Justice Anthony Kennedy afforded just one paragraph to these considerations, writing in the majority opinion:

[I]t must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.

As pointed out by Chief Justice John Roberts in dissent, Justice Kennedy fundamentally misunderstands the Constitution’s robust protection of religious freedom:

The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise’ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.

We’ve already seen numerous threats against Americans’ freedom to exercise their beliefs about marriage, in how they run their businesses, or serve their communities. Faith-based adoption and foster care agencies have been forced to close their doors, rather than abandon their commitment to placing children in homes with a married mother and father. Numerous photographers, florists, cake makers, farmers, and many others have been hauled into court or fined for simply declining to help plan or participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony.

During oral arguments in the marriage cases, the Obama administration’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, acknowledged that religious schools losing their non-profit tax status is “certainly going to be an issue” if they refuse to accept a redefinition of marriage.

>>> For more on this, see Ryan T. Anderson’s new book, “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom

Future collisions of same-sex marriage with religious freedom could have at least been minimized had the Supreme Court respected the Constitution and allowed citizens to continue debating the issue and making marriage policy for themselves.

“Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires,” writes Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissent, “the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”

Justice Samuel Alito echoed that concern, forecasting a troubling picture of future freedoms for Americans who continue to believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman:

“I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools … By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas.”

But that grim prediction need not become reality. Congress should protect the rights of all Americans to speak and act consistent with the truth about marriage—whether speaking in the “recesses of their homes” or working, serving, or educating others.

The First Amendment Defense Act, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and in the House by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, would prohibit the federal government from discriminating against any individual, organization, school, or business because they acted in accordance with the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Specifically, the policy would prevent the government from taking adverse action against those groups in tax policy, employment, licensing, contracting, grants, and accreditation.

Read more: This Bill Would Stop Obama Administration From Punishing People Who Stand Up for Marriage

Similar policies can be pursued in the states. Governors can issue executive orders preventing state bureaucrats from discriminating against citizens who wish to live and act in accordance with the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. State legislatures can, likewise, pass legislation that protects the freedom of Americans to continue witnessing to the truth about marriage.

Even President Obama, in his remarks celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling, reminded the nation that “Americans of goodwill continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue” and urged citizens to “revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.”

Everyone is free to live and to love as they choose, but no one should demand that government coerce others into celebrating their relationship. All Americans should remain free to run businesses, serve the poor, and educate the next generation in accordance with the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

 

Poverty Pimps, Free Markets and Freedom: Walter Williams Talks Race and Economics - The Daily Signal

Poverty Pimps, Free Markets and Freedom: Walter Williams Talks Race and Economics

Ken McIntyre / Diana Stancy / Natalie Johnson / Sarah Torre / Jamie Jackson /

For decades economist Walter E. Williams has served as a strong supporter for fiscal conservatism.

In his interview with The Daily Signal, Williams talks about several different topics, ranging from race to why conservative principles work best for those who are poor and impoverished.

“Racial discrimination and racism could have died a well deserved death, but it’s been resurrected by poverty pimps and other people who benefit from exploiting the problems that black people face in our country,” said Williams, who is the author of the new book, “American Contempt for Liberty.”

You can see his answers to specific questions by referring to the time codes below:

In-Depth: 4 Harms the Court’s Marriage Ruling Will Cause - The Daily Signal

In-Depth: 4 Harms the Court’s Marriage Ruling Will Cause

Ken McIntyre / Diana Stancy / Natalie Johnson / Sarah Torre / Jamie Jackson / Ryan T. Anderson /

Judicial activism causes harm. The Obergefell ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely cause four distinct types of harm to the body politic: to constitutional democratic self-government, to marriage itself, to civil harmony, and to religious liberty. It’s a major theme of my forthcoming book “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.”

1) Harm to constitutional democratic self-government

The ruling has already and will continue to cause harm to constitutional democratic self-government. As Justice Antonin Scalia points out in his dissent, “It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.” Constitutional democratic self-government is vitally important; indeed it is our first right.

Scalia continues: “This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: The freedom to govern themselves.”

Of course, democratic self-government isn’t unlimited. That’s why I’ve referred to constitutional democratic self-government. For We the People placed limits on the authority we delegated to the political branches of government. That’s what a constitution is all about. Scalia therefore notes that the “Constitution places some constraints on self-rule—constraints adopted by the People themselves when they ratified the Constitution and its Amendments.” But apart from the limits We the People placed on ourselves, “those powers ‘reserved to the States respectively, or to the people’ can be exercised as the States or the People desire.”

So the question before the court was “whether the Fourteenth Amendment contains a limitation that requires the States to license and recognize marriages between two people of the same sex. Does it remove that issue from the political process?”

Scalia’s response: “Of course not.” And that’s why judicial activism has done harm to self-government.

Scalia concludes: “This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government. … A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.” Why not? Because such a system disparages the ability of ordinary Americans to govern themselves.

Another reason why the court’s claim to super-legislative power should trouble anyone concerned with representative government is that the court itself is not representative of the American people. Scalia notes that the current Supreme Court “consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School.” Besides their elite legal background, Scalia points out a couple other relevant facts:

Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single South-westerner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination. The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.

No social transformation without representation: Our constitutional democracy in a nutshell.

2) Harm to marriage

The ruling will cause harm to marriage itself. Chief Justice John Roberts notes that marriage “arose in the nature of things to meet a vital need: Ensuring that children are conceived by a mother and father committed to raising them in the stable conditions of a lifelong relationship.” But redefining marriage makes it more about the romantic desires of the consenting adults involved than about the needs or the rights of children involved in a relationship with their mother and father.

Justice Samuel Alito points out that the court’s “argument is that the fundamental purpose of marriage is to promote the well-being of those who choose to marry. Marriage provides emotional fulfillment and the promise of support in times of need.” But there’s no reason to think this revisionist view of marriage is the correct one—and there’s certainly nothing in the Constitution requiring government to adopt it.

To give you an idea of just how bad the language is from Kennedy on what marriage is, consider the list of terms that George Mason University Law School Professor Helen Alvare compiled:

The Supreme Court rules instead, however, that marriage is about adults’ ‘defin[ing] and express[ing] their identity,’ adults’ desire for ‘nobility,’ ‘fulfillment,’ ‘aspirations,’ ‘autonomy,’ ‘self-definition,’ avoiding of ‘loneliness,’ and desire for ‘companionship and understanding’. The list goes on.

As Alito explains, “This understanding of marriage, which focuses almost entirely on the happiness of persons who choose to marry, is shared by many people today, but it is not the traditional one. For millennia, marriage was inextricably linked to the one thing that only an opposite-sex couple can do: procreate.” Kennedy simply ignores the actual arguments for the truth about marriage.

>>> For more on this, see Ryan T. Anderson’s new book, “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom

But obscuring the truth about marriage has consequences. As Alito recounts the argument of the states, “Their basic argument is that States formalize and promote marriage, unlike other fulfilling human relationships, in order to encourage potentially procreative conduct to take place within a lasting unit that has long been thought to provide the best atmosphere for raising children.” But as the expectations associated with marriage were weakened, so were the benefits that marriage provides.

If this traditional understanding of the purpose of marriage does not ring true to all ears today, that is probably because the tie between marriage and procreation has frayed. Today, for instance, more than 40 percent of all children in this country are born to unmarried women. This development undoubtedly is both a cause and a result of changes in our society’s understanding of marriage.

Alito gets it right. A bad understanding of the family (the Sexual Revolution) began to undermine the family, which led to more bad ideas—and laws—that will in turn lead to more breakdown. Redefining marriage to make it a genderless institution fundamentally changes marriage: It makes the relationship more about the desires of adults than about the needs—or rights—of children. It teaches the lie that mothers and fathers are interchangeable.

Indeed, the judicial redefinition of marriage to exclude the marital norm of male-female sexual complementarity raises the question of what other marital norms may be excluded. Roberts writes: “One immediate question invited by the majority’s posi­tion is whether States may retain the definition of mar­riage as a union of two people.” He continues:

Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of mar­riage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradi­tion, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex mar­riage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.

It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage. If ‘[t]here is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices,’ why would there be any less dignity in the bond be­tween three people who, in exercising their autonomy, seek to make the profound choice to marry? If a same-sex couple has the constitutional right to marry because their children would otherwise ‘suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,’ why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children? If not having the oppor­tunity to marry ‘serves to disrespect and subordinate’ gay and lesbian couples, why wouldn’t the same ‘imposition of this disability,’ serve to disrespect and subor­dinate people who find fulfillment in polyamorous rela­tionships?

Roberts sees the logic (or, rather, illogic) of marriage redefinition. And Kennedy has no answer.

3) Harm to civil harmony

The ruling will undermine civil harmony. When fundamental policy changes are made by court rulings that have no basis in the Constitution, it makes change harder to accept—because it casts doubt on the change itself. Scalia notes that American self-government was working:

Until the courts put a stop to it, public debate over same-sex marriage displayed American democracy at its best. Individuals on both sides of the issue passionately, but respectfully, attempted to persuade their fellow citizens to accept their views. Americans considered the arguments and put the question to a vote. The electorates of 11 States, either directly or through their representatives, chose to expand the traditional definition of marriage. Many more decided not to. Win or lose, advocates for both sides continued pressing their cases, secure in the knowledge that an electoral loss can be negated by a later electoral win. That is exactly how our system of government is supposed to work.

And Roberts points out that the court has now put an end to all of that:

Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens—through the democratic process—to adopt their view. That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex mar­riage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.

In the middle of such a robust debate, Roberts points out that the court “seizes for itself a ques­tion the Constitution leaves to the people, at a time when the people are engaged in a vibrant debate on that ques­tion. And it answers that question based not on neutral principles of constitutional law, but on its own ‘under­standing of what freedom is and must become.’” This will make the redefinition of marriage more contested in the United States. Roberts elaborates:

The court’s accumulation of power does not occur in a vacuum. It comes at the expense of the people. And they know it. Here and abroad, people are in the midst of a serious and thoughtful public debate on the issue of same-sex marriage. … This delib­erative process is making people take seriously questions that they may not have even regarded as questions before.

When decisions are reached through democratic means, some people will inevitably be disappointed with the re­sults. But those whose views do not prevail at least know that they have had their say, and accordingly are—in the tradition of our political culture—reconciled to the result of a fair and honest debate.

But today the court puts a stop to all that.

The court had no reason—no basis in the Constitution—to short-circuit the democratic process. No reason to end the national discussion we were having about the future of marriage. Roberts continues, “There will be consequences to shutting down the political process on an issue of such profound public significance. Closing debate tends to close minds. People denied a voice are less likely to accept the ruling of a court on an issue that does not seem to be the sort of thing courts usually decide.” Just so.

Prodding Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who joined Kennedy’s majority opinion, Roberts quotes from a law review article she wrote on how Roe v. Wade caused harm to civil harmony. Here’s Ginsburg:

The political process was moving … , not swiftly enough for advocates of quick, complete change, but majoritarian institutions were listening and acting. Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.

Obergefell has now provoked conflict rather than resolved it.

4) Harm to religious liberty

The ruling, as Roberts notes, “creates serious questions about religious liberty.” He observes that “many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution.” When marriage was redefined democratically, citizens could accompany it with religious liberty protections, but “the majority’s decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommo­dations.”

In addition to this procedural point—that courts, unlike lawmakers, can’t forge compromises—Alito points out that activists will use the decision’s rhetoric to attack religious liberty:

It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.

Alito predicts dark days ahead: “I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.” And we have the court to blame: “By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas.”

>>> For more on this, see Ryan T. Anderson’s new book, “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom

Most alarmingly, the majority opinion never discusses the free exercise of religion. Roberts wryly notes that “the majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage.” But the First Amendment, he says, “guarantees … the freedom to ‘exercise’ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”

Justice Clarence Thomas picks up on this as well, noting that the majority opinion “indicates a misunderstanding of religious liberty in our Nation’s tradition.”

Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for ‘religious organizations and persons … as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.’ Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice.

Although our Constitution provides some protection against such governmental restrictions on religious practices, the People have long elected to afford broader protections than this court’s constitutional precedents mandate. Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.

We must now protect religious liberty, for as Roberts notes, “Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.” Why not? Because “the most discouraging aspect of today’s decision is the extent to which the majority feels compelled to sully those on the other side of the debate.” Over and over, the majority attacks Americans who stand for marriage as the union of husband and wife. And as Robert notes, “These apparent assaults on the character of fair minded people will have an effect, in society and in court. Moreover, they are entirely gratuitous.”

Indeed, “It is one thing for the major­ity to conclude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray every­one who does not share the majority’s ‘better informed understanding’ as bigoted.”

This is why the First Amendment Defense Act is so vitally important.

If passed and signed into law, this act would prohibit the federal government from ever discriminating against any citizen, charity, school, or business because they believe and act on the belief that marriage is the union of a man and woman. Just as the pro-life movement ensured that no pro-life citizen would ever have to pay for an abortion or perform an abortion, so too must we work to ensure no one is coerced on marriage. Rather than forcing people and institutions of faith to go to court for their religious liberty, this bill would prevent the government from ever acting unjustly in the first place.

We need good policy at all levels of government. Governors have an opportunity right now to issue executive orders preventing state agencies from discriminating against or otherwise penalizing citizens and organizations that continue to believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman. State legislatures can pass laws doing the same.

America is in a time of transition. The court has redefined marriage, and beliefs about human sexuality are changing. Will the right to dissent be protected? Will the right of Americans to speak and act in accord with what the United States had always believed about marriage—that it’s a union of husband and wife—be tolerated?

Most Americans say yes, they want to be a tolerant, pluralistic nation. They want peaceful coexistence. I agree with them. It’s only ideologues and activists who want to sow the seeds of disharmony by threatening those with whom they disagree by revoking their tax-exempt status, taking away their government licenses, suing them out of business, or stripping them of their legal protections.

The First Amendment Defense Act would achieve civil peace even amid disagreement by protecting pluralism and the rights of all Americans, whatever faith they may practice. This act is good policy and liberals committed to tolerance should embrace it.

For much more on this, pre-order “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom” today.

The Iran Nuclear Deal Deadline Is Today. Here’s What We Don’t Know. - The Daily Signal

The Iran Nuclear Deal Deadline Is Today. Here’s What We Don’t Know.

Ken McIntyre / Diana Stancy / Natalie Johnson / Sarah Torre / Jamie Jackson / Ryan T. Anderson / Natalie Johnson /

Today is the self-imposed deadline for the United States to complete a nuclear deal with Iran.

But key pieces of the deal—meant to contain Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief—remain in dispute as negotiators plan to extend talks beyond today’s deadline.

>>> Commentary: No Deal Still Better Than a Bad Deal on Iran Nukes

The deal between Iran, the United States and five other world powers—Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China—would create steps to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb and could alleviate international sanctions that have stunted Tehran’s economy.

Diplomats predict a deal could be reached within a week after the initial deadline, but negotiators planning to meet in Vienna Tuesday admit there is still much that needs to be resolved before a final agreement can be made.

Here are the four central pieces still unresolved as the deadline nears expiration:

1. Reducing Iran’s centrifuges. Iran agreed under the first negotiation framework in April it would reduce its number of centrifuges—machines that enrich uranium used in nuclear bombs—from 19,000 to about 6,000.

Iran currently uses basic centrifuges, but is researching advanced models that would purify uranium faster—accelerating the time it would take to build a bomb.

The original “framework deal” banned Iran from using advanced centrifuges for 10 years. But it was vague on the amount of research and development allowed within that timeframe. The current deal would clarify this, halting Iran’s research and development for 10 years. Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week he would not accept the restrictions, calling the demand “excessive coercion,” according to the Associated Press.

2. International inspections to assure Iranian compliance. U.S. and Western officials are skeptical of Iran’s adherence to a nuclear deal, pushing a hardline position on an agreement allowing the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect military bases if suspicion arises of Iranian violations.

Khamenei repeated last week that Tehran would reject any measure allowing international inspection of its military bases. Neither side appears ready to make concessions and a failure to strike a compromise could shatter the entire deal.

“If Iran keeps Khamenei’s red lines, then no acceptable deal is possible,” said James Phillips, The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs. “Even the Obama administration would find it impossible to accept a deal in which Iran’s military bases were off-limits for inspections.”

3. Timeline for removing sanctions. Western powers maintain sanctions will be incrementally lifted only after Iran takes certifiable steps in compliance with nuclear agreements. But Khamenei repeated last week Iran would not accept a deal unless sanctions were lifted immediately, according to the Telegraph.

“There is no way that the U.S. can afford to lift sanctions before Iran has verifiably fulfilled its obligations for taking centrifuges off-line and permitting intrusive inspections,” Phillips said. “If Tehran does not accept a gradual lifting of sanctions, then there can be no deal.”

4. Reapplying sanctions if Iran violates the deal. The West wants sanctions immediately reimposed if Iran strays from the agreement, but China and Russia refuse to concede veto powers on the U.N. Security Council. That makes automatic U.N. sanctions less likely.

Though the U.S. could reinstate its own sanctions quickly through Congress, a veto on the Security Council would prevent U.N. measures invoking “snapback,” or instant, sanctions.

6 Things to Know About Chris Christie, the Latest Presidential Candidate - The Daily Signal

6 Things to Know About Chris Christie, the Latest Presidential Candidate

Ken McIntyre / Diana Stancy / Natalie Johnson / Sarah Torre / Jamie Jackson / Ryan T. Anderson / Natalie Johnson / Diana Stancy /

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is anticipated to announce his 2016 presidential run today. He joins 13 other Republican candidates in the presidential race.

Here are six things to know about Christie:

1) Christie is a die-hard Bruce Springsteen fan and has attended more than 130 of Springsteen’s concerts. However, it’s no secret that the governor and the rock star maintain opposing political views. Even so, 48 percent of New Jersey residents think it’s “kind of cool” Christie is a Springsteen fan.

2) Christie revealed that he donated to Planned Parenthood in 1994 during his run as a Morris County freeholder. Although Christie’s views on abortion have evolved, he currently maintains a pro-life stance. In 2011, he said, “I am pro-life. I believe in exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. That’s my position. Take it or leave it.”

3) Baseball has always been a part of Christie’s life. In high school, Christie was the captain of his baseball team and today, he is a huge New York Mets fan. Earlier this month, he was named “the unofficial MVP of the first game on the strength of several fine fielding plays at third base” during a charity softball game.

4) In May 2015, Christie said President Obama was the “most anti-growth” president in post-war history and identified Democratic policies as hurting job growth.

“We must put an end to this toxic mix of pessimism and arrogance—this belief that government can exert greater control over our lives but then refuse to accept responsibility for the failure that control has wrought,” Christie said at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester.

“This fantasy that the last six years have been a great success when wages are flat, full-time employment for the middle class is shrinking, and wealth is at all-time highs only for the privileged.”

5) Twice, Christie has been listed as one of the 100 most influential people by TIME, first in 2011 and also in 2013. In 2013, Christie’s management during Hurricane Sandy received notice, especially when a 9-year-old’s essay was featured in TIME explaining Christie’s response to the disaster.

6) Christie has been married to his wife, Mary Pat Christie, since 1986. Mary Pat is an accomplished woman and recently resigned from her position as managing director at Angelo, Gordon & Co., a Wall Street investment firm. Together, they have four kids: Sarah, Andrew, Bridget and Patrick.

Today the Ex-Im Bank Expires. Here’s Where the 2016 Prospects Stand on the Issue. - The Daily Signal

Today the Ex-Im Bank Expires. Here’s Where the 2016 Prospects Stand on the Issue.

Ken McIntyre / Diana Stancy / Natalie Johnson / Sarah Torre / Jamie Jackson / Ryan T. Anderson / Natalie Johnson / Diana Stancy / Diana Stancy /

The Export-Import Bank’s charter is set to expire Tuesday, meaning the 81-year-old agency is on course to be eliminated, at least temporarily.

The bank, the official export credit agency of the federal government, has been called a form of “corporate welfare” and engine of “cronyism” by opponents. Supporters claim the bank helps small businesses in the U.S. compete globally.

Although the charter will expire, supportive lawmakers may attempt to revive it in the future if an amendment concerning the bank is added to a must-pass bill, such as legislation supporting the Highway Trust Fund. With the bank’s ultimate fate still unclear, here are the current presidential candidate’s positions on renewing Ex-Im.

Graphic: Kelsey Lucas/Visualsey

Graphic: Kelsey Lucas/Visualsey

Here’s How Religious Business Owners Could Protect Themselves Against Gay Marriage Decision - The Daily Signal

Here’s How Religious Business Owners Could Protect Themselves Against Gay Marriage Decision

Ken McIntyre / Diana Stancy / Natalie Johnson / Sarah Torre / Jamie Jackson / Ryan T. Anderson / Natalie Johnson / Diana Stancy / Diana Stancy / Kelsey Harkness /

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage, conservative lawmakers put forth a plan they claim will protect “many of the millions of Americans who voted to define marriage as an exclusively male-female institution.”

But will that plan protect the Washington florist being sued by the state for acting on her beliefs about marriage? Or the New York farmers being fined $13,000 for refusing to host a same-sex wedding in their backyard?

The answer, quite simply, is no.

“If you are concerned about faith-based adoption agencies shutting down, or bakers and florists and photographers being fined thousands of dollars simply for declining to celebrate a same-sex wedding, then you need to also be concerned about state and local policy,” said Ryan T. Anderson, who researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty at The Heritage Foundation.

In each of these cases, it wasn’t the federal government acting on federal law that brought the burden, it was state and local government.

New federal legislation, which was introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, would prohibit federal officials from “discriminating” against an individual or institution for acting on their belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

For example, it could protect religious schools from losing their tax-exempt status if they refused to provide housing for a married same-sex couple.

>>> Read More: Congress Has a Plan to Defend Your First Amendment Rights After Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

But those protections, under what’s called the First Amendment Defense Act, would stop at the federal level, leaving business owners still vulnerable to punishment by the state for acting on their beliefs about marriage.

From the Farmers, to the Florist

After being found guilty of violating anti-discrimination laws, both Cynthia and Robert Gifford (the farmers who declined to host a same-sex wedding on their property) and Barronelle Stutzman (the florist who refused to make flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding) faced fines brought by the state.

Currently, more than 20 states have enacted such laws. Many cities and municipalities have adopted their own versions as well.

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Anti-discrimination laws—sometimes called human rights acts or public accommodation laws—are meant to prevent unfair treatment in employment, housing, commerce, or other arenas.

Opponents of providing such protections for gays say the laws can inhibit business owners’ abilities to live out their religion in the workplace.

In the case of the Giffords, the Human Rights Commission of New York ordered them to pay a $10,000 penalty to the state for violating its anti-discrimination law.

The Gifffords also had to pay $1,500 apiece to Melisa Erwin and Jennifer McCarthy, the complainants in the case.

Stutzman, a 70-year-old grandmother, was sued by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson for refusing to make flower arrangements for a gay couple. (The American Civil Liberties Union filed another suit on behalf of the couple, and the suits have since consolidated into Arlene’s Flowers v. Ferguson.)

Stutzman now faces a fine of up to $2,000 for violating Washington’s anti-discrimination law, a separate fine of $7.91 to the couple, and legal fees that her attorney say are already in the seven figures.

>>> Read More: State Says 70-Year-Old Flower Shop Owner Discriminated Against Same-Sex Couple. Here’s How She Responded.

She and the Giffords both appealed their guilty verdicts, and their cases are still ongoing.

What Can Be Done

To provide business owners with sincere religious beliefs protection, experts say states need to adopt their own statutes.

On that front, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has taken the lead.

Last month, Jindal quietly issued an executive order that “prevents the state from discriminating against people or their business with deeply held religious beliefs.”

The measure, which was modeled after legislation that failed to pass the Louisiana state legislature, prohibits “all departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and political subdivision of the state” from discriminating against people or businesses with deeply held religious beliefs about marriage.

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Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. (Photo: Newscom)

In defending his executive order, Jindal told The Daily Signal in an earlier interview that there are “actual examples” of states “discriminating against florists and others,” by taking away their basic rights to religious liberty and forcing them to pay “thousands of dollars in fines.”

“Even if you don’t agree with me on the definition of marriage … you still should want those folks to have their rights—our rights to live the way we want,” he said.

>>> Read More: Bobby Jindal on Religious Liberty Order: ‘Don’t Waste Your Time Trying to Bully Me in Louisiana

The Opposition

Critics say Jindal’s executive order, and ones like it, go too far, enabling businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples.

“It flat out gives individuals a right to discriminate, period,” said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

On the federal level, opponents are expected to make a similar argument as Republicans move forward Lee and Labrador’s First Amendment Defense Act.

“Same-sex couples exercising their constitutional freedom to marry should not be shunned by commercial businesses for any reason,” said Susan Sommer, the director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group.

That sentiment is spreading.

Two days after the Supreme Court’s ruling, a New York Times columnist argued to end tax exemptions for churches and religious schools. A day before the decision, the ACLU renounced support of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Demonstrators celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)

Demonstrators celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)

>>> Read More: States With Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

“[W]e can no longer support the law in its current form,” wrote Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU for The Washington Post. “[I]t is now often used as a sword to discriminate against women, gay and transgender people and others. Efforts of this nature will likely only increase should the Supreme Court rule—as is expected—that same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.”

Conservatives feel just as threatened.

“There’s a likelihood that there will be more prosecutions and lawsuits filed against people of faith in respect to marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court decision,” said Doug Wardlow, legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which is the organization defending Stutzman and the Giffords.

Wardlow said both Lee and Jindal’s efforts are a “good thing” but more is needed on the state level to challenge anti-discrimination laws.

“The Supreme Court did invent a new constitutional right to marriage that includes marriage for same-sex couples, but that should not have an immediate impact on ongoing cases,” Wardlow said.

He continued:

What that does is fuels the fire for passage of additional [anti-discrimination] statutes and laws that will lead to persecution of people trying to live out their beliefs about marriage, so we need to respond in kind and make sure there are additional protections there to guarantee that our First Amendment rights are protected and respected.