Andrew Thomas: Another Amnesty in the Works

By Andrew Thomas

When a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators announced plans in January 2013 to push new immigration legislation, Americans learned that the leaders behind this latest effort to deal with the nation’s broken borders would cross the political aisle. But it did not take long for them to realize that bipartisanship came at a price: amnesty for all illegal immigrants.

Coming together for this purpose was the so-called Gang of Eight. The members of the group were Democratic Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and Charles Schumer of New York, and Republican Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona, and Marco Rubio of Florida. Their proposal was the most ambitious immigration package since the 1986 reforms known as the Immigration Reform and Control Act (or Simpson-Mazzoli Act).

The Gang of Eight’s proposal would allow the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in America to remain without fear of deportation. They would be required to register with the federal government and pay a fine and then would receive “probationary legal status.” This would allow them to remain in the country and work.

To gain permanent status, they would have to go to the “end of the line” and could qualify for long-term protected status only after the border was secured and a system put in place to track the status of immigrants who have overstayed visas. The bill also would seek to attract highly skilled immigrants.

Leaders of both parties added to this chorus of bipartisan support. Several Republican leaders in Congress and the media joined in, including Congressman Paul Ryan. To a cheering crowd in Las  Vegas on January 29, President Obama threw his weight behind the efforts, stating that “the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

Obama’s own plan, contained in a “secret” document nonetheless leaked suspiciously to the media in February 2013, was not substantively much different from the Gang of Eight’s. In fact, while Republican leaders denounce Obama’s approach as too soft on border enforcement and “dead on arrival,” the differences between his approach and the Gang of Eight’s were minor; some  conservatives speculated the “leak” was a deliberate attempt to allow Republican leaders to put some distance between themselves and the president. The main distinction between the two plans was whether the federal government will allow illegal immigrants to apply for legal status as permanent residents after eight years have passed (Obama) or after a still-unnamed commission declares the border to be secure (Gang of Eight). In either case, the practical result is immediate legalization, or amnesty by another name.

There is little practical difference between the two plans for an additional reason: Latin American immigrants in the past have had a low rate of naturalization. After the 1986 amnesty law was passed by Congress and signed by President Ronald Reagan, most illegal immigrants who qualified for amnesty did not even pursue and obtain citizenship.

Sparring over the proposed reforms quickly began in expected quarters. In testimony on Capitol Hill, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano went so far as to claim the border has never been more secure.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which will be a central checkpoint for the legislation, pledged to bring the reforms to a vote and push them vigorously.

But conservative Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee remained skeptical. Pressing their belief the borders still are not secure and that this is just the latest incarnation of amnesty, these leaders have questioned the whole premise of the legislation. Emerging as a prime leader of this opposition is Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. He has shared fears that the efforts will be “amnesty only” and that the promises of beefed-up border security will not materialize, while mass legal status conferred on illegal immigrants will. Sessions declared that supporters of the bill suffer from “a lot of overconfidence,” and predicted flatly, “It will not pass.”

To bolster their view, Sessions and his allies invoke both fairness and a long history of non-enforcement. Immediate legalization for illegal immigrants who would gain “probationary legal status”  under the reforms would amount to preferential treatment for those who have essentially broken into the country. Those who played by the rules will not qualify for this coveted status.

Moreover, past promises to toughen enforcement measures have not led to subsequent action by federal agencies tasked with securing the border. Congress passed a law in 2006, the Secure Fence Act, requiring a border fence. Congress has authorized, multiple times, creation of an entry-exit system to monitor those coming and going from the country. Neither the fence nor the entry-exit system has been constructed.

What pressure will be brought to bear on holdout Republicans opposing the push for amnesty? Some inkling of this comes from the rough tactics being used to discredit groups that advocate tougher border security and oppose amnesty. One group aligned with the Gang of Eight, the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, has accused groups such as Numbers USA, the Center for lmmigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform of not being genuinely conservative groups. The latter, hardline groups are being tarred with accusations that they support population-control measures such as abortion and sterilization.

The obvious intention is to separate the hardline groups from conservative orthodoxy and make it easier for conservative members of Congress to vote in favor of amnesty. The Washington Post acknowledged recently that “establishment Republicans” were behind the effort to marginalize the border-hawk organizations, and that this “campaign . . . is another sign of how seriously” these Republican leaders are pursuing a new immigration package.

Leaders of the targeted groups complain they are being smeared by a well-organized campaign underwritten by moneyed interests that want to liberalize immigration laws and operations. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, has blasted these accusations as “laughably unbelievable” and an attempt to “bork” opponents of the administration’s new plan with the Gang of Eight (“bork” being a reference to the famous smear campaign used to block Senate confirmation of the late Judge Robert H. Bork the Reagan nominee in 1987 to the United States Supreme Court).

A Republican-led House of Representatives ultimately will have to go along with the proposed immigration reforms, at least in some manner, in order for amnesty to become law. For this reason, such bare-knuckled, divide-and-conquer tactics may well be, for the Gang of Eight and its allies, their only realistic path to victory.

Andrew Thomas is a graduate of the University of Missouri and Harvard Law School. Twice elected as Maricopa County Attorney, the district attorney for greater Phoenix, Arizona, Thomas served a county of four million residents and ran one of the largest prosecutor’s offices in the nation. He established a national reputation for fighting violent crime, identity theft, drug abuse and illegal immigration. He is the author of four books, including The People v. Harvard Law: How America’s Oldest Law School Turned Its Back on Free Speech. Mr. Thomas is also a  contributor to SFPPR News & Anslysis.

Stop Phoenix from Passing Radical Law

On Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. the Phoenix City Council is going to show its utter depravity by considering a resolution allowing men who think they are female to use women’s restrooms. This radical far left-wing resolution should never have seen the light of day, but this kind of madness is sweeping the nation from the Left.

This means that a man who needs psychological help would be within his legal rights to use the same restroom as your little girl in public accommodations like restaurants, schools, and churches.

Because of the notoriety of this bill, the council session has been moved to the Orpheum Theater at 203 W. Adams Street in Phoenix.

The most radical Left elements of Arizona are all for this nonsense. Those with common sense are against it. Equality Arizona, the most vocal of the far Left special interests groups in the state, is calling people who oppose this bill “extremists on the fringe.” Their friends on the Council, including Mayor Greg Stanton, rushed this bill forward with little to no transparency. Breaking his campaign promise from last year.

Here’s what this serpent-inspired bill will do, if the council is crazy enough to pass it:

  • If a business or church asks the man to leave the ladies’ room it will face civil and criminal prosecution for “discrimination.”
  • There are no protections in this law to prohibit a predator from posing as a so-called “transgender” to gain access to a child through a restroom or locker room.
  • Every business in or that works with the City of Phoenix would face the threat of frivolous lawsuits regardless of their views on homosexuality and so-called “gender identity” — a left-wing fabrication. The mere implication that a business is “unwelcoming” or “unaccepting” to a homosexual or transgender can trigger a criminal investigation and costly lawsuit that could      bankrupt a business. Guess that’s the kind of business environment Stanton wants to create here.
  • Churches are not exempt from being forced to allow transgenders in whatever restroom they choose. Furthermore, the weak exemption in this law could force a church or a parachurch organization, like a Christian school, to hire homosexuals and transgenders regardless of the church’s religious beliefs. An affront to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution.

Two adults on the Phoenix City Council, Jim Waring and Sal DiCiccio, are opposed to this threat to children, families, businesses and ministries. Councilman DiCiccio’s news release appears in the message below this one.

Contact these council members and urge them to be reasonable and talk these folks off the ledge before they take the state’s largest city into the moral abyss:

Phoenix ready to take a radical left turn

If you own a business, please be sitting down when you read the latest proposal. The new ordinance being fast-tracked by Mayor Stanton is a disaster for local small businesses in the City of Phoenix. For the first time, any business with one or more employee will be subject to criminal penalties of up to a Class 1 misdemeanor, the highest misdemeanor one can receive.

The proposal requires all businesses that operate in Phoenix to accommodate any individual that wants to express their personal gender or identity. If for example, a man wanted to use the woman’s bathroom in order to express himself then the business owner will be required to allow him to do that or face a criminal penalty and civil litigation. A criminal penalty that will be enforced by the City of Phoenix.

This is a difficult thing to discuss. It opens the door to individuals claiming you are a bigot, old fashioned and someone who condones discrimination. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe in full transparency and you, the citizens, have every right to know what your leaders are up to. And, you need to know about it before it passes next week. Click here to read the ordinance (see “2013 Proposed Human Relations Ordinance changes”)

The language of the ordinance is so broad; the floodgates of litigation against businesses will be opened. What’s worse, the business community has not even been made aware of this and almost all of the elected leaders in the City were unaware of these proposed changes until last week. This tactic of ramming through such dramatic changes without input from community that will be impacted the most, our local small businesses, shows a total disregard for our business community. This lack of transparency must stop immediately. I have sent a letter and called on the City Manager to immediately notify all businesses in the City of Phoenix of these changes-before the vote next week. Click here to read the letter.

This proposed ordinance should be continued to allow all affected parties an opportunity to comment and have their voices heard. Discrimination is deplorable and we should not stand for it. However, the proposed changes are poorly crafted and go after a non-existent problem.

If this ordinance passes as it is expected to do, business will be forced to hire more lawyers than employees.

My best to you and your family,

Sal DiCiccio, City Council member, Phoenix

Administration Lashes Out at Congressmen’s Failure to Consume Office Budget Allowance

John Semmens: Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News

Folder2 104Senator Rand Paul (R-Ken) held a press event to announce he is returning $600,000 in unused funds to the US Treasury. The Senator said he was “proud of the fiscal prudence shown by my staff in making sure we are as efficient as possible with the taxpayers’ money.” This is the second time Paul has refunded money. Last year he returned $500,000.

Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) also announced his office was returning $160,000 in unspent funds. “At a time when Americans are tightening their budgets, I have made an effort to do the same with my Congressional office budget,” Mulvaney said.

Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney denounced the refunds, calling them “political grandstanding” and “deliberate attempts to undermine the nation’s confidence in the president’s program. Given the perilous state of the economy the President has made it clear that maintaining a high level of government spending is essential to sparking economic recovery. The savings on computers, paper and ink that Senator Paul boasts he has achieved are the exact opposite of what the President wants.”

The press secretary promised that “these uncooperative actions will not succeed. The amounts diverted by these Congressional misers are small enough that a single additional trip to a golf course outside of the D.C. area by the president can expend sufficient funds completely obliterate their negative impact.”

Carney speculated that “seeing their errant penny-pinching wiped out by a leisure expenditure benefiting the President could be a severe blow to the morale of these right-wing obstructionists.”

Chicago Says No to Guns on Public Transit

The Chicago Transit Authority rejected the National Rifle Association’s stance in support of allowing those with concealed carry permits to board buses and trains with their weapons. “We think it would be disastrous to allow passengers to carry concealed weapons on our trains and buses,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool.

“On balance, it would be better for passengers to simply allow themselves to be robbed or even shot than to engage in gun battles with assailants on board our vehicles,” Claypool reasoned. “Fewer people will be hurt if the criminals are unopposed than if victims attempt to resist.”

Claypool discounted research showing that looser restrictions on the law-abiding owners of weapons seems to lead to fewer crimes, including shootings, saying he was “uncomfortable with how crime is defined by these right-wing screeds. Who’s to say that the existing distribution of property is equitable? Is the use of deadly force to oppose a freelance redistribution really justifiable? It is our position that the confined spaces of buses and trains are not an appropriate venue for deciding such complex issues.”

Robert Kelly, who represents Transit Workers Union Local 308, concurred with Claypool’s view. “Drivers are instructed not to resist when confronted by an armed assailant,” Kelly pointed out. “If this is the proper response for the most important person on the vehicle why shouldn’t the same rule apply to the other occupants?”

Administration Unfazed by GAO Report

A recently issued report by the Government Accountability Office says that the federal government is on a financially unsustainable course. The debt is so large that the anticipated annual interest payments are expected to exceed the economy’s rate of growth. The government would have to run annual budget surpluses just to maintain its current debt to GDP ratio.

Despite all the publicity being given to the so called draconian cuts envisioned by the sequester, there are no actual cuts to spending. At best, only the rate of growth in spending would be slowed, but not by enough to generate a budget surplus anytime in the foreseeable future.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner brushed aside the report’s findings, insisting that “the assumptions made by its authors are by no means certain. The belief that we have no alternative but to pay these debts is false. The government is sovereign. It has the means to perpetuate itself by whatever actions it deems necessary. If paying these debts becomes too burdensome it can decline to pay or inflate the currency sufficiently to wipe out the value of the money owed. The American people can rest assured that their government will survive by hook or by crook.”

Of course, failure to pay would inflict huge losses on holders of U.S. government obligations. Geithner questioned whether this would be as bad as it sounds, though. “Buying U.S. Government debt is a voluntary act,” Geithner reminded. “No one forced these purchasers to risk their money in this way. They bought these bonds out of greed. We shouldn’t weep too much if they suffer losses instead.”

The Treasury Secretary took some solace in the fact that “the Democrats’ core constituencies are largely safe from this risk. People on food stamps and welfare don’t buy these bonds. Most of the working class owes more than they own. An inflation that wipes out the value of government debt would also wipe out the value of their debt. So we’re pretty confident that the Party isn’t exposed to any retribution at the polls.”

Head Start Students Do Worse

The rationale for the federal government’s “Head Start” program is to give disadvantaged students a boost with their school work. Sadly, though, a recently completed research study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reveals that students enrolled in the program actually do worse than similarly disadvantaged peers not in the program. The biggest deficits show up in math and behavior.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged that “we should not read too much into these findings. Given our society’s widespread access to computers, calculators, and cash registers that can do the math for us, proficiency in math may not be as an important a skill as it once was. Many people occupying positions of high authority in our government readily admit a lack of aptitude for math. So, I’d say that discovering that our Head Start students aren’t grasping the subject isn’t something I’d get worked up about.”

“The important thing is that President Obama has stressed how crucial this program is to his agenda,” Sebelius argued. “While this and previous studies have indicated that there seems to be little tangible benefit from the program, from what I’ve seen, the intangible gains are significant. When students are joyfully singing the president’s praises it is clear that their lives have been improved. I’ll take that over a dry comparison of test scores any day.”

The Secretary was disdainful of critics who see a disturbing similarity between the indoctrination of American children and that of North Korean children. “Just because we have our differences with these other cultures doesn’t mean that everything they do is wrong,” Sebelius pointed out. “Teaching children respect and reverence for the country’s leader strikes me as a very positive objective of our educational system.”

State Senator Wants Crackdown on Anonymous Internet Commentary

Illinois State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) has introduced legislation that would require Internet websites to remove anything posted by an anonymous poster if someone complains about the content. Under the proposed bill, to avoid having his content removed a poster would have to attach his legal name, IP address, and home address.

“As it stands now, pretty much anyone can post anything he wants,” Silverstein complained. “If he does it anonymously someone who is offended by the posting has no recourse other than to try to rebut it in his own post. This may be acceptable for a person who is articulate, but many people aren’t.”

Silverstein said he isn’t worried that his bill could chill freedom of speech. “Freedom of speech shouldn’t be a ‘blank check’ to offend other people,” he contended. “There’s also a need for government authorities to be able to identify potential troublemakers. Restricting web site access to those willing to give their real names will significantly aid this process. If these potential troublemakers are uncomfortable with identifying themselves to the extent that they refrain from posting undesirable remarks is that really a bad outcome?”

Colorado Representative Apologizes for Remarks

Democratic Colorado State Representative Joe Salazar issued an apology for suggesting that women fearful of being raped couldn’t be trusted with guns.

“It was not my intent to offend anyone,” Salazar maintained. “It’s just that I don’t believe more guns are the answer to any public safety problem. I think that if a woman has a gun a dangerous situation could easily be escalated from rape to homicide. Her having a gun just increases the risk of doubling the casualty count.”

As an alternative to arming themselves Salazar suggested that women who feel threatened should carry whistles. “Most of the time a toot or two will scare off a potential attacker,” he insisted. “If it doesn’t it still increases the chances that the rapist will be interrupted or possibly apprehended. The big plus, though, is that the woman will be relieved of the risk of feeling guilty for shooting someone. In my mind, it is better for a woman to be an innocent victim with a clear conscience than to have to bear the blame for harming another person.”

A Satirical Look at Recent News

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CNN Pundit Declares Rubio’s Presidential Ambitions ‘Finished’

John Semmens: Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News

Folder2 104Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio’s pause to take a drink of water during his rebuttal to President Obama’s State-of-the-Union speech was declared “a possible career ender” by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“Voters may tolerate a lot from their prospective leaders,” Blitzer observed. “We’ve learned that diddling interns is okay. A bogus birth certificate may be worth a few snickers, but does not seem to undermine our confidence in a man’s leadership capabilities. However, the jarring interruption of a high-profile speech by a moment of thirst would appear to be the type of thing that raises serious questions about fitness to serve.”

“No President has ever interrupted a speech by pausing to take a drink of water,” Blitzer remembered. “It’s just something that isn’t done. You can go back through the film archives and not find a single instance.”

As for the substance of Rubio’s remarks, Blitzer admitted that “I can’t honestly recall what he said. I was so thrown by the water drinking incident that I couldn’t concentrate on his words. In this regard, I think my reaction was fairly typical. Only those hopelessly enthralled to the GOP’s right-wing agenda could’ve gotten past this major gaffe to spy something of relevance in Senator Rubio’s speech.”

Obama Urges Catholics to Appoint a “Progressive” Successor to Pope Benedict

The unusual resignation of Pope Benedict XVI launches the search for his successor. While he has no formal role in this process, President Obama has urged the Cardinals to select a “progressive.”

“The Catholic Church has a choice to make,” Obama said. “It can continue to promulgate out-moded ideas or it can get behind a program for a 21st century agenda.” Among the issues mentioned by the President for this “21st century agenda” were birth control and gay marriage.

“Over-population is placing an excessive burden on the planet’s resources,” Obama claimed. “To save the environment we must reduce the human footprint. Birth control is an essential measure for achieving this goal. Since we cannot effectively intervene in humans’ sexual activities we can at least interdict the consequences by making birth control and abortion convenient and inexpensive. The person who is chosen to lead the Catholic Church should get on-board with our efforts to accomplish this.”

“Gay marriage complements the drive to reduce human reproduction,” Obama added. “These marriages can’t produce children. By increasing the frequency of such unions we would simultaneously be acknowledging the right of same-sex couples to enjoy the sacraments of marriage while diverting them from reproductive sexual intercourse. It seems to me that a doctrinal change along these lines could also provide the Church with a way out of some of the sex scandals that have plagued it in recent years.”

President Obama’s remarks did receive some encouragement from the Government of China. “We think he is on the right track,” said President Hu Jintao. “Ideally, all religious posts ought to be cleared for compatibility with ruling secular authorities. In China it is simple. We appoint the Catholic bishops. Globally, some sort of international vetting is needed—perhaps through the United Nations.”

To assist the Church in finding a “progressive” Pope, President Obama is reported to have forwarded a list of what he considers “acceptable candidates.”

EEOC Unveils New Hiring Regs

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s newly updated hiring regulations pose dilemmas for firms on the matter of hiring ex-convicts. On the one hand, businesses are warned that refusal to hire ex-cons will expose the firm to charges of racial discrimination. On the other hand, businesses would still be liable for any crimes committed by their employees.

Jacqueline Berrien, Chairwoman of the EEOC defended the new rules as “necessary to level the playing field. Given that African-Americans are seven times more likely to have served time in prison, a hiring policy that attempts to screen out felons would have a racially disparate impact. It is the Commission’s position that any hiring practice that would tend to produce an imbalance in the racial composition of the firm’s workforce is, by itself, illegal. As the President has said on many occasions, a company’s workforce should be a microcosm of the ethnic, racial, and sexual-orientation of all Americans.”

Berrien said that “the easiest way for firms to avoid systematic discrimination against former felons is to forgo a criminal background check as a normal part of its hiring process. I mean, if you’re trying to hire a delivery driver, a carpet installer, or security guard is it really relevant that he may have served time in prison?”

The Chairwoman deflected criticism that the new regulations might pose a danger to consumers because “the consumer is still protected by tort liability laws. Any harm done to any customers by any of a its employees is still the responsibility of the business.”

Todd McCracken of the National Small Business Association called the new rules “a classic ‘catch-22.’ If you don’t make these risky hires the EEOC will be on your case. If you do you could be put out of business if one of these employees seriously harms someone. The safest course is to outsource as much as you can and hire as few people as possible.”

Colorado School Restricts Tutoring Assistance

A Colorado elementary school has restricted its after-school tutoring program to exclude whites from participating. Andre Pearson, principal of Mission Viejo Elementary in Aurora, Colorado explained that “only students of color are eligible for the program. Too few white students are failing for us to justify including them in the program.”

Pearson said he rejected race-neutral criteria based on performance because “that wouldn’t provide the maximum leverage for equalizing outcomes between whites and minorities. By focusing our efforts on bringing up the performance of our minority students through tutoring while allowing that of whites to continue to drift downward we will be squeezing out the inequalities from both ends.”

After receiving complaints from a few parents of white children, Pearson agreed to allow failing white students into the program “if there are any spots left after every minority child has been accommodated.”

Pelosi Takes Aim at Sequester’s “Cruelest Cut”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) characterized the limitations on Congressional pay in the looming sequester as “the cruelest cut in the entire package.”

“Considering all the money we have appropriated for those making dubious or even negative contributions to our society it is unconscionable that we should be treated so shabbily,” Pelosi contended. “We are key players in ruling this country. We ought to have salaries commensurate with the significance of our role.”

“Corporate executives presiding over budgets a tiny fraction of what we dispose of in a year take down salaries and bonuses in the millions of dollars,” she pointed out. “Equity argues for us to to paid on a similar scale.”

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) seconded Pelosi’s take asserting that “a boost in my pay is necessary to complete the emancipation initiated by President Lincoln during the Civil War. I can’t be truly free until the repression suffered by my ancestors in slavery is repaid to me in cash.”

The Minority Leader conceded that it is unlikely that her view would prevail because “the GOP is too busy tearing down the magnificence of government in a calculated bid to starve it of the resources to which it is entitled. Their portrayal of government as a burden that must be lightened and a power that must be restrained is the exact opposite of what the voters who reelected President Obama want.”

Pelosi expressed optimism that “voters will tire of seeing their elected representatives suffer under the hardships imposed by the sequester and elect solid Democratic majorities in the 2014 balloting. Then there will be no impediments to the President’s progressive agenda to transform America.”

Democrat Defends Voting Multiple Times

Melowese Richardson, a longtime Cincinnati Democratic activist admitted that she voted more than once for President Obama this past fall. Though multiple votes are illegal, Richardson vociferously defended her actions.

“Having the right man govern our country is more important than abiding by petty rules,” Richardson argued. “In our country’s history many have had to fight and die to secure freedom. If taking up arms on behalf of freedom is the right thing to do, how can taking up an extra ballot be wrong?”

Richardson contrasted her “bloodless combat for Obama with the killing done by George Washington in 1776. I didn’t have to shoot any British troops or Hessians to promote the cause. The way I see it, I deserve at least as much credit as a freedom fighter as those who did have to shoot people.”

A Satirical Look at Recent News

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You’re Going to Keep Funding the Killing of the Innocents

Arizona’s duly elected state lawmakers — with the consent of the governor — have determined that you and every other taxpayer in our state shall not be required to give tax money to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion factory.

But a judicial activist — a federal court — says you will pay for the continued killing of preborn children.

This is shocking and outrageous!

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said the decision of the court  is not the end of the legal battle to preserve a culture of life in the Grand Canyon State:

Though we are disappointed, we are not defeated as this fight is far from over. Center for Arizona  Policy will continue to work with our friends and allies across the state to uphold this law and protect Arizonans from being forced to fund abortion providers.”

Steve Ertelt, of Life News, describes the decision this way:

The Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act of Arizona (HB 2800) de-funded abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood of state family planning money. The bill prioritizes family planning funds away from abortion-centered businesses like Planned Parenthood to entities that provide women with comprehensive health care. The measure prohibits the state or any local government from using public money to contract with an organization that includes abortions.

After Judge Wake’s ruling overturning the law, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser told LifeNews she was disappointed.

“Judge Wake’s ruling thwarts the will of Arizona taxpayers to stop funding big abortion businesses such as Planned Parenthood.  As a result, funds will be reduced for agencies that provide whole women’s health care. According to Planned Parenthood’s own annual report, its government subsidies have reached an all-time high, even as the number of cancer screenings and other prevention and contraceptive services they offer has dropped dramatically,” she said. “Planned Parenthood’s growing abortion toll, meanwhile, is evidence of their continued failure to show true concern for vulnerable women and girls.”

Dannenfelser added: “The overturned law would simply prioritize taxpayer funding for health care entities that provide comprehensive, whole-woman care.  Arizona women seeking family planning should be able to access this service at clinics that can meet other health needs for them and their families. The SBA List will not rest until the freedom of states to put whole women’s health first is once again recognized and protected.”

Governor Jan Brewer signed HB 2800 into law last May and Planned Parenthood immediately filed suit. In October, the Obama Department of Justice filed a brief in the case, at which point Judge Wake issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law.  Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, which co-authored the legislation with the SBA List, have helped state Solicitor General David Cole defend the law to date. The state is expected to appeal today’s ruling.

When she signed the bill into law, Brewer said in a statement:  “This is a common-sense law that tightens existing state regulations and closes loopholes in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions, whether directly or indirectly. By signing this measure into law, I stand with the majority of Americans who oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.”

For the Obama administration, Assistant Attorney General Joseph Mead claimed Arizona shouldn’t be picking who receives funding with federal Medicare tax money it receives.

Arizona Solicitor General David Cole disagreed and said federal laws have always allowed states to establish “meaningful provider qualifications” and that de-funding Planned Parenthood fits within that power. Cole said Planned Parenthood could get family planning funds if it divorces its family planning services from its abortion business.

Last year the SBA List joined the Center for Arizona Policy, Arizona Right to Life, and other local groups to host “Women Speak Out: Defund Planned Parenthood” grassroots rallies in front of local Planned Parenthood abortion clinics to draw attention to the organization’s abortion-centered business and calling for the passage of HB 2800. Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the education and research arm of the SBA List, also testified before the Arizona House Health Committee in favor of the bill in coordination with the Center for Arizona Policy.

9th Circus Rules against Gilbert Church’s Religious Freedom

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against religious freedom Friday when it allowed the Town of Gilbert to infringe up on the First Amendment rights of Good News Presbyterian Church.

Judge Paul Watford, in his dissent, said the sign ordinance is unconstitutional because it favors political and ideological signs over signs promoting events, like those the church used:

“Gilbert’s sign ordinance violates the First and 14th amendments by drawing content-based distinctions among different categories of non-commercial speech.”

The church’s attorney is considering whether or not to file an appeal.

Rev. Clyde Reed said, “We thought we had a solid case, but the 9th Circuit said it wasn’t solid enough.”

The right reverend was being kind to the court. Everyone knows the “9th Circus” is a major player in the left-wing transformation of the western part of the nation. This court is never going to issue a fair ruling on any social issues, such as the sanctity of life, marriage, or religious freedom. It’s a biased court, and that’s why it is also the most overturned appeals court in America.

Good News Presbyterian’s fight with the town started eight years ago when Gilbert officials told the church it was posting signs advertising worship services in public rights of way too early. The church tried to accommodate the city, but the city refused to be satisfied.

The church filed a lawsuit in 2008 and said its First and 14th amendment rights were being violated.

Watford agreed, but the other two judges on the panel said the “restrictions are based on objective factors relevant to the creation of the specific exemption and do not otherwise consider the substance of a sign.” As such, the law is constitutional, they wrote.

In 2009, the 9th Circus upheld a lower court decision against the church’s request for an injunction to block enforcement of the ordinance. The Appeals Court sent the case back to the local court so it could weight constitutional considerations in the case. The district court upheld its earlier ruling, as did the 9th Circus Friday.

Jeremy Tedesco, legal counsel for the church, and from Alliance Defending Freedom, said: “To us, it’s a very simple case of content-based discrimination.”