Supreme Court Justices Skeptical about Gilbert’s Sign Code

A small church in a Phoenix suburb appeared likely Monday to win its Supreme Court dispute over a local ordinance that puts limits on roadside signs that direct people to Sunday services.

Liberal and conservative justices alike expressed misgivings with the Gilbert, Arizona, sign ordinance because it places more restrictions on the churches’ temporary signs than those erected by political candidates, real estate agents and others.

The Good News Community Church and Pastor Clyde Reed sued over limits that Gilbert places on so-called directional signs, like the ones the church places around town to point people to its services in local schools and retirement communities.

The directional signs can be no larger than 6 square feet. They must be placed in public areas no more than 12 hours before an event and removed within an hour of its end. Signs for political candidates, by contrast, can be up to 32 square feet and can remain in place for several months. Other ideological signs, including a message from a church welcoming people to its services without the pointing the way, can be as large as 20 square feet.

Justice Samuel Alito sarcastically described how the church could erect a larger, temporary sign telling passers-by about an upcoming service. “We can’t tell you where it is because the town won’t let us,” Alito said, to laughter. “But if you drive by here tomorrow morning at a certain time, you’ll see an arrow.”

Philip Savrin, the town’s lawyer, essentially agreed with Alito that the ordinance would allow what the justice described.

Justice Stephen Breyer indicated he didn’t like the arrangement any better than Alito did. “Well, my goodness. I mean…it does sound as if the town is being a little unreasonable, doesn’t it?” Breyer asked Savrin.

Less clear from the argument is whether the justices would use the case to make an important First Amendment ruling on the regulation of speech, or decide more narrowly in a way that affects the particular ordinance and not much else.

Lower federal courts upheld the town’s sign ordinance because the distinction it draws between different kinds of temporary signs is not based on what a sign says.

Justice Anthony Kennedy indicated he might prefer a narrower outcome when he suggested that a broad ruling would lead local governments to ban all signs or lead to a proliferation of messages ranging from “Save your soul” to “Happy Birthday, Uncle Fred.”

The church is joined by religious groups and the Obama administration in urging the Supreme Court to strike down the ordinance.

The church, which serves roughly 30 adults and up to 10 children, argues that the regulation’s significant difference in the size of the signs and how long they can be displayed is essentially regulation based on content, which the Supreme Court only rarely allows in First Amendment cases.

“The town’s code discriminates on its face by treating certain signs differently based solely on what they say,” said David Cortman, the church’s lawyer.

The National League of Cities and other associations of local officials are backing the town and warning that a ruling in favor of the church would make it “nearly impossible” for cities and towns to craft sign regulations that deal with a community’s appearance and safety.

A decision is expected by June in Reed v. Town of Gilbert.

See video

Tell Mitt Romney NOT to run again

Please tell Mitt Romney not to run for president again.

He campaigned mainly just in key battleground states, and he lost several of those contests.

He is not serious about the social problems gripping America.

A more well-rounded conservative candidate who has America’s best interests in mind — those in all 50 states and the interests of the most vulnerable Americans — is what we need in a winning candidate for the White House in 2016.

Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz are the candidates who best meet these requirements.

Tell Mitt NO.

Muslim Terrorism Excused

By John Semmens – Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News

JohnArmed Muslim terrorists slew a dozen unarmed members of the editorial staff of the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo in a raid on the paper’s Paris office this week. Though the gunman proclaimed these murders as retribution for the paper’s mockery of Islamic extremism, leading liberal luminaries have reassured everyone that the attack had nothing to do with “real” Islam.

The New York Times dismissed a female survivor’s recounting of being spared and advised to convert and obey the Quran as “unreliable testimony. Given the traumatic circumstances these witnesses couldn’t be expected to clearly remember events.” The NYT‘s editors contrasted “the hysterical recall of this woman with the calm reassurances from our last two presidents that Islam is a religion of peace.”

Jimmy Carter’s former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski blamed the victims for what he termed “their extraordinarily provocative satires. They were unnecessarily nasty and could easily goad even the most peaceful of Muslims into a murderous rage.” Brzezinski also warned against anyone using the phrase “jihadist terrorist” as these words “could incite even more violence from normally peaceful Muslims.”

Meanwhile, President Obama dispatched Attorney General Eric Holder to France as “an emergency measure to head off an anticipated Islamophobic response. We cannot allow our emotions to get the better of us in this time of tragedy. Sad as what happened in Paris might be, we must keep things in perspective. Ten times as many Muslims lost their lives in a stampede in Mecca. We shouldn’t forget their suffering by a single minded focus on the lesser loss at Charlie Hebdo.” The stampede to which Obama was referring occurred at the annual ritualistic stoning of the devil in Mecca, where 244 Muslims were trampled to death and hundreds more were hurt.

Shortly after conferring with Holder, French President Francois Hollande tried to ease public fears by affirming that the killings “had nothing to do with the Muslim religion. For us to insinuate that Islam played any role would only invite further acts of violence. It will be safer to think of this as a random act.”

In a bid to insulate itself from potential reprisals, the newspaper USA Today published a screed by Imam Anjem Choudary justifying the massacre. “Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone,” he wrote. “The authors of these insults cannot say they haven’t been warned. They cannot hope that a misguided faith in freedom of speech will protect them from righteous punishment. Muslims do not believe in freedom of expression. True believers are obligated to silence all blasphemy. If anyone is to be blamed it is the French Government for not shutting down Charlie Hebdo. This left Muslims with no other option than to mete out justice by their own hands.”

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson praised France’s strict gun control laws for moderating the carnage: “The fact that the victims were unarmed prevented a shoot out that could’ve claimed even more lives. As it was, the gunmen were able to calmly execute the offending editors and cartoonists without any collateral damage.”

In related news, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called upon Muslim leaders “to turn away from interpretations of the Quran that justify violence as a means of propagating our beliefs. Embracing violence inspires acts of unspeakable brutality and puts us at odds with civilized behavior. If we are to win others over to our faith it must be by setting an example of humane treatment of one another regardless of religious differences.” ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called Sisi’s view “misbegotten blasphemy” and alleged that “it is now every Muslim’s solemn obligation to slay this heretic.”

Harvard Faculty Outraged by Obamacare

Irate that deductibles on their post-Obamacare health insurance have soared to $250 per year, the Harvard faculty has vented its spleen at the Administration. Previously, faculty health insurance plans had no deductibles.

Dr. Albie Derned, Associate Professor Philosophy, characterized the increase as “intolerable” and “a stab in the back. We have been 100% behind the President in his efforts to transform this country’s health care system. For us to be swept into plans we don’t like is poor payback for our loyalty.”

The fact that deductibles for ordinary people under the Obamacare rules are typically twenty times as high did not abate Derned’s indignation. “Ordinary people can’t be trusted to use insurance wisely,” he maintained. “If costs for the system are going to be held in check there has to be a significant financial incentive to economize on the use of benefits. The vast majority of the complaints for which a person consults a doctor will resolve themselves without treatment. The high deductibles encourage people to let time cure their ailments.”

In Derned’s view, “the best and brightest elite of the population shouldn’t be subjugated by the same regulations as everyone else. The idea that all ought to be treated alike undermines the motivation for people to rise above the common herd. It can only lead to indolence and mediocrity.”

President Suggests Free Community College for Everyone

Taking heed of the nation’s lowest workforce participation rates since the 1970s, President Obama suggested a plan for government funding of community college for every high school student with a C average or better.

We have liberated more people from wage slavery than any prior administration,” Obama boasted. “While this, in itself, is a remarkable achievement we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. We need to go the next step.”

Why free community college would be the “next step” was explained by the President’s assertion that “going to college is a great experience that no one should be denied just because they can’t afford it. It’s not like the old days when students were pressured by heavy workloads, term papers, and difficult exams. We’ve come to realize that this ‘nose to the grindstone’ approach is no longer required. In the coming years computers will do all the complicated work. Students needn’t learn more than which buttons to push to get the machines running.”

Unlike a job, being a student doesn’t cut into your free time,” the President remembered. “There’s plenty of opportunities to hang out, socialize, go to basketball games, and even smoke some weed. You don’t have to put up with customers demanding service or a boss insisting that you earn your pay. It’s a lifestyle that I enjoyed and highly recommend. We need, as a society, to make this experience as widely available as we can.”

Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, estimated that the President’s plan would benefit 9 million students at a cost of around $30 billion per year. “To be able to give this kind of life experience to so many of our young people is both affordable and the right thing to do,” Muñoz said. “Scrooges who carp about the cost are forgetting that the government will be paying for everything. So, there’ll be no drag on the economy.”

New York City to Ban Styrofoam

New York Mayor Bill deBlasio brushed off recent troubles between the police and the community in order to focus on what he considers “a much bigger existential threat to our way of life.” That threat: the use of Styrofoam containers by restaurants to keep takeout orders hot or cold.

Styrofoam is one of the top two or three threats to the planet,” de Blasio argued. “I realize that it doesn’t grab headlines like cops killing minorities or being killed in return do, but it has a bigger footprint in the scheme of things over the long run.”

The Mayor insisted that concerns about the inferior performance characteristics of paper cups and cardboard boxes for takeout food “are unimportant. It’s not like people have to eat takeout food. They could eat in the restaurant or, better still, enjoy a home-cooked meal in their apartments. Numerous studies have shown restaurant offerings to be unacceptably high in sodium, fat, and sugar. And a distressingly large segment of the population is obese. If this new rule puts a damper on the consumption of takeout meals we’ll all be healthier.”

Ban on Fossil Fuels Needed to Save Planet

A study prepared by University College, London says severe restrictions on the use of fossil fuels are needed to prevent a forecast 2º centigrade increase in temperature over the next 100 years.

Lead researcher Dr Christophe McGlade asserted that “decreasing the global consumption of fossil fuels is both essential and attainable. Humans can survive without these polluting commodities. In colder climates people can wear more layers of warmer clothing. We can drastically reduce the amount of combustion used to keep warm.”

In warmer climates people can let their own bodies’ sweat evaporation process keep them cool,” McGlade pointed out. “I mean, most of the world currently lives without air conditioning and all the world lived without it less than 100 years ago. Going back just requires will power and physical stamina.”

Presidential Press Secretary Josh Earnest cited this study as “a further reason for why we don’t need the Keystone Pipeline. What’s the sense of building a pipeline for energy that we shouldn’t be burning anyway?”

In related news, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers called for a hike in the gas tax “to offset the dangerous decline in oil prices. As gasoline slides below the $2/gallon mark a driver’s incentive to curb his travel is greatly diluted. We can combat this trend by imposing tax increases to boost the cost paid by consumers and restore the financial penalty that high prices imposed on unnecessary trips.”

A Satirical Look at Recent News

John Semmens is a retired economist who has written a weekly political satire column for The Arizona Conservative since 2005. He says working on his satires is one of the ways he tries to honor the liberties that our nation’s Founding Fathers tried to protect.

Please do us a favor. If you use material created by The Arizona Conservative, give us credit, and DO NOT change the context. Thank you.

Glendale, Fountain Hills Defeat Radical Bathroom Bill Efforts

By Tony Perkins, Family Research Council

The Left calls them “fairness ordinances” — but for whom? Certainly not Christians, many of whom are being hauled before city commissions as casualties of them — or worse, losing their jobs and businesses altogether. No, these aren’t fairness ordinances. They’re a license to discriminate against anyone who holds the mainstream view of marriage or sexuality.

Thanks to a very public clash in Houston that pulled back the curtain on the LGBT’s agenda, Americans are starting to wake up to the nightmare of these ordinances, which slipped through too many cities when voters weren’t paying attention. Now they are — and their pushback is throwing a major wrench in the Left’s plans. In states where these measures might have snuck by, more churches and families are on guard, ready to go to the mat against a movement disguised as “equality” but delivering anything but.

This week in Starkville, Mississippi, members of the city council voted 5-2 to rescind a special rights ordinance. People on the ground knew there was storm brewing when Human Rights Campaign came to Starkville and convinced the Mayor to back it. “I just think he hoodwinked the Board,” said Buddy Smith of American Family Association, whose headquarters are in Mississippi. “They didn’t know what they were passing. You know it’s all dressed up in ‘discrimination language’…” “We all know that the mission of the Human Rights Campaign is to create special rights for those who are choosing the homosexual lifestyle — to kind of force this as something that’s good and natural among those who don’t believe that’s good behavior.”

In Fayetteville, it took a groundswell of voters to undo what the liberal council had done. But ultimately, those voters prevailed, voiding a measure by a 52-48 margin that, among other things, would have allowed men to use the girls’ public showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms. The ordinance even made it possible for business owners to face criminal prosecution for failing to follow the government mandates.

For now, Arkansas’s courage seems to have spread all the way to Arizona, where local officials are rethinking a measure that would unfairly punish businesses and conservatives for their faith. Desperately trying to avoid the clash that stole headlines in other areas, the City of Glendale is putting the brakes on their proposal until they can weigh the fallout. Hopefully, they’ll come to the same conclusion as Starkville and avoid Houston’s mistakes, which led to an intrusive, unprecedented attack on area churches.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The mayor and concerned citizens of Fountain Hills also recently beat back an effort by radical leftists to force an unwanted bathroom bill on that community.

Over in Plano, Texas, community leaders are digging in their heels. While the consequences play out in other towns, Mayor Harry LaRosiliere insists, “The Equal Rights Ordinance states that Plano is against discrimination, bullying, and hatemongering.” Maybe, depending on who the targets are. If they’re Christians — like Atlanta fireman Kelvin Cochran — the bullying isn’t just ignored, but encouraged.

That’s why Texas pastors, who are starting to realize the power they have to galvanize their local communities, are leading the charge. Pastor Rafael Cruz, Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) dad, is seizing the opportunity to call for more people of faith to become involved in the political arena — whether that’s on the local school board, PTA, city council, or legislature.

“We believe the Plano City Council is attempting to silence people of faith in the workplace,” Pastor Mike Buster told reporters at a rally this week. And they aim to stop it. With just 3,822 signatures, the voters of Plano can either force the City Council to repeal the ordinance or put it on the May ballot. Either way, voters will have the final say. Which is exactly how it should be.

Roots of Florist Suit Now Personal

If you’re wondering what the effect of these special rights ordinances actually is, ask Barronnelle Stutzman. The owner of Washington’s Arlene’s Flowers, a fixture in the community for years, is staring down a lawsuit that could take away — not just her business, but her home and all of her personal assets. This week, a Benton County Court ruled that Stutzman could be personally sued because she politely declined to participate in a same-sex “wedding” order from two longtime customers.

In an almost unprecedented move, AG Bob Ferguson made the attack personal, launching a second legal challenge to hold Barronnelle personally and financially responsible. The move, a bold and aggressive one, wasn’t considered all that viable by some experts, who thought Stutzman would be shielded by the Consumer Protection Act.

Not so, ruled Judge Alex Ekstrom. In a 35-page decision, he said the state could move forward with its campaign to financially destroy the Washington grandmother. “The Court concludes that the legislature intended to allow the attorney general independent unfettered authority to bring this action.” In other words, this judge is suggesting that the state should be able to rob you of your home, livelihood, and anything else of value simply because you hold a different political view than the people in power!

That’s a horrifying precedent, one that flies in the face of our basic liberties. But unfortunately, these liberals are echoing what the Houston mayor said: this is personal. And the Left is willing to take down sportscasters, educators, athletes, small businesses, wedding vendors, firefighters, and anyone else to send the message that they will not tolerate disagreement.

As our friends at ADF said, does that sound like freedom to you? Does it sound like fairness? Americans need to wake up and realize that the Left is playing for keeps — and in the case of these special ordinances, those keeps include everything Christians own.

Glendale Pastors Rise up in Defense of Religious Freedom

By Cathi Herrod, President, Center for Arizona Policy

When five Houston pastors had their sermons subpoenaed after speaking out against an overreaching ordinance that severely threatened religious freedom, clergy across the nation began to recognize what is at stake.

Not only are businesses at risk of being penalized or shut down for holding to their religious beliefs, but the fundamental freedoms of churches and pastors are on the line.

It’s in this context that I’ve been blessed to see church leaders throughout the town of Glendale rise up to speak out against a so-called “non-discrimination” ordinance in their town.

Prior to Christmas, some members of the Glendale City Council made it clear their goal was to pass one of these ordinances before the Super Bowl. Yet after an outcry from the people of Glendale and local pastors, this process has been greatly slowed down.

Pastor John Kelley of Calvary Community Church spoke at a Council meeting in December and urged the Council to not hastily pass the measure, and truly hear from the community.

“The city has historically made decisions quickly that we’ve regretted. I plead with the council to not hurry but to listen. It will have a tremendous impact on people of faith as well as the rest of the citizens,” Pastor Kelley said. “Please, listen to us and seek our voice in this decision.”

Then just this week, more than 50 pastors and church leaders from Glendale showed up at the Council to urge them not to pass one these ordinances.

Obama Calls for Truce in Fight Against ISIL

By John Semmens – Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News

JohnCiting reports that troops fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) may have come down with Ebola, US President Obama called for a halt in all military action against them.

In a bid to help speed ISIL’s recovery, President Obama offered to transport its ill soldiers to the US for treatment. “We have seen the contrast in cure rates for those left in the field compared to those brought to America for treatment,” Obama said. “More than half of Ebola victims treated in Africa have died. All but one treated in America recovered.”

The President held out hope that this gesture of compassion might soften ISIL’s enmity toward us. “By taking this figurative thorn out of the lion’s paw, so to speak, we extend a hand of friendship that could open the door to a more meaningful and peaceful future between our two peoples,” Obama speculated.

World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman Christy Feig praised Obama’s offer calling it “very Jesus-like. By turning the other cheek, President Obama has seized the moral high ground. Regardless of how ISIL responds he has vindicated the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded six years ago.”

For its part, ISIL has reportedly been executing Iraqi doctors who have failed to restore its fighters to full health.

Boehner Dismisses Poll Results

A recent Caddell Associates poll of registered Republican voters found that 60% of of those polled want House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to be removed from his leadership post. Two-thirds of the respondents agreed that Boehner “has been ineffective in opposing President Obama’s agenda.”

The antipathy toward Boehner’s leadership comes largely from the conservative wing of the GOP where dissatisfaction with the Cromnibus bill Boehner shepherded through the House in November’s lame duck session, has stimulated talk of replacing him. In fact, a series of “Dump Boehner” rallies are scheduled for this weekend.

Boehner insisted that this poll and conservative opposition don’t concern him because “registered voters aren’t the ones who will be deciding the issue of who will be the Speaker of the House. This is a matter solely at the discretion of the elected members of the House of Representatives. These members are all well-informed about the consequences they face for any hint of disloyalty toward me.”

The use of threats to secure loyalty, though, is somewhat tenuous. Boehner would only be able to carry them out if efforts to oust him fail. If House members align with the majority of GOP registered voters, Boehner would be unable to exact his vengeance on them since he would be stripped of his powers as Speaker.

The Speaker, however, remained confident that “House members won’t take sides against me. They don’t have to face voters until November of 2016. By then whatever they’ve done in January of 2015 will be long forgotten. They’ll have to face me every day between now and then. I control all the plum committee assignments. Anyone who hopes to bring the bacon home needs to keep me happy, not a bunch of yahoos from his district.”

Reid Blames Koch Brothers for Injuries

Senator Harry Reid was injured when a home exercise apparatus he was using collapsed under him. The former Majority Leader suffered broken bones in his face and ribs.

Though his injuries were described as “relatively minor,” Reid’s anger at the Koch brothers was not. “I don’t know how they did it, but their insidious campaign of terror against this country’s legitimate leaders must be stopped,” Reid demanded.

Doubtful that a judicial remedy could suffice due to lack of evidence, Reid vowed he would “call upon the President to utilize his newly asserted executive authority to ensure that justice is meted out to these malefactors.” A possible resolution according to Reid would be “to ship them off to Gitmo,” where recent releases of incarcerated terrorists have opened up numerous vacancies.

Guv Wants Football Games to Start Later

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) is pushing for a law that would ban football game kick-offs before noon.

The early start times are really unfair to the poor and minorities, many of whom are still in bed at that hour,” Dayton claimed. “These start times may be okay for people who are used to getting up early to go to work, but they are out of sync with other lifestyles.”

Setting a time more accommodating to these “other lifestyles” is important because “watching TV is a much bigger part of the lives of those on public assistance. They shouldn’t be forced to rouse themselves in order to see these games. Legislation prohibiting morning kick-offs is a simple matter of social justice.”

The Governor is also touting a companion bill that would boost funding to enable more public housing units to be equipped with large-screen “smart TVs.” “The older model TVs that many of our poorest citizens must watch offer an inferior viewing experience,” Dayton pointed out. “This violates their human rights. TV watching should not reflect a caste system where those who can afford it can obtain more than those who can’t.”

Obama Gives Himself an A+ for Performance

Despite characterizing himself as a “hard grader,” President Obama rated his performance for the recently concluded 2014 an “A+.” “My critics want to harp on their pet issues to claim my Administration was a failure, but let’s look at what I was able to accomplish,” he asserted.

Republicans are slapping each other on the back for taking more seats in Congress than their Party has had since 1928, but it was my agenda that Congress enacted with the Cromnibus bill in November,” the President boasted.

I broke new ground in how the country is governed by stepping in to enact the policies Congress refused to legislate,” Obama bragged. “For all the talk about this being outside my legitimate authority, Congress has done nothing and will do nothing to overturn what I’ve done.”

Largely through the efforts of my Attorney General, the issue of racial justice has been brought to society’s attention,” Obama declared. “Cops shooting Black men has given rise to street action aimed at evening the score. Millions of dollars in merchandise have been liberated and redistributed, bringing us another step closer to material equality. Commercial profiteers have been chastised for exploiting minorities.”

On the foreign policy front, I ended Bush’s war of aggression in Afghanistan and have released many innocent jihadis from imprisonment in Gitmo,” the President crowed. “Terrorist atrocities have been mostly limited to a few beheadings and massacres that have been confined to foreigners living in far away places. The world is safer than it has ever been.”

All-in-all, it’s been a great year for me,” Obama concluded. “Historians are going to look back on 2014 as the key turning point for the transformation of this country. I’m going to be rated the best among all those who have held the office of president.”

Missing from the President’s list of triumphs was Obamacare, which the latest Jonathan Gruber tape revealed, was forecast to be unaffordable and bound to deny coverage. In the tape, Gruber says he advised the President that “mandating universal coverage for all the items on his ‘must have’ list makes the program unaffordable. However, this can be offset by denying coverage for procedures that are expensive and of low social value.”

Gruber contended that “the tradeoff of mandating government funding of abortions for every woman who wants one, while denying costly therapies for the elderly has synergistic effects. The money saved by restricting the care available to the old and decrepit can be used to finance aborting potential future criminals.”

Culling the human herd of these low value cohorts will be a heroic achievement that should rank the Obama Administration as the greatest in American history,” Gruber concluded in his advice to the President.

Court Refuses to Reconsider Citizenship Lawsuit

A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver tersely rejected a request from Arizona and Kansas that an earlier decision overturning those states’ proof of citizenship requirement for registering to vote be reconsidered.

The law that these states want to enforce directly contradicts the policy that President Obama decreed last November,” the panel ruled. “The President has mandated new rights for those illegally in the country. To allow states to dilute these rights by imposing their own requirements violates the presidential supremacy clause of the US Constitution.”

A Satirical Look at Recent News

John Semmens is a retired economist who has written a weekly political satire column for The Arizona Conservative since 2005. He says working on his satires is one of the ways he tries to honor the liberties that our nation’s Founding Fathers tried to protect.

Please do us a favor. If you use material created by The Arizona Conservative, give us credit, and DO NOT change the context. Thank you.