Tony Perkins / Feb. 24, 2021

SCOTUS Fails to Blaze a Trial on Election Reform

The “decision to rewrite the rules” is a question of “national importance.”

“Befuddling.” “Inexplicable.” “Baffling.” Those are just three of the words Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas used to describe his colleagues’ latest response to the 2020 election. After three months of mixed signals, the justices finally turned down a case that had most conservatives holding their breaths — a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s expanded mail-in balloting order. The issue, many said, was moot. But the dangers of lawlessness, Thomas fired back, is not.

It was one of the most appalling power grabs of last year’s election chaos. To the surprise of everyone, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided to unilaterally extend the deadline for counting mail-in ballots three full days after November 3rd — overruling the law and state legislators. The Republican Party was irate — and they weren’t the only ones. Other state attorneys general looked on in horror as the court upended the election process. “Pennsylvania’s legislature wrote clear instructions concerning the deadlines for absentee ballots,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) argued. “Now its Supreme Court has decided it knows better than elected lawmakers… This is a clear example of courts legislating from the bench, and the impact shakes the very core of our democracy.”

In a state where Joe Biden won three out of every four mail-in ballots, Morrisey was right. The impact was enormous. Before Election Day, leaders filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court — desperately trying to stop the overreach. With the justices deadlocked at 4-4 (Amy Coney Barrett recused herself), Pennsylvania voters were stuck with their supreme court’s decision. Now, months into a Biden presidency, Thomas agrees, the case is no longer about the ballot extension. It’s about who has the power to make election law. And “now that the petitions are before under the normal briefing schedule,” he writes, “I see no reason to avoid them.” Elections are, after all, “of the most fundamental significance under our constitutional structure.”

Maybe the state court’s decision didn’t change the outcome of 2020, Thomas acknowledges, but “that may not be the case in the future.” That’s why, as far as he and Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito are concerned, the “decision to rewrite the rules” is a question of “national importance.” As the Constitution spells out in black and white, it’s the state legislature’s job — not the courts’ — to set election policy. “Yet both before and after the 2020 election, nonlegislative officials in various states took it upon themselves to set the rules instead.” All that accomplished, he argued, was sowing “confusion” and dampening the country’s confidence in the “integrity and fairness of elections.” And if we don’t move restore that trust, Thomas warned, activist judges will “drive honest citizens out of the democratic process…”

“Changing the rules in the middle of the game is bad enough. Such rule changes by officials who may lack authority to do so is even worse. When those changes alter election results, they can severely damage the electoral system on which our self-governance so heavily depends. If state officials have the authority they have claimed, we need to make it clear. If not, we need to put an end to this practice now before the consequences become catastrophic.”

Maybe October wasn’t the most convenient time to address that crisis, Thomas conceded. But “here, we have the opportunity to do so almost two years before the next federal election cycle. Our refusal to do so by hearing these cases is befuddling… One wonders what this court waits for. We failed to settle this dispute before the election, and thus provide clear rules. Now we again fail to provide clear rules for future elections. The decision to leave election law hidden beneath a shroud of doubt is baffling. By doing nothing, we invite further confusion and erosion of voter confidence. Our fellow citizens deserve better and expect more of us.”

There’s one more chance for the justices to weigh in on the 2020 election — this time in a Wisconsin suit about the Badgers’ use of ballot drop-boxes. But regardless of what they decide, there should be plenty of reforms to keep conservatives busy. As disappointing as the justices’ decisions have been, we shouldn’t be waiting on the courts to do what Clarence Thomas reminds everyone is our job: overhauling state election laws.

In 33 states, leaders are taking that charge very seriously — introducing a wave of more than 165 bills to eliminate fraud and strengthen voting processes. If you’re wondering how your state stacks up, check out the new election integrity scorecard from Concerned Women for America. Only one state earned an “A,” by the way — Alabama. The rest of us have our work cut out for us. To see what areas of concern you can highlight to local leaders, don’t miss the list of 10 changes every state can make to safeguard your vote.

Originally published here.

Title X Marks the Spot of Latest Abortion Fight

There isn’t a single pro-lifer in America who wouldn’t love to see Planned Parenthood completely defunded. But without both sides of Congress firmly in the hands of conservatives, former President Donald Trump did the next best thing. He chipped away at the forced partnership between taxpayers and the abortion industry with the most powerful weapon in his executive tool box: HHS regulations. It took months of hard work, but the “Protect Life Rule” became a reality. Now, two years of liberal lawsuits later, the Supreme Court will finally decide if the policy can stand.

Until Donald Trump, the relationship between family planning groups and abortion businesses was always messy. While no organization is technically allowed to use the government’s family planning dollars for abortion, Planned Parenthood got around that law for years by drawing an “artificial line” between its abortion clinics and other family planning services, even — Ben Domenech explained — "when they were located in the same facility and essentially funded jointly.“

Thanks to the amazing team at HHS, Trump’s administration managed to build a regulatory wall between the two. Starting in 2019, groups like Planned Parenthood had a decision to make: they could still take Title X family planning funds — but not at the clinics where they performed abortions. Under this "co-location” policy, they would have to choose between dropping their abortion services from any location that gets Title X dollars or moving those operations offsite. Ultimately, Planned Parenthood decided it didn’t want to deal with the hassle and dropped out of the program altogether.

But they weren’t going down without a fight. The group sued all over the country to try to protect their federal gravy train — until finally, the case bubbled up to the Supreme Court. This week, the justices announced that they’ll be the final authority on whether the president had the power to issue the rule in the first place.

FRC’s Katherine Beck Johnson, research fellow for Legal and Policy Studies, is optimistic. “President Trump’s administration took the bold and life-affirming steps to end additional funding to abortion providers. For too many years abortion providers were finding round about ways to keep taxpayers funding their grotesque endeavors,” she said. “We enthusiastically supported this decision and look forward to seeing the Supreme Court uphold the rule.”

Of course, the Biden administration would love nothing more than to overturn the rule and let more tax dollars flow to his friends at Planned Parenthood. In the meantime, conservative State Attorneys General and other public interest law firms and citizens should continue to do to Democrats what they’ve done to Trump: make them fight for every single inch. Just as the Left challenged everything the last president did by the rules, we should make life just as difficult for the administration not playing by any. And we’re on much better terrain to wage that battle, thanks to a judicial system with more than 200 new originalists, ready to defend the freedoms radicals are coming for.

Originally published here.

Canadian Beacon: Parliament Joins U.S. Fight for Uyghurs

The nine months felt like a lifetime, Tursunay Ziawudun remembered. Like most women, the nightmares from the camps still haunt her. Even in the United States, she can’t escape the sound of the guards’ footsteps, walking to her cell after midnight to take women to the “black rooms” where they would be raped — over and over again. “Perhaps this is the most unforgettable scar on me forever,” she said with a blank stare. “I don’t even want these words to spill from my mouth.”

Like other Uyghurs, her description of what happens behind the walls of the Xinjiang prisons defies imagination. Gulzira Auelkhan told stunned reporters that during her 18 months in China’s camps, she was forced to strip the female prisoners naked and handcuff them. “Then I would leave the women in the room and a man would enter — some Chinese man from outside or policeman. I sat silently next to the door…” Afterwards, she cleaned the rooms and took the shaking victims to the showers.

Adrian Zenz, one of the leading experts on China’s Uyghur persecution, says these latest stories are some of the worst he’s ever heard. It should confirm to everyone that these atrocities are real, he argues, and must be stopped. “It provides authoritative and detailed evidence of sexual abuse and torture at a level clearly greater than what we had assumed.”

Former President Trump and his team at the State Department took the violence seriously, labeling it genocide against the Uyghur people before they left office. Since then, the Biden administration has muddled its response, refusing to take a clear line against China on the abuses of millions of religious minorities. His mixed signals will be harder to defend now, as more countries ramp up their pressure on the communist country.

Just this week, the Canadian parliament piled on, joining the United States with their own resolution calling China’s treatment of the Uyghurs “genocide.” The designation puts liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an uncomfortable position, since he’s been very reluctant to condemn China’s government. Last week, he made some flimsy excuse that he wants to make sure “all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed” before making any sweeping declarations about what’s happening behind Xinjiang’s razor-wire fences. Like other weak-kneed politicians, he’d rather hide behind an “international investigation” — something Biden might have done if former Secretary Mike Pompeo hadn’t already declared it genocide.

In Canada’s case, the vote was unanimous — 266-0, with Trudeau’s cabinet abstaining. “The international community in general… takes very, very seriously the label of genocide and needs to ensure that when it is used, it is clearly and properly justified,” Trudeau said last week. As part of the resolution, Canada’s parliament also called on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Games out of Beijing.

Erin O'Toole, Canada’s Conservative Party leader, argued that it’s time for world leaders to work with allies like America to demand an end to the abuse. “There is real suffering going on in China. There is genocide happening. Our values are not for sale, and Mr. Trudeau needed to send that message today… [H]e failed.”

Confronting China is going to require the leadership of several countries — starting with the United States. So far, Biden hasn’t had the stomach to confront challenge China. Let’s hope for the sake of millions of innocent women and girls that he changes his mind — and soon.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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