Tony Perkins / Apr. 13, 2021

Arizona, Georgia Double-Team on Woke Sports

A significant election law stops radical donors like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg from interfering in the state’s elections.

It’ll be months before Major League Baseball knows how much its decision to move Atlanta’s All-Star Game cost them financially. Fortunately, Americans won’t have to wait nearly that long to understand how much it hurt the MLB politically. Thanks to Governor Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.), they already know. If the goal of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and his liberal pals was to scare other states into submission, Arizona’s new law makes it quite clear: he’s already failed.

U.S. sports leagues have held an over-important place in our political debates for years. But after overplaying their hand over Georgia’s election law, that might finally be changing. To a lot of conservatives’ relief, the MLB’s decision to punish Atlanta didn’t just backfire — it sparked a nationwide movement. Republican leaders in other states, who’ve been held hostage by the threats of woke groups like the NCAA for too long, have finally decided to tell the country’s sports leagues to take a hike. If the NFL wants to try the same playbook in Arizona that the MLB did in Georgia, Ducey says good luck.

People inside football warned him that his 2023 Super Bowl might be on the line if he signed his state’s election reforms. “I report to the people of Arizona and not a major sports league,” he fired back. “And I’m going to make decisions on the policies that are put in front of me.” His decision, as it turns out, was a good one. On Friday, Ducey inked his name to a significant election law that stops radical donors like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg from interfering in the state’s elections. When reporters pointed out the possible backlash from the NFL and NCAA (which is slated to host the Final Four in Arizona in 2023), he refused to be dissuaded by fear.

“I think Major League Baseball made a big mistake,” Ducey said. “I’d like to keep politics out of baseball. That’s how I’d prefer it.” And what about March Madness or the biggest event in the NFL, reporters asked? “I’m going to sign good policy, okay?” he replied. The days of deciding legislation based on what a radical sports organization would do — at least in Arizona — are over. As far as Ducey and Kemp are concerned, the integrity of our elections, not to mention the future prospects of conservatives in elections, are too important to sacrifice over a handful of tournament games.

As FRC’s Ken Blackwell — a minority owner in the Cincinnati Reds — pointed out on Fox, MLB’s Manfred got “way out over his skis on this.” “He condemned some common-sense reforms that are pretty commonplace throughout other cities — and he bought into the narrative that these reforms were suppressive and repressive. And now what he’s starting to realize was that he didn’t do his homework, and he led baseball [into] a $100 million dollar catastrophe that is spinning back and hurting people…” And in the process, he might have destroyed any leverage major sports have in the states as the ultimate carrot and stick.

As for the “good policy” Ducey signed, Arizona did what every state should be doing and stopped private, third-party donations from interfering in the election process. “With public confidence in our elections in peril, it’s clear our elections must be pristine and above reproach…” he explained. That was not the case in 2020, a new analysis from the Foundation for Government Accountability shows. About 60 percent of the state, which was pivotal to Joe Biden’s victory, received grants from Zuckerberg’s Center for Civic and Tech Life, prompting all kinds of questions about what kind of “get-out-the-vote” operation the Left’s known champion was running. Those suspicions reached a fevered pitch late last month when it was discovered that in nine of the counties where the Facebook CEO invested, Democrats saw an unusually high turnout.

“Biden won five of the state’s 15 counties on November 3,” the Daily Signal explains. “In four of the Biden-carried counties that received the grants, the number of Democratic voters increased by 36 percent or more.” In Maricopa County, Democratic turnout was 48 percent higher — jumping from 703,000 to 1.04 million. Compare that, analysts say, to the one county Biden won that didn’t get the Zuckerberg funding: Democratic turnout only increased by 12 percent.

This is even fishier, the foundation’s Trever Carlsen explains, when you look at 2016’s statistics. “[Donald] Trump was able to increase his vote total by almost 250,000 votes [in Maricopa County], but miraculously, Biden was able to exceed [Hillary] Clinton’s performance by 337,000 or so,” Trevor told The Daily Signal. “That was enough to make up the difference.” It’s an “interesting comparison when you look at the five counties, four of which got the money and one that didn’t, how Democratic turnout fared.”

Interesting is one way to put it — disturbing is another. Just how many votes were the direct result of Zuckerberg’s influence in those counties and thousands of others across the country in last fall’s election? “This makes dark money look like a bright day,” Republican State Senator J.D. Mesnard argued on behalf of the bill that would ban this kind of third-party influence. “We should be proactively stopping [this] before it becomes embedded in America’s election system,” he insisted. Thanks to the courage of Republicans like Brian Kemp and Doug Ducey, more states are. But if we care about free and fair elections, they should be just the beginning.

Originally published here.


Biden Gets Packing on the Supreme Court


Jeremy Wong has never been all that interested in politics. The young associate pastor at Orchard Community Church always tried to keep his focus on the congregation — until COVID struck. Then, to his frustration, things changed. Suddenly, it was impossible to minister the way he and so many other pastors had under California’s suffocating lockdown rules. By October, after months of trying to lead Bible studies and prayer meetings over Zoom, Jeremy had had enough. He decided to join a lawsuit to fight the state’s over-the-top limits on in-home religious gatherings. Finally, late Friday night, something happened that he “never in [his] wildest thoughts” expected: they won.

“I didn’t have super high expectations,” the 40-year-old told the Mercury News. But the feeling of relief is unmistakable. By a 5-4 vote just before midnight, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that the group of challengers “are irreparably harmed by the loss of free exercise rights for even minimal periods of time.” California officials, in their opinion, haven’t been able to prove that “public health would be imperiled” with less oppressive policies. Once again, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett argued, the state is showing preference to secular businesses. And that’s a violation of the First Amendment “whenever they treat any comparable secular activity more favorably than religious exercise.”

Christians should have the same freedom to gather as people at “hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts and indoor restaurants,” the majority insisted. For pastors like Jeremy, “the differing rules felt both arbitrary and personal.” Before COVID, he and his family would have 10-12 members of the church over for dinner and a Bible study. As the pandemic dragged on, “trying to comfort churchgoers who had lost family members or jobs via Zoom — while liquor stories… and hair salons stayed open” diminished just how important the role of ministry can be in a crisis. The church, he argued, is just as essential — if not more so — than all of these other services. “…[A]t least from a pastor’s perspective, [prayer groups and Bible studies] are important because they address needs of people in the congregation that things like medicine can’t.”

The Supreme Court has said as much during COVID — five times in California alone. “The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that states cannot treat religion differently from secular interests in the name of the pandemic,” FRC’s Katherine Beck Johnson insisted. “It’s time states start listening to SCOTUS and stop forcing religious adherents to go to court to have their rights upheld.”

Still, radical leaders seem intent on pushing the issue, probably hoping the court (which is more closely divided than it should be on such an obvious constitutional question) will crack. As it is, the court’s slim majority is already under attack by the Biden administration. Desperate to break the originalists’ grip on SCOTUS, the president signed an executive order to create a commission to “study” the impact of the Left’s radical ideas like court-packing or limiting lifetime appointments.

“Remember,” Carrie Severino said, “[Biden] refused to tell Americans what he would do in terms of court-packing” before the election. “This is him kind of trying to kick the can down the road and provide cover,” she explained on “Washington Watch.” “But what we’re really seeing here, if you look at the trajectory… is he’s trying to find a way to tact to the Left here and cover his tracks.” Look, she argued, everyone from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to Justice Stephen Breyer believes this is a horrible idea. And yet, this commission, Carrie insists, would give the president a “fig leaf to go from the moderate stance he tried to project during the election to the extreme, radical, full-throated ‘Let’s just scrap the whole [judiciary] and start over.”

Carrie, who heads up the Judicial Crisis Network, says people shouldn’t buy the line that this is a bipartisan commission either. She’s studied the three dozen “experts” who’ve been selected and points out that only a handful are even Republicans — and very moderate Republicans at that. They’re just there for “window dressing,” she told listeners. The rest are far-Left radicals from the ACLU to NARAL, “liberal activist fundamentalists” who give the president an excuse to say that wonderful scholars want to pack the court, when instead, “it’s the dark money groups on the Left who funded [his] campaign.” They’re the ones who will “settle for nothing less than the most extreme judges possible.” And they won’t settle for nine of them. They want 15, or as many on the court as they can get.

According to the White House, the commission has 180 days to report back on their findings. In the meantime, Carrie says, “I think they’re hoping we all forget what’s going on… But believe me, they know that before they potentially lose control of the Senate, there’s going to be a huge push.” And one of the big ticket items on that agenda is ending the filibuster so that they can push these sweeping court changes through with 51 votes instead of 60. If that happens, she warns, Americans would be looking at a radicalized court beyond anything anyone can imagine. “That would be a real problem in a country where you want the court to be a check on… making sure the Constitution is followed.”

Originally published here.


California’s Department of (Gender) Corrections


Just how dangerous is the effort to mainstream transgenderism? Very, liberal feminists are warning. Six months into California’s so-called Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act, the fallout has been especially severe in a place most people don’t think about: women’s prisons.

One of the unfortunate consequences of Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D-Calif.) new law is that men can claim to be women or “nonbinary” and be transferred — no questions asked — to a female prison. So far, Brandon Showalter at the Christian Post warns, 255 have. In fact, he points out, “not a single 'gender-based housing’ transfer request has been denied,” meaning that female prisoners and female correctional officers are living in a state of fear and frustration.

Over at the extremely leftist Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), a group that normally wouldn’t side with conservatives, is appalled that the state isn’t putting women’s safety first. “… [I]t’s cruel and inhumane to try to solve this problem for only a small subset of at-risk men by deciding to have men’s prisons and then mixed-sex prisons. California’s women’s facilities are mainly low-security, open-plan dormitories, and they’re overcrowded already,” they said.

Like most Californians who oppose the idea, they wish the state would create special units or wings for prisoners based on their identities. Instead, they’re putting women — many of whom have already been abused or assaulted — in danger of rape, molestation, or worse. “The California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation itself acknowledges that putting men (90 percent of whom still have functional penises) in women’s prisons presents a risk of pregnancy.”

One inmate, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, said that staffers had actually told them to “expect violence” with the transfers. “I do think they should be safe,” she agreed about the men posing as women, “but it infringes on my right to be safe as well,” she said.

As for the actual officers at these prisons, some are resorting to aliases to tell their stories to the local media. If they aren’t comfortable with the new law, they’ve said, they’ll be fired. “They’ve already said we will be written up. All the way up to termination,” one insisted. In an email to staff, one prison administrator warns that “Female staff that do not want to perform the strip out will be given a direct order by the supervisor to perform the strip out and if they still refuse that supervisor will author a memo and provide it to the facility captain in regards to insubordination.”

“You’re ordered to go strip out this inmate in a secure room,” the anonymous corrections officer said, “… it takes your power away. Where’s the boundaries? Boundaries are gone.”

And under the Biden administration, those boundaries will continue to disappear — not just in prisons, but in housing shelters, schools, sports, and everywhere else that women and girls will lose their right to privacy and safety. If the far-Left continues down this path of elevating transgenderism above common sense, then it’s only a matter of time before more people get hurt.

Originally published here.


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

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