28 Jul 1998 Scoop #192: July 28, 1998
* Con: Group Says the Religious Liberty Protection Act is A Bad Idea
* Pro: Group Says the Religious Liberty Protection Act is A Good Idea
* 9th Circuit Overruled by Supreme Court 96.4% of the Time
* Air Force Nominee Rejected; Editorialist Urges Rejection of Ambassadorial Nominee in Grounds of “Religious Intolerance”
* Campaign Reform Amendments Reviewed
* Analyst Raises Concerns with “No Second Chances” Bill
* Puerto Rico and Oklahoma: Two Peas in a Pod
* National Center for Public Policy Research Recent Releases
Activities at the July 22 Strategy Lunch chaired by Amy Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research, House Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK).
Con: Group Says the Religious Liberty Protection Act is A Bad Idea
Mike Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association delivered a presentation in opposition to Rep. Charles Canady (R-FL)’s HR 4019, the Religious Liberty Protection Act, providing background on this issue and saying that the bill “betrays conservative principles” and that to endorse it is to “endorse the era of big government.” He listed four reasons why he believes the bill is bad: 1) It discriminates against small religions/churches; 2) It will be ineffective; 3) “If the churches take the bait of this bill, we are just an arm of commerce,” and passage of the bill is likely to lead to eventual government taxation of churches; 4) The bill is unconstitutional, as even some of its proponents admit. Farris, a lawyer, also said that passage of a bill linking the defense of religion to the strength of the commerce clause would force lawyers defending religious institutions to push the power of the commerce clause as far as possible. Farris’s group has just mailed 60,000 first class letters across the country explaining problems with the bill. Farris distributed materials. Contact Mike Farris at 202/547-9222 or 540/338-5600, or visit his web site at http://www.hslda.org for more information on the legislation.
Pro: Group Says the Religious Liberty Protection Act is A Good Idea
Patrick Nolan of Justice Fellowship (the public policy arm of Prison Fellowship) delivered a presentation in favor of HR 4019, the Religious Liberty Protection Act, saying that the bill provides a venue for religious people to defend themselves from government. He cited several reasons why a defense is needed, including situations in which Christian day care centers have not been permitted to hire only Christians, in which Bible study groups in private homes have been broken up by local governments under zoning ordinances, and in which prisoners have been forbidden to take Bibles with them to Bible study. Nolan said that the fact that the constitution’s commerce clause is used to protect religious people “doesn’t taint” the protection effort, noting that churches do frequently participate in interstate commerce when they purchase items for church use. Nolan said that he respects Mike Farris and would prefer not to disagree with him, but that in this case he does, and so does Jim Dobson (Focus on the Family), Gary Bauer (Family Research Council), Don Hodel (Christian Coalition) and Chuck Colson (Prison Fellowship). Contact Pat Nolan at 703/904-7312 or visit http://www.justicefellowship.org for more information on the legislation.
9th Circuit Overruled by Supreme Court 96.4% of the Time
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), updated participants on the confirmation of federal judges. He particularly discussed the 9th Circuit (western U.S.), which, he said, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court 27 out of 28 times in 1997. Sessions noted that the New York Times has reported that most of the U.S. Supreme Court regards the 9th Circuit as a “rouge circuit.” Sessions said that he will be giving heightened scrutiny in the Senate to 9th Circuit nominees, and if the nominee won’t move this circuit toward the middle, Sessions will vote “no.” Contact Senator Sessions at 202/224-4124. (For more information on the pace of confirmations, visit http://www.freecongress.org/.)
Air Force Nominee Rejected; Editorialist Urges Rejection of Ambassadorial Nominee in Grounds of “Religious Intolerance”
Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) reported on the rejection of the nomination of Daryl Jones to be Secretary of the Air Force and on the nomination of James Hormel to be ambassador to Luxembourg. On the latter point, he recommended that participants read an editorial in the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill, by Albert Eisele. Inhofe identified Eisele as a liberal who nonetheless opposes confirming Hormel. In the piece, Eisele says that confirmation of Hormel would amount to “a shameful acceptance of religious intolerance.” Contact Senator Inhofe via Gary Hoitsma at 202/224-4721. For a copy of The Hill editorial only, contact Dalmer Samater at (202) 507-6398.
Campaign Reform Amendments Reviewed
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) discussed the continuing debate over campaign reform in the House and the ongoing efforts of his staff to protect freedom of speech. DeLay described various amendments that will be voted on on the House floor, including those of Rep. Linda Smith (R-WA), which, he said, would make voter guides illegal; Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY)’s amendment, which says that one must be a citizen of the United States to participate in campaigns; another amendment which dictates a mandatory sentence of a year in prison for violating campaign laws; an amendment by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to repeal motor-voter and require proof of citizenship to vote (DeLay stressed that this amendment is not a national ID card amendment); an amendment by Rep. Anne Northrup (R-KY) to ban walking-around money. DeLay said that the best thing for proponents of freedom of speech would be if the Shays-Meehan bill was defeated outright, which, he said, was possible. For an overview of current House action on campaign reform, visit http://www.nationalcenter.org/CampaignUpdate5.html. Contact Rep. DeLay via Autumn Hanna at 202/225-0197.
Analyst Raises Concerns with “No Second Chances” Bill
Tom Jipping of the Free Congress Foundation distributed a memorandum expressing opposition to HR 4258, the “No Second Chances” bill (for a review of the bill’s provisions, see Scoop #191). Jipping opposes the bill on several grounds, including, as his memo says, the fact that “the federal government certainly has no delegated power to dictate criminal sentences for individuals convicted under state criminal laws.” Jipping also says the bill fails to take into account situations in which states release criminals early because of a mandate from a federal judge, and raises other concerns. Contact Tom Jipping at 202/546-3000 (http://www.freecongress.org).
Puerto Rico and Oklahoma: Two Peas in a Pod
Jim Boulet of English First discussed a secret meeting being held for Republican Senators only on the issue of statehood for Puerto Rico. He also discussed, with a degree of incredulity, claims by some Puerto Rico statehood proponents that, if Puerto Rico was admitted as a state, it’s Congressional delegation would vote the way Oklahoma’s does