“It’s still a place that, to borrow a phrase, clings to its guns and religion, and I think it will continue to do so,” Felkel said. “As long as the Democratic Party still seems to be the party that’s opposed to religion and guns, a large segment of the Southern population is going to have trouble with that, especially at the federal level.”
“The people who helped to bring the Republican Party into power would not be viewed as Republican enough for some of these Tea Party types today. It’s a path to insignificance.”
But Felkel is also troubled by the direction of his own party, which he sees being hijacked by far-right activists with little regard for the GOP’s traditions. Felkel cut his teeth with the 1986 campaign of the legendary former South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell, but he’s afraid Campbell’s type couldn’t get through a Republican primary in this day and age.
“The people who helped to bring the Republican Party into power — President Reagan, Governor Campbell — those people would not be viewed as Republican enough for some of these Tea Party types today,” Felkel said. “It bothers me greatly. I think it’s a path to insignificance.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday took the rare step of ordering a review of a powerful federal judge accused of making denigrating statements against minorities and people with mental disabilities.
Roberts formally ordered the District of Columbia circuit court to review the complaints against Judge Edith Jones of Houston, who sits on the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
The complaint, filed by a group of civil rights organizations, legal ethics experts, and law professors, alleges that Jones made a number of inappropriate remarks at a Feb. 20 speech the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. Her remarks were not recorded at all, but according to Texas Civil Rights Project, she called certain racial groups like African-Americans and Hispanics “predisposed to crime” and called defendants’ claims of racism nothing more than “red herrings.”
Jones also allegedly made a number of inappropriate remarks about capital punishment, such as that Mexican nationals would prefer to be on death row in the U.S. than in a Mexican prison and that the death sentence is beneficial for defendants because they are more likely to make peace with God before their execution. She also allegedly expressed skepticism about defendants who claim to be mentally retarded.
The complaint was filed with the Fifth Circuit Court, and the circuit’s chief judge, Carl Stewart, had the discretion to order an investigation, dismiss it or take other steps. Most complaints against judges are dismissed. Stewart requested the transfer to another court.
Jones was nominated to the circuit court by President Reagan in 1985 and served as chief judge from 2006 to 2012. In 1990, the New York Times reported that Jones was one of the final candidates President George H.W. Bush considered nominating to the Supreme Court. She remains an influential judge in the federal court system and possibly influenced the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the affirmative action case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a constitional scholar told cbsnews.com.
When he was in his late 20s, John Roberts was a foot soldier in the Reagan administration’s crusade against the Voting Rights Act. Now, as chief justice of the Supreme Court, he will help determine whether a key part of the law survives a constitutional challenge.
Memos that Roberts wrote as a lawyer in President Reagan’s Justice Department during the 1980s show that he was deeply involved in efforts to curtail the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act, the hard-won landmark 1965 law that is intended to ensure all Americans can vote. Roberts’ anti-VRA efforts during the 1980s ultimately failed. But on Wednesday, when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, he’ll get another chance to gut the law. Roberts’ history suggests a crucial part of the VRA may not survive the rematch.
At issue in Shelby County is whether a major portion of the Voting Rights Act, called Section 5, is constitutional. Section 5 compels jurisdictions with a history of discrimination, mostly in the South, to ask the Justice Department for permission—preclearance, in legalese—before making any changes to election laws. Shelby County, Alabama, is arguing that Section 5 is an extreme measure that is no longer justified because racism is no longer the problem it once was. If Section 5 is overturned, voting rights groups say, the federal government’s ability to ensure Americans are not denied the right to vote on the basis of race—at a time when race has been used as a proxy for party identification—will be severely weakened.
Shelby County offers Roberts an opportunity to complete a mission he began three decades ago. When the chief justice was a young lawyer, in 1981, Southern legislators hoped an ascendant conservative movement could pressure Reagan into opposing an extension of the VRA. In June of that year, Reagan wrote a letter to Attorney General William French Smith requesting an “assessment” of the law.
The evil empire is back on the national stage.
Nearly 30 years after President Reagan first spoke about the Soviet Union as an “evil empire,” Rick Santorum brought it up Wednesday — in apparent reference to a flurry of attention being given remarks he made four years ago about the devil.
First, some background.
In 2008, speaking to students at a Catholic school, Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., Santorum spoke of a satanic assault on the United States.
“The Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country — the United States of America,” he said, according to a tape of the remarks on the university website. “If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after other than the United States.”
In the same speech, Santorum seemed to suggest that mainline Protestant churches have been influenced by Satan and are no longer Christian. He said the devil had exerted control over academia and then began attacking Christianity. “And of course,” he said, “we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is a shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”
Excerpts of that speech began showing up on liberal websites such as rightwingwatch.org in recent days. On Tuesday, after it had been featured on the Drudge Report, Santorum was asked about it by CNN after an appearance in Phoenix. “I’m a person of faith. I believe in good and evil,” Santorum said in response to questions from CNN. “If somehow or another because you’re a person of faith and you believe in good and evil is a disqualifier for president, we’re going to have a very small pool of candidates who can run for president.”