State of emergency declared in Maldives

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(PRESIDENT REVOKES RULE OF LAW SO HE CAN KEEP HIMSELF IN POWER)(trs)

State of emergency declared in Maldives

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, center, addressed his supporters Saturday.

(CNN)Political unrest in the Republic of Maldives prompted the Asian nation’s president on Monday to declare a state of emergency for 15 days.

The move, which gives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom power to arrest and detain people, reflects a power struggle between the island nation’s Supreme Court and its government.
“During this time, though certain rights will be restricted, general movements, services and businesses will not be affected,” said a statement from the office of the President.
The court last week ordered the release of political prisoners and the reinstatement of elected members of Parliament that would give the opposition majority power. But President Yameen has rejected adhering to the court order.
The Maldives attorney general on Sunday advised law enforcement to uphold the constitution and warned that the Supreme Court may “issue a ruling to impeach the President,” according to a press release from the Foreign Ministry.
Opposition supporters have staged street protests lobbying the government to obey the court order and have urged the international community to do what it can to persuade the government to obey the ruling.

Maldivian opposition supporters take to the streets Sunday to urge the government to obey the Supreme Court.

During the emergency period, the Maldives President said, “the safety of all Maldivians and foreigners living in and visiting the Maldives will be ensured.”
The US State Department said in a press release that it supports the Supreme Court’s decision and “it is imperative that the Maldivian President, government, and security services uphold the constitution and rule of law and implement the court’s ruling in full.”
China, the United Kingdom and India have issued travel warnings to Maldives.
“Security forces have been deployed in the capital Malé in response to political developments. If you’re in Malé, you should exercise caution and avoid any protests or rallies,” said the UK in their advisory.
A July 2017 population estimate in the CIA World Factbook said more than 392,000 live on the Indian Ocean archipelago, a popular tourist destination.

Jeff Sessions’s marijuana crackdown is going to make legalization more likely

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

The Plum Line

Why Jeff Sessions’s marijuana crackdown is going to make legalization more likely

 January 5 at 2:06 PM
 1:42
What Jeff Sessions thinks about marijuana

What Jeff Sessions thinks about marijuana 

Jeff Sessions hates marijuana. Hates it, with a passion that has animated almost nothing else in his career. “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” he has said. He even once saidabout the Ku Klux Klan, “I thought those guys were okay until I learned they smoked pot.”

He says that was a joke, but even so, it still says something about where he’s coming from.

So if you’re wondering why Sessions has endured the humiliation of being demeaned and abused by President Trump and stayed on as attorney general, one big answer is the policy change he announced this week, that he is rescinding an Obama-era directive that instructed federal prosecutors not to prioritize prosecuting businesses like dispensaries in states that had legalized cannabis. Sessions is finally getting the chance to lock up all those hippies, with their pot-smoking and their free love and their wah-wah pedals and everything immoral they represent. He’ll show them.

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So what happens now? The emerging legal picture is murky, since a lot depends on the individual decisions federal prosecutors will make. The political picture is somewhat clearer: This is bad news for Republicans.

Let’s start with the legal questions. The 2013 Obama administration letter that Sessions rescinded, called the Cole memo (you can read it here), told federal prosecutors that in states that had legalized marijuana, they should use their prosecutorial discretion to focus not on businesses that comply with state regulations, but on illicit enterprises that create harms like selling drugs to children, operating with criminal gangs, selling across state lines and so on. In other words, prosecutors could still fight the drug trade, but if a state has legalized marijuana and put in place its own regulatory system, they should leave those operating within that system alone.

There’s also a provision in the federal budget known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that forbids the Justice Department from using any resources to interfere with the provision of medical marijuana in states that have legalized it. Right now there are 29 states that have put in place some kind of medical marijuana system, in addition to the eight states (plus the District of Columbia) that have either legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana or set up an regulated system for the commercial sale of the drug. The most important is California, which as of the beginning of this year has legalized sales for recreational use.

So is every U.S. attorney in those eight states immediately going to start busting down the doors of marijuana dispensaries?

“I don’t think so,” said Tamar Todd, senior director of the Office of Legal Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, whom I spoke to this morning. “There’s plenty of drug law to enforce” when it comes to the illicit market, she noted, and federal prosecutors rely on cooperation with state authorities in much of their prosecutions of drug cases.

Going after state-licensed dispensaries or grow operations, furthermore, would leave federal prosecutors isolated. In states with legal marijuana systems, such a crackdown would produce an outcry from both Democrats and Republicans, in addition to state government and law enforcement officials. Federal prosecutors “lack the resources to go into California and enforce the marijuana laws against everybody, so federal interests are really best served by them teaming up and working with the states,” Todd says, “not using their resources to disrupt how the states are trying to responsibly regulate, which is just going to cause more harm for everyone.”

That doesn’t mean that a motivated U.S. attorney — a Sessions mini-me, if you will — couldn’t go on a crusade in his or her district and start prosecuting every marijuana operation in sight. While the Obama administration policy let states know they could craft their own regulations without fear of the feds coming in and wrecking everything they were trying to do, now there’s much more uncertainty.

“It does open up the opportunity for the rogue U.S. attorney who’s not about protecting the public but is more about an ideological opposition to legalization,” Todd said, “to prove that legalization doesn’t work by creating chaos and disruption.”

Even if that doesn’t happen, or happens only here and there, the Trump administration has sent a clear message to the public that it wants to turn back the clock on our nation’s drug laws. There’s no doubt that Sessions is sincere in his desire to do so, but politically it could be a disaster. According to the latest Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans favor legalization, including a majority of Republicans. There could be a dozen more states considering some form of legalization this year, either in their legislatures or through ballot initiatives, which will only bring more attention to the issue and set people’s own states against the administration. Just yesterday, the Vermont House of Representatives voted to legalizepersonal possession and cultivation of marijuana, and the bill is expected to pass the state Senate and be signed by the governor. They won’t be the last.

That the Trump administration is doing something so unpopular will put a lot of Republicans in a very awkward position, particularly if they come from a state like Colorado or California — precisely the representatives who are going to be most vulnerable in this November’s elections. Many of them have released outraged statements condemning the decision, but it might not be enough to persuade voters not to punish President Trump by voting them out. A member such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (whose California district was won by Hillary Clinton in 2016) can cry to his constituents that he opposed the marijuana crackdown and the tax bill (which cut back their deduction for state and local taxes), and they might listen. But in a year of a Democratic wave, they might also just decide to sweep him out with the rest of the GOP.

So the end result of this policy could well be to accelerate the liberalization of the nation’s marijuana laws. A backlash could help more Democrats get elected, and push elected Democrats to more unambiguously support legalization. Don’t be surprised if every Democrat running for president in 2020 favors ending the federal prohibition on marijuana and returning the question to the states. One potential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, has already introduced a bill to do just that.

Which will set up an interesting dynamic, in which Democrats are the ones arguing for pushing back against the heavy hand of federal power and letting states decide for themselves what they want to do. The traditional GOP position on states’ rights was always opportunistic, something they favored only when states were doing something they agreed with. But that will just be one more reason this is an issue Republicans want to run away from, and Democrats are eager to talk about.

So Sessions may get what he wants for now. But in the end, he probably did a great service to the legalization movement.

EU Acts To Defend Judicial Independence In Poland

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION-PRESS RELEASE)

 

European Commission – Press release

Rule of Law: European Commission acts to defend judicial independence in Poland

Brussels, 20 December 2017

Despite repeated efforts, for almost two years, to engage the Polish authorities in a constructive dialogue in the context of the Rule of Law Framework, the Commission has today concluded that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland.

The Commission is therefore proposing to the Council to adopt a decision under Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union (see Annex II).

The European Commission is taking action to protect the rule of law in Europe. Judicial reforms in Poland mean that the country’s judiciary is now under the political control of the ruling majority. In the absence of judicial independence, serious questions are raised about the effective application of EU law, from the protection of investments to the mutual recognition of decisions in areas as diverse as child custody disputes or the execution of European Arrest Warrants.

The Commission has also today issued a complementary (4th) Rule of Law Recommendation, setting out clearly the steps that the Polish authorities can take to remedy the current situation. Should the Polish authorities implement the recommended actions, the Commission is ready, in close consultation with the European Parliament and the Council, to reconsider its Reasoned Proposal.

Furthermore, the Commission has decided to take the next step in itsinfringement procedure against Poland for breaches of EU law by the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation, referring Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Whilst taking these unprecedented measures, the Commission maintains its offer for a constructive dialogue to remedy the current situation.

1. Reasoned Proposal for a Council Decision

Over a period of two years, the Polish authorities have adopted more than 13 laws affecting the entire structure of the justice system in Poland, impacting the Constitutional Tribunal, Supreme Court, ordinary courts, National Council for the Judiciary, prosecution service and National School of Judiciary. The common pattern is that the executive and legislative branches have been systematically enabled to politically interfere in the composition, powers, administration and functioning of the judicial branch.

The Reasoned Proposal sets out the Commission’s concerns, recalling the steps taken under the Rule of Law Framework and the numerous contacts with the Polish authorities to try to identify a solution, and invites the Council to find that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law. The concerns relate specifically to the lack of an independent and legitimate constitutional review and judicial independence.

Should the Polish authorities implement the remedial actions set out in the Rule of Law Recommendation accompanying its Reasoned Proposal, the Commission is ready to reconsider the Reasoned Proposal.

2. Rule of Law Recommendation

The Rule of Law Recommendation adopted today complements three previous Recommendations, adopted on 27 July 2016, 21 December 2016 and 27 July 2017. Today’s Recommendation focuses on the fresh concerns raised by the new law on the Supreme Court adopted by the Polish Parliament on 15 December 2017 and the law on the National Council for the Judiciary adopted on 15 December 2017. The Polish authorities have still not addressed the concerns identified in the first three Commission Recommendations, which remain valid.

Today’s Recommendation clearly sets out a set of actions that need to be taken by the Polish authorities to address its concerns. The Polish authorities are invited to:

  • Amend the Supreme Court law, not apply a lowered retirement age to current judges, remove the discretionary power of the President to prolong the mandate of Supreme Court judges, and remove the extraordinary appeal procedure, which includes a power to reopen final judgments taken years earlier;
  • Amend the law on the National Council for the Judiciary, to not terminate the mandate of judges-members, and ensure that the new appointment regime continues to guarantee the election of judges-members by their peers;
  • Amend or withdraw the law on Ordinary Courts Organisation, in particular to remove the new retirement regime for judges including the discretionary powers of the Minister of Justice to prolong the mandate of judges and to appoint and dismiss presidents of courts;
  • Restore the independence and legitimacy of the Constitutional Tribunal, by ensuring that its judges, President and Vice-President are lawfully elected and by ensuring that all its judgements are published and fully implemented;
  • Refrain from actions and public statements which could further undermine the legitimacy of the judiciary.

3. Infringement procedure on the basis of EU law

The College of Commissioners also decided to refer the Polish Government to the European Court of Justice for breach of EU law, concerning the Law on the Ordinary Courts and, specifically, the retirement regime it introduces.

The Commission’s key legal concern identified in this law relates to the discrimination on the basis of gender due to the introduction of a different retirement age for female judges (60 years) and male judges (65 years). This is contrary to Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Directive 2006/54 on gender equality in employment.

In its referral to the European Court of Justice, the Commission will also raise the linked concern that the independence of Polish courts will be undermined by the fact that the Minister of Justice has been given a discretionary power to prolong the mandate of judges which have reached retirement age (see Article 19(1) TEU in combination with Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights).

Next steps

The Commission’s Recommendation invites the Polish authorities to address the problems within three months, and to inform the Commission of the steps taken to that effect. The Commission stands ready to pursue a constructive dialogue with the Polish Government. Should the Polish authorities implement the recommended actions, the Commission is ready, in close consultation with the European Parliament and the Council, to reconsider its Reasoned Proposal.

Under Article 7(1) TEU, the Council must hear Poland’s position and obtain the consent of the European Parliament (on the basis of Article 354 TFEU, the European Parliament shall act by a two-thirds majority of votes cast, representing the majority of its component Members), before adopting a Decision by a four-fifths majority (22 of 27 Members of the Council entitled to vote on the basis of Article 354 TFEU), determining that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law. The Council may also address recommendations to Poland, acting in accordance with the same voting procedure.

Background

Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union provides for the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members, to determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the common values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty (see Annex II). The Commission can trigger this process by a reasoned proposal.

The rule of law is one of the common values upon which the European Union is founded. It is enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. The European Commission, together with the European Parliament and the Council, is responsible under the Treaties for guaranteeing the respect of the rule of law as a fundamental value of our Union and making sure that EU law, values and principles are respected.

It is up to Poland to identify its own model for its justice system, but it should do so in a way that respects the rule of law; this requires it to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, separation of powers and legal certainty.

A breach of the rule of law in one Member State has an effect on all Member States and the Union as a whole. First, because the independence of the judiciary – free from undue political interference – is a value that reflects the concept of European democracy we have built up together, heeding the lessons of the past. Second, because when the rule of law in any Member State is put into question, the functioning of the Union as a whole, in particular with regard to Justice and Home Affairs cooperation and the functioning of the Internal Market, is put into question too.

The European Commission opened a dialogue with the Polish Authorities in January 2016 under the Rule of Law Framework (see Memo for more details). The Framework – introduced by the Commission on 11 March 2014 – has three stages (see graphic in Annex 1). The entire process is based on a continuous dialogue between the Commission and the Member State concerned. The Commission keeps the European Parliament and Council regularly and closely informed. The Commission has attempted to work constructively with the Polish authorities, as they have passed more than 13 laws impacting the Constitutional Tribunal, Supreme Court, ordinary courts, national Council for the Judiciary, prosecution service and National School of Judiciary.

The European Parliament has consistently supported the Commission’s concerns, including in the three Resolutions of 13 April 2016, 14 September 2016 and 15 November 2017. In addition, on 16 May 2017, the Commission informed the General Affairs Council of the situation in Poland. A very broad majority of Member States supported the Commission’s role and efforts to address this issue, and called upon the Polish Government to resume the dialogue with the Commission. The Commission provided a further update to the General Affairs Council on 25 September 2017, and there was broad agreement on the need for Poland to engage in a dialogue to find a solution.

A wide range of other actors at European and international levels have expressed their deep concern about the reform of the Polish justice system: representatives of the judiciary across Europe, including the Network of Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union and the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, the Venice Commission, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the United Nations Human Rights Committee as well as numerous civil society organisations such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights and Democracy Network.

For more information:

 

Annex I – Rule of Law Framework

 

Annex1

 

Annex II – Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union

1.   On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2. Before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question and may address recommendations to it, acting in accordance with the same procedure.

The Council shall regularly verify that the grounds on which such a determination was made continue to apply.

2.   The European Council, acting by unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2, after inviting the Member State in question to submit its observations.

3.   Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons.

The obligations of the Member State in question under the Treaties shall in any case continue to be binding on that State.

4.   The Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide subsequently to vary or revoke measures taken under paragraph 3 in response to changes in the situation which led to their being imposed.

5.   The voting arrangements applying to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council for the purposes of this Article are laid down in Article 354 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Trumps Travel Ban

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE)

 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that President Donald Trump’s travel ban can go into full effect, restricting entry into the United States for foreign nationals from eight countries — including six whose population is mostly Muslim.

The decision, supported by seven of the nine justices, was a major victory for Trump and his administration after two previous versions of the travel ban were blocked or narrowed in lower courts earlier this year. Lower courts will continue to consider legal challenges to the executive order, but for now, the president has gotten his way.

Here’s what happens next:

What does this mean?

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday means that the U.S. government can legally block some foreign nationals from gaining visas or enter the United States.

Who is affected by this travel ban?

The Supreme Court acted Monday on a “presidential proclamation” submitted by White House lawyers in September. The latest iteration of the travel ban affects nationals from previously named countries like Iran, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Somalia, as well as Chad, Venezuela and North Korea, which were recently added.

Based on that proclamation, the ban applies to foreign nationals in the following ways:

  • North Korea and Syria: Blocked issuance of all U.S. visas.
  • Iran: Blocked issuance of nearly all U.S. visas except for students and exchange visitors.
  • Venezuela: Blocked issuance of visas for government officials (and their immediate relatives) on business or tourist travel into the U.S.
  • Chad, Libya and Yemen: No new U.S. visas will be awarded, and business and tourist visas have been suspended.
  • Somalia: Entry to the U.S. is suspended; visa holders will be subject to extra scrutiny.

How and why did the Supreme Court rule this way?

The Supreme Court acted Monday on a request from White House lawyers to lift restrictions on the order, but it did not give any reasons why it did so, The Washington Post reported. Instead, the Supreme Court urged lower courts to move quickly on their cases challenging previous versions of the travel ban.

In this case, the White House argued that the September order was different because it applied to countries that were not Muslim majority countries — the root of major arguments against the travel ban.

Is this an permanent order?

No, the travel ban is only allowed to be carried out while pending legal challenges play out. The ban could be affected by future rulings.

What legal challenges remain?

The Trump administration is appealing two decisions in federal appeals courts. The two cases could be heard as early as this week, CNN reported.

One legal challenge in Maryland argues that “a nationality-based travel ban against eight nations consisting of over 150 million people is unprecedented” and that the travel ban was borne out of Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric during the campaign.

Another legal challenge in Hawaii argues that the travel ban “plainly discriminates based on nationality” and therefore violates federal laws.

White House lawyers argue that the president has the full discretion to enforce immigration laws.

How did Trump react?

Trump had not yet offered a reaction to the decision, but the White House said in a statement that it was not surprised by the decision.

“The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts.”

WH spox reacts to Supreme Court travel ban ruling: “not surprised,” calls proclamation “lawful and essential to protecting our homeland”

The travel ban caused an uproar in the past, so how did people respond this time?

The Supreme Court’s decision drew a lot of reactions Monday. Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin, one of the original challengers of the travel ban, said he looked forward to a “speedy resolution.”

AG Chin: “Today’s ruling allows for a full travel ban while courts decide upon the merits of Travel Ban 3.0, with its stated expectation that the courts consider the issues, and do so quickly.” (1/2)

“We agree a speedy resolution is needed for the sake of our universities, our businesses and most of all, for people marginalized by this unlawful order. We look forward to the arguments this Wednesday on the merits before the Ninth Circuit.” (2/2)

Reaction to the ruling was overwhelmingly critical on social media, but some were cautious about reading too much into the ruling and wondered how the courts would rule next. Others saw it as a strong sign that Trump eventually would prevail. Others were deeply disappointed.

I’m disappointed in today’s ruling. This discriminatory and unconstitutional travel ban hurts our residents and is bad for our businesses and institutions. This is not who we are as a nation.

I look forward to the opportunity for full briefing and argument in the Supreme Court.

 

Under the current travel ban the Supreme Court has allowed to be implemented, me and my entire family – refugees from Iran – would not be allowed into the country. This does nothing for America, it fuels discrimination and impacts regular people and their lives.

Have some thoughts to share?

Join me in a conversation: Shoot me a private email with your thoughts or ideas on a different approach to this story. As always, you can also send us a tweet.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @RunGomez

Read The Conversation on Flipboard.

Copyright © 2017, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Textbook Co-authored By Roy Moore Says Women Have No Right To Run For Office Or Be Allowed To Vote

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE THINKPROGRESS.ORG WEBSITE)

((oped) MAYBE ROY MOORE SHOULD BECOME A FOLLOWER OF WAHHABISM ISLAM SO THAT HE CAN LIVE IN THE 7th CENTURY AGAIN, IT’S JUST A THOUGHT)(trs)

Textbook co-authored by Roy Moore in 2011 says women shouldn’t run for office

The course is also critical of the women’s suffrage movement.

In this Aug. 8, 2016, file photo, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore speaks to the media during a news conference in Montgomery, Ala. CREDIT: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File
IN THIS AUG. 8, 2016, FILE PHOTO, ALABAMA CHIEF JUSTICE ROY MOORE SPEAKS TO THE MEDIA DURING A NEWS CONFERENCE IN MONTGOMERY, ALA. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/BRYNN ANDERSON, FILE

 

Alabama Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore co-authored a study course, published in 2011 and recently obtained by ThinkProgress, that instructs students that women should not be permitted to run for elected office. If women do run for office, the course argues, people have a moral obligation not to vote for them. The course is also critical of the women’s suffrage movement, which in 1920 secured some American women the right to vote.

The course, called “Law and Government: An Introductory Study Course,” includes 28 hours of audio and visual lectures given by Moore and others, as well as a study guide. The course is available for purchase on Amazon, where “Chief Justice Roy Moore” is listed as a co-author alongside Doug Phillips, Dr. Joseph C. Morecraft, and Dr. Paul Jehle.

On the back of the packaging containing all the study course materials, Moore’s name and photo are listed under the words “Featured Speakers.”

BACK OF THE STUDY COURSE BOX
BACK OF THE STUDY COURSE BOX

The study guide also recommends Moore’s 2009 book “So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom.”

PHOTO OF STUDY GUIDE RECOMMENDING MOORE'S BOOK
PHOTO OF STUDY GUIDE RECOMMENDING MOORE’S BOOK

The curriculum was a product of Vision Forum, a now-defunct Texas-based evangelical organization headed by Doug Phillips, which taught “Biblical patriarchy”, a theology that prescribes strict, unequal gender roles for men and women. According a statement on the Vision Forum’s website, “Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers.”

For at least a decade, dating back to 1999, Moore served on the “faculty” of Vision Forum’s so-called “Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy.” Not a school at all, Witherspoon was instead a series of four-day crash courses that taught men — and only men — that the Bible is the source of “law and liberty and the only sure foundation for addressing the challenging ethical questions of the twenty-first century.”

Praising a “best of” album of the school’s lectures, Moore said, “I came to share what I have learned and instead received a blessing. All who attend the Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy have an opportunity to share in the restoration of our Nation — One Nation Under God.”

Moore’s lecture, which is included in the “Law and Government” curriculum, was recorded in 2008 at one such “school”, and hosted and facilitated by Phillips himself. In the speech, Moore recounts his fight over the Ten Commandments monument and bemoans the arrival of marriage equality, which the California Supreme Court had approved two weeks prior.

He also openly praises both Phillips and Vision Forum, saying, “As I think about what’s going on here at Vision Forum and what Doug’s doing and has done, I’m a little envious because I admire Doug and the fact he can round up these young men that are going to make a difference in our nation.”

Vision Forum closed in 2013 after Phillips resigned, having admitted to a “lengthy” and “inappropriately romantic and affectionate” relationship with a woman who was not his wife. Shortly thereafter, that woman, Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, sued Phillips and Vision Forum, detailing an emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abusive relationship that started when she was just 15 years old.

The suit, which was settled and dismissed in 2016, has clear parallels to the many sexual abuse accusations against Moore, which allegedly took place when his accusers were teenagers and he was in his 30s. (Moore has claimed that the allegations against him are “absolutely false.”)  Moore’s attorney has stated that, “whether they were 25, 35, or whether he doesn’t know their age”, Moore would always make sure to ask a girl’s parents for permission to date them before beginning any courtship.

That tradition is consistent with the “Biblical patriarchy” tenets outlined by Vision Forum.

“Since daughters are ‘given in marriage’ by their fathers, an obedient daughter will desire her father to guide the process of finding a husband, although the final approval of a husband belongs to her,” the tenets state.

One lecture in the Vision Forum study course on which Moore worked is given by William O. Einwechter, a teaching elder at Immanuel Free Reformed Church. The lecture is titled “What the Bible Says About Female Magistrates.” The lesson argues that the Bible forbids women from holding elected office.

An unidentified man introduces Einwechter’s lesson and criticizes the women’s suffrage movement.

“By and large, the issue of the female magistrate ruling in authority in America would not have been anywhere near as controversial,” the man says. “The controversy was beginning to brew with the women’s suffrage movement.”

The man references the Biblical passage Isaiah 3 as justification for this claim. However, his argument — that it equates to a blanket prohibition of women in leadership positions — is not widely held among Christians.

Many, including acclaimed 17th century Bible commentarian Matthew Henry, instead interpret the passage as metaphorical. Others note earlier translations of the passage (in the Greek Septuagint) do not even include the word “women,” but instead “creditors” — a word with identical consonants in Hebrew, but different vowel points — which also fits with the overall context of the passage.

To this day, some translations of the Bible, such as the Common English BibleNew English Translation, and the Good News Translation, still use “swindlers” or “creditors” instead of “women.”

Regardless, when Einwechter begins his lecture, he asks, “Why even consider a question like this?” The answer, he says, is because of the “heresy of feminism.”

“One of the most destructive ideologies of the last 50, hundred years have been the doctrines of feminism, which have transformed our culture and have paved the way for abortion on demand, the homosexual agenda, undermined our church, and subverted the doctrines of the biblical family,” Einwechter says.

He goes on to call feminism a “radical agenda” and says “nothing enrages feminists more than the Biblical doctrine of male headship.”

“Feminism and those who have been influenced by it advocate instead for what we’re going to call an egalitarian approach,” Einwechter says, “where men and women are touted as being equal in all respects, except maybe the most obvious physical differences, and that they’re equally fit to serve in any occupation or serve in any office or position of leadership in any sphere of life.”

PHOTO FROM COURSE STUDY GUIDE
PHOTO FROM COURSE STUDY GUIDE

The lesson uses what Einwechter argues are Biblical truths about the roles and design of men and women, arguing that husband, children, and home “summarize God’s definition of the woman.”

“She’s not a warrior. She’s not a judge. She’s a woman. Created by God. Glorious in her place and in her conduct and in her role,” Einwechter says. “Nothing is said in scripture that supports the notion that she is qualified or called to be a civil magistrate.”

This, Einwechter says, is proof that women should not work outside the home, run for office, or take on any role that gives women “dominance” over men, calling women “the weaker vessel.” Women, the lesson teaches, are only fit to be homemakers and should dedicate their lives to their husbands and children, never to work or outside pursuits.

“Sometimes we may have a hard time discerning the faith, the character, and the views of a particular candidate. But we can usually discern if the candidate is a man or a woman. And so there is no excuse on that one,” Einwechter says as he concludes the lecture. “In conclusion, we’ve argued that scripture teaches us that it is not God’s revealed will for a woman to serve as a civil magistrate and thus to rule over men in the civil sphere.”

PHOTO OF STUDY GUIDE
PHOTO OF STUDY GUIDE

Einwechter says this is proof that, if Christians aim to follow the teachings of the Bible, they must never vote for women running for office, no matter their politics.

His lecture, Einwechter says, is an “objective study.” In closing, he quotes pastor J. H. Vincent, saying, “The world is in such pressing need for mothers — motherly women — that none can be spared for public life.”

The teaching stands in stark contrast to various Christian groups that hold sharply divergent views. Entire denominations, such as the United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and the Episcopal Church, ordain women and do not object to female political leadership, as do others. Many evangelical Christians hold similar views: the Republican Party includes passionate female evangelical leaders such as Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, and one of Donald Trump’s closest spiritual advisers is Paula White, a female prosperity gospel preacher.

ThinkProgress could not find any record of Moore endorsing any women for office. The only candidate Moore appears to have effectively endorsed is Michael Peroutka, the Constitution party candidate for president in 2004, according a Montgomery Advertiser article from July 2004. Notably, the Constitution party was founded by Howard Phillips, Vision Forum head Doug Phillips’ father.

Spokespersons for Judge Moore’s Senate campaign did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ requests for comment.

Special thanks to independent researcher Bruce Wilson.

Jerusalem rabbinic court conditions divorce on woman not filing rape charges

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

(OPED: THIS TYPE OF JUDICIAL SYSTEM BEING ALLOW IN A CIVILIZED DEMOCRACY IS LOWERING ISRAEL TO THE LEVELS OF ISLAMIC ‘LAW’) (TRS)

Jerusalem rabbinic court conditions divorce on woman not filing rape charges

The Jerusalem rabbinical court has approved a divorce settlement that included the husband’s demand that the woman not be allowed to file a police complaint for rape against the husband.

The divorce was prompted by the woman’s claims that her husband raped her and was violent toward their two children. In order to ensure she could obtain the divorce — which under traditional Jewish law must be granted by the husband — the woman agreed to withdraw her complaints.

Her representatives said she faced pressure from rabbinic court chief judge Rabbi Yosef Goldberg to agree to the stipulation.

The agreement also forces the woman to agree to move all proceedings related to alimony and custody of the children, as well as the withdrawal of financial claims against the husband for his alleged crimes, out of the civil courts to the rabbinical court.

Bustin Garin

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