Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Violence Against Constitutional Rights Act

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
By John and Andy Schlafly

While Congress considers new infringements on constitutional rights for a new Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), they overlook where the most violence is occurring. The New York Times recently featured an exposé about how nearly every woman is raped during their migration from Central America to our open southern border.

Shutting the border is the only way that the United States can protect those women. That would take away the incentive for the long, dangerous journey.

Yet House Democrats want nothing of that remedy to stop violence against women. Instead, Democrats push for more infringements on the rights of Americans as part of a proposed new VAWA.

In their subcommittee hearing on March 7, House Democrats were uninterested in the terrible violence against women resulting from their insistence on an open southern border. The minority Republicans were allowed to invite only one witness, and she did not address the violence among migrants either.

An organization called Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) has proposed numerous sensible reforms to the now-expired VAWA law, which was causing more harm than good. For starters, the prior law lacked a clear, appropriate definition of what it even meant when it referred to violence against women.

The Obama Administration defined domestic violence very broadly to include conduct that was not violent at all, such as alleged economic, emotional, or psychological abuse. Fortunately, the Department of Justice in the Trump Administration has sensibly clarified the meaning of domestic violence to include only conduct that would be a felony or misdemeanor if charged as a crime.

Inclusion of non-violent behavior then becomes a means for grabbing guns from men, and imposing automatic sentences in prison if they are found to have any guns. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham announced last week that his committee will hold a hearing on March 26 on “red flag” laws, which give government special power to seize and confiscate guns from individuals whom someone thinks might be dangerous.

The First Amendment is at risk, too, in this planned reauthorization of VAWA. Proposed expansions to the law include authorizing federal monitoring of internet communications, under the guise of punishing cyber stalking and so-called bullying.

That could result in censorship of the internet as prosecutions are brought against communications which the federal agents might consider to be inappropriate. The freewheeling online environment that makes it so popular could be chilled by a new VAWA.

Even President Trump’s colorful tweets against the women who are vying for the Democratic nomination to run against him might be considered cyberbullying, depending on how VAWA is rewritten. Robert Mueller might need to be recalled into service to do a new investigation into tweeting by Trump and his supporters.

Liberal women attempt to make VAWA a women’s issue, but in fact intimate partner violence against men is comparable in frequency to violence against women, according to a National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). More importantly, domestic violence has been decreasing for decades, prior to the billions of dollars of handouts by VAWA to feminist groups.

One’s home with a spouse has always been the safest place for both men and women, and spousal murder is very rare. Yet VAWA trained workers to separate domestic couples, and file a complaint against men which often causes them to lose their jobs and their employability.

Women, once their partner is going to lose his job that supported both of them, then try to stop the harmful VAWA process and withdraw the accusations. But laws make that impossible, such that the women are greatly harmed by the loss in the men’s jobs that VAWA causes.

The abusive “ex parte” court orders under VAWA, which are issued without the man being in court to defend himself against false accusations, would probably expand under a new VAWA. Recall how late-night comedian David Letterman discovered in 2005 that a woman in Sante Fe had obtained a restraining order against him.
The woman insisted that Letterman had used code words on his television show to communicate that he wanted to marry her, and have her become his co-host. She said Letterman had been mentally cruel to her and caused her to endure sleep deprivation for more than a decade.

A New Mexico state judge granted the woman’s demand for an ex parte restraining order, and it became a humorous topic for Letterman’s show. His attorneys were able to reverse the court order, but most men do not have the luxury of time, money, and influence that a television celebrity has.

Perhaps VAWA should be considered under a new name that more accurately describes how it infringes on First and Second Amendment rights, in addition to turning women against men. How about calling it the “Violence Against Constitutional Rights Act”?

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work. These columns are also posted on pseagles.com.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

ISIS Bride Is Not an American Citizen

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
By John and Andy Schlafly

The case of the ISIS bride, Hoda Muthana, could result in a landmark ruling on what it means to be an American citizen and who has rights to that precious status. After spending five years in Syria with ISIS, the terrorist group also known as the Islamic State, Ms. Muthana wants to come back to the United States.

She was born in New Jersey to parents who had come here from Yemen under diplomatic immunity. Her father had worked for Yemen’s mission to the United States.

Children born in the United States to diplomats from foreign countries are not American citizens, under a longstanding rule of law. Not even advocates of open borders dispute that.

Yet many people mistakenly assume that being born on U.S. soil is enough to become a citizen, which is simply not true. The case of the ISIS bride, who moved to Alabama and from there joined ISIS, confronts this legal issue in a high-profile case.

Raised in the United States, Hoda was 19 when she told her parents she was going on a field trip as part of a college course she was taking. Instead she withdrew from college and used her tuition refund to buy a one-way ticket to Turkey, then somehow made her way to ISIS-held territory in Syria.

While in war-torn Syria she apparently met and married an ISIS fighter, and after he was killed, she married another ISIS fighter. During this period she posted a series of blood-curdling tweets, which have since been deleted by Twitter.

“Americans wake up!” Muthana tweeted in 2015 from ISIS-held territory in Syria. “Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Kill them.”

She witnessed dead bodies lying about in Syrian streets where ISIS had murdered them. She observed heads severed by ISIS and planted on poles in order terrify opponents of ISIS.

When her second husband was killed, leaving her pregnant, Hoda married yet a third ISIS fighter. She left that husband and was captured by Kurdish forces, who placed her and her 18-month-old son in a massive refugee camp in northeast Syria with thousands of other widows and children.

Life is hard in the refugee camp, where women are punished if they step outside their tent without wearing a hijab or burqa. Not long after calling for death to Americans, Hoda has since decided that “I prefer America to anywhere else.”

To President Trump, Hoda’s recent remorse seems a little too convenient. “I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” Trump tweeted two weeks ago.

The same day Secretary Pompeo declared that “Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States.”

The following day, a 32-page, 128-paragraph lawsuit against President Trump and Secretary Pompeo was filed by the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America. Yesterday, lawyers pressed their claim before U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton.

Her lawyers pointed out that Hoda had been issued a U.S. passport in 2014, without which she could not have traveled to Syria. But Judge Walton said that “just because she received a U.S. passport does not mean she is a U.S. citizen,” and he denied her request to expedite her case.

“The government informed Muthana more than three years ago that she is not a citizen and canceled her erroneously issued passport,” Pompeo’s lawyers told the court. “Muthana -- who was at the time a member of ISIS -- failed to act timely in response to that notification, [and] remained in a war zone through hostilities for a period of years.”

“She was born to parents who enjoyed diplomatic-agent-level immunity at that time of her birth, so she did not and could not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth,” Pompeo explained to the court.

“The Man Without a Country” tells the story of a young American who, after renouncing his citizenship, is ordered to spend the rest of his life aboard ships at sea with no hope of ever setting foot on U.S. soil again. One of the most popular literary works of the nineteenth century, it was later adapted for a number of movies, radio and television dramas, and even an opera.

The ISIS bride is a modern version of the same story, except that she is not doomed to roam the seas with no place to go. Perhaps she could settle in her parents’ country of Yemen or remain in Syria, but she has no rights to citizenship in the United States.

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work. These columns are also posted on pseagles.com.