Tuesday, April 30, 2019

ERA Dresses Up with No Place to Go

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
By John and Andy Schlafly

Congress and a few state legislatures are holding staged hearings on the failed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a relic from the 1970s like disco music and long lines at gas stations. Almost no one wants to return to that era, or to resurrect the long-buried ERA.

But a few dinosaurs never got over their defeat, and a few newbies do not understand why ERA lost. The House Judiciary Committee held a one-sided hearing on Tuesday to reintroduce this amendment although it has no chance of garnering a 2/3rds supermajority in either house of Congress.

Apparently someone noticed that the original ERA lacked the word “women,” and would not have done anything for them. Instead, as Phyllis Schlafly pointed out in defeating it, ERA would have harmed women in numerous ways, including requiring them to register for military service just like men.

This time around, the newly introduced ERA begins with a specific reference to women in addition to its original phrase “on account of sex.” The new wording is silent about transgenders and sexual orientation, but pro-ERA witnesses at the House hearing declared that ERA’s language would protect them too.

Americans are more aware today of the havoc that courts can cause with judicial activism, which Phyllis Schlafly called judicial supremacy. ERA would authorize liberal judges to strike down any law or government program benefiting women or making reasonable, fact-based distinctions between the sexes.

Women’s shelters, for example, would no longer be permissible under ERA any more than a shelter could be segregated by race. Homeless men would have a constitutional right to stay in women’s shelters.

Young men could demand a right to play in women’s sports, especially those in public colleges and high schools. If girls’ swimming, basketball, field hockey, and other sports are open to boys, it would ruin the fair opportunity for girls to compete in athletics.

Taxpayer-funded abortion, a litmus test for radical feminists, fell just one vote short of becoming a constitutional right in a 1980 decision of the Supreme Court. If ERA became part of the Constitution, federal courts would impose taxpayer-funded abortion nationwide.

Some say the feminists have achieved much of their agenda without the Equal Rights Amendment. After all, Hillary Clinton nearly became president, numerous women are running for president in 2020, and there is no shortage of women in Congress and corporate boardrooms.

But feminists are still not happy, because most women still prefer to care for their children even if that reduces their career opportunities. Stay-at-home moms are respected today, and American women stay home in higher percentages than in comparable industrialized nations.

Phyllis Schlafly rightly saw ERA as a threat to young women who want to start a family with a husband as the primary breadwinner. Phyllis’s unique message about the need to protect a woman’s right to make that choice first took root in 1975, after which only one state ratified ERA before its expiration.

In that same year of 1975 the percentage of women aged 16-24 in the workforce began to level off. Since 2000, the percentage of all women participating in the workforce has fallen as more choose to stay at home.

Without ERA, the Soviet-style practice of the average woman having multiple abortions so that she can return immediately to the workforce never transpired here. We were spared another feminist goal, also borrowed from the old Soviet Union, of having children raised in government daycare centers at taxpayer expense.

Without ERA, we are still allowed to have all-girl public schools and classes, which studies show produce high-achieving women. More than a thousand girls annually attend the Philadelphia High School for Girls, which has thrived since 1848 and has produced many women judges, prominent musicians, and other standouts.

None of this would be possible if ERA were ratified. Nor would our all-male registration system for our military, from which women are excused, be lawful if ERA were part of our Constitution.

Sensing that a new ERA has no chance of being passed by a supermajority in Congress, radical feminists are also trying to push the original ERA through state legislatures even though its deadline expired more than 40 years ago. The original ERA required 38 states to pass it by March 22, 1979, to become part of the Constitution.

Many states expressly relied on that deadline in their own resolutions, which means those old ratifications have expired. Congress attempted to extend the deadline until June 30, 1982, but a federal judge declared that to be invalid.

Nearly every time that ERA was placed on the ballot, voters rejected it, including in the liberal states of Vermont, New York, and New Jersey. ERA fell out of fashion in the mid-1970s, and is even less fashionable today.

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.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Where is the next Phyllis Schlafly?

The NY Times Sunday edition has a long article on Phyllis Schlafly. Here is a sample excerpt:
To some, the question of why a new Schlafly hasn’t emerged is as absurd as it would have been to ask in 1972 why no woman had appeared to lead the opposition to the E.R.A. Why would a woman sign up to defend her own oppression? Of course, that’s not what Schlafly thought she was doing. She believed she was protecting women from having a feminist agenda they did not agree with imposed on them against their will.

Today, much of that agenda has prevailed. The obstacles to expanding women’s options and empowering them to make the choices they want are now, in many areas, precisely the products of that egalitarian revolution. By making it easier for women to pursue success in the workplace, we have made it harder for them to do anything else. Pressing the brake on the trends set in motion by the feminist revolution would leave women more free to follow a diversity of paths. In that case, another Phyllis Schlafly may be just what America needs.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

High Noon for Citizenship at High Court

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
By John and Andy Schlafly

It was high drama on Tuesday at the Supreme Court as the Justices heard what many consider to be the most important case of the Term. At issue is whether the upcoming 2020 census will be allowed to include the following question: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”

The census includes questions about race, sex, and age; whether a resident is a U.S. citizen is just as important as other demographic details. As Justice Brett Kavanaugh pointed out during oral argument on Tuesday, other countries routinely ask their residents about citizenship in a census.

Fellow Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch indicated his support for allowing the question about citizenship. Justice Alito seemed on board too, and Justice Thomas is expected to join this conservative bloc.

But liberals have created an uproar over this issue, and questioning from the Left side of the Court was hostile and intense. Obama-appointed Justices Kagan and Sotomayor complained that the record compiled by the lower court did not support asking about citizenship.

At trial, an Obama-appointed judge named Jesse Furman impugned Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for authorizing the citizenship question. The district judge declared that Ross had somehow “violated the public trust” by including this question, even though similar questions have been asked many times in the past.

That smear of Trump Cabinet member Ross was unfair, but the litigation machine on the Left have obtained additional federal court rulings to block President Trump’s citizenship question. No one can be deported for truthfully answering the question about citizenship on the census, but we would learn how many illegal residents there really are and where.

In the case simply captioned “Department of Commerce v. New York,” the Supreme Court showed signs of a 5-4 majority to overturn the trial verdict in New York against Secretary Ross and the Trump Administration. This could deliver by the end of June Trump’s biggest court victory of his presidency to date.
“Can you believe that the Radical Left Democrats want to do our new and very important Census Report without the all important Citizenship Question,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “Report would be meaningless and a waste of the $Billions (ridiculous) that it costs to put together!”

Meaningless indeed, and potentially even worse than that, as a census which fails to ask about citizenship inflates the bona fide populations of California and New York, to the detriment of many other states. Illegal aliens are counted in those states as though they were citizens, and New York and California soak up tax dollars this way.

Democrats brag that they won the popular vote in the last election, but they actually lost that vote in the 49 states outside of California. It is no coincidence that some of the most outspoken opponents of having a count that distinguishes between citizens and aliens include the attorney general of that vast sanctuary state.

Fewer lawful residents means less funding, and if illegals duck the census to avoid the question then this could reduce the numbers of Electoral College votes and congressmen for California and New York. Their influence would then shrink, and they would take fewer federal dollars in entitlements if the citizenship question is asked in the census.

Beneficiaries of including a citizenship question in the census would be all American citizens who are entitled to full representation without dilution of their vote or their tax dollars. That includes middle America, also known as Trump Country.

The Department of Justice pointed out that an accurate count of citizens would even be helpful to enforcing the Voting Rights Act, to the benefit of minorities who are American citizens. But the Democrat leadership cares more about preserving their own political power, which counting citizens threatens.

Despite being a magnet for immigration, Democrat control of New York has driven away many citizens over the past decade. Between July 2017 and July 2018, New York State actually lost population, and population growth in California is below the national average.

Kris Kobach has long championed the inclusion of the citizenship question in the census, along with laws requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Our nation should be governed by its citizens, not by people who reside illegally inside our borders.

Democrats fear that conservative states will use the census question to redraw their state legislative districts in proportion to who is a citizen, thereby reducing representation for urban areas boosted by the presence of illegal aliens. Justice Gorsuch alluded to this, which the Supreme Court allowed in Evenwel v. Abbott (2016).

Cities currently have an incentive, both financially and politically, to harbor illegal aliens. Better data on who is a citizen and who is not would help end that racket.

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, April 16, 2019

Gas Tax Hike: Dumber than Dumb

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
By John and Andy Schlafly

Still smarting from how President Trump crushed its phony free trade agenda, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come up with something even dumber. Led by its anti-Trumper president Tom Donohue, the Chamber has proposed a 25-cent increase in the federal gas tax.

William Weld, who just announced his absurd challenge to Trump for the Republican nomination, presided over a gas tax increase when he was governor of Massachusetts in 1991. That state became known as Taxachusetts with a massive exodus of residents following Weld’s unhappy tenure.

Yet already some liberal Republicans are biting the bait of increasing the taxes on gas. If adopted, this would facilitate a Democratic landslide in 2020.

Gas taxes are immensely unpopular with President Trump’s middle-class supporters, many of whom drive long distances to support their families. They also tend to go on driving trips, such as family summer vacations, and a gas tax increase would disrupt their plans.

Limousine liberals and government workers would barely feel the pinch of a gas tax as they ride the taxpayer-funded D.C. Metro. They would be fine with higher gas taxes, while swing voters who decide elections are hit the hardest.

A large share of the gas tax is diverted to subways, trains and buses. Car drivers who already pay enormous state and federal taxes should not be forced to further subsidize public transportation.

The federal gas tax is currently 18.4 cents a gallon, and all the states tack on a whopping additional tax of their own. In Pennsylvania, its state gas tax is an additional 58.2 cents a gallon.

The “yellow vest” demonstrations that have turned Paris upside down were primarily a protest against high gas taxes in France. Even in liberal Washington State, its voters defeated a carbon tax by 56 to 44 percent last November, and by a wider margin in 2016.

The wasteful way that government fails to maintain roads is the real problem, and hiking gas taxes will not repair that. A familiar sight on interstate highways is the many construction sites that lack real work activity, diverting traffic longer than they should.

In this era of Uber and Lyft, electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as humongous tandem tractor trailers, the gasoline tax is no longer a fair way to pay for our highways. Roads should be funded by those who use them, with variable fees that depend on cost and time of day.

The Dulles Greenway in Virginia is an example of a successful private highway which connects Washington Dulles Airport to Leesburg, Virginia. It has an electronic system for collecting tolls from riders, who enjoy its convenient and efficient access.

In this 21st century, drivers can pay electronically with their smartphones based on their GPS-tracked travel. That efficiency would help deter the massive commuter traffic jams that currently plague our public highways.

The practice of some cities, such as Chicago, to enter into long-term leases of its roads to a foreign owner is not the right approach. A consortium of Canadian pension funds owns the Chicago Skyway toll road, which may be preferable to government ownership but raises questions as to why an American owner was not found for it.

Politicians who have suggested a national carbon tax are not popular either, and anti-Trump Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) was defeated for reelection after he endorsed that bad idea. A carbon tax is on the amount of carbon in energy sources, primarily fossil fuels.

A carbon tax would be imposed on the suppliers of the energy, particularly oil, coal, and natural gas. But this tax would then be passed on to consumers in the form of higher heating and air-conditioning costs, and higher gas prices at the pump.

The same concept of increasing the gas tax is already being pursued by liberal states such as California, Illinois, and New Jersey. Each of those states have enacted or are considering sharp increases in their own state gas tax, in addition to the federal tax.

In New Jersey, the gas tax was increased by 23 cents a gallon in 2016, and then an additional 4.3 cents last year. Yet another gas tax increase there is possible later this year, with little to show for it except angrier drivers.

In California, where prices already average an eye-popping $3.80 per gallon, a new state tax of 5.6 cents per gallon will hit this summer. Legislation in the Illinois state senate proposes doubling the gas tax there, to 38 cents a gallon.

When the price of a good goes up, demand for the good goes down and a smaller amount is sold. An increase in gas taxes means fewer car trips, less shopping, a decline in summer family vacations on the road, and millions of angry daily commuters who vote.

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, April 2, 2019

Nuclear Option Needed to Confirm Judges

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
By John and Andy Schlafly

The vast majority of President Trump’s nominees to the federal district courts have been blocked by Democrats in the Senate. Some of them have languished for more than a year, without an up-or-down floor vote on their confirmation.

Tuesday afternoon Democrats rejected a fair compromise offered by Senate Republicans to break the logjam. On a nearly party-line vote, the Senate killed Senate Resolution 50 which would have established a new procedure to facilitate timely confirmation of nominees approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sixty votes were needed to advance S.Res. 50, and even though Republicans enjoy majority control of the Senate they cannot muster the super-majority to attain cloture on changing the rules for nominees. So this leaves Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with only the nuclear option to overcome Democrat obstructionism.

While the Senate has promptly confirmed Trump’s nominees to the Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court, Democrats have blocked dozens of excellent nominees to the lower courts. There are an astounding 133 vacancies today in federal district courts and 13 more vacancies will arise soon.

But under current Senate rules, Democrats are forcing several days of delay in confirming each district court judge whenever any senator wants to stall it. At this rate, President Trump would be denied his ability to fill a significant percentage of the trial court vacancies and Democrats hope keep these vacancies unfilled until after the next presidential election.

District courts are the tribunals that conduct all federal trials and they are where the vast majority of federal judiciary decisions are made. These are the courts that have repeatedly issued injunctions against President Trump, which he then has to run up on appeal to get them overturned months later.

It is federal district courts which issue injunctions in favor of Planned Parenthood virtually any time it demands them. It can take years to overturn those injunctions on appeal and often the appellate court simply remands the case back to the same district court, which then rules for Planned Parenthood again.

This means that while the U.S. Courts of Appeal have the last say in many cases, the federal district courts are the place where most litigation occurs. As a practical matter, continued liberal control of the district courts means never-ending judicial activism.

So it is not surprising that Democrats have done everything they can to continue their grip on the district courts. By causing seemingly endless hours of debate on each and every district court nominee, Democrats have frustrated the ability of President Trump to obtain confirmation of his judges at the trial level.

Democrats have obstructed district court nominees to such an extent that it has taken an average of 133 days – more than a third of a year – for the Senate to vote on a nominee after approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service found that 37 district court nominees still await a floor vote after approval by the Judiciary Committee.

In some states, such as Missouri, not a single judicial nominee has been confirmed during the more than two years that Trump has been president. Indeed, since January both senators from Missouri are Republican and thus not even senatorial courtesy can be blamed, whereby a senator from the state can block a nominee by failing to return a blue slip.

Mississippi is another conservative state which has not had a single Trump judge appointed to a federal district court there. One vacancy has been pending for more than a year in its Southern District and another vacancy is expected there at the end of this month.

In Texas, another solidly Republican state, its Southern District, which includes Houston, has three vacancies. The Northern District of Texas, which includes Dallas, has five vacancies and five nominees by President Trump await confirmation by the Senate.

Senator Mitch McConnell expressed his justified frustration about this obstinance by the Democrats. He observed that their intransigence on these district court nominees “is unsustainable for the Senate and for the country,” and warned that it does not bode well for a future Democratic president either, because Republicans would return the favor in blocking his nominee.

If Democrats had supported Senate Resolution 50, then this gridlock on judges could have been amicably and sensible resolved. S.Res. 50 would have shortened the post-cloture time for a floor vote on presidential nominees, which means that Trump’s nominees could be brought to a vote without undue delay.

By rejecting this compromise, Democrats have made the nuclear option necessary to shut down the endless filibustering of these good Trump nominees. Majority Leader McConnell should next implement this option to proceed, with only a simple majority vote, to change the rules in order to hold timely floor votes on Trump’s district court nominees.

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.

The woman who shaped the modern GOP

A liberal online magazine, PS Mag, reports in a article about attempts to revive the ERA:
But an argument the anti-feminist firebrand Phyllis Schlafly — the woman who shaped the modern GOP — articulated on Good Morning America in 1976 has endured: Equality is actually bad for women. "When you make the laws apply equally to men and women, you end up taking away many of the rights that women now have," Schlafly said.
Really? She shaped the modern GOP? It is interesting that this magazine sees it that way.