People For the American Way


APRIL 2009

In This Issue

SPOTLIGHT: Campaign to Restore Justice

Point Man for the Wedge Strategy

Pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act

YEO Frontline News

Protecting Equality: Harambee 2009 Special Edition

Right Sounds False Alarm On Hate Crimes Legislation

--Featured Video


Marriage Equality on the March

Just this month, we've seen same-sex couples finally recognized as equal in the eyes of the law in Iowa and Vermont, and the District of Columbia decided to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states that have marriage equality.

Now, a marriage equality bill looks to be nearing final passage in New Hampshire and it's been introduced in the New York State Legislature!

Read More more

Impeach Bush's Torture Judge

One of the legal architects of the Bush administration's torture policies is currently enjoying a lifetime appointment on a powerful U.S. Court of Appeals. Congress needs to hold him accountable.

Judge Jay Bybee should be impeached.

Sign the Petition


restore justice

It's been an incredibly busy month for the Campaign to Restore Justice.

  • The Obama administration released Bush-era memos from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) which purported to offer the legal rationale for torture.
  • PFAW called for the impeachment of Judge Jay Bybee, who headed the OLC at the time and authored the memos, and who now sits on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • The Religious Right has begun to mobilize against the president's first appellate-level judicial nomination, Judge David Hamilton, and Sen. James Inhofe has even pledged to filibuster his confirmation.
  • On April 22, we hosted a telebriefing for some of our members with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on accountability for the Bush administration and Dawn Johnsen, President Obama's nominee to head the OLC.
  • Republican senators tried their hardest to build momentum behind a filibuster of Dawn Johnsen. PFAW has helped turn the tide by mobilizing the grassroots and working to shape the media narrative to demonstrate the depth of Johnsen's support across the ideological spectrum because of her scholarship and her integrity. Momentum is shifting but we need to keep up the fight.

Read More >

And make sure your name is on both the petition to confirm Dawn Johnsen AND the petition to impeach Jay Bybee.

membership cardWe have critical campaigns in full swing that need your support as a member. Renew your People For the American Way membership today and receive your copy of our new Congressional Directory!

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Point Man for the Wedge Strategy

harry jackson

In recent years, Religious Right leaders have made a major push to elevate the visibility and voices of politically conservative African American pastors. The star of that effort has been Bishop Harry Jackson. People For the American Way Foundation has produced an in-depth report about this dangerous right-wing leader.

Read More >

Equality Agenda:

hate crimes

Yesterday, on April 29, the House successfully passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act with bipartisan support by a vote of 249-175. Now the real fight begins in the Senate where we have had trouble moving this legislation in the past.

We came so close to passing this bill in the last Congress and it is critically needed to protect LGBT Americans who are so often the targets of brutal violence.

Check out PFAW's hate crimes resource page now to learn more and take action >

YEO Frontline News: A New Generation of Leaders on the Front Lines of Change

People For the American Way Foundation's Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network is in the planning stages for what is sure to be an amazing annual Convening, this year, in Atlanta, GA. Meanwhile, Network members are doing great things all over the country, serving as the true on-the-ground leaders of the progressive movement.

Read the YEO Network's April newsletter >

Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network is a program of People For the American Way Foundation.

Protecting Equality: Harambee 2009 Special Edition

Doing its part to eradicate homophobia through honest and respectful dialogue, PFAW Foundation's African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) hosted two exciting panel discussions on homophobia in the Black Church at the annual Harambee event at Howard University's Divinity School.

Read More >

Right Sounds False Alarm On Hate Crimes Legislation

RWW in focuse sm

Religious Right leaders are vehemently opposed to federal hate crimes laws in large measure because they resist any legal recognition of LGBT people (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender). They know that most Americans support hate-crimes legislation, anti-discrimination laws, and legal protection for gay couples. So they create confusion by portraying these steps toward equality as dire threats to religious liberty. This is part of a larger political strategy by Religious Right leaders to advance their policy goals and mobilize supporters with alarmist claims that Christians in America are on the verge of being jailed for their religious beliefs.

Read More >

RWW In Focus Archive >


Harry Jackson Screen Cap

Bishop Harry Jackson Speaks Against Marriage Equality in DC

Opponents of equality held a rally in Washington, DC to protest the recognition of same-sex marriages. People For the American Way was able to capture video footage of Bishop Harry Jackson in action.

Watch >


Virginia Foxx Calls Matthew Shepard's Murder a "Hoax" (4/30)

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) claimed on the House Floor yesterday that Matthew Shepard, whom the Hate Crimes bill is named after, was killed "in the commitment of robbery," not because he was gay. Rep. Foxx went on to say, "the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's, it's really a hoax, that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."

Even more reprehensible, she said all of this while directly across from Judy Shepard, the mother of the Matthew Shepard.


Read More >

Good questions for Jay Bybee (4/29)

Noting the need to clarify a number of questions surrounding the legal advice provided by the Office of Legal Counsel under Jay Bybee's leadership, Senator Patrick Leahy, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter today to Bybee inviting him to testify before the committee. In particular, pointing to press accounts that White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales asked Bybee, who was interested in the seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which he now holds, if he would first serve as head of OLC, Leahy's letter offers Bybee the opportunity to "come forward and set the record straight with respect to whether and, if so, how your judicial ambitions related to your participation at OLC."

Read More >

Message from Senator Whitehouse: Keep Up the Pressure to Confirm Dawn Johnsen (4/22)

Today I had the opportunity to moderate a discussion with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on a conference call with PFAW members and activists.

As we've mentioned before, Senator Whitehouse has been one of the leading voices in the push to restore the integrity of the Department of Justice and confirm Dawn Johnsen to the Office of Legal Counsel.

Read More >

Legal Scholars Speak out to Support Dawn Johnsen (4/27)

People For the American Way (along with the Alliance for Justice, National Women's Law Center, and NARAL Pro-Choice America) co-hosted a telebriefing today on the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel.

We were joined by Walter Dellinger, Solicitor General and head of the Office of Legal Counsel under President Clinton, Douglas Kmiec, head of the Office of Legal Counsel for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and Aviva Orenstein, an Indiana University law professor and longtime colleague of Dawn Johnsen.

Read More >

Right Wing Watch: Dead-Ender's Game -- Sci-Fi Writer Joins Board of National Organization for Marriage (4/22)

Orson Scott Card, author of the popular sci-fi novel Ender's Game, has joined the board of the National Organization for Marriage. You may have heard of NOM recently thanks to its misleading "Gathering Storm" TV ad campaign which attacked equal rights for gays and lesbians.

We think that Card, who turned into a reactionary crank somewhere along the way, will be a good fit for NOM. Both have ample experience with alternate realities, and that should prove useful in explaining why committed same-sex couples shouldn't be allowed to marry.

Read More >

NAMUDNO In the Supreme Court (4/29)

This morning the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Eric Holder, a case involving a small municipal district in Austin, Texas seeking to invalidate a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- one of the most important civil rights laws in American history.

Read More >

Victory for the Rule of Law (4/28)

Great news on the accountability front: Today, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave the thumbs-down to the blanket invocation of the pernicious "state secrets" doctrine.

Read More >

Right Wing Watch: DHS Report -- Why Is The Right Willingly Conflating Itself With Violent Extremists? (4/27)

I honestly can't believe that I am still writing about this phony "controversy" over the recent DHS report but, just as with the similarly phony controversy over the stimulus legislation, with every passing day the Right continues to twist this innocuous report into evidence that the government intends to round-up conservatives and toss them into prison and use the "outrage" to seek the removal of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano...

Read More >

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