Tag Archives: right-wing

Analysis: Trump’s border wall faces reality check

President Donald Trump’s vow to accelerate construction of a “contiguous, physical wall” along the Mexican border is slamming into a Washington reality— who’s going to pay for it and how?

Continue reading Analysis: Trump’s border wall faces reality check

Trump orders construction of border wall and punishment for sanctuary cities

President Donald Trump on Jan. 25 ordered construction of a U.S.-Mexican border “wall” and punishment for cities shielding illegal immigrants while mulling restoring a CIA secret detention program.

Also, a draft executive order seen by Reuters that Trump is expected to sign in the coming days would block the entry of refugees from war-torn Syria and suspend the entry of any immigrants from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African countries Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen while permanent rules are studied.

Trump’s executive orders on Wednesday signaled a tough action toward the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, whom he already has threatened to deport.

In a move critics called a slight to the integrity of American democracy, Trump also said he would seek a “major investigation” into what he believes was voter fraud in the November election, despite overwhelming consensus among state officials, election experts and politicians that it is rare in the United States.

“We are going to restore the rule of law in the United States,” Trump told an audience that included relatives of people killed by illegal immigrants at the Department of Homeland Security after signing two executive orders.

The directives ordered the construction of a multibillion-dollar “wall” along the roughly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, moved to strip federal funding from sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants and expanded the force of U.S. anti-immigration agents.

His plans prompted an outcry from immigrant advocates and Democratic lawmakers who said Trump was jeopardizing the rights and freedoms of millions of people while treating Mexico as an enemy, not an ally, and soiling America’s historic reputation as a welcoming place for immigrants of all stripes.

“The border wall is about political theater at the expense of civil liberties,” said Christian Ramirez, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition immigrant advocacy group.

“It is not national security policy. Border communities are among the safest in the nation, and patrolling them with tens of thousands of heavily armed, poorly trained, unaccountable agents puts lives at risks. This will turn these communities into de facto military zones,” Ramirez said.

The White House said the wall would stem the flow of drugs, crime and illegal immigration into the United States.

The immigration crackdown has sparked fear among  “dreamers,” whose parents brought them to the United States illegally and who received deportation relief and work permits from President Barack Obama’s administration.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said “dreamers” should not be worried. “We’re focused on physical security of the border, we’re focused on those who are coming to do us harm from terrorist states and things like that,” he told MSNBC.

TENSION WITH MEXICO

Trump’s actions could further test relations with Mexico.

Trump’s policies, including his demand that the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada be renegotiated or scrapped, have put Mexico’s government on the defensive. Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto are due to meet next week.

Pena Nieto said he “regrets and disapproves” of the push by Trump to build a new wall along the border.

Officials in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Denver, Washington, San Francisco and Seattle offer some forms of protection to illegal immigrants. Billions of dollars in federal aid to those cities, often governed by Democrats, could be at risk under Trump’s move.

Trump said construction on the wall would start within months, with planning starting immediately and he said Mexico would pay back to the United States “100 percent” of the costs. Mexican officials repeatedly said that is not going to happen.

The cost, nature and extent of the wall remain unclear. Trump last year put the cost at “probably $8 billion,” although other estimates are higher, and he said the wall would span 1,000 miles because of the terrain of the border.

END OF ‘CATCH AND RELEASE’

Trump’s directives would end the practice known by critics as “catch and release” in which authorities apprehend illegal immigrants on U.S. territory but do not immediately detain or deport them.

The directives also include hiring 5,000 more U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

They also create more detention space along the southern border to make it easier to detain and deport people.

Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley; Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg, Roberta Rampton, Jonathan Landay, Mark Hosenball, Doina Chiacu, Andy Sullivan, Mohammad Zargham, Eric Beech and Susan Heavey; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney.

Gay members of Congress raise concerns about DeVos’ record on LGBT issues

Democratic U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Jared Polis of Colorado and Mark Takano of California are raising serious concerns about Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos’ views on issues affecting LGBT students and parents.

The reps — all openly gay and co-chairs of the  Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus — this week sent a letter to members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) urging them to closely examine DeVos’ record.

“It is unfathomable that the next Secretary of Education would oppose basic protections for LGBT students and roll back the progress we have made to ensure all students feel safe and supported in our schools,” Pocan said in a statement to the press. “Ms. DeVos’ history of opposing equality for LGBT individuals is deeply troubling, and the public deserves to know whether she will work with us to improve lives or continue to advocate an extremist agenda that bullies our students.”

The letter mentions the millions of dollars DeVos and her family have contributed to organizations and candidates that oppose equality for LGBT families and actively promote dangerous practices like “conversion therapy.”

The text of the letter

Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

            As Co-Chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, we write to express our deep concern with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the Secretary of the United States Department of Education, Betsy DeVos. While Ms. DeVos’ stances on a number of public education issues raise concerns, we cannot hold our silence regarding her opposition to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.  

Betsy DeVos’ career has been marked by repeated attempts to undermine the rights of the LGBT community. She and her family have donated extensively to groups which promote the idea that students who identify as LGBT must undergo “conversion” therapy and have also affiliated with groups that oppose anti-bullying legislation. The next Secretary of Education must represent all students in our country. Anyone who promotes such fervently anti-LGBT viewpoints is wholly unqualified to serve as the Secretary of Education.  

            Since 1998, Betsy DeVos and her family’s foundations have donated at least $6.1 million to Focus on the Family, a right-wing organization which has spent millions of dollars attempting to defeat marriage equality amendments at the state level. Even more troubling, this organization supported by the DeVos family promotes “conversion therapy,” opposes the right of LGBT parents to adopt children, and has referred to transgender individuals as “mentally ill.” This organization has even gone so far to oppose anti-bullying policies and opposes basic workplace protections for LGBT individuals. The DeVos family’s support for anti-LGBT groups and policies extends beyond just this organization to many other groups known for their anti-LGBT activities, such as:  

·         $1,000,000 to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, which has claimed that the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act amounted to a “fatwa;”

·         $15,000 to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has opposed adoption with same-sex couples;

·         $433,750 to the Council for National Policy, a highly secretive group that is led by extremists like Focus on the Family’s James Dobson among other extremists; and 

·         $13,498,000 to the Heritage Foundation, which has stated that “Despite activist judges’ opinions, the majority of Americans continue to affirm the reasonable conclusion that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” 

The DeVos family does not stop with contributions to intolerant organizations as they also support anti-LGBT politicians. For example, the DeVos family – including Ms. DeVos – were top contributors to Michigan State Representative Andrea LaFontaine, who sponsored legislation allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT parents and deny them the ability to adopt a child. 

            The LGBT community has made significant and long overdue advancements when it comes to equality in education. During President Obama’s tenure in office, the Department of Education took important steps to combat bullying and ensure that Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, appropriately reflects the rights of transgender students. It is imperative that the rights of LGBT students are adequately protected moving forward. 

            As you move to consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos, we strongly encourage you to seek out answers regarding Ms. DeVos’ stance on important education equity issues, including her views on protecting LGBT students from bullying and discrimination in K-12 and higher education spaces. We are particularly troubled by Betsy DeVos’ past support for inhumane “conversion therapy” treatments and believe it is imperative that any Secretary of Education nominee denounce such practices before being confirmed. 

            As Members of the LGBT community, we know our schools must be a safe place for all children. As you consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, we strongly encourage you to stand up for the civil rights of LGBT students and ensure the next Secretary opposes any action to roll back our progress toward equality.

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Ahead of hearing, ACLU releases analysis of Sessions’ civil liberties record

The American Civil Liberties Union this week released its analysis of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions’ record on civil liberties issues ahead of the Jan. 10-11 confirmation hearing. Sessions is Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general.

The ACLU report examines Sessions’ handling of voting rights, police reform, immigration, mass incarceration, religious liberty, LGBT equality, privacy and surveillance, torture, abortion and sexual assault issues.

“The American people deserve a full vetting of Sen. Jeff Sessions’ record if he is to become the nation’s top law enforcement official,” ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero said in a press statement.

He continued, “If the Senate does their job well, Congress and the American public will know if Sessions is the most qualified person to be the 84th attorney general of the United States of America. All Americans must have confidence that the highest law enforcement official in the country will protect them from discrimination and injustice. Trump and Sessions’ commitment to ‘law and order’ must embrace justice.”

This is from the introduction to the ACLU analysis on Sessions’ record:

More than thirty years ago, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, was in a similar situation as he will be on January 10 when he goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing. Tapped by President Ronald Reagan for a federal judgeship in 1986, Sessions sat before the very same committee for his previous confirmation hearing. Things did not go well.

Witnesses accused Sessions, then the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Alabama, of repeatedly making racially insensitive and racist remarks. Thomas Figures — a former assistant U.S. attorney in Mobile, Alabama, who worked for Sessions — told the Senate Judiciary Committee that his former boss said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was okay until he learned members smoked pot. Sessions said the comment wasn’t serious. Figures, an African-American man, also alleged that Sessions called him “boy” and told him “to be careful what you say to white folks.” Sessions denied this, too. 

But Figures wasn’t alone. Visiting Mobile, Alabama, from Washington, D.C., a Justice Department lawyer heard Sessions call the ACLU “un-American” and “communist-inspired.” He also heard Sessions opine that ACLU and the NAACP “did more harm than good when they were trying to force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.” Sessions said he didn’t recall saying that but admitted he could be “loose with my tongue” at the office. Not surprisingly, a civil rights coalition of over 160 groups and members of the Alabama Legislature separately opposed the Sessions’ nomination and asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote no on the young attorney from Hybart, Alabama. In a bipartisan vote, committee members refused to confirm Sessions, making him just the second judicial nominee in 49 years to be denied confirmation by the Senate Judiciary Committee at that time.

Sessions recovered well. In 1994, he was elected as Alabama’s attorney general. Two years later, the people of Alabama sent him to the U.S. Senate. He’s never lost a reelection campaign since, and now he’s poised to become the head of the Department of Justice. But the same concerns that doomed Sessions’ shot at becoming a federal judge three decades ago continue to stalk him today, only they have been made more troubling when you add Sessions’ Senate record to the mix.

The ACLU as a matter of long-standing policy does not support or oppose candidates for elected or appointed office. However, questions regarding police reform, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, criminal justice reform, Muslims’ rights, racial justice, LGBT rights, women’s rights, privacy rights, torture, and abortion rights must be asked of and answered by Jeff Sessions if the Senate is to be discharged of its duty and if Americans are to be fully informed of how the nominee is to serve as the nation’s highest law enforcement officer. The attorney general must be an individual who will steadfastly enforce the U.S. Constitution and protect the civil rights and liberties of all Americans equally.

On the Web

The report can be found at https://www.aclu.org/report/report-confirmation-sessions.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke could head Homeland Security

Donald Trump met with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke at Trump Tower Monday afternoon, presumably to discuss tapping Clarke for a position in his administration. Insiders say the bizarre head of Milwaukee County law enforcement is under consideration to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Like Trump, Clarke is a lightning rod of the radical right who is known nationally for his history of making shocking statements and engaging in outrageous behavior.

Although Clarke runs as a Democrat, his right-wing Republican beliefs are known nationwide. He addressed the Republican National Convention over the summer with a fiery conservative speech that  drew a standing ovation. Clarke is a frequent guest on Fox News and a well-known personality on right-wing talk radio. He has his own program on The Blaze network that’s called The People’s Sheriff.

In October, when it seemed as if Trump would lose his race against Hillary Clinton, Clarke urged his Twitter followers to take up their “pitchforks and torches” against her in case she won.

Clarke, who is African American, frequently blasts Black Lives Matter as a “vile” and “slimy” racist group. He condemns what he calls the “ghetto” culture of African-American neighborhoods in the inner city.

Clarke sets himself apart from other urbanites — both black and white — by degrading blacks and often appearing in public wearing cowboy boots and a 10-gallon cowboy hat. The costume matches his John Wayne-style tough talk, including the boast that he’d increase Gitmo’s population to 1 million as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Clarke provides cover for the racist right wing of the Republican Party, wrote Congresswoman Gwen Moore in an op-ed.

“It’s clear that Fox News and Sheriff Clarke have developed a symbiotic relationship,” Moore wrote. “He needs the cable news network for its national platform; Fox needs a black sheriff to give voice to the dog-whistle narratives its anchors dare not vocalize themselves.”

Also like Trump, Clarke is well known for his temper tantrums and unfiltered remarks. Using a school-boy insult later borrowed by Trump, Clarke once questioned the size of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s genitalia.

Clarke was widely criticized for cutting security for President Obama when he visited Milwaukee. After one of his budget requests was denied, Clarke asked Milwaukee County citizens to take up arms and essentially become vigilantes to help his understaffed squad of deputies enforce the law. At the same time, his deputies were conducting sting operations to entrap gay men on sexual charges in public parks.

Clarke has a penchant for filing frivolous right-wing lawsuits that amuse his white, suburban Republican base but have cost county taxpayers over $400,000.

But there have also been numerous lawsuits filed against him. The latest prospective suit comes from Shadé Swayzer, the mother of a newborn who died in Milwaukee County Jail last July.

Swayzer’s lawyer wrote that she told a corrections officer she was going into labor around midnight, but that the officer laughed and ignored her, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office contends that Swayzer never told jail staff she was going into labor. The company responsible for medical care at the jail has said Swayzer’s child was stillborn.

But Swayzer insists her child was “born alive, cried profusely and was breastfed.”

The infant was one of four people who’ve died in a Milwaukee County jail cell since April — and one of 12 who’ve died there since he took office. In September, a man died of dehydration in the jail after guards ignored his pleas for water.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde has called for Clarke’s resignation over the deaths.

“The simple fact that four deaths have occurred in a six month period under his watch demonstrates that Sheriff David Clarke is unfit to manage the Milwaukee County Jail,” Omokunde said. “Media reports and the statements of witnesses indicate that at least three of the deaths appear to have occurred as a result of actions or inaction by Sheriff Clarke’s corrections officers.  Yet not a single officer has been disciplined, and Sheriff Clarke remains silent. This is totally unacceptable.

“Accountability starts at the top. Sheriff Clarke has failed to establish a culture of professionalism, has failed to call for independent investigations when warranted, and he has abdicated his responsibility to hold his officers accountable for their actions or lack of action. He should resign immediately.”

For all of these reasons,, Clarke will face a contentious battle for confirmation by the Senate, if Clarke should nominate him for a cabinet-level position.

“David Clarke is extremist, bombastic and incompetent at his job,” said Scot Ross, executive director of the progressive group One Wisconsin Now.

“David Clarke with his speeches filled with bombast, childish insults and advocacy for Tea Party extremism aren’t making anyone safer,” Ross continued. “His actions and his rhetoric are Exhibit A of the dangerous extremism being abided by the leaders of today’s Republican Party.”

 

Pro-Walker group expanding focus nationally

A conservative Wisconsin group that’s filed lawsuits in defense of several of Gov. Scott Walker’s most contentious proposals announced plans to expand its work nationally.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty’s new Center for Competitive Federalism will focus on filing lawsuits and issuing policy statements targeting what it sees as federal overreach, leaders of the effort said at a Capitol news conference.

Three right-wing Republican office holders in the state — Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, state Sen. Duey Stroebel and state Rep. Dale Kooyenga — participated in the announcement and praised the group’s work.

Likening the federal government to “Big Brother,” Stroebel said he hoped the initiative would bring about a national effort to reject federal government overreach “so we can all push back together.”

Rick Esenberg, WILL’s president and chief attorney, said the national push would be funded over three years with $800,000 from the Bradley Foundation, which until his retirement this year had been led by Michael Grebe, Walker’s former campaign chairman.

The foundation is providing an additional $300,000 to the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, which is partnering with WILL on the new center.

Noting the connection to Walker, the leader of a liberal advocacy group said WILL’s new venture was created to advance the governor’s agenda.

“All the lawsuits and propaganda they file isn’t going to change the fact that Gov. Walker has failed the people of Wisconsin over and over and over again,” said Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now.

WILL has been active in helping defend some of the highest-profile, conservative laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Walker in recent years.

The group fought against lawsuits filed by unions that tried unsuccessfully to stop Walker’s law that effectively ended collective bargaining for teachers and other public workers.

It also sided with Walker in a lawsuit seeking an end to a secret John Doe investigation into his 2012 recall campaign and conservative groups that supported him. That probe ended after a conservative state Supreme Court declared nothing illegal occurred.

Esenberg, at the news conference, took a jab at the presumptive presidential nominees in both parties, saying if either of them were involved in trying to draft the Constitution today it would be a “hot mess.”

He and others at the news conference cited numerous examples of what they said was overreach of the federal government, including initiatives by President Barack Obama to enact clean power plant laws, expand Medicaid and guarantee transgender public school students access to bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

“We’re seeing the results of the federal government gone wild in the United States of America,” Stroebel complained.

Ross said the arguments made against powers of the federal government were “exactly the same as those made in the 1950s and 1960s by those trying to deny African Americans the same protections as white people under the law.”

GOP rep uses racist code in threat to cut Milwaukee funding

Using code words evoking racist fears among the white suburbanites she represents, a Republican lawmaker promised Tuesday to push for state funding cuts to the city unless Mayor Tom Barrett gets tougher on crime.

Rep. Janel Brandtjen of Menomonee Falls was incensed that a Milwaukee police chase ended in one of the suburban counties in her right-wing district, which includes parts of Washington and Waukesha counties. Her over-the-top statement drew rebukes from both parties. Rep. Mandela Barnes, a Milwaukee Democrat, accused her of “Donald Trump style fear mongering,” and even fellow right-wing Republican Robin Vos, the Assembly speaker, called for “less rhetoric.”

Brandtjen issued a heavily exaggerated news release Tuesday complaining about how residents in her district spent last Thursday morning in fear for their lives as police searched for five teens who’d carjacked a woman’s Honda Civic at gunpoint in Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon.

Police spotted the teens shortly after midnight on Thursday morning and chased them into Washington County. The teens abandoned the car after it got a flat tire and fled on foot. Officers spent hours searching for them in the dark before finally capturing them without incident, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report.

Brandtjen said in her release that homeowners were held hostage in their own homes and “families were forced to unlock their gun cabinets and instruct their loved ones to shoot to kill. The violence and crime that has plagued Milwaukee for decades has now begun to spill over into Milwaukee’s suburbs. I lay the responsibility for this growing and out of control problem at the door of the Mayor’s office.”

She went on to say that she’ll openly advocate for funding cuts to Milwaukee unless Barrett dramatically cuts crime in the city. She called on the mayor to fill vacant police positions, arrest car thieves, demand repeat offenders go to prison and stand up to judges who let repeat offenders off easy.

“I will no longer sit by while you destroy Milwaukee and its flourishing suburbs,” she said. “I cannot justify financing your failed policies in Milwaukee until you take public safety seriously.”

Brandtjen  did not offer any actual accounts of anyone being taken hostage, arming themselves or telling loved ones to shoot to kill in the news release. Pressed in a phone interview, she said people in the neighborhood told her SWAT teams came to their homes and told them to stay inside. She said the neighbors told her that they were texting each about shooting to kill if they found an intruder in their house.

Barrett is a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for governor twice against Republican Scott Walker. His spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a message.

Barnes, who is black, issued a statement entitled “Donald Trump Style Fear Mongering by GOP Legislator.” He said in a telephone interview that the release carries a racial undertone and is trying to play on fears of minorities.

“It’s a lot of dog-whistle rhetoric,” Barnes said.

Brandjten is white. She made no mention of race in her release. Asked for reaction to Barnes’ statement, she replied that bullets don’t notice skin color.

“I’m asking for change so we can keep everybody safe,” she said.

Brandtjen is a freshman legislator who doesn’t even sit on the Legislature’s budget-writing committee. Vos said in an email to The Associated Press that situations like the chase require “less rhetoric and more realistic solutions.”

Associated Press writer Todd Richmond provided the reporting for this story.

 

Texan who called Obama a gay prostitute runs for school board

Texas voters went to the polls on Tuesday to decide if they want the state’s school board to include a retired teacher who claimed President Barack Obama was a gay prostitute and said dinosaurs might still be around if Noah had more room on his biblical ark.

Mary Lou Bruner, 69, an arch-conservative with a penchant for conspiracy theories, is a Republican candidate in a race for the board that sets policies for the nation’s second-largest school system.

She is in a run-off vote and if she wins, will be considered a front-runner in the general election in November in her heavily Republican district.

Bruner has captured national attention this year with anti-Islam comments and by saying U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s beard made him look like “a terrorist.”

She also made contentious Facebook posts in recent years that include saying: “Obama has a soft spot for homosexuals because of the years he spent as a male prostitute in his twenties. That is how he paid for his drugs.”

Bruner has blamed U.S. school shootings on the teaching of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in classrooms and said Noah loaded dinosaurs on the ark to escape the biblical flood. “The dinosaurs on the ark may have been babies and not able to reproduce. It might make sense to take the small dinosaurs onto the ark instead of the ones bigger than a bus,” she said on Facebook.

While the comments brought her ridicule in some parts of the country, in East Texas they also vaulted her to the top in a March primary, where she won 48 percent of the vote.

Bruner, who taught elementary school and special education for 36 years, has toned down the rhetoric recently and has been commenting only on her platform for the seat on the 15-member state school board that oversees the educational system and approves textbooks for some 5 million public school children.

“We need to stick with the basics of teaching phonics, cursive writing, English grammar and multiplication tables,” she said in an interview. “I stand for truth in education, not political correctness.”

After the primary, which brought closer attention to her comments, and speeches this year citing statistics many said were inaccurate, her campaign has sputtered. She lost an endorsement from a powerful Tea Party group and her lead has narrowed over her run-off opponent, Keven Ellis, a chiropractor and school board president in the East Texas town of Lufkin.

 

Alabama drag queen is suspended chief justice’s nightmare (and that’s good)

Wearing big hair, loads of makeup and high heels, small-town drag queen Ambrosia Starling is the new worst nightmare of suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Moore has called out Starling twice by name in recent days while defending himself against allegations of violating judicial canons with his opposition to same-sex marriage.

During a news conference and in a written statement, Moore cited the entertainer as a reason he’s at risk of losing his job for the second time since 2003.

That’s fine with Starling, who helped lead an anti-Moore rally on the steps of the Alabama Supreme Court building in January. Opponents that day filled out more than 40 complaints against Moore, who already was the subject of other complaints and now faces removal from office if convicted of violating judicial ethics.

“If it takes a drag queen to remind you that liberty and justice is for all, here I am,” Starling said on a recent Tuesday between sips of coffee.

Moore contends the effort to oust him is unfounded and politically motivated.

Starling, born and raised in the southeast Alabama city of Dothan, referred to Moore as a bigot and has encouraged people to submit complaints against Moore to the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, which accused the Republican Moore of wrongdoing in mid-May, resulting in his suspension.

The complaint filed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission accuses Moore of willfully failing to respect the authority of federal court decisions that cleared the way for gay marriage, which Moore opposes on the basis of faith and the law. He issued an administrative order to state probate judges in January that said state laws against gay marriage remained in place months after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.

An attorney for Moore, Mat Staver, said Moore issued the order because probate judges were asking questions about how to proceed.

Staver said Moore will file a response within 30 days asking the Alabama Court of the Judiciary to dismiss charges against him.

Moore has been tossed once before from the office of chief justice. Thirteen years ago, Moore refused to abide by a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument Moore had erected in the rotunda of the state judicial building, resulting in judicial ethics charges and his removal by the Court of Judiciary.

During a news conference in May, Moore said Starling and similar people would have been classified as having a “mental disorder” just a few years ago.

He also accused Starling of performing a “mock wedding” in violation of a state court order against same-sex marriage, a claim Starling dismissed as untrue.

Starling doesn’t mind being singled out by Moore.

“I’ll take the hit for the entire LGBT community if it gets the message across,” Starling said.

Thousands of voters mistakenly register to right-wing party

A survey has found that tens of thousands of voters, including Demi Moore and other celebrities, mistakenly registered as members of a conservative minor political party in California in a mix-up over its name.

The Los Angeles Times said that a telephone survey of 500 members of the American Independent Party found nearly three of four people did not realize they had enrolled in a political party that opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage and calls for building a fence along the U.S. border.

The newspaper said voters were confused by the use of the word “independent” in the party’s name. In California, voters who do not want to register with any party must check a box on a registration form for “no party preference.”

“I just blew it,” Deborah Silva, 64, of Point Arena in Mendocino County, told the Times. “There were a number of choices. I just checked the box that said ‘independent.’”

Of people surveyed in the Times poll, fewer than 4 percent could correctly identify their own registration as a member of the American Independent Party.

Moore was among Hollywood celebrities with known Democratic leanings listed as members. She has contributed money to and campaigned for President Barack Obama. Her registration as an AIP member is wrong, a representative said.

“Demi Moore is not, nor has ever been, a member of the American Independent Party,” the representative told the Times.

When Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, registered to vote in 2013, he selected the American Independent Party. A family spokesman said Schwarzenegger, 22, plans to change his registration.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, the party has about 472,000 members, or 2.7 percent of the statewide total.

The Times reported that the mistaken registration could prevent people from casting votes in the June 7 presidential primary, which is considered California’s most competitive in recent years. Voters affiliated with the American Independent Party will only be allowed to vote for candidates on the party’s ballot, the Times reported. The Republicans will have a closed primary, while the Democrats will allow unaffiliated voters to participate.

The deadline to register or change voter registration status for the June 7 primary is May 23.

The American Independent Party’s roots date to 1967 when George Wallace, a segregationist, launched his second run for the White House. Wallace, who had run as a Democrat in 1964, helped create the party and ran on its ticket. Today, that party exists only in California.

“We’re not segregationist anymore,” said Markham Robinson, who serves as chairman of the American Independent Party’s executive committee. “What we are now is a conservative, constitutionalist party.”

Some voters who mistakenly registered with the party said they found the state’s official registration materials confusing.

The survey of members of the American Independent Party was conducted by telephone Feb. 9-11. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.