Prominent Michigan attorney Michael Bogren on Tuesday withdrew his nomination to become a District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan after being attacked by several Republican Senators who accused him of anti-religious bigotry and suggested he did not hate gay people enough.
Those U.S. Senators were pushed in to action after an anti-gay hate group, the Family Research Council, along with two far right organizations, the Catholic League and the Judicial Crisis Network, urged President Donald Trump to pull Bogren’s nomination.
It is a rare blow for President Trump, who has – thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – been able to pack the federal bench with more judges, and especially more far right wing extremists, than any president in modern history.
So what happened?
You might remember this story.
In 2017 the City of East Lansing, Michigan, banned a farmer from selling his goods at a local farmers’ market after he announced he would not allow same-sex couples to marry on his farm, which also serves as a wedding venue. The farmer cited his Catholic faith as his reason.
Michael Bogren was the attorney for the City of East Lansing, and in that capacity wrote in a legal brief that “there can be no constitutionally sound argument that sincerely held religious beliefs would permit a secular business to avoid the prohibitions against racial discrimination or gender discrimination found in federal, state and local laws.”
He is correct, legally and morally.
Which is why the religious right waged war against his nomination.
Bogren, as The Detroit News explains, “offered an example of how a Ku Klux Klan member opposed [to] interracial marriage ‘who ran a business similar to the plaintiffs’ business would not be able to invoke’ the First Amendment to avoid anti-discrimination statutes that apply to public accommodations if interracial couples were refused service.”
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley – a grenade-throwing Republican who coincidentally supports special rights for Christians to not have to serve or otherwise do business with same-sex couples – led the charge. He was joined by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz – who once accused gay people of waging “jihad” against Christians, and has very publicly supported special rights to discriminate for Christians.
During the confirmation hearing, Hawley berated Bogren, accused him of not supporting the First Amendment, and wrongly used the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cake Shop case as a cudgel against the nominee.
Here’s the video:
Now, it’s also important to note that we actually have no idea what Bogren’s personal beliefs are, because, as he explained, his job was to represent his client.
And for all we know he might even share Sen. Hawley’s own beliefs. We don’t know.
But to make the story even more absurd, Bogren’s cousin is an opinion writer at the far right wing website The Federalist. She has been advocating for him, even penning a column titled, “No, Judicial Nominee Mike Bogren Is Not An Anti-Religious Bigot.”
In it, she admits if she did not personally know her cousin she too “would likewise have shared concerns that [his] zealous representation of the City of East Lansing, as his briefing demonstrated, might mean the attorney making those arguments held a disregard for people of faith.”
All of this is to point out that the religious right, enabled and empowered by President Trump, is turning America into a nation that places it unique, extreme religious beliefs over the law, and is carving out special rights for far right Christian extremists.
In fact, “Far Right Christian Extremists Only” is the sign they would like to see at the borders of the United States.
If you have any doubt that the Christian right is trying to use its powers to turn America in to Gilead from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” take a look at these stories just from the past few days:
‘Dangerous linguistic power’: A historian explains how Trump weaponizes nicknames
Is Donald Trump the modern day Earl Long?
A three-time Louisiana governor, Long mastered the art of political ridicule seven decades ago by weaponizing nicknames. The hilarious names Long pinned on his rivals, and the rollicking stories he told about them, riveted audiences bored by puffed-up rhetoric.
While Long’s stunts may be remembered as silly hijinks, there was a sly, often deadly serious, purpose to his technique. He used it to get voters to laugh at his foes and to put them on the defensive––a place politicians never want to be. Tucked within Long’s jests were razor-sharp attacks aimed at exploiting opposition weaknesses––hidden swords inside a pea-patch cloak.
Walmart got a $2.2 billion tax cut — now it’s laying off workers
Walmart announced it will lay off hundreds of workers in North Carolina despite receiving billions in tax cuts that the Republican Party and President Trump claimed would spur job growth.
The giant retailer will lay off about 570 employees and close its corporate office near the Charlotte airport, despite signing a 12-year lease just four years earlier, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.
The work done at the Charlotte facility will be outsourced to a firm in Arkansas, according to the report.
Amazon, Google and Facebook warrant antitrust scrutiny for many reasons – not just because they’re large
There’s a growing chorus of U.S. politicians, antitrust scholars and consumer watchdogs calling for stricter antitrust treatment of Amazon, Google, Facebook and other tech giants. Some even say they should be broken up.
Most recently, U.S. lawmakers launched a sweeping review to determine if these companies have become so big and powerful that they are stifling competition and harming consumers, while federal regulators are also gearing up to take action.