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:
‘No locks’: GOPer says kids at migrant camps are ‘free to leave anytime’ but they don’t because they like it
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) argued on Monday that children at border detention facilities are "free to leave" if they do not like the conditions.
In an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Burgess said that he has not personally seen the appalling conditions that media often describe for the children at the centers.
"So you think this is fictional?" Hayes asked.
"I don't know if it's hyperbole," Burgess replied. "Hatred for this president is so intense that people are liable to say anything."
"I've been to the [detention center] at Casa Padre," the congressman added. "Yes, it's a restored K-Mart. But you know what? There's not a lock on the door. Any child is free to leave at anytime but they don't. You know why? Because they are well taken care of."
Kushner’s ‘Time Square Dream’ real estate project is failing: report
In 2018, Jared Kushner's real estate empire was in serious trouble — 666 Fifth Avenue, which Kushner had purchased at the top of the market just before the financial crisis, was hemorrhaging money and unable to rent out all its space. The company averted disaster with a bailout from Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian company with ties to the state investment fund of Qatar.
Now, according to Bloomberg News, Kushner's company is in trouble again as yet another New York property is bleeding red ink.
Moderate Dem lawmaker tells CNN why Trump’s ‘appalling behavior’ changed his mind on impeachment
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), a moderate Democrat and a member of the centrist New Democrat Coalition, went on CNN on Tuesday to explain why he has changed his mind and now supports starting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
In an interview with CNN's John Berman, Himes said that Trump has regularly shown that he doesn't care about obeying the law, as evidenced by his decision to completely shrug off his own Office of Special Counsel's finding that adviser Kellyanne Conway has repeatedly violated the Hatch Act.
"Kellyanne Conway had clearly broken the law and she should be removed from office," Himes said. "And the president said, 'Ah heck, that doesn't matter.'"