Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vernon Parker talks to AZ GOP Lawyers

Yesterday Vernon Parker, Paradise Valley Mayor and candidate for governor, spoke to the Arizona Republican Lawyers' Association (right - with his daughter cooking, one of his favorite pasttimes). He said if elected, it would be a historic first - the first Mayor of Paradise Valley to be elected Governor. (snicker) He would be the first African-American Republican Governor in the nation.

He spoke about his record, cutting the budget of Paradise Valley by 25%. Prior to becoming Mayor, he ran for Paradise Valley City Council, and won with 67% voting yes, a higher percentage than any other candidate running. But he's not your typical county club Republican. Unlike a famous African-American from the Democrat side who grew up in a privileged background, attending a $17,000/yr private high school, Vernon grew up in a tough neighborhood just up the street from Snoop Dog, and sold everything he owned to be able to afford to attend law school. Now, he has more executive experience as Mayor of Paradise Valley than that other famous African-American did when he was elected President.

He said he runs into plenty of people who tell him they can't vote for him because they have to support the incumbent Republican governor Jan Brewer. He responds with this analogy: If your child was in the hospital on life support, and you had personal ties to the hospital and doctors, but the hospital was doing a poor job keeping your child alive, you wouldn't stay there any longer out of loyalty to the hospital. If people want to tell him they support tax increases and that's why they are supporting Brewer, well fine then.

Vernon discussed the dire situation with the state budget with another analogy. Say there are two parents earning good salaries, eating filet mignon and good wine every night. Then one parent suddenly loses their job. They can't expect to continue eating and drinking at that excessive level. Napolitano was spending like a drunken sailor, and now we're paying for it.

Vernon said he doesn't support 15% across the board cuts for every agency, because some need more, some need less. Some government agencies need to be eliminated altogether. (I agree with him about this - law enforcement agencies at the county level were forced to cut 15% along with every other county agency, which is ridiculous, public safety is the most important function of government and should be the last and least part cut)

He'd like to cut corporate income taxes to attract hi-tech businesses back to the Valley. He'd like to allow community colleges to offer 4-year degrees.

Vernon said the problem isn't the GOP's message, it's the messengers. Welfare is the trust fund we've passed on to our children. He ended by saying he is not the candidate of the party elite.

Thomas for AG Exploratory fundraiser a great success

According to Jason Rose, the best line of the night was Andy saying, "Vernon Parker and I are both from Long Beach. Long Beach is in the house!"

Andy speaking to the crowd at Jason Rose's house

Andy and Jason behind Jason's home

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hot Air covers the Maricopa County blogger free speech controversy

An excerpt -

Even if he did act as an attorney in his official duties, does Smith have the right to demand that Scerbo disclose all of his “associations” as a condition of employment? If I hired a lawyer and then demanded to see the hard drives of his home computer, I suspect that I would get laughed out of the office and find myself looking for new representation. Furthermore, while leaks are usually illegal and almost always unethical (as there are other ways to address problems within channels), this is not a question of private transactions between a lawyer and his client. The leaks would involve actions by public officials, who should have no expectations of privacy — and who, in fact, should be held to the highest degree of transparency. The fact that Smith send these letters strongly suggests that he is less interested in accountability than in silencing dissent, hardly a healthy trait.

Read the rest of the article

PBS Poll: Sheriff Arpaio And County Attorney Thomas Have High Approval Ratings

64 percent of Maricopa County voters with an opinion approve of the jobs Sheriff Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas are doing. By an almost two-to-one margin (60 percent to 36 percent), county voters disagreed with the decision by the federal government to take away the sheriff department’s ICE authority to enforce immigration laws during community crime sweeps.

Read the entire poll

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

'GCU's Annual Fall Festival Thursday night for Families' on Arizona Right to Life!

Hi everyone, we will be out in force tomorrow night at the GCU Fall Festival. It's family friendly so bring your kids, siblings, boyfriends, or girlfriends out for a FREE event. FOOD/BEV is FREE!

Time: October 29, 2009 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Location: Grand Canyon University
Organized By: GCU & Arizona Right to Life

Event Description:
Grand Canyon University’s annual fall festival, brings together local businesses, churches and the community with staff and faculty of the University in an annual ritual that celebrates the spirit of the season. Last year the event was attended by more than 3,000 people from the surrounding community.

Featuring free food and drink, live entertainment, carnival games and inflatable rides, the event is completely staffed by GCU personnel. More than 50 booths include bobbing for apples, bowling, bean bag toss, duck pond, putt-putt golf, rocket launchers, fish pond and dunk tank.

Arizona Right to Life will have a booth with games featured at the event.

See more details and RSVP on Arizona Right to Life:

County Attorney letter to Supervisors requesting to put appt. of Special Prosecutors on agenda

click to enlarge

PARKER FOR GUV: Community Colleges Should Get 4-Year Degrees

Four-Year Degrees at Community Colleges: An Idea That Would Unquestionably Make a Difference for the Local Community, Arizona

A Guest Column by Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker & Exploratory Committee Candidate for Governor

I want to talk about a bold idea – one you don’t often hear Republicans discuss – that could be enormously helpful to this community and our state.

Let’s create greater access to higher education for rural students as well as those of lesser means. I want a change in state law to allow Arizona’s community colleges to be able to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees, in addition to the associate’s degrees they currently offer.

If elected governor I intend to get this law passed.


Well, I am a product of the community college system. I benefited from instructors focused on teaching that so exemplifies the community college. Our universities are growing exponentially, and with that growth so grows the cost of tuition. Many can no longer afford our universities. In addition, they are growing too large. We can only put so much air in the balloon that has become our current system, before it pops. Without the California community college and state college system I never would have been in a position to go to law school. The university system wasn’t an option for me.

I am well aware of the important collaborations that exist between our universities and community colleges, but I think we need to take the next step.

After all, if Republicans believe in school choice, open enrollment and charter schools, why shouldn’t we support similar notions in higher education?

Why not allow the colleges most accessible to our students to provide four-year degrees, creating more access and affordability for all students across our state?

At a time of steep increases in tuition we need to pursue every option to release the burden on our students, providing every opportunity for success.

The benefits to rural Arizona are enormous where we now see many of their best and brightest go off to the big city and the big school rather than stay in town to help it flourish in the future. Likewise, the benefits to lower and middle income students already in the big cities longing for access to higher education are equally compelling.

Ideas like this make running for governor exciting. Few reforms could have such a dramatically positive impact on so many. And it is one more way we can soon escape the State of Chaos Arizona has become for the State of Opportunity we all want it to be.


To learn more about Mayor Parker’s run for governor please go to

To confirm authorship, please contact Julia Diament at 480-423-1414 Ext. 2, or

Paid for By Parker Exploratory Committee

AZ Right to Life Endorses Candidate Bill Gates for Phoenix City Council

Logo: AZRTL State PAC
Arizona Right to Life State PAC
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Arizona Right to Life State PAC Endorses Phoenix City Council Candidate Bill Gates

Photo: Phoenix City Council Candidate Bill Gates & FamilyPhoenix, AZ - Oct. 27, 2009 -- The Arizona Right to Life Political Action Committee has endorsed Bill Gates in the District 3 Phoenix City Council Race.

Bill exemplifies excellent pro-life credentials, and we are pleased to support his candidacy.

The Arizona Right to Life Political Action Committee supports pro-life candidates at all levels of government, even if the pro-life issue may never come before them. We want to ensure that solidly pro-life candidates climb the political ladder.

--Help us educate Arizona on life issues affecting our state!

Arizona Right to Life

A non-sectarian, non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)4 organization, Arizona Right to Life is committed to articulating and protecting the right to life of all human beings, born and unborn. This is accomplished by educating people on the value of every human life and by promoting and supporting pro-life legislation, public policy and elected officials. Arizona Right to Life is the oldest, largest and strongest pro-life organization in the State of Arizona.
Join our Facebook Group!Click to Watch our YouTube ChannelClick to Follow us on Twitter!Click to Join our social network on Ning!

Rep. Franks Criticizes H.R. 3200's Cuts to Seniors' Medicare Coverage

In Case You Missed It: Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-02) today delivered a speech on the House floor criticizing the negative impact the Democrats' health care proposal would have on the Medicare coverage of the nearly 70,000 senior citizens within Arizona's 2nd District and the millions of others across the country.

Congressman Trent Franks on C-SPAN


10/27/09 14:18:43 PM

Supervisors should listen to Thomas this time

Some excerpts from an editorial in the East Valley Tribune -

Thomas’ words have a ring of truth when he says that the supervisors can’t be allowed to get so powerful that they can completely shut down any attempt to get to the bottom of corruption allegations against one of their own.

Tribune writer Gary Grado reported last week that the Board of Supervisors blocked Thomas’ plan to hire a couple of Washington, D.C., attorneys as special prosecutors to oversee a second criminal investigation of Supervisor Don Stapley. The husband-wife team of Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing is highly experienced, doggedly aggressive and very expensive. The supervisors used the last point and the duo’s out-of-state status to stop Thomas, Grado reported.

Then, anticipating that Thomas would ask the courts to overrule the supervisors, the board also passed a new resolution that says county elected officials can’t sue the board unless they enter into mediation first.

What is Thomas supposed to do? The sheriff’s office has arrested Stapley and made allegations that deserve an independent examination despite the whiff of vendetta behind the accusations.

Thomas knows his ongoing conflicts with the board mean the legal system won’t trust his judgment on the matter.

Asking another county to help hasn’t really worked. Yavapai County hired its own special prosecutor because of the challenges in prosecuting this kind of case. After the first set of allegations against Stapley fell apart, that prosecutor apparently was reluctant to get involved again.

So Thomas wants to hire the special prosecutors this time, ones who won’t be intimidated by Stapley’s wealth and political legacy. Perhaps the Board of Supervisors should let Thomas do so, if that would be the fastest way to find out if the sheriff’s office actually has something on Stapley or if its ongoing investigations are an abuse of police power.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leadership Institute to offer Youth Leadership training Nov. 21-22

Youth Leadership School

Become An Effective Conservative Activist
Scottsdale, AZ ~ November 21-22, 2009

The careers of thousands of conservative leaders and activists have been launched by the Leadership Institute’s famous Youth Leadership School. Be the next conservative who learns how to win for their principles by attending this premier training.

You will learn how to:
• Organize mass numbers of students for the candidate or cause of your choice
• Increase the size and effectiveness of your conservative group
• Develop media contacts and gain media coverage for your events
• Host successful speaker events
• Develop eye-catching signs and literature that will attract others to your cause
• Identify and train potential leaders while successfully managing volunteers

Leave with great activism projects you can achieve immediately.

For only $30.00 you get meals, housing, and materials. Register for the Youth Leadership School today by clicking here.
For more information, or to register, contact me, Daryn Iwicki, at 703.647.3311.

Daryn Iwicki Email

Youth Leadership School Advance Coordinator
Leadership Institute
1101 North Highland Street
Arlington VA 22201

Goldwater Institute: Proposition mandates huge expansion of Tucson's payroll

by Nick Dranias
Proposition 200 is marketed as an effort to focus Tucson on giving priority funding to core local government services--law enforcement, emergency medical services and fire protection--in order to generate better response times. But the truth is it would just mandate more government spending with no strings attached.

moneyThe hiring mandates tied to the city charter amendment would be imposed on city taxpayers regardless of economic circumstances, and they won't be cheap. Independent audits estimate Prop. 200 would cost $150 million over the next five years.

Perhaps this major new expense could be justified if Prop. 200 included a strong mechanism for ensuring it would actually result in improved public safety. But there is no consequence if the funding does not, in fact, result in better service.

There is a better way.

The recent Goldwater Institute report, "A New Charter for American Cities," recommends that funding for public-safety services be tied to performance goals. Police and fire departments that fail to meet their goals should see their operations competitively outsourced to the county, nearby municipalities or even the private sector.

If all else fails, residents and businesses should be given property tax credits for hiring private security or fire-protection firms to furnish public safety services.

By contrast, Proposition 200 would mandate hiring scores of new government employees without requiring spending be reduced elsewhere or imposing any incentive for good performance or consequence for bad performance.

This won't put public safety first; it will just bloat city government.
Nick Dranias holds the Goldwater Institute Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan chair for constitutional government and is the director of the Institute's Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Center for Constitutional Government.
Learn More:
City of Tucson: Proposition 200

Monday, October 26, 2009

CAP: Ninth Circuit Denies Rehearing in School Choice

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected a request to reconsider its decision from earlier this year which questioned school tuition organizations giving scholarships to only religious schools. While it is unfortunate that the court is not reversing its prior bad decision, eight judges issued a strong dissent, which makes a powerful case for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision. Learn more from our friends at the Institute for Justice who are litigating this case.

Also, the Arizona Supreme Court will decide on Tuesday whether to review a decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals declaring the corporate scholarship tax credit constitutional. If the Court denies review, the decision upholding the program would stand.

Really Bad Math

An Arizona Republic front-page headline delivered a shockingly inaccurate message last Wednesday that the scholarship tax credits are draining money from the state. Despite the misleading headline, the article actually concluded that taxpayers save about $3 million because of the credits. Now, the Republic has printed a correction that the savings are actually around $8 million. As Goldwater Institute's Matt Ladner points out, the savings could be even higher if accurate numbers are used to calculate the number of private school students and if charter school attendance is taken into account. Not only are the tax credits good policy for parents and families who are able to choose schools that best meet their needs, the credits are saving taxpayer dollars at a time when those savings are exactly what our state needs!

Your Children's Allies?

The battle for the hearts and minds of our children continues as advocates of homosexual behavior promote "Ally Week" in public schools across the country. The purpose is to teach students that moral or religious beliefs about homosexuality are the equivalent of bullying. Part of the Ally Week program also includes asking children for their e-mail addresses which can then be passed on to groups like the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that promote homosexual behavior. Read more from Citizenlink and make sure all your friends with children in public school are aware.

The Future of Pro-Life Litigation

Don't miss this insight into the current pro-life legal battles from ADF Attorney Steve Aden, a pro-life litigation expert who is helping defend Arizona's Abortion Consent Act.

CAP is Visiting Lake Havasu City!

Join me for a Family Issues Lunch at Shugrue's on Friday, Nov. 6. Hear about CAP's work protecting and defending our values and learn how you can make a difference! $12 per person includes lunch. Advance registration is required. Then on Saturday, Nov. 7, join us at Lakeview Community Church for The Truth Project Training. Get prepared to lead this innovative small group study, imparting a biblical worldview into the lives of others! Register online today! If you cannot make this date, please note that CAP is also hosting a Truth Project Training on January 23 in Kingman.

Maricopa County GOP upcoming events and news


FOR THE AZGOP BOOTH AT THE ARIZONA STATE FAIR: 10am-8pm. Two hr shifts. Now thru Nov. 8. The fair is closed Mondays. Free admission and parking pass for volunteers. Contact: LD 15 Chairman Ed Hedges at 602-274-8100 or to sign up for a time and day.

(note - volunteers are also desperately needed for the AZ Right to Life booth - contact or call 602.285.0063)


REMATCH SCHEDULED!! “Duel in the Desert” rematch between Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and MC Attorney Andy Thomas. 6-9 pm, Nov. 21 at Pinnacle Peak Patio, North Scottsdale . More details later.


Two teams of nine Arizona Army National Guard soldiers will take part in a deployment ceremony at 7 a.m., on Sunday, Oct. 25, before deploying to Iraq . The Logistics Military Advisor Teams (LMATs) will first depart to Fort Polk , La. , for 60-70 days of training prior to departing for Iraq . This is the first unit of its kind in the Arizona National Guard.

The LMATs' mission is to be imbedded into Iraqi military units to train and assist with their logistics programs. The LMATs will act as mentors for the new Iraqi units.

Over 600 Arizona Army and Air National Guard men and women are still serving on federal active duty in Iraq , Afghanistan and within the continental U.S. Over 7,000 have been called to federal active service since Sept. 11, 2001.



This is first in a series of brief emails I will be sending about the atrocities Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are working to include in Obamacare. I hope they are helpful.

Free Wellness Care? WRONG.

Did you know that when the Democrats nationalize health care they will “give” all Americans “free” preventative care? That’s right – Congress’s magical legislative pen will “give” all Americans services at zero cost.

Who’s kidding who? The truth: Americans across the country will be forced to pay higher premiums for services they don’t want.

Read about this on page 28—Section 122 of the Democrats’ plan to socialize health care in America .

As P.J. O’Rourke once said, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free.” Tell your friends that their health care costs are going up because Congress is making promises that fly in the face of kindergarten economics.

Arpaio Is Only Law Enforcement Agency In U.S. Denied Authority To Enforce Immigration Laws

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told that after reviewing the Memorandum of Agreements between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and state and local law enforcement agencies in 23 states, the only agency to lose its authority under the 287(g) program to operate task forces that can enforce federal immigration laws is the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Arpaio said he plans to continue to arrest people who are in the United States illegally.

“We’ve been doing it for two years and have been very successful, but I guess they don’t like to enforce illegal immigration laws,” Arpaio told “[It] doesn’t make any difference. I’m still going to continue my programs, regardless of what the feds like or don’t like.”

Read the rest

Rasmussen Poll: Two-Thirds Support Illegal Immigration Raids

A national survey conducted earlier this month byRasmussen Reports found that 64 percent support police conducting surprise raids on businesses suspected of hiring illegal immigrants, along with the subsequent arrests of undocumented workers. Nineteen percent oppose the raids.

Another 71 percent in the Rasmussen survey want to see the bosses who hire illegal immigrants arrested, with only 15 percent opposed.

Read the rest

CNN Poll: 3 Out Of 4 Want Illegal Immigration Decreased

Seventy-three percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday morning called for a drop in the number of illegal immigrants, with 22 percent saying the number should remain the same and just 3 percent stating that there should be an increase in the number of illegal immigrants. That 73 percent figure is the highest number since CNN started asking this question four years ago.

According to the poll, 37 percent want to see all illegal immigrants deported, also the highest number since the questions was first asked in 2006, and another 23 percent say that the number of illegal immigrants in the country should be decreased significantly.

Read the rest events this week

Chat, Chew & Chocolate Chandler - CCC is an inspirational events company with a growing community of fabulous women! Join us for our discussion of this month's theme, overall health, safety, and breast cancer awareness.
Arizona Power Networking - Join this fast growing and dynamic group for happy hour and network, network, network with 50+ power players!

SCORE: Roadmap to Success for Entrepreneurs -This all-day affair of business growth and learning will allow you to look at your individual business - its structure, its make-up and its function. You will leave at the end of the day with a roadmap for your business future in the palm of your hand.

ASBA Fast & Curious™ - This "ready-set-go" style of networking allows members to meet other members at three-minute intervals, maximizing participants' time and gaining them many valuable contacts in just 90 minutes.
Shakers and Stirrers - Make quality business connections and mingle with top professionals at this dynamic event. Sign up in advance we'll email you the list of confirmed attendees to help you follow up with your new contacts.

Distressed Property Owner Options: The Truth About Loan Modifications, Short Sales and More - An Attorney and a Real Estate Broker will give you the foremost information available in this FREEcomprehensive workshop.

NSCC Resource Luncheon - Come network with others and introduce your business with a 30 second commercial at this luncheon Specifically designed to create MORE exposure for your individual business.
NSHMBA Scholarship Fundraiser & Silent Auction - Attend a night of music, food and fun in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale. Come ready to bid on lots of great items with all proceeds going to the NSHMBA Scholarship Fund.

SCORE: Net Working: Become An Expert! - During this interactive and practical Networking seminar you will have the opportunity to learn valuable ways to enhance your Networking expertise and put into practice the techniques you have learned.
DISC: Understanding Others, Understanding Yourself - The DISC profile will provide you with a better understanding of how you solve problems and influence others. Gain knowledge about behaviors and how you can modify them to be more effective at this informative workshop.
Health Fair and Wellness Expo Presented by AHIMA - Arizona Homeopathic & Integrative Medical Association (AHIMA) has partnered with St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance to present “Meet The Doctors That Deliver Health Care Solutions — Learn How To Really Solve Your Health Problems”. HOT TOPICS INCLUDE: swine flu prevention, treatment of chronic pain, classical homeopathy, environmental issues…and many more!

Plan Ahead
One Community Networking Forum - Tap into a powerful emerging market at the One Community Networking Forum! This event on November 9this dedicated to bringing gay, lesbian and allied business professionals together to celebrate diversity, build new business networking opportunities and create stronger business and personal relationships.

Millionaire Entrepreneur Summit - This powerful 3-day event will give you the business skills required to build massive success! This event will not be just another 'pitch-fest'. Plan on a unique experience of education, fun interactive activities, high-level networking and real life-changing results! This summit From November 13th - 15th will EXPAND YOUR THOUGHTS and allow you to EARN MORE than you ever imagined!

BizFair'09 is an exciting full-day entrepreneurial adventure, designed to help you not just survive, but THRIVE, in this unique economic climate. Geared toward entrepreneurs, small business owners, professionals, independents, AND anyone who has ever considered starting a business. Our event ends at 5pm onNovember 19th. Right after our event walk over to's Signature Event. Both events are held at the same hotel!

Networking Signature Event - Join us on November 19thfor one of the biggest networking events in Phoenix! The Signature event takes place only 4 times a year, so mark your calendars now. We are expecting over 1,000 professionals in attendance and invite you to be one of them. You should attend if you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, professional or in transition. With so many great minds in attendance, you are bound to make amazing connections

Friday, October 23, 2009

Board of Supervisors stalling Stapley prosecution

Some excerpts from the East Valley Tribune article -

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has refused to ratify the appointment of special prosecutors to work on a criminal case against Supervisor Don Stapley.

Barnett Lotstein, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, said the board's action is reminiscent of Watergate, when President Nixon fired a special prosecutor who was looking into the scandal.

"This is a shocking, brazen, unprecedented attempt to derail the investigations of Supervisor Don Stapley and Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox," Lotstein said.

Wilcox, a Phoenix Democrat, has come under fire for her own alleged wrongdoings. A recently published investigation by the Goldwater Institute alleges she used her political connections to land and keep a lucrative restaurant contract at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and she violated federal rules while doing so.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Philip MacDonnell addressed the financial issues in a letter to the county Friday.

"The cost of investigation and prosecution of allegations of criminal conduct is not subject to specific prediction," MacDonnell wrote.

Providing an arbitrary limit on a prosecution would allow the defense to delay the case until the money ran out, MacDonnell said.

Join Bishop Olmstead in prayer to end abortion at Planned Parenthood

You are invited to join Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, in Prayer to End Abortion. It will be held at Planned Parenthood, 4417 N. 7th Avenue, Phoenix, on Saturday afternoon, October 31st beginning at 1:00 pm. This annual prayer vigil with the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Unborn, is sponsored by Children of the Rosary. Additional participants will include: Arizona Right to Life and the Knights of Columbus. This event draws hundreds who support life from conception to natural death. For more information go to the Children of the Rosary website:

Goldwater Institute: Rediscovering federalism, one step at a time

Even those who oppose decriminalization of marijuana, even for limited purposes, have reason to applaud the U.S. Department of Justice's new policy on marijuana prosecutions for its consistency with principles of federalism.

DOJThe Justice Department has decided not to prosecute individuals who possess or distribute marijuana so long as they are in "clear and unambiguous compliance" with laws in 14 states that allow marijuana use for medical purposes. Although the Department couched its decision in terms of law-enforcement priorities, allowing it to concentrate its resources on drug cartels operating from Mexico, the decision has important federalism implications that could favorably impact the ability of states to protect the freedom of their citizens.

In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has reduced the federal government's reach under its power to regulate commerce, striking down federal laws forbidding guns in school zones and creating a federal cause of action for crimes against women, holding that those subjects were matters of state concern. But in its 2005 decision in Gonzales v. Raich, the Court ruled that federal drug laws preempted California's medicinal marijuana law even though the marijuana was locally grown and consumed.

Our system of federalism was designed to ensure that the federal government acts only within the boundaries of its defined powers and that states may give broader protection to individual liberty than does the federal constitution. The system can endure only if its principles are applied consistently. Next year, if Arizonans vote to amend their state constitution to protect health care freedom and the right to secret ballots in union elections, we will need to call upon those principles to protect our cherished freedoms.

I am under no illusion that the Obama Administration will broadly embrace the principles of federalism, especially as it seeks to push the boundaries of national power. But its action in recognizing the autonomy of states to permit medicinal marijuana will provide a useful precedent for the importance of federalism in protecting liberty.

Clint Bolick is director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.
Learn More:
U.S. Supreme Court Media: Gonzales v. Raich

Rep. Franks Calls on UN to Uphold Religious Freedom

Franks Calls on UN to Uphold Religious Freedom at Congressional Hearing on "Defamation of Religions"

In Light of Upcoming Vote at the UN General Assembly: Franks Seeks Clarification on What the U.S. is Doing to Protect Fundamental Human Rights From Distortion by UN Member States

October 22, 2009 - Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-02) yesterday chaired a hearing on the "Defamation of Religions," held in the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. Congress. Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10), Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao (LA-02), and Rep. Sue Myrick (NC-09) also participated in the hearing. Joseph Cassidy, Director of the Office of Multilateral andGlobal Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. State Department participated in this hearing, along with Leonard Leo, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Angela Wu, international director ofThe Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Tad Stahnke, director of Policy and Programs at Human Rights First; Zainab al-Suwaij, cofounder and president of the American Islamic Congress; and Felice Gaer, director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights of the American Jewish Committee.

With another resolution on the "defamation of religion" looming at the UN General Assembly in New York for another vote, meetings in Geneva this week over changes to include this concept in an international treaty, and a new position by the U.S. government in co-sponsoring a resolution on the "freedom of expression" with Egypt at the UN Human Rights Council earlier this month, Members of the TLHRC called a hearing. This hearing was intended to address how the freedom of speech, expression, and religion are being distorted by UN Member States who seek to protect religious institutions over the rights of individuals. Members also used this hearing to raise concern over the Obama Administration's new "relationship" with Egypt at the UN, which appears to have come at the expense of reinforcing the fundamental right to freedom of religion and expression. Zainab al-Suwaij stated it best when she ended her remarks by saying, "God does not need oppression dressed up in the form of human rights laws to defend Him." Angela Wu referred Members of Congress to existing laws that already deal with many of the concerns states supporting the undefined concept of "defamation of religions" have.

Congressman Franks is the co-sponsor of a bill (H.Res.763) offered by Rep. Ted Poe (TX-02) expressing the sense of Congress that these resolutions are incompatible with the fundamental freedoms of individuals to freely exercise and peacefully express their religious beliefs. The bill calls on the Secretary of State to make every effort to defeat the passage of these and other resolutions or international instruments that threaten the free and peaceful exchange of ideas, beliefs, and truth claims at the United Nations. Moreover, it calls on the UN to abandon efforts to adopt the flawed concept of "defamation of religions" and to instead focus on protecting fundamental human rights.

Following are his remarks as prepared.

Opening Statement for Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-02)

October 21, 2009, 11 AM

B-318 Rayburn

Welcome. I would like to begin by thanking Congressman Wolf and his staff for organizing this important and timely hearing. My office has been following the "defamation of religions" resolutions at the UN closely for the past few years and unfortunately throughout this period it has only gained momentum which I find extremely troubling.

As you will likely hear from our panelists today, the concept of "defamation of religions" was first introduced to the UNCommission on Human Rights in 1999 by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference under the title "defamation of Islam." They intended to address intolerance toward Muslims and what OIC countries perceived was a "campaign" to "defame" the Islamic religion, and more recently, to associate Islam with human rights violations and terrorism.

Since the beginning, however, these resolutions have been opposed by many in the West who believe these resolutions protect religious institutions rather than individual rights, which are the cornerstone of human freedom, for serving to protect national anti-blasphemy laws, and for setting an international precedent for this as well, while also weakening protections for vulnerable religious minorities and those who dissent from the state religion.

The impetus for these resolutions were, however, reinvigorated after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, during which time a report to the Commission on Human Rights by Doudou Diene claimed that there was an increase in intolerance against Muslims. The OIC continues to argue that this co-called "campaign" of defamation against Islam is no different than the anti-Semitic violence of the past. For this reason, they want all states to criminalize defamation through the adoption of a new international standard which limits any expression that the OIC deems offensive toward their religious beliefs. I'm not sure how this would work itself out in realty except by stifling all speech since every religion has competing ideas about truth and someone will always be offended when their views are rejected.

It is rather unfortunate that the Algerian government is now taking the lead in drafting an optional protocol to the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) that would make the yet undefined "defamation of religions" concept a legally binding norm, and that Mr. Diene is working with them to accomplish this. If successful, this would be the first time that this concept has entered into an international treaty and it would set a dangerous precedent for international legal protections on freedom of expression and religion in the future. I am particularly concerned with how this would affect thefirst amendment rights of all Americans.

I am a staunch defender of religious freedom for people of all faiths and believe that this freedom is foundational to all other freedoms. Sadly, though, these resolutions are not about protecting the religious freedom rights of individuals of all faiths, or even those of the Muslim faith. If that were the case, these countries would equally raise concern with textbooks in Saudi Arabia that call for Jews and Christians to be killed, other depictions dehumanizing Jews throughout the Middle East, and in laws calling for the death of apostates such as the Ahmadiyas in Pakistan and Baha'is in Iran, among many other attacks on non-Muslims in their countries.

Instead, these resolutions are clearly about controlling the beliefs and speech or other expressions of all religious minorities and dissenters to the state's religious institutions. For instance, the resolutions fail to distinguish between incitement to religious hatred which may be limited under Article 20(2) of the ICCPR, in order to prevent another genocide such as occurred during the Holocaust and in Rwanda, and valid criticism of human rights abuses carried out in the name of religion or other expressions found offensive but which do not intend or lead to discrimination or violence. This distinction is critical. Because of the UN's failure to differentiate these, in June of 2008 the Human Rights Council banned any legitimate discussion of human rights violations carried out in the name of religion, namely under sharia law, when Egypt among other countries objected to the negative criticism of sharia law in the context of women's rights. Such limitations on these fundamental freedoms are wholly incompatible with international human rights and this issue must be addressed.

I know that the U.S. government has taken a strong position against these resolutions in the last few years, but I am concerned with the recent resolution we offered with Egypt at the Human Rights Council on freedom of expression. Given Egypt's notorious record on both the freedom of expression and freedom of religion, it is actually quite alarming that we would offer a resolution with them while overlooking serious human rights abuses of this freedom in their own country. For instance, Abdel Kareem remains imprisoned for blasphemy on his personal blog; a Muslim himself, his case clearly shows that Egypt is not on the same page as the United States when it comes to freedom of expression or religion. So I look forward to hearing testimony from the State Department to explain this development.