By Nicholas Ducote, HA Community Coordinator
Editors note 1: Story updated to include more information on HSLDA’s advocacy.
Editors note 2: Edited to include Michael Farris’ additional commentary on the Supreme Court published through Patrick Henry College.
Ed note 3: Added Farris’ question about tribal annexation.
Today, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association made a press release regarding the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. As they have consistently asserted, they believe homeschooling will be negatively impacted by the court’s ruling. HSLDA has even advocated their anti-LGBTQ agenda in Russia, at the Kremlin, after many conservative organizations pulled out of a “family” conference. In 2006 , the group lobbied for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. HSLDA’s website claimed that “[s]ame-sex marriage attacks the traditions of the family in western civilization,” and is an “attack on parental rights.” You might also remember when Michael Farris threatened to sue QueerPHC, a blog run by queer students of Patrick Henry College, using his personal Facebook account.
Despite this record of public advocacy, HSLDA’s Director of Federal Relations Will Estrada told ThinkProgress in August 2014 that HSLDA no longer lobbies on the issue of same sex marriage and he did not know why HSLDA had done so in the past. Mike Donnelly spoke at the Kremlin Conference in September 2014 – a month after Estrada denied HSLDA’s advocacy on the issue. Michael Farris set the doubt aside this afternoon when he adapted a Facebook post from his personal page and released it through HSLDA’s official PR channels.
Text of statement [image]:
Supreme Court marriage ruling
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,
This morning, the Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. This decision has the potential to affect the rights of parents, families, and others.
We believe the right to homeschool is for everybody.
Families can teach their children what they believe is right about marriage, according to their conscience. And we will defend their right to do so.
The legal and social pressure from this decision is going to be extraordinary, most likely starting in the areas of business and public education.
What might this look like? Public schools may be forced to be philosophically compliant with this decision. Children will be taught that there is only one way to view marriage and the family. We believe that families are going to seek educational alternatives that allow them to teach their children according to their conscience.
Consequently, homeschooling will grow. And as it grows, those who wish to impose philosophical restraints on homeschooling will increase their efforts to force us to comply.
Ramifications of this decision will include pressure on businesses and private associations, including homeschooling support groups, to conform.
HSLDA will fight to keep homeschooling free from philosophical controls, and maintain the rights of families to teach their children according to their conscience.
Many HSLDA members responded in an admirable fashion. Many of the top comments on HSLDA’s Facebook post with this statement are criticizing them and pointing out the logical fallacies.
My response to today’s ruling in a nutshell… We must stop letting the Supreme Court exercise legislative power.
..We must fight judicial politics with grassroots politics. The only solution is the Convention of States. Four states have voted to call a Convention that can address this issue.
If we want to preserve American self-government, we have to push harder to overcome the naysayers and leftists who want to stop us…
All other alternatives are spitting in the wind. We have lost big time. The only solution is a big time reversal of judicial power.
Farris expounded on his Facebook post and HSLDA press release on Friday afternoon with an additional press release through Patrick Henry College that evening. [full text] The morning of the the ruling on ACA, Farris called John Roberts Judas through a “30 pieces of silver” illusion. Farris continues to hammer on the illegitimacy of the court’s decision and adds the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ruling to his argument:
The Court—not the Constitution—has legalized same sex marriage. No one can legitimately contend to the contrary. This occurs one day after the Court rewrote the Obamacare legislation to save it from a pragmatic death.
In the marriage case, the Court rewrote the Constitution. In the health care case, the Court rewrote a federal statute…
Our solution today requires this same general approach [that FDR used when he threatened to pack the bench]. We have to figure out a way to beat the judicial politicians with superior political tactics.
The core reason that the Supreme Court has this much power is revealed by the Court itself. In multiple opinions, usually in dissents, the members of the Court have acknowledged that there is no realistic check on the power of the Court other than its own internal sense of self-restraint.
If we want to preserve American self-government, we must impose additional restrictions on the power of the Supreme Court. Checks and balances need to be real, not merely theoretical.
Of course, Farris’ policy answer will determine your corresponding level of outrage. Everything he proposes would fundamentally change the nature of the Supreme Court because he disagrees about their decisions on abortion, same-sex marriage, and ACA. His Convention of the States project is his best chance to codify his interpretation of Christianity into the Constitution.
There are many ideas in circulation on how to do this. Term limits could be imposed on the justices. We could add “deliberate failure to follow the original meaning of the Constitution” as grounds for impeachment.
We could give the power of impeachment to state legislatures.
My favorite is to follow FDR’s court-packing idea but with vigor.Every state should be allowed to appoint a member of the Supreme Court. They could serve for a brief term, perhaps eight years. Removing Supreme Court appointments and confirmations from Washington, DC, is the only realistic way to ensure true judicial independence. Otherwise, you get the power cabal that we have in place which was clearly in play in this week’s Obamacare decision.
Continuing his theme of separation from US Federal Government power, Farris posed an open-ended question about having a tribe annex a state – presumably for him and others to escape certain federal laws.
Presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal echoed Farris’ institutional distrust of the Supreme Court as they position themselves to court the religious right. Apparently, they think the religious right desires Theocracy.
New presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, linked to Michael Farris and his ideology directly through his chief of staff, strategist, and confidante Farris’ protegee Timmy Teepall, will make “religious liberty a cornerstone” of his campaign. Jindal balked at the court’s decision on marriage and claimed “[t]he next step on this is the left and (Democratic front-runner) Hillary Clinton are going to be waging an all-out assault on our religious liberty rights.” In the same vein as Farris, Jindal advocated abolishing the entire court:
Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that… If we want to save some money lets [sic] just get rid of the court.
I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.
Why is homeschooling linked with the same-sex marriage decision? I suggest reading about Michael Farris’ central role in crafting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and HSLDA’s strenuous advocacy for Virginia’s religious exemption rule. The fear of homeschooling parents is a weapon wielded by Michael Farris, HSLDA, and now an increasing roster of politicians who are threatening the United States’ democratic institutions because the Supreme Court has ruled their religious views cannot overrule marriage equality.
Homeschooling, and homeschoolers, deserve better than to be co-opted into resistance against the Supreme Court. And I’m glad many of HSLDA’s members have spoken out boldly today. Pulling their membership from HSLDA and defunding their efforts is the best way to send a message to HSLDA that homeschooling should not be about attacking our democratic institutions to further “religious liberty.”