David Barton's New Project: What is Keep the Promise Super PAC?

Bloomberg broke the story today that David Barton has been appointed to lead the umbrella Super PAC Keep the Promise. The PAC supports Ted Cruz but is structured in a curious manner. There are actually several PACs which supported Cruz, four of which named Keep the Promise. It is not completely clear to me that Barton will lead all of them.
In any event, what is known about the KtP family of Super PACs?
Ballotpedia appears to be a good source of information about them. Some highlights of that entry (which you should read) are:

  • Oil, gas and fracking interests figure prominently in the donor base. A combined $25 million went into the family of PACs from people who have interests in those sectors.
  • One of the PACs gave $500k to a Super PAC which benefits Carly Fiorina.
  • Only 10 people are reported as giving money to these PACs. A very small group of people are providing Cruz with immense support.
  • One of the fracking donors is Farris Wilks who also pastors a church in Cisco, TX.

The FEC filing for the KtP PAC is here.
Want to donate? Here’s the pitch.
The Wilks brothers sound like they have attended a David Barton seminar. They are wasting their money preaching to the choir. People outside the bubble don’t buy it. They also run a church called Assembly of Yahweh which sounds like a 7th Day Adventist style church.
The amount of money to be spent in this election cycle is staggering and discouraging. So much will be spent and so little will be accomplished.
 

David Barton Will Assume Leadership of Ted Cruz's Super-PAC

CashBloomberg news is reporting that David Barton has become leader of a Super-PAC with ties to Ted Cruz.
Keep the Promise PAC raised more money in the first half of the year than any other Super-PAC besides Jeb Bush’s, according to Bloomberg.
Well, to me, this mean Ted Cruz would rather be president of the Wallbuilders’ Fan Club than the U.S. It has sometimes been hard to get media to pay attention to Barton’s wild claims but this appointment may now make it easier.
 
 
 

Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz Fuss Over Kim Davis

According to the Texas Tribune, Ted Cruz showed up at the Kim Davis Freedom Rally and was shown the door by Mike Huckabee’s handlers. According to Patrick Svitek with the Tribune:

In the footage, Cruz exits the Carter County Detention Center, where Davis was being held, and heads toward the microphones where Huckabee was later broadcast alongside the clerk. However, Cruz quickly runs into a Huckabee staffer who points him in another direction, setting off a roughly 15-second back-and-forth followed by Cruz repeatedly trying to maneuver around the staffer. Cruz, appearing dumbfounded by the situation, ultimately follows the staffer offscreen. 

A cynical person might take this as evidence that the Kim Davis controversy isn’t about same-sex marriage but capturing the religious right vote.
I don’t know for sure, but I heard that Cruz and Huckabee broke out into song and dance after the presser and sang this together.
[youtube]https://youtu.be/nE3zJgO-0S4[/youtube]

John Adams on American Exceptionalism

In my opinion, whenever David Barton tells his audiences to read the founders writings, he takes a large risk that someone in the audience will actually do it. What such curious readers find is a hodgepodge of political theories with much disagreement on matters of substance. One will also find much that contradicts Barton’s tendentious claims. For instance, last week Barton said the founders all agreed that God’s law was higher than man’s law. Our second president John Adams is worth reading on these points.
Frequently, Barton promotes American exceptionalism. Next time he talks on that subject, he should try to explain John Adams words to John Taylor in an July 29, 1814 letter:

Again, how are the United States distinguished from all other governments, or from any other government? What are the good moral principles from which the governments of the United States are deduced, which are not common to many other governments? In all that great number and variety of constitutions which the last twenty-five years have produced in France, in Holland, in Geneva, in Spain, we find the most excellent moral principles, precepts, and maxims, and all of them complicated with the idea of a balance. We make ourselves popular, Mr. Taylor, by telling our fellow-citizens that we have made discoveries, conceived inventions, and made improvements. We may boast that we are the chosen people; we may even thank God that we are not like other men; but, after all, it will be but flattery, and the delusion, the self-deceit of the Pharisee.

In the entire letter, he gives no credit to the Bible or Christianity for American government. He does imply that man is sinful and bent for corruption which is consistent with a reformed view of human nature. However, in his defense of the Constitution, Adams claims that such knowledge of human nature may be discerned from reason without aid of revelation. In that work, Adams defends the checks and balances of the Constitution by addressing other views from history. In doing so, he criticizes those who attempt to generate good citizenship via religious exceptionalism.

If this writer had been one of the enthusiasts of that day, and told the people they must pray to God for his omnipotent grace to be poured out upon them, to distinguish them from all the rest of mankind as his favorite people, more even than the Jews were, that they might be enabled to observe the rules of a free state, though all history and experience, even that of the Hebrews themselves, and the constitution of human nature, proved it impossible without a miracle; or if he had told them that they were a chosen people, different from all other men, numbers would have believed him, and been disappointed; for it is impious presumption to suppose that Providence will thus distinguish any nation; 

Adams criticizes what sounds very much like the battle cry of the Christian political right. If we just turn to God, all will be well. If we turn to God, our political house will come into order. God will smile and we will be the shining city on a hill as his covenant nation. Adams dismisses this kind of thinking as “impious presumption.”

Kim Davis to Be Released from Prison with Order Not to Interfere with Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

According to CNN, Rowan County (KY) clerk has been released from prison with instruction from Judge David Bunning not interfere with deputies issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
The compromise appears to involve not requiring Davis’ to put her name on the license. Given the form of a KY marriage license, this should be possible. Note in the license below that the clerk’s name is typed in.
KY Marriage Lic Sign
 
According to the CNN report (and Mat Staver on Wallbuilders Live earlier today), Davis plans to stop licenses if they have her name on them. As you can see above, this license does not have her name on it. KY law appears to require the clerk to certify the accuracy of the license so there may be another impasse.
 
 

David Barton Says Federal Judge Can't Send Kim Davis to Jail; U.S. Law Disagrees

On his Facebook page, pundit David Barton has been active in support of Rowan Co. (KY) clerk Kim Davis. Federal judge David Bunning found Davis to be in contempt of his order to issue marriage licenses to all couples, gay and straight, in Rowan County. Davis refused because she does not want her name on any marriage license issued to same-sex couples. KY law appears to require her name to be on the form.
Last week on a video circulated by Glenn Beck, Barton first claimed that Davis was in the right because she was placing God’s law (as he understands it) in a higher position than man’s law. Then on his Wallbuilders’ Facebook page, Barton claimed that Judge David Bunning was not allowed to order Davis to court because such actions by a judge (member of the judiciary) violated the separation of powers. Barton wrote:

Perhaps the single most important issue in the Kim Davis situation (the County Clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, who was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses) — an issue about which most observers and commentators have been completely silent — is the flagrant violation of the constitutionally-mandated separation of powers.
By way of background, Federal Judge David Bunning ruled that Davis was in contempt of court, which a court can legitimately do. But he then ordered federal marshals enforce his decision and take her into custody, which he cannot do. Federal marshals are part of the Executive Branch, not the Judicial Branch; he has absolutely no authority to order any federal marshal to do anything.
Significantly, the Founders — and thus the Constitution — did not give power to the Judiciary to enforce any of its decisions — they deliberately made it powerless in this regards. They made the Executive Branch alone responsible for enforcement.

As I will show, U.S. law beginning in 1789 directly contradicts Barton’s claims. Federal judges have power to order penalties and one of the prime duties of U.S. Marshals is to enforce court orders.
Barton claims that Davis has been taken into custody in violation of the Constitution. With an ominous tone, he tells us that this is the “single most important issue” in this controversy. Barton cites George Washington and concludes:

So while the Kim Davis travesty continues, perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the entire controversy is that Judge Bunning personally ordered her to jail, thus blatantly violating one of the Constitution’s most important provisions for securing the liberty of the entire people.

It is stunning just how wrong David Barton is.
The power of a federal judge to order penalties for those deemed to be in contempt of court goes back to the Judiciary Act of 1789. The Constitution in Article III established a Supreme Court and gave Congress the authority to establish lower courts. The Judiciary Act of 1789 established the federal court structure and created the role of U.S. Marshal to assist the court in numerous ways, including enforcement of orders.  The statute was passed on September 24, 1789 during the first session of the first Congress and signed by President George Washington (see the original law here).
The ability of a court to hold a person in contempt was spelled out in the statute:
Judiciary act 1789 contempt brief
The Congress expressly gave federal courts power “to punish by fine or imprisonment, at the discretion of said courts, all contempts of authority in any cause or hearing before the same.” Thus, in a statute passed by Congress (legislative branch), and signed by President George Washington (executive branch), the judiciary was given the power to imprison. There is no separation of powers problem as Barton claims.
Barton then claims that federal judges may not order U.S. Marshals to do anything. However, the Judiciary Act does not support that claim. First, read what the U.S. Marshals’ website says about the historical role of U.S. Marshal:

The offices of U.S. Marshals and Deputy Marshal were created by the first Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789, the same legislation that established the Federal judicial system. The Marshals were given extensive authority to support the federal courts within their judicial districts and to carry out all lawful orders issued by judges, Congress, or the president.
As a balance to this broad grant of authority, Congress imposed a time limit on the tenure of Marshals, the only office created by the Judiciary Act with an automatic expiration. Marshals were limited to four-year, renewable terms, serving at the pleasure of the president.
Until the mid-20th century, the Marshals hired their own Deputies, often firing the Deputies who had worked for the previous Marshal. Thus, the limitation on the Marshal’s term of office frequently extended to the Deputies as well.
Their primary function was to support the federal courts. The Marshals and their Deputies served the subpoenas, summonses, writs, warrants and other process issued by the courts, made all the arrests and handled all the prisoners. They also disbursed the money. The Marshals paid the fees and expenses of the court clerks, U.S. Attorneys, jurors and witnesses. They rented the courtrooms and jail space and hired the bailiffs, criers, and janitors. In effect, they ensured that the courts functioned smoothly.

Barton says federal marshals cannot be ordered by the judge. However, the Judiciary Act created marshals in order to enforce the work of federal judges (see section 27). Judge Bunning did not violate separation of powers. He relied on a power provided by the legislative and executive branches during the first session of Congress.
The power of a federal judge to imprison has been reinforced in statute in 1831 (chap. 99, sec. 1), 1911 (section 268), and 1948 (chap. 21, sec. 401). The 1948 revision of the statute makes clear the reasons a judge may find a party in contempt.
contempt statute 1948
Mrs. Davis appears to be in contempt of court under #3. In my admittedly limited knowledge, I would say that any attack on the Judge’s action would have to come via a challenge to the lawfulness of Judge Bunning’s order for Davis to issue marriage licenses.
In any case, assuming the order will be affirmed as lawful (and I can’t see any reason it won’t be affirmed), Judge Bunning has the right to imprison her. According to a 2002 revision in the law, Bunning could have fined and imprisoned her.
Barton’s post has been shared nearly 6,300 times. A lot of people are now completely in the dark about the legitimate powers of judges and think incorrectly about the Kim Davis situation. Based on false information, they will argue with their neighbors, and on social media.
Mr. Barton, now what? Shouldn’t you inform your readers?

Sense and Nonsense in the Kim Davis Marriage License Controversy

I will add to these through the day and maybe into tomorrow. For now, between yard work and naps, I am researching some of the claims made by David Barton (see links below) and trying for myself to figure out what reasonable religious accommodations would look like in this situation.
While I don’t agree with Davis, I think these kind of cases are incredibly interesting. I believe that religious accommodations need to be considered (see Volokh’s article linked below) in her case.
David Barton has been in rare form over this matter. He has incorrectly said that God’s law trumps man’s law in a republic, that God’s law should be followed before the Constitution and that judges can’t compel arrests of people in contempt of court.
Sense:
Thoughtful article by Eugene Volokh on religious accommodations
GOP presidential candidate John Kasich on Kim Davis
Why Kim Davis is no hero to religious liberty
Good summary of why KY law may prevent a religious accommodation
 
Nonsense:
David Barton 1 – Barton’s assertion that a republic is about God’s law trumping man’s law.
David Barton 2 – Barton says courts can’t order a person to court. The U.S. Code says differently. See also this helpful summary.
David Barton 3 – Three reasons why Christians who think Davis should do her job are wrong.
Mike Huckabee’s Rally

David Barton Explains Why Kim Davis Shouldn't Be in Jail

Caution, alt-reality alert.
On Glenn Beck’s Facebook page, David Barton explains it all (the FB embed feature isn’t working consistently so I have embedded the video at the end of the post).

David Barton explains Kim Davis, the four kinds of law and why she should not be in Jail.Interesting perspective that I haven't heard.#kimdavis

Posted by Glenn Beck on Friday, September 4, 2015

Class, any thoughts?
(In case the Facebook embed doesn’t work, here it is)

This, of course, is a mess. Barton first wrongly says “the Founding Fathers” (as if they all thought alike) “made it real clear that the laws of God are higher than the laws of man.” If that was so, then why doesn’t the Constitution say that? The Constitution declares itself, not a particular interpretation of the Bible, to be the law of the land.
Then Barton implies that a republic is different from a democracy because God’s laws are higher than man’s laws; and then something about France. Barton is rare form here and couldn’t be more wrong.
What is truly worrisome is that so many people hear this and think it is a brilliant analysis.
If anything, Kim Davis sought to impose her religious views on same-sex couples who do not share them.
For more on this, see this post: On the Kim Davis Controversy: Should a Christian Judge Refuse to Grant a Divorce Decree?

On the Kim Davis Controversy: Should a Christian Judge Refuse to Grant a Divorce Decree?

On his blog, evangelical Judge Tim Fall addresses the situation of being required to grant divorce decrees.

Let’s choose a different situation. My understanding of the Bible says divorce is prohibited except when certain circumstances exist. Can I refuse to grant a divorce decree for a couple who meets the legal requirements for marital dissolution but who do not meet the biblical requirements?

He says he grants a divorce if the couple meets the legal requirements:

On a divorce case, I check the paperwork and if the people meet the legal requirements for a divorce I grant it. I look on the decree as a judicial declaration that these people are entitled to a divorce under the laws of my state. I take this seriously and sign only those papers that meet every requirement.

He also addresses his stance on marrying gay couples which you can read at his blog.
Fall cites Scripture demonstrating that God doesn’t favor divorce. Will Christians now begin refusing to do their jobs regarding the legal aspects of terminating a marriage?
As Fall points out in his article, there has been no call from Christian leaders to block divorces based on conscience. To me, this lack of consistency is an indicator that Davis is being used by her handlers and other Christian leaders to rouse the rabble and create the appearance of persecution.
UPDATE: A TN judge wants a place in the limelight; denies a straight couple a divorce and blames the same-sex marriage ruling for his stance.
 
 

Judge Who Sent KY Clerk Kim Davis to Jail was Appointed by G.W. Bush and Disagreed with Supreme Court Decision on Marriage

David Bunning, the judge who sent KY clerk Kim Davis to federal custody is a Republican son of a Republican former Senator and according to his mother did not agree with the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.
Bunning’s dad was popular baseball player and Senator Jim Bunning. He is known as a careful jurist and conservative person who jailed Davis because she would likely be able to pay her fines with supporters’ money.
Davis was jailed earlier today because she refuses to issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Religious right political figures have come to her defense, saying she is suffering for her faith. I think she is getting bad advice from her handlers. I don’t see how every county official’s religious beliefs can be accommodated in such matters. Presumably, if consistent, Davis does not believe in believers and unbelievers being married. Would her supporters advocate for her right to refuse a license to religiously mixed marriages?
According to local media coverage, Bunning raised his own religious beliefs in court:

Bunning said he’s Catholic and the Catholic church says you must have an annulment before you can get remarried. He asked: What would prevent a Catholic clerk from not issuing a marriage license to a divorced person?

Exactly.
We are not governed by sectarian interpretations of any Scripture.