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Brooks says ruling on LGBTQ+ workplace discrimination “dumbest” he’s ever read

Jessa Reid Bolling

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U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who represents Alabama’s 5th Congressional District, called the Supreme Court decision that federal anti-discrimination laws cover gay, lesbian and transgender workers the “dumbest” he’s “ever read.”

The Supreme Court on Monday, in a landmark 6-3 ruling, found that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act offers protection against workplace discrimination due to one’s sexual or gender identity.

Before the ruling, Alabama — along with 27 other states — had no explicit anti-discrimination laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. A person could be fired for being gay or transgender without legal recourse.

Brooks, R-Huntsville, posted a series of tweets Tuesday saying LGBTQ+ “conduct” should not have the same discrimination protections as “birth traits.”

“There is a difference between SEX (over which person has NO control) & CONDUCT (over which person has TOTAL control). In a Republic, ELECTED reps make law. APPOINTED judges interpret law. Bad,” Brooks wrote in one tweet.

Matthew Brown, the chair of the Alabama Democratic Party’s LGBTQ caucus, condemned Brooks’ comments in a statement today, saying Brooks’ words demonstrate a “remarkable level of ignorance” regarding the LGBTQ+ community.

“A person has no more control over their sexuality than the color of their skin. By claiming that people can control this, Brooks is suggesting that, in order to not be at risk of being fired, LGBTQ+ people ought to deny who they are and pretend to be something they are not,” Brown said. “Trying to force people back in the closet is profoundly immoral and appropriately illegal.”

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In response to a tweet asking Brooks why LGBTQ+ workers should not have the same civil rights as everyone else, Brooks tweeted: “Whether LGBT CONDUCT has same anti-discrimination rights as BIRTH TRAITS YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER (race, ethnicity) is POLICY matter decided by ELECTED representatives IN A REPUBLIC.”

The Supreme Court’s majority decision Tuesday was written by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, a textualist conservative appointed by President Donald Trump and confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate. Gorsuch was joined in the majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts and all of the high court’s liberal justices.

“Once again, Congressman Brooks is breaking with conservative, moderate, and liberal legal experts alike and aligning himself with fringe ideas,” Brown said. “He should apologize to the North Alabama LGBTQ+ Community for these outrageous comments and commit to educating himself about the issues that affect our community.”

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Jessa Reid Bolling is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter and graduate of The University of Alabama with a B.A. in journalism and political science.

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SEC moving forward with football even as the PAC 12, Big 10 postpone season

Brandon Moseley

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Bryant-Denny Stadium during an Alabama football game.

Tuesday, the Big 10 and PAC 12 conference presidents both voted to postpone all fall sports including football to the spring. The decision follows similar decisions by the Ivey League, SWAC (which includes Alabama State and Alabama A&M), University of Connecticut, MAC, and Mountain West. Four of the ten Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences will not be playing this fall including two of the Power Five conferences. Despite this the Southeastern Conference (SEC), which includes both the University of Alabama and Auburn University, announced that they are moving forward with the football season.

“I look forward to learning more about the factors that led the Big Ten and Pac-12 leadership to take these actions today,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement Tuesday evening. :I remain comfortable with the thorough and deliberate approach that the SEC and our 14 members are taking to support a healthy environment for our student-athletes.”

“We will continue to further refine our policies and protocols for a safe return to sports as we monitor developments around COVID-19 in a continued effort to support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day,” Sankey said.

The PAC 12 and Big 10 conferences made the decision based on advice from the conference’s medical advisory boards. The fatality rate of COVID-19 among college age people is miniscule; however college students can and do get COVID-19. One side effect of surviving COVID-19 is myocarditis, a heart inflammation. Myocarditis is a weakening of the tissue between the chambers of the heart. It is treatable; but is irreversible. Once those tissues are weakened; they will remain weakened causing a number of health challenges for victims over the course of the remainder of their lives. It can lead to premature death.

Sources say that at least five Big 10 athletes have been diagnosed with myocarditis after surviving a bout with COVID-19. https://www.yahoo.com/now/report-at-least-five-big-ten-athletes-found-to-have-heart-inflammation-potentially-caused-by-viral-infections-224809885.html

Sankey told Dan Patrick that the conference has “been given the greenlight” from their medical advisory board. The ACC and Big 12 are also moving forward with plans to play football this fall.

SEC teams will open their fall camps on August 17. The SEC has already reduced the season to ten conference only games and moved back the start of the season from September 5 to Sept. 26. The move gives the conference more time to make a decision.

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The conference is under political pressure from fans, players, coaches, and even President Donald J. Trump (R) to play football this season.

“We Must Do Everything Possible to Have Football this Year,” said former Montgomery Quarterback Club President and the father of three former Auburn football players Perry O. Hooper Jr. “We need College football this fall, period. It would be a terrible disservice to these young student/athletes who have worked so hard for so many years to throw in the towel without trying. This is not the American way.”

President Trump said, “Canceling the college football season would be a tragic mistake.”

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“The SEC has it right, Start the schedule in late September with a conference only schedule with a set of protocols in place to be monitored by the SEC office,” Hooper said. “The College football hierarchy must listen to the players, the vast majority want to play.”

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence stated, “We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football. Having a season also incentivizes players being safe and taking all the right precautions to try to avoid contracting Covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we have seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions.”

The Big 10 presidents voted to postpone fall sports to the spring; but the PAC 12 presidents went even further and voted to suspend all sports till at least January 1, 2021. This move impacts winter sports including basketball. College basketball players already lost the 2020 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in March due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The decision by the PAC 12 and Big 10 conferences leave the college football postseason in shambles. There can be no playoffs without two of the Big Five conferences and with at least four of the ten major college conferences not playing it will be impossible to find enough teams with winning records to fill half the bowl spots. It is not at all certain that any of the bowls will actually be played.

167,671 Americans have already died from the COVID-19 global pandemic. 2,756,157 have recovered from their bought with the novel coronavirus strain, SARS-CoV-2. Now we are learning that some of those COVID survivors are facing debilitating conditions moving forward. It is heart inflammation for some and loss of some lung function for others.

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Elections

Alabama GOP chair says Harris “drags the Democrats’ ticket even further to the left”

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People. (VIA GAGE SKIDMORE/FLIKR)

Tuesday, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan released a statement critical of presumed Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden’s choice of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) as his running mate in the November 3 general election. Biden announced the pick to supporters via text message.

“Joe Biden’s VP pick drags the Democrats’ ticket even further to the left,” Lathan charged. “Kamala Harris was the first proud co-sponsor Bernie’s Medicare for All government healthcare takeover. She’s applauded efforts to defund the police and even led the charge to block meaningful police reform in the Senate. She even wants to use the federal government to ban plastic straws and to control what we eat – a move that would devastate the U.S. dairy and beef industries – all in the name of ‘climate change’.”

“We look forward to the clear contrast in policies in the Vice Presidential debate with Mike Pence and Senator Harris,” Lathan concluded. “It will be a true mirror of the obtuse plans the Democrats want for our nation. This ticket does not represent the values of the American people. They will see through all bogus attempts by the Democrats who will pretend to move to the center. They will fail, as their policies have, and America will vote to re-elect President Trump on November 3rd.”

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel similarly blasted the decision.

“A hiding, diminished, & incoherent Biden didn’t just select a VP candidate, he chose the person who will actually be in charge if he were somehow able to win,” Chair McDaniel said. “Harris’ radical policies may be popular among liberals, but they are well outside the mainstream for most Americans.”

“Kamala Harris’ extreme positions, from raising taxes to abolishing private health insurance to comparing law enforcement officials to the KKK, show that the left-wing mob is controlling Joe Biden’s candidacy, just like they would control him as president,” McDaniel concluded.

Harris is a U.S. Senator, former 2020 presidential candidate, and former California Attorney General. Her father is an immigrant from Jamaica and her mother is an immigrant from India. She identifies as Black and is the first non-White woman to be on a major party presidential ticket. Harris is the fourth woman to appear on a major party presidential ticket. The previous nominees: 1984 Democratic VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro, 2008 Republican VP candidate Sara Palin, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton all lost in the general election.

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Current Vice President Mike Pence is expected to return as President Trump’s running mate.

Biden is expected to make a joint appearance with Harris on Wednesday in Delaware.

Polls taken prior to the Harris pick show Biden with a significant lead in polling, both nationally and in several key swing states. Alabama is expected to support Trump by a large margin.

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Courts

Judge dismisses lawsuit against statewide face mask order

Eddie Burkhalter

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Gov. Kay Ivey held a Coronavirus update press conference Wednesday, July 15, 2020 in Montgomery, Ala. (VIA GOVERNORS OFFICE/HAL YEAGER)

A Montgomery Judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit alleging Gov. Kay Ivey’s statewide mask order was illegally adopted. 

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin dismissed the lawsuit, filed by Debbie Mathis, a real estate agent, retired sheriff’s Deputies Larry Lewis and Barry Munza, which alleged that the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 does not give the governor the ability to order Alabamians to wear face masks. 

Ivey’s order, which went into effect July 16, requires the wearing of face masks when within 6 feet of those outside of their own household when indoors or outside when in gatherings of 10 or more people, with exceptions. The lawsuit was filed against Ivey, Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and the Alabama State Board of Health. 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in the defendants’ motion to dismiss wrote that the plaintiff’s lacked standing to file the lawsuit and the defendants are immune to such lawsuits as accorded by the Alabama Constitution of 1901. 

In a court filing supporting the motion to dismiss, Marshall wrote that “COVID-19 has threatened to overwhelm the State’s healthcare system with a large number of patients in need of Intensive Care Unit (“ICU”) capacity.” 

“On July 15, 2020, with the State’s ICU bed capacity at 87%, Governor Ivey issued an emergency proclamation to implement State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris’s recommendation that masks or facial coverings be worn under certain circumstances,” Marshall wrote. 

Despite the plaintiff’s allegations that the order was illegal, Marshall wrote in the filing that Ivey and Dr. Harris had the authority to issue such an order. 

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The judge agreed, and dismissed the case. The plaintiffs’ attorney said after the ruling that he planned to appeal the judge’s decision, according to Al.com.

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Congress

Alabama Democratic Party: Mitch McConnell, Senate GOP are playing politics at the expense of families

Brandon Moseley

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Mitch McConnell speaks at a conference
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference. (Via Gage Skidmore/Flikr)

Monday, the Alabama Democratic Party released a statement blaming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Senate Republicans for the inability of the two parties to come together to pass a bipartisan coronavirus aid bill before adjourning for the August recess.

“We are furious. You should be too. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are once again playing politics at the expense of Alabama families,” the Alabama Democratic Party wrote in an email to its donors and supporters. “Mitch McConnell waited over two months after the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act to begin negotiations on a new relief package. He knew full well that many of the programs that Americans have relied on during this crisis would expire at the end of July. Now, many Alabama families are in dire straits and facing evictions. As Senator Doug Jones said, “this is completely inexcusable.”

Negotiations on a deal failed Thursday night https://www.alreporter.com/2020/08/07/negotiations-on-a-bipartisan-coronavirus-relief-bill-appear-to-have-broken-down/. Trump responded to the impasse by passing a series of executive orders to extend benefits for the unemployed and provide a break from payroll taxes.

“The President’s executive order is a thinly veiled attempt to fulfill his promise of cutting Medicaid and privatizing Social Security,” the Alabama Democrats responded to the President’s actions. “His payroll tax collection moratorium also leaves open the possibility that the taxes may need to be paid in a lump sum next year. We need a bipartisan solution from the Senate, not political stunts, and hollow executive orders.”

House Democrats wanted a $3.4 trillion stimulus; while the Republicans want to limit it to just $1 trillion.

“Tell Senate Republicans to extend unemployment benefits to 600 dollars weekly by signing our petition,” the Alabama Democratic Party wrote. “Alabama workers, displaced by the pandemic, should be able to provide for their families and pay their bills. Tell Mitch McConnell to quit playing games and act now.”

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