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Taylor Swift Funds LGBT Advocacy Group

Singer Taylor Swift, who grew up in Nashville, gave $113,000 to Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBT organization that lobbies at the state Capitol.

Along with the donation, Swift sent a note to Executive Director Chris Sanders that said, “Dear Chris, I’m writing you to say that I’m so inspired by the work you do, specifically in organizing the recent petition of Tennessee faith leaders standing up against the ‘Slate of Hate’ in our state legislature.”

That “slate” includes a bill to prevent adoption/foster care placement agencies from being sued for not placing children with same-sex couples if doing so is based on religious or moral conviction, as well as Family Action of Tennessee’s Business Protection Act and School Protection Act.

Last year, Swift broke her silence concerning her personal political views to endorse Phil Bredesen for Senate over then-Congressman Marsha Blackburn and said in reference to Blackburn’s viewpoint, “These are not MY Tennessee values.”

Well, Ms. Swift, we say in reference to what you are now endorsing, “These are not OUR Tennessee values.”

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placing blaming with pointing fingers

Pointing Fingers and Placing Blame on the ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Bill

I met with mixed emotions the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote late Tuesday to defer a vote on the pro-life “fetal heartbeat” bill until more testimony could be provided during a summer hearing, after which the bill could be taken back up next January. The outcome really tested what I believe.

Restoring laws that respect God-given life and the creational design of marriage has been and will continue to be foremost on my policy agenda. But, to be honest, the push for passage of this bill was not on my agenda for this session. It was initiated by legislators, so I left them to handle their own business while I was focused on the other issue, marriage.

A Waste of Time?

But I pulled away from that work for the last week or so to help Senator Pody get the “heartbeat” bill worded right and develop a legal argument supporting its constitutionality. So, having been distracted from my planned work only to learn that at the end of Tuesday’s hearing there was never any intention of giving the proffered testimony any real consideration really magnified my disappointment and frustration.

By all appearances, I had wasted my time over the last week researching cases, preparing an extensive legal memorandum and my abbreviated oral testimony, and assembling and delivering to legislators a notebook of law review articles and other materials to back up my testimony. Moreover, Tennessee had foregone an opportunity to join a growing chorus of states passing “heartbeat” bills in an effort to force the U.S. Supreme Court into revisiting Roe.

As I thought about what happened, I wanted to point fingers and place blame, and there were a host of good targets.

Putting the Blame-Game in Perspective

But as I tried to make sense of it, another core belief registered in my mind that I knew had to be taken into consideration before I could assign blame—what I believe is true about God.1

Lying in the dustbin of modern evangelicalism, with its emphasis on the self and how we feel instead of what we think, is regular teaching about who God is from God’s own perspective.

Get a load of how the Westminster Divines defined God and you will see what I mean. (It’s long, but mentally luxuriate in some of its expressions):

God . . . is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty. God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleases. In His sight all things are open and manifest, His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands.2

I suspect when some people read that, they will shudder and think how horrible such a God must be. I get that; I really do. After all, that kind of God crushes every proud thought we naturally have about how good, wise, influential, and significant we are. Self-esteem must deny such a God (which may explain why much of modern evangelicalism doesn’t talk much about all of that which is true of God).

But to others, it may have been their point of departure in understanding how amazing the mercy and grace of God really is toward us, because in coming to see who God really is, they realized that the infinitude of their insolence was justly damnable.

What This Means When Expectations and Providence Collide

Here, though, is my point: When these thoughts about who God is become precious to a person, they become an anchor to which that person can hold when the present outworking of God’s providence doesn’t make sense, and they can provide a peace that is, indeed, “beyond understanding” and “not such as the world can give” (Philippians 4:7; John 14:27).

I’ve still got a long way to go before these thoughts about God and how He works out His purposes become to me, in the words of the Psalmist, “better than life” (Psalm 63:3), but I was reminded of them after Tuesday’s vote and they bid me to let go of trying to place blame for what happened.

It was as if God said, “If you must point a finger, David, then point it at Me. I alone am big enough to bring out of what you see as defeat the victory that I have been planning to bring out of that bill all along. Do you trust Me in that?”

That was enough for me. Now back to my work on marriage.

Read David’s Three-Minute Testimony Before the Senate Judiciary Committee


NOTES

  1. What follows is not to disavow human responsibility and our need as voters to know who did what that we might discharge our solemn duty before God to hold accountable those to whom authority has been entrusted. In time I will know that story more fully, at which time you will know who was really doing what and, as best I can judge, why. Rather, today’s commentary is my attempt to hold in tension without denying one for the other both personal responsibility and God’s sovereignty as reflected in Acts 4:27-28.
  2. The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter II, Parts I and II.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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David Fowler gives his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the "fetal heartbeat" bill on April 9, 2019.

David Fowler’s Testimony in Support of the ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Bill

FACT President David Fowler gave his three-minute testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Tennessee Capitol on April 9, 2019, in support of the “fetal heartbeat” bill, SB 1236. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Pody, prohibits abortions from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Mr. Fowler’s Three-Minute Testimony

Chairman Bell and members of the Judiciary Committee,

My name is David Fowler. I am a 1983 graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, taught an introductory course in the philosophy of government and jurisprudence at Bryan College, and was a member of this Committee from 1994 until 2006. Since then I have served as the president of both Family Action of Tennessee and The Family Action Council of Tennessee.

The proposed amendment rests on two legal arguments. The first challenges prevailing abortion precedents in regard to what constitutes viability. It offers not only a commonsense understanding of viability, but also a scientifically objective measure of viability that does not make rights dependent on advances in modern medicine. When infanticide is being applauded and the Court’s precedents appear to make such constitutionally permissible, I think it is time the Supreme Court re-examine the question of viability and consider using a diagnostic measure of viability instead of a prognostic one. This amendment would allow that issue to be considered.

But I would also like to commend to you a constitutional argument in support of this bill based on the question, what rights and whose rights are protected by the Constitution? This argument puts at issue for the first time in the abortion context whether the rights possessed by individuals depend for their existence in the first instance only upon positive legal enactments and judicial pronouncements and whether, if belief in such “inalienable” or “absolute” rights still exists, the people have authorized state governments to protect and make more secure those rights.

If our rights come only from decisions of the United States Supreme Court, then our great Republic will die from ingesting an understanding of judicial supremacy that our Founding Fathers feared. The only antidote—given Congress’ abdication of its duties—is for you to exercise the counterbalancing powers of federalism and dual sovereignty established by our Constitution to assert not just the state’s interest in life, but on behalf of unborn human beings their rights protected and preserved by the Ninth Amendment1 and put their rights at juxtaposition against an expansive view of liberty that goes beyond the clear intent of our Constitution2 and is manufactured by judicial pronouncements.

The importance of this argument was driven home by three things in the 6th Circuit’s decision last week upholding Kentucky’s ultrasound law. First, that is the Court to which any appeal concerning the constitutionality of this bill would go. Second, by its use of the words “unborn child” or “unborn life” a total of 30 times in the first 17 pages of its opinion, the Court appeared to signal to those with ears to hear that it knows abortion takes the life of a child, another human being. And this bears on the third reason the Beshear case is important.

Beshear cites with approval and describes in the following way the 8th Circuit’s en banc approval of a North Dakota informed consent law,

The statute required physicians to give patients a written statement providing, among other things, “[t]hat the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” . . . .3

Our Circuit knows we are speaking not only of a “whole . . . human being,” but one who is also a “separate . . . human being” from his or her mother.

Either the Ninth Amendment, which protects unenumerated common law rights, needs to protect the right to life of a child en ventra se mere, as the common law put it, or the Supreme Court needs to say, as the late Justice Antonin Scalia said about where the balance should be drawn between liberty and life in right to die cases:

It is quite impossible . . .that those citizens will decide upon a line less lawful than the one we would choose; and it is unlikely . . . that they will decide upon a line less reasonable.4

Urging the Court to leave the issue of abortion to the states actually restores one of the “blessings of liberty”5 that was lost in Roe. As Justice Kennedy wrote in 2011 on behalf of a unanimous Court in Bond v. United States6, “‘freedom is enhanced by the creation of two governments, not one,’” because it ‘secures to citizens the liberties that derive from the diffusion of sovereign power.’”7

In my opinion, for this Body and the Courts to disregard fundamental rights at common law—here the right to life—in favor of only positively declared rights and then only in abortion-related decisions would be to do what we were all forbidden to do by the very last words in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, “retreat from interpreting the full meaning of [our Constitution] in light of all of our precedents.”8

I conclude by paraphrasing only slightly what Obergefell’s majority said when it was presented with a new rights claim, as I’m here suggesting,9 “When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture [which I submit Roe and Casey are], a claim to [life in relation to] liberty must be addressed.”10

Making that claim, as de facto guardian ad litem on behalf of the voiceless human beings killed by abortion, is exactly what I submit this bill does.

I would urge you to vote for this bill.

NOTES

  1. “The Enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
  2. “If the Fifth Amendment uses ‘liberty’ in this narrow sense, then the Fourteenth Amendment likely does as well. See Hurtado v. California, 110 U. S. 516, 534-535 (1884). Indeed, this Court has previously commented, ‘The conclusion is . . . irresistible, that when the same phrase was employed in the Fourteenth Amendment [as was used in the Fifth Amendment], it was used in the same sense and with no greater extent.’ Ibid. And this Court’s earliest Fourteenth Amendment decisions appear to interpret the Clause as using ‘liberty’ to mean freedom from physical restraint. . . . That the Court appears to have lost its way in more recent years does not justify deviating from the original meaning of the Clauses.” Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2584, 2632 (Thomas, J., dissenting)
  3. Case No. 17-6151/6183, p. 16.
  4. Cruzan v. Director, Mo. Dept. of Health, 497 U.S 261, 293, 110 S. Ct. 2841, ___(1990) (Scalia, J., dissenting)
  5. Preamble, United States Constitution
  6. 564 U.S. 21, 131 S.Ct. 2355 (2011)
  7. Bond, 131 S.Ct. at 2364
  8. Casey v. Planned Parenthood, 505 U.S. 833, 901, 112 S. Ct. 2791, ___ (1992). This is the full context for the quotation: “Our Constitution is a covenant running from the first generation of Americans to us and then to future generations. It is a coherent succession. Each generation must learn anew that the Constitution’s written terms embody ideas and aspirations that must survive more ages than one. We accept our responsibility not to retreat from interpreting the full meaning of the covenant in light of all of our precedents.” (emphasis added)
  9. The quote that follows is remarkably similar to what Blackstone said about the historical swings between protecting and undermining the fundamental law: “The absolute rights of every Englishman, (which, taken in a political and extensive sense, are usually called their liberties,) as they are founded on nature and reason, so they are coeval with our form of government; though subject at times to fluctuate and change: their establishment (excellent as it is) being still human. At some times we have seen them depressed by overbearing and tyrannical princes; at others so luxuriant as even to tend to anarchy, a worse state than tyranny itself, as any government is better than none at all. But the vigour of our free constitution has always delivered the nation from these embarrassments: and, as soon as the convulsions consequent on the struggle have been over, the balance of our rights and liberties has settled to its proper level; and their fundamental articles have been from time to time asserted in parliament, as often as they were thought to be in danger.” William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 119-120, 125-129 (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1893)
  10. Obergefell, 135 S. Ct. at 2598.

Download the PDF version of David’s testimony

Read the Press Release

 

This is the slide presentation that accompanied Mr. Fowler’s April 9, 2019, testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the "fetal heartbeat" bill and, after reading his testimony, may help you “picture” what he was saying.

This is the slide presentation that accompanied Mr. Fowler’s April 9, 2019, testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the “fetal heartbeat” bill and, after reading his testimony, may help you “picture” what he was saying.

PDF of The Sphere or Universe of All Rights

How the Senators Voted

Sen. Mike Bell proposed a motion to move the bill to summer study. The motion to move the bill to summer study passed 5-3 with one abstention. Here is the breakdown of the votes:

  • Those who voted “yes” included Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), Sen. Sara Kyle (D-Memphis), Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon).
  • Those who voted “no” included Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis), and Sen. Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro).
  • The absention (present not voting) was from Sen. Kerry Robertson (R-Springfield).

Watch the Video of the Discussion on SB 1236

The entire discussion of SB 1236 can be found by clicking on the video player above and then going to timecode 2:42:10 – 4:10:13. David Fowler’s testimony is at timecode 2:58:26 – 3:04:23.

 

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press release

FACT President David Fowler Gives Testimony in Support of ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Bill

David Fowler gives testimony in support of the "fetal heartbeat" bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee

David Fowler gives testimony in support of the “fetal heartbeat” bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (April 9, 2019)—The following statement can be attributed to FACT President David Fowler:

It was an honor to offer testimony today in support of the constitutionality of the “fetal heartbeat” bill, Senate Bill 1236.

In my view, the bill directly presents to the federal courts for the first time a question as to why it is constitutionally necessary to use a medical prognosis of survival outside the womb as the measure of viability, as in Roe, as compared to a medical diagnosis as to the presence of a viable human life, when the Constitution does not even address the viability of a life in connection with abortion.

Just as importantly, the bill presents the state with an opportunity to assert for the first time the right to life of one whom the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals referred to repeatedly in last week’s decision upholding Kentucky’s ultrasound law as an “unborn child” and “unborn life.”

Though the Ninth Amendment prohibits the “enumerated rights” in the Constitution from being “construed” to “deny or disparage others retained by the people,” to my knowledge no state has ever asserted that right on behalf of the voiceless children who cannot make their own claim to both life and liberty.

When infanticide seems to be constitutionally protected as “abortion,” it is time that the state asserts the child’s competing right not to be deprived of life and liberty without due process of law.

Diagram of Rights
This is the slide presentation that accompanied Mr. Fowler’s April 9, 2019, testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the “fetal heartbeat” bill and, after reading his testimony, may help you “picture” what he was saying.

David Fowler’s Three-Minute Testimony Before the Senate Judiciary Committee
FACT President David Fowler gave testimony in support of the “fetal heartbeat” bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Tennessee General Assembly on April 9, 2019.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications | Office Phone: 615-261-1338 | email: laura.bagby@factn.org

shape of Tennessee on striped background with words Tennessee news

Faith-Based Adoption Agencies Get Support in the TN House

The House passed HB 836 by a vote of 67-22 on Monday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro), protects faith-based adoption and foster care agencies that, on the basis of their religious conviction, believe placing children in homes with same-sex couples is not in the child’s best interest.

Passage of the bill means these agencies cannot be sued if their decision not to place children with homosexual couples is based on such a religious conviction.

The Senate companion bill, SB 1304 by Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), is scheduled to be heard on the last calendar of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has not yet been set.

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