Robert George Questions GOP Presidential Candidates

Robert George Questions GOP Presidential Candidates September 9, 2011

Robert George, a law professor at Princeton and a staunch opponent of marriage equality, was one of the folks questioning some of the Republican presidential candidates at a forum hosted by Sen. Jim DeMint in South Carolina on Monday (transcript). He asked the following question of two of them, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain:

GEORGE: In Illinois, after passing a civil unions bill, the state government decided to exclude certain religiously affiliated foster care and adoption agencies, including Catholic and Protestant agencies, because the agencies, in line with the teachings of their faith, cannot in conscience place children with same-sex partners.

Now, at least half of Illinois’ foster and adoption funds come from the federal government. Should the federal government be subsidizing states that discriminate against Catholic and other religious adoption agencies in this way?

What a bizarre question. The discrimination in this situation is not being committed by the state, it is being committed by the religious adoption agencies — with public money. That is why the state of Illinois stopped giving them money to facilitate public adoptions, so that taxpayers do not have to subsidize their discrimination. I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that the answers from Bachmann and Cain were utterly incoherent. Here’s Bachmann’s answer:

BACHMANN: I believe in equal protection under the law. And this is clearly a situation where we have seen a disadvantage to children who are about to be placed either in foster care or in adoptive care.

And, again, I believe that is one more example why the rulings of activist judges acting outside the original intent of the Constitution are so very dangerous to the foundation of the country. And it goes back to your previous question, which is, who has the right to make those rules?

I believe, as president of the United States, in conjunction with the United States Congress and Senate, that we need to revisit that and change our rules, so that we can have an equal protection under the law, so that all agencies can provide that important care to children.

Get that? She believes in equal protection of the law, but she wants the government to subsidize organizations that refuse to treat people equally. And she repeats her ignorant attack on the courts even though this question has absolutely nothing to do with the courts — the law was passed by the legislature. A popularly elected body did, in fact, “make those rules.” But suddenly she doesn’t like that.

And Cain’s response:

CAIN: No, because I believe in the first amendment. So the federal government should not be subsidizing any situation where it’s discriminatory against any legitimate religion in this country.

In Cain’s warped mind, the government is subsidizing discrimination against religion by not subsidizing a religious group’s discrimination against those they don’t approve of. And it seems to be only in his copy of the Constitution that the First Amendment says anything at all about religious groups having a right to taxpayer subsidies.

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  • DaveL

    I love Cain’s “legitimate” qualifier in front of “religion.” So I guess now the government is going to be in the business of deciding which religions are legitimate and which are not.

  • anandine

    DaveL, it’s not which “ones,” but which “one,” and we all know which one he means.

  • djk1

    DaveL —

    I’m pretty sure that Cain’s “legitimate” is a dog whistle to Islamophobes on the right, who argue that Islam is not a “legitimate” religion and thus not subject to the First Amendment.

  • heironymous


    That has to be part of the bizaar Islam is not a religion meme that’s floating around the right wing these days.

  • What planet are they on???

  • MikeMa


    They are on our planet sadly and at a time when the question and the responses make sense to far too may people.

  • frankniddy


    It’s strange. The same ones that say Islam isn’t a religion are the same ones that say that atheism is. Sometimes I think they are trying to destroy the English language on purpose.

  • DaveL


    It’s pretty simply. Any religion, belief, philosophical position, or scientific conclusion they don’t like is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes but not for Free Exercise purposes. Their own religion is not a religion for Establishment Clause purposes but is for Free Exercise purposes.

  • frankniddy

    Ah. So they’re dishonest shills who’ll say anything to “win” an argument, then. Sadly, I am not surprised.

  • Scott Hanley

    Heh heh heh. We finally figured out how to get Republicans to declare that federal funds are a right.