Instead, according to Andrew L. Seidel, an author and attorney who's defended the First Amendment for more than a decade, conservative Christians, through the appointment of the six right-wing justices who now hold a super majority, have turned religious liberty on its head.
In his new book, "American Crusade," Seidel details how conservative Christians have achieved that takeover, how it has affected numerous major decisions, and what can be expected in the future if left unchecked.
Seidel exposes the “Crusaders,” powerful right-wing Christian conservatives who are systematically working to, as he writes, “elevate Christian beliefs above the law and exempt Christians from the law, while disfavoring non-religious and non-Christian citizens who are required to follow the law.”
He issues a stark warning: “The First Amendment is being destroyed. In its place, Crusaders are forging a weapon to ensure their supremacy.”
All of this is discussed in this interview for the Lean to the Left and Justice Counts podcasts, co-hosted by myself and author/attorney Mark M. Bello.
MARK: I want to ask you a two part question that is top of mind in America right now. Part 1: Was Roe v Wade correctly decided? Part 2: Almost 50 years later, should it have been sustained on stare decisis grounds?
MARK: Considering the outcome of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health, do you think other social justice decisions are at risk? Gay rights, public schools, contraception, for instance? And why doesn’t equal protection or due process apply to these situations?
Bob: In your book, you leave no doubt about the danger of the current Conservative Supreme Court, citing case after case where decisions have been based on religious grounds rather than the law. Can you share just a few of those examples?
Mark: I’m dubious that Ketanji Brown Jackson will have any impact at all. What’s your take and is there anything in the short term that can curb this unchecked supermajority?
Bob: Reports indicate that conservative justices appear ready to end race-conscious admission decisions at colleges and universities. Chief Justice Roberts also has temporarily halted release of Donald Trump’s tax records to a congressional committee. Are these further examples of the influence of right-wing politics on the court?
Bob: Part of the mandate of the 1st Amendment is the separation of church and state. Under the current court, is that in peril?
Mark: I believe that Christian nationalism is alive and well in this country, and it is seeping into the court’s decision-making. Andrew: Don’t you see the court trending toward the religious right’s agenda on a number of issues, especially LGBTQ issues, private school funding, and 1st Amendment Separation of Church and State cases like American Legion v. American Humanist Association?
As to American Legion, as a Jewish guy and a constitutionalist, I find the argument that the cross has taken on “secular meaning” laughable. I agree with Justice Ginsburg, may she rest in peace, who said in her dissenting opinion: The cross is the foremost symbol of the Christian faith.” Using it as a war memorial doesn’t change that fact. This was PUBLIC land. What’s your view?
Mark: And how about Lemon v Kurtzman? In an 8-1 decision, the high court decided that statutes that provide state funding for non-public, non-secular schools violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. How do you think the case would be decided today?
Bob: Let’s talk about Masterpiece Cake Shop where the shop...
Don’t forget to follow Lean to the Left at podcast.leantotheleft.net, and you can reach me at email@example.com. You can also follow us on social media…Facebook at The Lean to the Left Podcast. Twitter at LeantotheLeft1. YouTube at Lean to the Left, Instagram at BobGatty_leantotheleft, and TikTok at Lean to the Left.
If you would take a minute to give us a review, that would be great. There are lots of podcast links on our webpage, podcast.leantotheleft.net, where you’ll also find our upcoming interview schedule and links to all of our podcasts.
I hope you’ll come back on a regular basis and check out our interviews with guests on topics that I hope you find interesting, entertaining, and enlightening.
Our interview shows stream weekly on Mondays, and depending on what’s going on, also on Thursdays, and many also are produced as videos available on the Not Fake News Video channel.
In addition, we often provide narrations of much of the commentary published on the Lean to the Left blog, commentary by some excellent writers, with perspectives on a whole range of topics.
You can sign up as a member at lean to the left.net. And, of course, it’s all free.
Also, let your friends know about this podcast and take a minute to subscribe yourself. Just go to podcast.leantotheleft.net to subscribe, check out the upcoming interview schedule, and listen to all of our episodes.
You can also support this podcast by clicking on the Donate tab at the top of the page, where you’ll find links to “Buy Me a Cup of Coffee” and also PayPal.
Remember, our goal is to be informative and entertaining as we comment on the latest developments in the news…you guessed it…with just a little lean to the left.
Meanwhile, special thanks to The Ramminger Group for sponsoring this episode and for providing the music track. The Ramminger Group provides content and marketing consulting services to responsible businesses and nonprofits. Let them help tell your story. Visit rammingergroup.com.
Andrew, thanks for joining us for the Lean to the Left and Justice Counts podcasts with my co-host, Mark Bello.
[00:01:22] Andrew Seidel: Oh, it is my pleasure to be with you. Thank you so much for having me on.
[00:01:26] Mark Bello: Andrew, . Bob found you and he found a person who is discussing a subject that I'm extremely passionate about. It's one of the big reasons why I started this podcast. He passed, he passed by the statement quote, the first Amendment is being destroyed., Yeah. The First Amendment is being destroyed.
[00:01:44] It's something we should scream from the rooftops. I wanted to ask you a two part question that is at the top of mind in America today, and that's abortion. Was Roe versus Wade in 1973, correctly decided A and B almost 50 years later, whether or not it was correctly decided, should it have been sustained on stare decisis grounds ?
[00:02:10] Andrew Seidel: I think it was correctly decided. I think there were other ways you could have decided it. I do. I think the constitutional right to an abortion was correct regardless of what constitutional hook you chose to hang that right on. And I absolutely think the Supreme Court was wrong for overturning that case in the Dobbs decision.
[00:02:29] And one of, one of the things that I, Oh, here's the thing about a book like American Crusade. The Supreme Court is packed and captured. So an update to the book was gonna be necessary no matter what, because the crusade is ongoing, right? It's it's not stopping. So I already have an update to the book that's available for free on my website.
[00:02:45] And I talk even more in depth about the Dobbs decision. One of the things that really struck me about that case was during the oral argument. Justice Sonia Sotomayor asks the state of Mississippi, the attorney who's arguing that case, she says, How is your interest anything but a religious view?
[00:03:01] And what she means there is how is this law anything other than an attempt to impose a narrow, restrictive version of Christianity on everybody else. And the state did not have an answer for that because abortion bans violate the separation of church and state, and they violate everybody's religious freedom by imposing one narrow religious viewpoint on us all.
[00:03:23] And that's one of the things that I get into in American Crusade.
[00:03:27] Mark Bello: And you'll have an update every time they come down with a new case.
[00:03:32] Andrew Seidel: Yes. Yes. And every time I find out new information about the corruption and packing of the Supreme Court, I've got a bombshell sitting on the shelf that I'm trying to polish up for publication in the coming weeks here.
[00:03:43] Mark Bello: Oh my God.
[00:03:44] I've been watching this stuff a lot longer than you have, and it's just, it's disgusting. It just is whether you agree with. Speech there's a big discussion about hate speech and stuff like that. , and I remember in the movie the American President where Andrew Shepherd says, You've gotta be able to stand at you be, you gotta be able to defend the rights of people to say what you've been, what you've spent your whole life opposing.
[00:04:07] , or something like that. And that's what the First Amendment is all about.
[00:04:10] Considering Dobbs, do you think
[00:04:14] that other social justice decisions are at risk? Gay rights?
[00:04:21] Andrew Seidel: Absolutely.
[00:04:22] Mark Bello: Gay rights, public schools contraception, for instance. Absolutely. Why? Why and why doesn't the equal protection and due process clause apply to these situations?
[00:04:31] Andrew Seidel: I'll answer that second question in a second, but first, Yes. end of Roe is just the beginning. In a lot of ways think a lot of our other cherished rights are on the table, including marriage equality, including contraception. There is no amount of power or privilege that is going to satisfy the crusaders that's gonna have them kick back and say, Okay, we're done.
[00:04:54] We're sated.. If they are going to stop it is because we stop them.. We have to stop them. And to answer your question about the equal protection clause, this is not a court that cares for precedent or the rule of law. I Hell, this isn't a court that cares for facts or reality.
[00:05:09] This is a court of alternative facts. If it cared. For the rule of law and the text of the Constitution and things like the equal protection clause, we wouldn't have seen Roe fall in the first place. We would at least we wouldn't have seen the right to the constitutional right to an abortion fall.
[00:05:24] But this is a court that has been packed and captured by an extreme conservative Christian wing of the Republican party and is litigating and deciding cases to reach political ends. It is putting the stamp of the rule of law onto the political whims and fancies of an extreme wing of the Republican party.
[00:05:43] Nothing more. This is not a court of law any longer, unfortunately.
[00:05:47] Bob Gatty: Hey Andrew, who are the crusaders?
[00:05:50] Andrew Seidel: So the crusaders are the groups that I refer to in the book. And I discuss each of the groups in the chapters where I discuss these cases. So the crusaders are these legal groups that make up.
[00:06:02] We're talking about a billion dollar shadow network, so it's groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the American Center for Law and Justice and Beck Fund for Religious Liberty and Liberty Council and First Liberty Institute kind. They're kinda like this Orwellian word salad. And they bring the cases and then the packed Supreme Court knocks 'em down.
[00:06:20] So it, it's a collaborative effort
[00:06:22] Bob Gatty: there. One guy who is the in charge.
[00:06:26] Andrew Seidel: Yes. And I'll get to, I'll get to Leonard Leo in just a second. Okay. But I, you know, it's important that the groups themselves have, they have, they're different, but they have a lot of commonalities. A lot of them were started by white Christian men, often with early racist leanings and a professed homophobia.
[00:06:40] They they were start, some of 'em were started with Koch Brothers seed money. Cash infusions from the DeVos Empire are pretty typical. And there's often, ties to James Dobson and things like that. But to your point, Bob, Leonard Leo is universally recognized as the man who orchestrated this hostile takeover of the Supreme Court.
[00:07:00] He ran the Federalist Society and ran the Judicial Crisis Network and here's how a former employee described Leo's mission. He described it like this quote. He figured out 20 years ago that conservatives had lost the culture, war, abortion, gay rights, contraception. Conservatives didn't have a chance if public opinion prevailed, so they needed to stack the court.
[00:07:23] And that's what they did. And Leo's job was described by another as the quote monitor of the nominees ideological purity. And we're talking about the judicial nominees there. So he's the monitor of the nominees ideological purity and we know that Leo is responsible for the confirmation of john Roberts, Sam Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. I People may remember those short lists of judges that Donald Trump announced. Leonard Leo's the guy who wrote those. Thomas is an old friend of his. There's actually video of Thomas and Leo joking on stage at a Federalist Society event about how Leonard Leo's the third most powerful man in America and all six of those justices, those ultra conservative justices on our Supreme Court are or were members of the Federalist Society, so that's six votes on the Supreme Court. And Leo personally chose five of them for their ideology. And it is a crusader ideology. And by the way, the, the hostile takeover, the attempt to pack our courts, it worked. We've got the data, we've got the numbers to show it.
[00:08:26] Bob Gatty: Now in your book you cite case after case. What are some of the examples of cases that you that you refer to?
[00:08:33] Andrew Seidel: It's, it's cases that people may remember, that kind of entered the public consciousness, like the gay wedding cake case out of Colorado.
[00:08:39] Yeah the cases where churches challenged public health restrictions during covid, during the pandemic , the Muslim ban. The Kim Davis case, all of those have their own chapter. And then of course the Dobbs decision, which I mentioned has its own chapter in, in the update.
[00:08:54] And then there are the cases that people may not remember, but which are just as crucial cases about huge crosses that are on government land and maintained with government funds cases about school vouchers, about the public funding of children's ministries at churches. The Hobby Lobby case is another really great example.
[00:09:13] So each of those cases have their own chapters and I really tell the stories, the true stories underlying those cases. And then what I tried to do was highlight a lot of the through lines. And what I found was that this Supreme Court wants to decide these cases, right? It gets to reject 97, 99% of the cases that come its way, but it wants to take these cases and wants to decide them.
[00:09:37] I also found that it will ignore rules and procedure and long standing precedent. Some of it dating back to before the founding even to get to the opinion, to get to the final decision that it wants. I learned that the court will rewrite facts in reality. Again, all to reverse engineer these decisions In an effort to privilege conservative Christians by rewriting religious freedom,
[00:09:59] Mark Bello: I would argue that Leo is the most, most important person in, in, in politics today.
[00:10:04] The, I wrote a book called Supreme Betrayal. , That has a fictional version of him in it. You might en you might enjoy that book or you might slit your wrist. I don't
[00:10:14] Andrew Seidel: this. This is one of the things about writing a book like this is it's so frustrating. I woke up at 5:00 AM every day before the family was awake to write this book.
[00:10:21] And, sometimes I just wanted to, you bang your head against the monitor because it's so frustrating and you're, you're screaming about this and, I've been saying for years that Roe versus Wade was gonna fall once it became clear that. The Supreme Court and still everybody's shocked.
[00:10:34] And so it's frustrating to write, to research and write a book like this. But I did try to offer some hope and some solutions at the end in the conclusion.
[00:10:41] Mark Bello: I'd love to hear that. It's like being living in Detroit and being a Detroit Lions fan. Anyway, ,
[00:10:45] Andrew Seidel: It
[00:10:46] Mark Bello: Ketanji Brown Jackson I'm dubious, I don't given the six justices you mentioned, I don't see her having any impact at all? Is she one of your beacons of hope or do you see any ability for her and the minority to, to check the super majority?
[00:11:05] Andrew Seidel: I don't think she's going to be able to convince any of her cons, ultra-conservative colleagues to change their mind. I have been very impressed by her performance in oral arguments so far.
[00:11:16] She's clearly a brilliant. Advocate and brilliant Juris, the kind of people that we do want on the Supreme Court. Instead of to, to borrow a phrase from Amy Co Barrett, the partisan hacks that sit across the aisle on the Supreme Court. So I'd love to see more of her on the Supreme Court, but I don't think.
[00:11:33] Sticking or like her more like her, not more of her . Yeah. Yeah. I'd like to see, I would and I think one of the things that we can do, and one of the solutions I offer is we could expand the Supreme Court and I think that is a, that is something we ought to really consider and if we can muster the political will and majority to do that. I think that's something that, that we absolutely ought to do. And I think it's the institutionalist response to the hostile takeover that we've seen orchestrated on our Supreme Court.
[00:12:03] Bob Gatty: Andrew, why do you think it is that, that the Democrats are reluctant to do that?
[00:12:10] Andrew Seidel: I think there's a couple different things happening. I think one is, there is a belief out there that the Supreme Court is this impartial arbiter of truth and justice. I think it stems from the court's performance during the Warren Court years and to a certain extent the Berger years.
[00:12:26] Those are the years that we're, that we think of as the court doing its job and doing it well where we get Brown versus Board of Education. We get Gideon versus Waynewright which says that you, if you are accused of a crime, you get an attorney to defend you. We get Miranda versus Arizona, giving us our Miranda rights, which everybody, we get all these really good, important, powerful decisions including on religious freedom and freedom of speech. And that is how we conceive of the Supreme Court in our collective consciousness. I think. But it, but that's not the court that we have now, and that's not the court that we've had in the past.
[00:12:55] So what we really have to unshackle our minds from the belief that this Supreme Court is an impartial arbiter of truth and justice. And we have to do it for two reasons. First, because the crusade depends on this myth. It depends on people believing that myth. And we know like Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump and Leonard Leo, they cheated and stole and packed to put their collaborators in place on the court, not because those collaborators are gonna administer justice even handedly, but precisely because they're not going to do that. And the second thing is that our understanding of the Supreme Court is wrong, but the Warren Court the Brown versus Board of Education court, that, that's the historical outlier.
[00:13:35] Like really our Supreme Court is the court of Plessy versus Ferguson, and separate as equal of Dred Scott and fugitive slave laws of trying to suffocate the new deal in the cradle of gutting the power of the 14th Amendment that was won with the blood of so many Americans during the Civil War. This is the court of Japanese internment camps and of Muslim bans and of billionaires in corporations in political gerrymandering and voter suppression and, and now of abolishing abortion and reproductive freedom in the name of their narrow religious beliefs. Historically the court is a conservative, regressive body, and what we're seeing is it returning to the mean. Now, the historical mean we, what we really need to do is check it. I mean you both have mentioned that in one way, shape, or form or another. And this is a court that is drunk on power and it needs to be checked.
[00:14:21] And one of the ways to do that is to expand the Supreme Court.
[00:14:24] Bob Gatty: Now, just this week, we've had a, we've had a report that conservative justices look like they're ready to end race conscious admission decisions at colleges and universities. We have Chief Justice Roberts temporarily halting the release of Donald Trump's tax records.
[00:14:43] Now, aren't these examples of the influence of this right wing cabal that you're talking about?
[00:14:49] Andrew Seidel: I think so and the John Roberts decision actually is probably, would be a normal decision, but we, it's really hard to look at it as normal or correct when the court is captured by one extreme wing of the Republican party in the first place.
[00:15:04] Everything looks like it has that political taint to it. And that's part of the problem. And that's why this court is not struggling with legitimacy, but is illegitimate right now. And yeah, it's they're, and it's , they've captured the court and now they're destroying its reputation is another way to think of it. .
[00:15:22] Bob Gatty: Now, do you feel like. Really the first amendment separation of church and state is just in peril. Is finished.
[00:15:31] Andrew Seidel: I think we're about to get a real world lesson in what it's like to live in a country without the separation of church and state uhhuh, , we.
[00:15:37] We've taken that protection for granted for centuries now, and in a sense, I think we've been the victims of our own success. The separation worked yeah. And we've seen it being eroded and we don't know what it's like to live in a country without that separation, but we're about to get a wake up call in that regard.
[00:15:52] I think what we really need is a national recommitment to the separation of church and state. And that's one of the things that we're working at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is where I worked for my day job. AU.org. That's one of the things we're doing all day, every day, is trying to wake people up to this danger and this right that we're losing and get them to recommit to it and fight for that separation in a very real way.
[00:16:16] Mark Bello: I think, in your answer to Bob's question about creating a larger number on the court. , think you were, I think you were too kind to, to the Democrats. I think they need to grow a set.
[00:16:30] Bob Gatty: I agree with that. Hundred percent.
[00:16:32] Mark Bello: Your point about about the despicable behavior of McConnell and that group in essentially assembling the current court isn't met by the same kind of despicable conduct, for lack of a better way to say it by the other side. And that's why you got, you have this this six to three super majority.
[00:16:52] Andrew Seidel: Absolutely. It's unilateral disarmament.
[00:16:55] Mark Bello: Yeah. Yeah. ,
[00:16:56] That's a great term. Yeah. It's LGBTQ issues.
[00:17:01] Private school funding first Amendment rights on separation cases. , American Legion and American Humanist Association.
[00:17:09] All of this stuff is gonna go by the wayside with this court. Is it not??
[00:17:13] Andrew Seidel: It is. Here's the bottom line. If you wanna understand what is happening with our Supreme Court and with especially religion in the law, you have to read American Crusade.
[00:17:21] And and the short version is that throughout our entire history, religious freedom has been a shield. It has defended the minority against the tyranny of the majority. It's defended us all against government overreach and never in that history has it been a license to violate the rights of other people.
[00:17:39] But this packed Supreme Court is changing that, right? That these crusaders are weaponizing religious freedom. And in the last decade, in a lot of those cases that you just mentioned, Mark, in case after case, the court has been reshaping that first Amendment into a weapon that conservative Christians can wield to injure other people, to violate their rights and to impose their religion on all of us.
[00:18:03] Mark Bello: Almost la almost laughably. Yes. You look at American Legion and they argue with a straight face that a cross has taken on a secular meaning. Yeah. Give me a break. Give me, as a Jewish guy I'm really offended by that. It's just,
[00:18:20] Bob Gatty: It's not just Jewish guy and I'm offended by
[00:18:24] Andrew Seidel: It's a forties all Christian Cross. Yeah.
[00:18:26] Mark Bello: And it was on public land
[00:18:28] Andrew Seidel: and it was maintained with government funds. You're we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars being used to maintain it. And Mark and Bob, you weren't the only ones offended. There were a lot of Christians who were offended by this.
[00:18:37] The Baptist Joint Committee actually filed in a brief that said, Hey, you can't say that our Christian Cross is not religious. You can't de-sacralize the most sacred object in our religion. You're a court of law. You're not a court of religion. You can't do that. And the thing that struck me the most when I was writing this book was that the legal questions of religious freedom are actually like really easy to answer.
[00:19:00] Absolutely. And. They have the waters have been deliberately muddied. The, these cases have been made over complicated and there's been disinformation and misinformation that's been bred and fed around these cases. But if you draw three really simple, basic lines and these are the lines that I distilled from, the centuries of precedent.
[00:19:18] You, you can answer any one of these questions and it's really easy. And it's in a way that would actually I think allow everybody to remain equals and to give them the most amount of freedom, which is what our Constitution tries to do in the first place. So what I do in the book is I draw those three lines and then I apply those three lines to each of these cases, including the case of the Bladensburg cross that we're talking about right now, and, the Masterpiece Cake Shop case the, which is the gay wedding cake case and all of these other cases and show that yet these cases are not that hard.
[00:19:47] They're actually really easy unless the court has some ulterior motive for taking these cases and deciding the way they did, which I think it does.
[00:19:54] Mark Bello: No question. But that, that one just, the laughable argument that a cross suddenly has secular meaning just
[00:20:02] I, It turns law school upside down. Anyway. Anyway. It does. I'm gonna ask you a question about that later.
[00:20:08] Lemon versus Kurtzman. Eight to one. eight to one.
[00:20:12] And it basically says you can't use public funds for private purposes, private religious purposes in funding schools. Eight to one. Do you see that in danger too?
[00:20:23] Andrew Seidel: Yeah. So you know what first, let me say this. One of the things that I really tried to do in American Crusade was a avoid legalese and jargon so that anybody can pick up this book and understand it. But I love diving into it, so I'm happy to do that on the podcast.
[00:20:35] I just want you to know if you're listening You can pick up this book and understand it even without Mark and I diving into the nuts and bolts of, of Lemon V cursing.
[00:20:42] Bob Gatty: Let's not get too legaleezed.. I can't stand it.
[00:20:46] Andrew Seidel: I'll look, I'll try to keep I'll try to keep it simple. This is a case that is older than Roe versus Wade, and it's, in a way, it's stronger precedent because as Mark said it's eight, It's an eight to one decision.
[00:20:55] And what the court did in that case was it looked back on all of the cases that it had decided. Every case where religion in the law had collided and it synthesized a simple test so that other courts could then apply that test and reach, the appropriate result, have a separation of church and state, and have religious freedom.
[00:21:15] And it was basically, it was a three part test. Does it have a secular, does the law have a secular purpose? Does it advance or inhibit religion? Does it entangle the government with religion? Those are the basic things. And in the Bladensburg cross case. And then in a, and then in a future case really about this coach that was imposing prayer on kids at a public school.
[00:21:34] The court crucified the lemon test on that Bladensburg cross. And it, it said in the the Coach Kennedy case, and this, I know you guys remember this case. This was just decided in June. And this is the case out of Bremerton, Washington, where you have a coach on the football field in his official capacity having Christian prayers at the 50 yard line, right?
[00:21:52] Yeah. And we know in that case we know that kids felt pressured to join that prayer. That, that they were essentially coerced into that prayer by the coach, and he's abusing his power to impose his personal religion on other people's children. And the lemon test, that old precedent that Mark was talking about should very clearly answer that, that case and that question and say, No, you don't get to do that as a coach.
[00:22:16] You can do it in your private capacity. You can totally do that. Do it off the field, Do it after everybody's left the field. That's fine. You don't get to do it while you are acting as a coach and while you have control over other people's kids. And in that case the court really, they Gorsuch said Justice Gorsuch said we put lemon on a shelf.
[00:22:32] You should have known that we're not gonna use that test anymore. So it's almost worse than what they did to Roe versus Wade because they didn't overturn. The precedent directly, what they said was, Eh, we're done with it and you should have known, we're done with it. And the scary part of that is that it gives all the lower court judges a license to look around and say, Oh, I don't like that decision.
[00:22:53] I think the Supreme Court put that decision on a shelf. So I don't have to apply that because that's what they did in this case. Really worried about where we are as a country and again, as a Supreme Court not being a court of law, any longer.
[00:23:06] Mark Bello: I I so agree with you.
[00:23:08] Bob Gatty: The Masterpiece cake shop case where the shop refused to make a wedding cake for that same sex couple on religious grounds and or the Oberfeldt Hodges case that permitted same-sex marriage. They were decided differently. So would today's court. Decide the masterpiece case the same way and overturn Obergefeldt
[00:23:28] Andrew Seidel: I think Obergefeldt v Hodges the case that vindicated one person's right to marry another consenting adult whatever their sex hangs in the balance. I You can count the votes on the Supreme Court and there are enough votes to overturn that decision, right? It's just a question of getting it to the court in a vehicle, and I think they are gunning for that case.
[00:23:49] Bob Gatty: Oh, it'll be taken there. I know it will..
[00:23:51] Andrew Seidel: Yeah, and I think Chief Justice John Roberts wants to be a part of that decision too.
[00:23:54] One, one of the things I try to do in American Crusade is really tell the true stories that underlie these cases. And one of the chapters that I'm most proud of is that Masterpiece Cake Shop case. I didn't want to just repeat the deceitful narratives that the Supreme Court adopted, and by the way, that one of the lower court judges in that coach case, That the crusader, a group called First Liberty Institute was pedaling deceitful narratives in that case.
[00:24:20] Now Mark, you're an attorney. I don't know how you feel, but if a judge said that I was pedaling a deceitful narrative to the court, I would. I would take a sabbatical, I'd go bury my head in the sand, but I'd crush, I'd be crushed I'd question it my morals, my decision. And instead the crusader appeals that to the Supreme Court because they know the Supreme Court is gonna be sympathetic and the Supreme Court.
[00:24:43] Mark Bello: They are arrogant sons of bitches, aren't they?
[00:24:45] Andrew Seidel: They are. And the Supreme Court adopts that deceitful narrative wholesale. So one of the things I could not do in this book was just repeat the facts of these cases as told by the Supreme Court because this is a court of alternative facts now.
[00:24:58] Mark Bello: So with their head held high,
[00:25:00] Andrew Seidel: Yeah so for instance, in the gay wedding cake case, I went and I interviewed Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins the gay couple in that case. And then I also interviewed members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. And these are the people that the Supreme Court labeled as anti-religious bigots.
[00:25:15] And, one of them began fighting for civil rights after hearing Martin Luther King speak about civil rights on the National Mall. Listening to his dream, that was when she first got interested in this. And that's the person who the Supreme Court is labeling in anti-religious bigot.
[00:25:31] So this is one of the things that I think really makes American Crusade unique. You get to hear a lot more about the stories and what actually happened in these cases as opposed to just, reading a couple hundred words in a media story or reading the Supreme Court's warped version of reality
[00:25:45] Mark Bello: In the case outta California Tandon.
[00:25:47] , They, they even take public safety and have it take a backseat to religion. The idea that Gavin Newsom can't regulate meetings during a pandemic where the people who are meeting are going to give each other covid. It's just mind blowing. I, Isn't that what that case stands for? That covid measures take a backseat to religious freedom.
[00:26:11] Andrew Seidel: It does. And that was actually one of the most striking things. And one of the ways that we really saw the weaponization of religious freedom accelerate in a way that, that I think nobody predicted.
[00:26:22] But. And again, this also goes back to, to, shredding precedent. I We have precedent that's a century old saying that religious freedom does not exempt you from public health measures, right? That religion, I put it another way. Religious freedom is not a license to risk the health, safety, and lives of your fellow citizens.
[00:26:44] But the court flipped that on its head in this series of cases one decided right around Thanksgiving when everybody was busy being with their families, and then a couple more, a couple months later in these cases out of out of California that you detailed. It was really, I these are really extreme cases, and I have a whole chapter on this, both the theology people may remember there was a moment where a viral, a woman went viral for her interview on cnn and she said, I'm covered in the blood of Jesus. So she wasn't worried about spreading Covid and it was really, it was that theology paired with Christian nationalism that we saw work its way up to the Supreme Court and then the Supreme Court adopt it and say, Yeah,
[00:27:22] Mark Bello: I wanna step away from the Supreme Court and cases for a second and ask you about the Constitution itself for a moment. Okay. What's your take for instance on the evolution of the Second Amendment? How do we go from quote, a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
[00:27:48] That's the second amendment. How do you go from that to the ability to own military style assault weapons.
[00:27:55] Andrew Seidel: I think you have a great fraud perpetrated on the American public and judicial system and, that's Chief Justice Warren Berger who said something along those lines and then even took the time to repeat, said I repeat the word fraud. That's what has happened to our First Amendment. It's what they are trying to do. Excuse me, that's what happened with the Second Amendment. It's what they're trying to do with the First Amendment. And so I actually tell that story in American Crusade about how, the NRA was essentially taken over and really put its time and money and effort into Redefining the Second Amendment and reading out , the militia clause from that amendment so that it could be weaponized. And that's exactly what we are seeing happen with the First Amendment.
[00:28:38] I The Crusaders are running the NRA playbook on the First Amendment now
[00:28:43] Bob Gatty: that's section about the Second Amendment. And the NRA was very powerful. I really, I read that today. I thought that was just extremely well done.
[00:28:52] Andrew Seidel: Thankyou..
[00:28:54] Mark Bello: The Constitution, Andrew, is a legal document, correct? ?
[00:29:00] Andrew Seidel: Yes, I will. I can agree to that
[00:29:02] Mark Bello: It is not a
[00:29:02] Andrew Seidel: political document. I could agree to, I could agree to that. Yes.
[00:29:05] Mark Bello: The purpose of the constitution lawyer to lawyer is essentially, and you correct me if I'm wrong, but a framework for our federal, state, and local laws. That's what the purpose of the constitution, it's almost like the 10 Commandments thousands of years ago acting as the original codification of law.
[00:29:26] And if it wasn't intended as a political document, it certainly has become one. What do you make of the people who I call constitutional hypocrites? Who selectively enforce certain constitutional provisions, but ignore others. This is also an example of the politicization of the court.
[00:29:45] Would you agree?
[00:29:46] Andrew Seidel: I would I, I think. Another way to think of the Constitution is that it creates this government of limited powers and that it can only exercise powers that are, enumerated in the document or implied by those enumerations and that, that we, the people ceded, gave away some of our personal liberty and return for safety and stability and justice in the, and those things that are enumerated in the preamble some of the rights were given over in this limited fashion to give the government power and some weren't. And I think we, the people never seated the government or granted to the government power over the mind or over conscience, which is one of the lines that I draw in the book. And to get more to your point, Yeah. The Constitution does set out these guidelines and these rules and this structure and then allows later generations to come and add to that and look I think there's a lot that our constitution got wrong.
[00:30:36] I think there, there are a couple places, quite a few places where it did a remarkably bad job. But I think the areas where it actually excelled were when it was dealing with religion, it is both a secular and godless document by design. The first words we, the people are a, they're a philosophical declaration that the government draws its power from the consent of the government, not a deity.
[00:30:57] We both have mentioned how it's vague and. Document that's more of a framework. But one of the places where it is remarkably and absolutely clear is in Article six which says that no religious tests shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
[00:31:13] That, that's about as clear as you can get. No shall ever any and each of. Was really innovative in ways that are really important as was, creating this government that was of limited powers and not no particle of which was a power to exercise religion in any way, shape or form, which is one of the ways we have a separation of church and state.
[00:31:33] And Now I'm way off your question and I apologize.
[00:31:35] Mark Bello: Yeah. An example is a lot of Republicans. Politicians anyway. , are anti tort reform. There's a seventh amendment in this country that says that you can file a lawsuit, a civil lawsuit for anything that exceeds the amount of 25 bucks, I think it is.
[00:31:51] , tort reform flies in the face of that, but most Republicans don't care about that. There are certain constitutional conservatives that like Grover Norquist for instance who thinks all of the constitutional amendments count, but he's a, he's an unusual Yeah. Example of that.
[00:32:09] Andrew Seidel: And look at the Ninth Amendment right.
[00:32:10] It's a crucial amendment, which says that just because we listed some rights doesn't mean you don't have other rights. And I think one of the things that you're seeing with this court in particular, You were talking about people cherry picking their parts of the Constitution, is this court's also turning to history and tradition in a way that we've not seen before?
[00:32:28] And focusing on that as though that is the dispositive way to decide these cases as opposed to the text or precedent. And I think that's because these conservative justices want to drag this country back to the dark ages. Back to a time when conservative white Christian men ruled when their rights were the only rights that mattered to a time when the overriding principle wasn't reality or the law or the Constitution or those three legal lines that I explain in American Crusade.
[00:32:54] But simply this Christians win and specifically conservative like Christian men win. I mean that, that is the new guiding principle of this Supreme Court.
[00:33:04] Mark Bello: He's so calm. He's so calm and articulate about it though. Bob . I like scream about this thing.
[00:33:08] Bob Gatty: Yeah. Andrew you mentioned earlier that in your book you talk about some ways people can fight back.
[00:33:17] you mentioned previously one way is to support expansion of the Supreme Court to nine justices.. . What are some of those other ways that we as citizens can fight back?
[00:33:29] Andrew Seidel: I'll identify two ways up at the top. One is to join groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State AU.org, which is working to build power and change hearts and minds on this issue and really create the network where we can push back against the Leonard Leos, that, that have captured our Supreme Court, right?
[00:33:45] It's one of the things that, that AU is desperately trying to do. So you can do firstname.lastname@example.org. We need all the help we can get in this fight right now. And the other thing, which I think is simple, but it's worth exploring, especially given, where we are right now, is that you have to vote.
[00:34:00] You really do, and I think a lot of people are feeling disheartened about voting right now, but voting is literally the least you can do. I mean that truly it is literally the least you can do. It is not the panacea. It doesn't fix anything. In fact, it doesn't fix anything, let alone everything.
[00:34:15] Voting gives us the chance to make a change and create the change that we want to see. It is, as Stacey Abrams tells us, it's medicine. Not magic. And I think, we live in a culture of instant gratification. We, a lot of people expect to go into the voting booth and check that box, fill out that ballot, whatever, and then they expect, Okay, I've done it.
[00:34:33] I've done my part. That's all I need to. We're facing down authoritarianism and fascism on the march in America right now. And voting is not enough again. It's literally the least you can do. You gotta get out there and do more. You gotta donate. You got a phone bank, you gotta knock on doors, you gotta call.
[00:34:48] You've got to do more given the situation that we're in. And if we are fortunate enough to win and give the chance to give ourselves a chance to make a political change in the future it, that's when the real work begins.. If we win the elections, that's when we really, that rubber meets the road..
[00:35:02] We really have to get down to it and start doing the hard work and convincing our elected officials and the rest of our citizens that it, yes, we have to expand the Supreme Court. And that, by the way that's one of the things that our founders intended when they were creating that constitutional framework, right?
[00:35:17] We have three branches of government. It's up to the other two to check the judicial branch when it gets out of control and drunk on power the way it is right now. Again join au au.org and begin with voting, but don't end with voting,
[00:35:31] Bob Gatty: Mark to ask your last question.
[00:35:32] Mark Bello: Now, the, I'm just so angry I don't know how you, I don't know how you talk about this so calmly and rationally, but anyway you're invited to a lecture at a a bar association.
[00:35:46] Andrew Seidel: That's in December and the meeting.
[00:35:48] Mark Bello: Oh, okay. And the meet and the meeting. This is hypothetical, the meeting welcomes new lawyers into the profession. , what do you tell these fresh young kids about constitutional freedoms, the first amendment and the separation of church and state? Forget what you learned in law school.
[00:36:05] Is that essentially the message?
[00:36:07] Andrew Seidel: I think that's unfortunately part of it. And this is one of the things that I realized the other day when I was doing an interview about American Crusade, I realized that in part the book is autobiographical. Because I was on the front lines litigating a lot of these cases and briefing a lot of these cases.
[00:36:24] And then, talking to the media about a lot of these cases it's a lot of it is the story of how the scales fell from my eyes. I went to an American law school. I was weaned on the myth of this court as the Warren Court, the defender of our rights that you can take cases into our judicial system that you can litigate them freely and fairly and that in the end the facts and the law and the best lawyer will win out.
[00:36:46] And that's just, that's not. Unfortunately that is not true any longer if it ever was. And I think new lawyers really need to realize that these cases, may be won or lost in the courts, but that this movement is not going to be won or lost in the court. The progressive movement and certainly the movement to separate church and state the movement to protect true religious freedom is not going to be vindicated in our courts.
[00:37:13] Certainly not now. That we need a, in an a recipe for change that is much broader than litigating these cases in the court. I think a lot of activists have relied and dedicated their careers to the courts of law thinking that's enough to get me through. And the sad fact is it's just not because this court has been captured by this ultra-conservative wing of the G O P that's deeply Christian and bent on imposing its will it's political will through these decisions in giving that will the force of law.
[00:37:42] So we, we need to do a lot more than just expect to win these cases in.
[00:37:47] Mark Bello: I just got a wild idea. what if the state that licenses a particular Supreme Court Justice instituted department proceedings?
[00:37:58] Andrew Seidel: That's an interesting question.
[00:37:59] Yeah, you probably know the language as well as I do, the language of the Constitution says that Supreme Court justices served during good behavior which has been read to be a lifetime appointment, which has been read to mean that only impeachment can remove them from the bench.
[00:38:12] Mark Bello: They have to be lawyers right?.
[00:38:14] Andrew Seidel: I don't know. That's what I'm saying. I'm saying in the Constitution there's only one requirement, and unfortunately the people who are gonna decide whether or not they're complying with the Constitution are the Supreme Court justices themselves. Which by the way, is one of the reasons that I'm so attracted to the expanding the Supreme Court solution because it, unlike the other solutions, it's not one that the court is gonna get to decide on the legitimacy of by itself. We've actually already decided.
[00:38:38] Bob Gatty: Andrew, what are you doing to convince the Democrats? I guess it has to be the Democrats that expanding the Supreme Court as an essential act.
[00:38:47] They must take.
[00:38:48] Andrew Seidel: Writing, writing books about it talking on podcasts about it. I write writing oped. I've been banging this drum for several years now. Yeah. And, I do have a reasonable amount of contact with members of Congress through my job. I wrote a report on the role that Christian Nationalism played in the January 6th insurrection.
[00:39:04] The January 6th committee reached out to me and asked, To reformat, reformat and submit that as written testimony to the commission that they could include in their final report. I've been having a lot of these conversations behind the scenes and working with a lot of different groups to try to help.
[00:39:21] Save our courts because that's what we need right now. All right.
[00:39:24] Bob Gatty: Thank you very much Andrew. Andrew Seidel, the author of American Crusade, How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing Religious Freedom. It's an excellent book and you guys need to pick it up if you care about this country.
[00:39:39] Andrew Seidel: Bob Mark, thank you for having me on. It was a real pleasure.
Comments & Upvotes
Also In Season 2
Inesa Ponomarlovalte-All About CBDWe seem to be bombarded these days with claims that CBD and related products can
Using Literature & the Arts to Promote Social JusticeToday we have something a little different for you. I’m with Ciahnan (Keenan) Da
David Tabatsky-Surviving the NazisIn this episode of the Lean to the Left and Justice Counts podcasts, Mark Bello
Dixie Dems-Will We Ever Get to Blue?Today on the Lean to the Left podcast we’re talking politics with a focus on the