Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, in a 2017 file photo. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

The Jolt: Dithering over SCOTUS pick could cost GOP the Senate, Reed warns

The transactional relationship between evangelicals and Republicans is on full display in Washington, as frustration grows among religious conservatives over Senate hesitation to confirm U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Warnings are being given, should Senate Republicans fail to deliver a high court justice who anti-abortion and pro-choice forces alike believe will topple Roe v. Wade. From the New York Times:

“One of the political costs of failing to confirm Brett Kavanaugh is likely the loss of the United States Senate,” said Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition who is in frequent contact with the White House.

“If Republicans were to fail to defend and confirm such an obviously and eminently qualified and decent nominee,” Mr. Reed added, “then it will be very difficult to motivate and energize faith-based and conservative voters in November.”

The evangelist Franklin Graham, one of Mr. Trump’s most unwavering defenders, told the Christian Broadcasting Network this week, “I hope the Senate is smarter than this, and they’re not going to let this stop the process from moving forward and confirming this man.”

What You Need to Know: Brett Kavanaugh Accuser Christine Blasey Ford


One of our more astute readers suggests that the debate over Brett Kavanaugh, accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl at a drinking party some 35 years ago, is an excellent opportunity to remember Genarlow Wilson – who was neither rich nor white.

On Dec. 31, 2003, Wilson and five other young African-American men attended a drug and alcohol-fueled New Year’s Eve party at the Douglasville Days Inn. He received oral sex from a 15-year-old girl at the party. Wilson was 17 at the time. A video recording was involved.

Two years later, Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation, a felony at the time that carried a minimum 10-year prison sentence. Only the next year did the Legislature make consensual oral sex between a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old a misdemeanor.

And only in October 2007, in a 4-3 vote, did the Georgia Supreme Court overturn Wilson’s sentence and order him freed from prison.


Sacha Baron Cohen has claimed another Georgia Republican victim. 

The 11th District GOP voted Thursday evening to censure Jack Staver and demand that he apologize to  Hispanic voters after he made disparaging remarks on a Showtime TV series. 

Staver, a Cherokee activist, was one of three men featured on a late July episode of “Who is America?” – the same program that led to the resignation of state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, after he bared his buttocks and shouted racial slurs.

Cohen used the same strategy to dupe Staver, presenting himself as an Israeli anti-terrorism expert who wanted to offer him free security training to “catch illegal Mexicans.” 

In the scene, Staver hides in a giant piñata while another participant is dressed as a woman. 

Earlier, Georgia GOP Chairman John Watson called for Staver’s resignation from the state party committee, saying his “behavior, under the guise of deceit or not, is appalling and unacceptable.” Read up on Staver here.


While we’re in outrage mode: Jason Shepherd, chairman of the Cobb County Republican party, told the Marietta Daily Journal that a companion was booted from Live at the Battery Atlanta. He alleges that the ouster occurred for no other reason than wearing a Brian Kemp button. Shepherd reports that the owner of the establishment has apologized. The incident took place after a GOP event featuring former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.


On Wednesday, 22 state lawmakers -- many of them ranking Republicans -- called for a cost cap on those two new nuclear reactors that Georgia Power and its utility partners are building at Plant Vogtle. But as of Friday morning, we had only heard from one of four candidates in the two contests for seats on the state Public Service Commission.

Democrat Dawn Randolph faces Republican incumbent Tricia Pridemore. In a press release, Randolph scoffed at the idea of a voluntary cap:

“Relying on Georgia Power to place a cap on the project is ludicrous – it’s like taking Cookie Monster to the Keebler Elves Factory and telling him not to eat anything....

What we are seeing is an Averch-Johnson effect where regulated utilities make unneeded capital investments in order to increase their profits. Efficiency, prudency and consumers are discarded in the pursuit of money.

If this quagmire continues into my term on the Commission, I will work with leaders in both the House and Senate to secure legislative action - not only to cap the cost of the project, but also to claw back the profit, approximately $200 million or more – Georgia Power will receive just off of the loans.”


Attorney General Chris Carr is getting some backup in his bid for a full term. The Republican Attorneys General Association on Friday released the first TV ad in the race that focuses on his proposals to curb opioid addiction and fight gang violence. Carr faces Democrat Charlie Bailey, who accuses Carr of swiping his anti-gang plan. Watch the RAGA ad here.


U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, is offering lessons in how to make lawyers love you. He’s introduced a measure to require federal courts to make internet-based PACER documents available for download free of charge. From ARS Technica:

The PACER system has been on the Web since the late 1990s. To avoid using taxpayer funds to develop the system, Congress authorized the courts to charge users for it instead. Given the plunging cost of bandwidth and storage, you might have expected these fees to decline over time. Instead, the judiciary has actually raised fees over time—from 7 cents per page in 1998 to 10 cents per page today. Even search results incur fees. The result has been a massive windfall for the judiciary—$150 million in 2016 alone.


This morning, NBC News reports that, days before the Trump administration announced plans to slash the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. to its lowest level in 40 years, key opponents of the plan were locked out of a White House meeting run by immigration hardliner Stephen Miller.

The plan has drawn sharp reactions. Among its critics is U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson. The Lithonia Democrat has introduced a resolution that would increase the number of refugees who could be admitted into the U.S. to at least 110,000 a year. That’s more than triple the level the administration said it plans to admit in 2019: a record low of 30,000.

To be clear, the chances of a Republican-controlled Congress passing Johnson’s resolution and the president signing it are less than zero. Even so,, Johnson argued, admitting more refugees is in the country’s “national security interests.”

Doing so, he said, “helps stabilize frontline nations who are overburdened by refugees, and the refugees who come to this country create jobs as entrepreneurs and are self-sufficient within six months.”


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