Author Archive

Original Intent: The Fourteenth Amendment and Marriage

April 15th, 2015 No comments

SC Attorney General Brief Filed, Attacked in Record Time

Bob CookIn their filing with the Supreme Court of the United States, Attorney General Alan Wilson and Solicitor General Bob Cook focused their arguments on the due process doctrines of the Fourteenth Amendment (1868) and how that Amendment does not provide a path to same sex marriage. (This “originalism” did not sit well with the hard left, hence this vicious attack and this one.)

So, was there a connection between Marriage and the Fourteenth Amendment? The answer? Yes!

According to research conducted by Wilson’s office, when the Fourteenth Amendment was taken up by the US Congress in 1866-1868, federal legislators went through several drafts to insure among other things, that states would still control their own marriage laws.

The 40th Congress (1867-1869) that approved the Amendment consisted essentially of two groups: Republicans and Radical Republicans. (The Senate was 86% Republican and the House 79% Republican. Some Southern states still had no representation.) The challenge for proponents was to get both factions on board with the language of a Constitutional Amendment needing a two thirds vote. Liberal Republicans like John Bingham (R-Ohio) had to craft a Due Process Clause with an eye toward pacifying Conservative Republicans like Robert S. Hale (R-New York; pictured here) who were protective of the rights of states.
Robert Hale
We pick up the AG’s brief here (brackets ours):

Congressman John Bingham, author of Section One of the [Fourteenth] Amendment, assured skeptics that the provision did not undermine the States’ reserved powers. As Bingham explained, “[t]his amendment takes from no State any right that ever pertained to it.” (Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 1st Session at 2542) Bingham earlier quoted [legal scholar] Chancellor James Kent [1763-1847], stating the “principal rights and duties which follow from our civil and domestic relations fall within the control” of the State. Id. at 1292-93. The Congressman emphasized the “dual system of Government” maintained “our own nationality and liberty….” Id at 1293. He deemed the “protection of all in rights of person and citizen” are “the powers reserved to the States.” Id. 14 [page 14]

This leads Wilson and Cook to the inevitable conclusion:

Neither in 1868, nor now, does the Fourteenth Amendment compel a “one size fits all” for state marriage laws. Now, as then, the Tenth Amendment and federalism are foundational rocks upon which our Constitution rests. This foundation should not be rent asunder. If so, dual sovereignty is dead. [page 6]

State authority to define marriage should not now be destroyed by a ruling without basis in history or constitutional law. Reliance upon [the] Loving [case], or gender discrimination cases, or a disregard of longstanding deference to the States in their domestic relations, is unwarranted given the Fourteenth Amendment’s history. [page 8]

So, there you have it. On this the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of General Lee’s surrender, we find federalism in a surprising place: the Civil War and Reconstruction Congress.

You can read the full South Carolina brief here.

The Pain Capable Infant Protection Act – Valuing Life

March 23rd, 2015 No comments

What is a “Life Not Worth Living”?

by G. Steven Suits, MD


Last week, a subcommittee of the SC Senate Committee on Medical Affairs held a hearing on the Pain Capable Infant Protection Act (H.3114), a bill that passed the SC House by a vote of 80-27 on February 11. The law, if passed, would limit abortions in South Carolina to fewer than 20 weeks gestation, the point at which many researchers have determined the unborn child can feel the pain of being aborted. When the subcommittee meets again, a key question will be whether to amend the bill to allow abortions 20 weeks or after in cases of “fetal abnormalities.” In light of that looming hearing, Palmetto Family asked our former Chairman and President, Dr. Steve Suits to tell his family’s story. As a medical doctor, an ethicist, and the father of Kres, Dr. Suits is in a unique position to advise the subcommittee. –OPS

 An Encounter

“Doctor, there’s a reporter on the phone from the Herald – Journal,” my receptionist said, continuing “and I know you don’t like talking with reporters, but she’s doing a story on the crisis pregnancy center.”  I took the call, knowing that the AP Stylebook didn’t allow for neutral reporting on abortion.  But the center was a cherished ministry and I couldn’t refuse the chance to promote its work.

“Doctor, I’m doing a report on the crisis pregnancy center and when I was over there yesterday one of the staff said something that struck me as incredible,” the reporter began.  “And I wanted to talk with you about it because she said that you were the source of the statement.”

Family with Kres“What is it?” I asked.

“She said that there was no such thing as a life not worth living.”

“Well, I have said that, but it is not original to me,” was my reply.

“I’m not sure that I agree with that,” she opined, uncharacteristically for a news reporter.

“What do you mean?” I probed.

“You know.  Some people are so bad off that their lives are nothing more than a burden – on themselves and on others.”

I asked her to explain to me such a person (careful to put a mild, but unmistakable, emphasis on person).  She responded with commonly used terms such as “brain dead,” “on a ventilator,” and “in a coma.”  It was when she used the expression “vegetable” that I responded.

“I don’t normally refer to those with whom I work as vegetables, but let me describe a typical patient that I as a pediatric surgeon would encounter.  Then you can tell me if that is the kind of life you would consider not worth living.”

“Okay,” she said with a hesitancy revealing her concern that she was not directing this dialogue in a manner comfortable to her.

“An eight-year-old boy born with hydranencephaly – that means he didn’t have any higher brain function – requires constant care, and always will.  He is in diapers, spends his time between his waterbed and a custom-molded chair.  His only response is to cry.  When his diaper is wet, he cries.  When he his mother moves him to change it, he cries.  Because his limbs are held in constant flexion and pulled inwardly, his legs are hard to spread.  This necessitated surgery just a year ago to release his hips.

“When he has been in his chair too long, his wailing adds to the noise of his siblings at play.  But unstrap him and lay him down and he shrieks as if being tortured.  When he’s hungry, he gives the same notification as always.  And you can imagine how he reacts as the feeding tube is inserted through his nose into his stomach in order to pour the liquid nutrition into him.  On top of all of this, he cannot even recognize those who care for him.  Is it mother, father, sister, brother, or baby-sitter?  He has no clue.  Never will.”

I hesitated, trying to sense if she needed more detail to the picture I was painting upon the canvas of her mind.  But this was enough.  She rejoined, “That’s exactly what I’m talking about.”

“I just described to you my eight-year-old son,” I answered, I’m sure with obvious pain from her insinuation that he was worthless.  During the silence that followed I felt that pain, but also an almost nefarious pleasure at having led her into such an abrupt confrontation with her own value system.  I waited, hoping she would see the implications of her position and satisfied that they were now obvious.

“I don’t think I’d want to live that way,” she finally retorted.

That was it?  “I don’t think I’d want to live that way”?

“Come on, lady, none of us would want to live that way!” I thought, almost out loud.  Should I speak to her of Bentham and Mill and utilitarianism?  Did I dare mention human life as the image of God?  How could I bring her back to a discussion of worth from her focus on desire?  I settled my thoughts on continuing an existential approach.

“To my wife and me, Kres (yes, he even has a name I was saying to her) is son.  To our seven other children he is brother:  ‘Kressy-poo’ usually.  His life is worthy not because of what he can do but because he is.  You see,” I concluded, “we live daily – hourly – knowing that as life cannot get ‘worse’ than Kres’s, there is really no such thing as a life not worth living.”

“I can see why you might see that, Doctor.  But I don’t think most people I know would agree with you.”  With this she thanked me for talking with her, admitting that it had not been the interview she had expected.

The following Sunday, the article appeared in the paper.  In it were descriptions of the work at the crisis pregnancy center with the insinuation that somehow free pregnancy tests lured unsuspecting women in to be propagandized with videos, pamphlets and “anti-abortion counseling.”  But there was not one word about life not worth living, Kres, or the doctor on the board of directors of the center who had some “incredible” things to say.

Also recommended:  
A Broken Heart, A Child’s Life


Different Approaches to Ethical Thinking

How could there be such polarity to the conclusions reached about the same circumstances?  This encounter illustrates the importance of understanding the system or world view in which one is thinking.  Rather than seeing someone’s arguments as merely invalid, it is necessary to consider the foundational principles upon which the arguments build.  For the reporter, the fundamental principles were utilitarian as opposed to my absolutist position derived from biblical principles.  What are the components of utilitarianism and what are its strengths and weaknesses?


Utilitarianism is a teleological or goal-oriented theory of ethics.  Its single supposedly simple principle was described by John Stuart Mill as the “principle of utility” which he explained:  “Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.”[i]  To the utilitarianist, right and wrong are determined on the basis of the results, outcomes or consequences.  This theory is also referred to as “consequentialism,” and is a classic example of “the ends justify the means.”

To Mill, the principle is stated in terms of happiness.  More commonly, it is given in terms of pleasure and pain.  This is the classic formulation of Jeremy Bentham.  He identifies happiness with pleasure – any pleasure.  Mill agreed that happiness could be identified with pleasure, but insisted that there was a hierarchy of pleasures, some being “higher” than others.[ii]  “It is better to be an unhappy human being than a happy pig.”  “It is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”  For this reason, Mill’s utilitarianism is sometimes called “qualitative.”[iii]

In another model statement of utilitarianism, its telos is the “greatest good (or pleasure) for the greatest number of people.”  In a well-known rendition, the “hedonistic calculus”[iv] is applied:  computing the pleasure pain ratio.  The utilitarian strives for the greatest amount of pleasure while trying to minimize suffering.

A final differentiation within utilitarian theory is between act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism.  Bentham was the father of the former and proposed that utility was determined  for each act which was “morally right and obligatory if it would produce the most utility (the best consequences) under the prevailing conditions.”[v]  Rule utilitarianism determines that “an act is right if it would be more beneficial to have a code of moral rules permitting that act than one which excluded it.”  It “looks for rules that as a whole produce the greatest utility, and it prescribes them.”[vi]

Utilitarianism applies one simple, objective goal for ethical action:  pleasure.  Ethics consists in finding that goal.  As such, utilitarianism is result-oriented and seeks practical means of achieving its goals.

But utilitarianism suffers from unclarity.[vii]  What is the greatest good?  Would one not have to be omniscient to be sure that a certain act is greater than all other possible acts?  Is the most important utility individual or social utility?  What is the basis for seeking the good of society, and for which “society” does one seek the good?  Is intensity of pleasure or quality of pleasure more important, more utilitarian?

Utilitarianism also is criticized for being prescriptive (and arbitrarily so) in establishing pleasure as the highest good.  Do all humans seek pleasure above all else?  For Nietszche, it was power.  For Frankl, it was meaning.

Finally, application of the hedonistic calculus could result in justifying acts of harm against minorities as long as the pleasure of the majority was so augmented that a net utility resulted from the prejudiced action.

From the reporter’s utilitarian perspective, Kres did not have the requisite amount of pleasure to offset his suffering and thus deem his life worth living.  For her, only a positive hedonistic calculation could provide his life with value.  Had she really thought through the consequences of living in a culture where everyone assigned value to the lives of others by such calculations?


[i] Mill, John Stuart.  Utilitarianism:  With Critical Essays.  Edited by Samuel Gorovitz.  Indianapolis:  Bobbs-Merril, 1971.  As quoted in Munson, Ronald.  Intervention and Reflection:  Basic Issues in Medical Ethics.  Fifth edition.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1996, p 3.

[ii] Munson, Ronald.  Intervention and Reflection:  Basic Issues in Medical Ethics.  Fifth edition.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1996, p 4.

[iii] Brown, Harold O. J.  Lecture notes for Theology 603, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte.  Fall, 1998.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Feinberg, John S. and Feinberg, Paul D.  Ethics for a Brave New World.  Wheaton, IL:  Crossway Books, 1993, p. 28.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Brown.

Jeff Duncan & Chip Campsen Champion Student Freedom

February 23rd, 2015 Comments off

When Jeff Duncan moved up from the SC House to the US House of Representatives, we lost a great friend and champion at the Statehouse. As Representative from Laurens (2003-2011), Jeff was always on the right side of every faith and fiscal issue, and he was always a step or two ahead of the opponents of life and family values.

This week we were reminded of what we knew already—Jeff Duncan is still passionate about freedom, he is still a player on state issues, and he is always ready to help Palmetto Family with our challenges under the copper dome.

You may have read about controversies at Vanderbilt University and the California State University system where Christian student ministries were de-recognized by campus authorities because they refused to modify their articles of faith. (Please click the Vandy link for a great video and the CSU link for a quick analysis. You will enjoy both.)

You see, politically-correct administrators wanted all organizations on campus, even the religious and political ones, to accept “all comers” as members and officers. That meant the Christian Legal Society or InterVarsity could no longer require its officers to adhere to a statement of faith that presented homosexuality in a bad light, or political groups affiliated with parties to require agreement with the party platform. Picture an atheist as head of Cru or a College Republican heading the Young Democrats.

Seeing the lunacy of this kind of policy, a number of states have passed simple statutes that protect student religious freedom. Among these are Ohio, Virginia and Oklahoma. For a number of years, Palmetto Family Alliance, our legislative action arm, has been supportive of legislation to protect Christian groups here. But in a showdown in the SC Senate Judiciary Committee on March 19, 2013, another Senator placed a minority report on Senator Chip Campsen’s Student Association Freedom of Religion Act, which killed the bill for the two-year session. We produced this video to give you an idea of the fight that raged that day.

Enter Jeff Duncan.

It was Congressman Duncan’s opinion that such important legislation to our constitutional freedom of religion should not be left in a drawer. Duncan not only agreed to write a letter defending the Christian student groups, he rallied eight of our nine SC Members of Congress to sign it. Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott as well as Congressmen Jeff Duncan, Mark Sanford, Joe Wilson, Trey Gowdy, Mick Mulvaney and Tom Rice all signed the letter! This well-crafted message will go a long way to providing some needed momentum for freedom. The letter, which was mailed to all 86 college and university presidents in South Carolina, is attached for your review as a supporter of Palmetto Family.

Thanks to Congressman Jeff Duncan of Laurens and Senator Chip Campsen of Charleston for their passionate defense of religious freedom in South Carolina. Stay tuned to learn what you can do to get the Student Association Freedom of Religion legislation up to bat.


SC High School League “Stiff-Arms” Homeschool Family

October 3rd, 2014 No comments

Bureaucratic Action Defies Common Sense

Whether or not you have a connection to home schooling, this story will make your blood boil.

Let me set it up for you.

It was two years ago that we celebrated the successful passage of the “SC Interscholastic Activities Act.” This new law gave Governor’s School, Charter School and Home School students the right to play for their local public school athletics teams and to participate in school activities like band, chorus, orchestra, ROTC, chess club, etc. South Carolina finally joined 28 or so other states that recognized that Governor’s, Charter, and Home School students were the children of taxpayers and that having such an option for all kids can be good for a community. (Here is the video from the Governor’s bill signing.)

The Interscholastic Activities Act passed the SC General Assembly without a dissenting vote!
How often does that happen?

One of those home school students who has benefited from the new law is a Andrew Mitchell, a young man living in the northern part of Spartanburg County who was able to make the Landrum High School Cardinals basketball team.

But, between this year and last, Andrew’s family moved a few miles away. That put him in the attendance area of Chapman High School. “No problem,” the school district in essence said. “We’ve had public school choice in Spartanburg District One for over 40 years. Parents can choose any school in the district. Just have Andrew continue at Landrum.”

This was great for Andrew’s family, and for the Landrum team, which had become a true sports home for the young man. In fact, everyone connected in any way to Andrew was strongly supportive of his right to stay at Landrum—the coaches, the principals, and the school district superintendent.

Enter the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL).

The SCHSL Executive Director, head of all public school athletics in South Carolina, denied the district’s request. According to his interpretation of League rules and state law, because the student was home schooled, he would not be able to take advantage of the long standing District choice policy. (Even though other non-home schooled students from the Chapman area go to Landrum and we assume vice versa.)

Confused and disappointed, the family appealed the decision of the Executive Director to the full Executive Committee of the SCHSL. There, even with the full support of the school, the school district, the local legislative delegation, and an opinion from Attorney General Alan Wilson, the family lost on a close vote.

A year ago, the SCHSL Executive Committee would have been the end of the line for the Mitchells. But, due to frustration with the ongoing shenanigans of the League, the legislature considered shutting down SCHSL in 2013, described in a famous blog post. At the end of that legislative year, attempting to take a more temperate approach, the legislature kept the league in place but required that a new Appeals Panel be established. The Appeals Panel is composed of citizens outside of League control.

Today (Friday) morning at 10:00 in the offices of the South Carolina High School League, the Mitchell Family’s appeal will be heard before that new panel. Pray for them, won’t you? If justice is done, they will win.

But whether they win or not, it has been amazing to see how so many in the Landrum, SC area—parents, teachers, legislators, principals, school board members, and the staff and legal counsel of Spartanburg School District One—have rallied around Andrew Mitchell. God bless them!

A legal brief has been prepared in support of the family and the school district. It makes for good bedside reading, even for a non-lawyer like me. Please contact us if you would like a copy.

We will update you as soon as we have a decision today.

Yours sincerely,

Oran P. Smith, PhD

PS: If you are an attorney, perhaps you would be willing to assist the Palmetto Family Legal Resource Council with cases like this. We have at least five religious liberty and educational freedom cases on the front burner right now and could use some pro bono assistance. We especially want to chat with you if you have been to the Alliance Defending Freedom National Litigation Academy or have served as an ADF Blackstone Fellow. You can email me about the Legal Resource Council here.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Palmetto Family Football

September 2nd, 2014 No comments

Legislative session final score is 13-3. A win is a win?

Although the calendar tells us summer is not officially over, students are back in school and college football has kicked off. I know you are thinking what I am thinking: an excellent time for a legislative report!

Um, right.

There is a reason for the timing. When the legislative session ended back in June, summer vacation season was already in full swing and no one really wanted to talk about the business of lawmaking for at least 90 days. Now, we can take a fresh look back.

So, how did family and values fare in the 2013-2014 South Carolina General Assembly?

The answer is…it was a defensive struggle…but the family values team won 13-3.

Let’s start with our opponent’s “offense.” [We call this our WATCH list.]

Here’s what happened when our opponents had the football. On their first play from scrimmage, they tried a Hail Mary pass to Over-Regulate Homeschooling. That plan didn’t work when two of the receivers ran off the field during the play and left the quarterback to fall on the ball. It was embarrassing to say the least.

When they got back on offense they tried a series of fifteen straight Cloud of Dust plays—running right up the middle in the name of liberalizing Sex Ed in the schools. That drive gained some momentum when our boys on defense got tired, but their drive stalled on our twenty yard line and they were forced to punt.

Later in the game, they tried a series of trick plays, all of which resulted in punts when our defensive unit held firm: the Unhitch & Go (making divorce easier), the JumbleRooski (same-sex couple income tax filing and gender identity discrimination), the Fake Feel Good (instant bingo tickets), the Reverse (bringing back video poker), the Hic and Ladder (alcohol tastings at drugstores), and the old Statute for Libertines play (redefining family).

After an exhausting two years, they kicked a field goal giving them three points, all related to alcohol—coupons for liquor, beer for NASCAR, and brewpub samples size increases. The latter was to attract a $31 million investment from Stone Brewing, which recently announced they are looking elsewhere. We watched the kick from the sidelines.

Unfortunately, during our time on the field, we weren’t able to generate much offense either. [We call this our HOT list.]

We were able to get a ban on Sweepstakes, the video-poker imitating scheme that had begun to spring up around the state as “business centers.” We were also able to get some legislative push back against the College of Charleston for the pornographic book they required all freshmen to read. Several laws relating to children were tightened up. New educational standards to replace Common Core are about to be written thanks to legislation passed late. We are also pleased that Emma’s Law to require ignition interlocks for repeat drunk drivers.

All of that was worth about 13 football points.

But, there is blood, toil, tears and sweat left on the playing field. No major pro-life or religious freedom legislation passed the General Assembly in the entire two year session (2013-2014). Two major pro-life bills were defeated, including the fetal pain bill. Three religious liberty bills died a slow death, including healthcare freedom and protection for collegiate Christian clubs.

To put it in perspective, a pro-family agenda in Bible belt South Carolina winning by a margin of 13-3 is like Clemson or South Carolina beating Newberry College by ten points. Sure, the coaches would tell the media they were “pleased with a win over a good program,” but the two teams are in vastly different leagues. It should have been a drubbing.

So, how do we win big next year? How do we live up to our God-given potential and calling in the Palmetto State?

One way to do this is to put more fans in the stands. We need your support at critical junctures if we are going to win. That may mean a contribution to help pay for our efforts, inviting other like-minded fans to take part in the game by signing up for our emailed updates, or by cheering loudly when the game is on the line (calling an elected official when we ask you to).

Will you help? 

Thanks for your prayers and financial investment.

Yours sincerely.

Oran P. Smith, PhD

PS: With the legislature out of session, the most important project we have is the Statement of belief in traditional marriage. This is designed as an encouragement for Attorney General Alan Wilson. You can sign it and pass it along here. To make a donation, please visit our PayPal page here. You can sign up for our emailed updates here.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

School Choice and Common Sense

May 12th, 2011 No comments

When a Senate panel recently took up school choice legislation, one of the senators made several statements that are worth noting:

  • “It is amazing to me how the ‘no government’ folks want to get something from the government.”
  • “A scholarship funded by business isn’t ‘charitable’ because incenting people to leave public schools isn’t in the public interest.”
  • “School choice isn’t in the public interest because individuals decide, not the public.”

Now add to that the statements from the School Administrators Association recently in the Orangeburg Times & Democrat:

  • “Everyone has a duty to support public education, whether you have a child in school or not.”
  • “Many families want their children to be involved with religious training during the school day and that is fine. However, tax incentives should not support these religious programs.”

If these quotations were tallied, two Rules would emerge:

Rule 1. From here in official public administrationdom, we are compelled to remind you, the taxpayer, that we don’t earn our wings every day, we earned them once. End of discussion. So pay us…and only us.  PS: (pause to take a big breath) Separation of Church and State!

Rule 2. If you are a parent considering asserting some “individual” right to oversee the education of your child or a “free” enterprise business wanting to choose what kind of educational effort you want to fund, see Rule 1.

I truly believe that one day we will look back and wonder why we ever had only one choice in schools, just like we wonder why it took so long to enjoy options for letters and packages, telephones, media, etc. Something about the arrogance and the defense of an often inferior, expensive product that the above statements represent sounds like the AT&T lawyers fighting the looming competition for Ma Bell in 1982.

And, not so different from the perspectives of Bell vs. MCI, pro- and anti- school choice advocates sound like they are from different planets.

Public School Only advocates argue that just like fire, police, and the National Guard, they and they alone should receive taxpayer support for their mission. Education is a job only government can do equitably. Competition for The System is silly, weird, elitist and even downright unpatriotic. To argue for any alternative to The System is to sully the aunt, mother, grandmother, cousin or best friend who gave her life to educating every child zoned for her classroom regardless of his academic aptitude.

School Choice supporters see K-12 like the other two education sectors, early childhood and college, where taxpayer dollars fund all alternatives and the individual taxpayer chooses what fits for her child best. They see K-12 education not like the National Guard, where a single force and a government chain on command is crucial, but more like every other vital service in the economy where the best product at the best price is a win for everyone. And, like every first year law student would tell you, there is no Church-State separation issue with school choice. Existing programs like Education Lottery scholarships are being used by students at Christian universities like North Greenville, the G.I. Bill being was used to send combat veterans to Bob Jones and state early childhood funding supports kids at First Baptist Preschools.

To provide a practical example, a microcosm of how School Choice would work is the enterprise of urgent package delivery. We may ship with the Post Office from time to time because it is convenient, but when it really matters, we will go with a private service. We also know if the private firm makes a mistake, we can demand satisfaction and there will be consequences for failure. I’ve never had FedEx tell me they lost my package because they were underfunded, and my UPS driver would be devastated if I weren’t 100% satisfied with his service.

If we are to move South Carolina forward economically, well-educated citizens are the key. But given our ranking, we must make quantum leaps. School Choice offers a tremendous opportunity.

As we move in that direction, School Choice advocates should respect public school teachers who work long hours for short pay and suffer under the weight of mounds of paperwork. They want to see change just like the rest of us.

In turn, public school only advocates should resist the sense of entitlement that Rule 1 and Rule 2 represent and understand the incredible sacrifices parents make to pay twice for school. In the case of parent tutors (home school), a mother’s life is totally dominated by educating her children. Talk about parental involvement! That should be encouraged, and at a tax credit of $1,000, it seems like a good deal for us all.

Oran P. Smith is President of Palmetto Family Council, a faith-based public policy research organization founded in South Carolina in 1994. PFC has supported School Choice from the beginning, and is not aware of any funding from billionaires.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Senators Fight to Reduce Taxes, Against Abortion TODAY

May 11th, 2011 No comments

After being swept out of office for binge spending, trading favors and turning a blind eye to moral and ethical concerns, Republicans in Congress got the message and reversed course. After taking back the US House in 2010, the GOP got right down to business on its mandate in 2011, cutting the federal budget, defending free enterprise and defunding Planned Parenthood.

Republican majority state legislatures around the nation are also moving in an aggressive fiscal and social conservative direction this year, passing reduced budgets and strengthening laws to give unborn children a fighting chance.

With solid majorities in the House and Senate and an electorate that installed a Republican into every statewide office in 2010, South Carolina should be far outpacing the US Congress, as well as nearly every other state legislature. The South Carolina General Assembly should be a model for the country legislatively, celebrating at this time of year the passage of a post-election budget that rolls back state expenditures and advances the causes of life and economic development.

But this is not the case.

The SC Senate has drifted into another week of deliberation on the state budget, but judging from its content, it doesn’t appear that word of the 2010 election made it to the Gressette Senate Office Building.

As it reads today, H.3700 includes no significant rollbacks in spending, no advances for the unborn, and no real reform. According to Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), it is the largest budget in state history and includes $600m more in general fund revenues. What’s more, liberal Democrats and their staff allies are playing puppet master to well-meaning but gullible Republican Senators in key fiscal areas. (Last week, Democrats fooled the GOP into believing that banning state taxpayer funded abortion in the state health plan would “endanger billions in federal Medicaid funds” until Americans United for Life and the Department of Health & Human Services set the record straight.)

When the Senate convenes today, the Majority Caucus has what may be their last chance to live up to the name “Republican.” A group of young conservative legislators is proposing a series of amendments that will provide the reforms the citizens of South Carolina expect from a conservative majority.

Ten (10) Senators have made it clear to the Senate leadership that without: 1) reform in the state employee early retirement (TERI) program, 2) a rollback in the huge Unemployment Tax increase, and 3) a defunding of taxpayer funded abortion, there won’t be a budget. As it is in their power, these seven plan to filibuster until these three reforms are included in H.3700.

We are proud to lend our support to their efforts of Senators Lee Bright, Kevin Bryant, Tom Davis, Larry Grooms, Shane Martin, Phil Shoopman, David Thomas, Mike Fair, Chip Campsen and Danny Verdin, and encourage all South Carolina conservatives to urge their Republican colleagues in the Senate to join them.

Call the legislative switchboard at 803-212-6200 and ask to speak to your Senator.
You can also send an email to your Senator (or to ALL Senators) from the Statehouse web site at
If you’re not sure who your Senator is, use this link to find out:

Categories: South Carolina Tags:

The Freedom of Conscience Act and the Huh? Caucus

April 15th, 2011 No comments

Americans United for Life analyzes state laws related to Life every year. AUL even goes so far as to rank the states in the strength of their laws on abortion, protection of the unborn (in contexts outside of abortion), bioethics, the end-of-life, and health care freedom of conscience.

South Carolina is currently ranked 19th of the 50 states. 19th. We can do better.

But in order to be rated among the Top Ten pro-life states in the country, we must close two serious gaps: Born Alive Infant Protection and Conscience Protection. We discussed Born Alive in our last message to you.

When it comes to Conscience, though South Carolina law is very strong on the right to object to taking part in abortion, there is no protection for health care professionals or institutions in other ethically questionable areas such as stem cell research or euthanasia.

So, we were glad to see H.3408, the South Carolina Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act, which came up on the House floor for an extended debate last Tuesday.

If you read the online voting score sheet on H. 3408 posted on the statehouse website, you will see that 69 members voted in favor of final passage of the bill, 41 voted against, 5 were excused, and eight 8 just didn’t bother to vote.

We win. Sounds good. But what does it really mean?

To get a clear picture of the real position of each individual legislator on the larger issue of Life, we must consider all votes cast on Born Alive and Conscience last Tuesday. So, Palmetto Family took all 9 roll calls and analyzed them in a huge spreadsheet (1,107 cells for those of you who appreciate such things).

When tallied, the nine roll call votes reveal three distinct groups of legislators as pie charted above:

  • 60% voted pro-life every single time. This Consistently Pro-Life group of 74 voted pro-life right down to procedural motions like tabling and “carrying over,” as well as amendments and final passage.
  • 20% were equally as consistent on the other side. These 25 or so Consistently Pro-“Choice” members of the General Assembly voted wrong every single time, whether it be procedural or passage.
  • 20% could be called The Huh? Caucus (24). These state representatives did everything they could to water down the bill by voting for amendments that would have weakened it. Or, they voted to kill the bill procedurally. But, with 60% of the House sticking with the pro-life position every single time the voting bell rang, these folks eventually reversed course and voted for final passage. That way they could say they voted for the bill while actually trying to eviscerate it. This group voted Aye only when the outcome was inevitable. Of the 24, seven (7) members in particular were all over the map. They voted for some weakening amendments and not others, and some didn’t vote for final passage after voting against some of the weakening amendments.

Palmetto Family Alliance will continue to monitor the voting records of the members of the South Carolina House and Senate in preparation for our 2011-2012 Legislative Scorecard. The Scorecard will include The Huh? Caucus. To review the Scorecard from the last legislative session, please visit this page.

Categories: life Tags:

Shocking Vote in South Carolina House

April 1st, 2011 No comments

22 members vote against infants already born

Late Tuesday afternoon, the SC House took up two bills related to the Life issue.

The second of the two received the most attention. It could be considered “controversial” because it would opt South Carolina out of abortion coverage in the new Exchanges mandated by the new health insurance law. It would also allow health care workers to refuse to participate in procedures that violate their consciences. Abortion = controversial. We get it.

But the first bill wasn’t about abortion and shouldn’t have been controversial. It was about infants who are already born.

Known as the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” the federal version of the law was passed in 2002 on a voice vote in US House, and a 98-0 roll call vote in the US Senate. In the Senate, Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator Barbara Boxer supported it and voted for it. The last time it was taken up in South Carolina, it passed by a whopping 105-5.

But, according to the new online vote system of the SC House, at 4:24 p.m. on Tuesday, the vote on H.3403 was 91-22.

There is only one way to read the roll call sheet: 22 elected members of the South Carolina General Assembly voted against protecting children who are already born.

This is a shocking result. It is one thing to be “pro-choice” or even “pro-abortion,” but how could any elected official, when presented with the opportunity to protect a child who has already left her mother’s body, vote “No”? That’s like being “pro-death.”

At the bottom of this message, I have reproduced the text of the BAIPA bill for you. As you can see, there is no legislative sleight of hand. There are no words that could be misinterpreted. In fact, the bill even states that the rights of an unborn child can’t be expanded by the law!

Here is the list of legislators (including three pastors) who voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. If you know any of these officials, or if you notice a member from your county, you can use this page to find contact information. You may wish to respectfully express your concern about his or her vote.

Terry Alexander
pastor, Florence

Karl B. Allen
lawyer, Greenville

Carl L. Anderson
pastor, Georgetown

Jimmy C. Bales
retired, Eastover

Curtis Brantley
retired, Ridgeland

Robert L. Brown
retired, Hollywood

Mia Butler Garrick
businesswoman, Columbia

Gilda Cobb-Hunter
administrator, Orangeburg

Chandra E. Dillard
community relations, Greenville

Wendell G. Gilliard
consultant, Charleston

Christopher R. Hart
attorney, Columbia

Kenneth F. Hodges
pastor, Green Pond

Lonnie Hosey
administrator, Barnwell

Leon Howard
businessman, Columbia

Joseph H. Jefferson
retired, Pineville

John Richard C. King
mortician, Rock Hill

David J. Mack III
businessman, North Charleston

Harold Mitchell Jr.
executive director, Spartanburg

Elizabeth R. Munnerlyn
attorney, Bennettsville

J. Todd Rutherford
attorney, Columbia

Ronnie A. Sabb
attorney, Greeleyville

Robert Q. Williams
consultant, Darlington

Text of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (H.3403)

“In determining the meaning of any act or joint resolution of the General Assembly or in a regulation promulgated pursuant to Article 1, Chapter 23, Title 1, the words ‘person’, ‘human being’, ‘child’, and ‘individual’, must include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.

As used in this subsection, the term ‘born alive’, with respect to a member of the species homo sapiens, means the complete expulsion or extraction from the mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after the expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.

Nothing in this subsection may be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point before being ‘born alive’, as defined in this subsection.”

Categories: legislative Tags:

We want a roll call, too!

February 27th, 2011 No comments

The anti-life crowd may be officially off its rocker. We have know this for some time, but earlier this week it became even more apparent.

When the SC House Judiciary Committee met to consider Healthcare Right of Conscience legislation, not only did Tell Them! show up with video cameras, they instructed their legislative allies to make a huge production out of asking for a roll call! [sic] on each maneuver to kill or water down the bill. Every motion seemed to end with “…and I want a roll call!”

Well, la tee dah.

Given that the Conscience Act is wildly popular  with the public, that didn’t seem like a good legislative tactic. Those of us in the audience hoping for a pro-life outcome were thrilled that the Other Side thought of it. We figured that would help us…and man did it! All of the votes were lopsided (14-16 bipartisan votes for the pro-life position with only 3-5 partisan votes for the other side).

For one living in the pro-choice bubble, I guess a vote for life makes an incumbent vulnerable. We are glad that on the final vote (14-4), a full 78% of the Judiciary Committee thought the opposite.

Now for the Big Fuss on the floor of the House next week, where we expect the Other Side to somehow try to tie civil rights fo healtcare providers to their favorite red herring….rape. Read the bill guys, it just doesn’t compute.

But then again, there is the rocker issue.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: