A lack of interest by the attorney general’s office potential political manipulation of nursing nome patients reminds me that Attorney General Leslie Rutledge stays busy in other states chasing straw men.
She proudly announced yesterday that she “leads” a coalition of Republicans that want to intervene in a Washington state case on the side of a florist who’s run afoul of the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. It’s a religious freedom thing, see.
I should remind everyone that the people who didn’t want to sell hamburgers to black people back in the 1950s and 1960s also said it was a religious thing.
Either you are in the business of public accommodations or you are not.
The attorney general (and I doubt she wrote this) quotes the intervenors’ brief:
“Our history encourages a public square with many voices, all trying to persuade others of their views. But Respondents want all the voices either to agree on one view or to be silent. Because that runs counter to America’s history of free speech and religious exemptions — which are embedded in Washington’s Constitution — Amici respectfully urge this Court to rule in Appellants’ favor.”
Nobody is saying the florist or Rutledge should shut up — just provide services on an equal basis as Washington civil rights and consumer protection laws require, according to a lower court ruling. If the florist is to sell flowers for weddings, she must sell them to all comers. This florist has decided as a result not to sell for weddings rather than serve the gays.
You need not fear Attorney General Rutledge will intervene on the side of any people denied services in Arkansas on account of their sexual orientation. The legislature and governor took care of that with a law that explicitly allows people to offer religion as a pretext to deny equal treatment in employment, housing or public accommodations.
We could ask her to go after that illegal payday lender in North Little Rock, but apparently that’s not a consumer protection issue worthy of her attention. A flower shop in Washington state? There’s political hay to be made there.
Rutledge has also been making time to appear on national TV in behalf of Donald Trump (again this morning with Chris Cuomo of CNN and also on MSNBC). Former Democratic official Jimmie Lou Fisher has written an unhappy letter about it, which the Democratic Party is sending around with clips of Rutledge’s appearances this week on CBS and MSNBC, neither of which portrayed her in a good light, to put it mildly.
Fisher wrote in a fund-raising appeal:
I had the privilege of serving as Arkansas’s state auditor and state treasurer for more than 20 years. I was the first Arkansas woman nominated by a major party to run for governor. I always tried to serve the people with honor and dignity. My number one rule was ‘Never embarrass Arkansas.’
After Monday’s debate, I couldn’t keep silent. Among the endless chatter of faulty microphones and dissection of unintelligible “word salad,” one talking head in particular caught my attention. Serving spin on behalf of the interrupter-in-chief was none other than Arkansas’s own Republican Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge.
General Rutledge used her time on a national television network, preceded by the most watched presidential debate in history, to make the outrageous claim that the media was conspiring against her boss by talking about his refusal to release his tax returns. She refuted statistics from a scientifically conducted poll with opinion and anecdote.
As a Democrat, I was glad that veteran journalist Bob Schieffer didn’t let her off the hook.
As an Arkansan, I was horrified. When the Arkansas Attorney General is on national television, she is representing all of us.
As a woman, I was furious. General Rutledge was on television defending a man who calls women “Miss Piggy,” “bimbo” and “dog.”
Can you donate $20 to help us defeat Republicans like Leslie Rutledge on Election Day?
No, she’s not on the ballot, but candidates who defend a bully and try to divide us are. Help us stop them at the ballot box. Donate $20 today.
The next 40 days will determine the future of our state and nation for the next 40 years. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Donate; volunteer; and vote!