Home / Bar Buzz / Bar Buzz: Trailing in polls, Ellison urges scrutiny of Wardlow

Bar Buzz: Trailing in polls, Ellison urges scrutiny of Wardlow

In declaring to a 2013 Tea Party gathering that an “unwritten second constitution” has been “all but destroyed” by the radical left, GOP candidate Doug Wardlow appears to have been referencing the principle of natural law.

That’s according to his DFL opponent, Keith Ellison, who convened a press conference Thursday with three LGBTQ elected officials.

On Sunday, Minnesota Lawyer asked Wardlow what he meant by the term. He said it simply refers Americans’ ethical and legal obligations and their values. “It’s just that there are values that are in the Constitution and that are in the Declaration of Independence,” he said.

Speaking Thursday, Ellison said he thinks that Wardlow actually was referring to natural law, a philosophy that believes nature — often interpreted as God — can be the source of moral or legal norms.

“He is talking about a set of ideas that are not written that he believes should animate the written constitution,” he said.

Stepping to the podium, Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, an openly gay man, spoke more bluntly.

“In short, it’s fundamentalist right-wing Christian evangelism,” Dibble said. “He wants to impose fundamentalist, right-wing Christian evangelism on everyone.”

Thursday’s Capitol press conference was called after reports surfaced that the Trump administration, in a Supreme Court brief, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a March 2018 federal appeals panel’s ruling in the case R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Wardlow was the lawyer who successfully argued that case in U.S. district court, but was overturned on appeal by a three-judge panel on Cincinnati’s 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. They ruled in favor of the EEOC, saying that a funeral home owner engaged in unlawful sex discrimination against plaintiff Aimee Stephens by firing her because she’s transgender.

Only the U.S. Justice Department can represent the government before the Supreme Court and in the DOJ’s brief, it told the high court that the 6th Circuit was wrong. It asked the court to accept Wardlow’s position, which he argued as an attorney for the religious-conservative Alliance Defending Freedom.

Ellison accused the Trump administration of wanting to “weaponize” the case by making the Wardlow’s position and the U.S. district court’s opinion a national precedent. He said he does not know if the president decided to press the case to help weight the scales in his opponents’ favor.

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About Kevin Featherly

Kevin Featherly, who joined BridgeTower Media in mid-2016, is a journalist and former freelance writer who has covered politics, law, business, technology and popular culture for publications and websites in the Twin Cities and nationally since the mid-1990s.

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