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Public Statements

Issue Position: Judicial

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Presidential Appointed Czars
I share my constituents' concerns that the President has appointed more than 30 individuals to serve as Czars without Congressional input or confirmation. This action undermines the authority of Congress and concentrates too much power in the presidency. For this reason, I am supporting several pieces of legislation that bring transparency and accountability to the appointment of Czars.

H. Con. Res. 185 -- Expresses the sense of Congress that the President should issue, and Congress should hold hearings on, a report and a certification regarding the responsibilities, authorities, and powers of "czars".
o This would certify to Congress that such czars will not assert powers other than those granted by statute to a commissioned officer on the President's staff.

H.R. 3226 - Czar Accountability and Reform (CZAR) Act of 2009.
o This bill states that funds may not be used to pay for any salaries or expenses of any office which is established by or at the direction of the President and headed by an individual who has been inappropriately appointed to such position without the advice and consent of the Senate.

H.R. 3569 - Sunset All Czars (SAC) Act.
o This act sunsets these czars positions by the end of the year, requires Senate confirmation of any future czar, and states that appropriated funds may not be used to pay for any salaries and expenses associated with those positions.

Pro-life Legislation
I am a longtime, staunch supporter of pro-life legislation and will continue to fight to protect the rights of the unborn by supporting pro-life legislation in the 111th Congress, including:

H.R. 614 - Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.
o This legislation prohibits the distribution of Title X family planning money to entities that use abortion as a method of family planning.

H.R. 634, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act.
o This bill will make it a federal offense to transport a minor across state lines to avoid that state's abortion parental involvement laws. It also requires that in states that have no parental notification requirement for an abortion, the parent of the minor must be notified.

H.R. 881 -- Right to Life Act.
o This bill will implement equal protection for the right to life of the born and preborn.

H.R. 2061 -- Parental Notification and Intervention Act of 2009
o This legislation prohibits any person or organization from performing, permitting facilities to be used to perform, or assist in the performance of an abortion to a minor without: a) written notification provided to the parents of the minor informing them that an abortion has been requested, unless there is clear and convincing evidence of physical abuse of the minor by the parent, b) compliance with a 96-hour waiting period after notice has been received by the parents, and c) compliance with the judicial intervention process. Those that violate such prohibitions will receive penalties of not more than $1 million fine and/or imprisonment for not more than 10 years.

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act (not yet re-introduced in the 111th Congress)
o This legislation provides women with information about the pain their unborn child will feel during an abortion and gives them the opportunity to request that pain reducing drugs be given directly to the baby.

Mexico City Policy
o This bars U.S. aid to organizations that perform or promote abortion overseas. This policy was put in place by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and was in effect through 1993, when President Bill Clinton overturned it. When President George W. Bush took office in January 2001 the policy was reinstated. On January 16, 2009, my colleagues and I sent a letter to then President-Elect Obama advising him to continue the Mexico City Policy. I regret to inform you that a week later, on January 23, 2009, President Obama repealed the Mexico City Policy by Executive Order. The Mexico City Policy is a critical piece of legislation that will prevent taxpayers' money from being used to fund abortions overseas. It is for this reason that I am strongly supporting H.R. 708 - which would reinstate the Mexico City Policy.

Stupak-Pitts Amendment in the Health Care Bill
o This amendment prohibits any federal funds authorized in the health care bill to pay for abortion services, except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. The final vote for the amendment was 240-194, and I voted in favor of it.

Another controversial piece of abortion legislation has been the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which if enacted would in one tragic act overturn virtually all pro-life laws that have been enacted. It is for this reason that on January 21, 2009, several of my colleagues and I sent a letter to President Obama urging him to withdraw his pledge of signing H.R. 1964, the Freedom of Choice Act should it reach his desk.

Second Amendment Rights
As you may know, I have always been a strong believer of our Second Amendment right to bear arms. You will be pleased to know that I have co-sponsored several pieces of legislation that will continue to protect your right to bear arms. Such legislation includes:

H.R. 17 - The Citizens' Self-Defense Act.
o This bill protects the right to obtain firearms for security purposes and use them in defense of one's self and family.

H.R. 197, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2009 and H.R. 1620, the Secure Access to Firearms Enhancement (SAFE) Act of 2009,
o Both bills will allow any person with a valid, state-issued concealed firearm permit or license to carry a concealed firearm in any other state.

H.R. 2296 - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Reform and Firearms Modernization Act of 2009.
o This legislation amends the firearms provisions of the federal criminal code by revising the civil penalties for violations of firearms law and the procedures for assessing such penalties. It also requires fines to be based upon the nature and severity of the violation, the size of the firearms business involved, and the prior record of the firearms licensee. It calls for the Attorney General to make a preliminary determination on federal firearms license applications and to notify applicants in writing of intent to deny an application. It would limit the power of federal agencies to release any information on firearms purchases and would grant a firearms licensee whose license has expired or has been suspended or revoked 60 days to liquidate their supply. The bill also would focus BATFE's efforts on violations of firearms, explosives, arson, alcohol and tobacco laws, rather than non-jurisdictional areas. This legislation takes a major step toward protecting the rights of firearms dealers.

McDonald v. City of Chicago (amicus curiae brief)
o On October 6, I signed a brief submitted to the US Supreme Court regarding the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago. At issue is whether or not the 14th Amendment protects citizens against state or local governments trying to take away their 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

Federal Marriage Protection
Traditional family values have been very important to me, and I have a long record of supporting such legislation. I believe that marriage between a man and a woman sends a strong and positive message to our children about the sanctity of marriage. This is why I have always supported a Federal Marriage Amendment that would amend the Constitution by stating that marriage is strictly defined to be a union between a man and a woman.

I have also co-sponsored H.R. 1269, the Marriage Protection Act of 2009. This legislation would prohibit federal courts to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation under the Constitution of the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act. This act declares that no state is allowed to approve any marriage between persons of the same sex under the laws of any state.

Hate Crimes Legislation
My record on hate crimes is clear. I believe that a crime is a crime regardless of who commits it, or who it is committed against, and differentiating crimes based on race, color, religion, nation of origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability is wrong. Since I was first elected to represent the 4th Congressional District of Texas, I have always voted against hate crimes legislation. Here are some of those votes:

H.R. 3132, Children's Safety Act of 2005
o This legislation improves the national sex offender registration program. Congressman Conyers offered an amendment that adds to the bill the text of the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005."
o I voted against the amendment.

H.R. 1592, Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007
o This legislation increases federal authority for criminal investigations that are thought to be motivated by prejudice based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
o This was an "up or down" vote and I voted against it. However, I am disappointed to inform you that the Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed by a vote of 237-180. The legislation was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where it stalled.

H.R. 1913, Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009
o This legislation increases federal authority for criminal investigations that are thought to be motivated by prejudice based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
o This was an "up or down" vote and I voted against it.


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