David Ralston: Let Congress take a crack at ‘religious liberty’ measure

On Friday afternoon, House Speaker David Ralston joined host Bill Nigut and I for some conversation on GPB’s “Political Rewind.”

Many topics were touched, and you can listen to the entire exchange here. Perhaps most important was Ralston’s contention that an end to gridlock in Washington was a reason to give the “religious liberty” issue a rest come January – and let Congress take a crack at it.

The House speaker also said it would be “irresponsible” not to consider the apparent defeat of North Carolina’s governor, who signed legislation similar to the measure that Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed last spring.

The push to shift the fight to Washington has been building since the veto of House Bill 757.  In its aftermath, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson came to the defense of the governor. From that post:

Isakson underscored his previous remarks that such policy is best considered on the federal level in order to avoid a patchwork approach in the states.

“The best thing to do is leave it for the Constitution and the rights that are guaranteed and any definitions you need to add to that, do it at the congressional level so every state and every business and every individual is operating under the same set of standards,” Isakson said.

On Friday, Ralston, who has dealt with the issue three sessions running, pronounced himself in agreement with Isakson:

“I think it is a federal issue, so I’m very content to let them deal with it. I don’t hear much discussion about it. There was a lot of concern in the period of time right after the veto, but I think as people have kind of stepped back and taken a look at it, I think they realize that it’s a little more complex and has dimensions that you might not expect when you flash up the words ‘religious freedom’ or ‘religious liberty.’ Because, you know, we all believe in that….

“So I think it would be healthy for the Congress to have a debate, and let’s see what they do….”

Ralston specifically pointed to Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, who last year signed a measure that restricted the use of public bathrooms by transgendered persons – and ended the power of local governments to enact LGBT protections. (McCrory is 10,000 votes down, but has refused to concede.) Said Ralston:

“Look at North Carolina…I don’t think many Republicans in North Carolina lost on general Election Day. I think he was the only one. Governor McCrory certainly became Exhibit A on this issue. They’ve had a lot of fallout from their decision to adopt a similar measure up there. Frankly, it would be irresponsible of us to ignore that.”

Reader Comments 0

20 comments
Edith Stanley
Edith Stanley

whether it is the States or the Federal Govt that attempts to pass laws regarding so-called religious liberty ... it will run afoul of the U.S. Constitution's guaranty of that civil right.

Sharon Pharr
Sharon Pharr

Watch out when state legislatures attempt to improve The Bill of Rights. Neither they nor the Federal Congress has improved on it yet, they only succeed in diluting it.

Turner Jemison
Turner Jemison

I thought our American Constitution already made that clear...

Diane Chapman
Diane Chapman

Trump defends Jesus all the time and is friends with a lot of pastors. He mentions Jesus a lot at his rally's

Doug Rogers
Doug Rogers

The government has no place telling people they can make other people believe in thier cloud daddy. They can't make people believe in a book of myths. And religion needs to stay out of government. Any religious leader who in thier indoctrination center professes political involvement or representing thier religious beliefs and dogma should as the tax law says lose thier charitable status. They should have to report thier income and pay taxes.

Doug Rogers
Doug Rogers

To tell the truth the wall between church and state has always been a passthrough for the church. The flag is settled law. And the tax law has never been enforced by the IRS.

Sandra Dale Sikes
Sandra Dale Sikes

The Constitution addresses religious liberty. The problem is the INTERPRETATION some people want to apply to it! Separation of CHURCH AND STATE meant there would be no designated religion for people......

Greg P Bates
Greg P Bates

There is nothing legislatively to do. The constitution already preserves our religious rights.

Kymberly Hartfield
Kymberly Hartfield

So basically, after seeing what happened to the NC governor, they wanna back off of it and abandon their "states rights" principles.

Marion Baker
Marion Baker

Put it on a referendum and let the people settle it ! :-)

Kymberly Hartfield
Kymberly Hartfield

I think they are afraid to do that because it just might pass here, then GA will face the same economic fallout as NC.

Zain Malik
Zain Malik

No. What makes you think a majority voting on minority rights is a good idea?

Tom Alfred
Tom Alfred

I don't think Trump is going to stand up for Jesus.

Tom Alfred
Tom Alfred

Jesus said it was being a good Christian to grab all those women.

Jodi Mai
Jodi Mai

When did he do that, Johnny Lee? When he screwed all those vendors out of money he legitimately owed them or when he bought himself an Eastern European stripper for a wife?

Bonnie Martin
Bonnie Martin

Jodi Mai Look, I'm no fan of the guy, but you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself on the nasty train. Calling his wife a stripper is a stretch, to say the least.