Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Burton Unloads On Abdul: Who Are You?

The Howey Political Report tells us that Rep. Dan Burton (R) became quite testy while being peppered with questions from our favorite radio talk show host, Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, at today's press conference to announce legislation introduced by Rep. Mike Sodrel (R) to strip the federal courts of authority to hear Establishment Clause cases concerning state legislatures.

Howey explains what happened next:

After a series of questions from Abdul, Burton took to the podium and asked, "Who are you?" Once identified, Burton told the journalist, "For anybody in the media to come up here and start picking and choosing like you're doing right now is a mistake. It's just not right. You're not going to see any speaker, and I've served with Democratic speakers and Republican speakers in both the House and the Senate and the United States Congress and they don't do that. We're talking about religious freedom in the legislative branch of government having a morning prayer. That's what this is all about. Our constitution guarantees freedom of speech for everybody. We're talking about the federal courts infringing upon the rights of the state legislature by interjecting a view, which I don't believe will be upheld."

Burton repeated the same mistake Rep. Bill Friend made in today's Star article, arguing that the issue was about free speech. As already conceded by attorneys for House Speaker Brian Bosma, the issue before the courts is not one of free speech. Rather, it is a classic Establishment Clause case, which focused on the constitutionality of the House's practice of allowing Christian only prayers as part of the official prayers given at the opening of each business day.

The three amigos, Burton, Sodrel and Sen. Mike Delph, shared the podium without the House Republican leadership with whom the issue first arose. Speaker Bosma apparently chose to stay away from the press conference in the wake of comments he made to a Jewish group last week concerning the prayer issue which led to a public apology yesterday to members of the group.

Burton apparently had other reasons to be testy today as well. The Star reports that Burton was ticketed late last night for changing lanes without signaling and cutting off an Indianapolis police officer, who had to break hard to avoid crashing into Burton's car. According to the report, Burton was talking on his cell phone at 11:40 p.m. while driving on E. 62nd Street in Indianapolis when he abruptly changed lanes without signaling. Burton became testy with the police officer after he was pulled over and handed a $150 fine for failing to signal a lane change.

We suspect Burton may have been somewhat embarrassed after he learned that Abdul is actually a Republican and not typically on the opposite side of issues with him.


Doug said...

There is a long blank underneath "Howey explains what happened next:"

in my browser. From the linked Howey Report piece, I didn't really get why Burton was grumpy with Abdul. Something about "picking and choosing."

Gary R. Welsh said...


Sorry--corrected the post. Howey didn't offer many details. You have to wait for his subscriber-paid newsletter to get the full details. It is clear that these guys don't understand what the issue is about. It is not a free speech issue, but try explaining to these guys. I think Abdul may have been making that point.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Abdul has a report on his lecture from Burton at www.indianabarrister.com. Abdul reports that he has met Burton on several occasions including face-to-face interviews.

Doug said...

I really enjoyed Abdul's post at Indiana Barrister. It's clear that he's actually read Judge Hamilton's decision which probably puts him light years beyond Sodrel and Burton (and perhaps their sidekick Mike Delph -- one of these things is not like the other.)

Anonymous said...

It's always interesting when congressman get ticketed for crimes, as some of them think they are above the law. For example, Ted Kennedy who killed a lady in Massachussetts.

Doug said...

Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was sentenced accordingly. A grand jury investigated the rest of the incident and decided not to issue an indictment.

Not sure how the criminal stuff shook out when Laura Bush killed her boyfriend.