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Inside the Right-Wing Christian Law School That Brought Us Michele Bachmann

When Oral Roberts University sought to set up a law school, it called in Christian Reconstructionist Herb Titus. Michele Bachmann is the law school's most famous graduate.

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Other IOTC speakers have included Franklin Sanders, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “a peculiar mix of neo-Confederate fantasist and seasoned tax protester.” Sanders has served on the Board of Directors of the League of the South, a Southern nationalist organization the SPLC characterizes as “a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by ‘European Americans.’” That society would be, according to the SPLC, a “godly” nation “run by an ‘Anglo-Celtic’ (read: white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate blacks and other minorities.” 

In the Reconstructionist view, a gun will protect you from your imagined enslavement by the federal government. Bachmann is one of several Republicans endorsed by the Gun Owners of America, another Titus client, which contends that gun ownership is not just a right, but an “obligation to God, to protect life.” Last year, Titus cited the “totalitarian threat” posed by “Obamacare” and told me that people need to be armed, “because ultimately it may come to the point where it’s a life and death situation.”

When I asked him recently whether he agreed with Bachmann’s opposition to health care reform, he exclaimed approvingly, “talk about turning yourself over to tyranny—your health care decisions made by bureaucrats.” 

“Real” Americans 

Bachmann’s history of questioning Barack Obama’s American-ness, or of espousing “ normal people values,” is rooted in the Reconstructionist conception of “American-ness.” Not just Christian, but their kind of Christian; one who would obey God, exercise “dominion authority,” and, most crucially, is one of their “brethren.” 

Titus, founder of Bachmann’s law school, happens to be the architect of a legal theory—as far outside of the legal mainstream as his Establishment Clause theory—that Obama is not a “ natural-born citizen,” a designation that would render him ineligible to be president due to his “divided loyalties.” Deuteronomy 17, he insists, demands that that the “king” be selected from one’s own “brethren.” As an outsider Obama isn’t a “real” American, worthy—according to the Bible or the Constitution—of being president. 

The “Judicial Tyranny” Canard

In 2003, motivated by Moore’s Ten Commandments crusade, then-state senator Bachmann participated in a “Ten Commandments Rally” on the state capitol steps, at which speakers called for the impeachment of federal judges who rule public postings of the Ten Commandments unconstitutional, and for a return to “biblical principles.” Bachmann, according to coverage in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “told the crowd that the founders of the United States—including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—‘recognized the Ten Commandments as the foundation of our laws.’”

Bachmann isn’t alone among Republican politicians embracing Reconstructionist views. After Moore was stripped of his judgeship for defying a federal court order to remove his monument, Titus drafted the Constitution Restoration Act, which would have deprived federal courts of jurisdiction in cases challenging a government entity’s or official’s “acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.” The bill, which did not pass, nonetheless had nine Senate co-sponsors and 50 House co-sponsors; including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Bobby Jindal, now the governor of Louisiana, Nathan Deal, now the governor of Georgia, and Mike Pence, a conservative hero who’s now running for governor of Indiana.  

While campaigning for president, Bachmann took up the “tyrannical judges” mantle, this time in connection with the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling that the state’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. She applauded the ouster of “black-robed masters,” the three Iowa judges who had ruled same-sex marriage constitutional, and who were targeted by the religious right. In Iowa, judges are appointed, but subject to what is normally a routine, periodic retention vote.