The Buzz

TheChat: Rep. Tim Huelskamp defends the First Amendment

Let’s do it again:

▪ “Sadly, the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage by five unelected lawyers opens the door for attacks upon our First Amendment rights of religious liberty and free speech.” — Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp explaining why he’s co-sponsoring a bill that would prohibit the federal government from penalizing people for acting on their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Huelskamp, a Republican who represents western Kansas, said the tax-exempt status for groups that oppose same-sex marriage is at risk. The new law, known as the First Amendment Defense Act, would protect the rights of individuals who oppose the Supreme Court ruling, he said.

▪ “Like the death of a near and dear loved one.” — Dent County, Mo., Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles, a cattle farmer, on how the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage hit him when it was announced.

In response, Skiles led a protest effort to lower Dent County flags to half-staff for a year on the 26th day of each month (the day the Supreme Court announced its decision). The county has since reversed itself after some military veterans objected, saying lowering the flag should be reserved for paying respects to fallen soldiers and deceased dignitaries. Earlier news stories implied that flags in the county would be lowered each day for a year. (link courtesy of

▪ “It’s a very, very difficult and challenging climate in which the discourse is not very pleasant. The IGs are part of the scene. It’s partisan, it’s unpleasant. It seems there’s a lack of common purpose that may not be helpful.” — Gregory Friedman, the longest-serving Cabinet-level watchdog, in an interview about his impending retirement after 48 years as an inspector general (IG).

These are tough times for inspector generals, who keep an eye on spending at federal agencies. Many posts are vacant while some say the IGs lack independence and are forced to knuckle under to political pressure.

▪ “Statistically speaking, we have a much easier death than most, so I encourage you to embrace it and celebrate our true liberation before society figures it out and condemns us to life without parole and we too will die a lingering death.” — death row inmate David Zink’s final statement before Missouri executed him Tuesday.

Zink apologized to the family of of his victim and urged his fellow death row inmates not to go to court over their sentences.