Howdy Goes to the Unicameral

“Cross of Corn” is a contributing writer on Leavenworth St.


Adam Morfeld
State Senator Adam Morfeld

Call him Howdy.

Howdya avoid a civil discussion about concerns you have with a colleague’s bill?

Howdya skip reading the law you accuse citizens of breaking?

Howdya ignore the truth?

“Go, Howdy, go!” his sycophants chant in response to the social media narcissism of Adam Morfeld. Senator Adam Morfeld, that is. Um, lawyer Adam Morfeld, that is.

The preppy infantile lawyer, who has never practiced law, but fancies himself as a legal scholar, sits on the Unicameral’s Judiciary Committee, which recently heard a bill introduced by Sen. Mark Kolterman that seeks to protect the religious liberties of foster care and adoption agencies. That’s right, scandalous liberties enshrined in the First Amendment.  Sen. Kolterman introduced the bill at the urging of faith-based foster care and agencies that have seen similar agencies in other states shut down in recent years.

Now Howdy, as well as the ACLU and Nebraska Appleseed, attacked the bill as an attack on LGBTs, as they call them. [News Flash: The ACLU once upon a time defended the Free Exercise Clause staunchly. That was once upon a time.] Nevermind that the bill doesn’t single out LGBTs. Nevermind that the bill doesn’t prohibit placement of foster kids with LGBTs. Nevermind that there are 19 foster care agencies in Nebraska that do place kids with LGBT parents. Nevermind Sen. Kolterman’s bill wouldn’t change that. Nevermind that the bill doesn’t mention the science that shows that kids are better off with a mommy and daddy.

And nevermind that the beliefs of faith-based foster care agencies find their way into the other standards, such as cleaning up your mouth, attending church, being married to the one you’re shacking up with, etc. Nevermind these agencies testified that the same faith that leads them to serve leads them to follow some moral standards that some in the world doesn’t like. Nevermind that the supporters of Sen. Kolterman’s bill politely and respectfully and honestly testified before the committee, while the non-hating opponents cackled and mocked one of the foster care agency reps for saying one of his best friends was gay. (How is that funny?) Nevermind, in contrast, the opponents pounded on the table and shouted at the committee. Howdy says the bill is about hatred and discrimination. And he knows it.

At the Judiciary Committee hearing, Howdy decided to strut his legal stuff. He questioned the head of a nonprofit foster care agency – you know, a worthy legal adversary – and after, in his self-inflated mind, withering “cross-examination” by himself and another lawyer-in-name-only, Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, he leveled the boom:

“I was just looking up in the federal code here and it states specifically under section (d) here: All organizations that receive federal financial assistance under social services programs should be prohibited from discriminating against beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries of social services programs on the basis of religion or religious belief. Accordingly, organizations, in providing services supported in whole or part of the federal financial assistance and their outreach activities related to such services, should not be allowed to discriminate against current or prospective program beneficiaries on the basis of religion, a religious belief, a refusal to hold a religious belief, or refusal to actively participate in a religious practice.”

He concluded:

“I would just like to note for the record that you have admitted in this committee hearing that you are violating federal code.”

Harsh accusations, those, Howdy. After Howdy warned the nonprofit head that he ought to lawyer up, the Chairman of the committee, Sen. Les Seiler (who has actually practiced law, in Hastings) politely asked Howdy for a reference to the legal authority, but this caused the Howdy to stumble a little. Here’s the exchange:

SENATOR SEILER: What’s the cite on that, the U.S. Code?

SENATOR MORFELD: I’ll send it to the committee, but it’s…(don’t make me do this in public; I’m just learning to tie a tie by myself).”

SENATOR SEILER: No, make it for the record.

(Knees knocking!)

SENATOR MORFELD: Make it for the record (really, please don’t do this to me)? It is   ….

(Folks, those ellipses (…) are not ours; they’re those of the committee clerk, who transcribed the drama. What you’re seeing is the Chairman cutting Howdy off, essentially saying, “knock this crap off, and give me the citation to our federal code.”)

SENATOR SEILER: You should have it right there. (You little moron, you just quoted for 55 seconds from it.)

SENATOR MORFELD: Yep (you’re right, I do), section (d) of the (um, er, uh) executive order, and I could send that executive order to you.

SENATOR SEILER: This executive order doesn’t cut the law (muster?). You said you were quoting from the U.S. Code.

SENATOR MORFELD: Yeah, it’s the executive…(I’m so busted)…I apologize, it’s the executive order, yep (call me Howdy).

And so it went. Howdy the Brave put on a performance that would make Perry Mason blush, although not for the reasons Howdy might tell himself to believe.

Undeterred and not one to pass up time showing off his crooked little neck on the air, Howdy interviewed with KETV, now getting his citations straight (you never know, the Chairman might be watching):

“I was shocked they are violating a clear executive order by President Bush that’s been long-established.”

Nevermind that the executive order Howdy quoted in small part is intended, as a whole, to encourage faith-based foster care agencies to be part of the social services system. The order expounds on the importance of their inclusion and role in the system. (BTW…Unlike Howdy, we actually checked this with a lawyer who’s defended the religious liberties of groups for years.) Nevermind that the order, which was signed by President George W. Bush and restated by Sen. Obama, while not compulsory, was put in place to protect faith-based agencies. Nevermind that the beneficiaries referred to are foster kids, and not LGBT parents. Nevermind that no agency known to this writer has discriminated against a child because they identify as gay or lesbian. Nevermind.

As if all this were not enough of a demonstration of his legal prowess, Howdy wrote a letter the following week to the CEO of the Department of Health and Human Service, demanding that the Department investigate foster care agencies for discriminating on the basis of, get this, religion. Howdy asked the Department to terminate its contracts with the agencies. Howdy named names and quoted quotes. (Or at least he said he was quoting quotes. More on that shortly.) Ever shy of media attention, Howdy immediately forwarded the letter to the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star, both of which seized the story and ran with it, prominently linking Howdy’s letter.

Here are the quotes Howdy attributed to one of the agencies in his open letter:

“Christian Heritage admitting: ‘We won’t hire a homosexual,’ and ‘We wouldn’t work with a gay family,’ and ‘We work with married, opposite sex couples who sign a statement of faith and are actively involved with a biblical, orthodox Christian Church.’”

He want so far as to cite, in a footnote, the “transcript of Judiciary Committee hearing held 2-17-16 for LB 975.”

Maybe Howdy, who obviously had thought about the letter over the weekend – and probably consulted with other legal minds at Appleseed and ACLU – should have waited a couple more days for the actual transcript from the hearing. Some quote-checking may have slowed him down or made him honest, or maybe – we suspect – it would not have made much difference to him at all.

The actual transcript from the Judiciary Committee hearing held February 17, 2016, for LB 975 in fact contains none of those alleged quotes. It doesn’t contain any statements even resembling them.

These aren’t misquotes, folks, these are fabrications. They are make-believe. Nevermind.

And they were re-published in the state’s major print newspapers.

Now, Howdy, young barrister, please check the notes from your Media Law class last semester for the definition of libel. Or maybe you missed that class, and Legal Ethics too. And you might want to consider self-reporting to the Nebraska State Bar’s disciplinary counsel.  All that said, you’ve made the case, not your case, but the case – Senator Kolterman’s case – for why LB 975 is actually needed.

Because of anti-religious bigots like Howdy.


  1. Oracle says:

    Nevermind that the bill doesn’t mention the science that shows that kids are better off with a mommy and daddy.

    Outright lie. Google and you’ll find studies that show the opposite is actually true, or at least there is no difference.

    …scandalous liberties enshrined in the First Amendment

    Those are personal liberties, not liberties given to corporations. How Scalia, the great “originalist” could have thought the founders believed corporations are people is beyond me.

    • Corporations are defined as persons not by the constitution, but by the Dictionary Act of 1871. That’s the law.

      However, the idea that groups of people lack the right of free expression of individual people makes no sense. If I’m in group X, and all, or even most, of its members, want to say Y on behalf of X, then they should be able to. Abridging the right to collective expression abridges individual expression.

      • repenting lawyer says:

        Prof GH, How could a statute from 1871 define persons for purposes of the Bill ofRights, the great jurist Scalia is rolling in his grave. You are right that corps. can assert members rights and have at least some Constitutional Rights, particularly free expression. Free exercise maybe more problematic but churches and other religious institutions clearly do.

  2. repenting lawyer says:

    Sweeper What are Cross of Corns legal credentials? If the Free Exercise Clause Clause provides what he claims, Bill would not be needed. Thanks to Scalia it is. Not sure it would pass undue burden test of old. Odd that Cross is upset Senator did not practice, most practicing lawyers have not looked at 1st Amendment Cases since law school. If practice is his test I committed that sin for 50 years and think the Bill is not a good idea.

  3. Lionel Hutz says:

    Isn’t there an ethical provision that prohibits licensed attorneys from making material misrepresentations? It’s that ethics thingy . . . .

  4. repenting lawyer says:

    Lionel Hutz, Memory is a frail instrument and you are assuming deliberate misrepresentation without proof. In any eventful applies to representation not politics, SCOTUS, Scalia again generally will not allow truth tests because of Free Speech.

  5. Macdaddy says:

    Sounds like we have a winner for lunatic blowhard Ernie Chambers’ eventual successor. We have a Senator giving a pass to his constituents shooting at cops and another lying about being attacked in a bathroom to now one lying in the newspaper about Unicameral testimony. WTF is going on in Lincoln?

  6. Sparkles says:

    In an effort to reply with just a bit of the virulence exhibited throughout this post;
    The schadenfreude will be truly enlivening when LB 975 goes down in flames.

    The LGBT’s, “as they call them”, welcome you to the 21st century, Corn.

    • Sparkles says:

      And just in case our unicameral were to fail –
      “As president, I would push to cut off federal funding for any child welfare agency that discriminates against LGBT people. For me, there is no excuse — none — for hurting children and families like this.”
      Hillary Clinton, Oct 3, 2015

  7. HTH says:

    Ok Cross, Esq. Your conclusions don’t seem supported by your premises, so let’s break a few things down:

    (1) Executive orders are contained in the CFR i.e. Code of Federal Regulations. There is more than one “code” in the United States, and nowhere do you quote the Senator saying it was the US Code.

    (2) The executive order in question does not specify “beneficiaries” are the adoptees, not the adopters. I haven’t looked at the accompanying regs or case law, if there is any, but on the face of the order, your interpretation isn’t clearly supported.

    (3) In light of the above, it sounds like the Senator is taking a stance on interpreting the executive order. You can disagree with the interpretation, but you gave nothing to substantiate your position that his interpretation is any more or less right or wrong than your own. I disagree with his interpretation as well, but it’s much more opaque than you’re making it out to be.

    (4) Slow your roll on ethics implications. Google “legislative immunity” and be enlightened, my friend.

    Also, where are you finding the transcript of the hearing? I’m missing it. You could be spot on there, but I’m not finding it on the unicam website.

    Just my observations – I don’t support the Senator’s position on this order, but if you’re going to go on a rampage on his reasoning, I think you could do a little better to defend your own position.


    • repenting lawyer says:

      HTH, Given Cross’s remarks about Sen. Pansing Brooks, he clearly does not know the definition of libel, but Times Sullivan will save him. Poor Cross as the old joke goes he got his law degree off a match book.

      • HTH says:

        That’s another thing – Sen. PPB, as far as I know, actively practices law (indeed, I just checked and she has since 1984).

        I’ll be honest, I probably agree more with Cross than Sens. Morfeld and PPB on this issue, but I hate when people on any side of an issue get on their high horse and present ad hominem attacks as fact. “Preppy,” “infantile,” “self-inflated mind”? This post reads more like a temper tantrum than anything (perhaps there’s an undisclosed conflict of interest behind this post… hmmm).

    • repenting lawyer says:

      Lionel Hutz, In the main if political issues are involved First Amendment requires remedy in the political process not some disciplinary procedure. that decides truth or falsity. Scalia was a particularly strong defender of this point of view as I noted. Legislative immunity in the form of floor privilege does bar other authorities from disciplining members. Truly odd that in defense of a gross misreading of Free Exercise, you are shocked by accurate statements of law.

      • repenting lawyer says:

        Lionel Hutz, I see no evidence that Cross of Corn is a creditable witness given his blatant bigotry, and HTH noted he had not been able to find transcript.

  8. bynd says:

    He comes from Lincoln. He comes from a military family but rejected that family history by not serving. But he uses it to get elected.

    Since the Bush EO is still out there, the proposed law only puts the concept into Nebraska law. In 7 years Pres. Obama has not refuted or changed the EO. But once again, hatred and bigotry by the left is demonstrated publically and ignored by our watchdog press. Thanks Sweeper for doing their job.

    Why are some on here so bitter and full of hatred? Why don’t you agree with our Pres on this one?

    It is much like the death penalty debate. Some are vehemently, one could say almost violently, opposed to what they believe are the mixing of church and state. But since Gov. Ricketts is Catholic, and the Pope is against capital punishment, they want Ricketts to practice his religion in office. Imagine if Ricketts came out and said he is against the death penalty because he is Catholic.

    The silence from the left would be deafening.

  9. repenting lawyer says:

    Bynd, As best I can make out hatred and bigotry of left means not sharing your view point. Other than in the mind of Cross of Corn, I fail to see either hatred or bigotry in disagreeing with grant of special rights to religious groups just because they want them.

    • bynd says:

      And just in case our unicameral were to fail –
      “As president, I would push to cut off federal funding for any child welfare agency that discriminates against LGBT people. For me, there is no excuse — none — for hurting children and families like this.”
      Hillary Clinton, Oct 3, 2015

      In an effort to reply with just a bit of the virulence exhibited throughout this post;
      The schadenfreude will be truly enlivening when LB 975 goes down in flames.

      The LGBT’s, “as they call them”, welcome you to the 21st century, Corn.

      Hatred and bigotry. And for the sake of accuracy, let’s throw in hypocrisy.

    • bynd says:

      PS. It isn’t my opinion they are disagreeing with. It would be Bush and Obama. Yet, as Sparkles states, this President will go down as one of the greatest of history. Special rights. Isn’t that what the LGBT folks had by demanding and vilifying others to get? If you don’t ask, you don’t get them. It is the American way. Unless one disagrees with those asking for them. Works both ways.

      Quite frankly, I wish the faith based would get out of the business of partnering with government. Evidently “don’t conform to the patterns of this world” means something a lot different to them than the Biblical meaning.

      They don’t pay taxes. So take the money you save and go your own way. The government needs the faith based a lot more than the faith based need the government.

  10. Ed Stevens says:

    So let me see if I have this straight … “repenting lawyer” and other lawyerly types here are basically saying “Yeah … Morfeld’s misquotes and misrepresentations are real poo-poo but because he is a lawyer or a politician or … something … he is not liable/responsible/accountable/censurable for said poo-poo … but we are still not allowed to criticize him because he really didn’t mean anything by it … and even if he did, he’s a lawyer so everything is still hunky-dory.” Izzat about it? Because if it is, then I have a question somewhat similar to MacDaddy’s … wtf is going on in our law schools?

    Allow me a slight mangling of Diderot’s famous quote: “Man will never be free until the last liberal is strangled with the entrails of the last lawyer”.

    I also have not seen a transcript of that hearing, but I will bet my front seat in hell that CoC’s version is more accurate than the one put forth by Skippy Morfeld.

    • repenting lawyer says:

      Ed Stevens, A charmingly demented parody of what I said. Clearly what you have been pleased to call your mind is giving up the unequal struggle. I never said criticism was inappropriate, if criticism was accurate, which I doubt. I said Cross was misrepresenting Free Exercise Clause and the First Amendment did not generally allowCourts to determine truth or falsity of political speech. In each instance I noted that Justice Scalia, so recently mourned on this blog as a great legal mind was central to the current doctrine. So far as floor privilege goes the oft reverenced Founders put it in the Federal Constitution and its impact is hardly new learning. If Scalia and the Founders are the Liberals of whom you disapprove then even the National Review, the Sweeper, and most of the Conservatives on the blog are among those you want strangled. Doubt transcript would help you since you clearly have only limited reading skills.

      • Macdaddy says:

        Way to hide behind the law, RL, and completely mischaracterize what Morfield is doing. He’s using the Unicameral to spread outright lies about citizen groups who do not have the same recourse as he does. This is bullying and it is not the Nebraska way. Instead, you wander off into some wetland about Scalia. Morfield is a dick, plain and simple. He needs to grow up and become a little more responsible, as a legislator, in what he says about citizens. Since I doubt he can, then the voters need to punish him and bounce the clown out of the Unicam. Likewise, the Unicam itself should censor him. What he is doing is odious and he’s doing it on the backs of children who need every bit of help they can get. In fact, wasn’t that one of the arguments for allowing same sex couples be foster parents? But once in the door, that principle goes out the window.

        Keep running interference for him, though. Alinsky would be so, so proud.

      • repenting lawyer says:

        Mac daddy, Hardly a defense of the Senator to point out Cross’s total misrepresentation of the law. What are these resources that the folks behind the bill lack which the Senator has? What Alinsky has to do with us you should explain? We use to have stockyards in Omaha but no back of the yards.

      • repenting lawyer says:

        Macdaddy, Went back and reread Cross’s article, I can not find these horrible misrepresentations. Senator’s sin seems to be not agreeing with proponents of the bill. This provoked the Cross to pseudo outrage.

      • Macdaddy says:

        Go read Morfield’s ridiculous and irresponsible letter written on official letterhead where he outright lies about what a citizen’s group testified to in front of the Unicam. There should be consequences for elected officials using their office to lie about citizens. There should be no place for such abuse of power. Instead we have morons like you trying to lay down a smoke screen for these scumbags to get away with it. This is why people hate lawyers. This is why Donald Trump is getting traction because people are fed up with all the games our “betters” play in order to push people around. Proud of yourself, Professor?

    • repenting lawyer says:

      Mac daddy, Still do not see what was terrible in the letter. Requests an investigation of compliance with federal law with regard to folks who receive federal money. Views attributed to the groups largely mirror the beliefs of such groups. If there is defamation and reckless disregard a libel case could be brought, since floor privilege would not apply, though I do not see damages. Most of your objection seem to be to current First Amendment case law on these issues. I did not write the opinions I merely expressed my views on the law. Doubt that making a comment on this blog pushes anyone around, perhaps you could explain that.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Don’t throw your pearls before swine, professor of the law. Ed Stevens can’t write anything without becoming infantile. Notice how he likes to write poo-poo?

    • repenting lawyer says:

      Anonymous at 4:59, Given how much time is devoted by supposed Constitutional experts to praise of Scalia and Originalism, I can not help but be amused by their desire to go back to Brennan’s approach to Free Exercise, and I am surprised that enemies of big government seem to understand no form of responsibility than legal responsibility. Hence they treat statements about law as universal statements about value. Clearly Free Speech in Scalia’s reading does not say lies are good or liars should not be criticized or refute or voted against. Goes I got worked up at being accused of such folly. I will not say I got my Irish up because ProfGH has taught me not to engage such talk.

  12. Ed Stevens says:

    Hmmm … apparently I probed a very tender spot. One more reason it is difficult to take folks like this seriously – offer a little cogent commentary on their statements and get back shrieky ad hominem – and pseudonymous ad hominem at that. Lacking faith in their own opinions, or moral courage, or both, they cower in the mists that anonymity provides. Stay classy, boys.

    • repenting lawyer says:

      Ed Stevens, Questioning the integrity of others is hardly commentary. Snarky? You enjoy dishing out nastiness but dislike in kind response. You have never addressed your total misreading of my comments. My identity is hardly a secret. If you have not figured it out that is your problem given the number of folks who have.

  13. Senator Smarmolade says:

    I like my toast with a smear of arrogance each morning. It’s even better when my little minions get out the bread and butter it for me.

  14. Anonymous says:

    What are you talking about? These are not fabrications, they may not be direct quotes, but certainly not fabrications. You must have only ctrl+f’d and called it a night.

    Check the transcript:
    Denial of license to be foster or adoptive parent based on religion: Page 52
    Only serve Opposite Sex Families non Gay Families: Page 67
    Signed Statement attesting to Religious Doctrine: Page 51
    Won’t hire a homosexual: Pages 56, 57-58, and 61

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