Bobby Franklin, 1957 – 2011
Bobby Franklin, a Republican State Representative from East Cobb, Georgia, who outraged many and often out-tead the Tea Party, died in his sleep last week at the age of 54.
He believed that the country had lost its way by turning its back on God, and was determined to see it return to what he saw as its Christian roots. To say that Franklin, who represented the 43rd District, believed in limited government would be an understatement. “We’ve really adopted all 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto in one form or another in this country,” he said. (Ironically, the state couldn’t wither away fast enough for him.)
Franklin didn’t believe that the government had any business educating the young. In a blog post entitled “State Has No Jurisdiction To Educate Our Children — Period!” he claimed that “all education is by definition religious.” He mocked constituents who were victims of the deadly tornadoes that devastated the South this spring, posting on Facebook that he was “saddened” to see his “fellow Georgians pray to their God, FEMA, to save them.”
According to his official state profile,
Representative Franklin has been called “the conscience of the Republican Caucus” because he believes that civil government should return to its biblically and constitutionally defined role.
Some of Franklin’s legislative actions represented garden variety conservatism. He proposed that public sector collective bargaining be outlawed, for example, and sought to abolish virtually all social services in Georgia. He wanted to eliminate income and property taxes, and he submitted bills to allow guns to be carried into churches and colleges.
Other bills were considerably more idiosyncratic. His reading of the Magna Carta led him to believe that the State has no right to restrict travel, so he proposed doing away with driver’s licenses. “Agents of the state demanding your papers,” he said. “We’re getting that way here.”
Based on his strict constructionist reading of Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution, Franklin proposed a bill that would require all debt payments to and from his state to be paid in gold or silver.
Franklin did not limit himself to literal renderings of the Constitution. His manifesto of a radically reduced State, the “Life, Liberty, and Property Restoration Act,” was designed to bring government administration in line with what he saw as the theocratic dictates of the Declaration of Independence. The bill called for the creation of a committee that would scour every law and every department, agency, board, and commission in Georgia to “determine whether they comply with the foundational principles of civil government articulated” in the Declaration of Independence. This committee would recommend legislation to abolish those found wanting.
According to the bill,
The only legitimate functions of the civil government are the ones that pertain to the punishment of those who infringe on the life, liberty, or property of others. All other functions undertaken by the civil government are usurpation and a blasphemous attempt to be God.
His opposition to gays serving in the military was venomous:
“The Bible says it’s a capital offense,” Franklin said of homosexuality. “You want someone with unrepentant criminal behavior? And it’s not just that, neither should adulterers, neither should thieves, neither should a lot of things… But do you want an unrepentant drug dealer in the military? Same thing.”
Franklin gained notoriety when he introduced a bill to replace every reference to victims of stalking, domestic violence, and rape with “accusers” in Georgia’s penal code. Georgia has the 11th highest number of forcible rapes in the U.S.; the change was not seen as encouraging victims accusers to come forward.
History may remember Franklin most for HB-1, the “Prenatal Murder Act,” which declared that life begins at conception, and that abortion would be defined as murder. The penalty for murder in Georgia is either death or life in prison.
Franklin held that the U.S. Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to decide Roe v. Wade. Therefore, Georgia was free to outlaw abortions to protect its “prenatal citizens.” He posed the novel legal theory that, even had the Court not overstepped its authority, Georgia was not bound by Roe v. Wade because it wasn’t a party to the suit.
A quarter or more of all pregnancies end in miscarriages, often with no discernible cause. Yet HB-1 mandated that a “fetal death certificate” be issued within 72 hours of any miscarriage, and that an investigation be conducted to ensure that there was “no human involvement whatsoever.” This raised the specter of what blogger irishwitch termed the “Uterus Police” knocking on your door.
Hospitals would question women who were admitted after miscarriages about the circumstances behind the prenatal citizen’s death. If the woman was hazy on the details, their friends and family could be questioned, too. Records would be kept, and reported.
Franklin was an inveterate womb raider who summed up his own opposition to mandatory vaccinations with the phrase “my body, my choice.” He majored in Bible Studies and Business in college, and he described himself as a business consultant. He last worked as a bookkeeper, a job he lost before his death. By several accounts mild-mannered and solicitous in person, Bobby Franklin was a divorced family-values conservative with three children. He died alone. One day he complained of extreme chest pains.
It was four days before anyone came looking for him.