Faith and Freedom Coalition’s New Tennessee Director Aaron Gulbransen Talks About the Group’s History, Roe v. Wade Significance

Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist, official guest host, and Faith and Freedom Coalition’s State of Tennessee Director Aaron Gulbransen in-studio to describe the group’s origins and relationship to Roe v. Wade.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our microphones here in-studio, all-star panelist, official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report and the newly named director for the State of Tennessee of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Mr. Aaron Gulbransen. Good morning, Aaron.

Gulbransen: So I get to be an all-star panelist now?

Leahy: You have been promoted.

Gulbransen: Oh, my gosh!

Leahy: You are an all-star panelist. You are a guest host. And of course, now, it’s interesting, as you were off-mic – talk a little bit about your change in routine now that you’re the Tennessee State Director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition. And you said something interesting: every morning you fight the tendency to pitch stories. (Laughter)

Gulbransen: Very specifically on Labor Day, I actually kind of woke up because I decided I was sleeping in on Labor Day, and I woke up in a cold sweat a little bit, like, oh, I gotta go do all these stories. No, I don’t. (Leahy laughs)

Leahy: That’s not your job anymore. Your job now is to influence the Tennessee General Assembly to pursue the family-friendly agenda, the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Tell our listeners a little bit about the history of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Who started it and why? Where is it today?

Gulbransen: So the Faith and Freedom Coalition kind of came out of the Christian Coalition from the ’90s, which, if everybody remembers, Pat Robertson founded that. Of course, Ralph Reed is the president of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, and he at one point headed up the Christian Coalition.

And we’re in about, I don’t know, 23, 24, 25 states or so. And the primary thing we’re looking at on legislation is what does the world look like in a post-Roe v. Wade world?

Leahy: And here, of course, just for the context, Roe v. Wade was perhaps one of the worst decisions of the Supreme Court. I say worst in the sense that it wasn’t based on law. It was the Supreme Court basically legislating law, which Harry Blackmun authored that decision.

Gulbransen: In my opinion, Roe v. Wade is probably the biggest sin our country’s ever committed.

Leahy: 1973, I guess, was when the decision was handed down by the Supreme Court. A little background: Harry Blackmun was an undistinguished member of the Supreme Court, a political hack back then.

It turns out I have something in common with Harry Blackmun. We were both members of the regionally famous, legends-in-our-own-minds Harvard Glee Club. Separated by about 50 years.

Gulbransen: Is there a video of this? (Leahy laughs) Because I would love to see that.

Leahy: I graduated in 1977, and I was from Harvard, and I was in that group from ’73 to ’76, I think. Didn’t do my senior year. But this was back in the era when I was a Democrat and back when I had this big lumberjack kind of beard.

That was my distinctive characteristic. And after I got out of business school, I just got rid of the beard forever. So it was a different era, shall we say, but that’s the only thing I had in common with the guy.

Gulbransen: So you had to shed the beard in order to become a Republican, too …

Leahy: No. I shed the beard before I became a Republican. The story was, when I was getting out of business school at Stanford, I interviewed for a sales job with a company called System Industries that had been founded by Ed Shao. Ed Shao was a former Republican member and a very successful entrepreneur, and it was out in San Jose, I guess, and I showed up with this beard, and the guy said – well, this was the thinking at the time; it’s just not appropriate now, I don’t think – said, you know, it was like a hardcore sales guy. And they sold kind of computer peripheral equipment way back when.

I showed up in a beard. And he said, well, you know, a beard, it’s a tie-lose situation.

[I said] What are you talking about?

He said, well if you show up and you’ve got a beard and somebody else doesn’t have a beard, the best you can get is a tie. But you could lose. But you’re not going to win.

I thought, okay. And that was at the time you were looking for a job out of business school. I think it was relevant. I didn’t end up doing sales. I went into management consulting, if you can believe it.

Gulbransen: Gee, I’m so shocked. (Chuckles)

Leahy: I know. I know.  Anyways, back to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision was overturned in the Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court here, in essence, 6-3, and parts of it were 5-4.

Thank you, John Roberts. And by the way, just related to that, the big controversy back in early May, when in an unprecedented way, somebody released the draft opinion.

Gulbransen: Yes. And I thought Roberts was supposed to get to the bottom of that.

Leahy: It’s September! Let’s see. May, June, July, August. Four months. It’s almost like a punchline. How long does it take the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to determine who leaked a draft opinion? Well, apparently a long time! I don’t think he’s trying very hard.

Gulbransen: I don’t think he’s trying very hard. Of course, some have posited that he knew who leaked it when he leaked it. But that’s speculation.

Leahy: That’s a theory. But seriously, you could discover who leaked the opinion.

Gulbransen: Yes.

Leahy: And he’s not really trying very hard.

Gulbransen: To show how ridiculous this is, there are so many things in politics that we know and in government that we know, but we don’t say because it’s bad form to say, or it’s just an open secret. And this is one of those things that many people in D.C. I am sure know.

Leahy: Who released it.

Gulbransen: I’m sure if you spent enough time around the Supreme Court halls you would know.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.


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