Current Nominee For The U.S. Supreme Court

Last Saturday, President Trump selected his nominee for the highest Court in the land. When the founders of our Constitution set up the system of checks and balances, I don’t think they ever envisioned the Court becoming so powerful.

But this is 2020 and we live in a very litigious society. People readily accept that laws legislatures pass will be tested in the courts. It’s who we’ve become.

Unfortunately there are jurists who interpret the Constitution as “a living document,” meaning that

the Constitution and other constitutions, holds a dynamic meaning, evolving and adapting to new circumstances, without being formally amended.

Except, the Constitution has very specific ways it can be changed. This “loose constructionism” allows for un-elected judges to create law because of their interpretation that “adapts” to the times.

But that’s what the Legislature is for: our voted representatives in both the House and Senate were designed by the founders to make laws, because they are directly responsible to the people. Judges are not.

All that said, President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a “conservative jurist,’ as she describes herself. Not because of a political leaning but because she hold to the belief that the Constitution and other statutes need to be interpreted based on what the original meaning was to those who wrote the documents.

Some times I think that position is described as “origionalist.”

Unsurprisingly the Democrats are up in arms because the President made the nomination and the Senate, conferred with the powers of “Advice and Consent” have enough votes to confirm her as a Justice.

The woman herself seems amazing. She’s a mother of 7, 2 adoptive children and 5 natural children, including her youngest who is a special needs child. She will be the first ever mother of school age children to sit on the bench.

In fact, she graduated at the top of her class in Notre Dame. Not, in the top. The top! I think she has a doctorate. She clerked for Judge Scalia, and he influenced her ideas about judicial interpretation. When what of her law professors recommended her for the position, he simply wrote, “I’ve never had a better student.”

So the woman is brilliant. And she’s experienced, having served on a federal appellate court since 2017.

In addition, Judge Barrett is a Catholic. One late night TV comedian tried to ridicule her by saying, she’s a Catholic, Catholic. You know, a nun. Well, of course she’s not a nun, but I guess the point is, he couldn’t find any dirt on her—her life apparently looks “boring” to him because all she does is car pool and sit on a judicial bench.

Not out there parting much, is she? Not a Catholic like Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi.

So that apparently is the big criticism of the recent appointee. They also try to rip the Republicans, perhaps rightly, for holding to the idea that President Trump should nominate anyone when in 2016 some of these same politicians were claiming that President Obama should not nominate a Supreme Court justice in his final year in office.

I thought the Republicans were wrong then, and I think the Democrats are wrong now. The fact is, the Constitution gives the Senate the right of consent. Unfortunately, because our government is so partisan, that means it’s rare for a Senator to vote across party lines. So in 2016, the Republicans didn’t need to come up with some lame idea that the President shouldn’t nominate someone. All they had to do was decide they didn’t want to consent—not if the nominee would take a liberal or “living document” approach to judicial interpretation.

As it happens now, the Senate has an even larger majority and therefore are all but assuredly confirming Judge Barrett.

What’s funny to me is that the Democrats don’t have to worry as they are, thinking that some of their pet liberal policies will now be overturned. If anything, the Supreme Court might return to the states the right to decide the laws that the Federal government has imposed on us all through the courts.

But the Democrats are hitting panic buttons all over because they don’t understand the difference between liberal and conservative judges. They assume that the conservatives will make law as they see fit, because that’s what liberal judges do. But a conservative Jurist is bound by existing law and understands that the Legislature or the states or the people are to make law, not the Court.

So no, we aren’t going to see Roe v. Wade abolished, unfortunately. But states may be permitted to place limits on abortions. Same with other laws like flag burning and the like. After these have been on the books for so long, they now have precedent—an important tool in the interpretation of the Constitution and legal statutes. The Affordable Care Act? Not long precedent there, so some of those provisions could be challenged. Other things, like “the right to die” and the imposition of a tax on people who want to leave California (only the wealthy, but seriously? How can they get away with that? I don’t think they will with a conservative court.)

All this to say, I believe American’s Bill of Rights is safe with this court, and I’m really relieved. I honestly didn’t know if President Trump, once he came into office, would keep his promises, and particularly the one about the judges he would appoint. I’m grateful he has.

But interestingly, this chain of events has shown why it’s so important for a conservative who will stand by the Constitution to be the next President and why it’s equally important for our legislators to be the same. All the bickering and political maneuverings can be rendered moot by our vote in November.

Published in: on September 28, 2020 at 5:07 pm  Comments (2)  
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Advocacy For Life

Perhaps the greatest sin in the US today is abortion. I don’t mean the individual sin of a woman deciding to abort her baby. I mean the ongoing legality of it and the complicit nature of government in allowing it.

Because that’s my belief, I sympathize with conservatives who have begrudgingly declared for Donald Trump. They intend to vote for him because he says he will appoint pro-life justices when he is President. The argument is tempting.

But I’ve decided against voting for Mr. Trump. Why, if I believe so strongly about the sin of abortion? The answer to that question is multilayered, but one aspect is this: pro-life views won’t be imposed on people who embrace naturalism.

Four years ago, I wrote a post here at A Christian Worldview Of Fiction entitled “Your Body, Your Own.” It’s a clear statement of what I believe about life. But I’ve come to realize there’s an entirely different view shared by those who think this material world is all there is, that there is no life after death, and that, in fact, there is no supernatural anything.

First, the post in question (yes, I used to write much shorter articles):

“A woman has the right over her own body” has become a rallying cry for abortion advocates. But because a fetus is inside a woman’s body does not make that life a part of her body.

Anyone born without all the usual body parts is normally classified as disabled. Is someone without a fetus disabled? Certainly not, or all women who aren’t pregnant and all men would be in trouble.

In this day of liposuction and plastic surgery, women are exercising their rights to change their bodies. But how many willfully discard body parts? “I don’t like this toe, so I’ll chop it off.” Or, “Who needs that other kidney . . . think I’ll have it removed.” A woman keeps the parts of her body because she needs the parts of her body.

Not so with a fetus. Instead, the fetus needs her. She doesn’t gain nourishment from that growing baby. She gives nourishment. She doesn’t gain protection from that little one; she gives it.

When a woman decides to have an abortion, what she is really deciding is to remove the fetus from the safe environment in which this new life is growing, maturing, developing.

If someone were to remove an infant from the safety of their home because they didn’t want it, and that baby dies, we’d call it child abuse. When a pregnant woman does so, we call it legal.

At the time I wrote those words, I thought the logic was unimpeachable. What I didn’t account for was this view of life that sees humans as no different from a dog or whale or titmouse or mosquito. In this view, the human does not have a soul and has nothing of intrinsic value other than the value ascribed to it by society. So, society says the unborn have no rights and are not valuable unless the mother gives it value.

Consequently, to end the life of an unwanted unborn child is no different than ending the life of an unwanted cockroach.

Appointing a pro-life Supreme Court justice will not change this thinking. In fact, as Mr. Trump accurately pointed out in the last Presidential debate, if the court should overturn Roe v. Wade, the legality of abortion would be determined by the states instead of by the federal government.

I have no doubt that California would quickly pass a law legalizing abortion. I suspect all blue states would, and I have to wonder if the red states would be far behind. In other words, changing the law is not going to change the culture that has fostered this attitude toward the unborn.

We need meaningful change, not band-aides that stem our feelings of guilt. We need to address the wrong thinking that allows women to choose abortion, that promotes the devaluation of human life, that turns the other way when abortionists sell fetal body parts and refuses to do anything to stop it.

First we must understand why people believe as they do—that abortion is not murder. People with this perspective might ask, Is swatting a fly, murder? Killing an unwanted fetus is no different from ridding your house of an unwanted pest.

Such thinking sounds outrageous to us who belief that human life is sacred, that men and women are made in God’s image, that we have eternal souls which set us apart from all other creatures.

This belief about humans is the fundamental difference between abortionists and pro-life advocates.

My guess is that the majority of women who have an abortion never think about the reasoning behind their decision. They believe what the kind abortion clinic personnel tell them: it’s not only legal, but it’s preferred: you don’t want to bring an unwanted child into the world where they might face abuse and neglect.

But what about the unborn child’s inalienable rights? What about their soul? What about their intrinsic value as a person? These are the questions pro-life advocates need to bring front and center if we are to change the way our society thinks about abortion.

The answers are in the Bible, but also in our Constitution, starting with the Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Emphases mine)

Abortionists might not identify the pre-born as persons, but surely there can be no doubt that our “posterity” by definition refers to those yet to be born.

So the facts, both legal and moral, are there. But until we do the hard work to influence the thinking of our culture, we ought not expect that a Presidential Supreme Court nominee will fix the mess we’ve allowed to exist for more than forty years.

Racism And Free Speech

ClipersDonald T. Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, has allegedly been taped during a conversation with his mistress in which he made numerous racist statements. At issue, apparently was his mistress posting pictures with various African-Americans as well as her attending Clippers games in the company of African-Americans. According to a tape played on TV’s TMZ program, Sterling wanted her to take the pictures down and not to come to games with African-Americans.

According to the US Constitution, Sterling has a right to say he doesn’t want his mistress to post pictures of African-Americans or to attend games in their company. But in the aftermath of this TMZ reveal, sportscasters and players and any number of people have called for sanctions from the NBA for his comments and, more drastically, for him to be denied the right to own an NBA franchise.

I thought the whole “free speech” right protected people from just such reprisal.

Mind you, I have no way of knowing if Donald Sterling harbors hatred for a race of people. He is of Jewish ethnicity, as I understand, which doesn’t mean he is or is not opposed to others because of their race. But supposing he were, does the majority of society, which agrees that racism is wrong, therefore have the right to punish him for stating his views, to the point of wresting his property from him?

This is a serious issue. It’s easy to make Donald Sterling a target, especially if you live in the LA area as I do. He’s sabotaged his own sports team any number of times by his questionable decisions and his unwillingness to pay the going salary for top level players. To learn that he has a mistress, that he said inappropriate, racial things to her, and that these things were taped, doesn’t seem surprising. Rather, it’s Donald Sterling being Donald Sterling—someone who goes his own way without regard to others, who is greedy, offensive, selfish, and mean spirited.

So, is society allowed to withhold the rights of greedy, offensive, selfish, mean-spirited people? Is it OK to revoke his First Amendment rights because he’s a jerk with racist views?

We might wish so.

But here’s why it’s not a good idea to get on that bandwagon. There is no telling who society will next label as offensive, mean-spirited, and selfish.

I have no doubt, for example, that there are feminists who would find my views about women and about abortion to be offensive and perhaps sexist, though they’d have a harder time pinning that label on me as a woman than they would on men who might hold the same opinions.

In the same way, a growing number of people would find my views about homosexuality offensive because I still consider same sex activity to be sin. In fact, my views about the sin nature of humankind also are offensive to some people, and they are in contradiction to the general trend of society.

So how are we to view free speech? Are people only free to say what they want without reprisal as long as we agree with them? Or as long as they aren’t rich or in highly visible occupations?

I added that last phrase because of the Westboro Baptist people who waved horrible signs at the funerals of any number of servicemen. I don’t know what kinds of efforts people made to stop them, though I know there were some. However, I don’t recall anyone suggesting they receive a monetary fine from the Baptist denomination or that their church be taken away from them.

Lots of people would like to see the Westboro Baptist protesters and the Donald Sterlings of this world punished. We’d like them to shut up and sit down. We’d like them to stop holding offensive views, wrong beliefs.

Except, I’m offended by Sterling having a mistress. I think he’s a sinner who ought to be criticized in the press for his promiscuity as much as for his racism. If he were a politician who was maintaining a mistress on the side, I’m pretty sure his immorality would become a bigger issue—at least if the racist question wasn’t also part of the conversation.

My point is, different things are offensive to different people. But when it comes to speech, it is not OK to silence someone or punish them just because we think they’re wrong.

It’s uncomfortable to speak out against reprisals aimed at Donald Sterling, but I kind of think it’s necessary. Otherwise, tomorrow those reprisals might be targeting Christians who believe gay marriage is no marriage or abortions are wrong.

Free speech allows us to be a people of law, not of popular opinion. It protects us from the lynch-mob mentality we worked so hard to overcome in the days when the government sanctioned racist hatred.

So now, we’re going to bring back the idea of reprisals against those we deem to be prejudice? Today we’re clamoring for Sterling’s head because of his racist views, but tomorrow the “prejudice” could be against sexist men or homophobe Christians or people wearing red.

Seriously. In certain parts of the city, wearing the wrong gang colors requires reprisal.

At some point, we citizens need to decide what our values are. Here in the US we talk a good game when it comes to freedom, but then a Donald Sterling tape surfaces, and suddenly “free speech” comes with the right to institute sanctions against “that kind of talk”—the kind that ought not to be allowed in the NBA or anywhere else, so the outraged say.

Well, yes, I wish people didn’t think less of others. I wish people didn’t judge others by the color of their skin. I wish people didn’t malign those with whom they disagree. But if they choose to do so, I get to say they are wrong, but I don’t get to hurt them or take their property or put them in jail or fine them.

It’s the downside of free speech, that people like Donald Sterling get to say offensive things. It’s the upside that the rest of us get to say how wrong he is without worrying that he’ll prevent those who wish to watch the Clippers from doing so.

Congress Is Broken

National-Debt-GillrayI don’t know many registered US voters who would disagree that Congress is broken. Our legislative branch has had ten months to deal with our “debt ceiling.” This is apparently our pretend limit on the amount of debt the Treasury can issue. I say “pretend” because it seems no measures are being taken to actually insure that we stay under this limit. And everyone gets quite angry at the idea that Congress isn’t moving that limit higher yet again.

So why do we have it? Apparently the existence of a debt limit is something that Congress passed years and years ago, though they fight over it more and more frequently.

And now there’s the suggestion that President Obama extend the debt ceiling by executive order–another indication of how broken Congress is. Apparently, our legislature has given away some of the responsibilities the Constitution reserved for them, or has turned a blind eye to the encroachment of the Executive Branch into the arena of making law.

But that’s not so surprising since the congressmen don’t seem to take voting very seriously. Another news story broke recently showing representatives voting by proxy. Many of them aren’t present at the reading of bills, and from what we discovered with the recent health care insurance law, they don’t read the bills on their own.

In fact, it’s apparently more important to find out what the particular party position on a bill is than how it will actually impact constituents. Next in line after party leadership are lobbyists who have a great deal of input on the passage of bills. Lobby influence, as far as I see it, is little more than legalized bribery.

But Congress argues about things like cutting education funding and Social Security and the like. They never seem to argue about starting from the top and cutting their own salaries.

Oh, peanuts, some say, as they did to John McCain when he declared during his run for office that he would go after pork belly spending to bring down expenditures. Once, people prized a penny or peanuts. But apparently we’ve gotten too rich to be penny wise any more. Now we are happily pound foolish.

And foolish is a pretty good way of describing the way our government looks.

It’s forcing poor people to buy insurance to cover the costs wealthy corporations aren’t willing to spend in order to provide people with “existing conditions” the insurance they need. Has anyone suggested putting a “profit ceiling” on companies that provide vital services to the public–you know, like hospitals and insurance companies and utilities and oil companies.

I’m not sure why we act so outraged that “free enterprise” would be harmed by “government interference.” Do we think the government forcing people to buy insurance isn’t interference? Do we think welfare or FEMA or education funding isn’t government interference? Do we think the “stimulus packages” that supposedly have been digging us out of the Great Recession weren’t government interference?

If the government is going to get in people’s business, then why not do it in a meaningful way? For example, those bank bailouts back in 2008–why didn’t the government simply give every registered voter a million dollars? Now that could have gotten us out of the recession pretty fast, I’d say.

But I’m off topic. The point is, government, and Congress in particular, doesn’t work the way it was supposed to work. I can’t imagine that it will be long before people will cry for an end to all this nonsense and demand a just and reasonable ruler take over the reins of the whole thing. Already I read today on Facebook a call for revolution. Not violent. But an overhaul of government.

One step closer toward the conditions ripe for a dictator who would rule in the way, say the Bible prophecies the Anti-Christ will rule.


Was it a glitch in the automation or something more calculated?

After actor Kirk Cameron who happens to be an outspoken Christian had the links to the trailer of his upcoming movie, Unstoppable, removed from Facebook, he publicly took issue with the action, saying on his Facebook page

that links to the website for “Unstoppable” had been blocked by the social network for allegedly being “abusive,” “unsafe” and “spammy.” The following day, he announced YouTube had done the same and had blocked the “Unstoppable” trailer because it was considered “spam,” a “scam” and “deceptive.” (Huffington Post)

In his appeal to fans to support him against Facebook and YouTube, Cameron said his movie is about

“faith, hope and love, and about why God allows bad things to happen to good people. What is ‘abusive’ or ‘unsafe’ about that?!” (Ibid.)

A day after Cameron went public with the issue, Facebook rescinded their block, saying that the address he was using for the movie site had previously been used by a spammer and therefore blocked by Facebook. Their automated system simply hadn’t caught up to the change.

Sounds reasonable.

But what about YouTube?

Apparently there’s an active attempt to have all Cameron’s YouTube videos removed, though they also retracted the “Unstoppable” block. Why would YouTube want Cameron’s videos taken down?

Without saying this is the reason, a USA Today article on the subject mentions that Cameron is “outspoken against gay marriage.”

Cameron himself addresses why people hate God in a new YouTube video, pointing first to the fact that they hate the moral standard.

So is all this a tempest in a teapot, a simple and understandable techno-glitch? Or is this a foreshadowing of what is to come for Christians who speak up for what they believe? I suppose only time will tell, but I find it sobering.

Social media has given every person a voice and an audience, but how quickly it could be snatched away. What if “religious topics” are one day considered too divisive, too inflammatory to be allowed?

After what happened with Kirk Cameron, that possibility doesn’t seem so far fetched any more.

I suppose for too long we Christians in the United States have felt protected by the First Amendment to our Constitution. It guarantees freedom of speech, doesn’t it? It guarantees freedom of religion.

Amazingly, the very clause that was put into the Bill of Rights to ensure that people could speak their mind and practice their religion, is being turned against people of faith. No “establishment of religion” has come to mean no allowance of religion.

First this was in schools, then government buildings. Now there are attempts to extend this to government property–like public parks and beaches.

While the shift is startling, it simply reminds me that government was never the guarantor for our freedoms. God is.

Should Christians face a period of persecution here in the US, we’d only be joining the millions of our brothers and sisters who are experiencing the same around the world. It’s not something I look forward to, but it’s something I expect. Could it be that the vitriol aimed at Kirk Cameron (see comments such as “Kirk Cameron is a sanctimonious, obnoxious f***knut and a washed-up former
child T.V. star…”), is an indication of what lies ahead for all believers? What do you think?

The Divide Between State And Church

A couple days ago when I wrote “Render To God The Things That Are God’s,” I wasn’t thinking about how some people might look at that title–as a statement supporting the separation of church and state. To me, the issue was personal–how am I to interpret what Jesus was saying about giving to Him what belongs to Him.

But in looking back, I can see how someone might assume the article is about dividing the world into the secular and the sacred. There’s a bit of a faddish (Christians are not immune to following fads in our faith!) view these days that says there is no such divide. I can’t follow the line of reasoning carefully because I’ve only seen it repeated in its briefest forms, but the idea seems to be that “general revelation” shows God, therefore God can be seen in everything we do. He cannot and ought not be shut out of things we deem not sacred.

Perhaps I haven’t paid close attention to this discussion because it seems like a no-brainer to me, but I tend to forget that I benefited from years working at a Christian school that believed in integrating every discipline with Scripture. It’s nothing more than developing a Christian worldview.

How ironic, though, that such integration comes from an institution that is specifically separate from the general culture. And yet, to teach the harmony of the Bible with history or science, math, or English, that’s what has to happen in a society that has tacitly added “separation of church and state” to the Bill of Rights.

But what is it we mean by the phrase? The Constitution clearly states that government is not to establish a religion. In other words, Baptist is not to become the religion required by law, with all others declared illegal. Neither is there to be an unequal playing field created by law which favors one religion over another.

In short, government was to get out of the way of religious development. In fact, government is prohibited by the Constitution from interfering with a person’s religious expression.

How then have we arrived at today’s secular/sacred divide?

Recently a news item pointed to court action prohibiting cheerleaders at an East Texas high school from making a sign for their football team that contained a Bible verse (set aside for a moment that they yanked it out of context). Just today they won an injunction which allows them to continue making the signs until an appeal can be heard.

But why are we saying these cheerleaders can’t express their beliefs? I understand they shouldn’t be mandated by a school authority to put Scripture on their signs, but this was something they wanted to do. So teachers are prohibited from saying a good many things about their faith, and now students are too?

The divide is growing, and it’s squeezing people of faith into a corner. Out of the Chick-fil-A controversy, more than one person claimed that the owner had no right to give money to the faith-based charities he chose, and that franchises should be prohibited from opening in various places because of his actions. What’s worse, some arguing against Chick-fil-A claimed that Christians ought not allow their religious beliefs to influence their advocacy for public policy.

The tenor of this debate seems to be marginalizing religious beliefs. A person can say that abortion is wrong because it will end up hurting society by reducing the population, but ought not say abortion is wrong because God values life, so we also should value life and protect the weakest and most vulnerable.

In other words, keep God out. Put religion on the other side of the dividing wall between church and state . . . the one that isn’t in our Constitution.

Published in: on October 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm  Comments (2)  
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