Evangelicals: it’s still all about the Supreme Court.
I’m not saying that health care, taxes and immigration reform aren’t important. They are. However, in an era when we are as divided as ever before as a nation, nearly all of these important issues will inevitably be decided in the courts – not by Congress.
In fact, President Trump’s Supreme Court Justice nominee, Neil Gorsuch echoed this very sentiment in a National Review article he wrote over a decade ago: “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”
Pretty compelling words from the likely future Justice. But just in case wiretaps, twitter feeds, or Kellyanne Conway sitting on a sofa have clouded our collective brains since election day, allow me to remind you what’s at stake.
On the one side we have originalist judges: those who believe in exercising judicial restraint by honoring the original intent of our Framers. On the other, we have judicial activists: those who believe in redefining the words of the Constitution, often deriving policies and de facto laws in the process. The former applies deference to Congress as the primary source of social and economic policy. The later applies deference to itself.
The late Justice Antonin Scalia defined “originalism” this way: “The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”
So why is it so important to have originalist judges? Because activist judges regularly obstruct the will of we the people by distorting what the Constitution says to suit their own agendas.
Take for example the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade which infamously legalized abortion. What’s less well known, is that before the ruling, elected governments in 46 states had prohibited abortion either at the ballot box or through legislation. Only four states had legalized abortion. In his dissenting opinion, Justice William Rehnquist slammed the activist ruling, stating, “To reach its result the Court necessarily has had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment.” In other words, the court created policy by twisting the original intent of the Constitution, effectively overruling the will of the people in 46 states.
While Judge Gorsuch has not ruled on abortion directly, his position on the sanctity of life is clearly articulated in his 2009 book “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.” In reference to Roe v. Wade, Gorsuch maintains that there is “no Constitutional basis” for giving a mother more rights than her unborn child. Gorsuch’s view stands in stark contrast to the legal rationale used by the majority opinion in the suit.
On other issues important to Evangelicals, Neil Gorsuch continues to shine. In fact, many of his most high-profile opinions have been in defense of religious freedom. He upheld Hobby Lobby’s objection to Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, which required for-profit organizations like Hobby Lobby to provide contraceptives to its employees even when this went against the organization’s sincerely held religious beliefs. He similarly defended Little Sisters of the Poor when it too objected to the contraceptive mandate of Obamacare.
If all of this comes as a breath of fresh air, you’re not alone. President Trump told the American people that he would nominate a Supreme Court Justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia. In Judge Gorsuch, a strict originalist, he has succeeded marvelously and honored his promise to Evangelicals. In turn, we Evangelicals must speak up and keep unrelenting pressure on the Senate to move swiftly to confirm this highly qualified nominee.
And if Washington’s daily media circus still has you distracted, just ask yourself this: What kind of judge would Hillary Clinton have nominated?
Dr. David Jeremiah is among the best known Christian leaders in the world. He serves as senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California and is the founder and host of Turning Point. Turning Point‘s 30-minute radio program is heard on more than 2,200 radio stations daily. He has written more than fifty books.