To modify the book title of a conservative classic written by the incomparable English professor Richard Weaver, elections have consequences. That fact will play-out Nov. 8. Hanging in the balance is control of the U.S. Supreme Court, all 13 U.S. Circuit Appellate Courts, hundreds of federal and state judicial appointments and our state’s attorney general.
Voters will chart, for decades to come, one of two courses for our federal and state judiciaries. Will we have judges who uphold the rule of law and affirm what the Founding Fathers originally meant when they wrote our Constitution? Or will we have activist judges who believe in a “living, evolving” Constitution influenced by foreign jurisprudence and liberal ideology that prioritizes outcome-based equality (as opposed to equality under the law) at the expense of freedom?
The next president will likely get two or three appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, tipping the balance of the court. Most view the court as having five conservatives and four liberals (though Justice Anthony Kennedy’s ruling on same-sex marriage and Chief Justice John Roberts’ Obamacare decision suggests they are not always conservative). Two or three liberal appointments will threaten the unborn, gun owner rights and religious freedom.
All of the current Supreme Court justices are either Jewish or Catholic. Not one conservative evangelical is on the nation’s highest court. So much for diversity. I am conflicted as to whether they understand us sufficiently to protect our God-given rights? Consider some troubling lower court rulings as evidence. When a judge in New Mexico orders business owners to take part in a same-sex “marriage” ceremony against their conscience or face punishment and perhaps the loss of their business as “the price of their citizenship,” the threat to freedom is unambiguous.
No end is in sight. President Obama has appointed 55 U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals judges. As a result, liberals now control nine of the 13 U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Will voters hand them the rest? In addition, Obama has appointed 268 U.S. District Court judges, radically changing the nation’s federal courts. Just think what another eight years of such appointments could mean?
It gets worse at the state level. The nomination process is dominated by liberal trial lawyers and intelli-gentsia. Liberal Democrat governors in Missouri have been appointing judges to state courts for 24 of the last 28 years. Our state court system is lopsided with Democrats, mostly of the liberal ilk – and more are coming with Chris Koster. The only thing that stops the state judiciary from imposing their will on the free people of Missouri is that voters hold them accountable.
Meanwhile lawmakers, many of whom are up for re-election, have the power to reign-in judicial activism, but have often cowered to business interests and seem unwilling to act. Just witness Congress’ and the Missouri General Assembly’s unwillingness to pass religious protection bills. They are paralyzed by less than two percent of our population (homosexuals), liberal news media, Monsanto and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.
The one person who can stand up to such challenges is Missouri’s attorney general. Koster sided with homosexuals against people of faith and he will continue to do so at the expense of religious freedom. That is why having candidates – like Joshua Hawley – is vital. Hawley, a victor in the Hobby Lobby case at the U.S. Supreme Court, will defend our First Amendment rights.
It is against this grim backdrop that another significant religious liberty case – this one from Missouri – has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2012, Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia applied for a $20,000 state grant to pay for replacing pea gravel at its Learning Center’s playground with recycled rubber material, a safer alternative.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources denied the application, claiming that spending state funds on Trinity’s playground would violate the state’s prohibition of using funds to aid a religion. Trinity sued, arguing that the church’s First Amendment rights to equal protection and free exercise of religion sheltered it from state discrimination on the basis of religion.
States should not define religious neutrality while treating religious organizations worse than everyone else. That’s not neutrality, it’s hostility toward religion. The court’s decision will impact church interactions with the state on issues like school choice, faith-based initiatives and funding programs.
Koster has defended the state’s position. If elected, Hawley will side with Trinity. His opponent, Teresa Hensley, agrees with Koster. Observers say the Supremes won’t rule until after the next president takes office Jan. 20.
Indeed, elections do have consequences.