- - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Republican U.S. senators have been meeting with President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. They are right to affirm the American people should not be denied a voice in this choice of the next justice. In the midst of a contentious election year, the public deserves to select the next justice — and decide the direction of their Supreme Court — through their votes for president and U.S. Senate.

Mr. Obama is pushing hard to get Judge Garland confirmed because his legacy would then include the creation of a liberal-dominated Supreme Court for the next generation; even though the American people firmly oppose a liberal court. He’d do so without ever being held accountable to the voters again as he’s in the last year of his presidency.

More concretely for millions of Christians and other believers, the principle of religious freedom and our long-standing social compact on precisely where the boundaries lie is dangerously under threat. Indeed, during the Obama administration, the fears and concerns of average Americans have been tragically discarded, and the American people are speaking out firmly.

The same-sex marriage Supreme Court decisions — U.S. v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges — alone undermined a legal understanding that many in America took for granted specifically because it was a constitutional framework, a constitutional understanding of how government ought to work: the firm principles of originalism and federalism that the late Justice Antonin Scalia championed.

Even The New York Times concedes a Supreme Court with Judge Garland on it would be the most liberal court in nearly 50 years. Judge Garland would be a reliable liberal vote on every meaningful case that affects religious liberty — attacks on which have multiplied in the aftermath of the same-sex marriage decisions.

Already, many pastors are feeling pressured to conduct gay marriages or lose their state licenses. Just recently, Christian bed-and-breakfast owners were instructed by authorities to allow a gay wedding to be performed in their home or face penalties.

In Virginia, a bevy of so-called “non-discrimination policies” are being forced on local school boards by radical organizations and federal agencies, forcing them to abandon sex-selective bathrooms. The end effect is 40-year-old transgendered men are wandering into teenage girls’ locker rooms, oftentimes without the knowledge or consent of concerned parents. North Carolina is under attack for simply codifying that men and women are different, with the state facing threats of boycotts by companies such as PayPal (even though this same company hypocritically does business in nations where the penalty for homosexuality is death).

These issues are being contested in the courts. What hope do people of faith have if they face a Supreme Court where a Justice Garland creates a liberal majority? To replace Justice Scalia with a man of Judge Garland’s background and ideological bent during a contested election not only violates the oft-mentioned “Biden Rule,” but strikes many as an overtly political attack by the Obama administration in its twilight.

The enduring legacy Justice Scalia left behind is one built on the concept of constitutional standards reflected in legislative federalism, not the heavy hand of federal courts imposing upon Americans what certain elites believe we ought to understand.

Judge Garland’s views on constitutional limitations go beyond the boundaries of what the American people have long understood our social compact to be, and could doom religious liberty as we know it — a freedom cherished by our Founders and the very rationale for the founding of our country to begin with. We should let the American people chart the direction of the court, as the new court will profoundly impact them for decades to come.

Andrea Lafferty is president of Traditional Values Coalition.


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