The nation’s top headline this morning concerns what is expected to be an epic battle to seat a new justice to replace Kennedy, who announced his retirement yesterday afternoon.
In his resignation letter to President Donald J. Trump, Kennedy called his 30 years on the bench of the highest court in the land “the highest of honors” and announced that his last day of service will be July 31.
The announcement sparked an instant reaction from both sides of the political aisle, with conservatives celebrating a chance to appoint yet another justice in the mold of the recently appointed Neil Gorsuch, and liberals demanding that the appointment be made after the midterms when they hope to gain control of the Senate.
“There have been titanic battles over nominees to the Supreme Court, including those who were ultimately defeated and others, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, who surmounted an all-out attempt at character assassination,” said Dave Andrusko of National Right to Life. “But with the Court so evenly divided and with Democrats happily moving further and further to the Left, this confirmation fight will no doubt be one for the ages.”
Indeed, much is at stake. Kennedy cast the swing vote in several of the nation’s most pivotal cases which, in the eyes of an increasing majority of the nation, ushered in an era of declining morality.
Most recently, he joined the majority in the 2016 case, Women’s Health v. Hellerstadt decision, which struck down common-sense abortion clinic regulations.
In June of 2015, Kennedy cast the deciding vote in a 5-4 majority that legalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges.
He also upheld the core holdings of Roe v. Wade in the 1992 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA v. Casey case.
To his credit, he also cast a pivotal vote in the 2007 Gonzales v. Carhart decision that upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortions.
And just this week, he joined the majority in a 5-4 ruling which struck down a California law that attacked the free speech rights of pregnancy help centers.
But he has long been seen as an unreliable conservative vote, especially on cases involving hot-button social issues. An appointment of a solid conservative will definitely tip the ideological balance to the right and could bring what was once thought to be decided social rulings such as abortion in Roe and same-sex marriage in Obergefel, back into play.
Not surprisingly, this is causing near-hysteria in some quarters.
“Today, Justice Kennedy announced his retirement, and because President Trump will nominate the next Supreme Court Justice, a woman’s constitutional right to access legal abortion is in dire, immediate danger — along with the fundamental rights of all Americans," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, to The Hill.
"We also know that for decades, a multi-million-dollar, extreme, anti-choice movement has quietly and aggressively chipped away at that right in state legislatures, in lower courts, and now from within the Trump administration. Their stated goal, clearly and loudly, is overturning Roe v. Wade."
Emily's List, a political action organization that works to elect “pro-choice” lawmakers, called the ramifications of Kennedy's retirement "enormous and terrifying."
"Republicans will use this opportunity to nominate and confirm yet another anti-choice justice to the Supreme Court — a single individual with the power to repeal Roe v. Wade," Emily's List president Stephanie Schriock told The Hill.
"We will not stop fighting to elect pro-choice Democratic women to the Senate who will defend women's access to safe, legal abortion and other forms of critical reproductive health care and fight for the rights of all Americans. The stakes could not be higher."
On the other side of the aisle, supporters of life are praying for what could be the chance of a lifetime to secure the right to life for all Americans, including the unborn.
“This is a pivotal moment for the pro-life movement,” said Marjori Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that works to elect pro-life politicians.
“Kennedy has been an unreliable ’swing’ vote on abortion and now we have the chance to put another strong pro-life justice on the bench. We have an enormous opportunity to secure a Justice who respects the Constitution and the Right to Life, and who will help us protect unborn children and their mothers under the law.”
Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, also called for the president to fulfill his campaign promise of nominating only pro-life justices to the Supreme Court.
“Now that Justice Anthony Kennedy — a 25-year defender of abortion on the Supreme Court and the key vote to perpetuate Roe v. Wade — is retiring, we urge President Trump to nominate a committed constitutionalist to the Supreme Court who will hew to the intended meaning of the nation’s charter and refrain from employing it as a means of social engineering," Foster said.
The nomination and appointment of a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court will be more than just a political battle. It will be a monumental spiritual battle like few of us have ever experienced. The fate of our nation hangs in the balance. Will we return to the God-fearing principles imbedded in our Constitution, or continue to slide down the slippery slope into an ever-worsening secular immorality?
Let us all unite in prayer and sacrifice during this pivotal time. God reassures us over and over again in Scripture that He hears the cries of the faithful. “And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1John 5:14).
May He grants us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 20:4), deliver us from the evils of our time, and lead us back to a land of righteousness and holy freedom.
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