Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Shaping the Future of America

Last night another history-making announcement came to us when President Trump announced his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant position on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Thus begins what may be weeks or months of deliberation and bantering between those who approve and those who oppose his nomination.  

As I have thought about President Trump’s pick, I began to wonder if there are any points on which most supporters and opponents could agree.  Here is what I have come up with so far, and feel free to add or comment:

1.   Americans should agree that President Trump’s pick is really his attempt to keep his promise to voters who elected him to the presidency in November.  NOTE:  Those who still deny Trump’s legitimacy to hold the office of the presidency because he did not garner a majority of the popular vote should remember that he was legitimately elected according to the Constitution.

2.  Americans should not be surprised by the president’s nominee because Justice Gorsuch’s name was on Trump’s list of possible nominees which he provided early in the campaign.  Indeed, President Trump’s promise was to nominate a justice like the late Justice Antonin Scalia  who would interpret the Constitution and not legislate new law from the bench.

3.   Americans who take time to read up on the education and experience of Justice Gorsuch ought to agree that he is imminently qualified to serve on the High Court.  If you agree, you are joining the ranks of U.S. senators including Democratic senators Biden, Clinton, Schumer, Feinstein, and Obama who participated in a unanimous confirmation of Gorsuch to serve on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in 2006.

4.   Americans who have studied the history of our nation’s founding and who understand the importance, even the brilliance, of having a separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government, ought to agree that in recent years we have witnessed an erosion of the intended authority of the Supreme Court.  Justices of the High Court are supposed to objectively interpret the Constitution and not be swayed by personal preference or the will of the people.  Instead, our Founding Fathers intended that the will of the people be expressed through elected legislators and senators.   But in recent  years, liberal justices on the Supreme Court have viewed the Constitution as an evolving document that ought to be subject to the changing morality of American society.  Result: rulings from the Court have foisted moral and social changes upon American culture against the will of the majority of Americans.  These include rulings that affirmed the right of the mother to dismiss the rights of her unborn child through abortion (Roe v. Wade, 1973) and the ruling in 2015 that redefined marriage to include marriage between two individuals of the same gender (Obergefell v. Hodges).  In both cases, the Court decision left behind the muddy, stormy waters of division and angry protests across our land.

5.   Americans ought to agree that the notion of “legislating from the bench” is not always easy to define or detect.  While conservatives who usually support “legislating from the bench” generally define it as overriding the will of democratically elected representatives in the legislative and executive branches, Mark Bennett, Houston criminal defense lawyer and author of the blog, Defending People claims he has a more objective test when he writes:

The test for real judicial activism is this: absent judicial review, would the result have been different? This definition and this test have the virtue of not being in the eye of the beholder. Whether the courts have allowed the other branches to do what they want is easy to determine.

Bennett goes on to evaluate landmark Supreme Court cases such as Roe v. Wade and Dred Scott v. Sanford using his definition.   Although the tone of his 2009 blog article, “Legislating Policy from the Bench: Five Examples” was a bit harsh to me, I found it instructive, which leads me to my sixth (the number signifying “incomplete;” I know--and so is this analysis) and final point.

6.  Americans ought to agree that the U.S. Senate decision on whether or not to appoint Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court will have major influence on the landscape of American culture.  We ought also to agree that this time of senate deliberation ought to be a time for serious study of both the man and the role he is being appointed to play in our justice system.  We all ought to ask, “What kind of America do we want for the future?”  Furthermore, those of us who believe in the sovereignty of God Who is the Author of all rights and all authority ought to commit to regular and reverent prayer.  

Personally, as I consider our desperate need for integrity in all of our halls of government, I must recognize that my own heart is deceitfully flawed (Jeremiah 17: 9), rebellious by default, and in need of constant reproof, correction, and training in righteousness through the Word of God (2 Timothy 3: 16) and the instruction of godly friends, teachers, and mentors (2 Timothy 2: 2). 

As we pray for wisdom for our leaders and for ourselves, what better place to go than to the Book of Proverbs.  Here is just one relevant sample from Proverbs 14: 33-35:

Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding,
But in the hearts of fools it is made known.
Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a disgrace to any people.
The king's favor is toward a servant who acts wisely,
But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.

When I consider our need for wisdom as a nation of diverse ethnic groups and socioeconomic backgrounds, I want to try to empathize with those whose life is very different from mine; but who also seek representation in our great nation.  Here are some particular examples of those I want to remember and learn to possess more compassion toward:

1.    I want to remember those who are devastated because their presidential candidate did not win the November election and who are fearful of what their future holds. 

2.   I want to understand how many who feel forgotten in “the American dream” would see the need to change America into a society where they can have another chance at life, but possibly themselves forgetting that with rights come responsibilities to family, neighbor, and to God. 

3.   I want to try to empathize with the woman who has chosen to abort at least one child, or the father of that child, both of whom may bear a weight of guilt. 

4.  I want to love and encourage those who have never known the love of two parents, many of whom may be very confused about their sexuality either because they have not had mom and dad to love them into maturity or because they have been sexually abused.  

5.   I also want to understand more of the hate that weighs upon those who hate people of faith, including Christian leaders in our churches, schools, and government whom they blame for the guilt they bear.

In order to be more compassionate toward others and  “practice what I preach,” I must remember Micah 6: 8 (emphasis mine),

He [God[has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

How about You?  What about this article has helped you think more clearly about this momentous time?   Where do you disagree or wish to add your thoughts?   I’d love to read your responses—just  use the “Comment” box.