My fellow Americans of every race, religion, and creed, I ask you to consider the weight of the moment, and if I let it pass by in silence, I will consider it an irresponsibility, so I voice a simple appeal here.
Lost in the noise of personality-politics that has been so magnified during the current presidential campaign, were a few vital moments in the recent second presidential debate. Comments offered by the two candidates reveal the marked significance of this upcoming election for the future of the United States of America. The question was a simple one. The responses were telling. “…What would you prioritize as the most important aspect of selecting a Supreme Court justice?”
Donald Trump responded (after Hillary Clinton had answered) that justices he would appoint would be “very much in the mold of Justice Scalia.” He added that his appointees would be “people that will respect the Constitution of the United States.” He particularly emphasized the second amendment in his follow up comment.
Hillary Clinton answered by identifying eight characteristics she would want from her appointees:
– I want to appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real life experience. Who have not just been in a big law firm and maybe clerked for a judge and then gotten on the bench, but maybe they tried more cases. Actually understand what people are up against.
– I would want to see the Supreme Court reverse Citizens United and get dark unaccountable money out of our politics.
– I would like the Supreme Court to understand that voting rights are a big problem in many parts of the country.
– I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose,
– I want a Supreme Court that will stick with marriage equality.
– I want a Supreme Court that doesn’t always side with corporate interests.
– I want a Supreme Court that understands because you are wealthy and you can give more money to something doesn’t mean you have more rights or should have any more rights than anything else.
– I have clear views about what I want to see to change the balance on the Supreme Court
While some voters might find all or some of Hillary Clinton’s expressed desires favorable, my purpose here is not to argue those points, but rather to remind you of what she did not say. Hillary Clinton has a vision for the Supreme Court that does not include the Constitution of the United States. It is not simply the fact that she omitted any reference to the Constitution (though she later added, after being rebuked, that she did have respect for the second amendment, with certain restrictions), it is that she believes there needs to be change on the Supreme Court based on her “clear views,” and not based on the Constitution.
Once upon a time, the founders of the United States of America made the bold proclamation that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These leaders drafted a Constitution explicitly to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” America’s Declaration recognizes that rights come from God, not government, and the Constitution sets out to secure those rights. The drafters of the Constitution did not intend it to be a temporary security. They intended it to secure God-given rights for their posterity as well – for you, for me, and for all Americans. This, above all else, is what is at stake in the 2016 presidential election.
As our nation steps further and further away from the Creator who graced us with life and freedom, perhaps we should not expect to see His favor. Still, out of love for our country – for all those in it – I ask Him to bless America, even though we have not blessed Him. As He has blessed us, so should we be a blessing to our neighbors all over the world.
It is not as though we look to government to save us – of course, no human led government can save anyone – I believe salvation is found by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Still, He says, “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” In that He spoke of fulfilling one’s responsibility to government. In the American system, the government is “of the people, for the people, and by the people.” America’s law is the Constitution, and its government is its people. By contrast, Plato despised democracy, and urged that elite philosopher kings should determine what is best for the people. Plato’s Republic would have been an awful place to live, and no culture has of yet been able to flourish with those principles in place. I am reminded of Justice Ginsburg’s ominous statement that “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” Her commentary is borne of an elite-philosopher-king mentality, and one shared by the presidential candidate who would shape the Court by her own “very clear views.”
I make an appeal, not as the president of a university that relies on the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. I make an appeal, not as a philosopher, an educator, a servant, nor a businessman. No, I make this appeal simply as a father who desires that as long as the Lord gives them breath on this earth, that my daughters may taste those rights that America’s founders recognized came from our Creator. I desire that the sons and daughters of all – no matter race, religion, nor creed – may know the Divinely appointed privileges and responsibilities of freedom.
No one’s social agenda – no matter how admirable or despicable – should override the guarantee of God-given freedom. And yet, this is the choice before us. We do not choose between one flawed candidate and an unflawed one. We choose between two who are as awful sometimes as are you and I. But we choose between one who claims he will uphold and defend the Constitution, and one who has already told us she will be lying when she takes the oath of office.
I pray God gives us wisdom, mercy, and favor. Regardless of the outcome, you shall find me laboring diligently to love Him and to love everyone else. You shall find me in prayer on behalf of whoever leads this country, that they will look to Him for wisdom, will walk humbly before Him, and will seek the benefit of all those entrusted to their care. Life doesn’t stop simply because freedoms erode. It just gets harder.
Christopher Cone, Th.D, Ph.D, Ph.D