". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Donald Trump, the Supreme Court, and Our Children

Last week the United States Supreme Court struck down a Texas law calling for more regulation of abortion providers in the Lone Star state. The regulations had been aimed at protecting the health and safety of women by "by requiring abortion clinics to meet the kinds of medical and safety standards that legitimate medical centers meet."

Also last week that same Supreme Court refused to hear a Washington state ruling forcing pro-life pharmacists to sell drugs that, by causing abortion, violate the pharmacists' religious convictions.

These two cases are perfect examples of why I remain unconvinced by the argument that conservatives who have rejected Donald Trump need to disregard all their reasons for not supporting him and do so because, if nothing else, he will at least put conservative justices on the court. In the first place, I don’t have great faith in Donald Trump to stand by his word. In the second place, the conservative cause has not fared too well with the Supreme Court of late, Republican appointees notwithstanding. Anthony Kennedy, who voted with the majority on both decisions, was appointed by Reagan. Reagan was arguably the most pro-life President we ever had. Yet here we are.

By way of reminder, here are a few more examples from recent and not-so-recent history of Republican-appointed justices not assisting the cause of conservatives:

1) Anthony Kennedy (again, a Reagan appointee) joining with the liberals on the court on gay marriage.

2) George W. Bush appointee John Roberts' repeated bailing out of Obamacare.

3) The votes of Nixon appointees Blackmun, Burger and Powell with the pro-choice side of the Roe v. Wade decision.

4) George H. W. Bush appointee David Souter's turning out to be one of the best friends the causes of Planned Parenthod, the ACLU, and eminent domain ever had.

Time and time again this election season I have been told by some of my fellow conservatives that we are not electing a pastor but a President and that it is necessary for me to compromise my principles because Supreme Court. The events of recent days have only strengthened my conviction that doing so would be a devil’s bargain, a selling of my soul that would gain little in return.

As a parent trying to teach my child right from wrong, what has become clear to me over the last almost 25 years is that human behavior is much more influenced by example than it is by external rules. The old poem "Children Learn What They Live" got it right. Parents can talk unceasingly about telling the truth. If they are repeatedly dishonest in their own personal and professional dealings, that is what a child will learn. If they readily toss their convictions for reasons of pragmatism, children will learn that, too.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't have rules or teach principles of right and wrong. Of course we should. But rules don't change hearts. And in the heart/mind battle over decisions of conscience, it is usually the heart that wins. Why do you think we term something that has been truly learned as being "taken to heart" or "learned by heart"? The heart is where the rubber of our principles meets the road of our life--where gut checks happen and all that we believe is put to the test.

I am not saying that conservatives should give up. To the contrary, we need to work harder than ever before. But we deceive ourselves if we think the battle is ultimately going to be won in the public arena. The Supreme Court has demonstrated that it cannot be counted on to do its job. Conservatives’ best hope, then, is our children, for theirs are the minds and hearts we have the greatest capacity to change. We cannot hope to do so by voting for someone whose life and behavior make a mockery of everything we have tried to teach them.

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