After the dust has settled following the 2016 General Election, socially conservative Christians will be encouraged to learn there are many important opportunities in which they can be engaged. These include: the appointment of conservative judges; protection of religious freedom; safeguarding and respecting parental rights in education; and advancing pro-life issues.
Within the next four years, President-elect Donald Trump can reasonably be expected to appoint one or more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to immediately filling the existing vacancy on the bench left after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, there are two justices who are both over the age of 80 — Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy — and one justice, Stephen Breyer, who is 78.
Furthermore, then President Trump will appoint more than 150 federal judges to the district and federal appeals courts during his first term. Trump publicly pledged to work with solidly conservative organizations (such as the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation) to vet and select judges with proven track records of interpreting the U.S. Constitution in keeping with its text and original understanding. He has also stated he would like to see the High Court reverse Roe v. Wade, which would require the type of constitutionalist justices he has pledged to appoint. To underscore his commitment, President-elect Trump published two separate lists of specific judges he would consider appointing, all of whom have received high praise from conservatives across the conservative spectrum.
FEDERAL AGENCIES: Federal agencies have, during the last eight years, undertaken it to re-write and re-define laws passed by the U.S. Congress in ways that advance a social agenda promoting homosexuality and gender identity issues. Unfortunately, it’s been at the expense of our religious freedom and parental rights. For example:
- The U.S. Department of Education issued a “Dear Colleague” letter requiring the nation’s schools to open up sex-segregated facilities, such as bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities, to members of the opposite sex who claim a “gender identity” that conflicts with their biological sex.
- The U.S. Department of Justice chose not to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, while actively supporting efforts to undermine one man, one woman marriage.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is charged with enforcing the nation’s non-discrimination laws, has redefined “sex discrimination” to include homosexuality and gender identity — despite the fact that Congress has specifically rejected attempts to amend the law to give special status to these groups.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has targeted conservative and Christian nonprofits for harassment using various tactics, such as delaying and/or denying applications for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
Nonetheless, as president, Donald Trump will have the opportunity to nominate and appoint several thousand men and women to run these federal agencies. As such, many of the problems experienced due to federal agency action over the last eight years could be eliminated with new appointments to these important positions.
JOHNSON AMENDMENT: Trump has made the repeal of the Johnson Amendment a key part of his campaign. The 1954 law gives the IRS the authority to penalize churches for any speech concerning political candidates. It has generally been considered by religious conservatives and legal organizations to violate the First Amendment, and the IRS rarely takes action to enforce it; however, its existence still is a significant “chill to free speech and religious freedom.
EXECUTIVE ORDERS: President Obama signed many executive orders during his eight years in office, which have changed the law, especially when the result of the order was opposed by Congress. Executive Order 13672, for example, denied religious organizations contracting with the federal government the right to hire people according to the organization’s faith principles when it comes to the promotion of homosexuality and gender identity. Trump has pledged to repeal many of Obama’s Executive Orders.
OBAMACARE:. In addition to its unpopularity among much of the electorate for economic and medical reasons, the law was also the source of dozens of lawsuits, involving hundreds of people, businesses and religious organizations against the federal government. At issue: The religious freedom infringement caused by the so-called “HHS mandate,” a regulation created by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a part of Obamacare. The HHS mandate required employers to offer possible abortion-causing contraceptives to employees via company health plans. This led to the U.S. Supreme Court victory for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties in 2014, and to the ongoing cases involving religious nonprofit organizations, such as Little Sisters of the Poor. Trump has listed the repeal of Obamacare as one of his top priorities. Such a repeal would also erase the HHS mandate. And a new Trump appointee to head up HHS would also ensure that such infringements cease.
DE-FUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD: President-elect Trump has called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which receives almost $500 million per year in federal taxpayer funds.
HYDE AMENDMENT: Trump has also called for making the Hyde Amendment permanent, rather than a funding restriction measure that must be passed each year. The amendment, named after the late pro-life Congressman Henry Hyde, bans the use of federal tax dollars for most abortions.
JUDGES DECIDE CULTURAL ISSUES
Elections ultimately determine which judges get appointed. Judges decide close, important cases. Notice how close the votes were in these cases:
MARRIAGE: Obergefell v. Hodges
In 2015, by a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Constitution guarantees a right for people of the same sex to marry, thereby forcing all 50 states to comply with a radical new redefinition of marriage. Two years prior, in the case of U.S. v. Windsor, and by a similar vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court threw out the federal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman as discriminatory, which laid the legal groundwork for the 2015 Obergefell case redefining marriage.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
In 2014, by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that family-owned businesses do not forfeit their religious freedom as the price for engaging in commerce, contrary to the official position and argument of the U.S. Government.
PRAYER: Town of Greece v. Galloway
Also in 2014, by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that a prayer invocation before a town council meeting is permitted by the Constitution.
ABORTION: Gonzales v. Carhart
In 2007, by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the federal law banning partial birth abortions.
In each of those cases, the close votes evidenced the opposing judicial philosophies of the court at this time.