By Gigi Cook
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” said Abraham Lincoln. In an election year when both candidates are seen as unpopular, what ultimately sways a voter to choose one candidate over the other can be subtle. According to recent Pew polling, the two main issues currently motivating voters are the economy and terrorism. However, 65 percent of registered voters report another issue greatly influencing their choice… the make-up of the Supreme Court bench.
The next U.S. President will fill more than one seat on the Supreme Court; likely two or three. Projecting how the occupants of those seats will drive the American culture is generating attention on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Two Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy will be more than 80 years old when the next president’s term begins in 2017, and Justice Breyer will be over 80 before the end of that first term. Since 1971, the average retirement age for Supreme Court justices has been 78 years old. And with the current vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia, the next president will shape the most powerful court in the land for the next generation. Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel & Policy Director of the Judicial Crisis Network states “we cannot overstate the importance of the Supreme Court in the next election.”
The balance of the court has already begun to shift. Since the death of Scalia in February, four cases have ended in a tie. Since 2006, the Court has issued more than 165 5-4 decisions, many bending the law to re-define American social norms with dramatic effect. President Obama’s appointments of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, combined with ongoing influence of Ginsburg and Breyer, and occasionally Kennedy, many times produced that very narrow 5-4 victory.
• In Obergefell v. Hodges, a 5-4 Court majority ruled that the Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry.
• In Massachusetts v. EPA, a 5-4 Court majority upheld the authority of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases.
• In Boumediene v. Bush, a 5-4 Court majority ruled that prisoners detained in Guantanamo can file habeas corpus petitions to challenge their detention.
If the Court continues to move left and is undergirded with new progressive justices, critical cases involving religious freedom, gun laws, and immigration will be subject to unprecedented liberal interpretation.
Both 2016 candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are expected to load the Court along ideological lines if elected. In an unusual move recently, Trump published a list of the 11 judges he would consider nominating to fill the seat of the late Justice Scalia. John Malcolm, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, assisted Trump in the selection and said the list should be reassuring to those conservatives who have had doubts about Trump’s judicial appointments. Carrie Severino, said "The names on this list all seem to share in common a record of putting the law and the Constitution ahead of their political preferences."
Researchers and statisticians for the most part agree a Clinton victory would likely result in the confirmation of Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland; immediately shifting the Court a click further to the left, and resulting in a majority of justices having been nominated by a Democratic president for the first time since 1969.
Oliver Roeder, Economics Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice, simulated 10,000 hypothetical future courts under a President Trump and a President Clinton, reporting, “If Hillary Clinton is elected, the court may quickly become the most liberal it’s been in at least 80 years.” In talking about the Court, Clinton has stressed her support for abortion rights, LGBT issues and a liberal immigration agenda.
Pastor David Jeremiah, of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California spoke to the issue recently, “We are a nation of laws, not a nation of dictators, but rest assured these Supreme Court justices who sit on the bench for life wield more power than most of the kings and dictators in this world.”
Today people of faith can pray:
• God will guide the selection of the next Supreme Court Justices.
• Voters in America will be faithful to participate in the election cycle regardless of the choices.
• God will bless America with leaders of integrity in every branch of government.
Gigi Cook's work has been featured in major radio markets, media publications and corporate leadership programs. She is a writer, speaker, and program facilitator with a Master’s Degree in psychology. Residing in Salt Lake City, Gigi enjoys her family, her work, and restoring American Antiques.
Pray the Vote is a nationwide movement to “encourage informed prayer” for the 2016 Presidential elections.
It is based on the belief that, when God’s people cry out to Him in earnest and heartfelt prayer, He will bless our nation in ways we cannot foresee. Our prayers open a window for God to work across our land.
Your prayers will change the world.
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