By the time President Bush announced his choice for Supreme Court justice, many activists probably felt as if they had been on a day-long roller coaster ride. For twelve hours, cable news and the Internet were filled with speculation and rumors. As each name floated, those with a stake in Bush’s choice reacted, often angrily. And some of those reacting were Christians.
In the guessing game, John G. Roberts, a great choice in my book, was at least the fourth “next member” of the Court. The first name mentioned, Judge Edith Clement, spent much of Tuesday as Sandra Day O’Connor’s presumptive replacement.
Clement’s lack of a “paper trail” that explicitly stated her judicial philosophy had many conservatives, including Christians, worried, even angry. They feared that she would be a “stealth candidate,” like David Souter, who would move to the left once confirmed.
This concern, while understandable, made three unsupported assumptions: first, that Clement really was a Souter-in-waiting; second, that she was actually the nominee; and third, if activists made enough noise, they could pressure the president.
When speculation shifted to another candidate, many activists breathed a sigh of relief, but during the hours Clement spent as the front-runner, saw more than one meeting regarding a possible third political party—and panicky phone calls to the White House, and alarmist traffic on the Internet, as if we could control events.
Now, I understand the concern, of course. There’s a lot at stake in this and subsequent nominations. But I’m troubled by the lack of political sophistication among Christians. In matters of culture, we must view issues and events from a long-range perspective. The cultural mess we’re in didn’t get this way overnight or even over a decade. Arresting the slide and reversing the direction of our culture will take even longer.
For instance, even if the Supreme Court were to reverse Roe—which I pray they do—the struggle for the sanctity of human life would simply shift to state capitals. Christians would have to convince their fellow citizens to outlaw or severely restrict what had previously been deemed a constitutional right.