President Lyndon Baines Johnson famously opined that the “most basic right of all [is] the right to choose your own leaders.” In this historic election year, we Americans have an opportunity to choose not only our next president, but at least one lifetime Supreme Court appointment – choices that will literally have life-or-death repercussions.
Justice Antonin Scalia’s death earlier this year threw the future of the Supreme Court into question. If a liberal justice – such as Merrick Garland – replaces Scalia, the New York Times concedes that it would result in the most liberal Court in the last 50 years.
The median justice would no longer be Anthony Kennedy. While scoring of his leanings indicates a slightly more liberal bent in recent years, Justice Kennedy is widely considered to have evolved since penning Planned Parenthood v. Casey’s “sweet mystery of life” passage, and may finally be willing to rein in Roe v. Wade, a decision so bad that liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg criticized it. Even an eight-member Court with Justice Kennedy in the middle is preferable to turning the median seat over to either Justice Stephen G. Breyer or Merrick Garland, both well to the left of center and potentially the most liberal median in more than 75 years.
The impact of the next Supreme Court justice on the social fabric of America will be immeasurable, particularly regarding so-called “privacy rights” that are invoked to justify permissive abortion. Justice Scalia, known for hewing closely to the Constitution, repeatedly affirmed that our founding document contains no “right to abortion” and said that the abortion cases were among the easiest for him.
And so our next president holds the fate of millions of lives in his hands. I was in the Court for the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt oral argument, and Justice Scalia’s absence was keenly felt, with his chair still draped in ceremonial black. The bench was warm that day, with questions descending upon the arguing attorneys like pepper springing free of a grinder. Everyone at the Court knew that the increasingly vulnerable Roe v. Wade could hang yet again in the balance, and that overturning the abortion behemoth would return the issue to the states – many of which have laws protecting innocent life.
At the end of the day, there was no clear winner. Justice Kennedy appeared to waver between second-guessing the state of Texas and addressing the “undue burden” standard crafted by the Court.
With three current justices nearing or older than 80 years, Scalia’s chair is not the only one that could be vacated in the next presidential term. Our next president would become something of an outlier by nominating a liberal justice; while a majority of attorneys skew liberal, judicial appointees tend to be more conservative and more closely aligned with the population whose fate they decide.
Donald Trump’s list of proposed candidates includes luminaries of the bench with solid conservative credentials, including on the protection of human life. Leading conservative legal scholars have resoundingly commended his choices. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton showed just how out of touch she is with the majority of Americans when she condemned Trump’s selections and vowed to appoint pro-abortion justices.
America cannot afford to elect an ivory-tower ideologue with more grooming than substance. Clinton, a scandal-ridden, calculating career politician, exemplifies everything that is wrong with the political establishment. We’ve seen this film before; why would we expect it be different the second time around?
William Jennings Bryan called destiny a “matter of choice,” a “thing to be achieved.” 2016 is a year of possibility – a chance to save millions upon millions of lives, rather than slump once more into the Clinton dynasty, four more years of Bill and his cohorts, and a radical leftward shift that doesn’t represent average Americans. Together, we the people can shape our nation’s highest court for generations to come, and achieve our own destiny.