Pastor Note #66 — Election Thoughts 2016 –the Supreme Court

Downtown Pittsburgh from the north; photo by GAC
Downtown Pittsburgh from the north; photo by GAC

A Trump presidency will not result in a strongly conservative Supreme Court as some prominent evangelicals been arguing.  Franklin Graham and others insist that the key issue that evangelical Christian voters should keep in mind in this presidential election is the matter of filling the current opening on the Supreme Court and probably more in the next couple of years.  Some like Graham have implied that by electing Donald Trump as president, evangelicals can assure that the next few Supreme Court appointments will be of justices who will be strongly “conservative.”

Here’s why I believe that argument is not persuasive and is, in fact, simply wrong.  The president does not appoint Supreme Court justices.  The president proposes – nominates — them to the Senate.  The Senate will decide who the next Supreme Court justices will be.  The next Supreme Court justice will be a moderate.  There is little chance that a strongly conservative nominee will ever get through the U. S. Senate, especially the one that will come out of this election.

The best-case scenario for the Republicans is that they may still manage to hold a slim one vote majority in the Senate.  Many non-partisan news sources say there is a slightly better than even chance that the Democrats will win control of the Senate.  That’s why I believe that only a fairly moderate Supreme Court nominee will survive the process.  Such a court will not overturn Roe v. Wade, nor will it overturn the recent ruling on same-sex marriage.

Beyond all those practical realities, I find it hard to believe that Donald Trump can be relied on to propose a Supreme Court nominee of the sort that evangelicals want.  Everything that we know about Donald Trump from his past actions tells us that he is not a man of principle.  He is not a man who is guided by a coherent set of moral values and principle.  He by his own admission does not hold to a Christian value system.  He supports gay marriage.  Until very, very recently, he has been strongly pro-choice regarding abortion.  Will a President Trump who no longer needs evangelical Christian votes still support an evangelical Christian agenda?  I’m not persuaded he will.


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