Replacing Kennedy: The Finalists

Michael Smerconish goes over the president's top nominees to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. What's really at stake?

Posted: Jul 8, 2018 6:47 PM
Updated: Jul 8, 2018 7:11 PM

While we don't yet know the identity of Donald Trump's nominee to the US Supreme Court, media reports are clear that the front runners are alarmingly more conservative than outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy. That is, alarming to those who don't want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, depriving women of the right to control their own bodies, and the reversal of Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized same-sex marriage. And it's no exaggeration to say both of those rights are in peril depending on the views of the justice who replaces Kennedy.

For those like me who are gravely concerned about this possible development, the best chance we will have to get a sense of the nominee's views on these issues will be during the Senate confirmation hearings. However, as history has taught us, the nominees are well-coached to be evasive. We saw an example of this just last year with then-Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. When pressed by Senate Democrats regarding his views on whether he would vote to overturn Roe, he offered only vague answers -- such as Roe is the "precedent of the United States Supreme Court," and the "law of the land."

Expect the same from Trump's nominee this time.

If senators truly want to know who poses a threat to abortion rights and marriage equality, I have some suggested questions. First, ask the nominee if he or she supports or denounces the idea of making the Bible, rather than the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.

Alarmingly, we have leaders like Mike Pence, Mike Huckabee and others openly advocating for basing US laws on the Bible. You can hear it in their arguments to overturn abortion and marriage equality, which are predicated not upon public policy concerns but upon the Bible. If you doubt me, just look at the words of Vice President Mike Pence, a man who told us that he's "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order." (American didn't even make Pence's top three!)

Pence, as a member of Congress, made an impassioned speech on the House floor against marriage equality. Was his opposition to this based on the US Constitution? No, it was based on the Bible. Pence, invoking Genesis 2:24, stated, "I believe first, though, marriage should be protected because it wasn't our idea. Several millennia ago the words were written that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. It was not our idea; it was God's idea."

Same goes for abortion. If the nominee follows the Biblical interpretation that life begins at conception, as articulated by people like James Dobson and is willing to impose that as the law of America, abortion rights may be left up to each state to decide. (As it stands in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the most recent ruling on abortion, a woman has full reproductive freedom until the fetus is viable to live outside of the womb.)

And here are a few other questions that senators can ask of the nominee, such as: Do you agree with Thomas Jefferson's view that the Constitution requires "building a wall of separation between Church & State." Or even Ronald Reagan's view that "church and state are, and must remain, separate"?

Conversely, the nominee should be asked if he or she accepts or denounces the views of Christian leaders like the GOP's Mike Huckabee, who has made it crystal clear that he wants our Constitution revised to align with the values of the Bible: "What we need to do is amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than trying to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

Those who give their first allegiance to the Bible rather than to the Constitution could be said to support "Christian sharia law."

Remember when the right wing ginned up fears of Muslims Americans by claiming that they wanted to impose Islamic law in the United States, which they describe as sharia law? But there were no Muslim leaders in the US who were advocating that US should be based on the Quran. (If there were, I'd vocally oppose them.)

While there is no official book titled "sharia law," some Muslim majority nations base their state laws on Islamic principles set forth in the Quran. However, this is not an issue in the US. In fact, in a Florida state legislature debate on whether to pass a measure intended to ban Islamic law from that state, the chief GOP state senator championing the bill publicly admitted there were no Muslims pushing to impose Islamic sharia law there, but the legislation was "a preemptive gesture" akin to a "vaccination."

Let me be clear, my opposition to turning the Bible into American law is not because I'm anti-Christian or anti-religion. I'm absolutely unequivocally neither. As a Muslim, my religion and my relationship with God are very important. And I view the Pence's and Huckabee's as representing a small, fringe percentage of the overall Christian American community.

But I strongly believe, as Jefferson did, that we need a wall between church and state. In fact, we need an amendment to the US Constitution barring laws based on any religious text -- be it the Bible, the Quran or any other religious book.

That's why our senators need to press Trump's nominee to see if he or she will reject any attempts to base our laws on the Bible. The United States of America must remain a nation where we have freedom of religion, not a nation where any one religion can be imposed upon us.

Terre Haute
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 25°
Robinson
Clear
25° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 18°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
30° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 21°
Rockville
Clear
23° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 17°
Casey
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 22°
Brazil
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 25°
Marshall
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 25°
Clear & Cold, Warmer Wednesday
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 726304

Reported Deaths: 12985
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook3063696669
DuPage45446790
Will39020565
Lake37596634
Kane31955469
Winnebago19150262
Madison14607259
McHenry14350156
St. Clair13579259
Champaign1090658
Sangamon1025399
Peoria9273134
Kankakee8689103
Rock Island8685135
McLean860354
Tazewell6947106
Macon6602132
Kendall631847
LaSalle6161136
DeKalb502848
Adams477548
Vermilion397451
Boone396233
Whiteside3767117
Williamson365983
Clinton333761
Coles332759
Ogle288138
Knox284066
Grundy281318
Effingham280121
Henry272815
Jackson271136
Marion252351
Stephenson248935
Macoupin227618
Randolph227626
Livingston226828
Morgan222536
Bureau214543
Monroe208746
Franklin207725
Lee201935
Jefferson190859
Christian190343
Woodford179227
Logan173613
Fayette172231
Iroquois171926
McDonough160742
Fulton148512
Shelby138826
Douglas136916
Jersey129824
Union119528
Montgomery115919
Saline112325
Crawford112213
Perry111223
Warren110120
Jo Daviess108317
Lawrence108211
Carroll107324
Bond105010
Pike102127
Cass96623
Hancock96412
Wayne91133
Moultrie90810
Clay84420
Greene82931
Edgar82015
Clark80520
Richland80119
Piatt7915
Mercer76610
Ford76022
Mason73322
Johnson7246
Washington7122
Jasper65211
De Witt62818
Cumberland62116
White6198
Massac6033
Wabash5808
Menard4731
Pulaski4262
Marshall4146
Hamilton3873
Brown3224
Henderson2901
Schuyler2781
Stark2693
Alexander2612
Calhoun2510
Putnam2460
Scott2330
Edwards2273
Gallatin1933
Unassigned1820
Hardin1561
Pope1011
Out of IL130

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 338977

Reported Deaths: 5723
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion46131870
Lake29183469
Allen19572307
Elkhart18074236
St. Joseph17808239
Hamilton14364172
Vanderburgh10546128
Tippecanoe948130
Porter890690
Johnson7132171
Hendricks6820162
Vigo643592
Monroe572452
Madison5506124
Clark547678
Delaware5252104
LaPorte501997
Kosciusko484042
Howard382978
Bartholomew355165
Warrick350073
Wayne345886
Floyd338078
Marshall320446
Cass311531
Grant302550
Hancock294357
Noble274147
Boone267655
Henry266139
Dubois253732
Jackson242034
Dearborn241131
Morgan236543
Gibson207329
Shelby204159
Knox198021
DeKalb193435
Clinton192922
Lawrence191349
Wabash183922
Miami181417
Adams180023
Daviess167545
Fayette159834
Jasper159113
Montgomery158329
Steuben158116
Harrison155824
Ripley155721
LaGrange152232
Whitley149715
Huntington141810
White140323
Decatur140044
Putnam138129
Wells137030
Clay135125
Randolph134022
Jefferson133416
Posey130318
Scott119421
Greene112253
Sullivan106717
Jay106414
Jennings98714
Starke98025
Spencer9268
Fulton90119
Fountain8778
Perry87321
Washington8487
Franklin77027
Carroll75313
Orange73128
Vermillion6927
Owen6699
Parke6466
Tipton64027
Rush6078
Blackford59613
Newton59412
Pike54920
Pulaski45016
Benton3943
Martin3866
Brown3815
Crawford3251
Union3012
Switzerland2735
Warren2663
Ohio2457
Unassigned0267