Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

The Christian Right’s False Hope In A Conservative SCOTUS

 

What Franklin Graham Is Wrong About Today, Vol. 5

The election of 2016 is just a few weeks away (thank you, sweet baby Jesus).

Over the course of this election season, it has been interesting to watch the conservative Christian reaction to Donald Trump. What originally was a “hell no!” during the primary season, slowly became “he’s our only hope” in the general election.

I knew all along that the majority of the right-wing “never Trump” folks would eventually cave and find a reason to not only support him, but to do so unapologetically. With the help of folks like Franklin Graham, many of those who once plugged their noses over the idea of supporting someone they know in their heart is completely opposed to anything that remotely resembles Christianity, now have a reason to support him: the Supreme Court.

Graham has long been directing his followers to this issue more than any other. With several of the justices nearing retirement, the next president will likely appoint an above average number of individuals to the court, and the right is now seeing this as their great hope of advancing their cause. While they have spent years denouncing “activist judges,” they have now made exactly that a central justification for supporting Trump.

I mean, if we had a SCOTUS filled with justices largely appointed by Republicans, we wouldn’t have Roe v. Wade, right?

Wrong. In fact, the truth is the opposite: it was a majority Republican appointed SCOTUS that legalized abortion in the first place. The makeup of SCOTUS when Roe v. Wade was decided was as follows:

  • Harry A. Blackmun
  • William J. Brennan
  • Warren Earl Burger
  • William Orville Douglas
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.
  • Potter Stewart
  • William H. Rehnquist
  • Byron R. White

Only two justices voted against Roe v. Wade: Rehnquist and White. Rehnquist was a conservative appointed by Nixon, and White was appointed by Kennedy. So, what was the makeup of those justices who voted to legalize abortion?

Blackmun (R-Nixon)

Brennan (R-Eisenhower)

Burger (R-Nixon)

Douglas (D-Roosevelt)

Marshall (D-Johnson)

Powell (R-Nixon)

Stewart (R-Eisenhower)

One need not be a math major to calculate this one: 5 of the seven justices who made abortion legal in America were appointed by Republican presidents. Even in the time since Roe v Wade, we’ve had periods of Republican dominance of SCOTUS– at one point with 8 of the 9 justices were Republican! And yet, there have still been plenty of rulings that were objectionable to the right wing– including the upholding of Roe v. Wade.

So here’s my question: if legalized abortion was given to America by a Republican SCOTUS, and if it has been upheld by an almost unanimously Republican SCOTUS, why the heck is one of the major selling points of this election the idea that they’ll get more court picks so that they can finally overturn it?

 Seems silly to me.

Even more, it’s actually the hight of hypocrisy on multiple levels. Conservatives have long blasted liberals for relying on government policy and regulation to address issues (say, gun violence), arguing that it’s “hearts” we need to change instead of laws.  Further, they’ve decried the use of judges in the U.S process of law when they disagree with rulings (aka, “activist judges”). Yet, when it comes to this single issue, all the previous logic gets summarily dismissed.

Whereas the Bible teaches that we are to place no hope in elected leaders (Psalm 146:3), the religious right is doubling down on putting hope in a conservative SCOTUS in order to get what they want. And it’s a false hope, because a conservative SCOTUS is who gave them the very thing they hate.

Franklin Graham & Crew can try to convince you that having a Republican SCOTUS is the key to the future, but what they’re not telling you is the key they played in the past. Neither are they telling out how unpredictable a justice can be once they put on that robe.

By making vacant seats on SCOTUS the primary campaign issue without double checking how Republican appointed justices have ruled in the past, the joke just might be on them.

Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

It's not the end of the world, but it's pretty #@&% close. Trump's America & Franklin Graham's Christianity must be resisted.

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It's not the end of the world, but it's pretty #@&% close. Trump's America & Franklin Graham's Christianity must be resisted.

Join the resistance: Subscribe for posts and updates from BLC!

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  • Thanks Ben for sharing this. I’m a recent convert from fundamentalism. My search for truth and love not only has changed my woldview but also my physical location in the world. I had bought in hard to the fear bs and was very quickly becoming a hard fundy. Thankfully family circumstances allowed my wife and I the chance to leave and now we’re raising our family in Germany where my wife is from.
    Since I now live where universal health care is the norm and family support from the state is one of the best in the world, it has caused me to think about the effects of these social structures on abortion rates. Abortion is not a big topic here when it comes to elections. Do you know of any statistics showing abortion rates in America versus abortion rates in Germany? I would also be curious if the abortion rate decreased after Obamacare came online. My speculation is that with increased healthcare availability and better family support financially comes a decrease in abortion rates. Any thoughts?

  • So in so many words in order to reverse Roe then the president whoever that may be should nominate democrats and the Senate must confirm them! One may take any sentence from the Bible and use it for their pint but the Bible must be taken in its entirety. I will vote my conscience as the Catholic teach and in which I believe.

  • I’m surprised anyone would trust Trump in terms of abortion. He has stated in the past that he is 100% pro-choice. Of course Romney, McCain, and George Bush all were pro choice before it became imperative to be anti-choice in order to get the Republican nomination. During the waning days of the 2012 campaign Romney was running pro-choice ads in Northern Virginia and pro-life ads in the south of Virginia.

  • Sam a change in one’s political issue won’t save them. I think every Calvinist in the world would agree with that. And a change in one’s heart in terms of achieving saving grace is also impossible unless God intervenes dramatically. This is also a statement that every Calvinist would agree upon. So how are all of these social problems going to be solved when irresistible grace is not evidenced by a critical mass of humanity? That’s the question I have.

  • Actually, one of the worst things that could happen for the GOP is to strike down RvW.

    It’s been a YUUGE moneymaker for them; gettin’ tha rubes all riled and whatnot.

  • I’m concerned about our more Calvinist brethren who make the change of heart argument for addressing social problems instead of legislation. Doesn’t the tenets of TULIP tell us that this sort of change is impossible for anyone by the elect?

  • Doesn’t the Supreme Court make decisions on issues other than abortion? I think Mr. Graham is wrong on a number of things when it comes to the election, but couldn’t he have been referring to more than the abortion issue when it comes to the Supreme Court? (There’s no direct quote in this blog post for me to work off of.) There’s more at stake than abortion law, right?

    Unfortunately, the Court has become a major source of power in Washington. It’s no wonder that Court appointees have become so controversial. Would they even have been a subject for debate 50 years ago? I think Congress should set term limits for the members of the Court – something around 10 years or so. This would limit the ability of any President to have too much of an influence on the direction the Court takes.

    We need to devolve more power out of Washington. The Supreme Court is one place to start.

  • Exactly! And the pro-life position is cool with government intervention to stop abortion, but when it comes to preventing the need for abortion with easy access to contraception and sex education…well, Jesus wouldn’t want that. Smh

  • Republican appointed doesn’t guarantee conservative. however Trump doesn’t belong to the Rockefeller wing of the GOP. It may be a hit or miss with Trump but with Hillary it is a guaranteed “Miss by a mile”!

  • The Right is against activist Judges; The Left courts them. The Right supports the Constitution and expects the Judges to rule in line with that document. The Left wants Judges to find ways around the Constitution because it is a “living, breathing document.”

    The current version of the court which was Right leaning allowed the Left to have Obamacare despite the fact that it was very unpopular among the Right because the Supreme Court is a third branch of the government and not accountable to the President or Congress. Roe v Wade equally controversial has stood for over 40 years. There is no way to know what future courts will decide or the cases they will review.

    This is all election time hysteria.

  • In all of these debates, it shouldnt be forgotten what you’re talking about – abortion. I understand in the Roe case, the would-be mother was single, and that was the only reason she wanted an abortion. Personally I find that objectionable. Here in NI, unless the woman’s life is in danger, it is illegal to have an abortion. There is currently an on-going debate around foetal abnormality, and that issue still has to be settled. But I do not think it is appropriate for women to have abortions for societal reasons, as was the case in Roe. Effectively you are arguing to have the baby is ‘inconvenient’ for you. And although the fetus is developing within the woman’s body, I do not think one can then argue the woman can do what she likes. If at all possible, the state should ensure the father is forced to contribute to the upkeep of the child – it takes two to get pregnant. If the father cannot be traced and financially the mother and child would suffer due to the mother’s circumstances, then the state should ensure a minimum contribution – if countries view abortion as inappropriate in most cases, then it cannot wash its hands of the mothers and children.

    I remember years ago watching a late-night tv discussion programme on British tv, with the subject being abortion. One of the guests, a doctor, had been known as the American ‘abortion king’ because of the number of abortions he had carried out over the years. Unfortunately I cant remember his name. But he said as medical advances occurred such as in ultrasound, and he could see what was happening in the womb as the baby developed, he gradually came to the conclusion that what he was doing was wrong. I dont think we can ignore such opinions.

  • I don’t really understand your argument. Here were a few difficulties I had:

    1) The right doesn’t want to appoint activist judges. They want to appoint constitutional originalists. I’m not sure how they’ve gone against that.

    2) You’re right, republican appointed judges haven’t always stuck down the conservative line of constitutional originalism. Republicans haven’t been nearly as interested as the left in selecting hard line ideologues as justices. It seems they’ve now learned their lesson.

  • Thank you Dr. Corey for compiling these facts together in a single post. A helpful resource for the future, since I imagine religious fundamentalists will continue their frothing hysteria well into the next several presidential administrations.

    And at some point, White Evangelicals (78%, Pew Research Center) will realize that none of their efforts have contributed to lowering abortion rates, including their fateful alignment with Trump’s xenophobic, rage-filled gospel.

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