This week, “Family Policy Matters” features a portion of a keynote address on the seven Supreme Court decisions that changed America, as presented at the North Carolina Family Policy Council’s Major Speakers dinner event in Charlotte, NC, in November 2015. It was presented by Paul Weber, CEO of CitizenLink, a public policy partner of Focus on the Family.
Introduction: This week, we are pleased to bring you part of a great presentation that Paul Weber, the president and chief executive officer of Citizenlink, gave at the North Carolina Family Policy Council’s Major Speaker Series event in Charlotte in November 2015.
At Citizenlink, which is a public policy partner of Focus on the Family, Paul is responsible for strengthening an alliance of nearly 40 state-based family policy organizations, like the North Carolina Family Policy Council. He is also responsible for training statesmen, advancing pro-family public policy, and giving voice to Biblical citizens. Prior to joining CitizenLink, Paul served as an executive with Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, for nearly 14 years.
John Rustin: In the following excerpt from his address, Paul explains how seven key decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court changed America and brought us to where we are today. He also shares some helpful advice on the way forward for pro-family citizens.
Paul Weber: I hear from believers around the country [that], “It seems like the moral decline is accelerating.” Christians more and more are expressing hopelessness. I saw a statistic that said that 80 percent of Christians believe that [Kentucky clerk] Kim Davis should have just resigned—she should have quit her job. You’ve probably heard that a few times, right? Tell me, friends, what jobs do you think Christians, because of their faith, are now un-qualified to do—all government jobs, school teachers, coaches, like we’re seeing with the Washington State football coach? How about small business owners? Should small business owners who are Christian now leave their businesses because they should be forced to approve of same-sex “marriages”? No? My friends, when we disengage we’re giving in by default, and the outcome of giving in is ultimately worse.
Founding Father John Adams said it this way, “We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” That’s fancy language basically saying that any government can’t contain us if we’re immoral and without a religious people. He said, “Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” So, how did we fall so far so fast?
I call this the slippery slope. Seven critical Supreme Court cases that ruined—I mean changed—America. The first one is in 1947: it’s called Everson vs. Board of Education. This case was brought by a New Jersey taxpayer against a tax-funded school district that provided reimbursement to parents of both public and private school children for taking public transportation to school. In other words, parents who were sending their kids to public or private school were getting reimbursed for that, to help kids get a good education. And yet this case codified into law and in our culture, the phrase, “separation of church and state.” Where’s that found in the Constitution? Nowhere. We know that—We’re a smart group. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” When this phrase [“separation of church and state”] first came about, it came about through Thomas Jefferson, and his original intent of this message was that government cannot encroach on the affairs of the Church. And yet, what has happened is that through this “separation of church and state” lie, which was introduced by the ACLU in a friend-of-the-court brief, it’s used as a wedge to erode our religious liberties. This phrase then found it’s way into the majority opinion written by Justice Hugo Black, and this was what he said, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state, that wall must be high and impregnable.” [Now], I just read the First Amendment, is that what that amendment means? I don’t think so. Yet the phrase “separation of church and state” has since become engrained in the American culture, and that’s where the slide began, in 1947.
Lee vs. Weisman in 1992—this case was based on the Everson case and other subsequent cases, and it dismantled the proclamation of prayer in public schools. Now, there were a lot of other cases that led up to this, but this abolishes even voluntary prayer. And that’s what we’re seeing in Washington now, where we have this coach who is simply saying anyone who wants to come volunteer to pray can, but this abolished that… Interestingly, our third president, Thomas Jefferson, used government funds to teach the Bible in public schools. Hardly any problem with separation of church and state there. So, two key cases—45 years apart—one generation, one Biblical generation, and God was eliminated from the public schools.
This [next] case called Griswold vs. Connecticut, and this case was about birth control. And what it really gave us was this idea of personal privacy in marriage. The opinion of the court said this, “The right of privacy is based on the Bill of Rights, which have penumbras formed by the emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance.” Can somebody tell me what that means? Do you know what a penumbra is? Do you ever look at the moon, and see that glow around the moon? That’s the penumbra. You have this kind of this vaporous, vapor of stuff happening in the Bill of Rights?
This flowery language was further expanded in 1972, in another case called Eisenstadt v. Baird. This right to privacy then went from married couples to individuals, [which is] important, married couples now to individuals, because right after 1972, then we had the killer case, Roe vs. Wade, which has led to the slaughter of 56 million Americans since that time. That right to privacy laid the foundation to Roe vs. Wade. But the Right to Life community never gave up, and they thought they had a case in 1992 called Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Instead what they didn’t count on was an 11th hour flip-flop by one of the justices who wrote in a joint opinion that expanded abortion by establishing a law that is known as the “mystery clause.” Don’t you love these language things? A mystery clause that reads, “Abortion is a fundamental 14th Amendment protected liberty. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concepts of existence of meaning of the universe and the mystery of life.” In other words, I can define life any way I want to define life. What nice language wrapped in the sound of liberty! This was in 1992.
Fast forward to 2003, a case called Lawrence vs. Texas. This ruling extended the right to privacy provisions to gay sexual practices. Again, based on that right to privacy. At the time, I was working at ADF, and I remember when this case was decided. The homosexual community came out loudly and said, “This case has nothing to do with marriage! This case is just about two people doing what we want to do on our own. It has nothing to do with marriage.” They didn’t want to tip their hand on that. And yet just 12 years later in Obergefell vs. Hodges, the recent Supreme Court decision that ushered in same-sex “marriage” throughout the land, despite the vote of legislators and people in 31 states to amend their constitutions that marriage is only between one man and one woman—only to have it overturned by one judge. Marriage, the basic building block of any thriving society was redefined, and with it those who don’t abide by this opinion are targets for persecution. This is the Supreme Court.
What’s the point of this history lesson? I just want to share a few observations with you. These changes in our Constitution and our culture were not made through elected representatives of the people. They were made by unelected and unaccountable judges, with and through the influence of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, and frankly legislators that couldn’t get it done so they deferred to the courts. If you look at that Lee vs. Weisman case, that Planned Parenthood vs. Casey case, Lawrence vs. Texas case, and the Obergerville vs. Hodges case, one man wrote the majority of those opinions. That was Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, [who] was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. Elections have consequences, but Reagan’s first choice was a judge by the name of Robert Bork. Remember that name? Bork was “borked.” The guy’s name was turned into a verb. Robert Bork, before he passed away, said this, “When the law is silent on a matter, the judiciary must not act.” That’s the way a judge should behave. So, what was the original role of the judiciary? To interpret the law established by the legislature, not create it ex-nihilo, or “out of nothing.” Only the Lord can do that. The framers of the Constitution understood this clearly, and founding father Alexander Hamilton said this, “The judiciary is beyond comparison, the weakest of the three departments of power.”
We fast-forward to 2015 in the recent decision overturning marriage, Justice Antonin Scalia, in his dissent, summed it up this way. “Today’s decree said that my ruler, and the ruler of 320 million Americans from coast to coast is a majority of nine rulers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact, and the furthest extension one can even imagine, of the Court’s claimed power to create liberties that the Constitution and its amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine always accompanied, as it is today, by extravagant praise of liberty [by nice flowery language] robs the people of its most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”
The second point of this history lesson is this: we did not get here overnight, my friends, but this has gone on for 70 years in a culture accelerated by judicial activism and lack of accountability. It took a lifetime. Our opposition, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and now the Administration, has worked relentlessly and systematically, and frankly shown more determination to their cause of immorality than the Body of Christ has into promoting good. What we need more than ever are faithful Christians who have a long-term view, and are willing to step up and support and serve, and act and engage the culture, and support organizations like the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
The battle for the future is the battle for religious freedom. It was never about marriage, my friends, for the gay community. It was never about that. It really wasn’t. It was a stepping-stone to forcing American culture and Christians to accept the lifestyle, and that’s what it was about. So, the battle for religious freedom will rage on, and we will stand in the gap every step of the way. Just as the battle of life will continue, and now as you’re seeing physician-assisted suicide is raging across the country, we’re working so hard against that. The battle for the ability to live according to the dictates of our conscience will continue, as long as we have people like John Rustin and his allies, men and women like him, and those like you, who frankly are willing to support us. And I’d ask you to help other people to understand what we’re doing and ask them to support us too. Get to know us, get to know what we’re doing, and I’m asking you to stand with us!
John Rustin: You’ve been listening to a speech given by Paul Weber, the president and CEO of Citizenlink, gave at the North Carolina Family Policy Council’s Major Speaker Series dinner in Charlotte in November 2015.
Thank you for listening! And if you would like to learn more about our Major Speaker Series dinner events or the North Carolina Family Policy Council, please visit our website at www.ncfamily.org
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