The title of this post should be recognizable to just about every American, citizen or not, over the age of forty. It comes, of course, from the Pledge of Allegiance, an oath with a storied history. The idea for such an oath began with an editor of The Youth’s Companion, a magazine published in the United States from 1827 to 1912. The first official use of the Pledge was in a ceremony honoring Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1892 by a proclamation of President Benjamin Harrison, a Republican.
In 1954, by a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the words, “one nation under God” were added to the Pledge to wide popular acclaim. Now, 66 years later, some members of Congress refuse to include those words in any recitation of the pledge. Some decline to recite the Pledge at all. Rioting mobs are tearing down any statue that even looks like it might represent Christopher Columbus. The name of God is the prey of activist judges.
Thus comes the beginning of the end of “one nation under God,” and perhaps even of the nation itself. In the midst of all this chaos, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September leaving the administration of President Donald Trump with a third nomination to the nation’s highest court and a reshaping of the Court unprecedented in modern times. This mirrors the real priority of the election of 2016, a fact that I wrote about then in “Clinton v. Trump at Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” It opens eyes now just as it did then.
There is a lot at stake in this upcoming election and especially in the pending U.S. Supreme court confirmation process. If you find it a challenge to read such a political position from a Catholic priest, well, “For Zion’s sake I cannot keep silent. For Jerusalem’s sake, I will not rest” (Isaiah 62:1). At the heart of all this there are urgent considerations for human rights, religious freedom, and Catholic moral teaching.
At least consider the unfiltered voices of your fellow Americans that have not been strained through the sieve of the mainstream news media’s surrender to the deep political left. In 2020, the fourth year of the current President’s first term in office, the highly respected Gallup Poll conducted a broad scientific survey of the level of trust Americans invest in the institutions of government and civil society. This survey came in the midst of a a global pandemic and the high anxiety of a highly contentious election year. The results are very different from what you are hearing from CNN or MSNBC.
Churches and organized religion ranked near the top in overall public trust with 42-percent reporting a “Great Deal” or “Quite a Lot” of trust. Only 28-percent reported having very little. The U.S. Military came out at the very top with 72-percent of Americans report in having very high trust and only 8-percent having very little. Despite all the bad news, the nation’s police also fared better than expected. 48-percent of Americans reported having very high trust while 33-percent reported very little.
Political institutions were the most interesting. Four years into the current President’s first term, 42-percent of Americans reported having a very high trust level for his office while 32-percent reported having very little. A look at the same Gallup Poll in the fourth year of Barack Obama’s first term revealed lower numbers with 32-percent having high trust and 35-percent very little. You won’t see this on CNN.
NANCY PELOSI’S CONGRESS TIPPING FURTHER LEFT
In the image above, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is seen dramatically tearing up the President’s State of the Union address. The lower House of Congress has capitulated to the progressive left and has handed over unprecedented control to the newer members who self-identify as socialists. Their unofficial voice has been Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez who announced in a news conference last week that “We are confidant that President Joe Biden can be guided further left.”
Of interest, the 2020 Gallup Poll Trust Survey responded to this. Only 13-percent of Americans reported having high or very high trust in Congress while 48-percent reported having very little. American’s trust level in the current Congress was even lower than in the mainstream news media. Newspapers earned the high trust of only 24-percent of Americans while “very little” came in at 35-percent. Television news fared even worse. Only 19-percent reported having high trust while 43-percent reported very little or none at all. You won’t see this on CNN either.
The sharp leftward tilt of Congress toward socialism is of grave concern if it drags the Supreme Court along with it. The current President’s conservative nominee has been met with threats by Congress to retaliate if the Democrats remain in control and gain the Senate and the White House as well. The most vocal threat is that they will “pack the court” by increasing its number and filling the additional seats with liberal judges.
This would be disastrous for America. The first Supreme Court was seated with five justices in 1189. In 1837, Congress increased the number to nine. That number was arrived at to make political stalemates very unlikely. The nine justice Court has been a fixture in Washington for over 180 years. One of the most vocal criticisms of the Court in recent years has been the presence of “activist judges” in the lower courts who “legislate from the bench.”
The Supreme Courts most important responsibility is to decide cases that raise questions of Constitutional interpretation. This is called “Judicial Review” and it places the Court in a pivotal role in the American political system. It is the ultimate authority for applying the Constitution in the most important issues facing the country. It is disastrous if activist judges find their way onto the Supreme Court. Examples of “Legislating from the Bench” came in two cases before the modern court.
In 1973, the Supreme Court did not find a right to abortion in the Constitution, and so it placed one there, usurping the role of Congress and the votes of the American people. This happened again in 2015 in “Obergefel v Hodges,” the same-sex marriage ruling. In the (5-4) split decision, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a blistering Dissent accusing the liberal judges of placing a Constitutional right to marriage in the Constitution when it simply is not there. I wrote about Judtice Scalia’s dissent and its implications for religious liberty in “The Dying of the Light: Religious Liberty in America.”
SHELDON WHITEHOUSE AND THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
Shortly after the President announced his decision to put forward a nominee for the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, some in Congress and the Senate went into high gear to denounce it. The players know very well what the real issue of precedent is. When Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy in his last months as President, a vacancy left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, the Republican controlled Senate declined to consider it. The Republicans were in the right (no pun intended) on the matter of precedent.
The controlling authority in 2016 was the precedent that, since 1888, the Senate does not confirm a nominee in an election year with a divided government. In 2016, the White House was occupied by a Democrat while the majority in the Senate was Republican. The Senate Democrats know, but hope you don’t know, that it was Joe Biden himself who popularized this exception. As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1992, Senator Biden urged President George H.W. Bush to refrain from making a Supreme Court nomination during that election year because the “divided government” meant there was an “absence of a nationwide consensus.” Without such a consensus on constitutional philosophy, Mr. Biden insisted, “Action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election is over.”
A divided government was the case again in 2016 so the “Biden Rule” applied. It is not the case in 2020. Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself said that in the final months of a term of office, “the President is still the President,” and he has a Constitutional mandate to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, had the most suspect response:
- Though we (in Congress) strongly believe this is a matter of the gravest importance for our nation, for life, liberty, and the pursuit of our agenda, it would be wrong to fill this with just a few months left of this presidency.”
Even overlooking the fact that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of our agenda” is not exactly what the Bill of Rights had in mind, Mrs. Pelosi seems to have already concluded that the election is already over and your voices have already been heard. In “Ginsburg Succession Battle Shows Hypocrisy Is an Enduring Norm,” Wall Street Journal Editor-at-Large Gerard Baker was as put off as I was:
- “The reason millions of voters swallowed their doubts about Donald Trump in 2016 was that they believed their voices had too often been ignored… It has been clear all summer that there is an emerging progressive consensus (in Congress) that considers the nation’s institutions, traditional values, and even its history to be fundamentally illegitimate.” (Sep. 22, 2020)
But no one left me more uneasy about the road ahead than Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Fox News Anchor Bill Hemmer asked him a pointed question (Sep. 22) about the obliteration of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s due process rights in the last confirmation hearing. Whitehouse responded that Kavanaugh had “a credible accusation” against him that overshadowed those hearings in what I could only conclude to be a sham trial. In welcoming the newly seated Justice Kavanaugh to the Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg referred to that process as “a highly partisan show.”
I wrote of that story in “Justice Brett Kavanaugh Is Guilty for Being Accused.” The uncorroborated and unsubstantiated allegations were exploited by Senator Whitehouse and others on his committee in a vicious display that voters have not forgotten.
What made these claims “credible” in the eyes of Senator Whitehouse? Sheldon Whitehouse spent his high school years at St. Paul’s School, an elite prep school with historic ties to the Episcopal church in Concord, New Hampshire. Its alumni list looks like a who’s who of Washington politics. The school has been the subject of multiple grand jury investigations for alleged sexual assaults by both students and faculty dating back several decades. If Sheldon Whitehouse were to be accused today, should that fact alone make the claims “credible?” Justice Brett Kavanaugh might be among the first to defend his due process rights.
So what sort of witch hunt are we in for now in the current confirmation hearings for nominee, Amy Coney Barrett? The fact that she is Catholic has already been an unconstitutional religion test applied by the Judiciary Committee. In 2018, a non profit progressive organization called “Demand Justice” spent $5 million building opposition to Justice Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Court. How much of this money paid for false accusations? The Wall Street Journal reports that when asked if the group donated to Senator Whitehouse, he responded, “hope so!” In “Questions for Senator Whitehouse,” (Review & Outlook, Sep. 22, 2020) the Journal concluded:
- “Mr Whitehouse is trying to stifle the donations and speech of his political opponents. The least he can do is set an example by disclosing his own dark money network and its plans to undermine judicial independence.”
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- A Grand Jury, St. Paul’s School, Diocese of Manchester (2019)
- Joe Biden, Cardinal McCarrick, and the Betrayal of Life (2020)
- Wikileaks Found Catholics in the Basket of Deplorables (2016)
- Trump at Mount Rushmore, Lincoln at the Emancipation (2020)