What a Clinton Supreme Court Would Mean for America
People often ask me how I – a so-called conservative intellectual and author of “The Book of Virtues” - can support and vote for Donald Trump. I have many good reasons, but nothing on the home front is more important than the Supreme Court.
Our country can survive the occasional infelicities and improprieties of Donald Trump. But it cannot survive losing the Supreme Court to liberals and allowing them to wreck our sacred republic. It would reshape the country for decades.
If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, she will, without a doubt, appoint a dyed in the wool liberal to fill Antonin Scalia's seat, thereby giving liberals a strong five-person majority on the Court. It could get even worse if Justice Kennedy retires and Clinton replaces him with another liberal, giving them an unstoppable six seats on the Court.
We don't know exactly what a President Trump will do, but we do know that his list of eleven potential justices is very promising and a Vice President Mike Pence and a Republican Congress led by Speaker Paul Ryan will hold his feet to the fire for good appointments. On the other hand, we know exactly what Clinton will do.
Let's look briefly at what that will mean to us and our families.
Immigration: This past June the Supreme Court blocked Pres. Obama's executive order on immigration that would have allowed roughly 4 million illegal aliens to stay in the country and get work permits. The case was decided on a 4-4 split in Scalia's absence and therefore upheld the lower court's decision. Give Clinton a liberal majority on the Supreme Court and surely she would restart this program (or create one similar) and the Court would uphold it. Millions of illegal immigrants would be granted sanctuary in our country and given the legal ability to work, thereby seizing much-needed jobs and benefits from Americans. And it could all be done by a stroke of Clinton's pen and a pounding of the Court's gavel; Congress would have no say in the matter.
Religious Liberty: In the highly-publicized case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby could be exempt from laws that violate its religious beliefs, in this case Obamacare's contraception mandate. This was an enormous win for religious liberty, but it was only decided by a slim 5-4 margin. With a liberal majority, you can expect the Court to rule against companies like Hobby Lobby or non-profits like Little Sisters of the Poor. Religious corporations and organizations around the country would be forced to chose between violating their consciences or paying penalties that would likely put them out of business. If liberals have their way, say goodbye to many religious retailers, charities, bookstores, hospitals, medical centers, and so on.
Transgender Bathrooms: Thirteen states are currently suing the Obama administration over its directive to public schools mandating that transgender students be able to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice without having to prove their gender identity. Perhaps no issue more directly impacts the lives of our children than this. A liberal Supreme Court will undoubtedly uphold the Obama administration's rule and force states to comply. The consequences will be catastrophic. Don't be so naive as to think boys won't abuse these policies and force their way into female bathrooms and locker rooms. Parents and teachers won't be able to stop them. And aside from sexual misconduct and assault, this policy could mean the end of men's and women's competitive athletics as we know it.
Second Amendment: Without a doubt, the Second Amendment would become a primary target of a liberal Supreme Court. In recent years, two landmark decisions protecting an individual's right to own and bear arms - Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald v. City of Chicago – were each decided by just one vote. (Are you noticing the 5-4 trend yet?) Given the opportunity, a liberal Court wouldn't hesitate to overturn those decisions. We got a glimpse of this in June, when the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Second Amendment does not permit the public to carry concealed firearms. A liberal Supreme Court would certainly uphold this ruling and continue to hack away at the rest of the Second Amendment.
EPA: Over the past couple years, the only entity that has prevented the EPA from bludgeoning the American economy with crushing regulations and fees has been the Supreme Court. In two crucial 5-4 decisions, the Court dealt serious blows to both the Clean Air Act and the Clean Power Plan. Should these decisions be overturned, the EPA would be a regulatory villain unleashed. Its mission to eradicate coal would be completed and Americans would be punished with skyrocketing utility costs as regulations choke out the fossil fuel industry – our primary means of electricity in this country.
Abortion: It was an activist, liberal Supreme Court in 1973 that decided Roe v. Wade and legalized abortion. A liberal Supreme Court in 2017 will only reinforce and protect that decision. It will likely strike down majority-supported, common sense abortion laws that have been passed in the states, like late term and partial birth abortion restrictions and pain-capable legislation. Just this June, the Supreme Court invalidated the Texas law requiring basic health standards for abortion facilities, a law passed to prevent another Kermit Gosnell house of horrors from occurring.
The list does not stop here. Citizens United would be overturned in a heartbeat, extinguishing the First Amendment rights of corporations, non-profits, etc... to express speech and political activity. Voter ID laws that have been implemented in states around the country would also be under assault.
Too many of our rights, liberties, and securities already hang by a one-vote thread. A Clinton Supreme Court would surely do away with them. It is a better bet that a President Trump together with Vice President Pence and a Republican Congress would ensure that Scalia's seat or any other open seats would be filled by a conservative. If you are a conservative who cares about the future of this country, there is only one choice. A vote for anyone else, third parties included, only helps Clinton and brings liberals one vote closer to ruining our republic as we know it.
William J. Bennett is a former U.S. secretary of education and Chairman of Conservative Leaders for Education.