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Romney, the Judiciary and the Religious Right

Now that he has the nomination all but sewn up, some theocons are still having trouble supporting Mitt Romney. But others are embracing him, even if not enthusiastically, because he promises to appoint judges to the bench that they approve of. Like Bork. Or Alito. On his radio show, David Barton made the case:

This has not been a hard thing for evangelicals to get over and support Romney and it shouldn’t be a hard thing. When Romney ran four years ago, he wasn’t my first choice but the reason I never got really worried about Romney was Jay Sekulow. And I tell you he has been very intimately involved in helping get folks like Alito and Roberts on the court. And four years ago, I heard that Sekulow is the guy that Romney has tapped to choose his judges and I said “that’s it.” I don’t have any trouble with Romney because Isaiah 1:26 tells me the righteousness of nation is determined, not by the legislature, but by its judges. And if Romney’s got folks like Sekulow picking his judges, I can live with that in a heartbeat.

Jordan Sekulow then joined the program and backed it up:

Sekulow: You’ve already got people who are long-time Romney supporters like my dad, who has argued thirteen cases before the Supreme Court and was very involved with President Bush – he was one of four people that were involved in the nomination process in the Bush White House – and so if you like Alito and Roberts, these are the kind of people. You have Judge Bork, who was filibustered by the Senate, voted down by the Senate actually, and he is on the Romney committee…

You want Kagan and Sotomayor, and I was at the Supreme Court during the ‘Obamacare’ oral arguments, you probably don’t want more of that, or do you want more Alito and Roberts? And he’s made those pledges; I think we need to come to the campaign say “alright, you made these pledges, we’re going to keep you honest to them and keep your feet to the fire.”

This is easily the best argument for voting for Obama. Another appointment to the Supreme Court by a Republican would be a disaster for decades to come.

Comments

  1. Stevarious says

    This is easily the best argument for voting for Obama.

    What a sad state of affairs that the best argument for voting for the guy has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with his policies or intentions, but with a theoretical appointment to a position in a separate branch of government altogether.

    Even sadder that it really is an excellent argument and has locked my vote, barring some incredible incident.

  2. slc1 says

    An excellent commentary on why Romney would be a disaster, relative to Supreme Court appointments.

    Now some would argue that, well, the Democrats might grow a spine and filibuster against another Alito. I have a flash for those folks. If Romney wins the election, it is a near certainty that his coattails will carry in enough Rethuglican Senate candidates to take control of the Senate. The first action of these folks would be to eliminate the filibuster so that Romney’s judicial appointments could sail through with the opposition totally disarmed.

    However, I suspect that this argument will not convince the left liberals. Like the French Bourbons, they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

  3. says

    Your last sentence sums things up perfectly. Romney has bent over backwards to get the support of the Christian Right and big business…that support comes with a price. If Romney wins, he owes those folks favors–that go beyond the appointing of assclown judges–that cannot be overlooked when thinking about this election. He pandered pretty hard to the extreme right, and they will come calling.

    That said, I agree with you Ed, perhaps the biggest impact the next President will have will be how he shapes the court. The effects of that or possibly those appointments cannot be underestimated.

  4. R Johnston says

    Sadly, pretty much all arguments in favor of voting for Obama are lesser-evil type arguments based strictly on the horrors that would be the next Republican administration rather than based on anything positive about Obama.

    If you want a President who thinks that the welfare state is a positive good, tough shit. You’ll have to settle for one not actively seeking to have the whole thing ruled unconstitutional.

    If you want a President who will do what’s needed to get the economy moving, tough shit. You’ll have to settle for one who doesn’t want to actively tank the economy in the name of upwards redistribution of wealth.

    If you want a President who thinks that women are people, tough luck. You’ll have to settle for a President who unconscionably delays women’s access to emergency birth control if you want to avoid a President seeking to seize women’s uteri as state property.

    If you want a President who thinks that gay rights are human rights, tough shit. You’ll settle for a President who agonizes over gay rights and never does anything about them except incrementally, otherwise you’ll have a President who would impose policies that deliberately treat gay people as subhuman filth.

    If you want a President who respects separation of church and state, tough shit. You’ll settle for a full throated supporter of faith based policy and programs who doesn’t want to make creationism a mandatory part of public school biology curricula and is willing to appoint judges who won’t declare the U.S. a theocracy.

    If you want a President who doesn’t fight ridiculous wars, tough shit. You’ll settle for the President who doesn’t start ridiculous wars but is happy to keep on fighting them.

    If you want a President who respects civil liberties, even tougher shit, because there Obama’s as bad as any Republican.

  5. Ichthyic says

    i can’t add to what r johnston said, except that it was pretty clearly the case 30 years ago in the US as well, and it’s why i left the states.

  6. tomh says

    @ #1
    What a sad state of affairs that the best argument for voting for the guy has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with his policies or intentions, but with a theoretical appointment to a position in a separate branch of government altogether.

    I don’t see why it’s sad. For most presidents, the most long-lasting influence they have on America is who they appoint to the Supreme Court. Policies and intentions are short term and can be undone and reversed. Court appointees are for a lifetime and there’s no reversing them.

  7. Taz says

    I agree with tomh. Justice selection should always be a major factor in deciding which presidential candidate to vote for. And it’s one area where you’re not necessarily choosing the lesser of two evils.

  8. lofgren says

    I’m also not clear on what is meant by “state of affairs.” Most presidents are probably selected because they are the good enough choice with one or two pet issues on which they happen to agree with the particular voter. As pet issues go, getting better appointments to the supreme court is one of the least petty that you could vote on.

  9. D. C. Sessions says

    And it’s one area where you’re not necessarily choosing the lesser of two evils.

    Pardon me, but Kagan and Sotomayor are not even close to being replacements for Souter and Stevens — and they were farther right than we tend to remember any more.

  10. says

    Apparently Barton understands ancient Israel about as well as he understands the history of the United States. In ancient Israel there was no real distinction between judicial and legislative branches in any meaningful fashion. So his use of the verse in Isaiah to mean that judges matter more than legislators doesn’t make sense.

  11. snebo154 says

    In the late 70’s I reached voting age and it appeared to me that the Democrats wanted to control the public by controlling the economy (our money) and so I voted Republican.
    In the late 80’s I realized that the Republicans wanted to control us by controlling our morals and I began voting Libertarian.
    Fifteen years ago I decided that I no longer agreed with allowing people to suffer in the hopes that “The organizations that have traditionally provided charity (churches)” would handle it. In my opinion the benefits that we derive from being part of a society come with a price. By this time the Democrats had become far too socialist for my tastes and I don’t care what kind of arguments you make to the contrary socialist societies stifle production and creativity, we have too many irrefutable examples of this. The Republicans are dedicated to promoting ignorance, hatred and superstition. The Libertarians probably have the best overall plan but are not flexible enough in the area of charity for me to want to live in a world constructed to their ideals.
    I don’t feel very optimistic. The amount of money spent on lobbying in Washington is obscene. Literally tens of millions of dollars per legislator per year. I can’t see anyone or anything changing the inevitable outcome of that particular fact (continuing rampant corruption). I am disillusioned with the entire process and while I feel Romney is overall the better person to run the country for the next four years I also agree completely with the idea that a court made up of Romney appointees would constitute the worst case scenario for the long term outlook of our country. I feel like I am on the 80th floor of a burning highrise looking for an option that does not include either burning to death or jumping. I don’t see one. I don’t think either choice in this election will destroy the country in the next few years, I am less opposed to socialism than I am to returning to Bronze age tribalism so if I vote in the upcoming presidential election it will probably be for a Democrat for the first time in my life. But it won’t be for any reason that he should be proud of and I will probably just stay home.

  12. snebo154 says

    @13 tomh
    Seriously, did you miss the part where I said that for most of my voting life I was Libertarian?

  13. D. C. Sessions says

    I don’t care what kind of arguments you make to the contrary socialist societies stifle production and creativity, we have too many irrefutable examples of this.

    Compare Germany, Denmark, and Sweden to the USA on just about any economic metric you like and get back to us on that whole “stifle production and creativity” thing.

  14. tomh says

    @ #14

    did you miss the part where I said that for most of my voting life I was Libertarian?

    I didn’t know the Libertarians ran candidates. I wonder why they do that. But I don’t care how you voted, I was just astounded that you equate Democrats with socialism.

  15. harold says

    snebo154 –

    I have some replies. I don’t intend them to sound hostile.

    Fifteen years ago I decided that I no longer agreed with allowing people to suffer in the hopes that “The organizations that have traditionally provided charity (churches)” would handle it. In my opinion the benefits that we derive from being part of a society come with a price. By this time the Democrats had become far too socialist for my tastes

    1) Precisely define “socialist”, please. It sounds insane to me to use that word to describe the Democrats. We must understand it differently.

    2) The US has the worst social safety net and upward mobility of any rich nation. Canada, Australia, UK, Scandinavia, EU countries, Japan, Korea, some Latin American countries, all tend to have better social safety net and better upward mobility than we do. And they ALL do it with MORE AND BETTER public education and social safety net, especially for children. Almost all of these other countries have had better performance on any real measure of life quality – life expectancy, infant mortality, leisure time, education scores, retirement age, you name it. Some of them beat the use in GDP – during the nineties, the US always had its ill-distributed GDP per capita to boast about, but that’s going to change the next time the measurements are done.

    The Democratic Party is a center right party at best by world standards, and the Republican party is a batshit crazy far right reality-denying authoritarian theocracy party.

    If you want some kind of safety net that’s better than church soup kitchens (caveat – post-modern megachurches don’t like to waste money that could be spent on a private jet, although some of them have absolutely degrading “feeding centers” – their term, not mine), but even worse than what the Democrats support, well, all I can say is, that is a very, very fine distinction.

    and I don’t care what kind of arguments you make to the contrary socialist societies stifle production and creativity, we have too many irrefutable examples of this.

    “I don’t care what you say, I will believe what I want to believe” is rarely the statement of a reasonable person.

    “Too many irrefutable examples” – well then, surely you can give an example of one of the nations I mentioned above stifling production and creativity.

    The Republicans are dedicated to promoting ignorance, hatred and superstition.

    This is correct.

    The Libertarians probably have the best overall plan

    1) Precisely what is their overall plan? Be precise please. Shifty-eyed mumbling of vague slogans isn’t an overall plan.

    but are not flexible enough in the area of charity for me to want to live in a world constructed to their ideals.

    I wouldn’t use the word “charity”, but here I would actually agree with you.

    When it comes to individual rights, I have pretty much the same views that libertarians claim to hold.

    However, their economic ideas are simultaneously naive and amoral.

  16. slc1 says

    Re D. C. Sessions @ #15

    It’s far too early to start judging Sotomayor and Kagan. Especially Kagan who just joined the court in October.

    I would agree that candidates with a more liberal philosophy could have been chosen. However, there is little chance that they would have survived a Rethuglican filibuster. In any case, they are far superior to the likes of Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia, which is what we will get to replace Ginsburg if Romney is elected.

  17. says

    D. C. Sessions “Pardon me, but Kagan and Sotomayor are not even close to being replacements for Souter and Stevens — and they were farther right than we tend to remember any more.”
    Sure, but compared to FutureRomney’s nominations, Justices Luther and Calvin… (and maybe Justice Torquemada if it’s near the midterms and they have to sucker the Hispanic vote).

    “Compare Germany, Denmark, and Sweden to the USA on just about any economic metric you like and get back to us on that whole ‘stifle production and creativity’ thing.”
    Sure, they have less economic disparity and greater economic mobility, longer lives and less violence, but can they chant “U S A! U S A!” while buying a gross of made-in-China Truck Nuts in Walmart? I think not!

    snebo154 “Fifteen years ago I decided that I no longer agreed with allowing people to suffer in the hopes that ‘The organizations that have traditionally provided charity (churches)’ would handle it.”
    The New Deal came in for a reason; because private charity is a small, porous safety net. Things were not better before it. “…the government provides 94% of funding of anti-hunger efforts, and each of America’s 325,000 religious congregations would have to contribute an additional $1.5 million to replace federal anti-poverty programs. That just isn’t feasible.” (and, yes, there’s more to private charity than churches, but that’s a fair chunk of it). And even when taxpayers weren’t paying for it, taxpayers were paying for it.

  18. says

    Oh, humans. I love how conservatives justify what they already want by citing their authorities. Did Barton evaluate all the bible verses relevant to choosing a political leader and determine that Isaiah 1:26 was the most weighty? I doubt it.

  19. snebo154 says

    Harold @17
    Thank you for the civility. Several people made similar comments, all of them having valid points, but you were by far the nicest so I will address my answers to your comments. I am absolutely not here to argue or cause trouble. If you check any of my other posts it should be obvious that I feel a strong sense of fellowship and community with the people here, far more than I do anywhere else. My family are mostly Mormon, my coworkers are in large part Glen Beck and Limbaugh fans, there is no place that I am more in agreement with the opinions of those around me than here. Now I will attempt to deal with the disagreements that Harold voiced.
    (1)
    1) Precisely define “socialist”, please. It sounds insane to me to use that word to describe the Democrats. We must understand it differently.
    You are right. I’m sure that my upbringing and lack of formal education (I graduated high school in Arizona in 1974 and have only one semester at a junior college since) have left me with an incorrect idea of what socialism actually is. In my mind it has always been a euphemism for reckless taxation and profligate spending. In that regard I thought the democrats were too socialistic. My usage was totally incorrect. I thought they wanted to take too much and I didn’t think that we were getting enough benefit as a society to justify what they wanted to take. Remember I said that this was how I felt fifteen years ago. And remember that, as I stated, I agree that the benefits of living in a society are not without cost. I am willing to help those who are incapable of taking care of themselves but it is my experience that a large amount of money is spent on those who are capable but unwilling to help themselves. It is a tough question as to how you do what it takes to help the former without supporting the latter. I agree that it is our duty to help others to a certain extent. I have no desire to follow Jesus and give it all away. The balance point is nebulous to me.
    Summation, I tend to use the word socialism incorrectly. The way I used it is not correct but that is the way I learned it. I should have been more precise and you are overlooking that I said I felt that way 15 years ago, not now.
    (2)
    Our social safety net in this country sucks.
    If that is an acceptable paraphrasing of what you said then;

    I agree, but this is a recent thing. In my youth and early adult years we led the world in everything. When things started downhill I saw part of the problem as the govt. taking too much and then spending it inefficiently, and so I embraced libertarianism. I still think that this is a large part of the problem. I realize now that it is not just the Democrats, A badly corrupt bailout plan coupled with a totally unjustified, (nonexistent WMD’s) war sucked three trillion out of the economy courtesy of Bush the younger.
    Summation, I Thought the republicans were less corrupt and self serving than the democrats, I now realize that I was wrong
    (3)
    the Republican party is a batshit crazy far right reality-denying authoritarian theocracy party.
    My thoughts on this;
    Absolute, one hundred percent, total, unequivocal agreement,
    Next, you quoted me as saying;

    “and I don’t care what kind of arguments you make to the contrary socialist societies stifle production and creativity, we have too many irrefutable examples of this.”
    And you responded;
    “I don’t care what you say, I will believe what I want to believe” is rarely the statement of a reasonable person.

    My answer; Yeah,sorry, that came out all wrong and that is not how I think or live. What I meant was; Look at China, tremendous natural resources, brilliant, hard-working people and without the freedom to profit from their own labor and ideas 1 billion people wallowed needlessly in poverty. Free enterprise works and that is what made this country, and is now making their country great. Which is almost what I said, OK, not even close but it is what I meant and I do believe it to be true. (Remember Socialism=Communist dictatorship. and while I consciously realize the difference, subconsciously I am still struggling to overcome being raised by ultra conservative mormon parents)
    I wish you had kept numbering your points, It made responding much easier.
    Next
    What exactly is the Libertarian plan?
    Libertarianism; Small govt, self reliance. Which I still think is a great plan in a perfect world, but I quit the libertarians because I do think we have a responsibility to the less fortunate. Also I do not think we should be isolationists. We have gone overboard in policing the world but there are certainly some regimes that demand our intervention to prevent human rights abuse. It just seems that lately we have donated too many lives to push out one theocratic bastard to pave the way for another who is no better. I also feel that not all scientific research that needs to be done is profitable enough to entice private companies to do it. We as a society will need to foot the bill for some of it.
    Penultimate Summation. I did a hideous job of conveying the message that I was trying to get across. You did a poor job in reading it if you didn’t grasp that the way I felt in the 70’s,80’s and 90’s is not the way I feel now. The point that I was trying to make was that I have given up on all of them. My guess is I probably think that the government should help out in many of the same ways that you do. I just don’t think that they are efficient enough to do it without bankrupting us. I don’t like the way Obama is headed and I think that a court with three or more Romney appointees would be disastrous. I don’t see much hope for the future and I don’t think that we will ever see the federal government working for anything other than more power for themselves and their friends.
    Ultimate Summation;Bill Maher said “The difference between socialism in America and socialism in (I think he said Sweden but fill in the name of any of the countries that you mentioned) is that their socialism works.”
    I’m starting to agree with him.

  20. says

    Romney’s promises don’t really carry much weight. He might allow Sekulow some advice-giving but his ears will be leaning toward the LDS hierarchy’s whisperings.

    If Romney becomes POTUS, the Mormons will be on track to triangulate total political power at the Federal level. Even though they are only 2% of the electorate, they will yield an inordinate amount of disproportional power… power they’ve been dreaming of for almost as long as their existence.

    The content of this article just reminds me of how much the LDS tend to blur the line of separation of church and state – a notion that is intimately embedded in their doctrinal beliefs. A Romney Presidency will only invite a breaching of that wall.

    I’m just a bit saddened to know that a majority of the 98% of the electorate think this whole idea is harmless… and just not worthy of discussion.

  21. harold says

    snebo154 –

    Many thanks for the reply.

    I will add a few comments, but I think that I will strongly emphasize our areas of agreement.

    Look at China, tremendous natural resources, brilliant, hard-working people and without the freedom to profit from their own labor and ideas 1 billion people wallowed needlessly in poverty

    China has a corrupt, authoritarian, officially communist government with crony capitalism. We both agree that this is not a system that Americans, or almost anyone else, should want.

    Libertarianism; Small govt, self reliance. Which I still think is a great plan in a perfect world, but I quit the libertarians because I do think we have a responsibility to the less fortunate.

    We basically agree here. That is also my major problem with libertarianism.

    However, I would like to point out that “small government” and “self-reliance” are very imprecise terms. What if I ran for office saying that I would make people more self-reliant, and someone voted for me thinking I meant that I would let “white trash” on “disability” starve, but then instead, I eliminated emergency services, road repairs, Medicare and social security for retired people, etc? I would certainly have made people more “self reliant”, but perhaps not in the ways some of them expected or wanted. If someone really wants to be totally self-reliant, they can parachute themselves naked into an unpopulated region of Siberia and get started. Otherwise, those who use this term should explain to me precisely what it means. (Of course I am strongly opposed to cheating the social safety net system, and strongly in favor of people voluntarily educating themselves and working hard at useful work under safe and dignified conditions, but to do those things in a complex society, one usually does need to make use of public resources.)

    As I noted, we agree here, I’m only stressing the details to encourage skeptical thinking about imprecise language.

    Bill Maher said “The difference between socialism in America and socialism in (I think he said Sweden but fill in the name of any of the countries that you mentioned) is that their socialism works.”
    I’m starting to agree with him.

    Bill Maher is sometimes a dick but sometimes makes good points.

    I’m a dual US/Canadian citizen. I was born in the US to an American father and Canadian mother and raised in a rural part of English-speaking Canada that was and is highly similar to the nearest parts of the US. I suppose that makes it easy for me to note, although I live in a large US city right now, that Canada is a very far cry from Sweden, but that Canada does have universal access to health care, sane military budgets, more equal access to solid public education (the US has excellent public education in some areas and not in others), lower cost higher education, and a mildly better social safety net than the US.

    All of these things would be fairly easy for the US to achieve. All of them exist in almost all other rich countries, in many cases in a more efficient and more generous form than in Canada, but at least, you’d think the US could try to catch up with Canada.

  22. Jordan Genso says

    @22 snebo154

    I’m very glad you posted that response. It demonstrated strong character to address criticism rather than ignore it.

  23. snebo154 says

    My disillusionment with the federal government was supposed to be the main point of my comment so I spent a few minutes with Google this morning to see if there was anything that might sway my opinion. Ironically one of the first things that I found was that so far this year Google has spent over 5 million dollars lobbying congress.
    Opensecrets.org has a tremendous amount of information on the tidal wave of money spent on lobbying congress. They only list legitimate (reported) spending and it is broken down by sector and year. Last year over 3 billion dollars total or 5.5 million dollars per member of congress was spent trying to influence their votes. I really don’t believe “our” government is working for us anymore. I will admit that the number is smaller than I thought but still enough to maintain my cynicism.

  24. tomh says

    @ #26

    Lobbying has always been an integral part of the American system. After all, everyone has the First Amendment right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It wasn’t until the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 that anyone even had to report how much they spent on lobbying. And $5 million dollars isn’t very much to spend for a company the size of Google. Heck, the Catholic Bishops spent $26 million and they don’t even provide anything useful.

  25. snebo154 says

    @27
    If I was pessimistic before, the fact that catholic bishops spend that kind of money on lobbying doesn’t do much to cheer me up. That $5 million for Google was for the first three months of ’12 and it is not without a small glimmer of good news. A large part of that was to fight the passage of SOPA and PIPA. The bad news is the defeat of these two beasts only encouraged the powers that be to trot out the larger and more odious CISPA. The fact that each subsequent attempt is more intrusive than the last is not a good sign.

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