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"Why the Christian Right Believes It Has Once-in-a-Decade Chance to Impose Its Radical Worldview on America"
2013-11-26 by CJ Werleman from "AlterNet" [http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-christian-right-thinks-they-have-once-decade-opportunity-impose-their-radical-worldview]:
have consequences. The Senate Democrats’ detonation of the “nuclear
option” has dramatically raised the stakes for secular progressives in
2014, because if there are two issues that juice the Christian Right the
most, it’s women’s reproductive rights and judicial activism. On the
latter, the Religious Right senses a once-in-a-decade opportunity to
impose its radical worldview on America.
Last week, the Senate voted
52-48 to eliminate the ability of the minority party in the Senate to
filibuster executive branch nominees and any judgeship below the Supreme
Court by changing the requirements for passage to a simple majority
vote. It was a historic move made because there was no other
alternative, given the GOP’s unprecedented abuse of the filibuster. In
the history of the United States, 168 presidential nominees have been
filibustered. Half occurred under all presidents from Washington through
to Bush. Remarkably, the other half has taken place under just one
Why such aggressive judicial obstructionism by the GOP?
Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. writes, “This era’s conservatives will
use any means at their disposal to win control of the courts. Their goal
is to do all they can to limit Congress’s ability to enact social
The Christian Right, which is the GOP’s most reliable and
agitated voting bloc, is obsessed with the courts, and the Court of
Appeals for the D.C. circuit is the nation’s second most important
judicial body, which is why Republicans “gave the game away when all but
a few of them opposed Obama’s three most recent appointments.”
that Democrats were forced into limiting the filibuster, the Christian
Right has its incentive to mobilize for 2014. A simple majority control
of the Senate gives it an opportunity to pack the courts with judges
straight out of the Justice Scalia mold, who once said that separation
of church and state would come under scrutiny under a Supreme Court with
a Scalia majority. If the Christian Right sweeps Republicans to control
the Senate in next year’s midterms, the anti-secularists will take a
big step forward toward their stated ideological goals.
Values Voter Summit demonstrated that the likely 2016 GOP frontrunners
have a base wish to transform America’s secular state into a tyrannical
theocracy — a nirvana absent gays, liberals, immigrants, Muslims and
science books. The right-wing media elites are already doing their bit
to gin up the far right’s judicial activists with Rush Limbaugh
comparing filibuster reform to rape.
Truth in Action Ministries
recently released a film titled Freedom on Trial, which features Robert
Bork, the failed Reagan Supreme Court nominee, Eagle Forum founder
Phyllis Schlafly, and Heritage Foundation vice president Genevieve Wood.
The general theme of the documentary is that Christianity is under
attack thanks to liberal "activist judges." Bork warns that courts are
“teaching the people that religion is evil,” while another conservative
attorney claims decisions that go against the Ten Commandments will
“destroy the country.”
President Obama’s judicial nominees were being
filibustered because they threaten to alter the circuit court’s
philosophical balance. The Republican Party has again demonstrated that
nullification and obstruction are ready-made weapons to ensure the
courts remain dominated by conservatives.
Cass R. Sunstein, author of
Radicals in Robes: Why Extreme Right-Wing Courts are Bad for America,
writes, “Our courts now represents the most extreme elements of the
Republican Party. These reformers include a number of federal
judges—radicals in robes, fundamentalists on the bench….some of these
judges do not hesitate to depart radically from longstanding
understandings of constitutional meaning.” Political analyst James
Fallows writes, “Add that to the simply unprecedented abuse of the
filibuster in the years since the Democrats won control of the Senate
and then took the White House, you have what we’d identify as a kind of
long-term coup if we saw it happening anywhere else.”
The end of the
filibuster threatens the far right’s stranglehold on our courts. Senate
minority leader Mitch McConnell warned, “The solution to this problem is
at the ballot box. We look forward to having a great election in
November 2014.” John McCain warned, “Democrats will regret this.”
Republicans to take back the Senate, they’ll need to win six seats.
Given Democrats will need to defend 21 seats, compared to just 14 for
the GOP, and that seven of those 21 Democratic seats are in states that
lean Republican, expect the Christian Right to be the party’s primary
water carrier in the midterms.
Former Speaker Tip O’Neill liked to
say that all politics is local. He was wrong. It’s tribal. The
detonation of the nuclear option ensures the always-mobilized
theological tribe will turn out in high numbers in 2014. This means
America’s secular state will remain in the balance should the secular
left tribe do no better than its impotency in 2010.