October 03, 2018
There are plenty of reasons to be grateful that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election. But one of the biggest is almost certainly on First Street, NE in Washington, D.C. At least one justice working inside that Supreme Court would be different. And the outcomes of a Clinton-shaped SCOTUS would be even more so.
When the high court kicked off its fall term on Monday, who knows what the result would have been for a state like Tennessee if Donald Trump weren't president? Because of strict constructionists like Neil Gorsuch, the state can finally celebrate the end of a long, 18-year battle against abortion.
Since 2000, the state had been fighting to strip the "right" to abortion out of the state's constitution. Four years ago, they succeeded, putting an amendment on the ballot that made it quite clear: "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion." The people, it went on -- not the courts -- "retain the right through their elected state representatives or state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother."
Fifty-three percent of the state voted to adopt Amendment 1, which helped unlock a door to more pro-life laws in the state -- like longer waiting periods. Of course, abortion activists were furious and took the ballot initiative to court. After working its way up to the Sixth Circuit, which sided with Tennesseans, liberals tried the only option left: SCOTUS. To their disappointment, the justices refused to hear the case -- leaving the appeals court ruling in place and handing pro-lifers a victory almost two decades in the making.
Across the state, people celebrated. "Now we have to continue to work for the day when every life is again protected by the laws of our state and nation," said pro-lifer Brian Harris. State Attorney General Herbert Slatery pointed out that this was exactly what Amendment was all about. "This is a confirmation of the State's position from the outset: a state, and not a federal court, should decide how votes are counted under its own Constitution."
We celebrate with our pro-life friends in Tennessee and we congratulate the Family Action Council of Tennessee that help lead the way on Amendment 1 -- a job well done! But in the celebration, pause for just a moment and imagine if Hillary Clinton had nominated another abortion activist to the Court. The majority would have almost certainly thrown the amendment out. That is, in a very real way, what's at stake in these next few weeks. Donald Trump may be president until 2020, but his ability to confirm constitutionalists -- at every level of our courts -- hangs by a Senate thread. Think elections don't matter? Think again.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.