Pro-life advocates have reason to hope following two major Supreme Court events this week: the June 26, 2018 Supreme Court ruling in favor of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s June 27 retirement announcement, opening the door for President Trump to appoint a constitutionally conservative and pro-life justice to the court.
In NIFLA v. Becerra, the Supreme Court ruled on June 26th, 2018 that California state law cannot require pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to provide information about low-cost or free abortion services, a boon for religious liberty protection and free speech for pro-life crisis pregnancy centers. Faith-based views and belief in the sanctity of life are the underpinnings of many of these centers, and the court ruled that requiring them to advertise abortion services would violate their First Amendment rights, requiring them to “speak” in opposition to their own beliefs and principles.
Such a requirement is an abuse of power and discriminates against faith-based crisis pregnancy centers. “Forcing anyone to provide free advertising for the abortion industry is unthinkable – especially when it’s the government doing the forcing,” said senior counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Kevin Theriot.
Justice Kennedy’s July 27th, 2018 resignation adds further optimism for the protection of the unborn, as pro-life advocates are hopeful that Kennedy’s successor may help lead to the future overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision making abortion legal and leading to over 60 million abortions. During his presidential election, President Donald Trump pledged he would appoint pro-life judicial nominees. In talking to the press, Trump referred to Justice Kennedy as a “great justice” with “tremendous vision and heart,” and Trump stated he will start an immediate search for Kennedy’s successor.
“The most important commitment that President Trump has made to the pro-life movement has been his promise to nominate only pro-life judges to the Supreme Court, a commitment he honored by swiftly nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch,” said Marjorie Dannefelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. She also stated that this is a “pivotal moment for the fight to ensure every unborn child is welcomed and protected under the law.”
Other pro-life organizations and spokespersons reiterated Foster’s remarks. Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, said that “We expect that President Trump will live up to his promises and appoint a justice in the tradition of Justice Antonin Scalia who respects the law as written and who understands that Life is the foundation for all other rights.”
Among the 25 potential nominees on President Trump’s list is former Notre Dame Law School Professor, Amy Coney Barrett, a recently appointed appellate judge whose controversial interrogation about her Catholic faith during her 2017 confirmation hearings revealed the activist-driven, dishonest messaging that can occur around the nomination of a conservative judge. Many pro-life conservatives believe Barrett would be an ideal successor to Justice Kennedy, because she is one of the younger potential nominees and would have an anticipated long-term effect on pro-life and other conservative rulings, and because she is a woman, adding diversity to the Court.
In any case, with the recent NIFLA v. Beccerra Supreme Court ruling and the open spot on the Court left by Kennedy’s retirement, the stage may be set for pro-life advancements and increased protection of the most vulnerable human lives among us – the unborn.
Here at Abuse of Power.org, it is our goal to advocate for the oppressed and the vulnerable, and to fight against injustices and human rights violations. The right to life is the most fundamental of our human rights, and we are hopeful that this week’s momentous events will set our Supreme Court and our nation on a course of honoring life and ensuring the religious liberties the founders of our constitution envisioned.
Jeannie Finnegan, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Abuse of Power